FRIDAY MORNING MANNA
 Biblical Numerology: NUMBER SEVEN – Part 9 
The Mysteries of the Seven Churches, Stars, and Golden Candlesticks
 
    Write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after this. The mystery of the seven starts which you saw in My right hand, and the seven golden lamp stands (candlesticks, KJV). The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven lamp stands which you saw are the seven churches. Revelation 1: 19, 20 N.K.J.V.
 
By nature, whether in the prelapsarian (see Eve’s curiosity for the forbidden mysterious tree and its fruit) but definitely much more in the postlapsarian nature, human beings are magnetized and even mesmerized by things and occurrences that appear strange and sound mystical. “It’s magic,” as they say. As kids we loved to be regaled with fairy tales and spooky stories whether folklore, embellished local yarns or imported ones like Cinderella, Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves, etc. We never seemed to outgrow it, sad to say. Technology advances has rendered old spiritualistic ideas and mediums even more hypnotically alluring, as in a fatal attraction, because they are ridiculously lucrative as well.  

 
There’s no way beating it in these last days. It’s more than we can handle. The only solution is: in order for our senses and choices to move up to a higher spiritual plane and purer atmosphere of thought, we need a major change of heart, a true conversion. This new heart will have the law of God written in it as the new covenant. Only then will the new life in Christ start bearing the “fruits of the Spirit,” replacing the old “works of the flesh.” Gal. 5: 22-26; cf. 19-21.     
 
But while we’re merely passing through this sinful world and its cornucopia of dark stories and mysteries, the eternal world we’re hoping to end up in has its even  more amazing, brighter, mind-boggling, and spiritually elevating mysteries. The only qualification requirement is, “Spiritual things are spiritually discerned.” 1 Cor. 2: 14.  “For to be carnally-minded is death, but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those that are in the flesh cannot please God.” Rom. 86-8, N.K.J.V.   And Spiritualism is the super counterfeit of spiritual things; the former is if of the master deceiver; the latter, from the Savior.
 
From An Exhaustive Ellen G. White Commentary on Revelation, Vol. 2, Footnotes on ch.1: 11. Still on the seven churches, etc. Here are divine mysteries revealed!
 
     “The seven churches. The order in which the church are listed both here and in chs. 2, 3 represents the geographical sequence in which a message carrying a letter from Patmos would reach these seven cities in the province of Asia. For a further discussion of geographical settings of the seven churches see opp. 86-10; map facing p. 33, Vol VI. For further information of each church named see the individual messages to the churches on chs. 2: 3.
    
     “The seven churches are the first in a series of sevens in the Revelation. Thus there are also seven Spirits (v. 4), seven candlesticks (v. 12), seven stars (v. 16), seven lamps of fire (ch. 4: 5), a book with seven seals (ch. 5: 1), the seven horns and seven eyes of the Lamb (ch. 5: 6) seven angels with seven trumpets (ch. 8: 2), seven thunders (ch. 10: 4), a dragon with seven heads and seven crowns (ch. 12: 3); a beast with seven heads (ch. 13: 1), seven angels having seven vials containing the seven last plagues (ch. 15: 1, 7), and the beast with seven heads, which are also said to be seven mountains and seven kings (ch. 17: 3, 9, 10). This repeated use of the number seven, when used symbolically,   is generally used to indicate completeness, perfection.
 
     “As applied to the seven churches, then, this number may be expected to have a specific purpose. That there were more than seven churches in the province of Asia is clear from the fact that the two other churches in that region, those at Colossae and at Hierapolis, are also mentioned in the New Testament (see Col. 1: 2; 4: 13). Consequently it is reasonable to conclude that the Lord chose the seven churches here named because they were typical of the condition of the church as a whole—both in apostolic times and throughout the Christian Era (see p. 725; cf. AA 583, 585).
 
      “The messages to the seven churches applied to conditions in the church in John’s day. Had this not been so, these messages would have mystified and discouraged the Christians in the churches of Asia who were to read them (see on Rev. 1: 3). John would have proved to be a false prophet if the messages he addressed to his churches had not revealed the true situation in those congregations had had not been appropriate to their spiritual needs. These messages were sent at a time when the Christians of Asia were suffering great tribulation (see pp. 720-723), and their firm reproofreassuring comfort, and glorious promises must have been designed to fill those needs (see AA 578-588). Accepting and heeding these messages, the Christian churches of Asia would be prepared spiritually to understand the drama of great controversy portrayed in the remainder of the Revelation, and tomaintain a steadfast hope in the ultimate triumph of Christ and His church.
 
     “Although the various messages to the seven churches must have applied in the first instance to the churches of Asia in John’s own time, they were also relevant to the future history of the church [as a prophecy!] (see p. 725).  A study of history reveals that these messages are indeed, applicable in a special way to seven periods that cover the entire history of the church.
 
