I Will Keep You From the HOUR of Testing
Tribulation vs Wrath
In Revelation 3:10 John writes the words of Jesus to the Church of Philadelphia as follows: “Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.”
Many people interpret this verse to mean the Church will be raptured prior to the Great Tribulation. In my study of what is written in the Word, comparing the seven seals, trumpets and bowls (vials) in Revelation with other New Testament passages such as 1 Cor 15:51-52 and 2 Thes 4:16-17 it is evident the rapture occurs at the “Last Trump” of Revelation, followed by the WRATH of God.
Many people think that the Great Tribulation is the time of God’s Wrath, and since 1 Thes 5:9 tells us that “God has not appointed us to wrath”, this must point to a pre-tribulation rapture of the Church.
I’d like to take a look at the Greek words for “Tribulation” and “Wrath” for comparison:
Tribulation: 2347 thlípsis – affliction, persecution, tribulation; From thlibo; pressure (literally or figuratively) -- afflicted(-tion), anguish, burdened, persecution, tribulation, trouble.
Wrath: 3709. orgé – anger, indignation, vengeance, wrath; From oregomai; properly, desire (as a reaching forth or excitement of the mind), i.e. (by analogy), violent passion (ire, or (justifiable) abhorrence); by implication punishment -- anger, indignation, vengeance, wrath.
Jesus said in John 16:33, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world."
The Woman of Revelation 12
The Great Tribulation is also known as “The Time of Jacob’s Trouble” (Jer 30:7). Therefore, wouldn’t the Church be gone so God can TEST the natural-born Jews that refused to accept Jesus as LORD and Savior, in order that they might be saved? Assuming this angle, the Woman clothed with the sun who has a crown of 12 stars on her head in Revelation 12 is speaking of the twelve tribes of Jacob (renamed Israel) from whom the Savior, Jesus Christ was born. Interestingly enough, we see this Woman is actually given two wings of a Great Eagle that She goes to a place prepared for Her in the wilderness where She is protected and nourished during the 3.5 years of the Great Tribulation. Also, cross-ref Mat 24:20. This doesn't sound like She's "troubled" during this "time, times and a half time".
Furthermore, since the Dragon (Satan) cannot harm Her, the Word says, “So the dragon was enraged with the Woman, and went off to make war with the rest of her offspring, who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.”
Who are “the rest of Her offspring, who keep the commandments of God”? Are we talking the about Jews who keep the commandments of Moses here? No, because these also “hold to the testimony of Jesus.” Are there two groups, perhaps? Jews and Christians? After all, we are told about the “TWO witnesses” (Rev 11:3) being the “two lampstands” (churches – Rev 1:20) and “two olive trees” (two anointed ones - Zech 4:14) in Rev 11:4. There are not FOUR witnesses --
So -- divine revelation comes from none other than searching the Scriptures for the phrase "two witnesses". Click here and see that this terminology means witnesses that are validating and testifying to the TRUTH.
Romans 11 speaks of ONE TREE, made up of all believers saved by FAITH. Jesus is the TREE and the branches consist of the natural (saved Jews) and the grafted-in (saved Gentiles) branches (John 15:5). There is but ONE BRIDE of God. THESE are Abraham’s offspring (Rom 9), those “who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.”
If we read the letters to the seven churches in Rev 2-3, the ONLY one spared the hour of testing is the Church of Philadelphia, while the others are told to repent and that they will suffer persecution (the TEST). Let’s compare them to the discipline shown to the man who was fornicating with his father’s wife in Corinth. Paul instructed the Church to “turn such a one over to Satan [the Dragon] for the destruction [consider the Antichrist is called the ‘son of perdition’, meaning ‘destruction’] of the flesh, that his spirit might be saved in the day of the LORD Jesus.” (1 Cor 5:5) Are these the ones fornicating with the Harlot Church(es)? Consider the tribe of Dan (Genesis 49:17; Judges 18:30) and Ephraim (Hosea 4:17) were idolatrous and left out of the list of the 12 tribes in Rev 7:4-8. However, Dan is the first tribe listed and Ephraim the fifth in the millennial role call of the tribes (Ezekiel 48).
Rev 14:3 confirms many will die for their faith: "And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, "Write, 'Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!'" "Yes," says the Spirit, "so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them."
