Candlesticks, Angels and Thrones

I. The Lord identifies the elements of the initial Vision.

A. The seven candlesticks are the seven churches (Revelation 1:20).

1. Moses was commanded to make the lamp-stand, "candelabrum," for the tabernacle according to the pattern shown him on Mount Sinai.

2. Described in Exodus 25:31-40; 37:17-24, it was made of fine gold.

3. Hebrews cites the tabernacle furnishings as a “figure” (Hebrews 9:9) and as a “shadow” (Hebrews 10:1) of things to come.

4. Jesus specifically indicates that the “candlesticks” ARE the churches (Revelation 1:20).

B. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches (Revelation 1:20).

1. The angels could be the “pastors” of the churches (possible, but not clearly in keeping with the context).

2. The angels could be the angels responsible for the churches (most probable – see Revelation 1:4 and 3:1).

3. The seven angels could be the same seven involved with the Trumpets (Revelation 8:2-6) and the Vials (Revelation 15:7; 17:1; 21:9).

4. The seven angels could be the “seven spirits” of God (Revelation 4:5) and/or the “seven eyes” (Revelation 5:6) who are “sent forth into all the earth.”

C. The interpretation and application of these images is complex.

1. Some suggest that the letters are only applicable to the seven named churches – no future intent.  This does not fit the Biblical evidence since the messages are specifically said to be to all “the churches.”

2. Some suggest that the letters are merely figurative illustrations of a progressive “Church Age” and represent chronological stages of the Church until Jesus comes back. 

a. Historical evidence is sparse for a progressive church scene. 
b. History reveals each of these types of churches in every period.

3. Some suggest that the letters are representative of churches during all of the Church Age.  This is the most probable application.

II. The letters give specific information about each kind of church.

A. The message to Ephesus (Revelation 2:1-7)

1. They are doctrinally sound but with a love grown cold.

2. They are in danger of losing the “lamp stand” – its church relationship.

3. The Overcomers are promised the privilege of eating from the tree of life.

B. The message to Smyrna (Revelation 2:8-11)

1. They are faithful in the middle of terrible persecution.

2. They are one of two churches with no condemnation by the Lord.

3. They are encouraged to “be faithful unto death.”

4. The Overcomers are promised a “crown of life” and will not be hurt by “the second death.”

C. The message to Pergamos (Revelation 2:12-17)

1. They have a clear identity even during times of martyrdom.

2. They are in the middle of “Satan’s Seat” and are still faithful.

3. They are holding to “the doctrine of Balaam” – compromise and immorality.

4. They are holding to “the doctrine of Nicolaitans” – pastoral hierarchy.

5. They are warned to repent or have Christ “fight against” them.

6. The Overcomers are promised “hidden manna” and a “white stone” with a “new name” that no one will know but the one who receives it.

D. The message to Thyatira (Revelation 2:18-29)

1. They are growing, loving, serving, patient, but too tolerant.

2. They are permitting a “Jezebel” to “seduce” the saints into idolatry.

3. Those who will not separate from her will suffer with her.

4. Those who have not known “the depths of Satan” are responsible to remain faithful with what they know and where they are.

5. The Overcomers are promised “power over the nations” and a “morning star.”

E. The Message to Sardis (Revelation 3:1-6)

1. They have a reputation as a living church, but are dead.

2. There are no commendations to this church – all warnings.

3. They must remember what they once knew and strengthen that which remains but is ready to die.

4. If they are not diligent, they will not know when they are judged.

5. There are a few who “have not soiled their clothes” – even in Sardis!

6. The Overcomers are promised “white clothing” and will not have their name “blotted out of the Book of Life.”

F. The message to Philadelphia (Revelation 3:7-13)

1. They are a strong church with attention to the Word.

2. They are one of two churches with no condemnation by the Lord.

3. They have an “open door” given to them by the Lord.

4. They will see their enemies acknowledge their favour with Christ.

5. They will be kept from the “hour of temptation” (trial) that will come on the earth.

6. They have one warning: “don’t let any man take your crown” (2 John 8).

7. The Overcomers are promised permanent residence in the New Jerusalem and public identity with Jesus Christ.

G. The Message to Laodicea (Revelation 3:14-22)

1. They are a lukewarm, oblivious church in danger of expulsion.

2. They are not “cold or hot” – just “room temperature” – just like the world.

3. They will be “spit out” of Christ’s mouth for their “lukewarm” nature.

4. They think that they are rich and successful – are ignorant of their poverty.

5. They are counselled to “buy” the true riches, clothing, and eye-salve from their Lord.

6. They are encouraged to “open the door” to their church and let the Lord in to fellowship with them.

7. The Overcomers are promised seats with the Lord on His throne.

III. The characteristics, blessings and warnings for all these churches are important for us to know.

A. Here are “good” characteristics for a church to emulate.

1. Detest evil and test for Truth while taking the “long view.”

2. “Hate” the Nicolaitans (people conquerors).

