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Seventh Trumpet - Third Woe

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The seventh trumpet or “third woe” ushered in the consummation of the kingdom and the final judgment  –  Revelation 11:15-19 .  When the seventh seal was opened, a half-hour of “ silence ” in heaven ensued  before  the seven angels began to sound their “ trumpets ” when the prayers of the “ saints ” were heard. When the “ seventh trumpet ” sounded, “ loud voices ” in heaven declared the triumph of the kingdom and the “ Lamb ,” for the nations had become his possession as promised - [ Photo by Kristopher Roller on Unsplash ].

Measuring the Sanctuary

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SYNOPSIS :   The sanctuary is “measured” in preparation for the prophetic ministry of the Two Witnesses  -  Revelation 11:1-2 .  The saints are now represented with an image that is based on the ancient  Tabernacle  erected in the Wilderness, not on the Temple building in the city of Jerusalem. The image of the sanctuary and altar used throughout the  book of Revelation  is, likewise, based on the Tabernacle, not the Temple. The features in this next image are derived from that wilderness Tabernacle. Compare the following passages:

Little Scroll

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John saw the scroll again, now unsealed and completely open, signifying his call to prophesy once more to peoples and kings  –  Revelation 10:1-11 .  The first six trumpet  plagues  failed to cause the “ inhabitants of the earth ” to repent. Instead, they only further hardened their hearts.  Something more was needed to complete “ the mystery of God .” The narrative now takes a new direction. Rather than another plague, John is commissioned to prophesy to the “ nations and kings of the earth ” - [ Photo by  Timothy Eberly  on Unsplash ].

Sixth Trumpet - Second Woe

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The sixth trumpet unleashed the demonic horde from beyond the “Euphrates” to afflict the “inhabitants of the earth”  -  Revelation 9:13-21 .  The sounding of the “ sixth trumpet ” also marks the commencement of the “ second woe .” While the description of the “ plague ” unleashed by the trumpet only continues until the end of chapter 9, the “ second woe ” does not end until the sounding of the “ seventh trumpet ” just before the final judgment. Presumably, the “sixth trumpet” also concludes at that same time - [ Photo by Thom Holmes on Unsplash ].

Fifth Trumpet - First Woe

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The fifth trumpet unleashed the first of “three woes,” as malevolent creatures began to ascend from the Abyss  –  Revelation 8:13-9:12 .  When the fifth angel sounded his trumpet, John saw smoke “ ascending ” from the “ Abyss ,” a place ruled by an “ angel ” associated with “ destruction .” The “ Abyss ” is prominent in several of the book’s visions. It is the source of malevolent entities hostile to the “ Lamb ” and his people that “ ascend ” from it to wreak havoc, sometimes on the “ inhabitants of the earth ,” but more often on the “ saints .” - [ Photo by Leon Pauleikhoff on Unsplash ].

Fourth Trumpet - Darkness

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The fourth trumpet blast caused a partial darkening of the sun, moon, and the stars  -  Revelation 8:12 .  The darkening of the sun, moon, and stars is based on the ninth Egyptian plague that darkened the land for three days. It also employs imagery from the judicial pronouncement against Pharaoh in  Ezekiel , a judgment carried out by the ancient empire of Babylon. Now, darkness will consume the realm of end-time “ Babylon ” - ( Ezekiel 32:7-11 ) - [ Photo by Ed Pirnak on Unsplash ]. The fourth trumpet blast and the fourth “ bowl of wrath ” are connected – Both impact the same parts of the creation, the luminary bodies in the heaven: ( Revelation 8:12 ) – “ And the fourth angel sounded, and a third of the sun was smitten, and a third of the moon, and the third of the stars, in order that the third of them might be darkened, and the day might not shine for the third of it, and the night, in like manner .” “ It was poured out upon the sun to scorch men with fire, and men were scorched w

Third Trumpet - Bitter Waters

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The third trumpet resulted in a “great star” falling into the sources of freshwater, embittering them  –  Revelation 8:10-11 .  The third trumpet uses imagery from the first plague of Egypt that polluted that nation’s sources of fresh water. The “ Egyptians could not drink of the water of the river ” because it had turned “ into blood .” In  Revelation , the plague also killed the fish in rivers and streams, “ embittering ” a third of the earth’s drinking water - [ Photo by  Justin W  on Unsplash ].

