- Keith Fink
Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus (Revelation 14:12).
As a reminder, we have been looking at Revelation with a wide-angle lens asking what this sometimes-strange book should teach us. How should we be different if we have read this book which promises blessing to those who hear and do these words (see 1:3)? Surely one message we should hear clearly is the call to endure faithfully.
Anyone who thinks that the Christian life provides a pass from hardship and trial should probably steer clear of this book. The first read of Revelation makes it plain that while following Jesus is the best thing, it is by no means the easy thing. Here are some of the things Jesus said to the seven churches of Asia (chapters 2-3). To the church in Smyrna: “Behold the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and for days you will have tribulation.” To the church in Pergamum: “I know where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. Yet you hold fast my name, and you did not deny my faith even in the days of Antipas my faithful witness, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.”
The book of Revelation clearly tells us that life this side of the new heaven and earth will not be free from pain and suffering. This truth should help us to put in clearer perspectives the things we complain about. It should also connect us with the wider world in which believers know far greater hardships than we do - especially those who know hardship from persecution.
A call to endure, with no end in sight, is difficult if not impossible. Yet not only does Revelation awaken us to the cost of our discipleship, it also reminds us that we endure with a sure and certain hope. Indeed, this is the call of the passage sighted above. It sits in between a description of a judgment to come and the blessings that belong to those who persevere. In light of eternity then, we are called to endure faithfully. And this is a lesson we should learn from Revelation long before we hone our argument concerning the millennium.