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The Seven Churches
(Revelation 1 - 3)

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Trumpets
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Azazel
Sukka Tabernacles
(14, 20-22)
10 11 12-13 14-15
Lamb Church Accepted Seals Sealing Judgment Remnant Legal Case Satan Rules Warning Destruction Rescued
Lamb High Priest King Judge Bridegroom
Lamb of God (Seed) Holy Spirit (Water) Comes Sealing Children of God named
Barley Harvest Latter Rain Rain Wheat and Grape Harvest Latter Rain Rain Fruit Harvest
7 Churches Seven Seals 7 Trumpets Seven Thunders Seven Last Plagues

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Symbols
Revelation is written in the order of the feasts. These are the sequence of significant actions of God in our salvation. This section of Revelation introduces God as the Passover Lamb who died for His church. The symbols used involve the church of priests receiving the blessings of the Most Holy Place.

Background
These seven churches existed in Asia minor, which is currently in western Turkey.
Historicist. Verse 19 supports the historicist view that prophecy continues throughout history. John is told to write certain things.

He Is Coming
Look, He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen. (Revelation 1: 7)

We can see that this a combination of all the righteous who ever lived, some people from the time of the crucifixion, and the wicked who are alive at the Second Coming. All of those could be there and it does not alter the statement. But let us look at the text as a list that includes all the people of God who will be present at the Second Coming.

Jesus Our High Priest And Intercessor
As their shepherd, Jesus appears to each church in a form that they need. He also rewards them with what they have been denied. We can use two scriptures to show us the duty of a true shepherd. Then we will show how Jesus performs those duties with each of the seven churches.
Psalm 23 shows us the behavior of a good shepherd.
Ezekiel 34 shows us the behavior of a bad shepherd and wicked sheep.

Duty Psalm 23 Ezekiel 34 John 10 Church Month Jesus Rebuke Reward
The Good Shepherd The Church (The Sheep)
Food The Lord is my Shepherd Feed the flock The Good Shepherd Ephesus Nisan: Kings Seven lamps and stars
Altar Fire
Lost first love Eat from the tree of life
I shall not want Gives His life
Rest, Water Rest in green pastures Strengthen, rest Finds pasture Smyrna Ziv: Exodus, oasis in the desert Was dead, is alive
Altar, Laver
None No second death
Calm waters Life Eternal life
Heal, TeachRestores the soul Heal sick, Bandage the Broken Saves, calls sheep by name PergamosSivan: Holy Spirit Sword
Priest
Teachings of Balaam. Eat idols food White stone, new name, hidden manna
Guide Paths of righteousness Leads, seeks lost Seeks lost ThyatiraTammuz: Idolatry Eyes of flame.
Bronze feet.
Searches minds and hearts.
Menorah
Jezebel leads astray
False prophet
Morning star
No Fear in the valley of death. No Fear of evil Wild beasts Wolf, thief, stranger, hired handAuthority over nations. Rod of Iron
Rod and Staff comfort Reassure, Not dominate
Bless Table prepared Fruit harvest Abundant life SardisAv: Heat, grape harvest, temple destroyed Seven Spirits, seven stars
Table of Shewbread
Asleep White garments.
Book of Life
Cup runs over. Anoint with oil Showers of blessing
Goodness, mercy Covenant Incense altar
Home Live in the House of God forever They are my people The Door. calls sheep by name PhiladelphiaElul: Animal tithe brought to house of God Key of David. Door, open and shut. Holy, true
Torn Veil
Yom Kippur
None Pillar in the temple, never leaves. Name of God, city, Jesus
Gather scattered Other sheep, one flock
Judge Amen Fat sheep are judged Doorkeeper. Voice of Shepherd LaodiceaTishrei: Judgment Amen, faithful and true witness. Beginning of the creation.
Ark
Wretched, poor, miserable, blind, naked Sit on His Throne
Destructive, selfish, greedy sheep

The Divisions of the Seven for Judgment
# Church Seal Trumpet Plagues Empires
1-4 Shepherd Horsemen Judgment People First four
5-7 Sheep Wrath 3 Woes Leaders Last three
4 Empires: Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece, Pagan Rome
3 Empires: Papacy, Papacy fallen, Papacy revived
The duty of the shepherd is to keep the sheep from the ravages of the curse and to carry out the covenant of God. We also find a division in the emphasis to the churches. The first four churches emphasize the duties of the shepherd. The last three emphasize the promise to the sheep.

