We are focusing on the book of Revelation. Understanding its message may seem virtually impossible to the first-time reader. The book is actually not that difficult if we keep two fundamental facts in mind.
1. The language is clearly symbolic. Much of it is borrowed from the Old Testament prophets and is used to create an emotional impact. It uses symbols to describe the downfall of God's enemies and the deliverance of God's people. Whether animals, colors, or numbers are being considered, the symbolic language was never intended to be taken literally.
2. The book was written to a specific audience to address a specific problem. The church started being serverly persecuted near the end of the first century and Christians were dying of their faith.
With these basic facts in mind, it should be obvious that this book was not written as 20th century documentary. The most realistic approach is to interpret the book as a message to the 1st century church undergoing persecution.
In symbolic language generally, certain numbers are used to convey specific ideas.
Number One - Unity
Number Two - Strengthening
Number Three - The number of Divinity (Father, Son, Spirit)
Number Four - A world number (symbolizing the four corners of the earth)
Number Six - Sinister, evil things.
Number Seven - Perfection
Number Ten - Completeness [ Thousand - Ultimate completeness]
Number Twelve - Organized Religion
Number Three and a half - A period of persecution
Let us meditate in our Bible studies on the specific letters to the seven congregations found in chapter two and three. Each letter conatins a uniform content: a greeting, a description of Christ, a commendation, a condemnation, an appeal and a warning, an exhortation (a strong urge to do something) and a promise.
We can see ourselves fitting into couple of them. Praise God for Christ in our lives. God is also commending for all the great things we have been doing.
1 Corinthians 15:58
Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
He also constantly appeals to us of how we need to grow more and warns us and urges us to keep his commandments so that we can receive his promise. And let us not forget this :
10 God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.
11 We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure.