Questions on Revelation 3:10

Question 1

In vs. 10 Jesus states that He will keep them from the hour of temptation which will come upon the whole world, to try them that dwell upon the Earth. My question is what is the hour of temptation?

Revelation 3:10
Because you have kept the word of my patience, I also will keep you from the hour of temptation, which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell upon the earth.

Seen best in light of:

Luke 21:34-35
And take heed to yourselves, lest at any time your hearts be overcharged with surfeiting, and drunkenness, and cares of this life, and so that day come upon you unawares. For as a snare shall it come on all them that dwell on the face of the whole earth.

And perhaps also:

Joel 3:14
Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision:
for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.

What is this hour, and what does it mean to be ‘kept from’ it?

The term hour in the NT is often used of an appointed time or a time that is in some way decisive (Mt 26:45; Jn 2:4; 4:23; 5:25; 12:23; 16:21; 17:1). In at least one instance in Rev 17:12, an hour is shown to cover the whole time that the ten kings give their strength and power to the beast. This would appear to include the entire 3 1/2 years of the unequaled tribulation. Elsewhere in the Revelation, the term carries a much more narrow usage, as in the case of great Babylon’s destruction. There, the hour describes the time of the 7th bowl of wrath, the very end of the end (Rev 16:17-18; 18:10, 17, 19). But in only one great and unequaled tribulation will the whole of the earth be so ultimately and finally tested.

In what sense is one to be ‘kept from’ the hour of testing? Some argue that here is promised, not only deliverance from what the hour threatens but physical removal from its very presence. Advocates of this view point out that the Greek words that are translated ‘kept from’ can as well be translated “kept out of”. However, we see the same words in John 17:15, and there the promise is not exemption from the presence of danger but protection from falling under the power of Satan.

I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one.

How can we determine whether to be ‘kept from’ or ‘kept out of’ the hour is promise of physical immunity from the time of the final, great test, or divine preservation within it?

Before coming to the specifics of that question, it is well we remember that this promise was addressed particularly to the deeply tested church of Philadelphia. Even though the ultimate, age ending great tribulation would not come until a later time, the promise of divine preservation in the midst of great trial was no less serviceable and applicable to believers under severe testing all throughout the whole time of the church’s struggle on earth. So however “kept from the hour” is understood, its meaning and application cannot be limited only to the time of the last persecution under the last beast.

It is clear that escape and protection is promised to tribulation believers, not from persecution and suffering, of course, (Dan 7:21, 25; 11:33-35; 12:10; Rev 6:11; 13:7; 14:13; 20:4), but from demonic deception, and the plagues of divine wrath that will be inflicted ONLY on those who take the mark.

We see this in the pre-tribulational sealing of the 144,000 (Rev 7:3), and in the flight of the woman (Israel) to seek refuge in the wilderness (Rev 12:6, 14). Not only are believers protected from the evil one (Jn 17:15), but even unbelievers, particularly the elect remnant of Israel, are seen to survive to the day of national repentance at the Lord’s return (Ps 102:13; Isa 59:20-21; 66:8; Eze 39:22; Zech 3:9; 12:10; Mt 23:39; Mt 24:22; Ro 11:26-27; Rev 1:7). Not only this, but the scripture makes equally clear that there will be gentile survivors who apparently were not saved in time for the rapture. These will join themselves to the penitent survivors of Israel and joyously assist in their return to the Land (see Zech 8:23; Isa 14:1-2; 49:22; 60:9; 66:20).

Such manifest survival, even by many who are not saved till the end, fully exposes the fallacy of the argument that in order for the church to escape wrath, she must be removed from the earth. There could hardly be a greater misuse and misapplication of the promise of 1Thes 5:9.

For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,

Interestingly, the words of the glorified Jesus in Rev 3:10 (red in some Bibles) are very nearly the same words He spoke on earth in Lk 21:34-35. This is remarkable proof that John is carefully writing the very words of Jesus that appear only here and in Luke’s account of the Olivet discourse. For me, such manifestly parallel usage is decisive for the interpretation of Rev 3:10.

When we closely examine the context of Luke’s account of Jesus’ parallel warning, we see that what is to be escaped by the wakeful, praying believer is not the time that these events will be happening, but the things (perils and pressures) that would threaten to subvert his or hers ability to “stand before the Son of man” (Lk 21:36). As the context makes indisputably clear, this time of ‘standing before the Son of man’ cannot refer to a presumed rapture before the tribulation but to Jesus’ post-tribulational return in power and glory (Lk 21:27 with Lk 21:36).

