Are You Ready?
It's not too late to prepare....
Disclaimer: Please know that I am not and have never laid claim to be a theologian by any means of the description. On my best day, I remain a very simple layman who truly must read some things a second time, just so that I might absorb that which is being said through the written word. I tell you this, so as not to inadvertently mislead anybody. I am a man who loves the Lord Jesus Christ and is anything but ashamed of that fact. What I share below is what I have learned, only it's in my words. Hopefully, the latter will serve to allow some to better understand that which took place on the Island of Patmos in 95 A.D.
- The Holy Bible (NKJV)
- David Jeremiah, Agents of the Apocalypse (Tyndale House Publishers; Unabridged edition (October 7, 2014)
- Denis Lyle, Countdown to Apocalypse (Belfast; Ambassador Books, 1999)
In the first century AD, members of the Ephesian church were gathering for worship. They were located in a spacious atrium, in the villa of Marcellus, a wealthy Roman convert who provided his home as a meeting place. This particular meeting differed from previous meetings in that it was wrought with tension among the members. The underlying cause of this tension were ominous rumors originating from Rome.
After a prayer and a reading, one of the deacons, Tychicus, stood up to address the congregation. The words he shared underscored the reason for the tension which many felt that day. "A decree has been posted in the forum, informing us that the Roman emperor Domitian, has assumed the title 'master and god.' He has demanded that everyone in the empire swear an oath to worship him. He has already launched an aggressive campaign to enforce the edict in every city under Rome's jusrisdiction. What is worse, he has especially singled out Jews and Christians because he suspects our disloyalty to Rome."
After it was confirmed, by the deacon, that the edict had already been enforced in other churches and that some of the members of those churches gave in and took the oath, the obvious question was what happened to those who remained steadfast with Christ? "I am sorry to tell you," replied the deacon, "that they were brutally flogged and executed. And we can be certain that the same thing will happen here in Ephesus."
The room fell silent. Finally, one lone voice was heard to ask, "what can we do?"
At that moment, an aged man, who had been sitting silently to the side, slowly stood, aided by the staff in his hand. Unlike many of the faces in the room, his face displayed no distress. In fact, his face radiated sheer joy. "It was almost as if his face glowed," one member later observed.
The apostle John, ninety years of age, faced the group and said "you ask what we can do. There is but one answer. We can stand ready to give back to our Lord Jesus Christ what he has given to us. He gave us life by giving up His life, and we must do no less for Him."
Why is God allowing this to happen?" a voice cried out. We have been loyal and dedicated, yet the more good we try to do, the more the world seems to hate us."
John replied "our Lord and Savior was perfect in every way, yet the world hated him. People hate what they do not understand. Many who have died for Christ have received their suffering with joy. In the years following His death and resurrection, all my fellow apostles have been called to suffer death for Him. I am the only apostle remaining who has been denied that honor. And now that I see it on the horizon, I welcome it with all my heart."
The apostle John was subsequently captured by Roman soldiers. In lieu of being executed, however, he was flogged with a metal-studded whip and then locked inside a damp, reeking cell.
In spite of his near shredded back, the filthy conditions and the meager food rations, John never complained or cursed his guard. The soldier, impressed by John's resolve, began to slip additional food to him. Eventually, his wounds healed and he was able to stand and walk about. One day, his guard called for him to come close.
"I have learned that you are to be taken to the Isle of Patmos, where you will be exiled for the rest of your life," the guard whispered to John.
The guard further told John that he would provide him some additional food, as the supply on the island would be meager at best. John, though, asked that he be provided a roll of parchment and a vial of ink instead.
After arriving on the desolate, alien appearing rocky island, John discerned that survival was anything but assured. Born a fisherman, John was able to gather some vines and wove himself a serviceable net. With it, he was able to catch his nourishment in the surrounding sea.
At a point, John came to believe that his life was a waste and that he had toiled for nothing. He took out his parchment and ink, having decided to pen a letter. And that's when it happened.
A tremendous voice was heard to boom, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last." The powerful words sounded like rolling thunder. John began to tremble and almost collapsed with fear. Instead, he turned and looked in the direction from which the voice came.
Before him stood the most magnificient man he had ever seen. His face shone with the brilliance of the sun. He was clothed in a shimmering robe of pure white that was bound about His chest with a golden band. His hair was white, not the white of age but the white of pure snow."
The man instructed John, "do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore. And I have the keys of Hades and Death."
John then realized that he was once again in the presence of the Lord whom he adored. He allowed himself to bask in waves of joy.
The golden voice directed John to take up his quill and to record the wonders which were about to be revealed to him. These wonders, consisted of things existing and things yet to come. Among other things, John would record seeing what no earthly human had ever seen. The very throne room of Heaven. Vision after vision appeared until which time John found himself back on the island of Patmos.
The Apostle John authored the final book of the Bible, Revelation in or about 96 A.D. It remains one of my favorite books of the entire Bible. I strongly suspect that it would likely be listed as one of satan's most hated installments in the entire Bible. You see, it contains details of what will ultimately happen to satan and his legion of minions. And he is well aware of it. In fact, you can test this yourself; I have. Ask somebody that you know to be a Christian what their least desireable book, to read is, in the Bible. While I don't claim to possess any statistics, I will submit that I feel you may be surprised at the number who reply Revelation. I believe the devil is working overtime in trying to keep as many from learning of his due, as he can.
Folks, I strongly suspect that more than a couple of you will feel that I left a lot out in that which I wrote above. You would be right. However, in my defense, that which I omitted would not change any of what took place, even in my context. I simply did my best in condensing it, so as to meet my limitations here on my blog posts and in keeping the attention of readers. With that said, I would like to leave you with a story as told by a Baptist Minister, from Northern Ireland, by the name of Denis Lyle.
Brother Denis tells the story of a tourist who visited a beautiful mansion on a lovely lakeshore in Switzerland. The house was spotless and surrounded by well-kept gardens connected by tidy pathways. There wasn’t a weed in sight.
“How long have you been caretaker here?” the tourist asked the gardener. “I’ve been here twenty years.”
“And during that time, how often has the owner of the property been in residence?” The gardener smiled. “He has been here only four times.”
“And to think,” the visitor exclaimed, “all these years you’ve kept this house and garden in such superb condition. You tend it as if you expect him to come tomorrow.”
“Oh no,” replied the gardener, “I look after them as if I expect him to come today.”
I have shared all of the above out of the love I hold in my heart from our Lord and Savior. I have also shared it with the anticipation that you answered my original question with a resounding "YES!"
Are you ready?
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