Sunday, April 17, 2011

JOHN ON PATMOS

JOHN--ON THE ISLAND OF PATMOS


"I, John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ."  Revelation 1:9

AFTER the introductory PHASE of the first 8 verses of Revelation one, John introduces himself to his audience of readers.  The fact that it took so long to bring himself into the picture, shows how John's PRIMARY focus is NOT upon himself, but upon JESUS, Who is the SUBJECT of the Revelation.

John did NOT begin recording the Revelation with HIMSELF at the forefront.  The first two verses barely mentioned how John received the prophecy and bore record of the Word of God. Then, the focus shifted to THE PEOPLE who would RECEIVE the prophecy, and to the SEVEN CHURCHES of Asia.  After ALL that, the message continued--and brought GLORY to Jesus Christ.

John did NOT BEGIN by saying, "Hey, I'm John, and LISTEN to WHAT the Lord TOLD ME."  Somehow, in an opening like that, a SHIFT occurs, which essentially brings ATTENTION TO JOHN, HIMSELF.  In effect, it's like saying, "Hey, I'm John and I'm pretty IMPORTANT--because the Lord CHOSE ME to receive a WORD.  Just listen to what I HAVE TO TELL YOU..."

Have you ever heard teachers and prophecy experts do this?  I have.  I'm very CONSCIOUS of what a TURN OFF this is.  It sounds full of pride, and in an approach such at that, Jesus must take a back seat.  (I also know that some people might say something like that in ignorance, NOT REALIZING that THE WAY they phrase their words sounds prideful.)

John was a HUMBLE servant of the Lord.  He showed His LOVE and HONOR of Jesus by keeping THE FOCUS of the message upon THE LORD.  I mention this because I feel, as teachers of God's Word, the PRIMARY emphasis must always remain upon JESUS.

[I do admit--I've had a few FANTASTIC experiences--with the Lord bringing special messages to me (which PROMPTED me to study the scripture, especially PROPHECY):  (1.)  My conversion experience--from "religious church-goer" to BORN AGAIN.  (2.)  Dreams of the END TIMES and "great tribulation."   (3.)  Audibly hearing the Lord's voice, plus having dreams and revelations--about THE RAPTURE.  Although my experiences are TRULY EXCITING and demonstrate how God works with His people, WHEN IT COMES TO TEACHING THE BIBLE, I've learned a valuable lesson--KEEP THE FOCUS UPON JESUS AND THE WORD.  Jesus is the ONE who's WORTHY of GLORY.]

The Apostle John KNEW THIS LESSON, too.  He's to be commended for His humble spirit.  He wrote ONLY that which the Holy Spirit told Him, and recorded ONLY what God allowed Him to see or hear.

NOW TO CONTINUE--John said he was a BROTHER--speaking of the family of THE LORD.  He's a BROTHER to Christians in the SEVEN CHURCHES who RECEIVED the Revelation.  And he's a Christian BROTHER to ALL who enter the body of Christ--from the EARLY CHURCH right up to THE PRESENT.

John was a COMPANION (a co-participant, a fellow partaker) in TRIBULATION.

We must remember--AT THE TIME John received the Revelation (about 96 A.D.), the EARLY CHURCH was suffering under powerful PERSECUTION.  Religious Jews were after them.

But most of all, the cruel Romans brought trouble, pressures, jail time and martyrdom.   Romans hounded the new faith built upon Jesus, because they wanted NOTHING to be elevated above their own CAESAR WORSHIP.  They were also afraid that a powerful new religion would diminish their power and control.

TRIBULATION is a word which means EXTREME PRESSURE, a heavy pressing down and burden.  Those in tribulation are afflicted, and in anguish.  They suffer a long list of troubles.

Make note, that as long as the CHURCH exists ON EARTH, there will be tribulations and troubles.  READ JESUS' WORDS JOHN 16:33.  He said His followers would have tribulation in the world, but BE OF GOOD CHEER.   How can we be happy in tribulation?  This is important--BECAUSE, since Jesus OVERCOME the world, so shall we!

