Read The Book
I think it's funny how sometimes I'll be reading the Word, or meditating on something I've read, and God drops something quite unexpected into my thoughts. He did it again this morning and I feel very certain that I am to share it with you.
This morning my husband and I were having a discussion about the letters to the churches in Revelation chapters two and three. Oh, did I just see some of you cringe at the mention of THAT book? Relax. It's going to be just fine.
If I had to make a guess about what the most controversial and misunderstood book is among Christians, hands down I believe it is The Revelation (singular, not plural). The book contains a revelation given to Yeshua by the Father so that it could then be communicated to His servants. It is also one of the most Jewish books in the Bible, which could be another reason for the confusion over its contents, but we'll get into that a bit later.
If you've studied the Bible at all, one thing you've probably noticed is that God is really into Communication. The whole Bible is His communication to us. I would also venture to say that God is not into purposely confusing us with His communication. In fact, in Habakkuk 2:2, the Lord tells the prophet to “write the vision and make it plain.” Why? So that we can understand what God is saying to us.
This sounds simple, but again, if you've read the Bible at all, you'll know that there are passages - sometimes whole books - that just don't seem to make sense. I believe that part of the reason for this is that we haven't studied enough and picked apart the text to find every last scrap of meat on the bone. This is especially true of the Old Testament. An understanding of the Old Testament is vital for understanding the New Testament - especially The Revelation. Oops, I mentioned THAT book again.
Down through the history of the church The Revelation has been ignored, down-played, vilified, and over sensationalized. Many pastors refuse to teach out of The Revelation. Most Christians wouldn't touch it with a ten-foot pole. But if The Revelation is part of the Word of God, shouldn't we take it seriously and stop dismissing it out of hand? Certainly. But at the same time I believe there is something much more profound going on - one with a striking parallel to what has been happening with Jews for centuries. What's that? I'm glad you asked!
There are certain passages of Scripture that rabbis have not only avoided, but actively dissuade their congregants from reading. It's actually been going on for so long now that most Jews are completely unaware of the situation. Three of the main passages that are avoided are Isaiah 53, Psalm 22, and the book of Daniel (especially chapter 9). Why these passages? If you read Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22 there is no mistaking who the subject of these passages are - Yeshua the Messiah. God has made His communication clear. As far as Daniel goes, it is very heavily linked to The Revelation and also clearly speaks of the Messiah. So rather than admit they've been wrong all these years, the offensive verses are simply avoided. In this way the adversary of God, satan, has been able to keep God-knows how many Jews from accepting their Messiah. While this has been happening in Judaism, the same sort of thing has been happening in the church.
Before we go any further, please remember that God wants us to understand the Scriptures. It is His truth communicated to us. If you are a Christian, everything you believe should be founded on the Word of God and that alone.
Once the church began it didn't take long before error was introduced. Initially the apostles stayed on top of things, but as time passed and the church grew, more errors were accepted and incorporated into the church. Many of the “traditions” the church has have nothing to do with Scripture at all. Some are even anti-Scriptural.
One thorn in the side of the church has been Israel. By about 300-400 A.D. the church had become so far removed from its Jewish roots it wasn't funny . Church leaders were purposely doing this, partly because of that age-old condition anti-Semitism. One of the consequences of this has been what is commonly called replacement theology, which states that the church is now Israel and that the Jews (and modern day Israel) have no significance as far as God is concerned. In order to pull this line of thinking off much of the Old Testament prophecies that refer to Israel are either taught as now referring to the church or they are allegorized and turned into Christian fairy tales.
Another requirement for those who hold that view is to either disregard The Revelation as metaphor or allegory ,or simply say that we can't understand it so don't even try. But why the avoidance of this particular book? As with the avoidance of Isaiah, Psalm 22, and Daniel in Judaism, I believe that the enemy has very effectively kept Christians from reading and studying what could be one of the most important and relevant books for our lives - in particular, the first three chapters of The Revelation.
In those chapters the Lord reveals the condition of seven churches that were in existence at the time John wrote the book. Careful study reveals that the dangers and pitfalls they faced almost 2,000 years ago can be found in varying degrees and combinations in any church today. For us, the readers and hearers of these letters to the churches, it is vital that we heed the warnings given by Yeshua as well as obey His Word. He wants us to overcome the problems. He loves us, so He warned us what to watch for. But if we don't read His communication to us, how can we know. We can't, and we would continue in our spiritually unhealthy ways, completely ignorant of our peril.
Another consequence of this is that a great number of Christians do not understand about the times in which we live or about the reality of God's Kingdom program. Yeshua really is coming back to physically establish His throne in Jerusalem! Hallelujah!
The Lord said, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32) I challenge you to take a look at The Revelation - perhaps for the first time. If you take your time, studying prayerfully and seriously, you'll be amazed. But be prepared to visit every other book in the Bible, because in order to correctly understand The Revelation you'll have to do just that.
Here are two excellent resources that I have found indispensable in my study of this marvelous book:
May God bless you as you seek His face!
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