Second Trumpet - Burning Mountain

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The second trumpet harmed much of the commerce on which human society, the “inhabitants of the earth,” relied  –  Revelation 8:8-9 .  The second trumpet blast upset the sea, and thereby disrupted a third of all seaborne commerce. In  Revelation , the “ sea ” is vital to the commerce on which “ Babylon ” depends, and it is the place from which the “ beast ” will ascend. This explains why, at the end of the book, no “ sea ” is found in “ New Jerusalem .” In the symbolic world, it is linked to the “ Dragon ” and the “ beast .” - [ Ship aground - Photo by Khamkéo Vilaysing on Unspla ].

First Trumpet - Hail and Fire

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The first trumpet blast unleashed forces that affected agriculture. Its plague was patterned on the seventh plague of Egypt  –  Revelation 8:7 .  F ire from the “ golden altar ” has been “ cast onto the earth ” in response to the “ prayers of the saints .” This was followed by “ claps of thunder, voices, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake ,” which concluded the “ seven seals ” and signaled the start of the “ seven trumpets .” Thus, the seven angels are now poised to blow their trumpets - [ Photo by Eugene Triguba on Unsplash ].

Sounding the Seven Trumpets

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An overview of the series of seven trumpets and the several intervening events between the sixth and seventh trumpets –  Revelation 8:7-11:19 .  The “ seven trumpets ” follow the same literary pattern as the “ seven seals .” Like the first four seals, the first four trumpets form a distinct group, and the last three trumpets are marked off from the first four as the “ three woes .”  Furthermore, like the “ seven seals ,” several events interrupt the series between the sixth and seventh trumpets, and both series are preceded by the “ prayers of the saints .” - [ Photo by  HalGatewood.com  on Unsplash ].

Wrath of God

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“Wrath” refers to the final judicial sentence of God on His enemies and is not synonymous with “tribulation.”  In  Revelation , the “ wrath of God ” is  NOT  synonymous with “ tribulation ,” nor is it identical with the “ plagues ” unleashed by the three series of “ seals ,” “ trumpets ,” and “ bowls of fury .” Despite their devastation, impenitent men continue to rebel against God until the end. Instead, “ wrath ” refers to the final judicial sentence of God on His enemies - [ Photo by NOAA on Unsplash ].

Seventh Seal - Silence

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At the end of the seventh seal, seven angels prepare to sound their trumpets, unleashing judgment on the “inhabitants of the earth”  –  Revelation 8:1-6 .  The saints have been “ sealed ,” washed “ in the blood of the Lamb ,” and brought safely through the “ great tribulation .” The full complement of “ witnesses ” has been numbered and assembled, and the time has arrived for judgment to be rendered against the “ inhabitants of the earth ” that persecuted the martyrs. Their plea for “ vengeance ” is about to be answered - [ Photo by Scott Umstattd on Unsplash ].

Standing Before The Lamb

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One of the twenty-four “elders” interpreted the vision of the innumerable saints standing before the Lamb and the throne  -  Revelation 7:13-17 .  We have reached the point where the two questions have been answered - How long must the martyrs wait for vindication, and “ who is able to stand ” before the “ wrath of the Lamb ” and he “ who sits on the throne .” Having been sealed, numbered, and assembled, John has witnessed all the saints “ standing ” before Jesus and his Father in victorious worship - [ Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash ].

Innumerable Saints

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John saw an innumerable multitude of men and women from every nation standing before the Lamb and the Throne  –  Revelation 7:9-12 .  The saints have been “ sealed ” before the unleashing of the “ four winds of the earth .” Next, they were assembled for the coming sojourn and John “ heard ” their “ number ,” 144,000 “ males ” from the “ twelve tribes of Israel .” Now, he will “ see ” the assembly of the saints as it arrives at its destination, a multitude so vast that “ no man could number them .” - [ Photo by Paz Arando on Unsplash ].

Numbering the Saints

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144,000 males from the tribes of Israel are numbered and assembled for the march to the city of New Jerusalem  –  Revelation 7:4-8 .  The “ servants of God ” have been “ sealed ” against the onslaught of the “ four winds of the earth ,” but now they must be “ numbered ” to ensure that no member of the covenant community is lost in the coming “ tribulation .” The full complement of “ witnesses ” must be assembled to witness the “ day of the wrath of the Lamb .” - [ Photo by  Jonas Jacobsson  on Unsplash ].

