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Revelation; The Seven Churches (have been warned-pt1)

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posted on Jun, 20 2010 @ 01:35 PM
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I want to offer some thoughts on Revelation ch2 & ch3.

These are "the letters to the seven churches", of course. They begin with warnings, and end with promises, but I think the promises deserve to be a topic in their own right.

In these two threads, I'm going to be asking the question; what kind of warning should the church be taking out of these chapters?

I'm going to begin by looking at the details of what they say to the churches of John's own time (which were all based in western Turkey, in what was then the Roman province of Asia).

Then I'll be trying to generalise from the details, looking for the essential message, hoping to see what can be applicable to the church at large, and in particular to the church in John's future, when the prophecies of Revelation would be fulfilled.

Instead of starting at the beginning, I'm going to go straight to the most ominous-looking observation. In the beginning of the letter to the church in Pergamum, the local Christians are told that "I know where you dwell, where Satan's throne is". (ch2 v13) What does he mean by this?

Pergamum was a former capital, with a collection of well-known temples. The explanations for "Satan's throne" normally focus on one of them.

One of the possible candidates is the temple of Zeus; as the "high God" of Greek culture, Zeus would be, in a sense, the most direct public rival to the Biblical Creator God.

Another option is to draw attention to the serpent-form associated with the healing-god Aesculapius, remembering that Satan is later described as "the great serpent" or "the dragon". In fact, if Satan is to be understood as a promoter of non-Biblical religion, then the entire temple complex in the city could be seen as a massive power-base for his work.

But if we have to pinpoint any specific location, I'm inclined to put my money on the temple dedicated to Rome- DEA ROMA- and to Augustus in 29BC.

My reason is that the name "Satan", in Revelation, is not just associated with idolatry, but with persecuting idolatry. I've already described what was happening in ch12, when his great anger at his "fall from Heaven" was driving him in hostile pursuit of "the Woman" who represents God's people;

Satan fell from Heaven
On an eagle's wings

Then the dragon calls the "Beast" out of the sea, and gives it "his power and his throne and great authority" (ch13 v2), so that the Beast can "make war upon the saints". The dragon and the persecuting power which he's called into existence are so closely identified that they even share physical features, viz the seven heads and ten horns (ch12 v3, ch13 v1).

And that same letter to Pergamum confirms the connection, when it refers to the fact that "Antipas, my faithful witness...was killed among you, where Satan dwells". In John's time, of course, the persecuting power was the Imperial authority. It would make sense, then, that "Satan's throne" should be a reference to Imperial authority, and in particular to the temple which was a local centre of the Imperial cult.

Satan's name is mentioned again in connection with the Jews. In two different places, in the letter to Smyrna (ch2 v9) and in the letter to Philadelphia (ch3 v9), they're described as "the synagogue of Satan, who say that they are Jews and are not".

I wonder if this, too, has something to do with involvement in persecution. In the Smyrna letter, certainly, the comment about the "slander" of the Jews is placed in the immediate context of "your tribulation" and "what you are about to suffer", and the fact that "the devil is about to throw some of you in prison". A plausible connection would be that the authorities were taking action against Christians on information received (DELATIO, in Roman legal parlance), and that some of this information was coming from the Jews.

The Jews would have been well-placed for this. The Jewish faith was an established "licensed" religion- RELIGIO LICITA- while the Christian faith was not. In the early days of the church, when the church was only just separating out of the Jewish nation, the distinction would not have been clear-cut. Roman officials might have been slow to notice that a new group was emerging. Hostile Jews could have made it their business to explain the difference, and to draw the attention of the authorities to Christian meetings.

And what about "call themselves Jews and are not"? Is this, perhaps, an oblique way of challenging the Jewish claim to be God's people Israel, on the gounds that this role has been taken over by the church (as, indeed, it has, from a Christian standpoint)? But there's also the possibility that this letter really does mean what it seems to imply, that the synagogue hostility was coming from, or at least being led by, men whose ancestors were not born Jews.

