- Sermon Notes
God’s Promise of Rest
Many of you saw in the news this week that the United States is now recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and will be moving the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem over the next several years.
This is an extremely important move and could have an impact on latter-day events and the fulfillment of biblical prophecy.
But first, a little history. On May 14, 1948, David Ben-Gurion announced the formation of the state of Israel. The United States, under Pres. Harry Truman was the first country to recognize the state of Israel. The next year, the US established their embassy in Tel Aviv, which is west of Jerusalem near the Mediterranean.
When David Ben-Gurion made the proclamation that formed the state of Israel, six Arab nations immediately declared war against Israel. But in the months leading up to that declaration of war, those same Arab nations insisted that Palestinian Arabs living in the war zone should clear the area to minimize civilian casualties. More than 800,000 fled into refugee camps, expecting to stay only a few weeks at longest.
It was inconceivable to those Arab nations that Israel could actually win that war. How could it be that a tiny nation newly formed on a sliver of land could defeat six Arab nations with well-established armed forces? Those 800,000 Palestinian Arabs that fled the war zone became the 4.3 million Palestinian refugees today.
In the 1948 war, Israel advanced to take Western Jerusalem. In the 1967 war, Israel advanced to take all of Jerusalem and the surrounding area, including the Temple Mount on which sit the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock shrine.
The Palestinians believe that eastern Jerusalem in particular, was taken illegally, and they have laid claim to eastern Jerusalem for their future capital should they be able to obtain statehood. That is why the decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem is so controversial; the Arabs and Muslims of the world believe that such a move recognizes only Israel’s right to Jerusalem which could hinder the possibility of peace in the region.
Here is the spiritual significance. It demonstrates that Jerusalem will be the center of world events in the latter days. It unites the nations of the world against Israel and the United States and it sets the stage for a world leader to arise who will negotiate a covenant of peace between Israel and the nations of the world.
Part of that covenant of peace could include partitioning Jerusalem so that the Palestinian Arabs could have a portion of east Jerusalem to establish a capital. It could also include partitioning the area around the Temple Mount, so the Arabs would have the current area where the Al Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock are located and the Jews would have the area just north of that for the rebuilding of the Jewish Temple.
Now, as we look at Revelation 14, we look into the future during the days of the Tribulation period when the Antichrist will betray Israel and retake the temple and set himself there to be honored and worshipped. At that point, all hell breaks loose as Israel will respond with force.
Spiritual warfare will be behind all these events, but will have very real consequences. Those who stand with the Antichrist will take ‘the mark of the beast’ on the back of the hand or on the forehead; without which no one will be able to buy or sell.
But there will also be those who stand with Jesus and strand for the gospel. There are 144,000 Jewish witnesses for Christ, but there will be other overcomers as well and though they will be living in the most difficult time of all human history, they will persevere in victory.
God promises in these verses that they will receive rest. There is an application here for us as well. We are called to persevere in our faith – and rest becomes an important part of the victory.
I. In this World You Will Have Many Troubles
- Everyone faces difficulties in life, “In this world you will have many troubles,” the Lord said, “but take courage, I have overcome the world.”
- Jesus recognized the trouble that’s in the world when He said, “Come unto Me all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
- There is enough trouble in this world that many people feel beaten down spiritually and emotionally and need rest for their souls.
A. Lack of rest torments the soul
- Those who receive the mark of the beast will at first find it much more convenient; life will be easier for them.
- They can buy and sell, they will be able to get the things they need to go about their lives, but they will drink of the wrath of God.
- Verse 11- But they have chosen the side of evil and as a result, they will have no rest and therefore will be in torment.
Illus – Prisoners of war are sometimes tortured by withholding rest from them. Forced to stand for hours they are worn down physically and emotionally.
Illus – What happens when we don’t rest? I remember going three days straight with nothing more than a 45 min nap each morning. I became irritable, cranky, error prone and unhappy.
- There is difficulty that comes from a lack of physical rest, but it is a much heavier burden when the soul has no rest.
- How valuable is the soul? One of the great lies of the enemy is to try to convince you that your life doesn’t matter, that you have no value and have nothing to offer. That it doesn’t matter, your soul has no value.