Sealing the Saints

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The saints must be “sealed” before the onslaught of the “four winds of the earth”  –  Revelation 7:1-3 .  Before the first four seals and their “ riders ” could be unleashed, the “ servants of God ” had to be prepared for the coming onslaught. Moreover, their “ sealing ” would enable them to “ stand ” before the “ Lamb ” and the “ throne ” on the coming “ day of the wrath of the Lamb ” that was unveiled when the “ sixth seal ” was opened - [ Photo by  Lucy Chian  on Unsplash ].

Sixth Seal - Wrath

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The sixth seal ushered in the Day of the Lord, the time of wrath upon the inhabitants of the earth  –  Revelation 6:12-17 .  T he opening of the sixth seal causes celestial and terrestrial trauma as the “ day of wrath ” dawns. It was nothing less than the “ great day of the wrath of God and of the Lamb .” Men of every rank panic in terror, but their every attempt to hide from the impending “ wrath ” is in vain. There is no escape, for no one can “ stand ” before the “ Lamb and the throne .” - [ Photo by Stefano Zocca on Unsplash ].

Fifth Seal - Martyrs

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The fifth seal revealed the souls of martyrs kept underneath the altar where they pleaded with God for vindication and justice – Revelation 6:9-11 .  The opening of the fifth seal reveals the souls of the martyrs “ underneath ” the altar. There, they plead with God for vindication for what they have endured at the hands of their enemies. But they are told to wait for justice until the complete number of their “ fellow servants ” who are to be slain, “ just as they ,” are gathered to join them - [ Photo by Madhu Madhavan on Unsplash ].

Tribulation of the Church

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In Revelation, faithful saints experience “tribulation,” but the unrepentant “inhabitants of the earth” undergo “wrath.”   John saw the followers of the “ Lamb ” exiting the “ great tribulation ,” having persevered through it. This striking image is central to the vision of the “ innumerable multitude ,” a company of men purchased from every nation by the lifeblood of Jesus. Having “ overcome ,” they stand triumphantly before the “ Lamb ” and the “ throne ” in “ New Jerusalem ” - [ Tornado Photo by Espen Bierud on Unsplash ].

Fourth Seal

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The fourth seal released “Death,” followed by “Hades” to gather the dead in its wake  –  Revelation 6:7-8 . To this point, the “victims” harmed by the first three seal openings have not been identified, although the details from the assigned task of each “ rider ” provide certain clues. Nothing has been said about the enemies of the “ Lamb ,” or about judgments against the “ inhabitants of the earth .” Moreover, the actions of the “ four riders ” are never labeled “plagues,” “wrath,” or “judgments.” - [ Photo by Mohamed Nohassi on Unsplash ].

Third Seal

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The third seal released a rider on a black horse and economic hardship  –  Revelation 6:5-6 . The “ Lamb ” opened the third “ seal ,” and once again, one of the “ four living creatures ” summoned its rider, this one riding a “ black horse ” that, apparently, represented economic distress and food shortages. As before, the task of the rider was declared by one of the four “ living creatures ,” as well as the limitations on its effects (“ the oil and the wine do not harm ”) - [ Photo by  Lisa Lyne Blevins  on Unsplash ].

Second Seal

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The second rider was sent to “remove peace from the earth” and to cause men to “slay one another”  –  Revelation 6:3-4 . As with the first rider, the second one was commanded by one of the four “ living creatures ” to “ go forth .” Although each seal is opened by the “ Lamb ,” the involvement of the “ four living creatures ” serves to emphasize that heaven remains in firm control over the earthly events represented by each “ rider .” - [ Photo by Alex Wigan on Unsplash ].

First Seal

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The Lamb opened the first seal, releasing a rider with a “bow” seated on a white horse, setting out to “conquer”  –  Revelation 6:1-2 .  Immediately after his enthronement, the “ Lamb ” began to open the “ seven seals ,” starting with the first four. His right to open the scroll is based on his sacrificial death. The  Book of Revelation  portrays events and processes put into motion by the Death, Resurrection, and Enthronement of Jesus, the “ faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth .” - [ Photo by Helena Lopes on Unsplash ].

First Four Seals - Aftermath

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The first four seal openings occurred under the watchful eye of the “Lamb” and the “four living creatures” around the “throne”  –  Revelation 6:8 .  Collectively, the four “ riders ” were authorized to kill “ a fourth of the earth .” Each seal was “ opened ” by the “ Lamb ,” and each respective “ rider ” was commanded to ride by one of the “ four living creatures ” that surrounded the “ throne .” The forces released by the first four seals resulted from the “ Lamb ” breaking open the seven “ seals ” of the scroll - [ Photo by David Wheater on Unsplash ].

