The letters sent “to the seven churches” (Rv 1:11) by the author of the Book of Revelation clearly show the diversity of situations in which the Christian communities lived at the time. Almost all of the letters – five out of seven – begin with praise; two contain praise only, but the other five have reproaches, some of them serious, accompanied by threats of punishment. These reproaches are of a general nature (“you have abandoned your first fervour”: 2:4; “you have a name of being alive, but you are dead”: 3:1); sometimes they are more precise, as when they are criticised for tolerating “the teaching of the Nicolaitans” (2:15) or for their compromise with idolatry (2:14,21). 236 They show that, in most cases, the Christian communities deserve reproaches and that the Spirit is calling them to conversion. 237
54. Many of the promises made by God in the Old Testament are re-read in the light of Jesus Christ in the New Testament. This poses real and delicate questions which touch upon the dialogue between Jews and Christians; they concern the legitimacy of an interpretation of the promises over and above their original, obvious meaning. Who exactly are the descendants of Abraham? Is the Promised Land first and foremost a geographical location? What future horizon does the God of Revelation reserve for Israel, the people originally chosen? And for the Messiah?
God promised to Abraham innumerable descendants 238 through the single son, the privileged inheritor, born of Sarah. 239 These descendants will become, like Abraham himself, a source of blessing for all the nations (12:3; ). The promise is renewed to Isaac (24:4,24) and Jacob (; ).
The experience of oppression in Egypt does not prevent the realisation of the promise. On the contrary, the beginning of the Book of Exodus attests many times to the numerical growth of the Hebrews (Ex 1:7,12,20). When the people are freed from oppression, the promise is already fulfilled: the Israelites are “numerous as the stars of heaven”, but God increases their number even more, as he promised (Dt 1:10-11). A grave act of disobedience on the part of the people in the desert (Nu 14:2-4), as at the foot of Sinai (Ex 32), gives rise, as in Ex 32, to Moses’ intercession, which is answered, and saves the people from the consequences of their sin. Nevertheless, the present generation will be excluded from the promised land, with the exception of Caleb’s clan which remained faithful (Nu -24). Subsequent generations of Israelites will enjoy all the promises made to their ancestors on the condition however of resolutely choosing “life and blessing” and not “death and curse” (Dt ), which unfortunately the northern Israelites did choose later on, with the result that “the Lord rejected” them (2 K ), as he did also the southern kingdom that he subjected to the purifying trial of the Babylonian Exile (Jr ).
The ancient promises were quickly revived for those who returned. 240 After the Exile, to preserve purity of descent, beliefs and observances, “those of Israelite descent separated themselves from all foreigners”. 241 Later on, the little Book of Jonah – perhaps West Covina CA chicas escort also, according to some, Ruth – denounces such closed particularism. This poorly reflects the prophetic message in the Book of Isaiah where God bestows on “all the peoples” the hospitality of his house (Is 56:3-7).