Mark 8:35-37, “Whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul? For what will a man give in exchange for his soul?”
B. The soul was made for God
- Those who receive the mark of the beast will at first think they made the right decision because living conditions will be better.
- In a similar way, many people live only in the moment and don’t consider the more important long-term aspects like, ‘What does God think about what I’m doing?’ or ‘Will this cause my soul to be disturbed within me?’
- When people reject God and live for themselves they will discover that they were wrong, that there really is a God who created them, and their soul will be in anguish.
- The time to choose to live for God is now…
Illus - C.S. Lewis summarized it well in Mere Christianity.
God is going to invade this earth in force. But what is the good of saying you are on His side then, when you see the whole natural universe melting away like a dream, and something else -- something it never entered your head to conceive -- comes crashing in; something so beautiful to some of us, and so terrible to others, that none of us will have any choice left? For this time it will be God without disguise; something so overwhelming that it will strike either irresistible love or irresistible horror into every creature. It will be too late then to choose your side. There is no use saying you choose to lie down when it has become impossible to stand up. That will not be the time for choosing; it will be the time when we discover which side we have already chosen, whether we realized it before or not. Now, today, this moment, is our chance to choose the right side. God is holding back, to give us that chance. It will not last forever. We must take it or leave it.
II. Rest is Both a Promise and a Reward
- What a contrast between those who trust in the Lord in times of struggle and those who reject the Lord.
- There is eternal consequence to our decisions. The promise of rest is far beyond what many might conceive.
Illus – Many people look forward to heaven thinking that it will be glorious because of what they might get to do there. Will it be a place where there are fishing lakes like nothing in earth? Or where every golf course is better than Bandon Dunes? Do we sit around lounging in the sun sipping drinks with little umbrellas in them?
- The glory of heaven will be found in the fact God Himself is there. He is the glory of heaven!!
Revelation 21:22-23, I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. And the city has no need of the sun or of the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God has illumined it, and its lamp is the Lamb.
A. Blessed are those who persevere
- John wrote of the faithfulness of the 144,000 earlier, but here he is writing about the faithfulness of those who are coming to faith in the Tribulation.
- They are remarkable because they persevere; they keep the commandments of God and keep their faith in Christ Jesus.
- They are blessed because God is very pleased with their faith, they trust in Him.
Hebrews 11:6, And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.
- These believers in the Tribulation show faith in extreme trial and God is exceptionally pleased. When we persevere in difficulty and trust God with all faith, we are also the ones who are blessed because the hand of God with us.
- Do you believe the favor of God is with you?
Illus – I was using an extension ladder and lowering the top ladder with the rope when it came loose and came crashing down, smashing my left hand that was holding the lower ladder. It should have broken my fingers, but amazingly it didn’t even hurt. Why? My wedding ring took it all and I was saved. The favor of God.
Illus – When we were on the Footsteps of Paul Cruise, we had an extension in Rome. Our last farewell dinner was scheduled at a restaurant that had classical singers blended with comedy…
Illus – The story is told of a captain of a ship on which George Mueller was traveling. Mueller was famous for trusting in God completely.
The ship had been wrapped in fog and could not move on and Mueller came to the captain and said, “I must make this appointment in
Indeed, the fog lifted immediately.
- These verses are here to strengthen our faith just as the Christians in the first century were encouraged in their faith.
- It strengthens our faith when we see others who believe even in the face of trouble.
B. Blessed are those who die in the Lord
- Verse 13 - It’s interesting that John wrote, “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” Why add those words from now on?
- Hasn’t it always been true that those who die in the Lord are blessed?
App – I have stood at many graveside services and reminded everyone of that great truth that John wrote here in Rev 14.
- But John says from now on because these are people who become believers in Jesus in the Tribulation and will wonder if they have missed the resurrection.
- The church will at this point already have been resurrected and raptured so they will wonder if it’s too late for them. John is giving them the answer that all who die in the Lord are blessed.
- The key is in understanding that we are blessed because we die in the Lord!
Psalm 116:15, Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His godly ones.
