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Lowell Brueckner

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Revelation 3:14-22


The Church in Laodicea

14. And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.
15. I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot!
16. So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.
17. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.
18. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see.
19. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.
20. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.
21. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.
22. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

The Amen, absolute authority

Laodicea, between Hierapolis and Colosse
It is probably the case of most, if not all, of the cities that we are studying, that their history goes back farther than that, which we have described. The cities of the seven churches of Asia Minor are built upon sites of earlier towns. However, we try to find a time, when these cities developed some kind of prominence or acclaim in history. Laodicea was earlier called Diospolis, the City of Zeus, and later Rhodas. Between 261-253 B.C., Antiochus II Theos, a Seleucid king, rebuilt the town and named it after his wife, Laodice. (Some of you may remember the Seleucid Dynasty that we studied in the book of Daniel.) He populated it with 2,000 Jewish families from Babylon, therefore many of its inhabitants were Jewish. At about the time of Christ and continuing into the times of the apostles, they sent 20 pounds of gold annually to Jerusalem for the temple.

Laodicea is the southernmost of the seven churches of Asia Minor, located 40 miles southeast of Philadelphia, approximately 100 miles east of Ephesus and only eleven miles west of Colossae. It lies in the valley of the Lycus River. Laodicea held little importance, until it came under the dominion of Rome, when it became one of the most important and flourishing cities of Asia Minor. In fact, it was the judicial center over 25 cities. It produced and exported fine, black, woolen garments and it was famous for its eye salve. As in Pergamos, there was a great medical school in Laodicea and not far away, in Hierapolis (which also had a Christian church, Col.4:13), there are thermal pools. The nearest modern city, Denizli, is four miles away.

Revelation 3:7-13


The Church in Philadelphia

7. And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: The words of the holy one, the true one, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, who shuts and no one opens.
8. I know your works. Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut. I know that you have but little power, and yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name.
9. Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie – behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet, and they will learn that I have loved you.
10. Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth.
11. I am coming soon. Hold fast what you have, so that no one may seize your crown.
12. The one who conquers, I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God. Never shall he go out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my own new name.
13. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

A history of Philadelphia

Alașehir, Turkey on the site of ancient Philadelphia
Before we consider the historical city of Philadelphia, the message to this church, and what it means to church history, first I want to write of what is pressing upon my heart. Just this morning, I watched while our granddaughter, Jessica, signed to the contemporary Christmas carol, “Noel”, and I was captured by the simple line, “Come and see what God has done!” Yes, look down upon that new-born infant in a manger in a cave for animals by Bethlehem’s inn. See in that little body, Someone that the world had never seen before... Something only God could do: “The virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call His name Immanuel” (Is.7:14).

Immediately after watching Jessica, I opened my Bible to Isaiah 64 to prepare to tape a radio program with expository studies from that great, inspired prophet. The week before we had studied the last verses of chapter 63: “Our adversaries have trampled down your sanctuary. We have become like those over whom you have never ruled, like those who are not called by your name” (Is.63:18, 19).

Now, the prophet cries out with a passionate and desperate, “Oh!” “Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at your presence – as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil – to make your name known to your adversaries, and that the nations might tremble at your presence!” (Is.64:1, 2). It is a call for revival, for a heavenly visitation upon earth, for days of heaven on earth. When I finished, I texted the radio technician at the station, “Pedro, it seems to me that the word for the church today is revival. At least, that is what I am feeling.”

Revelation 3:1-6


Chapter 3

The Church in Sardis

1. And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.
2. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.
3. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. I you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.
4. Yet you have still a few names in Sardis, people who have not soiled their garments, and they will walk with me in white, for they are worthy.
5. The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the book of life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.
6. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

Alive in name, dead in reality

Sardis, capital of ancient Lydia
We learned that Thyatira was on the north border of a territory called Lydia, which was an important and prosperous kingdom in ancient history, and now we go 30 miles southeast to the city of Sardis. Sardis has a very long history, beginning about the time of the fall of the Assyrian Empire, surviving the Babylon and Persian Empires and then was burnt to the ground by the Greeks. It once was the capital of Lydia and was the first place in the world to mint silver and gold coins.