We find this same artificial division in the seven seals, the seven trumpets, the seven plagues and even the seven heads of the beast empire. In all these systems, the events follow the pattern of creation. The first four involve empire building. The last three involves filling the empire.

  1. Famine. The good shepherd feeds the sheep and gives them fresh water.
  2. Rest. He gives them peace and safety and rest.
  3. Heal. He provides for their medical needs.
  4. Guide. He guides them out of danger and comforts them. He protects them from wild beasts.
    From the Psalm we learn that to rule with a rod is a comforting act. It is not an act of punishment, fear and domination.
  5. Covenant. He provides the blessings of the covenant. Abundance, the Holy Spirit and forgiveness.
  6. Home. He finds the lost and gathers the scattered into the fold. He finds a permanent home for them.
  7. Judge. He settles disputes and judges between one sheep and another or between a sheep and a goat.

The Seven Churches
Ordination1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Holy
Spirit

Dove
Ephesus Smyrna Pergamos Thyatira Sardis Philadelphia Laodicea
Judah Issachar Zebulun Reuben Simeon Gad Dan /Joseph
Judah Reuben Ephraim Manasseh Naphtali Asher Dan
Nisan Ziv Sivan Tammuz Av Elul Tishrei
White Horse Red Horse Black Horse Pale Horse Martyrs Signs Silence
Early
Church
31-199
Romans
Persecute
200-350
Apostasy

350-530
Papacy
Persecutes
538-1740
Martyrs
Sleep
Earthquake (1755)
Dark Day (1780)
Stars fall (1833)
1844 Judgment Second
Coming

Ezekiel's Vision of Israel
Judgment of the King of the North
DragonBabylon Judged Dragon
Go North
History of the Seven Churches
(The Falling Away)
DanChurch Comes out of Babylon
(The Exodus)
Go South
Asher
Naphtali
Manasseh
Ephraim
Reuben
Judah
The Man of Sin Restrained
Go North
Temple
Sanctuary
The Man of Sin Revealed
Go South
Levites
City
City
Five Other Tribes
First Coming-Second Coming

The Angels Of The Seven Churches
As for the mystery of the seven stars which you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands: The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches. (Revelation 1: 20)

The word angel means "messenger". They are the trumpets that announce the coming of the church at the beginning of the month. They are the stars that guide the church in the darkness, even when there is no moon. Therefore, the seven stars are probably the major prophets assigned to each church.

We will look at history to guess who these people might have been. They must be brave souls who fearlessly spread the word of God. The stars are the prophets and the lamps are people in the church and the moon is the church.

The Vision Of Ezekiel
We also find an amazing similarity between the seven tribes that are north of the temple in the land distribution of Ezekiel's vision.
The names of the sons, the blessings of Israel and the blessings of Moses all point to certain characteristics of different phases of the church and they also prophesy about the different phases of the final week in the life of Jesus. The lesson on the twelve tribes explains these prophecies.

The vision of Ezekiel is about the temple that exists after the crucifixion until the Second Coming. It prophesies about Christ's interaction with the church as their High Priest from His inauguration after the resurrection until He comes back again. They represent a contrast between what the churches are supposed to be and what they have become. The churches begin with a tribe that is closest to the sanctuary and as they move north and further away from the sanctuary they become more corrupted until they reach the territory of Babylon, the king of the north who will be judged for corrupting the church.