That ‘day’ comes suddenly, but not without warning. It will not come “unaware“, like a thief, upon wakeful and observant believers (Lk 21:34 with 1Thes 5:2-4) They will recognize the signs (Mt 24:3, 15; Lk 21:10-11, 20-21, 25-26; 1Thes 5:3; 2Thes 2:4). 

Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near (Lk 21:28). So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near (Lk 21:31).

Jesus anticipates that the matter will be quite the opposite with some claiming the Christian faith.  

But if that servant says in his heart, “My Lord delays His coming”; and begins to beat the male and female servants, and eat and drink and be drunk, the lord that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when it is not aware, and will cut him asunder and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers (Lk 12:45-46). 

Note how nearly the language here compares with Luke’s account of the Olivet prophecy, 

“But take heed to yourselves, lest your hearts be weighed down with carousing, drunkenness, and cares of this life, and that Day come on you unexpectedly. For it will come as a snare on all those who dwell on the face of the whole earth. Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Lk 21:34-36), 

and also with Paul’s description of the day of the Lord in 1Thes 5:2-4.

For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.

In all of these references, we observe that the great scandal will be that many professing Christian faith will be caught unaware and unprepared, not for an imminent, un-signaled rapture of the church, but for the post-tribulational return of Christ.

Paul equates such ignorance with a state of spiritual darkness. Such darkness is fully expected of the world but not of believers. This is the scandal of the end times, and we see why.

It speaks of an unconscionable rejection of the truth, leaving one vulnerable to the great delusion that Paul says that God Himself will be obliged to send on all  who have not received the love of the truth. This will be particularly the case when it is seen just how much light professing Christendom will have rejected in the face of some of the most compelling evidence of fulfilled prophecy ever seen on earth since the time of Jesus. 

The scandal will not be that professing Christians were caught unprepared for a Lk any moment rapture. The far greater indictment will be that many who count themselves Christians will not be alerted by some of the most outstanding and clearly defined signs as laid down by the prophets, Jesus, and Paul.

This means that all of the fully foretold signs and otherwise recognizable evidence that the great tribulation is here, and the Lord’s return near, will have passed without awakening these professors of the Christian religion out of their spiritual stupor. 

This is not because there has been no signs. On the contrary, the scripture reads clear. These are professing Christians that will remain unmoved by the signs, even in their manifest presence. This is the great anomaly and scandal. It is the ultimate indictment on apostate Christendom. 

It is telling that as late as the 6th bowl, just before the final 7th bowl is poured out to bring the “great day of God Almighty” (Rev 16:16-17), Jesus interjects to announce that His coming, now so truly imminent, will yet take many as a thief, even Christians with stained garments (Rev 16:15).

This tells us that despite all the magnificent, fully foretold sign events of the tribulation, Jesus’ return will not only overtake the world as a thief, but many who claim Jesus as their Lord. Context will not permit us the luxury of applying this to an earlier, secret, un-signaled return. It is manifestly Jesus’ post-tribulational return that is shown to take the hypocrites unaware, as a thief, and this despite all the highly detailed prophecies clearly marking the time and describing the meaning of these events. There is good reason why and how this will be so, but that discussion would take us too far from our topic to enter upon here. 

Many ask how can such thoroughly foretold events take the world, and particularly Christians unaware, as a thief? For this very cause, some have argued for the necessity of an earlier, un-signaled return that is to be distinguished from the well signaled return after the tribulation (Mt 24:15-31; 2Thes 2:3-4; Rev 6-19), hence the ‘inference’ of two distinct comings. But aren’t we seeing this now? Behold the confusion that reigns in the study of prophecy! How many optional interpretations of the end can there be?! One can only think of Daniel’s prophecy. “Many shall be purified, made white, and refined, but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand” (Dan 12:10).

Those who “escape all these things” in order to be prepared to “stand before the Son of man” are the same wakeful believers who recognize the signs that are ‘beginning to come to pass.”

And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draws near (Lk 21:28). 