     “Inasmuch as the number seven implies completeness, as noted above it appears reasonable, also, to understand these messages as, in a sense, descriptive of the whole church, at any time during its history, for doubtless every individual congregation throughout Christian history could find its characteristics and needs described in one or more of these messages. Accordingly, they may be said to have universal application, in addition to the local application in John’s day and  the historical application in successive periods. A Christian writer about A.D. 200 wrote that ‘John writes to the seven churches, yet he speaks to all’ (Latin text in S. P. Tregelles, ed., Canon Muratorianus, p. 19). Although, for instance, the message to the Laodicean church is particularly appropriate to the church today [remnant church], the message to the other churches also contain words of admonition by which it may profit (see 5T 368, 481, 538, 612; 8T 98, 99).  
 
      MYSTERY. “Greek musterion, ‘a secret,’ ‘a mystery,’ from a word meaning ‘one who has been initiated’ (see on Rom. 11: 25). In early Christian usage the term ‘mystery’ did not mean something that could not be understood, as it does today, but something that could understood only by those who were initiated, i.e., those who had the right to know. Thus Christ told His disciples that it was ‘given’ unto them ‘to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven,’ but not to the multitudes (see on Matt. 13: 11). Paul speaks of the resurrection as a “mystery” (1 Cor. 15: 51), and often so refers to the plan of salvation itself (see on Rom. 16: 25, 26).
     
     “The Jewish background of this expression appears in a passage in the Dead Sea Manual of Discipline (see Vol. 5, pp. 91, 92) that speaks of salvation: “The light of my heart penetrates the mystery that is to be” (IQS xi.3; in Millar Burrows, The Dead Sea Scrolls, p. 387). The term “mystery” appears repeatedly in the same document. The expression was also common in pagan mystery religions.   
     
     “Here the term ‘mystery’ is used in the seven ’stars,’ a symbol thus far not explained. But now this symbols is termed a ‘mystery,’ in view of the fact that its interpretation is about to be made known. Thus, in the book of Revelation, a ‘mystery’ is a cryptic symbol about to be explained to those who consent to ‘keep’ (see on v. 3) the things revealed in this book (cf. ch. 17: 7, 9), or one which God wills to make known to them.  The symbols of the Revelation are also referred to as ‘wonders’ (see on ch. 12: 1) and ‘signs’ (ch. 15: 1).
 
    Seven Stars. “See on vs. 11, 16. The present verse is abridge between vs. 12-19 and the messages of chs. 2 and 3. It explains the symbols of vs. 12, 16 and prepares the way for the messages to the individual churches.
 
     Angels.  “Greek aggeloi, literally ‘messengers,’ whether celestial or human. Aggeloi is applied to human beings in Matt. 11: 10: Mark 1: 2; Luke 7: 24. 27; 9: 52; cf. 2 Cor. 12: 7. It has been suggested that the ‘angels’ of the seven churches are their respective elders, or overseers, in John’s time, and that the Lord was addressing the messages to them for transmission to their respective congregations. However, except for possibly the ‘angels’ of the seven churches, the word aggeloi never refers to human beings in some 75 instances where John uses it in the Revelation. Whether it does here is not clear from the context. However, it seems unlikely that God would send messages to literal angels through John [a mortal], and the identification of these “angels” with the leaders of the churches is therefore to be preferred. (cf. GW 13, 14; AA 586).
 
      “Since His ascension, Christ the great Head of the church [through the invisible Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Godhead, His appointed Vicegerent—not the pope!], has carried forward His work in the world by chosen ambassadors, through whom He speaks to the children of men, and ministers to their needs. The position of those who have been called of God to labor in word and doctrine for the upbuilding of His church, is one of grave responsibility. In Christ’s stead they are to beseech men and women to be reconciled to God; and they can fulfill their mission only as they receive wisdom and power from above.
   
      “God’s ministers are symbolized by the seven stars, which He who is the first and last has under His special care and protection. The sweet influence that are to be abundant in the church are bound up with these ministers of God, who are to represent the love of Christ. The stars of heaven are under God’s control. He fills them with light. He guides and directs their movements. If He did not, they would become fallen stars. So with His ministers. They are but instruments in His hands, and all the good they accomplish is done through His power.
     
     “It is through the honor of Christ that He makes His ministers a greater blessing to the church, through the working if the Holy Spirit, than are starts to the world. The Saviour is to be their efficiency. If they will look to Him [instead of looking to themselves] as He looked to His Father, they will do His works. As they make God their dependence, He will give them His brightness to reflect to the world. [This brightness does not originate from them,; they are mere reflectors of Christ’s brightness and glory].
 
     “Christ’s ministers are the spiritual guardians of the people entrusted to their care. Their work has been likened to that of watchmen. In ancient times, sentinels were often stationed on the walls of cities, where, from points of vantage, they could overlook important points to be guarded, and give warning of the approach of an enemy. Upon their faithfulness depended the safety of all within. At stated intervals they were required to call to one another, to make sure that all were awake, and that no harm had befallen any. The cry of good cheer or of warning was borne from one to another, each repeating the call till it echoed round the city.
 
     “To every minister the Lord declares, ‘O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore thou shalt hear the word at My mouth, and warn them from Me. When I say unto the wicked, O wicked man, thou shalt surely die; if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that the wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand. Nevertheless, if thou warn the wicked of his way, to turn from it . . . . thou has delivered thy soul.’ [Ezekiel 33: 7-9 quoted}.” – E. G. White, Gospel Workers, pp. 13-15.
 
(To be continued next week)