I am just about to the end of the book I've been reading, Glimpses of Glory, by Carl Gallups. Every morning I read two or three chapters aloud to John over our first sips of hot coffee. The book is transporting us to places in Scripture where the veil is lifted, and human beings, such as the Apostles John and Paul, are taken into another dimension, a heavenly realm, where they are given incredible teaching and understanding. This morning the text actually seemed to me to be describing this very day, this very time. Even though it was all about the Apostle John in his final, elderly days, banished to the island of Patmos, it resonated with me as words that our own generation must take hold of to find strength and courage for our own time of testing.
I'm going to take a few quotes again from this book, and I would ask you to sit with the words and meditate upon them, as I have. You may recall the verse in Ecclesiastes 3:15, which says, "Whatever is has already been, and what will be has been before; and God will call the past to account." That is what I see here. We are being told about ancient events that happened over two thousand years ago; and yet, they are completely relevant (or soon will be) in our time. What will be has been before! Please note that my own words/thoughts are in parentheses and some phrases I wanted to emphasized are underlined.
Gallups writes, "John, the acclaimed gospel preacher of Ephesus, had been accused of being an anti-emporer worship activist. He had been specifially targeted by the authorities. Earlier, for months, and unbeknownst to John and his congregations, government-appointed spies had been dispatched to Ephesus. John's arrest had been ordered directly from the Emporer's throne. They had decided that this disrespectful throng of disgusting Christians had to be stopped. The worst punishment reserved for criminals who were not sentenced to death was to strip them of their civil rights and banish them to some remote or isolated corner of the empire (or FEMA camp). John had been accused of refusing to sacrifice a pig (or refusing to eat bugs) and obstinately declining to lay a worship tax of gold coins (or carbon tax) upon the altar of the imperial cult (or the altar of Gaia Mother Earth worship). To refuse to participate in the forced pagan ritual was a capital crime, punishable by death or exile. The Emporer Titus Flavius Caesar Domitianus Augustus saw himself as the new Caesar Augustus, an enlightened autocrat predestined to direct the Roman Empire into a new era of civilized luminosity (the enlightened ones who will save the planet?) Many Jews and Christians had simply succumbed to this; the fact is, a large number of Christians had flatly compromised. Furthermore, they had actually grown quite comfortable in their conciliation. John had tried to awaken them (the WOKE ones) from their spiritual slumber. "
Is it just me or does this resonate also with you as a pretty close and accurate description of what is going on right now, and what Believers are going to face in the near future? Persecution is knocking at the door of the Church in America. How many will compromise their faith and deny the Lord and Savior, Yeshua? And for those who make the unwavering decision to follow Him, even if it does mean persecution, exile, torture or even martyrdom, how will we prepare for this?
I want to share with you how I am trying to prepare. I am endeavoring to spend time studying the accounts of those who did go through these things and I am discovering how powerfully and faithfully our God saw them through it. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to bow down and worship the fierce, pagan king, Nebuchadnezzar, and they were thrown into the fiery furnace. They escaped without a hair singed on their bodies and "one like a Son of God" was seen in that fire with them! (Read Daniel 3:12-28). Stephen was in the process of enduring a cruel, torturous stoning, when he saw Heaven opened and Yeshua and His Angels waiting to receive him there (Acts 7:54-60). The Apostle John was indeed banished to the island of Patmos, where he was sentenced to hard labor in the copper mines, though he was a very old man. But Yeshua paid him an astonishing, earth-shaking visit there, and he saw the Lord of all the earth in the brilliant, blinding splendor of His heavenly glory! Gallups imagines the elderly disciple exhorting us with these words: "At once I was in the Spirit. I felt somehow transported. Exactly how, I know not. But I can tell you where. I stepped through a thin, billowing veil of earthly atmosphere - as though it were a mere curtain - blown open by the Breath of God Himself. I have seen the future! I have been in the throne room of God. I am utterly overwhelmed by what I have experienced. It was not a dream; it was not even a mere vision. I was there. It was at that time that the Scroll of the Ages was opened in my presence. I saw disease, famine, and pestilence of pandemic proportions. These plagues swept the earth at blinding speed, invoking fear among all the nations. Lawlessness began to prevail. Truth was thrown to the ground and God's people, those who followed the Lamb of God, were persecuted, belittled and despised all over the earth. It's all in the scroll. You'll understand as the Spirit of God gives you wisdom."
I feel like that's the bottom line for us. We need to train ourselves to continually ask for wisdom from the Spirit of God - in all our situations! We need to stop before we speak or make decisions, and inquire of the Spirit to get the mind of Messiah and receive His instructions. Disease, famines, earthquakes and pestilence are indeed taking place at break-neck speed right now, and Matthew Chapter 24 is in our daily news. Wars and rumors of wars are breaking out all over the world and the possibiity of using nuclear weapons again looms large upon the horizon. Lawlessness has indeed begun to prevail, and the Truth of the Bible is not only being thrown to the ground, but completely blasphemed, perverted, and re-written by those who advocate for baby-murder, transgenderism, trans-humanism, and same-sex marriage. I could be censored or threatened even for writing this blog in this day and age. Will I take a stand for my Lord? Will I someday write as John wrote, "I write what I have received from our Lord Jesus Christ while suffering for my unflinching stand on behalf of our Lord and His Holy Word"?
O Lord, please visit us in our times of trial, as you did for your faithful long ago. Give us strength. Fill us with the power of your Holy Spirit, so that we might have the courage to renounce evil and take an unflinching stand on behalf of You and Your Word. We acknowledge that no political party is going to save us, no man is going to make everything great again in this world that is fading away. Focus us, Adonai, on Your glorious promise of Eternity for those who hold to the Testimony of Yeshua and keep His commands. Remind us of Your faithfulness to Your followers over the ages, who have experienced Your presence in such glorious ways in the midst of their suffering! May we too be willing to suffer for the sake of Your Gospel, knowing and believing that You will never leave or forsake us. Amen.
Kelly Ferrari Mills