Tribe The Legal Marching Order Of The Tribes
The marching order of the tribes in Numbers 10 shows how the tribes should leave on their exodus and how the sanctuary and its furnishings should be handled during the exodus. We will compare this legal marching order to the one that might have occurred after Christ. Essentially, the church went astray from the order. Only Christ seems to have followed the order and He had to rebuke the church that went astray.

Angel Ark of the Covenant
Ark
Cloud Cloud Cloud Cloud Sons of Levi Cloud Cloud Holy Objects Cloud Fire
Arrow Left Moses
Aaron
Judah Sanctuary Taken Down Fabric and roof
Gershon
Sanctuary building
Merari
Reuben Sanctuary Restored Kohath: Holy Objects
Kohath
Joseph
(Ephraim)
Dan
Angel Jesus Ephesus Sanctuary Destroyed Thyatira Sanctuary Restored Laodicea

In the lesson below we will use the following symbols.

Rosh Chodesh
The words mean "head of the month". In ancient times, Rosh Chodesh was a significant festival day. At that time, the new months were determined by observation. Each month began when the first sliver of moon became visible after the dark of the moon. Observers would watch the sky at night for any sign of the moon. If they saw the moon, they would report their sightings to the Sanhedrin, which would interrogate at least two witnesses to make sure that they were not mistaken.
The day after the moon appeared was a festival, announced with the sounding of the shofar
Source: Judaism 101 - Rosh Chodesh

Moon Rosh Chodesh: The Seven New Moons
While the stars represent the prophets, the moon represents the church.
There are seven new moons between Nisan and Tishri, the first and the seventh month. They represent the seven last churches from Passover to the month of Tabernacles or the time of First Coming to the Second Coming.

Since the length of a month is variable, the new moon was determined by observation, not the passage of time. So it is with the fulfillment of the prophecy. We know that a new phase of the church has begun after a period of great darkness and the first sign of light from the church appears. But we do not know how long that phase of the church will exist.

The Phases of the Moon. The Moon represents the church which shines by reflecting the light of God, the Sun. So we will also look at the phases of the moon to determine what the church is doing and how it is spreading the light of God to the world that is darkened by sin.
New Moon Crescent Moon First quarter Moon Full Moon Last quarter Moon
New MoonCrescent Moon First Quarter Full Moon Last Quarter

Nisan Ziv (Iyar) Sivan Tammuz Av Elul Tishrei
Passover Census, FloodPentecost Law brokenTemple destroyed Animal Tithe Rosh Hashanah Yom Kippur Tabernacles
Grain HarvestGrape HarvestOlive Harvest
Originally, the months were numbered, but after the Babylonian captivity they were named. Names have significant meaning in the Bible, however we cannot be certain that these heathen names were meaningful. But we will look at important events that occurred in each month and the phases of the moon to determine what was occurring in the church.
The Church: Jews and Gentiles. It is also our position that it was the will of God that the Jewish and Gentile church separate for a while, but that both are His church. So the message to the churches must include the Jews of each era.

1. Ephesus (False Apostles)
The Church of Ephesus represents the early Apostolic Church. 31 AD to the second century.

The Resurrected Jesus
This church would suffer martyrdom. Jesus appears as the one who conquered death.

2. Smyrna (Persecution And Apostasy From Without)
The church of Smyrna represents the church under the pagan Roman persecutions around the time of Diocletian. The third to fourth century.

3. Pergamum (Persecution And Apostasy From Within)
Jesus has a Two-Edged Sword
This church would fall into apostasy and neglect the word of God. Jesus appears as the one with the word of God in the form of a sharp double edged sword.
The church of Pergamum represents the church of the apostasy around the time of Constantine the Great. The fourth to fifth centuries.

4. Thyatira (The Church During The 1260 Years)
King Jesus is the Fire
This church would suffer martyrdom and severe persecution. Jesus appears as the one in charge of fire. He has burnished feet and eyes like flame. This reminds the church that would be burned alive in the flames of the inquisition that God is fire and He cannot be burned up. And, He will be a consuming fire to those who are persecuting his church.