Some may insist that the Woman spared in Rev 12 is natural-born Israel, those who have rejected Christ (makes no sense) and that those “who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus” are those who get saved after the rapture, who will have to die a martyr’s death, most likely of beheading. First of all, it is by grace we are saved through FAITH, not by SIGHT (Heb 11:1). There will be no salvation through ‘FAITH’ after “every eye has seen Him” (Rev 1:7). In Rev 16:17 the proclamation is made, "It is FINISHED"! Secondly, those who are beheaded for their “testimony of Jesus and because of the Word of God” are rewarded with being resurrected and reigning with Christ during the millennium (Rev 20:4), suggesting that those who were raptured do not? Believers even this DAY are being BEHEADED in the Middle East and other Countries.
The Seven Churches
Many teach that the seven churches of Revelation 2-3 represent church ages, rather than a complete (seven represents complete) Church. In my hub entitled "The Seven Spirits of God” the Scriptures revealed they ARE the “seven lampstands” (churches). We ARE the Divine Menorah, made up of seven “lamps” lit by the FIRE of the Holy Spirit. If the seven church ages theology were correct, the promise to the Church of Philadelphia would not apply to the Great Tribulation period. Rather, the last Church alive would be the Laodicean, lukewarm Church!
As mentioned earlier, Revelation also speaks of the TWO final witnesses that prophesy during the Great Tribulation, known as the “two lampstands” and the “two olive trees”. This is to be aligned with the ONE TREE in Rom 11 - Spiritual Israel aka The Church. Truly, the Scriptures show the rapture takes place at the very TIME these TWO witnesses are killed, left in the streets for 3.5 days and are miraculously raised from the dead and called to “COME UP HERE” (Rev 11:12).
Because the TWO witnesses are given divine power and protection during the Great Tribulation, we could assume they are the Woman spared in Revelation 12. The difference is, they are martyred at the appointed time. Rather, I see the Woman aligned with the Church of Philadelphia, which means “Brotherly LOVE”. We are told by the Apostle Paul in Gal 5:14 “For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, "YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF." The Greek word for “one word” is logos (or dabar in Hebrew). The 10 Commandments are the Ten Logos or Debarim, meaning The Ten Words.
Jesus gave us TWO Commandments, whereby we fulfill the Law and the Prophets (Old Testament) in Mat 22:40: “On these two commandments depend the whole Law and the Prophets," namely “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (vs. 37-39)
For the whole letter to the Church of Philadelphia, click here.
The Hour of Testing
We're going to look at Rev 3:10 inductively, so we rightly interpret the promise: “Because you have kept the word [logos/dabar] of My perseverance, I also will KEEP you from the HOUR of TESTING, that HOUR which is about to come upon the whole world, to TEST those who dwell on the earth.”
It’s important to look up the Greek words and definitions for KEEP, HOUR and TESTING:
KEEP: 5083 tēréō (from tēros, "a guard") – properly, maintain (preserve); (figuratively) spiritually guard (watch), keep intact. The Hebrew word is 8104 shamar, used in Num 6:24.
HOUR: 5610 hṓra – properly, an hour; (figuratively) a finite "season"; limited time or opportunity to reach a goal (fulfill a purpose); a divinely pre-set time-period; a limited period to accomplish the Lord's specific purpose, i.e. "the hour" in which specific characteristics prevail exactly like that for a limited time
TESTING: 3986 peirasmós (from 3985/peirázō) – a putting to proof (by experiment (of good), experience (of evil), solicitation, discipline or provocation); by implication, adversity -- temptation, X try.
As I pondered the word HOUR, I wondered where else in Revelation this word is used? Rev 17:12 “The ten horns which you saw are ten kings who have not yet received a kingdom, but they receive authority as kings with the beast for ONE HOUR.”
For two witnesses to this divine protection, all we have to do is go back to Exodus 11:6 and John 17:15:
- “Moreover, there shall be a great cry in all the land of Egypt, such as there has not been before and such as shall never be again.” The very next verse (7) states, “But against any of the sons of Israel a dog will not even bark, whether against man or beast, that you may understand how the LORD makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel.”
- "I do not ask You to take them out of the world, but to keep [5083 tēréō] them from the evil one."
The Rapture - Our Deliverance
What about the rapture? Doesn't God promise to rescue His Bride? WHEN will we be rescued?
Dan 12:1: “And there will be a time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation until that time; and at that time your people, everyone who is found written in the book, will be rescued.” (KJV uses ‘delivered’, rather than ‘rescued’).
Mat 24:21-22 “For then there will be a great tribulation, such as has not occurred since the beginning of the world until now, nor ever will. Unless those days had been cut short, no life would have been saved; but for the sake of the elect [the ONE TREE of Rom 11] those days will be cut short.”
The word for ‘RESCUED’ in Dan 12:1 and ‘KEEP’ in Rev 3:10 are not synonymous. The Woman is promised She would be KEPT from the HOUR of TESTING and the Bride, as a whole, will be RESCUED when those days of Great Tribulation are cut short for Her sake. Let's now look at the definition of RESCUED/DELIVERED.