Alexander the Great rebuilt a temple to Artemis (Diana), which still can be seen today. Sardis became part of the Roman Empire in 129 B.C. and was one of its wealthiest cities, due to its location on the trade route between the Mediterranean and the East. It lay 1,500 feet above the junction of five main roads on a plateau that was almost impregnable, but actually, it was rapidly losing its renown.  Romans improved the temple of Artemis and used it for its Caesar-worshipping cult. However, the temple was never completed. A modern town of 5,000 called Sart is only a mile away from the ruins of Sardis. There is not one Christian in the town. May the sovereign Lord move once again in power over Asia Minor!

Revelation 2:18-29


The Church in Thyatira

18. And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: The words of the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and whose feet are like burnished bronze.
19. I know your works, your love and faith and service and patient endurance, and that your latter works exceed the first.
20. But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols.
21. I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality.
22. Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works,
23. and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works.
24. But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call to deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden.
25. Only hold fast what you have until I come.
26. The one who conquers and who keeps my works until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations,
27. and he will rule them with a rod of iron, as when earthen pots are broken in pieces, even as I myself have received authority from my Father.
28. And I will give him the morning star.
29. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

A little history of Thyatira

The stones in the foreground are from the castle,
from which Akhisar was named
It is interesting to note that Homer ascribed Asia to a small portion of the territory of Lydia. Later, a large territory was given that name and today, it names the whole continent east of Europe. The Lord Jesus continues to send His messages to the churches in Asia Minor, moving clockwise and now pointing to Thyatira. Thyatira is 38 miles southeast of Pergamos and 32 miles north of Sardis. It is on the border of Lydia and Mysia, smaller territories within Asia Minor, and about 35 miles from the Aegean Sea. It it the smallest church of the seven-candlestick group.

We studied the Seleucid Empire, called the king of the north, in the book of Daniel. Their territory included Babylon and Syria, as well as other territories, reaching into Asia Minor. Seleucus I Nicator was one of Alexander the Great’s four generals, who succeeded him. Seleucus reconstructed Thyatira as a military post and the Romans captured the city in 132 B.C. 

A modern city of 25,000, Akhisar, meaning White Castle, is built over the ancient city. It is still a center of trade and business in the area, as it was in the time of John, because it was on the road leading to Pergamos, Smyrna and Ephesus. Thyatira was known for its production and trade of cloth, particularly purple cloth, which was costly and associated with the rich. There were no great temples to the gods or to Caesar in the city. Apollo was the principle god worshiped there, along with Artemis (Diana) and Asklepius (the healing god).

Ecclesiastes 12


Chapter 12

1. Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”;
2. before the sun and the light and the moon and the stars are darkened and the clouds return after the rain,
3. in the day when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men are bent, and the grinders cease because they are few, and those who look through the windows are dimmed,
4. and the doors on the street are shut – when the sound of the grinding is low, and one rises up at the sound of a bird, and all the daughters of song are brought low –
5. they are afraid also of what is high, and terrors are in the way; the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper drags itself along, and desire fails, because man is going to his eternal home, and the mourners go about the streets –
6. before the silver cord is snapped, or the golden bowl is broken, or the pitcher is shattered at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern,
7. and the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.
8. Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher; all is vanity.

Serve God when you are young

Advice continues for the young. Remember that God will go back to someone’s youthful past, when He begins His judgment. Therefore he gives the very best counsel to the young person. Spend your youth in the fear of God; that is what it means to remember, or to take God into account in all your activities and plans. Remember also that He is Creator and has creator’s rights. Human rights are secondary and only come into play, when the rights of the Creator are met. He has made us for His pleasure, so from childhood to old age, our chief duty is to live for His pleasure and to fulfill His will. We belong to Him and it is a wonderful advantage, when a person from early age, seeks to bring glory to God.

