Agonizomai: Rev 3:9-10 - Philadelphia the Obedient Church<br>Vindication Before Slanderers and Enemies

Friday, June 12, 2009

Rev 3:9-10 - Philadelphia the Obedient Church
Vindication Before Slanderers and Enemies

Rev 3:9-10 - Vindication Before Slanderers and Enemies

Rev 3:9-10 Behold, I will make those of the synagogue of Satan who say that they are Jews and are not, but lie—behold, I will make them come and bow down before your feet and they will learn that I have loved you. 10 Because you have kept my word about patient endurance, I will keep you from the hour of trial that is coming on the whole world, to try those who dwell on the earth.

There will be vindication before their enemies for the faithful. Those who persecuted and ridiculed and hated and killed them will one day understand the horror of what they have done. They will come to see the truth about their victims - the truth that their victims had proclaimed all along - that they belonged to Christ and witnessed the Truth about Him. And the time will have come for the woe that befalls all who persecuted Christ in His saints.

Many have been the saints of old who have inquired of the Lord as to how long the wicked would prosper and how long God would suffer them to oppress His people.
How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me? {Ps 13:2}

Lord, how long wilt thou look on? rescue my soul from their destructions, my darling from the lions. {Ps 35:17}

How long will ye judge unjustly, and accept the persons of the wicked? Selah. {Ps 82:2}

LORD, how long shall the wicked, how long shall the wicked triumph? {Ps 94:3}
This and the next few verses bring the Philadelphian faithful (and, by implication, all the faithful) to the anticipation of that moment of final vindication when the Lord returns. Then shall the righteous shine forth like the sun. {Mt 13:41-43} Then shall Christ be (fully) glorified in His saints. {2Th 1:5-10} One is reminded of that famous sermon "Payday Someday" by Baptist Preacher R.G. Lee.

Note that the ultimate retribution that will be paid upon the persecutors of the true church is not that people will learn that the saints loved God - but that they will learn that Christ the God/man loved His saints. They are the apple of His eye. They are such that woe is unto those who cause one of such little ones to stumble for it would be better for them to have a millstone tied around their necks and they be cast into the sea. Like Judas, it would be better for them never to have been born because insomuch as they did it unto one of His little ones, they did it unto Him.

Can you imagine the terror of such a realization - the cold dawning of understanding when it is too late for that understanding to avail in repentance? That moment when it is perceived that all sin is against God - even and especially sin against His own beloved sheep? Not for nothing does the Lord call the professing children (unbelieving Jews) "the synagogue of Satan". It is strong language. It is strong language to call them liars (v.9). They are not simply deceived, but they reject the light and, in deceiving themselves, lie about themselves and the true saints. The father of lies - he who was a liar from the beginning - is the true spirit behind their words and actions.

Now, I don’t know much about eschatology - whether I’m "pre" or "post trib rapture," whether "pre," "post" or "a-millennial" - because I haven’t gone to study on it. But the initial implication here for many is that the faithful saints will be raptured before the tribulation. The only problem with that view is that the promise is given to a real church that was obviously not raptured. Neither the rapture nor the tribulation has yet come and 1,900 years has passed. But we know that the Lord would never make a promise that He did not keep. So there is a bit of a conundrum here.

The promise of His coming for His church {Re 3:10} is the true hope of all believers in all ages and so it does apply to the Philadelphian faithful, but the promise of deliverance does not refer to the tribulation at all, but to its precursor - the "type" - of the tribulation contained in the persecutions under the Emperor Domitian. Christ is promising this particular church that He will keep them from the Domitian persecutions because of their faithfulness - because they have patiently endured in their weakness the "lesser" tribulations of the hatred and opposition and accusations of the unbelieving Jews.


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