Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 1 * BOOK 59
THE ISLE OF PATMOS VISION
I always like to remind folks that we’re just an informal, non-denominational Bible study. We don’t try to attack anyone; we’re just going to see what the Book says and that’s the way we teach it. And of course, my main prerogative is to get folks to study the Bible on their own. Don’t just sit back and say, well this is what Les Feldick says, or this is what so and so says, but learn to search the Scriptures, comparing Scripture with Scripture. In fact, that’s why I use as many references as I possibly can. It isn’t to show you how much I know, it’s to show that when we teach something, we can base it on more than one verse, usually. Once in awhile we have to bank on one verse, but the whole idea is to just compare Scripture with Scripture and with the Holy Spirit’s leading, determine that you can’t always go by what the majority says. In fact, I think I’ve said it years and years ago, when it comes to the things of the Spirit, the majority is usually wrong. So don’t just rest on the majority.
So, for those of you in television, and for you here in the studio, we’re going to jump right in where we left off in our last program, which is in chapter 1 of Revelation and for sake of exercising our memory, we’re going to read the last verse we ended with, verse 10. Remember, John the Revelator is writing it, and he’s on the island of Patmos, quite likely as an exile for his faith. But nevertheless, he has evidently so far not been under any undo persecution. But now, in verse 10, he speaks of how he brings this revelation about:
“I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day…” And remember. I emphasized in the last lesson, that does not mean the first day of the week. But rather, just put the other way around, “The day of the Lord.” So that all of Scripture refers to as “The day of the Lord.” And so, an unusual supernatural experience and John is literally just transported up into these coming seven years of Tribulation. Alright, now wherever he is, whether he’s up in the glory or whatever in this vision:
“…and heard behind me a great voice, as of (or like) a trumpet.” Now, I think we’re all aware that when a trumpet lets go, there’s no “what did I hear?” It’s pretty obvious, and it’s something that even alarmed John, I think.
“Saying, I am Alpha and Omega…” And we know from other portions of Scriptures those are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet, which refer to Christ’s eternity past and His eternity future. He is without end, He is without beginning, and that is beyond our human understanding.
“Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: (the Jesus, the Christ who is speaking says to John) and, What thou seest, (in these vision experiences that are coming) write in a book, (not books, write in a book) and send it (not them) unto the seven churches…” Now, I dare say if I could take a poll right here in the studio this afternoon, and if I were to ask you how many of you have always had the impression that these seven church letters were individually sent to the seven churches, I think I’d have 95% that would say that’s what we’ve always been taught.
But you see, that’s not what it says. God is instructing John to take this whole body of truth, these seven church letters, make a book of it and evidently a copy was sent to each one of the seven churches. And I think, as we come on through the chapter, you’ll see why that is so pertinent. It wasn’t that these few verses belong to Ephesus, and these few to Pergamus, and so forth, but that the whole body of truth involved in these seven letters were to be put in one book and a copy sent to every one of the seven churches. Now then, here they are:
“…send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia;…”
Now, we pointed out in our last program that Asia in the New Testament especially, is Asia Minor, which is today’s land of Turkey. Now, even Galatia, to which the Galatians was addressed was central Turkey. And when Paul said, back in the Book of Acts, that he intended to go back into Asia, he was talking about the geographical area that we now call Turkey.
All right now, the same way here. These seven little cities are all in western Turkey. Now, I think most of you know from your Bible maps that Ephesus was on the very western coast of Turkey. It was a seaport. But then fanning out from Ephesus were these other six little cities, almost in a circle. Iif you look at a Bible map, they’re just a bunch of dots. Well, the reason I’m doing this is to make it plain that when we get down here a little further in verse 12, we’re going to see that this is a group of Jewish congregations, synagogues if you please,that Christ is now dealing with, having left the temple in Jerusalem many, many years before. With the temple in Jerusalem shortly to be destroyed, He is more or less moving his place of authority now from Jerusalem to these seven churches in Asia. And that’s what I’m trying to emphasize, that they were in a group. They’re almost in a circle. All right, now let’s read on and you’ll get what I’m talking about.
