Sunday Sermon 2.20.21
There are people struggling under a chaotic world where authorities are hostile to God; zealous, local governors have enacted laws against the church, and the faithful are targeted as scapegoats. Believers are pressed to question, “Is God in control?”, if so, “Is He working all things for our good?”.
In some places there is violent persecution of the church, in other places lawless violence. The church is under pressure to conform to the society norms and are assaulted with false doctrines and calls to practice idolatrous worship. Most people have become comfortable with their affluence and face a variety of challenges to their faith.
Banished to caves/rooms of confinement, government officials seek to silence voices of truth, all the while elevating their prominence above everyone else. False charges, events sparking revolts, economic instability, blaming and instability of governmental heads, and trouble between the elites and the commoners are the marks of this society.
Are the above paragraphs describing the events of these days or another era?
The details given above are an accurate account of what is happening today, yet is also point on in representing the events of 95AD in the Roman Empire. The parallels are actually mindboggling.
In the first century the struggle between Caesar worship/The Roman Empire and Christianity was severe, persecutions were great and martyrs were many. The Church Father, Polycarp, was burned alive for refusing to say, “Caesar is Lord.”
All of the disciples/Apostles were tortured and killed, save one – John, who was banished and confined to a small island called Patmos, where he lived in a cave approximately the size of your living room, 23 ft. x 20 ft., and slept on a hard pillow, a rock every night.
It is John, in the midst of these dreadful conditions, that I want to zoom in on today.
Here he was confined to a barren, volcanic, island. It is believed that Patmos was a penal colony in the Roman Empire, hard labor there wasn’t necessary, for the isolation, barrenness, and heat were punishment enough.
Expelled here and restricted in movement, opportunity, influence, and expression what did he do?
Revelation 1:10 says,
“I was in the Spirit realm on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice…”John, The Elder
The simplicity of his verse has always challenged me.
Here you have John, in exile and isolation, yet he chose to be in the Spirit on the Lord’s day. Choosing the Spirit over surroundings and circumstances drove him, empowered him and placed him in the position where God could reveal Jesus to him. Additionally, whether “the Lord’s day” was the Sabbath, or any day matters little. In fact, it would be an even more powerful image if John viewed every day on that island of isolation as the Lord’s day.
Those who study such things believe that John’s room of isolation, the place where he slept, is the place that he received The Revelation. There, through a crack in the ceiling, he received the vision of The Revelation of Jesus Christ. There in that Patmos Cave of confinement he heard the voice of God. It was there, that he chose to be in the realm of the Spirit, rather than the realm of the natural.
There was no denying where he was; on that rocky island, in that dark, lonely cave, cut off from others, persecuted by political edicts, or any number of other worldly circumstances. Each of them were very real and affecting the Roman Empire at large. His focus was not on them, though.
He chose to see into the spirit realm, and live in that realm regardless of the hard realities of his life in that cave. The payoff was enormous! Because of his choice, we have a powerful and beautiful, (albeit confusing,) revelation of who Jesus is and the victory that He brings to His church, His bride in the end. (I’ve read the end of the book, and we win!)
I am extremely challenged by John’s choice in his cave of confinement.
Great things come from caves of confinement. Look at Jonah confined within the whale; that brought deliverance to Nineveh. Remember too, Joseph’s multiple confinements yielding freedom for all of Egypt! No matter the prison, restriction or confinement in our lives, we can chose to see “in the Spirit”, not in the cave.
It was being in the Spirit, in confinement that he saw and wrote; Revelation 1:4-8
- all the best to you from the God who is, the God who was and the God who is about to arrive
- Glory and strength to Christ who loves us
- who made us a Kingdom of priests
- He is coming, riding on the clouds
- people from all nations will see Him
- He declares, “I’m A to Z. I’m the God who is, the God who was, and the God about to arrive”
And those are just the first 8 verses of His Revelation! His choosing the Spirit realm over his circumstances, caused the Spirit to explode within him with clear vision, and hearing on Earth as it is in heaven.
My Spirit is challenged and that challenge I want to share with you.
Some say there are parallel ages of man. Maybe so, but I think we can agree that The Roman Empire of John’s day and America, the world of today share many similarities.
I trust that another one just may be that in your cave of confinement, you too will “be in the Spirit realm on the Lord’s day” – today, everyday, and especially the Sabbath. May you too find a new, and powerful vision of the Revelation of Jesus Christ and His love and purpose for you. May you see beyond your cave and circumstances.
What comes from the cave of your confinement?
Go with God.