Romans 14:8-9, for if we live, we live for the Lord, or if we die, we die for the Lord; therefore, whether we live or die, we are the Lord's. For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living.
God’s Promise of Rest
December 9-10, 2017
Revelation Chapter 14, we're going to begin in verse 9, the title of our message tonight is God's Promise of Rest.
I want to first begin by mentioning what-- I think some of you or maybe a lot of you saw in the news this week, that The United States is now going to be officially recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Yes, amen. We'll be moving the embassy from Tel Aviv, where it has been all these years, to Jerusalem over the next several years. Now, this is very, very important and it has an impact spiritually-- of course, politically it's going to have a major impact but it has a spiritual implication in the latter day events in the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy.
First, before we discuss that, it would be good to have a little history of that particular situation. First of all, if you're not familiar, about on May 14th, 1948, David Ben-Gurion the prime minister of Israel, declared on that date that Israel was officially a state again. That was a monumental day.
Now, The United States, under President Harry Truman, recognized the state of Israel first. In fact, Truman had told his staff, "I don't care what time of the day or night it is when that announcement is made, you alert me that I want to make sure that the United States is first to recognize Israel."
They woke him up about 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning and he rushed down there and made that declaration. As part of that, the establishment of an embassy, which is, of course, very common, but it was a set up in Tel Aviv, which is a city west of Jerusalem near to the Mediterranean.
Now, when David Ben-Gurion made that proclamation for the formation of the state of Israel on May 14th, 1948, upon that statement, immediately six Arab nations declared war on Israel. They were not even one-day-old as a nation and six well-established Arab nations with well-established military and air force attacked. They did not just declare war, they implemented war.
Now leading up to that, because it was well anticipated that Israel is going to make this statement. Leading up to that, now this is very important, those Arab nations wanted to clear the battlefield of Arabs. They sent word for Palestinian Arabs living in that area to remove themselves, to clear the pathway of the tanks and armies so that to minimize Arab casualties. So 800,000 PalestinMatthew 2:1-23 The Treasures of the Heartians withdrew into these temporary camps.
The anticipation is that they would only be in those camps a few weeks because none of the Arab nations in their wildest imaginations thought that Israel would actually survive, let alone being victorious in that battle. Those 800,000 then found themselves outside of the state of Israel.
They became what is now today known as the Palestinian refugees. There are now today 4.3 million Palestinian refugees. That is the primary background. There are other issues around that, but that's the simplest explanation for how we have arrived at the modern Palestinian problem today.
Now, when those six Arab nations that attacked Israel, they actually advanced. They only had a very small sliver of land along the coast, but they advanced inland and even took the western part of Jerusalem, they had no place, no foot in Jerusalem to that point. Because of that war, they advanced and took western Jerusalem. Then 1967, again, Arab nations were amassed on the border, and they were making no mistake about it. They were communicating very, very clearly they were going to attack Israel. Israel implemented a preemptive strike, a preemptive war and knocked out the Egyptian Air Force in one day.
It was the famous 1967 Six-Day War, six days. In fact, somebody gave me an original Life magazine from 1967 highlighting that amazing-- I have an original which is really special to me. Anyway, because of the 1967 war, they then advanced further and took all of Jerusalem and the surrounding areas.
Now, there is the dispute now arises because the concept of a two-state solution, Israel and Palestine, both being a state requires a capital and of course Jerusalem has long claimed Jerusalem to be their capital, while the Palestinians claim eastern Jerusalem, which was in the hands of Jordan up till the '67 war, they claimed that to be their location for their capital.
Eastern Jerusalem, by the way, includes the Temple Mount and the Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the rock. When you look at a picture of Israel and you see that golden dome, that's the Dome of the rock shrine, that's not a mosque it's a shrine. There is where the dispute lies. When the United States makes the declaration that they're recognizing Jerusalem, they didn't say western Jerusalem, they said Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
That is why the Arab nations around the world-- and frankly pretty much, all the nations of the world disagree with this move. United States finds itself alone alongside of Israel in making this move, but it has spiritual implications as well. Here's the spiritual significance. It demonstrates that Jerusalem is, in fact, the center of world events in the latter days.
