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The Seven Church Ages - 3. Prelude

3. PRELUDE.

 

Revelation 1:9 I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ. 10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day, and I heard behind me a loud voice, as of a trumpet, 11 saying, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last,” and “What you see, write in a book and send it to the seven churches which are in Asia: to Ephesus, to Smyrna, to Pergamos, to Thyatira, to Sardis, to Philadelphia, and to Laodicea.”

  12 Then I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands, 13 and in the midst of the seven lampstands One like the Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band. 14 His head and hair were like wool, as white as snow, and His eyes like a flame of fire; 15 His feet were like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace, and His voice as the sound of many waters; 16 He had in His right hand seven stars, out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword, and His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength. 

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The Church Age starts with Jesus Christ standing in the midst of the seven churches, which are represented by seven lampstands, which also represent the fullness of the presence of God and power of the Holy Spirit within the early Church (Zechariah 4:1 – 6; Revelation 3:1 & 5:5). In a sense Christ is the tree of the Light of truth, and through Christ the power of the Holy Spirit flows to the branches, the churches, whose purpose is to shine the Light of the Gospel to the world (John 5:14).  

 

Christ is clothed in a garment down to His feet, the garment of righteousness, and He is girded about the chest with a golden band, the breastplate of righteousness. The garment of righteousness represents the outward working of Christ righteousness, while the breastplate of righteousness represents the inner righteousness of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ white head and hair speaks of His purity of mind and thought. His eyes of fire, speak of how Jesus judges each man’s work with fire, to see if it is of gold and silver, or of hay and straw (I Corinthians 3:9 – 15). His feet were like fine brass, refined in a furnace. 

 

This was written in a time when strong rooms, city gates, and soldier’s armour were often made of brass. Jesus Christ as the Captain of the host of the Lord (Joshua 5:14) has His feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:15). For it is by taking forth the gospel of peace into the world that we take the gospel of Jesus Christ to the very gates of Hell, and claim very inch of land that we place our foot on (Deuteronomy 11:24) and our enemies we shall trample under our feet (Luke 10:31) just as Christ crushed the head of Satan with His foot (Genesis 3:15).

 

But it is no use us having our feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace, if we will not open our mouth and speak the words of God, and when Jesus speaks His voice is like the sound of many waters. This speaks to us of the power of the spoken word of God to sanctify and cleanse the Church of Jesus Christ, and not only of the importance of the local pastors to speak the word of God over the church, but also of the importance that very man should speak God’s word daily to his wife and children.

 

Ephesians5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the Church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of the water of the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself as a glorious Church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish. 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.

 

In His right hand Jesus Christ holds the seven stars, who we are told are the angels of the seven churches. The Greek word for angel means a messenger. These angels are the local pastors of the seven churches, and as such they are Jesus Christ’s messengers to the churches. When Jesus speaks His word through the local pastors, His word shall not return void, but it shall accomplish that which pleases God, and it shall prosper in the thing for which God sent it (Isaiah 55:11).

 

Hebrews4:12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and joints and marrow, and the discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. 13 And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.

 

His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength (Revelation 1:16).  Jesus Christ is the true Light which gives light to every man (John 1:8 - 9). Prior to Jesus Christ earthly ministry the Jews had the written word of God as a prophetic word, like a torchlight shining in a dark place till the coming of Jesus Christ, whose countenance was like sun shining in its strength. 

 

II Peter 1:19 And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; 20 knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, 21 for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.

 

To recap, the Church age starts with Jesus Christ, the tree of the Light of truth standing in the center of the churches. The power of the Holy Spirit flows through the branches to the churches, the lampstands, whose purpose is to be the Light of the world (John 5:14), and the local pastors are the messengers of God, who declare God’s word to His people the church. 

 

John after hearing and seeing these things falls as dead before Jesus Christ. 

 

Revelation1:17 And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, “Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. 18 I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and Death. 19 Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this. 20 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 which you saw are the seven churches.

