Themes in Revelation: Tribulation
Week 12, Thursday: The Church Deceived
Tribulation, motivated and sustained by sin, can be ugly, frightening, and terrible. Tribulation is compounded, as we have seen, as God responds to it in judgment, often intensifying and expanding tribulation as a result. But tribulation is not always like this – at least, not at first. The devil, we recall, is able to make himself appear as an angel of light (2 Cor. 11.13-15). Sometimes we bring tribulation unnecessarily into our midst, where, with a bit more circumspection, we might succeed at keeping it better at bay.
Read Revelation 2.8-29, 3.7-13
Meditate on the following passages from Revelation
1. Tribulation comes upon the world in various guises. How might you spell out in more detail what we see summarized in Revelation 18.3-9? According to verse 4, how are the saints supposed to respond to such wickedness? What does that mean?
2. Yet, in our reading for today, it seems clear that somehow the tribulation of the world manages to insinuate itself into the community of the faithful. How does this happen?
3. Revelation 2.1-7 suggests the primary reason why believers and churches become susceptible to the ruse of tribulation, to its disguising itself as something to be desired. What is this reason? What does this look like in a church? In your life?
4. Sometimes tribulation can lead people to seek the Lord, or to be open to His seeking them. How can you see that, for example, in the case of the Apostle Paul? In other cases, tribulation compounds the blindness of people to their true need (cf. Rev. 16.9, 11; Rev. 20.7-11). How should knowing this affect our attitude toward lost people, including those who try to visit tribulation upon us for our faith? How can believers help one another to maintain this attitude?
5. Meditate on Romans 1.18-32, in particular, in the light of what we’ve seen about sin, the tribulation it visits upon the world, and God’s response to sin and tribulation. Humans, it seems, have an uncanny ability to adapt to sin and tribulation, which can often lead to their adopting these as policies and practices. How, given the deceitfulness of sin, should knowing this instruct the believer?
What is your approach to protecting yourself against the “wiles” of the devil? What is your responsibility in helping to keep your church from opening its doors the this angel of light and the tribulation he brings with him?
The Glory of God
For the honor and glory of God, how would you describe Jesus’ attitude toward churches that are beguiled and deceived and allow the devil to gain a foothold in their midst?
Glory to Glory
What do you expect of your pastor(s) and church leaders when it comes to guarding your church against the ruse of sin and tribulation? Talk with one or more of them about this question.
Recite Revelation 1.9. How can having a clearer vision of the Kingdom of God – to which we are called and which we seek (1 Thess. 2.12; Matt. 6.33) – help to protect us against the deceptions of sin and the tribulation that can result?
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from Your presence,
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.
Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners shall be converted to You.
Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God,
The God of my salvation,
And my tongue shall sing aloud of Your righteousness.
O Lord, open my lips,
And my mouth shall show forth Your praise.
T. M. Moore
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The book of Revelation is the culminating episode in the story of God’s covenant. To learn more about that covenant, and to discover the way it integrates all of Scripture into the Gospel of Jesus Christ, order a copy of T. M.’s book, I Will Be Your God, by clicking here.
Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.