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Staying in Touch With the Timeless!

A lot was on the minds of members of churches of Christ in the Roman province of Asia near the end of the first century, A. D. Sixty years after Jesus' resurrection and ascension back to Heaven to sit and reign at the right hand of God, a "Johnnycome-lately" tyrant had gained the throne in Rome and was claiming to be God. Around A. D. 95-96 Christians in Asia Minor were suffering pain and persecution from Rome and its emperor Domitian because they refused to say "Domitian is Lord" and in  sisted on saying rather that "Jesus is Lord." For that reason Rome made it rough on them. Some of them lost their businesses, some lost their popularity, some lost their property, some lost their families, some lost their faith, and some even lost their lives when they refused to deny Christ. It is against this bleak backdrop that the apostle John pens the Revelation from the lonely island of Patmos about 70 miles southwest of Asia in the Mediterranean Sea. Through a series of vivid and sometimes violent and awesome visions John seeks to remind the church of Christ that when the smoke clears and the final battle is done, Jesus Christ, not Rome or Domitian, will still be on the throne.

It is hard to remember Jesus rules when the Romes and Domitians of this world at least visibly seem to be in control. But that is precisely what the church is called to do, and that is precisely what the book of Revelation is all about. That's why the first chapter of Revelation opens the way it does. Later, in chapters 2 and 3, John will address the specific moral, spiritual, and doctrinal problems troubling the seven churches of Asia. But before he tells them what Jesus says, he seeks to remind and refocus their hearts and souls on Who Jesus is! Twice in Revelation I we read that God and Jesus are timeless! "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End, says the Lord, who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last" (Revelation 1:8, Ila). The alpha was the first letter of the Greek alphabet, and the omega was the last. God wants Christians to remember He is timeless! He, not Rome and not Domitian, is eternal! The Domitians, Hitlers, and Osama bin Ladins of this world come and go. But "Allelluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns" (Revelation 19:6)! Marshall Shelly observed, "Our task isn't keeping up with the times; it's staying in touch with the timeless." If the church stays in touch with the timeless, she can handle whatever time brings her way.

Dan Gulley
Smithville church of Christ