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Revelation 3:10-11 by Robert Dean
Series:Revelation (2004)
Duration:57 mins 21 secs

Testing: Tribulation, Rewards


Revelation 3:10 NASB "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."


We have pointed out that according to the way the Greek reads the pause at the beginning of verse 10 as we have it in our English, which reads "Because you have kept the word of My perseverance," doesn't fall at the beginning of a sentence, it comes at the end of the previous sentence. It gives a false understanding of the verse by putting it with verse 10 because it makes it look as if the keeping from the hour of testing is related to keeping the "the word of My perseverance." But in fact, what the Lord Jesus Christ is saying to the church at Philadelphia is that He will cause "those of the synagogue of Satan who say they are Jews but are not, but lie—I will make them come and bow down at your feet, and {make them} know that I have loved you because you have kept the word of My perseverance." In addition to that there is another promise given to the church at Philadelphia: "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."


In Revelation 3:11 there is a reminder that there is an imminency to Christ's coming: NASB "'I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown." This word for "quickly" is not a word for proximity in time, but is used consistently throughout the book of Revelation to indicate the rapidity of the event. This is in contrast to His first coming, and there will not be time to straighten up and change things and to get things in order in our spiritual life, because we are not going to know it is coming until it happens in the twinkling of an eye. It is going to be very rapid and all of a sudden we will be in the presence of the Lord. That is the implication of that word because the Lord wants to get our attention focused on future evaluation and future accountability at the judgment seat of Christ, and we need to live each day as if it is our last, each hour as if the Lord might appear before that hour is over with. All of this terminology is rich with eschatological meaning.


Back to Revelation 3:10 NASB "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 [OIKOUMENE/ o)ikoumenh], to test those who dwell on the earth." That second word for testing shifts from the noun to the verb for PEIRAZO [peirazw], the same word used in terms of the hour of trial. The Greek word for "hour" is HORA [w(ra] from which we get our English word "hour." It means a literal hour or a period of time, a season, a definite space or division of time which occurs at fixed intervals and it is used figuratively for a general period of time. So we read here, "I also will keep you from that time period of testing." This is the noun PEIRASMOS [peirasmoj].


What we learn about testing when we look at this is that when God is the agent of the testing the testing is designed to prove the quality of something. God is not testing us to prove what failures we are, but He is testing us in order to give us that opportunity to show what we have learned and to apply the doctrine that has come into our life. Part of testing is to show or give evidence of what has transpired in our soul, to show and demonstrate our dependence upon God. Immediately, as soon as we think about this, it ought to take our thinking directly back to the angelic conflict. The angelic conflict refers to that battle, that rebellion of Satan that began in eternity past, when Lucifer decided that he wanted to be like God. He wanted to have the approbation, the power that only the creator has. Then God created man to demonstrate certain truths before the angels and all creatures that could not be learned any other way other than through a live experiment. An experiment is not something you do in a laboratory to see what will happen, it is something you do to demonstrate known truth. The truth that God is demonstrating is that the creature cannot in any way whatsoever live independently from the creator. No matter what the act is, no matter how simple or innocuous it might be, when that act is operating independently of the creator it rips the fabric of the universe. This is why our life is a vital part of this, so that what we do provides evidence for God's case in His trial argument against Satan. 


God is testing believers in order to reveal what they have because that evidence that they present in their life as they live out and apply the Word of God is evidence against Satan and the fallen angels. This is a dynamic that we see in the book of James.

During the church age believers are tested in order advance to maturity and demonstrate the truth of God's plan. It is critical to understand that testing is to advance the believer in his spiritual growth and to demonstrate God's grace and truth throughout the ages. James 1:2-4 teaches the concept about how to advance to maturity. NASB "Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials [tests: PEIRASMOS/peirasmoj], knowing that the testing [DOKIMION/dokimion] of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have {its} perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." PEIRSAMOS and DOKIMION are often found in the same context, and DOKIMION has to do with the evaluation of something in order to prove what it is made of. The testing of our faith, i.e. the doctrine in our souls, produces endurance—persevering in times of testing.

Then we connect this to a couple of verses in Romans 12:1, 2 NASB "Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, {which is} your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." The translation "spiritual service" is from the Greek word LEITOURGOS [leitourgoj] from which we get our English word "liturgy" and it relates to worship. So that our life becomes a worshipful thing for God because we are taking His Word and applying it. Worship isn't something that is restricted to what happens on Sunday morning in church or with a gathering of believers but is an expression of what is going on on a day-to-day basis in our life. LEITOURGOS focuses on the concept of serving God as a part of worship.

