This is Episode #360 and today we’ll read Revelation chapters 1-3 together. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “the one who is, who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”
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Joy: You’re listening to Season 2 of the Lifting Her Voice podcast. This is Episode #360 and today we’ll read Revelation chapters 1-3 together. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “the one who is, who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”
Welcome to the Lifting Her Voice podcast, Season 2! I'm your host, Joy Miller, and I invite you to grab your Bible and join me - from the beginning - simply reading God's word together. We built some spiritual muscles in 2020 with just the New Testament. But this year we’re going all out, cover-to-cover, Old Testament and New. So, whether with your first cup in the morning, your commute to work, or as the last thing on your mind before sleep, God’s Word will equip you for every good work. I’m really glad you’re here!
Intro to the Book of Revelation
And so begins the final book in our goal to read all 66 books of the Bible this year. This is the Book of Revelation and, as the very first verse reveals, it is The revelation of Jesus Christ that God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. It serves as a warning to the seven churches of Asia Minor and as a guidebook to the end times.
John was living on the Island of Patmos just off the coast of modern-day Turkey when this book was written. He had been exiled there by the Roman authorities for preaching the Gospel, which was considered a threat to the empire.
Christ’s revelation is shared with John through a series of visions that are not necessarily sequential. In between these visions, John finds himself in the presence of angels and the throne room of God.
There are recurring themes in this book, such as the use of groups of seven objects, such as the seven churches of Asia Minor; the seven seals, the seven trumpets and the seven bowls.
Revelation can be a very confusing book. It is written using symbolism and imagery that are perhaps recognizable by a first century Jew but can be downright baffling to us in the 21st century. Don’t let this discourage you. Revelation challenges even the best Biblical scholars, who vary widely in their interpretation of this book.
What we should look for as we read the Book of Revelation is practical application for our lives today, and this is what I will focus on in my summary after each set of chapters. So fasten your seat belts and hang on as we dive in to this final book of the Bible.
Revelation Chapter 1:
The revelation of Jesus Christ that God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, whatever he saw. Blessed is the one who reads aloud the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear the words of this prophecy and keep what is written in it, because the time is near.
John: To the seven churches in Asia. Grace and peace to you from the one who is, who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead and the ruler of the kings of the earth.
To him who loves us and has set us free from our sins by his blood, and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father — to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
Look, he is coming with the clouds,
and every eye will see him,
even those who pierced him.
And all the tribes of the earth
will mourn over him.
So it is to be. Amen.
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “the one who is, who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.”
John’s Vision of the Risen Lord
I, John, your brother and partner in the affliction, kingdom, and endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard a loud voice behind me like a trumpet saying, “Write on a scroll what you see and send it to the seven churches: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.”
Then I turned to see whose voice it was that spoke to me. When I turned I saw seven golden lampstands, and among the lampstands was one like the Son of Man, dressed in a robe and with a golden sash wrapped around his chest. The hair of his head was white as wool — white as snow — and his eyes like a fiery flame. His feet were like fine bronze as it is fired in a furnace, and his voice like the sound of cascading waters. He had seven stars in his right hand; a sharp double-edged sword came from his mouth, and his face was shining like the sun at full strength.
When I saw him, I fell at his feet like a dead man. He laid his right hand on me and said, “Don’t be afraid. I am the First and the Last, and the Living One. I was dead, but look — I am alive forever and ever, and I hold the keys of death and Hades. Therefore write what you have seen, what is, and what will take place after this. The mystery of the seven stars you saw in my right hand and of the seven golden lampstands is this: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.
The Letters to the Seven Churches
Revelation Chapter 2:
The Letter to Ephesus
“Write to the angel of the church in Ephesus: Thus says the one who holds the seven stars in his right hand and who walks among the seven golden lampstands: I know your works, your labor, and your endurance, and that you cannot tolerate evil people. You have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and you have found them to be liars. I know that you have persevered and endured hardships for the sake of my name, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you: You have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember then how far you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. Otherwise, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet you do have this: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.
“Let anyone who has ears to hear listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.
The Letter to Smyrna
“Write to the angel of the church in Smyrna: Thus says the First and the Last, the one who was dead and came to life: I know your affliction and poverty, but you are rich. I know the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Don’t be afraid of what you are about to suffer. Look, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison to test you, and you will experience affliction for ten days. Be faithful to the point of death, and I will give you the crown of life.
“Let anyone who has ears to hear listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will never be harmed by the second death.
The Letter to Pergamum
“Write to the angel of the church in Pergamum: Thus says the one who has the sharp, double-edged sword: I know where you live — where Satan’s throne is. Yet you are holding on to my name and did not deny your faith in me, even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness who was put to death among you, where Satan lives. But I have a few things against you. You have some there who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to place a stumbling block in front of the Israelites: to eat meat sacrificed to idols and to commit sexual immorality. In the same way, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. So repent! Otherwise, I will come to you quickly and fight against them with the sword of my mouth.