This is very important. What's happening now is going to lead into it. This is actually, in many ways, it's kind of a monumental move. Because it unites the nations of the world against Israel and against the United States, and it sets the stage for a world leader to arise who is then going to negotiate a settlement, negotiate peace between Israel and the nations of the world.
Part of that covenant of peace, we can anticipate then seeing the political landscape could include the partitioning of Jerusalem so that the Palestinian Arabs could have a portion of East Jerusalem to establish a capital. We believe the Antichrist would negotiate for this. Then it could also include the partitioning of the area known as the Temple Mount.
That area could be partitioned so that the Al-Aqsa mosque and the Dome of the Rock could be given into the hands of the Palestinians, and then area adjacent, into the north, could be then allowed to Israel for the rebuilding of the Temple. The partitioning of Jerusalem would perhaps include the partitioning of what is known as the Temple Mount.
As we understand from prophecy of Scripture, the Antichrist who negotiates this covenant-- we believe it includes the partitioning of Jerusalem. You see the significance of Jerusalem now and so this negotiated truce or covenant of peace as the Scripture calls it will only last three-and-a-half years because the Antichrist will betray Israel. He will take the temple that he had negotiated for them to be able to build and foreseeably, it would take them about three or three-and-half years to build the temple. He would take it back and-- this is an important thing. In fact, if you've already opened your Bibles to Revelation 14, would you mind turning left to chapter 11.
Revelation 11 and look at something with me if you would because it has relevance to what we're seeing now on the political landscape. When the Antichrist betrays Israel, we understand that it's the taking back of the temple but what we need to also see is that it includes the taking back of the entire city of Jerusalem. He will renege on his agreement and he will take the entire city. Let me show you this. In Revelation chapter 11:1.
"There was given to me a measuring rod like a staff and someone said, 'Rise and measure the temple of God and the altar and those who worship in it but leave out the court which is outside the temple. Do not measure it, for it has been given to the nations and they will tread underfoot the Holy City for 42 months.'"-- which is three-and-a-half years according to the Jewish calendar.
They will tread the entire city underfoot. So the betrayal of Israel has to be recognized in light of not just the temple but the city. The significance of that city and the possession of that city now we begin to see the significance of that on the world scene.
We are seeing now those elements being set forth that lead to the revealing of the Antichrist in the latter days. I wanted to give us the spiritual significance as well as the historic significance of what is happening with this announcement because it is not a small matter. This is a major thing that is happening now on the world scene. We are seeing history unfold and we are seeing prophecy unfolding before our very eyes. This is a day of spiritual battle. We need to recognize that.
Let's turn to our regular study now in Revelation 14 as we begin at verse 9 because in Revelation 14 we're seeing the spiritual background because at this point-- this is after the Antichrist has risen on the scene and remember from my message last week. That he causes the mark of the beast, the Antichrist is known also as the beast here.
The mark of the beast which is the name of the Antichrist or the number of his name. Let the one who is wise calculate or count the number which is 666. We see the spiritual warfare behind these events but the spiritual warfare has real consequences for those who stand with the Antichrist, then take this mark of this beast on the back of the hand or on the forehead without waste they cannot buy or sell. Has real consequences but there will be those who stand with Jesus and they stand for the gospel during that terrible time of tribulation.
That we saw earlier in chapter 14, 144,000 Jewish witnesses who are believers in Jesus Christ. What we understand is that there will be other overcomers because the gospel is preached.
One of the things we saw an angel with the everlasting gospel declaring the gospel to every nation, tribe, and tongue even during the tribulation. There are others who come to faith in Christ. They will be living through the most difficult time in human history. It's interesting because when there are times of battle or persecution or difficulty, often times, that's when the church is like for real. Like there's no games. It's like that's not the time for games. That's the time for real. When everything is falling apart and life is at its worst. Then you know whether it's real or not.
I tell you what? The church in China is real. See that's important to recognize. The church that's in Iran, though it is hidden and underground, I'll tell you what? It's real. There's no games in the church of Iran though it's well hidden but we have an Iranian Pastor who is actually knowledgeable and in touch. He can tell you it's for real. That's the thing. In the tribulation, people come to faith in Christ and it's for real. There's no games.
