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Divisions and Symbols

Divisions and Symbols

"Write the things which thou hast seen, and the things which are, and the things which shall be hereafter; 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."  Rev. 1:19-20

There are three parts to Revelation, and this is a key to interpreting the entire book. John was told to write the things which he "had seen." In the second part he is to relate the things "which are." This is the only part of the entire book of Revelation that is now being fulfilled.

The things referred to as being present include the Church Age as we know it today, a period that has lasted for about 2,000 years. This period will end with the rapture of the Church and the beginning of the Tribulation. In the third part he is to "Write the things that shall be hereafter." These are the things which are future and begin in Chapter 4 of Revelation.

In order to understand and interpret the Apocalypse, the characters and symbols must be identified. "Mystery" is a truth given by special revelation from God (Eph. 3:3). "The seven stars" are identified as the angels of the seven churches. The Greek word translated "angels" primarily means "messengers" and has reference to the pastors of the seven churches.

Literal stars are luminaries that give light to the earth. They are fitting symbols of men who are to "shine as lights in the word" (Phil. 2:15). "The seven candlesticks"; i.e., lampstands, are symbols of the churches manifesting Christ within and holding forth the Word of Life in this darkened world (Phil. 2:16). Pastors and their churches must lead the way in manifesting Christ in today’s darkened world.

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