12 October 2007Revelation 2:12-29
"To everyone who conquers and who continues to do my works to the end, I will give authority over the nations; to rule them with an iron rod, as when clay pots are shattered- even as I also received authority from my Father. To the one who conquers I will also give the morning star. Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches." (v.26-29)
These verses contain two of seven 'letters' addressed to
churches in various parts of Asia (present-day Turkey). They are
prophecies, written as words from God given in a vision to a man
called John who was, he tells us in chapter 1, in exile
on the Greek island of Patmos on account of his faith.
Each of the seven letters follows a similar pattern. They begin with a statement from the risen Lord, which echoes an element of John's vision. Then there is praise for the positive characteristics of the life of the congregation in that place, criticisms of its deficiencies and a final promise to 'the one who conquers' (ie who overcomes all challenges to remaining faithful) that they will share at the end of time in the blessings of the risen Christ.
The letters close with the exhortation, "Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the spirit is saying to the churches".
It has been pointed out by scholars that the particular elements of the vision that are cited in each letter typically relate to something connected with the culture or environment of the city concerned. Thus the words would be heard by the recipients as very relevant to their circumstances.
It is likely that the book of Revelation was written at a time when the Christians faced actual or imminent persecution, even to the point of death, somewhere towards the end of the first century AD.
Although the visions often contain harsh words of criticism of particular practise and individuals, the overall tone is one of encouragement.
Sometimes a close friend or advisor is able to see the real you, warts and all. If you know such a person, in what ways do they encourage you, as well as offer constructive criticism?
Can you think of someone or a situation where you can offer words of constructive comment? What is to stop you from doing it?