A Timely Challenge:
Seven Mysterious Lettersby Chuck Missler
The Book of Revelation
Revelation is the only book in the Bible that promises a special blessing to the reader.1 (Many passages tell us to read the Bible in general terms. Only one book has the audacity to say, in effect, Read me; I'm special.)
Early in my teens, I encountered a Bible teacher who heralded that The Book of Revelation is written in code; but every code is explained somewhere else in the Bible.
That really caught my attention. And that discovery changed my entire life.
The Seven Letters
Ask any Bible student how many epistles (letters) are in the New Testament. He will probably answer 21 : 13 authored by Paul, plus Hebrews, which appears anonymous;2 and the seven "general epistles" by Peter, James, John, and Jude.
We usually overlook the seven most important letters: the seven authored by Jesus personally. For many reasons, these seven letters, comprising Chapters 2 and 3 of the Book of Revelation, are probably the most important part of this book for you and me.
Why These Seven?
There were many other churches at that time that would seem to be more historically significant than the seven that Jesus addressed: the churches at Jerusalem, Rome, Galatia, Corinth, Antioch, Colossae, Iconium, Lystra, Derbe, Miletus, to name a few. Why did Jesus select just these seven Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamos, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea?
Four Levels of Meaning
There appear to be at least four levels of application to these letters:
These letters describe, with remarkable precision, the unfolding of all subsequent church history. If these letters were in any other order, this would not be true!
These letters appear to fill the interval between the 69th and 70th "weeks" of Daniel 9. The Book of Acts covers about 30 years; these two chapters of the Book of Revelation cover the next 1,900 years.
Seven Key Elements
A key aspect to understanding the letters is to grasp the structure of their design. A careful examination of the letters reveals seven key elements in their design:
|Epheses:||The Desired One|
It is also interesting that this key phrase in element 7 is the final element in the last four letters, but appears before the "Promise to the Overcomer" (element 6) in the first three, leaving the promises as a kind of post script after the body of the letters themselves. This design suggests that the first three letters and the last four may share some particular characteristic. [It is also interesting that only the last four letters include explicit references to our Lord's Second Coming.]
The Missing Elements
Once the basic structure is evident, one also notices that two of the letters, Smyrna and Philadelphia, have no Criticism, Element 4. That's encouraging for them.
Also, two of the letter, Sardis and Laodicea, have no Commendation, Element 5. That's rather grim.
The Prophetic View
If these seven letters really do include a preview of all church history, then where are we now? Are we, indeed, in the period suggested by the letter to Laodicea?
Judge for yourself.
Also, is there an intended parallel between these seven letters of Jesus Christ and His seven "Kingdom Parables" of Matthew 13?
An what about Paul's letters? It is interesting that Paul signed 13 epistles; but 3 of these had "duplicate" addressees: Corinthians, Thessalonians, and Timothy. That is 13 - 3 = 10 addressees.
But three addressees were individuals: Titus, Timothy, and Philemon. 10 - 3 = 7. Paul wrote seven churches.
Is there a possible parallel between the seven churches Paul wrote to and the seven that Jesus addressed in Revelation 2 & 3?
A detailed study of these seven letters exceeds the scope of this brief glimpse. These remarks have been included to stimulate you to take a closer look at these two chapters and conduct your own careful analysis.
In addition to the practical insights from the letters, you will also see another of the many examples demonstrating the evidence of careful design: the Bible consists of 66 books, written by 40 authors over thousands of years--and yet bears the clear evidence of supernatural engineering.