That certain definite, alerting signs can be seen does not comport with pretribulationism’s doctrine of an unsignaled, any moment rapture. Yet the very believers who are commanded to pray to “escape all these things” are being told that they will see “these things begin to come to pass”. In keeping with Jesus’ warning elsewhere in the other synoptic accounts of the Olivet prophecy, with Paul’s warning warning in 1Thes 5:2-4; 2Thes 2:3-4, Peter’s warning (2Pet 3:10), and Jesus’ warning in Rev 16:15, the only ones who will be caught “unawares” are those who abide in darkness and fail to vigilantly watch for “all these things” that will signal the Lord’s now truly ‘imminent’ return. 

So what are the “all these things” that is being escaped in Lk 21:36? Is it the foreboding portents of terror?   

“And there will be signs in the sun, in the moon, and in the stars; and on the earth distress of nations, with perplexity, the sea and the waves roaring; men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth, for the powers of the heavens will be shaken” (Lk 21:25-26).

If that were so, we would not see the following encouragement. 

“Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near” Lk 21:28). 

Rather, where the believer is concerned, it is the urgency to not fall prey to the great and unparalleled deception against which Jesus and Paul so gravely and repeatedly warn (Mt 24:4, 11, 24; 2Thes 2:3, 11). This is why I included Joel 3:14 as a possible reference to this “hour”. This is why there is such a great premium that must be placed on the interpretation of what these events mean that will be so decisive for the escape and salvation of many during the time of the great test (Dan 11:33). Therefore, the safe keeping that is promised cannot be immunity from persecution, but escape from the unequaled deception that will expose one to the wrath that will be poured out, not on believers, of course, but only upon the fatally deceived followers of the beast (Rev 11:18: 16:2, 10).

It is another discussion, too involved to enter upon here, but it can be shown exactly when Paul expected to be raised and translated at the resurrection on the last day. When this is proven beyond reasonable dispute, it becomes clear that however we understand “the hour” or the nature of what it means to be “kept from” it, one thing we know. It cannot mean an early exit, physical removal, or exemption from tribulation to which all saints are appointed (see Acts 14:22).

I tend to think the hour of Rev 3:10 includes more than the last hour of Babylon’s destruction, which is identified with the Lord’s thief-like return at the great day of God (2Pet 3:10-12; Rev 16:14-17; 18:10, 17, 19 with Eze 39:8). I believe it should be equated with the great tribulation of the final 3 1/2 years, and not just a final period of wrath at the very end, as some have argued. 

So in what sense are we kept from that hour? I think the promise is that the faithful will be kept from ‘the power of the hour’, which is to say, saved from the deception and the pressures to defect that will be extreme. The overcoming saints of Revelation are kept, not only from wrath but from the peril of loss of witness and the shame of a spotted garment (Rev 2:10, 22-23; 3:3, 16; 16:15).

One final point: never before the 19th century was the promise of being “kept from the hour” interpreted to mean physical exemption from the great test, and total removal from the earth, as this would be to contradict, not only many clear texts, but the whole pattern of God’s work in the past by setting forth in every season of crisis a witness of overcoming faith under fire. How then, by any reckoning, are tribulation saints, who are no less the dear children of God, to be denied the promise of being ‘kept from the hour’?

It is ridiculous to argue that only those believers living before the tribulation are “not appointed to wrath” (1Thes 5:9), as if to suggest that the saints living during the tribulation are any the less partakers of this promise. Whether living before or during the tribulation, never are the children of God the subject of divine wrath. This alone is sufficient to prove that one does not have to be absent from the hour of the test in order to escape its dangers and evils.    

Followup Question
Would you be able to direct me to the scripture(s) where Paul expects to be raised and resurrected at the end of the 3 1/2 years?

Yes, the object first must be to establish when the OT saints expected to be raised, show those passages in their native contexts, and then show that Paul expected his own resurrection with “all who belong to Christ” (1Cor 15:23) to be at the same time that the OT righteous are raised. A careful comparison of scripture will show decisively that the time of the resurrection never changed from OT to NT.

It is easy to prove from Job, Isaiah, and Daniel when the OT saints would be raised. Let’s start there and then move to Paul’s direct exclamation that ties his hope of translation to the same time, namely, the end of the final tribulation at the day of the Lord.

Let’s start with Job.

Notice that Job’s inspired expectation agrees with Paul’s affirmation that we all must be “changed” (1Cor 15:51-52).

Job 14:14
If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.

Then in Job 19, we have that grand and glorious assurance that Job will see that great, curse reversing, atoning “Redeemer” with human feet standing on the earth in the latter day.

Job 19:25-27
For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.