While a person is young and strong, he should give his best days to the Creator. When offering a sacrifice, the Israelite was to pick out the best of the flock or herd, a young animal, to present to God. They were rebuked for offering weak or sickly animals (See, for instance, Malachi 1:6-14). From the first verse, Solomon begins to present the disadvantages and limitations of the elderly, particularly the regret of lost opportunity, which weighs upon the conscience. Someone is unfit for service to anyone, if he finds no joy in living. Godly duty must be joyful so, before that time comes close, let there be pleasant living in the service of the King of Kings.

Revelation 2:12-17


The Church in Pergamos

12. And to the angel of the church in Pergamum write: The words of him who has the sharp two-edged sword.
13. I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.
14. But I have a few things against you: you have some there who hold the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, so that they might eat food sacrificed to idols and practice sexual immorality.
15. So also you have some who hold the teaching of the Nicolaitans.
16. Therefore repent. If not, I will come to you soon and war against them with the sword of my mouth.
17. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will give some of the hidden manna, and I will give him a white stone, with a new name written on the stone that no one knows except the one who receives it.

Pergamos, Satan’s throne

The Pergamos Altar in a German museum
The glorified Lord Jesus continues to address the churches in order, moving clockwise another 35-40 miles to the north and slightly east from Smyrna. The next church is Pergamos, also called Pergamum or Pergamon, about 20 miles inland from the Aegean Sea, and located northwest of the modern city of Bergama, a Turkish adaption of the name Pergamos. The old city is located on a promontory, overlooking the Caicus River from the north. At the time of John, it was another large city in Asia Minor, with a population of about 150,000.

As Smyrna, Pergamos became a major cultural center during the Greek period and the kingdom of Pergamum extended far inland eastward, as well as to the south, almost to the Mediterranean Sea. In those days, Pergamos was even more powerful than Ephesus or Smyrna. Pergamos was renowned for its production of parchment, and the name actually was derived from the name of the city (In English it is not so evident, but in the Spanish language, sit is called pergamino). Also renowned was the library of Pergamon, second only to the library of Alexandria in Egypt. Pergamos was also famed for a shrine to Asclepius, the god of healing, which became a spa, and fostered a great healing cult. Its medical symbol was the serpent entwined on a staff, the medical symbol to this day.  Galen, second only to Hippocrates as a physician, was trained at the healing center. The Romans largely maintained the glory of Pergamos, by constructing large temples, an amphitheater and a large forum. However, it fell behind Ephesus as a political power in Asia Minor.

We should know about the Altar of Pergamos, dedicated to Zeus and Athena, the Temple of Athena neighboring it. The altar was about 120 x 100 feet and was the most famous structure in the city.  Also in the time of the early church, the city had a temple dedicated to Caesar and was a promoter of the cult, which granted divinity to Caesar, declaring “Caesar is lord!”

Ecclesiastes 11

Chapter 11

The fruits of generosity

1. Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days.
2. Give a portion to seven, or even to eight, for you know not what disaster may happen on earth.

Chapter 11 begins with an encouragement towards giving to those, who cannot return the favor. Of course, the writer is referring, not to bread literally, but that, which will become bread in the future. He means seed, such as rice, which is cast into shallow water and sinks into the ground. To the unknowing eye, it would seem lost, but actually the planter is sure it will produce in a matter of months. So the one, who trusts in God, knows well that whatever is given in obedience to God for the benefit of others, He will certainly return (v.1). Jesus taught it this way: “When you give a feast, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind… because they cannot repay you. For you will be repaid at the resurrection of the just” (Lk.14:13,14).

Be generous in giving, as much as you are able. The number seven implies completeness, which in this case means reaching the full measure of your ability, in order to fully supply the need. “Even to eight” means to go beyond what you are able, which suggests giving by faith, trusting God then to meet your needs. Paul commends the Macedonians, who gave “in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord” (2 Co.8:2,3).

Revelation 2:8-11


  The Church of Smyrna

8. And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write; The words of the first and the last, who died and came to life.
9. I know your tribulation and your poverty, (but you are rich) and the slander of those who say that they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.
10. Do not fear what you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for ten days you will have tribulation. Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life.
11. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who conquers will not be hurt by the second death.

