3 John, Revelation 1-5

In the interest of balancing reading with reflection, I think today I will just make comments in writing as I read….instead of trying to create a narrative.Read 3 John and Revelation 1-5
It’s not fair to 3 John to add it into today’s reading…it should have been with yesterday’s.    Revelation is too compelling to spend much time focusing on a guy who doesn’t want to welcome the itinerant ministers who come to town.  Suffice to say that when God provides a transient teacher or minister we should help support them however we can if they are contributing to the health and welfare of the body.    This sort of thing doesn’t happen much my area, so it hasn’t come up.
Revelation 1
The Island of Patmos is in the Aegean sea, off the coast near Ephesus.  It looks to me like the Aegean Sea is dotted with tiny Islands, I wonder if they were all inhabited?   How many others were on this Island?   Where did John find writing material?   Was there a city of exiles there?   Did the city of exiles convert to Christianity while John was there?  Were they already Christian, or did they ignore him completely?    If it weren’t for a man that the world wanted us to forget, the Island of Patmos would probably be lost to history….instead it’s famous.   How ironic….God certainly knows how to turn things on their head.
I forget to soak in the images in the prelude to the message…hurrying to see what was written to each church.   Jesus in heaven is an imposing figure.  The humble trappings of the traveling rabbi are gone, they are replaced by a golden sash.   Ironically we focus so much on what Jesus looked like while he was on earth that we would have a hard time recognizing him the way He looks now.
Jesus is standing among the churches and holding the spirits of the churches in His hand.   I don’t think there are separate “spirits”…this is a metaphor for the “all encompassing Spirit…the Holy Spirit”,  just like the “seven” spirits speak of.   Seven is a way to say “perfect”.
Almost every church is warned of some behavior that has crept in.   Both John and Paul have warned the churches about this in letters but apparently they haven’t complied.   I suppose it was hard not to drift when surrounded by so much compromise.  The only way to stay pure was the keep the false teachers out of the church…which they didn’t always do.
Even though there is a failure in each church, there is a commanded way to improve, and a promise of a reward for doing so.   Anyone in their right mind that read this should be encouraged and renewed in their resolve, not dejected.   God is promising heaven to anyone who obeys!
In Chapter 4 when the voice “like a trumpet” says “come up here” that is interpreted by some to be a metaphor for the rapture…which they understand to take place before the tribulation.   They draw this conclusion based on the comment in this same verse that says “I will show you what must take place after all this”.     As I read it, I believe that God is calling John into heaven, or another plane of existence…and showing him what happens in the future…which just happens to be “after all this”, meaning after what is going on right now.    I don’t know that this is a good reason to believe in a pre-trib rapture.
Who are the 24 elders?   Most agree that they are men, not angels, because angels are never given crowns or seated on thrones in the presence of God anywhere else in Scripture.    If we agree they are men…then who?   It could be the 12 apostles and the heads of the 12 tribes….or it could be the 12 apostles and 12 prophets from the Old  Testament….or it could be 24 representatives from nations around the world.   We aren’t sure.     At one point king David divided the levites into 24 sections for something….so it could be as simple as that…..but I doubt it.  Nothing in Revelation is simple.
As I read today I don’t want to skip over the songs that are sung in heaven…there are quite a few in Revelation, and they give us a glimpse of what’s happening there all the time.    I have to remember that much of this vision is figurative, and could be shown as it is to John so that he would understand.   For instance, I doubt that Jesus has 7 eyes (although He could).  I think it was just a way to say that Jesus can “see all things”.   You don’t see too many pictures of Jesus with 7 horns and seven eyes:      not exactly the image of Christ that I have in my head…
Remember, 7 means perfection…and a horn is a metaphor for strength.   7 horns =  perfect power.   7 eyes = all knowing.    Christ is omniscient and omnipotent!
PRImage result for 7 horns and 7 eyes