The vision of John has no timeline and like visions and dreams tend to do they have the present and future overlapping each other.
I say that because so many have drawn a timeline from this vision but how do they truly know?
Will there be an end-time tribulation? I grew up surrounded by films and books telling me so. Yet in my adult life I have met people who have come out of a season which if that wasn’t known as suffering/ a tribulation then I don’t know what it. They have been persecuted horrendously. They have lost homes, loved ones, their very lives have been broken mentally and physically.
We want to know who are the white-washed, palm-waving, uncountable multitude of people, declaring, ‘Salvation belongs to our God’?
“Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?” I answered, “Sir, you know.” And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, “they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. ‘Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat down on them,’ nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the centre of the throne will be their shepherd; ‘he will lead them to springs of living water. ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 7 v 13-17)
What a huge encouragement this would be to the churches in Western Turkey who have been facing increasing tribulation from Rome and who were trying to survive their worst nightmare.
But what about all those today?
According to Open Doors so far in 2022 there have been:-
- Over 360 million Christians living in places where they experience high levels of persecution and discrimination.
- 5,898 Christians have been killed for their faith.
- 5,110 churches and other Christian buildings attacked.
- 4,765 Christians detained without trial, arrested, sentenced or imprisoned.
How do they react to this part of the vision of John?
Their bodies soaked with blood.
Their time on earth spent without protection.
Hungry, thirsty, facing the worst of the elements even from nature. Wandering aimlessly without hope, crying out to God. This is life within a tribulation. Whether that be the first century, 2022, or even the very last one on earth.
And how are they encouraged?
God, their God, our God, does not sit on His throne as a CEO to watch. No. Our God comes from the throne and heals every part of our experience on earth and wipes away every tear.