Sunday, October 14, 2012

Numbers of Dispensation?

Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter; The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.
Revelation 1:19-20

Jesus gave John a great key to understanding the message delivered on Patmos.  It is found in verse nineteen of chapter one, "Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;..."  What John saw was the glory of the resurrected Christ in His position as our Heavenly High Priest. John had walked for three years of his life with the Lord, but the full glory of Christ revealed that day literally knocked him off of his feet.  Next, Jesus mentioned for him to write the things that are.  This portion of Jesus' revelation was the next two chapters--the letters to the churches.  Finally, the things which will be hereafter speaks of what will come during the Tribulation after the completion of the church age.  This begins at chapter four throughout the end of the book.

Jesus then returns to His position as our Great High Priest and elaborates on His priestly work walking among the seven churches.  Since this is still happening, it has left some to assume that we are still in the period of "...
the things which are".  Furthermore, it seems that Jesus' use of the word mystery indicates that there is depth to His instructions that needs to be prayed about.  Some see this mystery and the letters as an outline to the churches work on earth while He is in Heaven.  The idea that Jesus outlined the entire church age in these letters is controversial; however, there is a mysterious correlation to the letters then and the history of the church over the last 2000 years that needs to be considered.  Understanding that may well let us see the nearness of His return.  Again, the ordinal position of each church enhances the message to each and outlines the past two millenia as well. 

The first days after the resurrection saw the church being like the church in Ephesus.  They were in total unity with Christ.  It is to this age all look wish to emulate even today.  However, again hear the warning of Christ.  It is possible to have a whole lot going on for Christ and not be placing Him first!  Always lift Jesus up as number one.  He will then draw all men to Himself and the church will grow.

The second church carried that number that speaks of Christ's fellowship with suffering.  Sardis was the age of the suffering church.  Jesus said that they would have tribulation for ten days.  History reveals ten "days" of persecution under ten Caesars.  Here they are:  Nero beginning 67 AD, Domitian beginning 81 AD, Trajan beginning 108 AD, 
Marcus Aurelius Antoninas, Severus beginning 162 AD, Maximus beginning in 235 AD, Decius in 249 AD, Valerian beginning in 257 AD, Aurelian in 274 AD, and Diocletian beginning in 303 AD.  Amazing--ten Caesars brought exactly ten seasons of persecution.

After this came the time when the true doctrines of the church were heavily attacked by rampant heresy.  Of these, the Trinity (symbolically seen in the number 3) was one of the doctrines settled in conference.  Remember Pergamos?  They were warned of heretical teachings creeping in.

Then comes worldly Thyratira.  This also matches the time when the church became the state and God's church was too much like the world to the point that the two could not be differentiated.  It would take the Reformation to shake the church from the worldliness that had set in.

Five is the number of grace.  What was the main point of contention during the days of the Reformation?  Was it not the means of salvation?  Salvation was shown to be a work of grace during this time period.  Sadly, the majority of the church was dead as it was relying on the pathetic works of the flesh while not relying on the power of God's Word nor the presence of the Holy Spirit.

The church in Philadelphia was concerned with open doors to be a witness.  This matches perfectly in church history with the time period when the Great Awakenings and the missionary outreach of the church was begun.  This was the season when men prayed 24/7 for a hundred years as well.  No wonder there was an open door--Christ was first place!

Finally, there is the church that thinks it needs nothing due to its wealth.  It is a worldly, materialistic, complacent church that is lukewarm with God.  Sound familiar? Is this not the current condition of the church?  Having said that, it reminds us to turn wholly to Christ as His is most certainly Soon2Come!

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