"And do not be conformed to this world," don't be conformed to cosmic thinking here. Here he doesn't use the word KOSMOS [kosmoj], he uses a synonym, AIONOS [a)iwnoj], meaning the spirit of the age, the thinking of the age in which you live. For us, that would be postmodern relativism; "but be transformed by the renewing [renovation] of your mind [thinking], that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." The word translated "prove" is the Greek DOKIMAZO [dokimazw]. Here it is a verb form; in James 1:4 we see the noun form of the word—same word, meaning to test, analyse, examine for the purpose of demonstrating or proving whether something is worthy on not. So we are proving or demonstrating something in our live, and in the church age the believer is demonstrating that which has eternal value and he is demonstrating the integrity and character of God. When we transform our thinking and when we change from human viewpoint thinking to divine viewpoint thinking and then apply that doctrine we are demonstrating with the evidence of our lives certain things about God's will and plan.

1 Corinthians 3:13 is a verse which is the key passage on describing what takes place at the judgment seat of Christ. At that judgment it talks about the fact that everyone's work will be manifest. It will be tested by fire. The fire will test or evaluate of what sort it is. Then this connects to another passage in 1 Peter 1:6, 7 NASB "In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials [PEIRASMOS], so that the proof [DOKIMION] of your faith, {being} more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested [DOKIMAZO] by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation [Rapture] of Jesus Christ." This is the motivation for the believer who understands grace. After salvation the issue is understanding and appreciating the grace of God and letting that gratitude grow through the study of doctrine, and that becomes the motivation to press on because we know that our life is on display before a whole stadium, as it were, filled with angels, and as we take and apply the Word of God it becomes evidence in God's case demonstrating to Satan and the angels and to all creation that the creature can't make it unless he is 100 per cent dependent upon God. That is what it means to walk by faith and not by sight.

Romans 12:2: "…that you might demonstrate what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect." These words describe God's plan for history. The word "good" is AGATHOS [a)gaqoj], meaning excellent; "acceptable" is EUARESTOS [e)uarestoj], meaning well-pleasing or acceptable to God; "perfect" is TELEOS [teleoj], meaning complete or sufficient. That tells us that God's will is everything that we need. We don't need anything else in order to have joy, happiness and stability in life.

All of this reflects back to the angelic conflict. L.S. Chafer: "A serious question arises whether the presence of gross evil in the world is due to Satan's intention to have it so, or whether it indicates Satan's ability to execute all he has designed. The probability is great that Satan's ambition has led him to undertake more than any creature could ever administer." The evil in the world is not what Satan wants to promote—all the violence and hatred and warfare an famine—it is rather a demonstration to be the god of this world and control everything than his ability. What the angelic conflict is all about is demonstrating that inability.

So during the church age believers are tested in order to advance to maturity in order to demonstrate the truth of God's plan. This proof, like Job in the Old Testament, is part of the evidence that is being provided against Satan in the angelic conflict. So every time we are applying the doctrine in our soul we are demonstrating that God's will is good and acceptable and perfect; it is just another piece of evidence against the claim of the creature, that he can live independently of God.

Satan's plan is to be like God and in such a claim Satan must demonstrate that he is able to run the world. So during the previous ages up to the Tribulation the testing is oriented to these believers in order to reveal that which is positive in evidence against Satan, but the focus of that evidence, that testing, shifts.

Church age believers go through that testing during the church age on a day-by-day basis. That is going to be evaluated at the judgment seat of Christ. 

