Throughout this section of Revelation, we are met with complementary but not competing understandings of reality that John is writing to communicate. The ESV Study Bible says, “The complementary visions of the temple and the witnesses … provide reassurance of God’s protection. Here, however, consistent with the bittersweet message committed to John (10:10–11), the motif of spiritual protection is interwoven with the darker thread of physical suffering.”
Spiritual protection and physical suffering—the two are not mutually exclusive. God is present and cares even in our darkest points of suffering. There is a spiritual war that is raging that John is trying to make clear. The reason that we suffer in the first place is because of sin. If you go back to Genesis 3, one of the first promises that God makes after the fall of sin is that the head of the serpent would be crushed by the heel of the offspring of Eve (Genesis 3:15).
Again, the ESV Study Bible is helpful here:
The war is waging, but the war has been won. The war against Satan, sin and death has already been decided through the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is not just a true reality in the spiritual realm, it is a true reality for you, right now, wherever and whenever you are reading this. You have hope because of what Jesus has done for you; your sin and shame have no place in the Kingdom of God, not because of you, but because of Jesus!
By: Graham Withers
Such an encouraging message today, Graham. We should remind ourselves daily that the events of life on this earth are already determined. We need to live our lives in that reality, no matter the disturbing circumstances.
The message Sunday, as well, was such a helpful reminder of our true mission here. CPC is blessed to have a pastoral staff that reminds us continually of that.