Revelation 1:9 I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus.
The Wednesday night prayer time at CCC includes a Bible Study as part of our meeting. Through viewing an on-location video series, we have just finished a study of the 7 churches of Revelation, discussing and applying truths of God’s Word to us, the church today.
In the opening chapter of Revelation, John tells us that because of his unwavering testimony for the Lord Jesus, he has been banished to Patmos, a remote Aegean island. Earthly powers could do such a thing, and most likely the then-emperor Domitian had him delivered there to perish in the Roman version of “Alcatraz.” However, rather than fruitless isolation, Jesus Christ there used him greatly, giving John the Lord’s very description of (Rev. 1:19) the things that he saw, the things that are, and the things that will take place.
We are now “on Patmos” in a manner of thinking. This pandemic, for whatever its duration will be, changes our routines, plans, interactions… a lot of things. It could on many levels cause change in us. Our relationship to our Lord can change, prayerfully in depth and obedience. Our relationships with one another should deepen, not evaporate, if we are listening to our Lord.
Imagine this: we don’t need to roll letters in a bottle to set adrift, or carve a cryptic message in a coconut and hope our courier gets through. We have global fingertip communications, mobility with a few restrictions, access to most goods and services, and the blessing of not being truly alone, even while isolated.
God wants to work powerfully in us throughout this event, and all our days. Like John’s example, being “on Patmos” is not a time for idleness, frustration, or anger– it is an attitude of responsiveness to the Lord for His guidance in a new season of active ministry. It is being and doing, even while “waiting” for the next thing the Lord brings about.
Remember, the exile on Patmos is not a unique experience in God’s Word. Consider these:
Elijah, the powerful prophet of God, is active in a quiet place, while God prepares a mighty showdown after the 3 years’ drought is ended. Read of this in 1 KI. Chapters 17 and 18.
Paul, in Roman chains (Col. 4:18) was active in his witness to even his guards (Phil. 1:13). He looked forward to taking the gospel “on the road” again, but used his “Patmos seasons” to deliberately communicate the message of salvation to those God brought to his cell. Paul even saw his imprisonment as a positive thing, because other believers who were mobile followed up by getting busy with the gospel work, when they heard of his confinement (Phil. 1:14).
Epaphroditus, who suffered an undisclosed ailment while ministering to Paul and others, was a testimony of faithfulness even on his “Patmos bed,” through a time of illness. His readiness then to resume more active ministry upon recovery is still a powerful witness to us today (Phil. 2:25-30).
We will see God working in us and through us as we yield ourselves to Him and listen for our directives in this current event. In God’s timing, we shall see a new direction. Remember, John saw his release from Patmos. The Lord had the next chapter for him already prepared. Could our next chapter be influenced by our responsiveness and steadfastness in the current day? I believe that is so.
One other thing: You may be experiencing anxiety to get back to the “normal” routines of your life. But what if the Lord is using this time to lead us all into a fresh, new, different world of priorities and values that “stick” after the cloud has passed? Could it be that the removal of our routine can lead us to purer waters and more fruitful vineyards, the place where the Lord is central once again?
I find it no coincidence that our Wednesday group finished a study of the churches just before this pandemic ramped up. I think the Lord was filling us, preparing us, and reminding us of what pleases Him, in direct contrast to a world set on pleasing itself. Maybe in the “new things” that come after this season draws down, even a priority for fellowship, prayer and the Word mid-week will be found among more and more of us who know Him beyond The Rock and Shelter in our storm, but the living One, the God of our every day.