The more I study Scripture the more it fascinates me. Lately I have once again become enthralled with John’s Revelation. What is it? Why is it in the Bible? What did it mean to John’s readers/hearers? How should we read it? What should we do with it? Is it only about the end of the world? Is it about the end of the world at all? I have many more questions than I have answers. Yet, my curiosity remains.

Here is what I do know.

Since God is the Creator of all things He ought to be served by that which He created. This is the overarching theme of the seven letters to the churches, the rest of Revelation, and of the entire Bible. YHWH is God and He alone ought to be served wholeheartedly by all creatures. Failure to do so will result in judgment—in time and at the end of time.

All churches tend to drift in our focus. It is so easy, and so human, to turn from Jesus Christ and Him crucified and all that that amazing event implies for the human family. Our passion for our mission degrades into mere maintenance of the church. Church structure and doctrinal nit picking take precedence over incarnational church life. Reckless, heart-felt adoration of God and loving service to others are replaced by cold, rigid policing of the ranks. The warmth, beauty, and freedom that come from God’s redemption all give way to hyper-technical gate-keeping. This has been the curse of the Christian Church from its inception.

One of the central themes, then, of the seven letters to the seven churches in Revelation is to point this tendency out. Jesus wants to prevent it from happening in every church and He demands repentance from it in any church where it has raised its ugly head. Failure to repent results in judgment; the church of Christ no longer functions as the church of Christ because it is not the church of Christ—it is the church of something else.

The purpose of the seven letters of Revelation (2:1 – 3:22) is to get the disciples to put into practice the full implications of the fact that YHWH is God. He and He alone is to be served by His creatures. And He is to be served wholeheartedly, not merely halfway. According to the seven letters, each disciple must repent from everything that prevents this type of service to God.

Given the impending crisis about to break in upon the disciples of Asia, the seven letters alert the disciples to the urgency of an immediate, penetrating, and ruthless self-assessment of their faith and commitment. According to the seven letters to the seven churches, God ought to be served wholeheartedly by His creation—or not at all.

That is what I know.


Art used by Pat Marvenko Smith, copyright 1992. To order prints visit her “Revelation Illustrated” site,