Patience is strength at its strongest, using all its strength in holding back from doing something. Patience is love at flood pleading with strength to hold steady in holding back.
The love in the strength insists on waiting a bit longer for the sake of the one being waited for. The strength in the love obeys the love passion and takes fresh hold in holding back.
Patmos spells out the patience of our Lord Jesus. It tells the strength and tenderness of His love. Olivet spelled out His plan, His great sweeping plan, through His followers, for a race. Calvary spelled out His passion, passion of love, passion of suffering, in dying for a race.
Calvary, Olivet, and Patmos are inseparably linked, the gentle slope of the Jerusalem hillside, the little mount to its east, and the little rocky isle in the far Ægean. Calvary was the passion of love pouring out a life for a race. Olivet was the plan of love for telling a race, till every one would know the love by the feel. Patmos is the patience of love pleading with the should-be tellers of the story to carry out the plan, and waiting, and then waiting just a little longer.
Olivet had heard the last word. There the Master had told the disciples the plan. All the race was to be told and taught, bit by bit, earnestly, repeatedly, patiently, tirelessly, by word and act and life. He Himself unseen by outer eyes would always be with them, His supernatural power making real and living what they told and taught. This was the plan. Olivet was to be the executive of Calvary, bringing home to men and making vital to them what had been done there.
Then Jesus went up on the Cloud. And they went out everywhere. And His power convincingly went with them just as He had said. Within a generation the news and the power had gone together to the outermost rim of the world they knew.
They were expecting Him to return as a result of this witnessing of theirs. The next time they see His face and hear His voice will be as He comes on the Cloud out of the blue. So they understand and believe. This is their constant expectancy.
Now that generation has moved off the scene of action. Another generation has come in its place, and has almost run its course and moved off the scene. And still they are looking forward to and talking about His return.
But now to this new generation of His followers something quite different comes. Instead of Himself coming in glory there comes another last message to them. It fits perfectly into the Olivet message, but goes further and says something more.
The Olivet message is about taking the light of the Gospel message out everywhere. The Patmos message in its pictured setting of candlesticks and Man of Fire and blazing light recognized this as the one thing to be done, but says there's something the matter with the candlesticks.
The Olivet word is about taking the message. This Patmos word is about the messengers. That one is about the service of His followers; this other about their life. The life underlies the service. Nothing can so hinder and hurt the service as a life not true in itself. Here something in the life of the Church is hindering its service. The Master's plan at this stage is in danger.
His broader plan extends beyond this Church movement. This is one great step to be followed by another. That broader plan had been outlined at the first Church Conference, held in Jerusalem. James, the presiding officer, said that the carrying of the Gospel to all men was to be followed by a national regeneration of the Jews; and then through a regenerated Jewish nation there would be a new era of world-wide evangelization, [Note: Act_15:14-18.] and with this the Conference was in agreement.
The leaders among these early disciples are eagerly anticipating Jesus' return to carry on the next stage. They understand that what they are doing is preparing the way for this next step.
But now instead of returning to carry forward the broader plan here comes another message. Apparently things are not going satisfactorily. The plan at this stage is in danger, while the Calvary passion back of it still burns. Failure is impending. The Master might sweep aside the men that are failing, and press on Himself into the next step of His plan. For the case is urgent. A race is waiting. The darkness thickens.
But instead He waits. With patience and strength and love beyond our power to grasp He waits. This is the setting of the Patmos message, to which we now turn.