HOMEWORK--MORE ABOUT TRIBULATION:  Acts 14:22, Romans 5:1-5, Romans 8:35-37, Romans 12:12, 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, 2 Corinthians 7:4-6, 1 Thessalonians 3:3-4, 2 Thessalonians 1:4, and Revelation 2:9.

These are the common "tribulations" that are IN the world--what we see and experience as everyday worldly troubles.

(Again, this is NOT referring to that SPECIFIC TIME of the JUDGMENTS--called THE TRIBULATION--which will fall FROM God's Throne upon a wicked and rebellious world who have ignored or rejected the Gospel of Jesus as preached by the Church.  THIS SPECIFIC TIME of TRIBULATION is also called THE 7OTH WEEK of Daniel, which is APPOINTED to last SEVEN YEARS.  It is well known in the Old Testament as THE DAY OF THE LORD or THE DAYS OF VENGEANCE OF OUR GOD.  THIS SPECIFIC TIME is NOT be the ordinary days of "tribulations" that the Church now faces upon this earth.  I pray this DISTINCTION is clear to you!)

In the next blog, I'll elaborate upon THAT SPECIFIC TIME, and a DIFFERING SET of DEFINITIONS--concerning THE DAY OF THE LORD.


JOHN WAS ON AN ISLAND CALLED PATMOS.


Patmos is a small island just off the coast of Turkey, a rather rocky and unappealing place.

It's provocative that Patmos means "treading"--to step upon, to walk over, to press down with the feet, to trample.  Therefore, John received the Revelation at a place called "treading" , a CONCEPT which speaks of God and Jesus in THE ACT of JUDGING a very wicked and cruel world.  The book of Revelation teaches (from chapters six to nineteen) about A TIME when the world is being TREAD DOWN by God and Jesus in THE ACT of JUDGING.

In Isaiah 63:3-4 (especially focusing upon the first phrase in verse 4):  The prophecy shows Jesus treading upon enemies in the APPOINTED TIME of God's judgment.  "I have TRODDEN the winepress alone; and of the people there was none with Me: for I will TREAD them in My anger, and TRAMPLE them in My fury; and their blood shall be sprinkled upon My garments, and I will stain all My raiment.  For THE DAY OF VENGEANCE is in My heart..."

The Revelation--which John received on Patmos ("treading")--the prophecy gives FULL DETAILS of "the winepress" which is trodden.  Revelation 14:15-20. Isaiah 63:3 ADDS to this picture, showing WHY Jesus' garment is stained with blood in Revelation 19:13.  This is a POTENT and OMINOUS portrayal of Jesus, a vision of judgment, something NOT experienced by the Church (and so DIFFICULT for us to comprehend--because we're NOT used to seeing Jesus AS A JUDGE--and full of God's vengeance)!


JOHN WAS ON PATMOS FOR THE TESTIMONY OF JESUS.


There are two possibilities to explain this.

(1.)  Many scholars feel that John was on Patmos BECAUSE of His preaching the Word.  They say John was sentenced as a PRISONER to Patmos, which is PERSECUTION, PUNISHMENT and EXILE upon him--for courageously preaching and teaching about Jesus.

(2.)  John could have been on Patmos, NOT as a prisoner, NOT in exile, but SO he COULD MINISTER to brothers in Christ who WERE exiled there.  If John CHOSE to go into exile TO PREACH and MINISTER to his imprisoned and persecuted brothers, then he was indeed a SELFLESS and COMPASSIONATE man.

I WANT TO ADD AN IMPORTANT THOUGHT--Scripture doesn't make it clear which case is actually the truth.  No firm arguments may be raised FOR or AGAINST either of these ideas.

The point I want to make is this--sometimes, opinions are formed and DOCTRINE is established, WITHOUT a clear reason WHY.  We should be careful NOT to form an OPINION, or espouse a DOCTRINE, unless we can back it SOLIDLY and IRREFUTABLY with SOUND BIBLE PROOF.  Only THEN can we stand in THE TRUTH!

Have a wonderful and blessed day in Jesus!

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