“Let anyone who has ears to hear listen to what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name is inscribed that no one knows except the one who receives it.
The Letter to Thyatira
“Write to the angel of the church in Thyatira: Thus says the Son of God, the one whose eyes are like a fiery flame and whose feet are like fine bronze: I know your works — your love, faithfulness, service, and endurance. I know that your last works are greater than the first. But I have this against you: You tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and teaches and deceives my servants to commit sexual immorality and to eat meat sacrificed to idols. I gave her time to repent, but she does not want to repent of her sexual immorality. Look, I will throw her into a sickbed and those who commit adultery with her into great affliction. Unless they repent of her works, I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am the one who examines minds and hearts, and I will give to each of you according to your works. I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who haven’t known “the so-called secrets of Satan” — as they say — I am not putting any other burden on you. Only hold on to what you have until I come. The one who conquers and who keeps my works to the end: I will give him authority over the nations —
and he will rule them with an iron scepter;
he will shatter them like pottery —
just as I have received this from my Father. I will also give him the morning star.
“Let anyone who has ears to hear listen to what the Spirit says to the churches.
Revelation Chapter 3:
The Letter to Sardis
“Write to the angel of the church in Sardis: Thus says the one who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars: I know your works; you have a reputation for being alive, but you are dead. Be alert and strengthen what remains, which is about to die, for I have not found your works complete before my God. Remember, then, what you have received and heard; keep it, and repent. If you are not alert, I will come like a thief, and you have no idea at what hour I will come upon you. But you have a few people in Sardis who have not defiled their clothes, and they will walk with me in white, because they are worthy.
“In the same way, the one who conquers will be dressed in white clothes, and I will never erase his name from the book of life but will acknowledge his name before my Father and before his angels.
“Let anyone who has ears to hear listen to what the Spirit says to the churches.
The Letter to Philadelphia
“Write to the angel of the church in Philadelphia: Thus says the Holy One, the true one, the one who has the key of David, who opens and no one will close, and who closes and no one opens: I know your works. Look, I have placed before you an open door that no one can close because you have but little power; yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. Note this: I will make those from the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews and are not, but are lying — I will make them come and bow down at your feet, and they will know that I have loved you. Because you have kept my command to endure, I will also keep you from the hour of testing that is going to come on the whole world to test those who live on the earth. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one takes your crown.
“The one who conquers I will make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he will never go out again. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God — the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from my God — and my new name.
“Let anyone who has ears to hear listen to what the Spirit says to the churches.
The Letter to Laodicea
“Write to the angel of the church in Laodicea: Thus says the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the originator of God’s creation: I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of my mouth. For you say, ‘I’m rich; I have become wealthy and need nothing,’ and you don’t realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind, and naked. I advise you to buy from me gold refined in the fire so that you may be rich, white clothes so that you may be dressed and your shameful nakedness not be exposed, and ointment to spread on your eyes so that you may see. As many as I love, I rebuke and discipline. So be zealous and repent. See! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
“To the one who conquers I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.
“Let anyone who has ears to hear listen to what the Spirit says to the churches.”
According to my husband’s NIV Study Bible, John’s main point in this book is to challenge and encourage the believers in Asia Minor in the midst of their opposition and persecution. Chapters 2 and 3 address 7 of the churches in the area: 2 of the churches receive accolades while 5 are rebuked for falling short of the mark.
The church at Ephesus is accused of abandoning the love they had at first for the Gospel. Pergamum is accused of heresy and Thyatira is condoning a prophetess who encourages sexual immorality among the believers in the church. And the church at Sardis is accused of being not alive, but dead.
Perhaps the most chilling of all is the rebuke of the church at Laodicea: I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish that you were cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of my mouth.
It is all too easy to be a lukewarm Christian. We are so busy, our lives are so full and we get so tired. Sometimes we don’t do our best or give it our all; instead, we do just enough to check it off our list and move on to the next pressing matter.
But Christ calls us to devote ourselves wholly to our faith, to be good witnesses for the Gospel and allow it to be an all-consuming fire in our lives. We will never be perfect in this life, but we should persevere and run a good race, as Paul would tell us.
Let’s pray. Lord, thank You that You love us enough to rebuke us when we wander astray. Forgive us when we are lukewarm, for forgetting about our first love and neglecting our faith. Help us to be strong, to persevere and be good witnesses for the Gospel that has provided a path to spend eternity with You. Amen.
What stands out the most to you about these 3 chapters? Share with me at Lifting Her Voice.com, Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
Thank you for joining me here today. I pray that by spending time in His Word every day, you will be changed. Visit me at Lifting Her Voice.com with your comments and questions. And don’t forget to visit the Blog page while you’re there. If you like the podcast, it would be great if you’d give it a five-star review and share it with everyone you know. Don't forget to subscribe wherever you get your podcasts. See you tomorrow!
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible(r), Copyright (c) 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible(r) and CSB(r) are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.