Really, what we need to see, we need to see that ourselves so that we can have a real faith. Like this is the time for our faith to be real. See now is the time-- We're seeing the landscape change, we're seeing the world, we're seeing things unfold before our eyes. Now is the time to be real. This is not the time to play games anymore. It's time to be real.
That's what we understand when we look at these and these overcomers are given this promise. God promises them rest. I want us to look at that. We're going to look at that tonight but the word "rest". When you see that in the Scriptures it means far more. Far more than what we, in our limited English can understand. It is a deep, spiritually deep topic that goes all the way back to Genesis and runs all the way through the entire Bible. You can do an amazing study on it, just the idea of what God means when He uses the word rest. It's far, far more than what we think of in our English minds.
Let's read it. Revelation 14:9. "Another Angel, a third one, followed them saying with a loud voice 'If anyone worships the beast'-- that's the Antichrist-- 'and his image and receives this mark on his forehead or upon his hand. He also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God. Which is mixed in full strength in the cup of his anger and he'-- the one who takes this mark-- 'will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the Holy Angels and in the presence of the lamb and the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever and they will have no rest, day or night. Those who worship the beast in his image and whoever receives this mark of his name.'"
Now, here is the perseverance of the Saints. He's talking here about the Saints, those who receive the gospel in the most difficult tribulation, most difficult time on the face of the earth. They receive the gospel. Here is the perseverance of those Saints who keep the commands of God and their faith in Jesus. I heard a voice from heaven saying-- write this down. I just love the power of what he just said. Write this down because this is important. Write this down.
"Blessed are the dead who die in Lord from now on. Yes, says the spirit, that they may rest-- here's this word, and it means far more than to have a sleep-- "that they may rest from their labors for their deeds follow with them. Then I looked and behold a white cloud and sitting on the cloud was one like the Son of Man, having a golden crown on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand. Then another Angel came out of the temple crying out with a loud voice to Him who sat on the cloud 'Put in your sickle and reap, because the hour to reap has come, because the harvest of the earth is ripe.'"
We'll talk about this more on Wednesday but and we're going to read more verses here, but as Jesus gave this picture the wheat and the tares, they grow up together. There is a great harvest and they're separated at the end of the age. The harvest of the earth is ripe and he who sat on the cloud swung his sickle over the earth and the earth was reaped.
Another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven and he also had a sharp sickle. Another angel, the one who has power over fire came out from the altar and he called out with a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle saying, "Put in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth because your grapes are ripe."
The angel swung his sickle to the earth and gathered the clusters from the vine of the earth and threw them in the great winepress of the wrath of God. Ever heard that phrase? The winepress of the wrath of God comes right from here. The wine press was stride and outside the city and blood came out from the winepress up to the horse bridals for a distance of 200 miles which is a tragic thought splashing not as deep as, but as punishing up to--
These are the verses I want us to look at and recognize if you're out of spiritual truth, first of all, in this word you'll have many troubles. The recognition of that, we see, of course, in this period of time but right now the world frankly is filled with troubles. Jesus recognized that when he frankly said, in this world, you will have many troubles.
I. In this World you Will Have Many Troubles
In fact, if you name the name of Jesus Christ, you will have more troubles in this world because Jesus said, "If they despise me, will they also not despise you? They're resisting me, will they also not you?" He said, "but take courage, I have overcome the world." Take courage. What does it mean to take courage? It means to have faith, strong faith. Strengthen your faith ma'am.
Jesus recognized the trouble of this world. Another place when he says, "Come unto me all you who are weary and heavy laden--" He's speaking of a troubled soul-- "and you will find rest." You'll find rest for your souls. Anyone who's laid on this world very long will tell you that this world is broken, this is a broken world and many people are beaten down by it. Spiritually and emotionally beaten down, this is a broken world. He's recognizing -- Jesus is recognizing something very, very important when it comes to the soul because lack of rest torments the soul.
A. Lack of rest torments the soul
This is important for us to recognize the value, the significance of the soul now. Those who receive the mark of the beast in those days were, first think it was -- "Hey that was convenient, and life is better now. I mean, I can buy and sell, I can do life-- that was-- and I'm better now. I was a good thing, I did that." But they've made a choice there to choose with the side of evil.
