Saturday, 10 October 2020
Because you have kept My command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth. Revelation 3:10
In verse 3:8, Jesus spoke of an open door set before those at Philadelphia. He then noted that they had kept His word and they did not deny His name. In verse 3:9, He then contrasted them to the “synagogue of Satan” – meaning the unbelieving Jews – stating that He loved His faithful believers. With those points in mind, the Lord now says, “Because you have kept My command to persevere.”
The Greek more precisely reads, “the word of the endurance of Me.” This doesn’t mean the words He spoke concerning patience, “but the word of Christ which requires patience to keep it” (Vincent’s Word Studies). This was seen in verse 1:9 when speaking of “the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ.” The believers at Philadelphia were patient and did not deny His name, having endured through their various trials. Because of this, Jesus next makes a promise saying, “I also will keep you from the hour of trial.”
The Greek word translated as “from” is ek. In its simplest form, it signifies “out of.” It is a word that suggests “from the interior outwards,” and thus “out from within.” Thus, there is the thought of both “out from” and “to.” When one is kept out from something, they are kept “to” something else. For example, in Matthew 2:15, it says, “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”
If one is called “out of” Egypt, it signifies that the calling is “to” somewhere else. Therefore, Jesus is saying that He will keep those of Philadelphia “out of the hour of trial.” The implication is that they will not experience (be kept from, but through) the hour of trial, but will be removed (out of/from) the hour of trial. This trial is next described as “which shall come upon the whole world.”
If the trial is coming upon the whole world, and if these believers are to remain in the world, it doesn’t matter how safe they are kept, they will experience the trial to some extent. The entire world is a closed system. Jesus is clearly stating that they will not merely be kept “through” as Noah was on the ark, but “out of” as Enoch was. Noah may have been kept from the deluge, but he still indirectly experienced the effects of the deluge. Enoch was kept from the deluge, and he did not experience any of it.
Understanding this, and as the church of Philadelphia is representative of faithful believers who have kept the Lord’s command to endure, the logical conclusion is that those believers who are alive and have endured right up until the coming hour of trial upon the whole world will be taken out of/from what will then come upon the whole world. How this will occur may be debated, but the fact that the Lord has promised it will occur means that it will be so.
One can see the promise laid out – “have kept my word” (3:8) … “I also will keep you from” (3:10). This then explains the next words which finish the verse, “to test those who dwell on the earth.” A testing of the entire inhabited world (oikoumenēs) will come upon those who dwell on the physical earth (gēs). One can make the logical assumption that if Christ is speaking to faithful believers who have kept His word to persevere, that the test is upon those who have not kept His word to persevere.
As the Lord specifically inserted the thought concerning the “synagogue of Satan,” meaning Jews who are not true Jews, between 3:8 and 3:10, it refers to a time when they will be tested – along with the rest of the world – for a set purpose. That set purpose is revealed in Daniel 9 (and elsewhere) –
“Seventy weeks are determined
For your people and for your holy city,
To finish the transgression,
To make an end of sins,
To make reconciliation for iniquity,
To bring in everlasting righteousness,
To seal up vision and prophecy,
And to anoint the Most Holy.” Daniel 9:24
Sixty-nine of these seventy weeks have been fulfilled. One more week, or seven-year period, lies ahead. It is this period that is being referred to as “the hour of trial.” As a note concerning the word “hour,” the word can mean a literal “hour,” but it can also speak of a period of any given time. It is the same as in English when we may say of the day of a wedding, “Today is the hour of her joy.”
It is this latter meaning that is being referred to here. To attempt to calculate the “hour” in relation to a twenty-four-hour day, and then to attempt to pinpoint either the rapture, the second coming, or some other particular marker based on this word is not a sound approach to biblical interpretation and it is without any basis in reality.
Life application: Though the words of this verse are written to a single church of seven churches, the words are – like all of the other verses of these seven letters – directed to the church as a whole at any given time during the church age.
Therefore, the “hour of trial which shall come upon the whole world” is certainly referring to the Tribulation period of the book of Revelation. To come to any other conclusion is to deny the entire premise of the book. It demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of the timeline given in Daniel 9:24-27. A 490-year period was promised to the nation of Israel in those verses, and they are supported by dozens of other passages in the Old Testament which point to this period; they are directed at Israel.
In this timeline, 483 years have come to pass, leaving 7 years to be fulfilled. These 7 years are the contents of the book of Revelation, beginning with verse 4:2 and continuing until Christ’s physical return in chapter 19. Jesus’ comments about the end times in the gospels, such as Matthew 24, are also speaking of this time and His words are directed to Israel, not the church. The church was still a “mystery” yet to be revealed when Jesus made these comments. They are, therefore, directed to Israel. However, the promise in this verse is made to the church (to whom the seven letters are addressed). Therefore, when Jesus promises He will “keep you from the hour of trial” He means the church.
There are two views on what Jesus means. The first is that He will keep the church in, but carry it through, the tribulation period. The second is that He will take the church out of the world through the rapture. The second option is correct. Nothing else would make literal sense of the other passages in the New Testament which speak of the rapture. It also fills the Old Testament typology where Lot was taken out of Sodom before the destruction took place. It makes no sense to say that Israel would be kept in, but carried through, the tribulation and then to repeat the same promise to the church.
The rapture will happen, and it will be before the tribulation period of the book of Revelation. Get your timeline straight, don’t mix dispensations, and have faith in the plain, clear, and obvious sense of passages which may seem incredible, but which are given to us to be taken in a literal sense. The rapture is the blessed hope of the Christian – and it will happen just as promised.
To see pictures of the event known as the rapture from the Old Testament, this sermon from the Superior Word is well worth viewing – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyerjzB2EiI
What a gloriously wonderful promise, Lord Jesus! That you would come for us in the twinkling of an eye and carry us home to be with You is the most precious thought we can carry with us each day. Thank You for Your sure word, Your solid promises, and the security of knowing that we shall live eternally with You in glory. Hallelujah and whooo hooo! Amen.