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In order to truly understand the “last days” we must first look at a bit of history in order to understand where the world is today. Remember when Jesus was telling his disciples that he would come again he gave them some specific things to look for. He was not the first however to talk about the end times nor to give signs. Throughout the entire Old Testament we find many prophecies that relate to the end times. While many have thought throughout the years that Jesus would return in their lifetimes, many of the conditions could not have been met so it could not have happened up to that point. However now we can see these are coming to pass more and more.

We will however do what many have done and begin our study of end times in the book of Revelation. As we go through our study we will pick up other prophecies, signs etc from other books but we will begin here. This book was written during a time of exile. John had been cast on the island of Patmos and left. It was during this time that God revealed unto him the things which were, which is, and which is to come. By a careful study of this book in conjunction with other prophecies we can get a clear picture of why we are in the end times and why others have thought so in the past. There is much symbolism in this book but also there is a lot that must be taken literally.

 And so let us begin.

1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:
2 Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.
3 Blessed is he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time is at hand.

This is the introduction to Revelation. It clearly states it IS the revelation that God gave to be revealed to his servant John. It also says that those who read and hear the word of the prophecy AND keep the things which are therein will be blessed.  Prior to the invention of the printing press most history among the common people was oral and so people often memorized things and kept them in their heart. The Jews were instructed to put the words of the law in their heart and to keep them. Not everyone had a copy of the law but they knew in their heart how to keep the law. Much like today, we do not keep a copy of the laws of our country in our home, but we know what is legal and what is not. We remember things we have learned. John is saying that it is important for people to remember and keep these words that he has written. Now this was over 1900 years ago, was this meant for just them? Of course not, it would not have survived this long if it wasn’t meant for us today and as we go through this over the next months, you will find that some of these things could NOT have been possible during John’s time nor even 1000 or 1500 years ago…or for that matter even 100 years ago…

But let us continue.

4 John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven Spirits which are before his throne;
5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,
6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

This is just a typical greeting of a standard letter that was being written. It tells who the message is from and who it is addressed to. It is a reminder of Jesus loving us and the fact he died for us and a reminder that Jesus is the one who deserves glory

7 Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen.

Here we find a reference referring to Jesus coming with clouds. This is NOT referring to the Rapture because when that occurs every eye will NOT see him nor wail because of him. This is in fact referring to his coming back when he will judge the earth.

8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.
9 I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.
10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,
11 Saying, I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and, What thou seest, write in a book, and send it unto the seven churches which are in Asia; unto Ephesus, and unto Smyrna, and unto Pergamos, and unto Thyatira, and unto Sardis, and unto Philadelphia, and unto Laodicea.

Here we CLEARLY see John being instructed to write all the things he was going to be seen and send it to all the churches in Asia. Because these churches exist today as I will show you as we go along, this message is just as relevant today as it was then.

12 And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks;
13 And in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle.
14 His head and his hairs were white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes were as a flame 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.
16 And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.
17 And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first and the last:
18  I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death.
19 Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter;
20 The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.

This is nothing more than an affirmation that this message was coming directly from Jesus. He explains the candlesticks and stars because they will be referenced in the messages to the specific churches. The next lesson will pick up with the first letter to the church at Ephesus.

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