One of the main things Revelation directs us to do Is to “keep the words of this prophecy”. To make a primary life goal to be a faithful witness. To not fear death of any sort. To have a good “testimony” for Jesus.
The word translated “testimony” in this verse is a Greek word from the root “martyria” from which we get our English word “martyr.” The Apostle John experienced a form of death because of his “marytria”, his “testimony of Jesus.” That form of death was exile.
We tend to think of a martyr as someone who has their physical life terminated as a result of their witness for Jesus. But a faithful witness for Jesus can experience many different forms of death. Faithful obedience can cost His servants the death of relationships, the death of opportunities, or the death of status when we are rejected for our witness. It caused John to be separated from all he knew and loved.
Being a “martyria” is not determined by how we physically die. We live a good or poor “testimony” based on the way we live our lives.
If we live the life of a faithful witness, we set up a life completely at odds with the world system. There is a price to pay; it could cost us our life. But most likely it will cause us to be separated from something else. Perhaps a position or a relationship. We should expect it to cause us rejection by the world. To not fit in or belong in the dominant culture.
Jesus instructs the churches through the book of Revelation: Difficult things are going to happen; it is going to be pretty tough, but hang in there. Keep trusting. Keep obeying. Keep walking faithfully. Have a good “martyria”. If you do, you’re going to have amazing blessings.
Jesus promises to make all our obedience worthwhile. This message applies to any of us who read, understand, and keep, or do what John admonishes – to live a good testimony for Jesus.