This is then followed by a proof testing for unbelievers in the Tribulation, called the hour of testing. What happens in the Tribulation period as God intensifies the judgment on unbelievers, it is going to reveal their hostility towards God and the fact that they are bent on acting independently of God no matter what the cost. We get that from Revelation 3:10 which talks about the fact that this hour of trial will come upon the whole world—[OIKOUMENE/o)ikoumenh], from the root OIKOS/o)ikoj, meaning to dwell (verb; OIKOS is the noun meaning house), and it is used some nineteen times in the Old Testament translation of the Hebrew Old Testament. That is important because the framework for the New Testament writers wasn't Greco-Roman culture, it was the Old Testament. We have this second phrase here that defines OIKOUMENE, and that is the phrase in the Greek TOIS KATOIKOUNTAS [toij katoikountaj]. It is those who dwell upon the earth. So the term "whole world" is defined in the next phrase as those who dwell on the earth. That is a very important phrase. KATOIKEO [katoikew] is an intensified form of the verb OIKEO [o)ikew]—KATA the preposition plus OIKEO indicating those who reside or dwell or live somewhere. It becomes a technical term in the book of Revelation for unbelievers who are committed to persisting in unbelief. It is not just a general description for people who are living on the earth. We know that because the word props up in the Old Testament. In Isaiah 13:9, a passage talking about rhe day of the Lord, a term for the judgments that come during the Tribulation period and conclude with the coming of Christ, we read, NASB "Behold, the day of the LORD is coming, Cruel, with fury and burning anger, To make the land a desolation; And He will exterminate its sinners from it." In Isaiah 13:11, "Thus I will punish the world [OIKOUMENE] for its evil." The next time we see this is in Isaiah 24:21, "So it will happen in that day, That the LORD will punish the host of heaven on high…" Who are they? These are the demons who followed Satan. See how the Old Testament is connecting the judgments that occur in the Tribulation period with the final judgment that God is going to bring against Satan and his followers. We can't understand the Tribulation and part of its purposes if we don't understand how it relates to the angelic conflict. "…And the kings of the earth on earth." So it is not just focusing on something that happens in Israel, it is focusing on all the nations, all the world at that time.

Isaiah 24:22, 23 NASB "They will be gathered together {Like} prisoners in the dungeon, And will be confined in prison; And after many days they {will} {be} punished." These are the fallen angels. "Then the moon will be abashed and the sun ashamed, For the LORD of hosts will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, And {His} glory will be before His elders." That locates this in the time of the Tribulation.

In Isaiah 24:4 we read, "The earth mourns {and} withers, the world [OIKOUMENE]fades {and} withers, the haughty of the people of the earth fade away." These are the people of the earth. Verse 5, "The earth is also polluted by its inhabitants [KATIOKEO], for they transgressed laws, violated statutes, broke the everlasting covenant." The word "polluted" here is not talking about air or water pollution. What really pollutes the earth is sin, from God's perspective. The real pollution is a moral pollution that had to be dealt with through the death of Christ on the cross when He paid for our sins. Verse 6, "Therefore, a curse devours the earth, and those who live in it are held guilty [are desolate]. Therefore, the inhabitants of the earth are burned, and few men are left." The terminology that is being used in Revelation has its source in Isaiah, and Isaiah is talking about this judgment upon those who are committed rebels against God who will be brought to judgment during the Tribulation are committed rebels against God who will be brought to judgment during the Tribulation period.

Isaiah 26:9 uses this phrase again: "At night my soul longs for You, Indeed, my spirit within me seeks You diligently; For when the earth experiences Your judgments The inhabitants of the world learn righteousness." Part of the purpose of this judgment is so that the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.

After this, in Revelation 6:10 NASB "and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, "How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?" This is a picture of the Tribulation saints in heaven praying and imploring God to finally finished the judgment on the earth dwellers, those who have rebelled against Him.

Revelation 8:13 NASB "Then I looked, and I heard an eagle flying in midheaven, saying with a loud voice, "Woe, woe, woe to those who dwell on the earth, because of the remaining blasts of the trumpet of the three angels who are about to sound!"

Revelation 11:10 NASB "And those who dwell on the earth {will} rejoice over them and celebrate; and they will send gifts to one another, because these two prophets tormented those who dwell on the earth."  So the earthdwellers are those who are persistent in their rebellion and unbelief.

Revelation 13:13 NASB "And he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs which it was given him to perform in the presence of the beast, telling those who dwell on the earth to make an image to the beast who *had the wound of the sword and has come to life."

Revelation 17:2, talks about the end time system which involves those who dwell on the earth; Revelation 17:8, destruction to those who dwell on the earth. So what we again and again is this phrase "who dwell on the earth" is a technical term for those who persist in unbelief and rebellion against God throughout the Tribulation.

So when we go back to Revelation 3:10 and read that the hour of testing comes upon those who dwell on the earth we recognize it in the context of Revelation that this is talking about a period of intense suffering and pressure that will come on the world in order to reveal the hostility of the unbelievers in the Tribulation period. Just as testing for the church age believers revealed the positive things that believers have, the believers, because they have been tested are going to be removed from that hour of testing because in that hour of testing what is being shown in the inability of unbelievers, the inability of rebellious creatures to make life work apart from God. It gets worse and worse and worse as they go through the Tribulation period, and no matter how devastating the judgment is people stand and shake their fist in God's face and say they are not going to submit, they are going to make it work on their own. It shows the commitment of a fallen person to independence from God.