The book of Revelation is all about world news! What God
gave in the Bible’s most important book of prophecy is a
description of world events that carry this world to the time
of Jesus Christ’s Second Coming!
The Apostle John recorded the prophecy, but he didn’t understand
most of it. It is for this time right now, and it is mostly about
the chaotic present. The terrible events besieging our world were
all prophesied in Revelation. We can see it as never before: The
events it describes are beginning to unfold before our eyes!
Revelation gives us a time sequence of major events. It supplies
the story flow. Every gigantic step in world events is described in that
book, where we can read and study it.
God gives His Church a great responsibility, and He expects
a lot from us. He charges us to deliver a message of hope and
good news. But that message also includes a strong warning about
the worst suffering ever to strike this Earth, just before Christ’s
Second Coming. God commands that we do all we can to broadcast
this message to the whole world.
A lot of insight about the Church’s commission can be found in
the earliest chapters of the book of Revelation.
PROPHECY FROM THE FATHER
Consider what is revealed in just the first few words of the book of
Revelation: "The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God [the Father] gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass” (Revelation 1:1). These words introduce God the Father and Jesus Christ. The first verse of Revelation demonstrates God’s royal family government. The Father is the Head of His Family. The Apostle John recorded this prophetic message, but this book came from God the Father. He structured everything precisely and carefully. He wants us to know that all this revelation came from Him—not from Christ, not from an angel,"
"certainly not from John—never from a man! This book contains the Father’s prophecies about future events which He gave to Jesus Christ to share with His servants. The Father is the originator of prophecy. This reveals the Father’s thinking about His coming Family, the Kingdom of God—the good news that is the gospel."
"Verse 7 describes the event that will introduce that Kingdom to the world—Christ’s return: “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him ….” The book of Revelation is all about the Second Coming. Our lives must revolve around that great cause—to the extent that, if necessary, we would die for it."
"Prophecy also reveals the terrible events that will precede Christ’s return, including the dreadful Day of the Lord. Revelation depicts this in detail, starting in verse 10, where John wrote: “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day.” The Day of the Lord is the theme of this book. So much of Revelation describes the events that occur right before the Second Coming. Zephaniah called it the day of God’s wrath (Zephaniah 1:15, 18). The book of Revelation reveals God’s wrath on the people of this world. It foretells the time when God will send plagues upon plagues."
"Then, at the end of that day of wrath, events will climax with Jesus Christ returning to Earth! Revelation shows the exact sequence of events that will lead to that grand-smash event."
Regarding His Second Coming, Jesus Himself said, “But of that
day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but
my Father only” (Matthew 24:36). Only the Father knows “that
day and hour.” The book of Revelation is about “things which shall
be hereafter” (Revelation 1:19). It is a book of prophecy that must
come to pass! God the Father will see to it!
In Revelation 1:4, John addressed this book “to the seven churches
which are in Asia.” Why seven churches?
Verse 10 concludes with John hearing “a great voice, as of a
trumpet”—and then notice what immediately follows: “Saying, I am
Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write
in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto
Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira,
and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea” (verse
Again we see seven churches, and here they are specifically listed.
These were literal congregations that existed in the region of
modern-day Turkey during the first century a.d. These churches,
Herbert W. Armstrong explained in Mystery of the Ages, “were
located along one of the mail routes of the old Roman Empire.
Riders would follow the route—carrying messages from town to
town. The messages to the seven churches have words of both
encouragement and correction, and they clearly show the dominant
characteristics of each of the congregations at that time.”
However, as Mr. Armstrong went on to write, these messages
to the seven churches—recorded in detail throughout chapters 2
and 3 of Revelation—were intended for a much larger audience
than those dwelling in Asia Minor.
“I will build my church,” Jesus Christ said, “and the gates of hell
shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18). Christ promised and
prophesied that He would build His very own Church and that it
would never die! It would remain in existence until His Second
Coming. So that Church has to be on this Earth somewhere, or
Christ is a liar!