“…send it (this book) unto the seven church, which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea. 12. And I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks.” Now, the term that we normally think of from the Old Testament and everything, is the lamp stands. And he saw seven golden lamp stands. Now the purpose of the lamp stand is to give light to the area. So what were these seven churches to be? Light to the surrounding community.
Now there again, I’ve got to stop. It’s unfortunate, I think, it’s terribly unfortunate, that our English translators used the word “churches” or “church” all the way through the New Testament. It would have been so much easier to understand if they had used “assembly” because the word “church” really is a Scottish word, which was “Kirk “and you’ve heard that. And from that old Scottish word “Kirk” the English translators came up with this word “church,” and I think it’s unfortunate. They should rather be called assemblies, and here in this case they were called what? Do you remember? Synagogues.
Do you remember that from one of our previous lessons? Let me go back and show you. I’ve just got to do this over and over because whenever we travel people will comment on the fact that we make these things so plain that they never hear otherwise. And so come back with me to James chapter 2, so that you’ll know where I’m coming from.
“For if there come into your assembly…” But now if you have a marginal Bible and look in your margin, what was the word in the Greek? Synagogue!! I like it when other people agree with that. They were synagogues. Well, even today, what do the Messianic Jews call their place of worship? Synagogues! They don’t call them a church; they call them a synagogue.
All right now, it’s same way here. These were all Jewish congregations, having scattered out of the central church in Jerusalem, which was a Jewish church, or a Jewish assembly, there was maybe a Gentile or two, but I doubt it. And so from that scattered Jewish church in Jerusalem, we have these seven synagogues here in western Turkey. But now you want to remember these weren’t the only ones. There were various assemblies of Jews who had been scattered throughout that part of the world. In fact, we’ve done this over, but repetition, as we hear over and over, is the mother of learning. Coming back with me to Acts chapter 11, verse 19. And I’ve said it many, many times before, and I’ll probably say it many times more if the Lord continues to bless me with life; this is the one verse that probably did more to opening my understanding as I teach than any other verse in Scripture. This just bombarded my thinking.
I don’t know whether I shared it with the television audience last week or not, but one place we were down in Florida, there were several families with young kids and this one little girl, if I remember right, she said she was seven years old; she came up to me afterwards and she had all the references that I’d used that evening. Of course, now that was over a period of about 2 or 3 hours. She had two whole pages full of references and I said, “Do you mean to tell me I used all those tonight?” She said, “Every one of them.” But this is why we do it – just to give you a chance to see what the Book says and not just what I’m saying.
“Now they who are scattered abroad (that is out of Jerusalem) upon the persecution that arose about Stephen traveled as far as Phenice, and (the island of) Cyprus, and (up to) Antioch (in Syria which is present day north of Lebanon, up toward the Euphrates River) and they were preaching the word to (who?) none but Jews only.” All right, now where did these Jews come from? Back up now a couple more pages to Acts chapter 8, and we have just seen Stephen martyred in chapter 7. Remember, all this just sets the stage and then you can better understand what the Bible is talking and why it’s saying what it does.
“And Saul (who will later become the Apostle Paul) was consenting unto his (Stephen’s) death. And at that time (at the stoning of Stephen, seven years after Pentecost, remember. This isn’t all within just a matter of weeks. This is seven years after Pentecost) there was a great persecution against the church (assembly) which was at Jerusalem; (the Jewish assembly. The Jewish synagogue of believers that believed for salvation that Jesus was the Christ) and they were all (all of that Jerusalem congregation were) scattered throughout the regions of Judaea and Samaria except (whom?) the apostles.” See, and I always make note of that. Everybody thinks the Twelve have already been out fulfilling the Great Commission for seven years. No, they haven’t. They are still in Jerusalem waiting for the return of their Messiah. So anyway, we have to understand that as all these little Jewish writers back here, James and Peter and John, and now as John writes in Revelation come back there again, Chapter 1, that these were Jewish congregations, called synagogues. They were still hanging on to the whole concept for their salvation that Jesus of Nazareth was their Messiah, they are still under the Law. Don’t forget the temple is still operating. This is probably written in the late 50’s and there’s nothing in Scripture to indicate that the temple worship had stopped.