When Paul, in Acts, was visiting synagogues, he was able to address "Greeks" there, as well as Jews. There must have been a large number of "interested" Gentiles, potential proselytes, floating around the synagogue community. It seems likely that Paul was able to divert many of them to Christianity. But there may have been many others who ignored this distraction and attached themselves to the Jews instead, going on to make a full commitment. Did the proverbial "zeal of the convert" then prompt them to take the lead in hostility to those among their fellow-Gentiles who took the Christian route? That would be one way of accounting for the comments in these letters.

What's emerging from these reflections is a sense of the menace which is coming from outside the church.
This is a recurring theme in the Bible as a whole.
The classic example, in the Old Testament, is the the oppression suffered by the Israelites and the hands of the Egyptian Pharaoh, which is identified with the life-work of Moses.
Then, of course, the story continues, with Israel's experiences with the Philistines, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, and so on.

These letters indicate how the same theme was experienced by the church in John's own time.
The rest of Revelation points towards a renewal of the same pattern, in the fulfilment of prophecy.

There would be a parallel to the menace of "Satan's throne", in the sense of experiencing hostility from the centres of power.
The later chapters of Revelation describe the rise of a great persecuting power, "the Beast", leading to a "war on the saints" which involves the suffering and death of faithful believers (e.g. ch13 v15).

We must consider the possibility that there would also be a parallel to "the slanders of the Jews", in the sense of experiencing hostility from former co-religionists.
Later passages in Revelation suggest that a substantial portion of the Christian community would be willing to compromise their faith and to accept the claims of "the Beast".
If these "co-operative" church members were to begin to assist the subsequent persecution, by giving information to the authorities about their less "co-operative" former brethren, then the parallel would be complete.

How should faithful believers be conducting themselves in the face of these dangers?
There is very clear advice in these letters, which centres upon the words "patience" and endurance". The churches are praised because "you have kept my word and have not denied my name" (ch3 v8), because "you hold fast my name and you did not deny my faith" (ch2 v13).
They are urged to resist the temptation to compromise, to be faithful, if necessary, "even unto death".

The key instruction, perhaps, which makes the endurance possible, is-
DO NOT FEAR (ch2 v10).

These chapters are written to give them a warning, but also to give them an assurance, that the promises offerred at the end of these letters are available to "those who conquer".







[edit on 20-6-2010 by DISRAELI]




posted on Jun, 20 2010 @ 02:01 PM
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This is an interesting bit of "trivia",but I don't think it's trivial! Symbolism is important,and I think this says alot about the times we're living in. The full article is fascinating. Here is just a portion:




...Approximately two-thousand years after Revelation 2:13 was written, German archeologists removed the massive altar of Zeus from the ruins of Pergamos and took it to Berlin, where it was restored as the centerpiece of the Pergamon Museum. It is here that Hitler first adored it, later building an outdoor replica of it from which he gave a series of speeches that mesmerized many Germans.

“Fast forward about another 75 years,” says blogger El Gallo. “Another charismatic young politician mesmerizes huge German crowds with a rousing speech in Berlin. Barack Hussein Obama…. [and] did Barack Obama visit… the Great Altar of Zeus…? Presumably he did.” [38]

Whether Obama received inspiration from the throne of Satan while in Berlin or not, what he did next was astonishing. Upon returning to the United States, he immediately commissioned the construction of a Greek-columned stage from which he made his acceptance speech for his party’s nomination. Because Greek temples such as those built to honor Zeus were thought to house the patron deity, the GOP ridiculed Obama, mocking him as playing Zeus of “Mount Olympus” and accusing his supporters of “kneeling” before the “Temple of Obama.” The New York Post ran an enlightening Convention Special supplement on August 28th, 2008 with the telling headline: ‘O’ MY GOD: DEMS ERECT OBAMA TEMPLE blazoned across the front cover. But it was not until blogger Joel Richardson pointed out how the design of Obama’s stage was a dead ringer for the Great Altar of Zeus [39] that Obama’s campaign managers tried to explain away the design as being a conglomeration representing the portico of the White House with the U.S. capital building. “But experts agreed with Richardson,” Gallo wrote, “it was a replica of the Great Altar of Pergamum.” [40]