Seven Seals - Overview

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Upon his arrival before the Throne, immediately the Lamb began to open the seven seals of the sealed scroll .  Often the forces unleashed by the “ seven seals ” are linked to the horrific calamities many expect to occur before the return of Jesus, and especially so with the first four seal openings, popularly described as the “ four horsemen of the Apocalypse .” Supposedly, with His patience exhausted, God plagues rebellious humanity in a last-ditch effort to bring men to repentance - [ Photo by Zoya Loonohod on Unsplash ] .

Worthy is the Lamb

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The central figure of Revelation is the slain Lamb, who alone is worthy to open the sealed scroll  –  Revelation 5:5-14 .  In the preceding paragraph, John saw the scroll sealed with seven seals held tightly in the right hand of the “ One Who Sits on the Throne .” A search was made throughout the Cosmos to find someone “ worthy ” to break the seals and open the scroll, but no one could be found. This caused John to weep profusely. If the scroll remained sealed, its contents could not be revealed and implemented - [ Photo by Bill Fairs on Unsplash ].

Sealed Scroll

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The One Sitting on the Throne held a scroll sealed with seven seals. A universal search was made for one “worthy” to open it  –  Revelation 5:1-4 .  Next, John saw a scroll sealed shut with seven seals and held in the “ right hand ” of the “ One Sitting on the Throne ,” who dispatched a “ mighty angel ” to discover someone from the created order who was “ worthy ” to take and open the scroll. Despite an exhaustive search, at least momentarily, no one “ worthy ” could be found - [ Pho to by Taylor Wilcox on Unsplash ].

Throne and Cosmos

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The image of the Throne presents God reigning at the center of the created order  –  Revelation 4:1-11 .  The vision of the “ throne ” is the theological center of the book and sets the stage for all that follows. In chapter 4, John saw the divine “ throne ” and the “ One Who Sits on it ” reigning from the center of the Creation. In chapter 5, he saw the “ slain Lamb ” take the “ sealed scroll ” from the “ throne ,” then all creation declared him “ worthy ” to open the scroll - [ Photo by Jeremy Thomas on Unsplash ].

Beginning of the New Creation

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Revelation looks forward to the undisputed reign of Jesus in the New Creation, a reality inaugurated by his Death and Resurrection .  In  Revelation , Jesus is declared to be the “ beginning of the creation of God .” That is, in his Death and Resurrection, he became the  inaugurator of the New Creation . The same passage calls him the “ Amen ,  the faithful and true witness ,” and in the present tense; he already possesses all of these attributes - ( Revelation 3:14 ). - [ Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Unsplash ].

Laodicea

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The church at Laodicea receives no commendation, only corrections, and ominous warnings  –  Revelation 3:14-22 . Laodicea was founded in approximately 260 B.C. on the site of an older village named  Diospolis , meaning the “ city of Zeus .” It was sixty-five kilometers southeast of Philadelphia and one hundred and sixty kilometers east of Ephesus. Because of its location at the confluence of three major trade routes, the city depended heavily on regional trade - [ Photo by Stefan Gogov on Unsplash ].

Absent Church?

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In its entirety, Revelation is a message for, to, and about the church, the people of God, and concerns its situation on the earth  –  Revelation 4:1-3 .  After Jesus finished dictating his letters to the “ seven churches ,” John saw an “ open door in heaven ” and heard the trumpet-like voice from his first vision summoning him to “ come up here .” Next, he found himself standing before the “ throne set in heaven .” Does this image symbolize the physical removal of the church from the earth prior to the rest of the remaining visions of the book? - [ Photo by Jason Blackeye on Unsplash ].

Kept from the Hour

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The “hour of trial” will come upon the whole habitable earth, but overcoming saints will not experience this final judicial act  –  Revelation 3:10 .  Jesus promised to “ keep ” the faithful church of Philadelphia “ from the hour of trial ” that was coming upon the “ inhabitants of the earth .” A comparison with similar passages demonstrates this “ hour of trial ” refers to the time of final judgment when those whose names “ are not written in the Lamb’s book of life ” experience the “ second death ,” the “ lake of fire that burns with brimstone .” - [ Photo by Pierre Bamin on Unsplash ].

Church at Philadelphia

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Philadelphia receives no correction, for she has remained faithful, and therefore, she will be kept from the “hour of trial”  –  Revelation 3:7-13 .  Philadelphia lay fifty kilometers southeast of Sardis, where it straddled a major road into the interior, making commerce with the other cities of Asia vital to its economy. The city was established in 189 B.C. by the king of Pergamos, and later, came under the Roman provincial government when the last king bequeathed his realm to Rome in 133 B.C. - [ Photo by Tom Podmore on Unsplash ].