The history of Smyrna and Polycarp

Izmir, Turkey, with ancient Smyrna ruins in the center
Jesus begins by speaking to Ephesus, the most notable and dominant church of their day in Asia Minor. The second church that the Lord addresses is Smyrna. It is 35 miles north of Ephesus and slightly east. You will notice that He goes in order around the crude circle of churches, which we have described.

For all practical purposes, Smyrna was built by one of Alexander the Great’s generals, Lysimachus, in the third century before Christ. He controlled Thrace, which today includes, largely, a part of northeastern Greece, Bulgaria and western Turkey. Later, it was used by the Romans as a port on the Aegean Sea and at the time of the apostles, the population reached about 100,000. Between the city and the port was a public square and its outstanding feature was a statue of Zeus, the Roman Jupiter and chief of the gods. The second largest city of Turkey, modern Izmir, stands on the ancient site and only a few places have been excavated by archeologists. A Roman aqueduct, theater and the agora, the public square, remain in ruins. Izmir continues to be a major seaport.

Ecclesiastes 10


Chapter 10

1. Dead flies make the perfumer’s ointment give off a stench; so a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.
2. A wise man’s heart inclines him to the right, but a fool’s heart to the left.
3. Even when the fool walks on the road, he lacks sense, and he say to everyone that he is a fool.
4. If the anger of the ruler rises against you, do not leave your place, for calmness will lay great offenses to rest.
5. There is an evil that I have seen under the sun, as it were an error proceeding from the ruler:
6. folly is set in many high places, and the rich sit in a low place.
7. I have seen slaves on horses, and princes walking on the ground like slaves.
8. He who digs a pit will fall into it, and a serpent will bite him who breaks through a wall.
9. He who quarries stones is hurt by them, and he who splits logs is endangered by them.
10. If the iron is blunt, and one does not sharpen the edge, he must use more strength, but wisdom helps on to succeed.
11. If the serpent bites before it is charmed, there is no advantage to the charmer.
12. The words of a wise man’s mouth win him favor, but the lips of a fool consume him.
13. The beginning of the words of his mouth is foolishness, and the end of his talk is evil madness.
14. A fool multiplies words, though no man knows what is to be, and who can tell him what will be after him?
15. The toil of a fool wearies him, for he does not know the way to the city.
16. Woe to you, O land, when your king is a child, and your princes feast in the morning!
17. Happy are you, O land, when your king is the son of the nobility, and your princes feast at the proper time, for strength, and not for drunkenness!
18. Through sloth the roof sinks in, and through indolence the house leaks.
19. Bread is made for laughter, and wine gladdens life, and money answers everything.
20. Even in your thoughts, do not curse the king, nor in your bedroom curse the rich, for a bird of the air will carry your voice, or some winged creature tell the matter.

The consequences of errors in leadership

Here we have a list of proverbial sayings by the composer of hundreds of proverbs, these relating particularly to life under the sun. He begins with one that links to the last verse of the previous chapter: “One sinner destroys much good.” In this verse, he immediately gives us the meaning, concerning flies in the ointment: It doesn’t take much foolishness to destroy a pleasant situation (v.1). It is true in an individual life, as well as in the body of society. This world is filled with disappointment, because a person’s honor falls easily to one act of stupidity or one careless moment.

Revelation 2:1-7


General considerations concerning the churches

Before we begin the study of the individual churches in chapter 2 and 3, I want to give an overview of these seven churches in Asia Minor. John is the apostle, who has outlived all the others and the only one to die a natural death. The Holy Spirit is intricately involved in all the circumstances, surrounding the Revelation, in order to carry out perfectly the eternal plan of God. With this book, the total canon of inspired Scripture is complete and blessed are all those, who have the privilege of prayerfully studying its pages. Consider this: eleven apostles did not have this privilege, including the apostle Paul.

