Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near.” Rev 1:3

The early church that received John’s Apocalypse was in need of correction often and in need of encouragement always. The first century Christians were being put to death, Rev 2:10,13. The Christians in Asia’s 7 churches (see Revelation chps 2 and 3), not the city of Rome proper, were under duress and the words of John promised a blessing to them.

As I read the letter through the eyes of the first century Christians, I read words of encouragement to remain faithful with the promise that God’s temporal and eternal judgments are imminent. The judgment of God on the harlot was imminent. And the coming of Christ with the final judgment is always seen as imminent. The two are separate, just as much as they are separate in Matthew 24 which tells of Jesus’ judgment on Jerusalem and which also tells of the second coming of Christ on the last day. The first comes with signs of the approaching Roman army. The second has no signs and comes like a thief in the night. So the Christians in the first century received a blessing of encouragement from God through the Revelation letter.

It is wrong to steal away the blessing by interpreting the Revelation letter the way a Tim LaHaye or a Hal Lindsey who create a fiction that has no context for the early Christians. But it would also be wrong to rob the last chapters of their glorious promise of eternal bliss.

So when you read the Revelation letter, read it through their eyes. There is a blessing for reading it and for doing what it says.

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