Zechariah tells us exactly when this will be.

Zechariah 14:4-5
And His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and …. And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; … and the LORD my God shall come,
and all the saints with thee.

Then there is Isaiah’s assurance of the time of his personal resurrection with all the righteous of Israel. Note especially Isa 25:7-8, which Paul will very significantly quote as referencing the time of the church’s resurrection in 1Cor 15:54.

Isaiah 25:7-8
And he will destroy in this mountain the face of the covering cast over all people, and the veil that is spread over all nations. He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it.

Seen in its larger context, there is no scholar or interpreter of which I’m aware that does not recognize that this passage has in view the resurrection of the righteous of Israel at the post-tribulational day of the Lord. Now turn the page and see in the next chapter where Isaiah places his own resurrection AFTER the final travail that is elsewhere shown to be the tribulation / travail of Jacob’s trouble (see Isa 13:8; Isa 66:8; Mic 5:3; Jer 30:6-7; Dan 12:1).

Isaiah 26:17-19
Like as a woman with child, that draweth near the time of her delivery, is in pain, and crieth out in her pangs; so have we been in thy sight, O LORD. We have been with child, we have been in pain, we have as it were brought forth wind; we have not wrought any deliverance in the earth; neither have the inhabitants of the world fallen. Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.

Interestingly, in the next chapter, we see the very trumpet that all agree is the trumpet that Jesus has in view in Mt 24:31.

Isaiah 27:13
And it shall come to pass in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the LORD in the holy mount at Jerusalem.

Could this be the same trumpet that Paul calls “last” in 1Cor 15:52? The evidence will leave no question that it is.

Now look at Daniel’s assurance that he would stand in his lot at the end of days (Dan 12:13) and receive his inheritance at that time with all the righteous who are to be raised AFTER the great, unequaled trouble.

Daniel 12:1-2
And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince who stands for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.

So the time when the OT saints will be raised is put beyond reasonable dispute. After the devastating critique by Alexander Reese in his “The Approaching Advent of Christ” published in the 1940’s, modern pre-trib scholars now unanimously accept that the OT saints remain in “the dust of the earth” for an additional seven years while the bride is taken up to heaven for the marriage feast of the Lamb. What’s wrong with this picture?

Side note: According to the defenders of the pre-trib rapture, born again saints of the tribulation are not to be reckoned as “church saints” but “tribulation saints”, since in their view the body of Christ is believed to include only those living between Pentecost and the rapture. Saints living before Pentecost or after the rapture are not considered part of the body of Christ. Even though born of the Spirit, they are believed to belong to a different “people of God”, with a different destiny and uniquely distinct inheritance. This view was unheard of in church history until introduced in the mid 1800’s by J. N. Darby of the Plymouth Brethren movement. It was exponentially popularized by the publication of the famously well received Scofield reference Bible, first published in 1909.

So with the time of the resurrection of OT believers infallibly established, the question at hand becomes whether the body of Christ is to be raised at the same time or some earlier time? If so, what is the biblical basis for this inference?

Much more can be said concerning the NT view of the OT day of the Lord that also fixes the time of the resurrection of the NT believer no less than the OT saints, but before coming to the most decisive evidence of Paul’s own blessed hope, it is important to observe Jesus’ reference to this common Jewish hope of resurrection at the “last day” (Jn 11:24).

Jesus promised that all who the Father gives and draws to Him will be raised at the “last day” (Jn 6:39-40, 44). In Jn 11:24, we see from Martha’s reply that this was the common expectation of the Jews. Pre-tribulationists will point out that Jesus’ promise was before the church came newly into existence at Pentecost. On this presumption it is argued that only those dying before Pentecost will be raised at the last day.

While recognizing that the mystery of the many membered mystical body of Christ was not yet revealed (though new revelation does not necessarily mean new existence), it is most unnatural to suppose that the promise that those coming to Jesus would be raised at the last day only applied until Pentecost, and that believers dying after Pentecost, but before Paul’s revelation of the mystery of the rapture, were wrong to expect resurrection at the last day. It will surely be admitted that for one not already committed to the pre-trib position, this appears quite forced.

We are very familiar with Paul’s mention of the timing of the rapture / translation of living believers in connection with what he calls, “the last trump” (1Cor 15:52). However, pre-tribulationists are instant to caution us against associating Paul’s last trump with the 7th trumpet of Rev 10:7; 11:15, since John had not yet written the Revelation. Well, fair enough. Still, it is much to be observed that the last trumpet in the sequence of trumpets in the Revelation ‘just happens’ to have something very significantly in common with Paul’s last trump, namely, attendance by the Lord’s return to gather His saints.