Verse 11 tells us back in Revelation 14:11, the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever and they have no rest day and night. Those who worship the beast in his image. They've chosen the side of evil and the end result of that is that rest, the lack of rest. He's speaking, of course, to the soul. The lack of physical rest is painful too.
One of the tortures of prisoners of war that they've done in other countries for many years is the depriving of sleep, depriving of rest. If you don't have enough rest, it's excruciatingly difficult and painful. I remember one time and wishes nothing in comparison, but I had some big project that I was committed to and I went like three days without any real sleep. I had a little nap of about 40 minutes in the morning and I went three days without any sleep.
I'll tell you the end result of it was, I was cranky, I was worn down, I was irritable, I was unhappy, and I was error-prone. But you see it just wears you down, that's physical, that's the physical but the emotional, the spiritual, the soul, that has no rest is in even greater anguish. If you've ever messed up in life, then perhaps you've tasted of the soul that is in anguish because the soul that is in anguish is in deep pain.
This is important to recognize what we're speaking to you here is the value of the soul. A lot of people do not recognize the value of the soul. In fact, one of the great lies of the enemy frankly, one of the great lies of the enemy is to try to convince you that your life does not matter, that you have no value. If he can make your life of no consequence even to yourself, he has won a great victory.
B. The soul was made for God
It is the life from -- Can we say boldly it's the life from the pit of hell because Jesus has a very different word about the value of your soul. Mark 8:35-37, "Who wishes to save his life will lose it but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world for the forfeit his soul." What would a man give in exchange for his soul? What is Jesus speaking to the value of your soul?
Satan knows very well the value of your soul which is why spiritual battle, is for your soul. He very much knows the significance of your soul, but he is a liar, he's been a liar from the very beginning and so if he can convince you that you are of no count, that your soul is worth nothing, that you are worth nothing, that you have no value whatsoever he has won a great victory.
Do not allow him to have that victory because Jesus paid a great price to redeem your soul. How valuable is your soul? Jesus died. The very son of the living God died on the cross of Calvary that your soul might be redeemed. That's how valuable your soul is. God loves you so much that He gave His only begotten son. That's how valuable your soul is. God sent His only Son to go and get you and bring you to Himself. That's how valuable your soul is.
Don't allow the enemy to have that victory, that's the whole point because here is what we got to see, your soul was made from God. Your soul was made by God for God. Those who receive the mark of the beast will, at first think, they made the right decision, things are better, but they've chosen the side of evil and they have not considered the consequence.
What are they doing? They're only thinking about the moment, they're only thinking about today, they don't want thinking about the convenience of being able to have some kind of comfort in this life, to not to buy and sell. They have their stuff but they're not thinking about the consequences of that decision. You choose the side of evil, you got a date with the devil. You make a date with the devil and I tell you what, it will be fine at the beginning, is this not true? You make a date with the devil it will be fun in the beginning and he will bite you in the end and it will be very, very painful.
That's the little we have to recognize. Jesus is warning us to see through these words. To consider the value of your soul and consider what we're doing. Is this thing helping my soul or it disturbs my soul within me? When people reject God and live for themselves, they will discover that is an error because there's a great price to exclude God who made your soul, is to bring a great price. Now is the time to choose.
I'm going to read something that C.S Louis wrote in a book called Mere Christianity. He writes it so well; I just want to read it. C.S Louis, "God is going to invade this earth in force. But what is the good of saying that you're on his side then when you can see the whole natural universe melting away like a dream? Something else, it never entered your mind to conceive comes crashing in, something so beautiful to some and so terrible to others that none of us will have a choice left, for this time, it will be God without disguise.
Something so overwhelming that will strike either irresistible love or irresistible hollow into every creature. It will be too late then to choose your side. There is no you saying that you choose to lie down when it has become impossible to stand up. That will not be the time for choosing, that will be the time when you discover which side you've already chosen. Whether you realized it before or not. Now, today this moment is our chance to choose the right side. God is holding back to give us that chance. It will not last forever, take it or leave it."