Jesus also rewards them with the throne of kings. They would rule nations. These are the powerless people who suffered under the iron-fisted rule of kings, nobles and priests.
The Church of Thyatira represents the apostate Roman Catholic Church of the Middle Ages from 538 to 1798. This church suffered from a lack of guidance and sunk into deeper apostasy.

Seven Spirits and Seven Stars
This church would start a reformation and then fall asleep. Jesus appears as the one who has the light of the gospel and the life giving Spirit to wake up the church.

5. Sardis (The Post Reformation Church)
The church of Sardis represents the sleeping church after the Reformation period from the sixteenth century to the end.

6. Philadelphia (The Loving Church With The Open Door)
The name Philadelphia in Greek means "brotherly love." The church of Philadelphia represents the loving Christians of the Adventist movement, that depend upon Christ from 1844 to the End.

7. Laodicea (The Church That Is Judged)
The True Witness and
The Beginning Of Creation
This church would carry the message of the first angel. This is the eternal gospel and the knowledge of the creator. This church would be the last who would spread the eternal gospel as a witness to all nations. Jesus appears as the one who is the true witness and the one who would begin the new creation.

They would also experience the Second Coming. Jesus warns them to have the robe of righteousness because for a short time there would be no intercessor.
The Church of Laodicea represents a group of people at the end of time during the time of the judgment. They are in danger because they believe that they are righteous and filled with the blessings of God. In reality, they are in danger of losing their souls.

1844Elul (Exodus) Tishrei (Judgment)
Giraffe Elephant Leopard Ape Lamb Penguin 22 October 1844
(Yom Kippur)
Ark Rosh Hashannah Ten Days Of Awe Yom Kippur Door Closed Plagues Ark
Gathering the Sheep (The Final Exodus) Righteous Enter The Ark (Booths) Wicked Outside Rest

Benjamin (The Baby Church)
In the lessons on the twelve tribes we show that the final church is modeled after Benjamin, the last child of Israel whose mother died in childbirth. Just as Christ is pictured as the lamb, the priest, the altar, the veil and each piece of the sanctuary, so is the church represented by different symbols which describe a different aspect of their experience.
The church is a woman who gives birth. The church is the innocent child who is born again.

The Reward Of The Victorious Sheep
PriestRighteousWicked
Priest Turban and crown with words "Holiness to the Lord" Crown of lifeMark of the name of the beast on their forehead
Breastplate had jewels with the name of each tribeName of God, Christ and JerusalemName of the beast
72 bells and 72 pomegranates 144,000 sealed666
White robe White robeNaked
Ark of the CovenantContentsReward
Ark of the Covenant Manna Bread of life
Aaron's Rod Resurrection
Commandments Book of life
River of life Flows from the throne
Tree of life Grows by the throne
And He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father. (Revelation 1: 6)
The objective of Christ in giving the rewards is to make His church priests of God and kings and to give us eternal life. (Revelation 20: 6). So in each reward, He gives them eternal life and dresses His church in the clothes of the priest and He makes them permanent structures of the Most Holy Place in the temple. Why?

So they become priests who receive the name of God and the blessings of the covenant and the rewards that are contained in the ark of the covenant (the throne of God). Let us take a look at the reward for each church.

  1. Tree of Life. Eats from the tree of life.
  2. Turban and Crown of Life. Crown of Life. They will not be hurt by the Second death. This is eternal life.
  3. Bread of Life. White Stone with a new name. Gets the hidden manna (the bread of life), white stone with a new name.
  4. Glory of God. Authority over the nations and the morning star.
  5. Robe of the Priest. Clothed in white garments and their name will be in the book of life.
  6. Name of God written on them. They will be a pillar in the temple of God. They will have the name of God, Jesus and the New Jerusalem written on them.
  7. Ark of the Covenant. Sits on the throne.

In contrast, the wicked, who have the name of the beast, receive curses in the form of the seven last plagues (Revelation 16). They are made unfit to enter the temple and to participate in the worship.