Thus, incredibly, like Hitler, Obama had honored the goddess Victoria with his presence before ordering a replica of the biblical throne of Satan built, upon which he accepted his date with destiny.

www.raidersnewsnetwork.com...



posted on Jun, 20 2010 @ 02:08 PM
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reply to post by On the Edge
 

Thank you for bringing in that story and that link.
I did read about the altar being taken to Berlin, at various points on the internet.
I didn't bother mentioning it in the OP- partly because I wasn't interested in the inference some people were drawing, that Satan's power would follow the physical object- and partly because I literally had no space left. I was down to 20 characters by the time I finished typing!
Anyway, I intend to inspect that link as soon as I get the chance.
Thank you very much.



posted on Jun, 20 2010 @ 02:49 PM
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reply to post by DISRAELI
 


Glad to contribute!

I always enjoy your well thought-out threads and appreciate the content greatly!

There's something interesting about Obama in this article you might like also,concerning "the spirit of Egypt". lasttrumpetnewsletter.org...

Your question is "What kind of warning should the church be taking?" In my opinion,the warning for us today is to be aware that the spirit of the antichrist is alive and well and people should pray for discernment in these things,so to not be deceived into following "doctrines of demons"! And also,like you pointed out,to pray for faithfulness and endurance,even to the point of death!

Thank you for doing your part in keeping the word of God alive on this forum! His truth is the same yesterday,today,and forever,whether people want to admit it or not. Some of us are called to "Watch" and sound the trumpet,and may God bless you for doing so.



posted on Jun, 20 2010 @ 03:08 PM
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Originally posted by On the Edge

Your question is "What kind of warning should the church be taking?" In my opinion,the warning for us today is to be aware that the spirit of the antichrist is alive and well and people should pray for discernment in these things,so to not be deceived into following "doctrines of demons"!

Thank you again for that second link.
I've had a quick glance at it, and will read it properly when I've got more leisure.
As for the remarks above; yes indeed, and you may have noticed that I haven't yet covered Balaam and Jezebel and the Nicolaitans! To be continued in Part2.
Your encouragement is much appreciated.



posted on Jun, 20 2010 @ 05:20 PM
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reply to post by DISRAELI
 

On the subject of "the slanders of the Jews";
I originally intended to add this quotation, from a later Christian writer, but there simply wasn't the space in the OP. So I will add it in now.

This is a complaint from the second-century apologist Justin Martyr.

"For other nations have not inflicted on us and on Christ this wrong to such an extent as you have, who in very deed are the authors of the wicked prejudice against the Just One and us who hold by Him...you selected and sent out from Jerusalem chosen men through all the land to tell that the godless heresy of the Christians had sprung up, and to publish those things which all they who know us not speak against us. So that you are the cause not only of your own unrighteousness, but in fact that of all other men. And Isaiah cries justly 'By reason of you, my name is blasphemed among the Gentiles'...You displayed great zeal in publishing throughout all the land bitter and dark and unjust things against the only blameless and righteous Light sent by God."

"Dialogue with Trypho", ch17. Justin Martyr



[edit on 20-6-2010 by DISRAELI]



posted on Jun, 20 2010 @ 09:34 PM
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*Eyes glued to the screen*

The Nicolaitians have long caught my attention as I read about the seven churches, and I look forward to seeing what else this thread reveals.

Excellent work!



posted on Jun, 20 2010 @ 10:40 PM
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Nicolatians: The word Nicolatians, meaning follower of Nicolaus, which in the Greek comes from the two Greek words nikos (conquer) and laos (people) in other words conquer the people. The word Baalam is a Hebrew word meaning not of the people or destroy the people. In other words Nicolatians and Balaam mean the same thing in Greek and Hebrew. They represent false prophets who infiltrate the church to destroy the people of God through idolatry and sexual immorality.


www.apocalipsis.org...

"But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate." Revelation 2:6

This leads straight to the doctrines of the Catholic church,as Revelation continues to identify this as the "anti-christ" church.

