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Tribulation and Kingdom

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When writing to the Assemblies of Asia, John identified himself as a “ fellow participant ” with them in “ the Tribulation and Kingdom and Endurance in Jesus .” He was banished to the Isle of Patmos because of his “ testimony ” for Jesus. Like those seven congregations, he endured “ Tribulation ” for the sake of the “ Kingdom ” and his witness on behalf of the exalted Sovereign over all things, Jesus Christ.

Tribulation

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Our natural tendency is to avoid conflict. Understandably, we prefer our daily lives to be characterized by peace, acceptance, and prosperity, a life devoid of difficulties and afflictions. Moreover, the New Testament does promise believers peace now and everlasting life later. Nevertheless, it also exhorts the Assembly of God to expect afflictions and even persecution in this life on account of its light and testimony in a sin-darkened world.

The Tribulation of the Church

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In Revelation , John saw countless followers of the “ Lamb ” exiting the “ Great Tribulation ” after persevering through it. This striking image is central to his vision of the “ Innumerable Multitude ,” the men from every nation and people who were redeemed by the blood of Jesus. Having “ overcome ,” John saw them standing triumphantly in worship and celebration before the “ Lamb ” and the “ Throne ” in the “ Holy City, New Jerusalem .”

Patmos

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John was exiled to Patmos because of his testimony – A fellow participant in the Tribulation and Perseverance in Jesus.  Patmos is a small island in the Aegean Sea approximately ninety kilometers from the city of Ephesus. It is eleven kilometers long by seven wide, making it one of the smaller islands of the Sporades , an archipelago off the west coast of Asia Minor. Roman literature from the period identifies this group of islands as a place where political offenders were exiled - ( Tacitus, Ann. iii . 68; iv. 30; v. 71).

The Time of Tribulation

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An angel pronounces a coming time of indignation upon the people of God such as they have never experienced . Daniel’s final vision concludes with the description of a period of intense “ tribulation ” that would befall the Jewish nation, one more severe than any preceding trial in its history. There are no chapter divisions in the original Hebrew text, and contextually, Chapter 12 is the continuation of the vision of Chapters 10 and 11.

Tribulation vs Wrath

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The terms “ tribulation ” and “ wrath ” are  NOT  synonymous in Paul’s letters or the  Book of Revelation . “ Tribulation ” is what the disciples of Jesus endure for his sake. “ Wrath ” is the horrific fate that awaits the wicked at the final judgment. In his first letter to the Thessalonians, Paul writes that God did not appoint them to “ wrath .” Yet, in the same letter, he states that believers are destined for “ tribulation .”

Faithful Until Death

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The church of Smyrna is only one of two of the seven Asian churches that received no correction, the other being Philadelphia. What set this congregation apart was the level of persecution that it endured because of its “ testimony ,” and its steadfast refusal to “ eat meat offered to idols ” and otherwise compromise with the Greco-Roman culture. Its members stood firm in their refusal to participate in the imperial idolatry of Rome, and consequently, they suffered “ tribulation ” and persecution due to false accusations against them made by Satan’s agents.

Awaiting His Son

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In the first chapter of  First Thessalonians , Paul anticipates the Letter’s main subjects, including the tribulation of believers, Christian hope, and the “ arrival ” of Jesus when, as God did for the three Jewish exiles in the  Book of Daniel , he will rescue his people from “ wrath .” Moreover, he will resurrect the righteous dead, and “ meet ” his assembled saints as he descends from Heaven. On that day, his disciples, both the living and the dead, will “ obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ .”

Just Judgment of God

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According to the Apostle Paul, the “ Revelation ” of Jesus “ from Heaven ” will result in vindication and reward for his faithful followers, but it will also bring about everlasting loss for all men and women who reject the Gospel, especially for the persecutors of the Body of Christ. The same event will generate the dispensing of “ just judgment ” for the righteous and the wicked.

Absent Church?

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After Jesus finished dictating his letters to the seven “ Assemblies of Asia ,” John saw an “ open door in Heaven ,” and he heard the voice from his first vision summon him to “ come up here .” He then found himself standing before the “Throne sitting in Heaven.” Does this image symbolize the physical removal of the Church from the Earth before the visions of chapters 5 through 22, the so-called ‘Rapture’?

Philadelphia and Laodicea

Philadelphia ( Revelation 3:7-13 ): The city of Philadelphia lay fifty kilometers southeast of Sardis and between it and Laodicea. It straddled a major road into the interior; trade with other regions was vital to its economic life. Philadelphia was established as a city around in 189 B.C. by Eumen├ęs II, king of Pergamos. He named it in honor of his brother and successor, Attalus II . The city came under Roman rule when the last king, Attalus III, bequeathed Pergamos to Rome in his will (133 B.C.).