The Gospel of John is considered to be the most spiritual of the four Gospels and, when we pore over it, sometimes we find spiritual truth inserted in a rather subtle form among the events that he recorded. That is one reason, that he is the most suited of the apostles to write the Revelation. His age and experience are also to be taken into consideration, as well as the timing of the book, almost at the end of the first century, decades after all the other New Testament books have been completed. The apostle John is watching the unfolding of the second generation of Christianity.

The Revelation is a fitting end to the canon, because it continues the accounts of the principles and prophecies of the entire Bible. As I have tried to show, it also completes the revelation of Jesus Christ, beyond what is revealed in the Gospels. I want to say with some care, that the book carries many symbols. Whereas that is true, we still want to take it as literally, as possible. It is especially true in this book that the Holy Spirit fulfills the role, which Christ said of Him, of showing things to come (Jn.16:13). There will be no more Scripture written, but the prophetic Scriptures will continue to live, as their predictions are fulfilled.

Ecclesiastes 9


Chapter 9

1. But all this I laid to heart, examining it all, how the righteous and the wise and their deeds are in the hand of God. Whether it is love or hate, man does not know; both are before him.
2. It is the same for all, since the same event happens to the righteous and the wicked, to the good and the evil, to the clean and the unclean, to him who sacrifices and him who does not sacrifice. As the good one is, so is the sinner, and he who swears is as he who shuns an oath.
3. This is an evil in all that is done under the sun, that the same event happens to all. Also, the hearts of the children of man are full of evil, and madness is in their hearts while they live, and after that they go to the dead.
4. But he who is joined with all the living has hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion.
5. For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten.
6. Their love and their hate and their envy have already perished, and forever they have no more share in all that is done under the sun.

The hope of the living

I will remind you again that we must think within the sphere that the preacher is presenting. He has a charge and he is faithfully discharging it in writing. We will be in serious trouble, if we form spiritual doctrine around the literal interpretation of some of these earthly observations. Solomon’s purpose is to awaken the reader to the vanity of living for anything that is offered under the sun.

The king speaks transparently from his own experience and he is in a position to do it with authority. Probably no one was ever better equipped to deliver this message. The opening statement is to be taken into consideration, before anything else is added. We give all that we cannot see under the sun into the hand of God, because our human focus is only on the limited understanding of what we see and know. We learned in the last chapter that the calamity into which man falls, is not necessary a sign of God’s hatred for him; nor are his prosperity and health a sign of God’s love. What then is the lesson? We must live the life of faith, trusting God and laying our lives and future totally in His hand (v.1).

Ecclesiastes 8


Chapter 8

Things that we have no power to control

1. Who is like the wise? And who knows the interpretation of a thing? A man’s wisdom makes his face shine and the hardness of his face is changed.
2. I say: Keep the king’s command, because of God’s oath to him.
3. Be not hasty to go from his presence. Do not take your stand in an evil cause, for he does whatever he pleases.
4. For the word of the king is supreme, and who may say to him, “What are you doing?”
5. Whoever keeps a command will know no evil thing, and the wise heart will know the proper time and the just way.
6. For there is a time and a way for everything, although man’s trouble lies heavy on him.
7. For he does not know what is to be, for who can tell him how it will be?
8. No man has power to retain the spirit, or power over the day of death. There is no discharge from war, nor will wickedness deliver those who are given to it.
9. All this I observed while applying my heart to all that is done under the sun, when man had power over man to his hurt.

The apostle Paul was not setting a precedent, when he counselled the Romans to be subject to the civil authorities. The precedent was set in the Old Testament and it was not determined by the word of a powerful king, but it was a divine injunction. It is wisdom to abide by this rule for, as much as possible, there should be order on earth. Roman rule had its flaws and injustices, but in the center of its government, Paul commands the church to be orderly and submissive citizens.

Revelation 1:14-18


14. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire,
15. his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters.
16. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength.
17. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last,
18. and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.”

The Glorified Christ

Purity is the first word that comes to mind, when I read, “His head and His hair were white, like white wool, like snow” (v.14).  It speaks of moral and spiritual character without blemish or flaw. Christ is the spotless Lamb of God.

