“He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches” (Revelation 2:7).
This is written in each of the letters to the seven churches in Revelation. Whether one believes it represents different periods of time historically, prophetically, doctrinally, spiritually, culturally or all the above, the significance of this phrase can’t be missed.
All the churches, regardless of geography, time period, culture, economic status or political power had the opportunity to listen to the Spirit, to hear directly from God. Though the letters were written to the pastors of the churches, they were open to all the churches, each member of the congregation and to each one of us this many years later.
If they were listening, six of the seven churches would have heard harsh criticism. One, the Smyrna church that existed amidst one of the greatest centers of Caesar worship in the Roman Empire, received no complaint, only encouragement and a promise of a “crown of life.” Their experience of tribulation description is like a large boulder being placed on one’s chest that would eventually cause their death. Their poverty was described as utter and absolute destitution. All they had to do was give in to the practice of Caesar worship, just a little, and all would be good, but they didn’t.
Jesus knew their circumstances, just like he knows ours. He was fully human. The pressure we feel, he felt. The temptation to compromise, even if only a little bit, he also faced.
It’s easy to think of the Jesus who walked through walls after the resurrection, not the one who walked through life just like we do. If you have children or were a child, you have heard someone say that you don’t understand. Jesus does! That same Spirit John talks about speaks to us as well.
Written by Randy Daniels, vice president of business and government development at Buckner International.