The Covenant
Another look at the seven churches shows the restoration of the covenant in His church despite their apostasy. This is more clearly seen in the church of Philadelphia whose message restored the sanctuary of God rather than destroy it. While the seals chronicle the application of the curses, the church shows the reverse.
# Name Seals # Covenant CurseCovenant Restored
1 Ephesus White horse Covenant renewal The church in which the blessings were applied
2 Smyrna Red horse 1 War, no peace, sudden terror The gift of martyrdom was given to those who become the victims of terror
3 Pergamos Black horse 2 No produce, no rain The Holy Spirit was available to the church that fell into apostasy
4 Thyatira Grey horse 3 Wild animals, no children,
reduced population
During the long persecution a church was fed in the wilderness
5 Sardis Martyrs ask for vengeance 4 Famine, disease, sword, covenant vengeance The Bible only. The sword of God was used by this church for the reformation. There was no longer famine for the word of God
6 Philadelphia Signs in Heaven 5 Sanctuary destroyed The doctrine of the heavenly sanctuary is restored by this church
7 Laodicea God Exile This is the people that will go to exile. The wicked to the grave and the righteous to Heaven.

Summary -The Seven Churches
# Name Period Represents Key Feature Praise Rebuke Jesus Reward
1 Ephesus 31 AD - Second Century The early Apostolic Church Evangelism. Lost First Love. False Apostles. Persevered. Opposed false apostles and the Nicolaitans. In their zeal they have lost their first love - evangelism Seven stars and seven lamps (light) Eats from the tree of life
2 Smyrna third - fourth Century Pagan Roman persecutions - around time of Diocletian. Martyrs. Persecution and Apostasy from without. Rich in faith. Martyrs, faithful until death. None Resurrected. Was dead and alive Eternal life
3 Pergamos fourth - fifth Century Church of the Apostasy around the time of Constantine the Great Apostasy. Persecution and Apostasy from within. Praises those who are faithful during apostasy. Nicolaitan apostasy. Many fell into immorality and idolatry. Sharp two-edged sword of the word of God Hidden manna, white stone with a new name
4 Thyatira 538 - 1798 AD Apostate Roman Church of the Middle Ages Apostasy and Persecution. Church During The 1260 Years The good works, faith and love and endurance Jezebel. Refuses to repent and tolerates paganism Eyes like fire and feet burnished Authority over the nations. Morning star.
5 Sardis sixteenth Century to the End Sleeping Church of the Post-Reformation Reformation. The Post Reformation Church -that does not continue into full light- full maturity A few in Sardis have not soiled their garments - have remained righteous Has the name of being alive - but is dead. Her works are unfinished Seven spirits, seven stars. (Light and the Holy Spirit of truth) White clothes, name in the book of life, Christ represents them by name before God and angels
6 Philadelphia 1844 - End The Christians of the Advent movement - that depend upon Christ Revelation (Open Door). The Loving Church - open door to the Heavenly Sanctuary Have kept Christ's Word and refuse to deny His name None Holy, true, key of David, opens and shuts Permanent pillar in the temple. Has the name of God and the New Jerusalem written on them.
7 Laodicea 1844 - End Self Righteous church who no longer walk in submission to Jesus Judgement, Witnesses. Means "judging the people" None Believe they are strong and rich, but they are lukewarm and poor. True witness, beginning of creation and the Amen. Knocks on the door Sits on God's throne

Study to show yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.   2 Timothy 2: 15 Time: 100 minutes
Print: 19 pages
Copyright     Updated : June 2009
Credits:
Author: Laverna Patterson. Editor: Patterson (January 2008)
1. See our reference page for "Nicolaitans word study".
(2/19/2005) The Holy Spirit told me to rewrite this from the perspective of the Good Shepherd.
July 2007. The vision of Ezekiel and the seven churches.
September 2007. The phases of the moon and the seven churches.
Fox's Book of Martyrs. Chapter 2. The Roman Persecutions.