I know you are probably ready to read about the seventh church and the seventh seal; ready to find out what is going to happen at the end of the world. We could do that, but we would only understand part of what we are reading about if we did that right now.
You see, what has happened in the past has brought us to where we are now; and what has happened in the past is going to happen again. Therefore, it is important to spend some more time learning what happened to a couple of churches in the past so we will know what to expect when it is our turn to go through times of trouble.
Did you ever have to give someone bad news? If you loved that person and cared about his or her feelings, you probably tried to soften the blow by giving some good news first, or at least tried to find something positive to ease the pain of what was to follow.
“The good news is…”
Our God is a merciful God, and when Jesus was giving John visions of what was to come, he made sure to give John hope before giving the bad news, which would give hope to those believers who would read Revelation and go through the troubles described. Jesus followed the pattern established with Daniel and the visions about world empires – successive visions with each vision adding more detail than the last.
So what we have in the remaining chapters of Revelation are words and visions of hope followed by more and more detail regarding the times of the churches – including the seventh and last church. But we are going to follow the story chronologically, so as we discuss each topic you will find we are jumping from vision to vision, collecting the pieces and putting them together into one continuous story line. At first we will be skipping parts of the good news, or the words of hope, because they refer to the end of the story. We will address them in their proper time.
In Ezekiel 3:1 we find that Ezekiel, a prophet for God, was told to, “…eat this scroll, and go, speak to the house of Israel.” In Revelation Chapter 10, before John is given more information as to what will happen to two of the churches we looked at in the last chapter of this book, an angel holds a book and John, also a prophet of God, is told to take the book and eat it. He is also told that, “…it will make your stomach bitter, but in your mouth it will be sweet as honey.” (verse 9) This confirms what we discussed in the previous paragraph where our merciful God mixes good news with the bad news that John must relate.