In the Olivet Discourse Matthew 24:3-30, Jesus gave the disciples the signs of the end of the age prior to His coming to rapture His church and pour out His wrath with the Trumpet and Bowl judgements on unrepentant peoples still on earth.
Jesus also gave John in Revelation confirmation of these signs of the end of the age and confirmation of Daniel’s 70 weeks of years prophecy (Daniel 9:20-27) specifically the last week of years, the last seven years prior to Jesus return.
Revelation provides us with great detail on what God has ordained to happen in those last seven years to prepare and in fact refine His church during this time.
The letters to the seven churches describe the church in each of those last seven years before Jesus returns first to rapture the Saints and then return to earth with the Saints to conquer the Antichrist and destroy his army (Armageddon).
EPHESUS REPRESENTS THE CHURCH IN THE FIRST YEAR OF THE LAST SEVEN YEARS
The church in Ephesus represents the church when the first seal is removed. The church has laboured, rejected evil, and has endured for Christ’s sake, but has lost its first love and zeal. The love of worshipers has waxed cold, and every worshiper is a lover of himself. God’s agenda was paramount in the past, but now it means nothing (Revelation 2:1-7).
SMYRNA REPRESENTS THE CHURCH IN THE SECOND YEAR
The church in Smyrna, which can also be called the “suffering” or the persecuted church, represents the church in year two after the second seal is broken. The church is poor in the sight of men but rich in the sight of God. It is surprising to note that Jesus did not give them hope of deliverance from persecutions and attacks but encouraged them to stand firm because more attacks were imminent. He only promised them the crown of life when He returns (Revelation 2:8-11). The present-day persecuted churches should be strengthened by this message and should stop fearing those who can only kill the body but fear the one that can kill body and soul.
“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28
PERGAMUM REPRESENTS THE CHURCH IN THE THIRD YEAR
The church in Pergamum in the third year of the last seven years will be an underground church living at a time when it is forbidden to mention the name of Christ. They are still standing even when many of the worshipers have been killed for the sake of the Gospel. Nevertheless, Jesus found the church wanting because they allowed the doctrines of Balaam and Nicolaitan in their midst. Churches that release curses during prayers, practice idolatry and immorality, belong to this group. Christ is warning all churches that do these things to stop such activities or face the consequences (Revelation 2:12-17).
THYATIRA REPRESENTS THE CHURCH IN THE FOURTH YEAR
The message to the church in Thyatira is a message to some prophetic churches that are doing well but have been infiltrated by unbelievers. The Jezebel spirit and soothsayers in their midst seduce worshipers to commit fornication and idolatry. Christ is warning all of the churches that belong to this class of their coming damnation if they do not repent (Revelation 2:18-29).
SARDIS REPRESENTS THE CHURCH IN THE FIFTH YEAR
Jesus enjoined the church in Sardis, which is the umbrella of compromised and dead churches that are at the brink of annihilation, to be watchful and strong. It is important to note that in these churches there are a few faithful ones who have not defiled their garments. Jesus warned worshipers in such churches that He would remove their names from the Book of Life if they do not repent. What a tragedy it will be for Christians who will not endure to the end (Revelation 3:1-6).
PHILADELPHIA REPRESENTS THE CHURCH THAT IS RAPTURED
Christ commended the church in Philadelphia for their steadfastness in upholding the Word of God irrespective of their little strength. They have no financial or numerical strength, but they are faithful in all their endeavours. This is the church that will be raptured at the trumpet blast at the opening of the seventh seal. Jesus tells them “Because you have kept My command to endure, I will also keep you from the hour of testing that is going to come over the whole world to test those who live on the earth” Revelation 3:10.
LAODICEA REPRESENTS THE CHURCH LEFT BEHIND TO FACE THE WRATH OF GOD
The Laodicea church is the church that is left behind. Sadly, it is the denomination to which many churches aspire to belong to. Members of this group are popular and prosperous but are neither cold nor hot in their service to God. They have numerical strength, are self-sufficient, and boast about their wealth and fame. But Jesus judged these churches to be wretched, miserable, poor, and blind and enjoined them to come and get the true riches from Him. Even though they will experience the wrath of God, Jesus still calls them to repentance. They still have an opportunity to come into the Kingdom of God but they will experience the time God pours out His wrath upon the earth with the Trumpet and Bowl judgements. I believe the period will be one year and ten days, the exact time God poured out His wrath upon the earth in Noah’s day.