His Witnesses

In Revelation, the men who have been redeemed by Jesus become a “Kingdom of Priests” sent to bear witness in a hostile world as to what the “slain Lamb” has done for them. For overcoming “saints,” persecution is not an aberration to be avoided, but an integral part of being a citizen of the Kingdom of God. To persevere in the “Testimony of Jesus” in affliction and even martyrdom is to follow the “Lamb wherever he goes.” All members of his Assembly are called to be his “Witnesses.”

What sets this company apart is its composition of men from every “nation,” “people,” “tribe,” and “tongue” who have been redeemed by the shed blood of Jesus. There are no national, ethnic, or cultural divisions within his Assembly, and it is the “Kingdom of Priests” that he now sends to mediate the light of the Gospel in every nation.

Lighthouse dark - Photo by Travis Leery on Unsplash
[Photo by Travis Leery on Unsplash]

Jesus is the “
Faithful Witness, the Firstborn of the Dead, and the Ruler of the Kings of the Earth.” His death is the basis of his present reign, and by it, he freed his people from their sins and made them a priestly kingdom. The mission to be a light to the nations that God assigned to the nation of Israel at Sinai has fallen to those men and women who follow the “Lamb” - (Exodus 19:4-6, Revelation 1:4-6, 5:10, 14:1-4).

The addressees of the Book are identified in Chapter 1 as the “servants” of God, namely, the “Seven Assemblies of Asia.” They were “fellow participants” with John in the “Tribulation and Kingdom and Perseverance in Jesus.” John found himself exiled to Patmos because of the “Testimony of Jesus” - (Revelation 1:8-9).

The Asian congregations were facing growing hostility for their faithful testimony. In Pergamos, for example, “my faithful witness, Antipas” was martyred because he would not deny the name and the faith of Jesus. The Risen Lord assigned his own designation to this martyr - My “Faithful Witness” - (Revelation 1:8-9).

In Chapter 5, John saw a glorious figure seated on the “Throne” who held the Scroll sealed with Seven Seals. After a search of all creation was made, only the sacrificial “Lamb” was found “worthy” to open the Scroll because “he was slain and redeemed for God by his blood men out of every tribe, tongue, people and nation, and made them a KINGDOM and PRIESTS to our God” - (Revelation 5:9-10).

The same category applied to the “Seven Assemblies of Asia” is applied here to the multitude of men redeemed from every nation - the “Kingdom of Priests.” Everyone purchased “from the Earth” by his blood becomes a member of this company and is therefore called to persevere in the “Testimony of Jesus” no matter the cost.

MARTYRDOM


When the Fifth Seal was opened, John saw the “witnesses” who had been slain for the “Word of God, and for their Testimony.” Like the animals sacrificed in the ancient Tabernacle, their lives had been poured out at the base of the Altar because of their faithfulness in testifying for Jesus. Likewise, the “Two Witnesses” in Chapter 11 were slain by the “Beast from the Abyss” because of their “Testimony” – (Revelation 6:9-11, 11:4-7).

The Greek term translated as “witness” or ‘martur’ is the same word from which the English noun “martyr” is derived. Originally, ‘martur’ referred to someone who gave testimony, often in legal proceedings. Only later did it acquire the sense of “martyr,” though it begins to do so in the Book of Revelation.

In the Fifth Seal opening, for example, the witnesses paid for their testimony with their lives. Similarly, the Greek noun rendered as “testimony” throughout the Book is ‘martyria.’ It is from the same word group as ‘martur’, and those who have the “Testimony of Jesus” face persecution and often execution for it.

In Chapter 12, Satan was expelled from heaven. Enraged, he gathered his forces to “wage war against the Seed of the Woman, those men who have the Testimony of Jesus.” However, the “brethren” overcame him by the “Word of their Testimony, and because they loved not their lives unto death.” Thus, they “overcame” because they were willing to suffer even death for the sake of his “Testimony.” In the paradoxical world of Revelation, martyrdom for his sake is victory, not defeat - (Revelation 12:9-17).

In Chapter 13, the “Beast that ascended from the Sea” waged war on the “saints” and killed them. This portrays the same reality as the war by the “Dragon” against those who had the “Testimony of Jesus.” Because they were determined to persevere in their “Testimony” they were executed by the “Beast” - (Revelation 12:17, 13:1-10).

Lighthouse NJ - Photo by Travis Leery on Unsplash
[Photo by Travis Leery on Unsplash]

In 
Revelation, humanity falls into two groups - First, those who have been redeemed by the “Lamb,” and second, the “Inhabitants of the Earth” who take the “Mark of the Beast.” Rather than the “Testimony of Jesus,” the “Inhabitants of the Earth” stand in awe of and praise the Beast – “Who is like Beast, and who can make war with it?” - (Revelation 13:15-18, 14:1-5).

In contrast, the saints who were purchased by Jesus “overcame” the “Dragon” by persevering through whatever he inflicted on them while maintaining the “Testimony of Jesus.” Their praise and worship were for the “Lamb” alone. This was (and remains) the “endurance of the saints.”

Babylon, the “Great Whore,” also persecuted the followers of the “Lamb” who persevered in the “Testimony of Jesus.” In Chapter 17, John saw a vision of this female figure who was “drunk with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the WITNESSES (‘martur’) of Jesus” – (Revelation 17:6).

Because of their faithfulness “unto death,” the “Witnesses of Jesus” were seen by John standing before the “Lamb” and the “Throne” in worship in “New Jerusalem,” having “come out of the Great Tribulation.” Martyrdom meant their victory and guaranteed their residency in the “Holy City” – (Revelation 7:15-17, 14:12).

From start to finish, the focus of Revelation is on the Church that has been redeemed and is now led by Jesus, and on its mission to bear witness to the nations of the Earth. All men and women purchased by “the blood of the Lamb” are tasked with persevering in the “Testimony of Jesus” before all humanity regardless of the consequences.



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