I'm not sure where this thread is headed,but I'll check back for more!



posted on Jun, 21 2010 @ 08:56 AM
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I'm not sure where this thread is headed,but I'll check back for more!



I look forward to seeing what else this thread reveals

Perhaps I should make it clear, to avoid confusion, that Part2 of this topic was always going to be in a new thread, which will probably be coming out next weekend.

I don't think it spoils anything if I set out the relationship between them.
This thread has been about the danger coming from outside the church-
which is typified in the Old Testament by the life-work of Moses.

The second thread will be about the danger coming from within the church, the temptation to compromise with the attractions of other religions-
which is typified in the Old Testament by the life-work of Elijah.

This neat categorisation is slightly spoiled by the events of Shi ttim (which is also about Moses), but I need it for the purposes of another chapter further on down the line.

[edit on 21-6-2010 by DISRAELI]



posted on Jun, 21 2010 @ 05:40 PM
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Originally posted by On the Edge
www.apocalipsis.org...

Also thank you for providing this link.
I've got a slightly different angle on the Nicolaitans themselves, but in other ways that gentleman and I seem to have a lot in common.
E.g. he agrees with some of the things I'm expecting to say about the 2 Witnesses.
Amongst other things, I notice on one of his pages that he was converted by David C.K Watson in1973; I was converted by one of the same man's books in1972.
That commentary certainly seems to be worth investigating.



posted on Jun, 28 2010 @ 09:55 AM
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Originally posted by DISRAELI
And what about "call themselves Jews and are not"? Is this, perhaps, an oblique way of challenging the Jewish claim to be God's people Israel, on the grounds that this role has been taken over by the church (as, indeed, it has, from a Christian standpoint)?

I think it should be noted that the 1st century believers of Christ, still considered themselves Jewish. I think this statement is a direct reflection of the internal conflict which had to be going on between the Old Jewish faiths, and what the people who belonged to the new Jesus or Christ movements would of considered the New Jewish faith.



posted on Jun, 28 2010 @ 09:57 AM
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Originally posted by DISRAELI
There would be a parallel to the menace of "Satan's throne", in the sense of experiencing hostility from the centers of power. The later chapters of Revelation describe the rise of a great persecuting power, "the Beast", leading to a "war on the saints" which involves the suffering and death of faithful believers (e.g. ch13 v15).

I think these comments and your references to the latter Chapters, when read with historical context; shows how powerful a Prophet John was in this sense: he predicted the severe persecution of Christians within the Roman Empire, the fall of the Roman Empire, and further on in Revelations John predicts how the triumph of Christ would bring about a new world, a “New Jerusalem” (Rome) for centuries afterwards and even into the present is considered the birthplace of the global spread of Christianity. Especially, if you consider the Beast in John’s perspective was not doubt the “Beast” and Rome before its acceptance of Christianity made horrible “war on the saints”. In addition, John’s time Rome had become a great empire which enveloped many cultures and religions, besides the Italian peninsula. I think this is also the reason John was shown a beast with many heads, each head of the beast could of represented not just Romans from what we now call Italy, but also Romans from France, Spain, Britain, Carthage, Egypt, and Palestine. When using this historical perspective when one reads the descriptions of the different heads it’s easy to see a connection to the other areas of Roman Empire.



posted on Jun, 28 2010 @ 09:59 AM
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Originally posted by DISRAELI
How should faithful believers be conducting themselves in the face of these dangers?
There is very clear advice in these letters, which centers upon the words "patience" and endurance". The churches are praised because "you have kept my word and have not denied my name" (ch3 v8), because "you hold fast my name and you did not deny my faith" (ch2 v13).
They are urged to resist the temptation to compromise, to be faithful, if necessary, "even unto death".

