John at the sight of Jesus collapses like a dead man before Him v. The presence of Jesus, which is with the Church whenever they gather, should inspire a deathly reverence to God. An encounter with God is not a warm and pleasant feeling, rather it is one of terror and self-realisation of every unworthy aspect within you. It is by His death and resurrection that we are reconciled to God and able to behold Him and adore Him enthroned.
Jesus defines who the Church is by who He is and what He has done for us, rendering Him worthy of all our praise and devotion. The first and principle aspect of worship is the acknowledge- ment of who God is and what He has done. Duvall addresses who God is and what He does in his first chapter. He highlights that throughout Revelation is exemplified the control of God over time and power and that He has an ultimate trajectory for history.
How do you currently acknowledge who God is and what He has done? Do you think you need to change the way you acknowledge Him in light of Revelation? Chapter The Seven Letters From the introduction given in the first chapter, one would expect the letters to the seven churches in Asia Minor to be full of acclamation and congratulation of being faithful pur- veyors of the Gospel; encouraging them to continue through persecution by the Roman Em- pire. However, we find nearly the exact opposite: the churches are falling behind.
The Seven Churches have fallen prey to this corrupt nature, whether from within or without, and must strive to enact the new nature given to them and to us by our Lord Jesus Christ. It does mean that the church organisation may be snuffed out and be of no use to the Kingdom. God has also given the Ephesians a promise if they overcome the desires for power in this world in verse 7. Smyrna, the next church addressed, is suffering from great persecution under the Ro- man system. Our Lord declares to this church that He knows their tribulation and gives them a similar promise as Ephesus of eternal life for overcoming.
Pergamos is having a crisis of doctrine. The teachers of this false doctrine are the Nicolaitans, who probably preached some form of re- ligious sexuality and fornication like many Roman cults did.
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Again, a promise is given to those who overcome, but the imagery of this one is different. The white stone, however, is not a biblical symbol but a Greek legal one.
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Athenian judges voted guilty or not guilty by giving the accused a white stone for not guilty or a black stone for guilty. Here Jesus is assuring us that if we repent, we shall be given a white stone of innocence because the punishment has already been executed on the cross of Christ. Thyatira has fallen into the adultery of Jezebel 1 Kings xvi-xxi, 2 Kings ix , partici- pating in fornications and idolatry. Unto her and her followers is promised judgement and destruction for their sins unless they repent. Promised to the overcomers from this church is dominion over the nations.
Rather than a spiritual eternal life, here Jesus promises a temporal reign of the Saints over the earth. Sardis seems to be undergoing a current of hypocrisy in the church. Sardis has put on the good face of piety but under the mask is decay and sinfulness. Jesus calls this church to remember what they have heard the Gospel , to hold fast, and repent.
Philadelphia is having its own internal crisis of false Jews subverting the church. Jesus holds the keys to life and has opened it forever to those who believe. If we remain in Jesus, no subversive earthly power can ever deny us His gifts. Our Lord has warned us of His return but has not given an exact date, so we must be daily living as though it is our last.
This does not mean to indulge in our fleshly desire and then expect forgiveness, rather we live as though the Kingdom has already come. We administer justice, interact with our neighbours, and hold our own self conduct to that of Kingdom dwellers in preparation to when that reality is fully realised.
Laodicea has fallen into the pit of apathy and security. Jesus implores the church here to exchange their comfortable earthly lives for glorious heavenly lives characterised by an ever-present commitment and trust in God. He was addressing actual situations present in their community, so we ought not try to read in a secret code about the state of the Church in history and graph it to these letters. However, the sit- uations of these churches are not wholly unique to one place or one time period.
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Repent and trust. Repent and pray. Repent and worship. The God of heaven and earth has prepared a way for you to follow that leads to life and dominion with Him.
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All other paths are laid by the Devil in deceit to subvert the work of the Church and will lead to destruction. John lays out a clear message to the Seven Churches and to us and that is to follow God. Have you experienced or are you experiencing a church undergoing situations similar to any of the Seven?
