“It was the Lord’s Day, and I was worshipping in the Spirit. Suddenly, I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet blast. It said, “Write in a book everything you see, and send it to the seven churches in the cities of Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadelphia, and Laodicea.””
Revelation 1:10-11 NLT
Just a few verses ago, we read about the “seven churches”. Well, here they are all listed. But before we get to them, we read that John “was worshipping in the Spirit“. For him it was a wonderful place to be, but what does that look like to a Christian pilgrim today? The other day I was watching a TV programme where a congregation in a church somewhere were singing that old hymn, “Praise, my soul, the King of Heaven”. They were belting it out, filling the nave with their singing, a wonderful sound drowning out the organ accompanying them. In the first verse they reached that wonderful line, “Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven”, that so eloquently, but succinctly, describes what God has done for us, but my spiritual elation was dampened somewhat by a sense of sadness that their faces and body language failed to share my enthusiasm. “Worshipping in the Spirit” involves a connection with God that shuts out all worldly influences and elevates us into Heavenly places where we tap into God’s heart, offering Him our worship for all he has done for us. That’s what “worshipping in the Spirit” looks like for us pilgrims. In the God-worship-zone He connects with us. He gives us visions and a glimpse of His thoughts. In that wonderful place, “the things of earth grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace“. And people will recognise that here is a pilgrim who has been in God’s presence.
John was lost in the Spirit, when His peace was shattered by a verbal trumpet blast. He received his commission, “Write in a book…”. And so John did, faithfully recording all he was told. I immediately thought about another Biblical character’s commission – Isaiah. In Isaiah 6, Isaiah was in a difficult place. His King, Uzziah, had just died, and that had the potential to bring in a period of instability in the society of his day. So Isaiah did what many pilgrims often do in similar circumstances – he went to church, in Isaiah’s case the Temple, to pray. And while he was there he saw a vision of the Lord, “high and lifted up“, and we read from verse 8 to the end of the chapter about his commission. John was told to write to the seven churches. Isaiah’s assignment was to take God’s message to the people of his day and society. As pilgrims, we too are commissioned. No Christian can ever claim that he or she was never given anything to do in God’s service. We read about the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20, “Jesus came and told His disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” We all have a role in the Kingdom of God. We may not hear a trumpet blast, but we will hear the voice of the Holy Spirit whispering in our spiritual ears, sending us out with our messages of hope, to a people with hardened hearts, plugged ears and blinded eyes (Isaiah 6:10). But, like Isaiah, we will be obedient to our commission.
The seven churches. These were church plants in what was Asia Minor, and is now Turkey. There will always be someone who perhaps will assume that as they don’t live there, or go to any of these churches, the message John wrote about doesn’t apply to them. But nothing is further from the truth. We will be reading about the message Jesus had for these churches in the coming weeks, but we must bear in mind that there will be principles here that we need to take note of.
John was worshipping God on the Lord’s Day. It has become fashionable to spend our Sundays doing something other than worshipping at church. Even Christians find themselves staying away from a service on occasion for a variety of reasons. One of the arguments I have heard is the one that says, “I don’t have to go to church to worship God”. That is perfectly true. But I always counter with the thought that there is something special about worshipping with God’s people in a corporate act of worship. Here we find like-minded people, with prepared hearts full of anticipation, bursting into the worship of their Heavenly Father. Both Isaiah and John put themselves into a place where they could worship God, unhindered and undistracted. Perhaps the golf course or a supermarket might not tick that box. Hmmm…
But we leave these verses, worshipping our loving Heavenly Father. To Him be all the glory, for ever and ever.
Dear Father. Thank You for John’s faithfulness in listening to Your message and for writing it down. Please help us to carefully consider Your messages, that we don’t fail in our “Great Commission” and that we continue to worship You forever. Amen.