It was only that they had been scattered out of Jerusalem because of Saul’s persecution. So these little seven congregations, especially now since they’re grouped in almost a circle in western Turkey, become an area that the Lord can almost use as a final habitation for Himself. All right, Revelation chapter 1 then, again reading verse 12:
“And I turned to see the voice that spoke with me. And being turned, I saw the seven golden candlesticks: (lamp stands) 13. And in the midst of the seven (not in the midst of any one of them. But as these seven assemblies comprise a circle of geography) was one like unto the Son of man.” Now stop and think. Does the Apostle Paul ever refer to Christ as the Son of man? I’m not tricking you. No, not that I know of. He never refers to Christ as the Son of man. Paul refers to Him as the Son of God, He’s the Christ, but never as the Son of man. That of course was unique to the Book of Matthew which over and over refers to Jesus as the Son of man.
“…was one like unto the Son of man (it’s God the Son, it’s Jesus the Christ) clothed with a garment down to the foot, girt about the paps with a golden girdle (now watch this description of him) 14. His head and his hair were white like wool, (and another a translation sort of says, or like snow. It was perfectly white. It does say) as white as snow; and his eyes were as (doesn’t say they are. There’s a big difference you know) as flames of fire; 15. And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.”
Now, just in the light of that kind of language, does that speak of a God of love, mercy, and grace, or a God of judgment? Judgment!! All these terms speak of judgment. Brass – way back in the tabernacle what was the brazen altar? Well, it was the place of sacrifice where sin was judged. The brazen serpent, when it was raised on the pole so that Israel could look at it. What does it speak of? Judgment! So brass is always that which speaks of judgment. Well, the same way with the flames of fire. It spoke not of love and grace, but judgment, see? And then you come down to the feet, like they were burned in a furnace. Well, to being burned as a furnace doesn’t speak of love and grace. It speaks of what? Judgment! So what’s the picture? Now, remember, ever since we started the little letter of James, what do these Jewish believers anticipate right out in front of them? Tribulation. The seven years of God’s wrath and vexation is right in front of them. So the whole thrust here is to prepare these believers for a coming judgment.
But now I know the question is why should these believers come under that judgment? Has it ever been any different? You know what’s the matter with us in America – and I’m included? We’ve been spoiled. Do you realize that this is the only time in all of human history, that is since our forefathers came to these shores, and we in America especially, have enjoyed such religious freedom without any fear. That’s never happened before. All through human history the believers, whether it was Israel or whether it was later on in the Christian community, suffered constantly.
You know, I’m always stressing when Paul would come into these Gentile cities like Thessalonica and Corinth and these folks were won to salvation out of paganism into Christianity, what was the first thing they faced? I call it the buzz saw of persecution. I hope you all know what a buzz saw is – it’s what you cut wood with. Intense persecution. It’s always been that way. If you know anything about ancient history, the dark ages if I’m not mistaken, there’s one history book that maintains that during that 1000 years, from 500 A.D. to 1500 A.D., 50 million Christians, believers, lost their lives through persecution. So you see, for us to live in a time of such tranquility is not the normal, it’s unusual. So the same way in this time. These Jews were used to persecution, but now you see, they’re being faced with the coming wrath and vexation of God. Now again, for sake of repetition, come back with me to Psalms chapter 2, and this is where I get the language that I use. I don’t make it up as I go along; believe me. Psalms, Chapter 2, which I always call the outline of the Old Testament program; how the Old Testament prophets saw how it would all unfold. How that Christ would be rejected in the first three verses, at His first advent. Jews and Gentiles both reject Him. Then verse 4.
“He (God) that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh (at the foolishness of men) the LORD shall have them in derision. (confusion, Then the next thing on God’s program) 5. Then shall he speak unto them in his (what?) wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.”
In other words, He’s going to pour out His anger on the whole human race, which of course the nation of Israel will be the vortex in judgment as well in other revelations. But it’s going to be an outpouring of wrath and vexation, and then the next thing on the agenda is what? The Kingdom!
“Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.”
All right, so all of Scripture has that unfolding of God’s agenda for the human race. Now remember, as we’ve been pointing out for the last several weeks or months, there’s not a word about the Church Age in prophesy. Not one word. It’s all how God will deal with the nation of Israel in particular, the whole human race in general, and then after the rejection of their Messiah and His ascension, then was to come the wrath and the vexation, the judgment, the wrath of God, and that would set the stage of the coming of Christ the second time. That will be at the battle of Armageddon at the end of the Tribulation.
Now of course we’ve stressed, we know that God opened that timeline, stopped the wrath and vexation before it happened, and brought in the Church Age, but we’re not dealing with that here in Revelation, we’re dealing with the seven year period of the wrath and vexation programmed into the Old Testament prophecy. So now we can come on down to verse 16. Now, this Son of man who is revealing Himself to this transplanted area of God dealing with Israel, to these 7 little churches, synagogues, assemblies. It’s amazing what habit does. I’ve been trying for years to quit calling these churches, and I just can’t do it, because it’s a habit, but they were not churches as we think of the church. They were Jewish synagogues. They were Jewish called-out assemblies.
“And he had in his right hand seven stars: (one for each one of these seven assemblies) and out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword:…”
Now to the casual reader, what does he immediately vision? Standing there with a dagger in his mouth. No, that’s not the picture at all. What is the sword? The Word of God. To look at that, come back with me to Hebrews chapter 4, because we do this for the benefit of new listeners who haven’t been with us over the years. You see, the Scripture always interprets itself. Always! And we’re finding listeners that are learning that.
“For the word of God is quick, (It’s alive. That’s what the word quick means here in our King James at least) and powerful, and sharper than any two edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit (which I always define as is intertwined as Siamese twins, but the Word of God can separate them. Alright, and the dividing of ) the joints and marrow,…”
Now again, don’t lose the subject. And the Word of God is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Have you ever had somebody tell you, “I never sinned?” Have you? I’ve had, “Oh, I never sin.” You don’t ever think an evil thought? “Oh well, that’s not sin.” Oh no? God sees them. That’s a sobering thought isn’t it; that God sees every thought. I don’t know if He wants to watch them all, but it’s within His realm of capability, and that’s what the Word of God is capable of doing. Back to Revelation again and verse 14.
“And His head and hairs were white like wool, as white as snow;…”
Now, let’s see how since this is all Jewish, it’s all connected with the Old Testament in one way or another. Now, come back with me to Daniel chapter 7 and we’ll see the same identical language, because God is dealing with the same people. Now again, Paul does not make this kind of a description of Christ because it isn’t necessary for us. But for Israel, it meant everything in the world to realize that their Scriptures tied together. Daniel chapter 7, verse 9. Here, of course, is the same vision where he sees the Gentile empires coming down the pipe of history, and he sees them as wild animals rather than the gold, silver, and so forth that Nebuchadnezzar saw.
“I beheld (or he saw in this vision) till the thrones (that is of these various empires) were cast down, and the Ancient of Days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of his head like the pure wool: (do you see the comparison? Almost word for word) his throne was like the fiery flame, and his wheels as burning fire. 10. A fiery stream issued and came forth from before him (now this is a view of the throne room, remember) thousands, thousands, (that’s millions) ministered unto him and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him; (now here’s exactly what Revelation is talking about) and the (what?) judgment was set, and the books were opened.” Now here we see then that God, in Daniel as well as in Revelation and in other places, is also going to be the God of Judgment.
Now today, we’re not under His judgment, we’re under His Grace. We’re under His mercy. We’re under His love. But His patience is going to run out one day, and when that runs out then is going to come judgment like the world has never seen. Now we know He judged the world at the flood and it was awesome. But it was nothing compared to what’s coming. What’s coming is going to be beyond human description, and I think that even a lot of my class people, when I read these verses concerning “The day of the Lord;” a lot of them don’t really want to believe it. It’s so beyond comprehension, but the Book declares it, so we’d better believe it!