Reflections: Thoughts on the Book of Revelations

“Hey, Mom,” yelled Liam, “I forgot about my assignment for youth group!”

“Eat dinner while you tell me about it,” said Mom.

“We’re supposed to read Revelation 2:1-7 and decide what God likes and doesn’t like about that church,” said Liam. “I figured you knew so you could just tell me.”

“Thanks for the vote of confidence, but, it was your assignment,” said Mom. “We can look it up together though.”

Liam read while he chewed and after a bit said, “It’s a letter to the church in Ephesus and it seems that God likes that they work hard, don’t tolerate evil people and trust in God in spite of hardship and persecution.”

“That’s a good start,” said Mom.

“Here’s the negative part,” said Liam, “God has something against them because they have lost their first love. What does that mean?”

“I think,” said Mom, “that their love for God is not as exciting as it once was.

“OK, but listen to this,” said Liam. “God hates the Nicolatians! I didn’t think God hated anyone!”

“Let me see,” said Mom looking over his shoulder. “Please read it again.”

“OK,” said Liam, “It says, ‘You hate the practices of the Nicolatians, which I also hate.’ Oh, he hates their practices, not them. I wonder what they did that was so wrong.”

“Good question,” said Mom, “perhaps that will be discussed tonight.”

“I just noticed,” said Liam, “that twice it refers to their lamp stand. At the beginning it says that God walks among the lamp stands and later he says that if they don’t change, God will take their lamp away.”

“Tell me more when you get home,” said Mom.

When Liam came home, he said, “I thought this would be boring because Revelation seems weird, but it’s really interesting!”

“It can be a challenge,” said Mom, “because some of it is about what has not yet happened. Other books of the Bible can be compared with the Old Testament or verified in history.”

“The Nicolatians,” said Liam, “compromised with society by mixing pagan practices with Christian beliefs.”

“It sounds like they were making Christianity conform to the world rather than letting God change the world,” said Mom.

“The leader said that this era was very pagan,” said Liam. “They thought that if God was gracious, they could do anything they wanted. They missed that it’s a relationship with God that must be nurtured.”

“That makes sense,” said Mom, “and what about the lamp stands?”

“The lamp stands,” said Liam, “represent the seven churches to whom these letters were written. God walks among them, observing and guiding. Taking the candle stick from the lamp stand means that the church is no longer a light for Christ. He showed us a picture of an Ephesian building which was probably where Christians once met. It’s in ruins. Besides, Turkey is now only about 1% Christian instead of the thriving area that Paul talks about.

“If our church compromises and is not following and serving God purposely and faithfully,” said Mom, “we may also lose our ability to be a light to the world.”

“Scary thought,” said Liam.

Spend time reading the other letters in Revelation 2 and 3. If God were to write a letter to our churches in Minot and beyond, what would He say? Are we caught up in petty disagreements or are we passionately devoted to being a light to the area in which we live?

Helen McCormack and her husband, David, are members of Wycliffe Bible Translators serving from their home in Minot.