Your comments remind me of how much the Christians were persecuted in the Coliseums. There are many historical references to how they would ask the Christians who had been captured to renounce their faith, to avoid being feed to the lions. This highlights the strength of these people’s faith and beliefs in those promises. I find myself often wondering how many Christians in today’s world would be able to do the same, it is hard to imagine. To be imprisoned knowing you will not only be killed but feed to wild beats and all you have to do is to say, “I denounce Christ as my Lord” and they would let you go free, those who kept their faith “even unto death” were in my books no doubt “Saints”, who completely believed in the promises John told them they would receive if they would overcome.



posted on Jun, 28 2010 @ 10:03 AM
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reply to post by DISRAELI
 


In addition, I believe the most important parts of Chapter 2&3 are what are promised to those who overcome the temptations of evil. For example:

“He, who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.” Revelations 2:7

“He, who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes will not be hurt at all by the second death.” Revelations 2:11,

“He, who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it.” Revelations 2:17,

“Only hold on to what you have until I come. To him who overcomes and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations—He will rule them with an iron scepter; he will dash them to pieces like pottery just as I have received authority from my Father. I will also give him the morning star. He, who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Revelations 2:25-29

“He who overcomes will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out his name from the book of life, but will acknowledge his name before my Father and his angels. He, who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Revelations 3:5-6,

“Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name. He, who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” Revelations 3:12-13

“To him who overcomes, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I overcame and sat down with my Father on his throne. He, who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches." Revelations 3:21-22.

These promises to those who overcome had to be devoutly believed by those Christians who were slain at the hands of the Romans just as John had prophesied. And as Christians in the present we should hold close to our hearts, those promises, when we are facing troubles which may separate us from our relationship with God.



posted on Jun, 28 2010 @ 10:10 AM
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reply to post by AmosGraber
 

I think your suggestion is quite close to mine.
Is your thought that the Jews who followed Jesus regarded those who did not as forfeiting their claim to be Jews?
Whereas mine was that the Jews+Gentiles who followed Jesus regarded those who did not as forfeiting their claim to be "Israel".
Both can be illustrated, of course, by the Baptist's comment, that God can "from these stones" raise up children to Abraham.
A reasonable viewpoint, anyway- it's not easy to read people's thought-processes with so little information.

I take it, then, that my second suggestion did not appeal to you.



posted on Jun, 28 2010 @ 10:17 AM
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Originally posted by AmosGraber

In addition, I believe the most important parts of Chapter 2&3 are what are promised to those who overcome the temptations of evil. For example:

Yes, indeed. So much so that I was proposing to make them a distinct topic in their own right.
Although, to be honest, the original reason for separating warnings and promises was the character limit on postings. But there is such a thing as making a virtue out of necessity, or rather realising that what necessity imposes is a good thing anyway.



posted on Jun, 28 2010 @ 10:17 AM
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Originally posted by DISRAELI
I think your suggestion is quite close to mine.
Is your thought that the Jews who followed Jesus regarded those who did not as forfeiting their claim to be Jews? Whereas mine was that the Jews+Gentiles who followed Jesus regarded those who did not as forfeiting their claim to be "Israel".

I do not think the Jewish people in the 1st century who were part of the Jesus or Christ Movements were suggesting those who did not were forfeiting anything, I can only guess though, but I think they were more aligned to the idea of Christ being the prophesied Messiah from the Old Testament scriptures, however I bet many were profoundly frustrated by the Old Jewish sects denial of their claim.



posted on Jun, 28 2010 @ 10:28 AM
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Originally posted by AmosGraber
those who kept their faith “even unto death” were in my books no doubt “Saints”, who completely believed in the promises John told them they would receive if they would overcome.

I'm inclined to see this as the central purpose of the whole book. "A call for the patience and endurance of the saints". The message is, "Trust me, don't be afraid".

[edit on 28-6-2010 by DISRAELI]



posted on Jun, 28 2010 @ 10:34 AM
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reply to post by DISRAELI
 


I agree.....I think the hardest to overcome is patience, there are too many Christians in the present, myself included, which need to always remember to be patient, sometimes its good to be still, while listening for God's advice. So many Christains in the present seem to be too invovled in pronouncing judegments, while bearing false witness against other Christains and non-believers.



posted on Jun, 28 2010 @ 10:41 AM
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reply to post by AmosGraber
 

Incidentally, have you noticed that the second part of this is also on the forum now? "Seven churches warned against toleration".






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