Sardis

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The church at Sardis received no commendation, only warnings, and calls to repent while time remained  –  Revelation 3:1-6 .  Sardis was situated approximately sixty kilometers south of Thyatira, near the crossroads between Smyrna and Pergamos. Therefore, regional commerce was vital to the economic and cultural life of the city. Woolen goods figured prominently in local trade.  Sardis  is mentioned in  Obadiah  - (“ They of the captivity of Jerusalem who are in  Sepharad  shall possess the cities of the South ”), “ Sepharad ” being the Hebrew form of ‘Sardis.’ - [ Photo by  Caglar Araz on Unsplash ].

Thyatira

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The prophetess “Jezebel” deceived many at Thyatira into accommodating the idolatrous practices of pagan society  –  Revelation 2:18-29 .  The city of Thyatira was situated fifty-five kilometers southeast of Pergamos and eighty kilometers from the Aegean Sea. Its proximity to Pergamos explains why the doctrines of the  Nicolaitans  had also infiltrated this congregation. Christianity reached Thyatira at an early stage, but the details of its establishment are unknown. Most likely, it was an area reached by Paul’s earlier missionary activities from Ephesus - [ Photo by Cristina Gottardi on Unsplash ].

Nicolaitans

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The “Nicolaitans” encouraged believers to compromise with the idolatrous rites of the surrounding pagan society, including its imperial cult .  The seven letters to the “ churches of Asia ” commend faithfulness and endurance, expose sin, correct shortcomings, and provide promises to all saints who persevere in testimony, and thereby, “ overcome .” Several groups of deceivers are active within the congregations, the “ Nicolaitans , those who “ have the teaching of Balaam ,” and the followers of the “ prophetess Jezebel .” - [ Augustus - Photo by tommao wang on Unsplash ].

Pergamos

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The church at Pergamos received correction for tolerating the teachings of “Balaam”  –  Revelation 2:12-17 .  P ergamos  lay sixty kilometers to the north of Smyrna and twenty kilometers from the  sea . Though not a major commercial center, occasionally, it served as the seat of the Roman provincial government and the provincial center for the  imperial cult . The first temple dedicated to  Augustus Caesar  in Asia was built at  Pergamos  in 29 B.C. - [ Pergamos theater- Photo by Ahmet Demiroğlu on Unsplash ].

Smyrna

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Ironically, the church at Smyrna was promised even more “tribulation” after its past faithfulness in persecution  –  Revelation 2:8-11 .  The city of  Smyrna  was a seaport approximately fifty-five kilometers northwest of Ephesus. It marked the start of the major road and trade route into the interior of  the province . As a leading commercial center, the city prospered from its location and the importation of goods by sea. The imperial cult was well-established and widespread in the city - [ Photo by Antonio Sessa on Unsplash ].

Ephesus

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The "angel" at Ephesus was commended for rejecting false apostles but chastised for losing his “first love”  –  Revelation 2:1-7 .  The first three letters form a distinct literary unit, which is indicated by the order of the concluding  exhortation  and  promise  at the end of each for “ he who overcomes .” Each of them ends with the exhortation to “ hear what the Spirit is saying to the churches ,” followed by the promise to overcomers. This sequence is reversed in the final four letters - [ Roman Arch - Photo by Jace & Afsoon on Unsplash ].

Provided Interpretations

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Revelation communicates symbolically, and it provides the reader with many of the most important interpretations of its images .  Revelation  provides several interpretations for its key images. For example, the first vision explains that the “ seven golden lampstands ” represent seven  churches . Moreover, the book is consistent in the application of its symbols. Thus, “ lampstands ” symbolize churches, “ stars ” represent angels, “ incense ” portrays the “ prayers of the saints ,” and so on - [ Compass - Photo by  Denise Jans  on Unsplash ].

First Vision - Son of Man

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The first vision presents the image of one “like the Son of Man” who was walking among the seven churches of Asia  –  Revelation 1:9-20 .  The opening vision centers on Jesus and his care for the “ churches of Asia .” At least one congregation faced imminent persecution. John did not begin his record by holding up his apostolic credentials; instead, he identified himself with the plight of the seven churches: He was a “ fellow-participant ” with them in the “ tribulation and the kingdom and the endurance .” - [ Photo by David Jusko on Unsplash ].