March 8, 2011 on 8:50 pm | In REVELATION FOR BEGINNERS | Comments Off on STARS AND LAMPSTANDS, Rev. 1:19, 20

In these verses John is commanded to write down what he has been shown pertaining to the past, present, and future. This lends credence to the historicist pattern of interpretation which starts at the time of the writer and continues into the future until Jesus comes–a continuous unfolding of prophecy. In verse 20 Christ talks of two more major symbols–stars and lampstands. These figure prominently in the next two chapters. Fortunately, He helps us out by interpreting these two symbols for us.

The stars He says stand for the “angels” of the seven churches (represented by lampstands). In the original Greek language, the word translated as “angels” means literally “messengers.” In other words, this can refer to regular human beings or to heavenly beings. Sometimes the word is indeed used in the Bible refer to a normal human being, though most of the time it appears to refer to angelic beings. But because of the dual meaning, commentators are divided as to its application here. Some believe there is an angel representing each church; others believe it is referring to the human church leader of each congregation. I lean toward the latter, as the messages are directed to very fallible human beings with great needs.

In verse 11 it was discussed that there are three ways of applying these messages to the seven church congregations, all of them equally valid and meaningful. The first is that they apply to the very real congregations in these particular cities in John’s day. They would have recognized themselves and found the counsel to be very helpful. Understanding more about the cities and churches of that day can help us interpret these along those lines. The second is that these unique congregations came to symbolize the Christian church through the following centuries as their particular characteristics seemed to correlate with the state of the church during those eras, as history seems to bear out. The third application is a spiritual one. There are spiritual lessons all of us can learn today from what has gone before. And in a sense, though the last day church is labeled Laodicean, yet in another sense it is also to some degree a composite of all that have gone before. For example, in the church of today you can find those who have lost their first love, those who have apostatized, those who are being persecuted, those who are lukewarm, etc.

Before we go into these seven church letters, there is a paradigm–a pattern or template– which each one follows that will help us in understanding the messages. Here is how I look at this outline:

1. Christ–The first thing we see is Christ presented to the church with a selection of characteristics from the vision in chapter one. The particular characteristics chosen are those which will meet the special needs of this congregation.

2. Commendation–With one exception, Christ looks for something to praise them for before He points out problems.

3. Censure–Now Christ begins to point out problems in the church that are serious hindrances to its growth. There are a couple exceptions to this one.

4. Counsel–Christ doesn’t leave the church hanging by merely pointing out problems. He has a solution for those problems and counsels them what should be done to remedy the problem.

5. Covenant–Finally Christ makes a covenant with the church, a promise He gives them if they submit to Him and become overcomers.

This is the template we will apply to each of these church messages to see what lessons we can learn for our own spiritual growth and walk with Jesus. We can see that Christ is intensely interested in His church on earth and does all He can to uphold and assist His people who still have to live in a messed up world while awaiting His return.

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