But Christ didn’t tell us how to identify His Church in
Matthew 16. God does that in the first three chapters of the
book of Revelation.
These seven churches in Revelation 1 through 3 are, prophetically,
seven eras of the New Testament Church! These messages
are actually a series of remarkable prophecies about the future
of God’s true Church. They describe seven successive Church eras,
beginning with the first-century Ephesus era started by Jesus
Christ when He was on Earth and continuing to the seventh and
final era in these latter days—Laodicea.
Mr. Armstrong wrote, “The history of the Church would fall
into seven distinct eras—each with its own strengths and weaknesses
and its own special trials and problems. Just as a message
could pass along the mail route from Ephesus to Laodicea, so
would the truth of God be passed from era to era. It was like a
relay race—in which the baton is passed from runner to runner,
each one doing his part, until the finish line is reached” (ibid;
emphasis mine throughout).
Many people say that these seven churches are only history.
But think on this. Remember what it says in verse 1: This book
of Revelation is meant to show God’s servants “things which must
shortly come to pass.” Revelation is a book of prophecy. It puts all
prophecy into a time frame—a chronological order. That is why
this book is so critical!
The seven eras became history only after their prophecy
Smyrna and Ephesus were only about 35 miles apart, yet one
is in tribulation (Revelation 2:10), and the other is not. Why, if
this is only history? The Sardis Church is dead (Revelation 3:1). A
few miles down the road is Philadelphia, one of the best churches
(verses 7-12). This wouldn’t make sense if it were only history.
But there is a much greater proof that those churches refer to
more than just history. The sixth era, Philadelphia, was fulfilled
under Herbert W. Armstrong, who died in 1986. He left a superabundance
of history and prophecy of the Philadelphia era and
how it tied to the five eras preceding it.
The seven churches of Revelation 2 and 3 were part of an ancient
mail route through the Roman province of Asia.
Now we are in the last hour of the seventh and final era—the
Laodicean era. There is abundant proof of this era being fulfilled now
and how it is connected to the other six eras of God’s true Church—
and, more importantly, to the prophetic Second Coming of Christ!
The greatest proof that these seven eras are not just history is
found in the published messages of the last two eras. All of these
messages are freely available in books, booklets, magazines and
a 36-lesson correspondence course. They are also available on
The world has never understood these messages. Christ
addresses them specifically to the seven eras of His Church. They
give the all-important overview of the history and prophecy of
God’s true Church.
IN THE MIDST OF THE CHURCHES
In Revelation 1:12, John turns toward the powerful voice he heard
and sees “seven golden candlesticks,” or lamps. These golden lamps symbolize the seven successive Church eras (verse 20). Each lamp
would be the only source of spiritual light in a very dark world.
God’s saints clearly see this glorious light. The world in general,
however, is oblivious to it.
In the rest of the chapter, John describes a vision of the glorified
Jesus Christ. “And in the midst of the seven [lamps] one like
unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot,
and girt about the paps with a golden girdle” (verse 13). Read the
next verses to get the vision of this spectacular Being! John was
so moved that “when I saw him,” he wrote, “I fell at his feet as
dead”! (verse 17).
Take note that this fiery God is standing “in the midst of the
seven candlesticks”—the seven eras of God’s Church. The glorious
Jesus Christ is RIGHT IN THE MIDST of the seven
churches, deeply involved in them! That is how each era does a
dynamic work for God. It all depends on Christ dwelling in the
middle of God’s Work. Christ personally and powerfully guides
and directs His true Church, era by era. He explains our responsibilities
and provides guidance to help us fulfill them. The power
and dynamism of each era exists in direct proportion to how much
it relies on Jesus Christ!
This vision shows us that Christ dwells only in the midst of
these seven churches. Obviously, there were many other church
congregations when John recorded this vision. So why would God
direct him to focus on just seven? Because these seven represent
the entire Church of God from the time of Christ’s first coming to
His Second Coming. Seven is the biblical number of completion.
So the seven churches are the seven eras from the time of Christ’s
first coming to the end of this age. That is the complete picture.