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How do you think they should respond to the situations in light of Revelation? Chapter 4: The Heavenly Vision Here begins the more mystical and supernatural imagery of the Revelation. Many theories of interpretation abound for the next nineteen chapters, but we shall focus on the aspect of worship presented within them. John is brought up into the heavenly throne room of God, a beautiful sight decorated with precious jewels and beautiful wonders, around which are 24 Elders clothed in white wearing gold crowns. The spectacle of heaven inspires a feeling of insignificance and unworthiness to the beholder, so too should we feel in the presence of God in the gathering of His Church on earth.
Visual art has been somewhat lost in the Protestant tradition since the Reformation. Once ornately decorated and bejewelled Cathe- drals are replaced with barren warehouses. Presumably this was done to fight the scourge of idolatry within the Church, a cause behind which I can stand. We ought not worship the crea- ture rather than the Creator. On the other hand, Jesus did come in physical form. Not to worship the images or the building, but to bless the Author of loveliness and centre our minds on His magnificent splendour, in which we are allowed to participate by His grace.
The Elders continue their acclamations by attributing to God His worthiness to be worshiped by His gift of cre- ation, achieving the first and second principles of worship. We, as creations of God, are sustained only by His pleasure and are purposed to serve Him. Do you think art and physical approximations of heavenly glory assist in worship?
Chapter 5: The Worthy Lamb In the hand of Him Who sits on the throne is a scroll sealed with seven seals, which no man is worthy of opening. But One comes who is worthy to open them, the Lion of Judah, the Root of David, for He has prevailed to open the scroll. John turns to see not a triumphant Lion, but a slain Lamb.
A spotless Lamb offered on the altar of atonement for the sins of mankind: the Lord Jesus Christ. He alone has overcome the world by His death and been resurrected by God to be worthy of glory and power. Again, the Elders bow and worship, this time with harps and golden vials of odours. To receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing… Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne and unto the Lamb for ever and ever. Music has always been a part of Jewish and Christian worship of God.
The book of Psalms is a collection of pieces recited and sung by Jewish worshippers and we are told that our Lord sung a hymn with His Disciples at the Last Supper Matt. As opposed to artwork, music has continued and thrived under Protestant influences. Hymnists from St. Francis of Assisi to Charles Wesley along with modern artists have kept the tradition of Christian singing alive in the Church and have cultivated a mind of worship. One is not to praise God unaccompanied. In Revelation we see the collection of Elders, winged Beasts, and multitudes of Angels engaged in a unified praise of God and the Lamb.
There are no solos in Heaven. When we come to worship God in church, it is to be a collective act of dec- laration of His worth and actions. In the second chapter of Duvall, he explains that worship is a response to the majesty and the works of God and that it is good for the worshippers to do it. How does music help you worship? Revelation: A Guide to Worship Carrig 11 Do you think the content of our music is important to worship? Chapter The First Six Seals The theme of judgement and destruction is begun in this chapter and will continue until chapter These four colours are still widely recognised with their accompanying trait today, but even more so in the first century Roman Empire.
Red was the colour of Mars, the god of war and mythical father of Romulus and Remus, the founders of Rome. The Roman state adopted red as its national colour, using it in banners, uniforms, and architecture. Red was Roman. Black has always been associated with decay as it is the colour of smoke, ash, and disease.
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The colour was nearly always accompanied by the smell of burning or rotting mate- rials. Pale is a natural colour for death as it is observed along with rigor mortis after a person dies. Unlike the Romans who cremated their dead, Christians buried theirs with the theology of resurrection. After the Four Horsemen, the Fifth Seal brings the cries of the martyrs.
Worship is a diverse and deeply emotional concept. Here we have an image of the conflicts betwixt Ishmael and Amalek, the seed of the woman and the seed of the serpent.
God, to gain the greater glory to Himself, gives all the advantages that may be to the enemies of His Church. How unequal was the combat and contention betwixt Luther a poor monk, and the Pope, and so many legions of his creatures? They had the sword of most magistrates to sway at their pleasure, great power, and great authority, yet Luther took the prey out of their teeth, as poor David overthrew the great Goliath.