Ever had this situation happen? The word "Tribulation" is mentioned, and instantly the people around you begin to categorize themselves according to whether they believe the "rapture" will happen before the "great tribulation", or after it? One word for those situations = awkward.
How to lovingly respond to people who genuinely want to be a part of what God has in store, but have been misled at some point by a mis-interpretation of scriptures? I won't focus on the "rapture" in this post, as I have in other places. Hopefully by now, most of the church realizes the err of that myth, even if it did make for some great fiction sales.
There is more in Revelation 7:14 than some may realize. The verse in Revelation that has been skewed and twisted to meet all sorts of rapture and dispensationalist (the belief that God's gonna trash all of this, and start over) theology. 7:14 says, "...These (the ones in white robes) are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."
Generally throughout the New Testament, the form of this word for "Ordeal" that we find is similar to that of John 16:33, "..In the world you face (persecution)." We also see it often as "suffering". Even as "great suffering/affliction". But the only time this form of "great ordeal" is used, is here in verse 14. And it does NOT refer to the verses of chapter 8 that follow. What then, does it refer to?
For that we look at those who have "come out of the great ordeal". They're a great multitude that no one can count, from EVERY tribe, people, and language. They're wearing white robes. Where else have we seen a large group of people in white robes?
Revelation 6:9-11. The martyrs. Those who "had been slaughtered for the word of God and for the testimony they had given..." The "great ordeal" then, becomes an event that crosses many thousands of generations. A "happening" that was occurring in the days of Moses, through the early Church, and continues today all over the world. Those who find themselves losing life (perhaps even suffering, collectively becoming a "great suffering") for Gods' sake, become the white robed multitudes we see here.
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