The Hebrew word for RESCUED/Delivered is 4422. Malat – deliver self, escape, lay, leap out, let alone, let go, preserve, save,
A primitive root; properly, to be smooth, i.e. (by implication) to escape (as if by slipperiness); causatively, to release or rescue; specifically, to bring forth young, emit sparks -- deliver (self), escape, lay, leap out, let alone, let go, preserve, save, X speedily, X surely.
The Greek equivalent is found in the LORD’s prayer, used in Mat 6:13 “Deliver [rescue] us from evil…” 4506 rhýomai (from eryō, "draw to oneself") – properly, draw (pull) to oneself; to rescue ("snatch up"); to draw or rescue a person to and for the deliverer.
We see the word ‘escape’ in the definitions above, which takes me over to Luke 21:36 “Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.”
This then brought me to Rev 7:9: "After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands…”
When John asked the elders who this multitude was, the answer was (vs. 14), "These are the ones who come out of the Great Tribulation, and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." John’s vision of this was just before the seventh seal is broken.
Yes, God has not appointed us to WRATH. While we have looked at the “HOUR of TESTING”, we must also understand that the ‘HOUR of JUDGMENT” mentioned in Rev 14:7 and 18:10 is speaking of the WRATH of God.
The Greek word for Judgment is 929 basanismós torment (vexation) – tortuous; subjective agony that corresponds to anobjective basis – i.e. as the "torment-rack" proves (reveals) the real "state of affairs" (cf. TDNT1:561f). See 928 (basanizō).
Confirmation - This video posted Jan 3, 2015
Regarding the video above, I do not agree that the seventh Seal opens up the seven Trumpets. I rather see the "recapitulation" of the same events over and over. The Seals align with the Trumpets, which align again with the Bowls/Vials. See this clearly, including the timing of the Rapture in my hub "Seven Seals, Trumpets and Bowls".
MYSTERY of the 144,000
The 144,000 are SEALED in Rev 7:1-8. What they have in common with the Woman of Revelation 12 is they, too are of the twelve tribes of Israel (Spiritual Israel). I believe God is showing me that the 144,000 is not a literal number. In fact, it appears they are the ones standing before the throne and before the Lamb identified contextually in vs. 9-17 (also see Rev 14:1-5; 15:2-4). Because they represent the "two lampstands" and "two olive trees" (the Menorah, the Church as a whole), these are ALSO the TWO final witnesses that will preach the gospel, rebuke evil and warn people throughout this time of great distress. Unlike the Church of Brotherly Love, they will be martyred by the Antichrist during the Great Tribulation (Rev 11:7). If we interpret the last WEEK of Daniel's prophecy as seven YEARS, the 3.5 DAYS the TWO witnesses are left in the streets could very well represent the last 3.5 YEARS of the Great Tribulation.
Keep in mind that Paul tells us in 1 Thes 4:16-17 (speaking of the rapture) that "the dead in Christ [Witnesses] will rise first; Then we who are alive and remain* [the Woman spared] will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we shall always be with the Lord."
*For those who think the 'two witnesses' are Elijah and Enoch, because they never died and all men must die (Heb 9:27), how do you answer in light of 1 The 4:17?
The question is then posed, "Are the 144,000 virgin MALES or the VIRGIN BRIDE (The Church)?" Recall the parable of the wise VIRGINS whose LAMPS were filled with OIL! The Seal of God is the Holy Spirit as shown in Eph 4:30 “Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were SEALED for the day of Redemption.”
Likewise, we can take a look at the New Jerusalem in Rev 21, which has 12 gates, each with 12,000 names of the 12 Tribes of Israel (the tribes to which the Gentile believers are grafted in – Rom 11) = 144,000. The wall of the City has twelve foundation stones bearing the names of the 12 Apostles. 12 tribes, 12 Apostles = One City, One Bride.
“Who have not DEFILED themselves with WOMEN” - Who is the WOMAN of which we are called to “Come out of Her, My People”? (Rev 18:4) The WOMAN that rides the BEAST! (Mystery Babylon) The plural of WOMAN is speaking of Her Harlot Daughters, for She is the "MOTHER of all HARLOTS”.
Finally, may we ponder the following promises to the SEALED as we face the turbulent times ahead:
- Rev 7:3 “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees until we have sealed the bond-servants of our God on their foreheads."
- Rev 9:4 “They were told not to hurt the grass of the earth, nor any green thing, nor any tree, but only the men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.”
May the Grace of Jesus Christ be with you.