Agonizomai: Rev 1:9-11a - Insight and Suffering

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Rev 1:9-11a - Insight and Suffering

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9-11a I, John, your brother and partner in the tribulation and the kingdom and the patient endurance that are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos on account of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. 10 I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like a trumpet 11 saying...”

Here is the way hierarchy works. We respect John as the Apostle of God; the Apostle reveres Christ and, in that light knows and acknowledges himself to be a brother and partner of all the saints. We are all beggars and there is no distinction but the one that God makes.

And here is the way the kingdom works. Now we embrace tribulation from the hand of God, learning patience and endurance from the life of Christ in us; and when God says "Enough," calling us home, then the glory that is in Christ and stored up for us as His inheritance becomes our crown. Our pattern is after Christ’s pattern - though He walked it all utterly alone so that He could walk it in and with us.

It is only in passing that I pause momentarily to feel something of the righteous rage that is our Lord’s at the cloying, humanistic, twisted deceptions that inhabit those who preach another gospel, though there is no other. {Ga 1:6-9} Fill in the names yourself - most of them are on TV of filling huge "auditoriums" or entertaining on gaudy and raucous "stages," poisoning the minds of the gullible and the foolish with ideas of ease and comfort and prosperity and enjoyment. In other words, crossless Christianity. Only remember that there but for the grace of God you and I would also go.

The Apostle had been exiled for the faith to Patmos, a prison island where there were many other exiles, off the coast of Asia Minor in the eastern Adriatic. This was the 14th year of Domitian’s reign in 95AD. John was released from exile by the Emperor Nerva in 96AD.

It was here, separated from most fellowship and under privation on a hot, pitiless rock isolated from the mainstream of humanity and probably sheltering in a cave, that God was pleased to give this vision to his aging Apostle. O, I like this about these circumstances. He was rejected, isolated, under privation and in physical discomfort, sagging with age, cut off from daily interaction with the church - all for the faith and testimony of Jesus Christ. God had John just exactly where He wanted him to be - where John needed to be both for himself and for us in posterity.

What insights believing people of suffering and tribulation are given into Christ! How such things strip the mind of all pretensions and, often contrary to human expectation, focus the attention of the believer on the grace of Jesus rather than on their own circumstances. How they learn to see Him and to lean on Him! Want prayer for yourself? Ask a believer who is suffering to pray for you. There is great power in such prayers.

I knew a man once who was brought to faith by the testimony of a dying woman who was so filled with the grace of God in the midst of her suffering that her genuine thoughts and kindness towards him, and her undertaking to pray for him, simply humbled his rebellious heart until he surrendered. As an unbeliever, he simply could not reconcile her grace with his own fallen concept of how dying people "ought" to behave. But Christ is most vibrantly present in the deepest and darkest of places, and it is there that His graces shine the most brilliantly.

All of this to come to some understanding of what frame John was in when he was "in the spirit on the Lord’s day".


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