Three qualities are related to purity. It is unpolluted, undiluted and unalloyed. Jesus came through earth’s trials morally unscathed. The presence of greedy tax collectors and filthy harlots never dropped a blotch on his pure spirit. While He physically walked among them, His character stood aloof. He never compromised, experimented, nor stooped to relate to their foul ways. He never met them on equal ground. He stood high above and lifted them out of their stench into the pure atmosphere of holiness. The devil never found a lodging place for his unclean thoughts and motives in Christ. Jesus said the devil had “nothing in me” (John 14:30). John Bunyan’s “Vanity Fair” offered no attractions to Jesus. The world could not touch the lofty level of His heart.

Ecclesiastes 7


Chapter 7

Sorrow versus laughter

1. A good name is better than precious ointment, and the day of death than the day of birth.
2. It is better to go to the house of mourning than to go to the house of feasting, for this is the end of all mankind, and the living will lay it to heart.
3. Sorrow is better than laughter, for by sadness of face the heart is made glad.
4. The heart of the wise is in the house of mourning, but the heart of fools is in the house of mirth.
5. It is better for a man to hear the rebuke of the wise than to hear the song of fools.
6. For as the crackling of thorns under a pot, so is the laughter of the fools; this also is vanity.

Solomon has a fascinating mentality, but we need to remember that he is inspired by the Holy Spirit. He is seeing things from God’s perspective and that makes his thoughts profitable to our lives. However, the man, who will preach like this preacher will not be popular.

The writer begins this chapter with a statement about a good name and follows with a comparison between sorrow and laughter. I have to think that this is done with purpose, in order to show the attitudes toward life that are most likely to bring about a good name. Names in the Bible have meaning and refer to someone’s character. A person’s name was changed, when his character was changed. Therefore a good name means a good character which, he says, is better to wear, than precious ointment. It leaves a better scent behind it, than expensive perfume.

Revelation 1:12-13, 19-20


12. Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands,
13. and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest.
19. Write therefore the things that you have seen, those that are and those that are to take place after this.
20. As for the mystery of the seven stars that you saw in my right hand, and the seven golden lampstands, the seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lampstands are the seven churches.

The golden seven-fold candlestick

Before we begin to comment, we want to try to picture the scene that John saw, as he turns to face the One, whose voice was like a trumpet. He sees, first of all seven golden candlesticks and in the middle of these candlesticks, one like a son of man. He wears a long robe with a golden sash. His hair is like white wool or snow, and His eyes are like a flame of fire. His feet are like burnished, refined bronze, and His voice is like the roar of rushing water. He holds seven stars in His right hand and a sharp, two-edged sword comes from His mouth. His face shines like the sun on a clear midday.

This is not something easy to imagine, but we don’t need a vivid imagination, because what is important is the ability to catch the significance of John’s vision. We ask the Spirit of God, who opens the scene to John, to help us see the things that He is providing for all those, who delve into this book. Our first priority is to see Christ with the eyes of our heart, as He is depicted here, and also view the seven churches.

Ecclesiastes 6


Chapter 6

Wealth without joy and other lessons

1. There is an evil that I have seen under the sun, and it lies heavy on mankind:
2. a man to who God gives wealth, possessions, and honor, so that he lacks nothing of all that he desires, yet God does not give him power to enjoy them, but a stranger enjoys them. This is vanity; it is a grievous evil.
3. If a man fathers a hundred children and lives many years, so that the days of his years are many, but his soul is not satisfied with life’s good things, and he also has no burial, I say that a stillborn child is better off than he.
4. For it comes in vanity and goes in darkness, and in darkness its name is covered.
5. Moreover, it has not seen the sun or known anything, yet it finds rest rather than he.
6. Even though he should live a thousand years twice over, yet enjoy no good… do not all go to the one place?
7. All the toil of man is for his mouth, yet his appetite is not satisfied.
8. For what advantage has the wise man over the fool? And what does the poor man have who knows how to conduct himself before the living?
9. Better is the sight of the eyes than the wandering of the appetite: this also is vanity and a striving after wind.
10. Whatever has come to be has already been named, and it is known what man is, and that he is not able to dispute with one stronger than he.
11. The more words, the more vanity, and what is the advantage to man?
12. For who knows what is good for man while he lives the few days of his vain life, which he passes like a shadow? For who can tell man what will be after him under the sun?