Moreover, it was well known that Jesus spoke of a trumpet in connection with His return “immediately after the tribulation of those days” in Mt 24:39-31. There we see that the elect are “gathered together” and Paul will use this very language to describe “OUR gathering together” in 2Thes 2:1. So the old argument that Mt 24 is strictly “Jewish ground” that has nothing to do with the “church” will not hold up.

So would Paul have left his Corinthians without further qualification and distinction when such a natural ‘mis-association’ would have been so inevitable? But there is something even more decisive on the timing of the rapture that is seldom, if ever noticed.

All will agree that if we can rightly establish the time Paul’s last trump, we have established the time of the rapture. How then can we prove that Paul’s last trump is the same trumpet that Jesus says will attend His return after the tribulation? Paul tells us very plainly by his use of OT prophecy. Notice carefully.

1 Corinthians 15:51-54
Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

Now the decisive question is this? When is then? What time is in view? The problem for the pre-trib view comes in when was ask where the saying is written? When we locate the saying that Paul is referencing in Isa 25:8, an examination of the context leaves no question that the time in view is the post-tribulational day of the Lord. Only by separating what God has clearly joined can the time of the last trump of 1Cor 15:52 be exegetically disjoined or logically separated from the time that this ‘saying’ will be fulfilled. “For then (at the last trump) shall the saying be brought to pass that is written …”

If we begin by assuming that the last trump is before the tribulation, we are faced by a serious conflict, because the saying recorded in Isa 25:8 very clearly has its fulfillment after the tribulation. Recognizing this, the pre-tribulationists must argue for a double fulfillment, one before the tribulation and another that is after.

Herein lies the conflict that demands honest resolution. Are we really to believe that Isa 25:8 is fulfilled for Paul and the church seven years earlier than it is for the righteous of Israel, for Job (Job 19:25; Zech 14:4), for Isaiah (Isa 26:19), or Daniel? (Dan 12:2). 

Not only this, but Isa 25:8 very significantly belongs to a literary section of Isaiah that has been very well distinguished and called by scholars, “Isaiah’s little apocalypse”. Isa 24 begins a highly developed description of the cataclysmic day of the Lord and continues on this theme through to Isa 27 that ends, again, very significantly, with the jubilee trumpet of Isa 27:12-13. This trumpet announces the end of tribulation and penitent Israel’s regathering to the Land.

Pre-trib scholars and teachers recognize that this is indeed the trumpet to which Jesus refers in Mt 24:31. Yet, they insist we should distinguish between this obviously later trumpet and Paul’s supposedly earlier “last” trump. But are we to suppose that Paul would not have anticipated such an easy and natural confusion? Would he not, in practical anticipation, have said more to qualify and clarify this very natural, really inevitable association?

How natural to interpret Paul as having the same time in view that anyone reading Isa 25:8 would assume. And how much more this would be expected in view of what Jesus says of His post-tribulational return being accompanied by the well known trumpet of Isa 27:13, as well as His clear promise of the resurrection of His elect at the last day? (Jn 6:39-40, 44).

I think even a devoted pre-tribber would find it hard to imagine that Paul would not have taken greater pains to distinguish the otherwise indistinguishable. Better to see that Paul fixes his own blessed hope with all the redeemed at the post-tribulational day of the Lord, which the Jews, but most importantly Jesus, identifies as taking place at “the last day.”

Thus, it is NOT the time of the resurrection that constitutes the mystery. That was well known. Rather, is the nature of the translation and catching up for re-location, re-union, and spiritual rule that adds crucial insight to what was already well established and well known.

This is only a sample of so much more that could be said. Obviously many books have been written. But in view of such evidence, (“the plain person’s plain reading of plain language”), it is hard to imagine anything but the most determined emotionalism that would insist on clinging to such a precarious and potentially disarming position.

With due respect for the earnest hearts and well meaning quest for harmony of scripture by godly, sincere believers, I have come to believe that the doctrine of an any moment return to rapture the church seven years before the Lord’s return to rule is a dangerously disarming Trojan horse that has come into the evangelical camp for such a time as this.

Hope that helps.

Yours in the Beloved, Reggie

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