Revelation 2-3: The Seven Churches

Revelation 2-3  •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 12
The first chapter has presented to us the vision of Christ, the Son of Man, in His character as Judge, forming the first division of the Revelation, spoken of in verse 19 as “The things which thou hast seen.” In the second and third chapters there passes before us “The things which are.” It is plain, from verses 4, 11, and 20 of chapter 1, that the Revelation was addressed to seven churches existing in the days of the Apostles in a province of Asia Minor. But it can hardly be questioned that these particular churches were selected in order to present pictures of the moral conditions that would successively develop in the Christian profession from the days of the Apostles until the close of the church period. Thus, “the things which are” prophetically present the whole period of the church's history on earth. Moreover, these seven churches are seen under the symbol of seven candlesticks. This surely indicates that these addresses view the church in its responsibility to be a light for Christ in the time of His absence.
Further, we see that the Lord is presented as walking in the midst of the churches as the Judge, to discover how far the Church has answered to its responsibility to shine for Christ. From these addresses we learn that the church, as with all others, would utterly break down in responsibility. We see the root of all the failure exposed, its progress traced through the ages, and its end foretold when the professing church will be utterly rejected as nauseous to Christ. Nevertheless, in the midst of all the failure we learn there is that which the Lord approves, and that it is possible for the individual to overcome that which the Lord condemns; and to such there are special promises of blessing.
How encouraging that, in the closing days of Christendom, we are not left to form our own judgment of the evils of Christendom, nor of that which has the approval of the Lord in the midst of failure. In these addresses we have the mind of the Lord. In each address we have the exhortation, “He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” How deeply important then that we should listen to the Lord's words, recorded by the Spirit, and thus learn the Lord's mind for the individual in a day of ruin. If, however, we speak of the ruin of the church, let us ever remember, as it has been said, that, “as regards the purpose of God the church cannot be ruined, but as regards its actual present condition as a testimony for God on earth it is in ruin.”
Further, if we own the ruin of the church in responsibility let us beware of being content with the knowledge that as believers our salvation is sure, and remain listlessly indifferent to the Lord's mind for us in the midst of the ruin. Let us beware of thinking, as one has said, “that the power of the Lord is enfeebled when there is actual present ruin. His working will be according to the state the church is in, not the state she is not in....What we want is...real practical faith in the application of the resources of God to meet present circumstances....Living faith sees not only the need but also the thoughts and mind of the Lord about that need, and counts on the present love of the Lord.”
With the desire to know His mind may we consider the addresses to the seven churches and thus refuse all that the Lord condemns while seeking to answer to that which has His approval.