I was intending to dive straight into chapter 2 today, but I felt there was something that I needed to say before we started.
By far, the parts of Revelation that are preached most often in churches are chapters 2 and 3. Why? Because they’re probably the “easiest” to understand. They sound very much like the other epistles that Paul and the other apostles wrote to the churches.
But I think there’s something we all need to keep in mind. There was a reason that Jesus spoke these messages to the church. The reason? The end is near.
I’ve mentioned before that we are in the last days, and we’ve been in the last days since the days of the apostles. (Acts 2:16-17, Hebrews 1:2, I John 2:18).
And as John mentioned in his letter, while an ultimate antichrist will someday come, there will be many antichrists in the meantime. In fact, many antichrists had already come in John’s time. (I John 2:18)
And we are warned that with these antichrists will come false prophets and teachers. People will go about deceiving and being deceived. If that weren’t enough, God’s people will be persecuted for their faith.
Because of all these things, God will pour out his judgment on the earth. Some of it will come through people, as in wars and violence. Some of it will come through natural means, such as natural disasters and plagues.
These are things that are mentioned time and time again in the book of Revelation.
Does any of this sound familiar to you? It should. We’ve seen it throughout the history of the church. And it’s happening even now.
And God’s word to the church in John’s time is the same as it is now. Because the problems plaguing the church then in the face of their antichrists are basically the same problems that plague us now as we face ours.
So these letters to the churches are not just meant to be ordinary “peacetime” admonitions. These are admonitions to prepare us for the antichrists we face now, and the ultimate antichrist we will face in the future. They are to prepare us for the tribulations we face now, and the tribulations we’ll face when the ultimate antichrist comes.
As we look at these letters in the next several days then, keep this in mind. I know many of you who read this don’t think we’ll face the antichrist or the great tribulation. I hope we don’t.
But even if you believe that, remember that the church has always faced antichrists and tribulations. So even if God in his grace pulls us out before the antichrist shows up and the great tribulation starts, we will face other antichrists and tribulations before then. And these letters are meant to prepare us for them.
Are you prepared? To be prepared, we need to listen to what Jesus has said.
So as Jesus says time and again in these letters,
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. (2:7)