 

When John falls down as dead, Jesus says, “Do not be afraid.” Then goes on to remind John of His death and of His resurrection to everlasting life, and that He has the keys of Hell and death.

 

Man is an eternal soul who lives in a body and has a spirit. So what does Jesus Christ mean when He says that He has the keys of Hell and death. For mankind death is not the end, but a separation of spirit, soul and body. Upon the separation of spirit, soul and body, our spirit returns to God who gave it, our body is placed in the grave, and our soul is carried by the angels to the world of the dead, also known as Hell. Hell is divided into at least two areas, Paradise the resting place for the souls of the righteous, and the pit of Hell, into which the souls of the wicked are cast. More often than not, when the Bible couples Hell and death together; Hell is a reference to the world of the dead, the resting place of the souls of departed mankind; and death is a reference to the grave, the resting place for the bodies of departed mankind. Jesus Christ holds the keys of Hell and death, for it is only He who holds the power and authority to raise both man’s soul from Hell, and man’s body from death.

 

It is important to us as Christians, that we not only know Jesus Christ our Lord died on the cross for our sins, descended into Hell, then on the third day rose from Hell and death and now lives for evermore (Acts 2:29 – 35 & Ephesians 4:9 – 10), but that we also know and believe that Jesus holds the keys of Hell and death (Revelation 1:18), and that when Jesus returns, we who are in Christ will also be raised from Hell and death. Then we shall have no fear of death, nor shall we love our lives to the death (Revelation 12:11).

 

As Christians we should not fear death. For us death is the door between this world and Paradise, with a written guarantee from God that when Jesus Christ comes again we shall be raised from Hell and death. 

 

I Corinthians15:20 But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the fristfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. 

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As we read the book of Jesus Christ Revelation to the churches, we are looking at things past, things present and things future. The seven churches are real churches that existed 1,900 years ago. They also represent seven different types of churches, and they also represent seven church ages, in which this type of church represents the majority of the churches of that church age. 

 

Ephesus, the first church mentioned is a type picture of the majority of Christian churches during the first church age, 30 A.D. to 100 A.D. (It was during this age that the first apostles lived). Smyrna the second church mention, is a type picture of the majority of Christian churches during the second church age, 100 A.D. to 325 A.D. (It was during this age that pagan Rome tried to destroy the Church). Pergamos representing the third church age 325 A.D. to 594 A.D. (Pope Gregory the Great, who reigned from 594 A.D. to 604 A.D., not only marks the end of this church age, he also marks the beginning of the Middle Ages). Thyatira the forth church age, began in 594 A.D. and continued till (the day Martin Luther nailed his document of 95 theses to the church door in Wittenberg in) 1517. Sardis the fifth church age 1517 to (the founding of the London Missionary Society in) 1795. Philadelphia the sixth church age begins in 1795 (with the Church once again committing it self to “Go into the whole world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15) “and make disciples of all nations” (Mathew 28:19). Laodicea the seventh church age, started during the 1850’s, and since then churches of both the Philadelphia and the Laodicea type have, and will continue to exist side by side until the return of Jesus Christ. 

 

Note: The dates given for the seven church ages are only approximate dates, and are only given as guide to the unfolding of church history. Our main aim in this study of the church ages is not to become too pedantic in knowing historical facts, but to gain greater insight and understanding of God’s kingdom here on earth. Neither is it our aim to lay judgment on those of the past or present, but to learn from those who have gone before us. 

 

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Along side these letters to the seven churches, we will also look at the seven kingdom parables that Jesus Christ shares with us in Matthew chapter 13. These parables also give us an overall view of the Church age (from the resurrection of Jesus Christ to His second coming). By doing this we not only increase our knowledge and understanding of the letters to the seven churches, we also bring in a second major witness. 

 

 

 

 

Written by Kenneth Allan Clark and printed and published by

VICTORIOUS CHRISTIAN MINISTRIES INTERNATIONAL. P.O. BOX 144 WYNNUM QLD 4178 AUSTRALIA.
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