Achtemeier and friends write that revelation is a prophecy and so the author wants the readers to keep the words of the prophecy (p558). In chapters two and three, the author gives several imperatives (do this/don’t do this). What is the author asking of the churches? In your reading of chs 1-11 and the NT Intro, how do the following chapters encourage the reader to keep these commands in the midst of empire?
The humor-ous/less answer?
It is difficult to answer the question in the manner desired when I disagree with the backdrop as offered; however, I will willingly practice accommodation to such a strident orthodoxy as I desire an A so that my works may be known.
What is being asked of the Church Universal, rather than individual churches is to know first who Christ is, to know second why He and thus the Church is different, and finally to know their path of endurance. Christ claims the mantle of each city, using their cultural uniqueness to twist the image unto Himself or the local church. It is about strengthening the ties that bind them to one another and to the community at large, i.e., the Church. What Christ is demanding is nothing short of holiness – of being set apart from the World/Rome in such a way as to constantly attract attention, but to fully rely upon Him to rescue them. The Christians cannot worship other gods or partake of the kingdoms of this world which would bring down upon their heads not only the police power of the Romans but so too the economic boycotts by other citizens. They are to recognize the kingdoms of this world (Ephesians comes to mind) and conqueror them by doing nothing except following the Crucified Messiah. I cannot imagine this being seen by some as nothing short of an exercise in futility.
By abstaining from idols, from false teaching, from apathy, from those of their kindred (I understand Revelation to be written by Jewish believers in the Messiah to fellow Jewish believers in the Messiah) who claim to be as they but are traitors they will receive the crowns of life. Here, they are called to set themselves in the path of Christ and for the next few chapters, given the Cosmic view of the Word Tabernacles in Flesh as well as the Crucifixion (the sixth seal). It is this path, which if they remain faithful therein, will lead to the destruction of the earthly kingdoms. In the eventful description of this event (Rev 11.15-19), I am drawn to 2nd Corinthians 5.1-5 in which the promise of ultimate victory is assured, even against untimely deaths due to persecutions.
They are called to be faithful to Christ as a witness to Him and He was a witness to God; they are called to endure so that through their sufferings, Christ is glorified.