Revelation 1:8-11


8. “I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.”
9. I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.
10. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet
11. saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”

The main purpose of Scripture

The Scriptures are about who God is; they are a revelation of His person. It is not primarily about the human race, and He is the one that His true people want to know. They have known Him personally from the beginning of their Christian experience, but they are continually looking into His word with hungry hearts, seeking to learn a little more of His personality.

In verse 8, God has given us something, upon which we can meditate. There are so many things, which can be used to describe Him and yet, we still must recognize the limitations of human language and everything known to man, to fully unveil His infinite essence and nature. The Greek alphabet becomes the tool in this text. Not only words, but letters, will help to open our understanding, and the Lord God uses the first and last Greek letters, Alpha and Omega. God is in every minute detail of written truth.   

Ecclesiastes 5


Chapter 5

The vanity of talk

1. Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil.
2. Be not rash with your mouth, nor let your heart be hasty to utter a word before God, for God is in heaven and you are on earth. Therefore let your words be few.
3. For a dream comes with much business, and a fool’s voice with many words.
4. When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow.
5. It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay.
6. Let not your mouth lead you into sin, and do not say before the messenger that it was a mistake. Why should God be angry at your voice and destroy the work of your hands?
7. For when dreams increase and words grow many, there is vanity; but God is the one you must fear.

Five times in the biblical books of wisdom an almost identical statement appears: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.” This is the point, at which vanity ends and wisdom begins. In the midst of his discourse on life under the sun, a negative report to be sure, Solomon interjects some jewels. One is found in verse seven, “God is the one you must fear”, and it is the secret to life beyond the sun that has lasting value. It is the theme of the first seven verses. Though these gems may be few and far between in Ecclesiastes, they carry more than enough weight to tip the scale of earth’s value system in the right direction for the person, who knows how to measure and appreciate them. 

A reverent fear of God is beyond price, and it is a rare asset in today’s society. When the time comes to approach the things of God, see to it that it is done with the highest regard for his honor and worthiness. Guard your steps… remove your shoes, when you come to the holy place of encounter with the Almighty. Religious pretense is an enemy; it is not only deceitful, it is evil.

Revelation 1:4-7


4. John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven spirits who are before his throne,
5. and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood
6. and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
7. Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so, Amen.

Grace and Peace from the Trinity

Isle of Patmos
“Grace and peace”, was Paul’s salutation in all 13 of his letters to the churches, as well as to Titus. Curiously, he added “mercy”, when writing to Timothy. Peter uses “grace and peace” in his second epistle and Jude adds mercy and love to peace. John in his second letter also adds mercy, but now in Revelation, he gives the simple greeting, which we find most commonly in the epistles. I simply want to point out that it is important to understand that in the Word of God, these greetings are not just customary, but carry the full weight of divine blessing.

This book is addressed directly to seven churches in Asia Minor and they are literally the first recipients of it. However, it is worth noting that there were more than seven churches in this Roman province in John’s day. Given the symbolism and the prophetic nature of the book, we can easily surmise that only seven were chosen to serve a wider purpose. Seven is the number of perfect completeness and I believe that these churches represent the church of all ages. I think that their characteristics are the same as those we find in different churches in every period of history. I also tend to think that each one represents a dominant type of church in seven historical periods, the Laodicean church standing for the dominant church of our times. I will write more about this, as we come to chapters two and three.

Revelation of Jesus Christ


Landscape on Patmos; traditional site of John's cave
is on the nearest hillside (the large, white building).
I finished my annual reading through the Bible (twice through the New Testament) a few days ago and have been thinking of what book to study and present on this blogspot through the rest of 2018. Since we went through Daniel's prophecy last year, it is logical to follow with the book of Revelation. So we begin today. If some of you are wondering about the study of Ecclesiastes, we will continue to post articles here intermittently from those immensely important observations of King Solomon.