Summary: Now the relevance of this passage of Scripture is this: THE LORD STILL REVEALS HIMSELF IN ROUGH TIMES. And certainly, the infant days of this Twenty-First Century are ROUGH TIMES!
“And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw …”
During the ruthless reign and rule of the Roman Emperor Domitian (the last year of his reign in the year A.D. 95) something momentous and marvelous happened: the Risen Christ pulled back the veil of mystery which separates the Obvious from the Actual to reveal Himself to one called John the Theologian.
John Saw the Lord in the midst of a Rough Time. Domitian, the head of the Roman government-an agent of the Devil, Had Declared War on the Church.
Let me interject this corresponding note. I am learning from observation, and especially from observing the tactics of two presidential administrations, that when an administration is having trouble at home, it invariably declares war of some type on someone to divert attention away from its failures and boost or enhance its popularity. What better way to solidify nationalism, unite divided interests and rally support than to declare war. Nelson Mandela commented on this policy recently when rebuking President Bush. In a speech to the International Women’s Forum he said: “One power with a president who has no foresight and cannot think properly, is now wanting to plunge the world into a holocaust.”
Domitian was a Great Political Strategist. He saw his empire crumbling, detected his influence and popularity waning, witnessed the economy faltering, and so, he picked out a Scapegoat. He pointed his malicious finger at the Church of Jesus Christ and blamed them for everything.
Being a shrewd politician, Domitian declared war on a people whom he thought he could easily defeat. He picked on those --
Who had beaten their swords into plowshares;
Who had become doves rather than hawks;
Who were peacemakers and not peace breakers;
Who were meek, kind and tenderhearted;
Who would turn the other cheek when slapped;
Who would bless when cursed;
Who would pray when persecuted.
He picked on those --
Who had exchanged their weapons for the Word;
Whose helmet was salvation, breastplate righteousness, girdle truth, shield faith and shoes a ready witness.
He picked on those --
Whose banner was the Cross;
Whose Anthem was Amazing Grace;
And whose Leader was the Suffering Savior.
He picked on a people whom he thought he could easily defeat. So he Declared War on the Church!
A.D. 95 was a Rough Time for the Church. She was --
Chained in dungeons, made sport of in Coliseums;
Fed to lions, chased by wild dogs;
Tarred and feathered, lit up as human torches,
Crucified on crosses, tortured on racks;
Beheaded, speared and beaten,
Banished, excommunicated and exiled
Starved, made homeless and jobless.
Yes, A.D. 95 Was A Rough Time for the Church!
Even John himself was not left untouched. For Domitian personally saw to it that this ninety year old man called John would suffer. According to Irenaeus, an early church father and historian, before Domitian placed John on Patmos for life, he first tried to kill him by placing John in a boiling pot of oil. But miraculously the oil could not hurt him. So Domitian decided that since John was an old man that he didn’t have long to live; so he gave John a life sentence and exiled him to the isle called Patmos. But history records that the next year, A.D. 96, Domitian died and his successor, Nerva, pardoned John. Domitian died but John lived on and died of natural causes.