3. Faithful in the face of tribulation and bold in the face of suffering.

4. Maintain a faithful testimony even during the darkest time of error.

5. Declare the name of Jesus Christ under all circumstances.

6. Generous in service and in charity and growing more effective over time.

7. Aware of her strengths from the Lord and keep (guard) the Word of God.

B. Here are “bad” characteristics for a church to avoid.

1. Not let love grow cold or permit false teaching to remain in her.

a. Those who teach compromise (doctrine of Balaam).
b. Those who are “Nicolaitans” (people conquerors).
c. Those who are false prophets (Jezebel).

2. Not become indifferent to growing deadness or confuse worldly success with spiritual success.

C. Here are warnings for all churches to heed.

1. It is possible for a church to become “unchurched” by Christ.

2. It is possible for a church to incur the anger of Christ resulting in being “fought against.”

3. It is possible for a church, as well as certain of its members, to be “troubled” by Christ for their disobedience.

4. It is possible for a church to be so unaware of what God is doing that she is “plundered” suddenly.

D. Here are Christ’s instructions for all churches to follow.

1. Remember your first love, and return to the first works.

2. Not be afraid of suffering and be faithful even unto death.

3. Hold fast what remains until the return of Christ.

4. Be watchful and strengthen the things that remain.

5. “Buy” gold tested in the fire of God’s truth, clothing made white in the righteousness of the Saints, and eye-salve that will enable to “see” truth.

6. Pay attention to the discipline of God and repent of misdeeds.

E. Here are the promises of blessing for all the churches.

1. “Overcomers” will eat of the “tree of life” in the garden of God.

2. “Overcomers” will not be hurt by the “second death.”

3. “Overcomers” will “eat of the hidden manna” and receive a “white stone” that holds a secret name known only to God.

4. “Overcomers” who continue in the works of Christ will be given authority over the nations and will be given the “morning star.”

5. “Overcomers” will be clothed in white, their name permanently recorded in the Book of Life, and openly recognized by Christ before the Father.

6. “Overcomers” will be made a “pillar” in the heavenly temple; will remain forever, with the name of God and the City of God inscribed on them.

7. “Overcomers” will be privileged to sit with Christ on His throne.

IV. The throne room and court of heaven is revealed.

A. The throne is described (Revelation 4:2-3).

1. The “Crystal Throne” is surrounded by the “Rainbow”.

2. Ezekiel 1:26-28 - And above the expanse over their heads there was the likeness of a throne, in appearance like sapphire; and seated above the likeness of a throne was a likeness with a human appearance… Like the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud on the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness all around.

B. The court of heaven is pictured (Revelation 4:4-11).

1. The 24 Elders are probably the 12 Patriarchs and the 12 Apostles.

a. The song they sing (4:9) appears to identify them as “redeemed” and therefore, human.
b. However, the living creatures are also singing this song (“us” and “we” refers to both the elders and the living creatures of verse 8), and may be some of the eternal beings, angel “powers”, not men. 

2. The four “Living Creatures” are present.

a. They are also pictured in Ezekiel 1 and Isaiah 6.
b. They have 4 faces identifying with the creation “categories.”
1) The Man face obviously represents humanity.
2) The Lion face probably represents the “beasts of the field.”
3) The Ox face probably represents the “cattle.”
4) The Eagle face probably represents the “birds of the air.”
c. They are commonly represented as having a human shape.
1) Ezekiel emphasizes that each creature has four faces.
2) Revelation seems to indicate that each creature has only one face.
d. They are pictured with 3 sets of wings.
1) Isaiah 6 and Revelation 4 specify 6 “wings,” 3 pair.
2) Ezekiel identifies 2 sets of wings and 1 multiple “wheel.”
e. They are said to be “full of eyes.”
1) Ezekiel seems to stress that the “rings” were full of eyes.
2) Revelation pictures them as “full of eyes within.”
f. They are obviously connected with the Throne and the Presence.
1) Ezekiel notes that they carry the Throne wherever needed.
2) Revelation stresses their involvement with Throne decisions.
The Revelation of Jesus Christ
ch. 1 - 4


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