II. Rest is Both a Promise and a Reward
That's powerfully written because he just calls it straight out. He's speaking in Revelation 14. He's speaking rest. The concept of rest is so significant. Rest is both a promise and a reward. We have to grasp how large of reward that is. There's a great contrast in these verses here between those who trust in God in persevere, in times of trouble and those who choose a side of evil and reject the Lord.
What a great contrast you see before us. There’s eternal consequences to our decisions, to the promise of rest. It's far beyond what many minds can see. Many times when people think of heaven, they have a very small view of it, frankly. Many people think, "What is heaven like?" They think of all the pleasures of earth, like times two or something-- is a place where all the lakes are pristine are full of fish and you can fish all day or something or the golf courses are just magnificent and you can golf and it's just marvelous or lay on the beach sipping a drink with a little umbrella in it and servers come serving you.
Many of us took these footsteps of Paul-- cruise, we go in Greece, we went to Israel, then Malta, Rome. The fact that it was a cruise meant that we had all the blessings-- if you have ever done a cruise you know that it is an amazing opportunity to get spoiled, the fact you come back from a cruise it's like, "Who's going to make my bed? Where's the buffet that's open all day long?" You kind of get that-- "Maybe heaven is like that," where you are just going to be treated and treated, and wonderfully treated and spoiled and blessings come to you-- misses the whole point of heaven.
The whole point of heaven is the presence of God himself that is a joy inexpressible. When we think now-- the Scripture says that we have the Holy Spirit in part. Like a down payment, earnest money, you might say. In this life that we are living now, have you ever experienced the Holy Spirit in such an overwhelmingly beautiful, just overflowing way? Like the presence of God, when she say that those experiences of God are far beyond any other experiences of this wealth.
One should agree with me it's better than a golf game. I love to golf but I tell you what? It's nothing in comparison to the feeling of the Holy Spirit your life, is not true? The understanding is-- here's my point. That's just the down payment. In Heaven, you have the Holy Spirit in full. "My cup overflows," David said. That will be very true. Your soul will be alive because the Holy Spirit in the very presence of God will fill your life.
I love Revelation 21 which we are going to get there fairly soon. I saw no temple and he is describing this New Jerusalem that comes out of heaven. I saw no temple in it for the Lord God the Almighty and the lamb or his temple and the city has no need of sun and moon to shine on it for the glory of God has illuminated and the lamp is a lamp. That's what makes it magnificent. What is he telling us here? He's telling us, "Blessed are those who persevered." He's giving us this encouragement, what a reward, what a blessing?
A. Blessed are those who persevere
Blessed are those who persevere. We saw the 144,000 when he is writing about the faithfulness of those who come to faith in the tribulation. They persevere in the most difficult period in the history of the world. God is pleased. That's why they're blessed. God is pleased with their steadfast faith because steadfast faith, even in the midst of all this trouble-- see Hebrews 11:6. "Without faith it's impossible to please him for he who comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is the rewarder of those who seek him."
That's what pleases the Lord. When he sees faith as the light. When he sees faith as real. When he sees faith as genuine, that's when God is pleased.
These believers in the tribulation, they show this faith in extreme trial and God is exceptionally pleased. They persevere in difficulty; they trust God with all faith. The favor of God is on them. Even though they are going through trouble, the favor of God is on them. That is a difficult concept for many people to get right there. It's very difficult concept for many people to get. That the favor of God is on them though they are going through trouble.
Lot of people say, "That doesn't compute to me. I don't understand that. If the favor of God was on them then why are they going through the trouble?" Jesus said, "In this world you will have many troubles but take courage, I have overcome the world." You can have the favor of God on you and still be going through a troublesome, broken-down, evil-filled world. The favor of God is on you because your soul is so valuable to the Lord and he has adopted you as a son or as a daughter. His love is everlasting and therefore the favor of God rest on you. I hope that you see many examples of that even in trouble.
I remember just that silly example of it but for me it was a pretty big deal. We were doing something here in the Sanctuary, way up high. We have an extension ladder that's like really, really super-long extension ladder. I was trying to put it away. I had it sitting straight up like this, bouncing it, trying to lower it, you know how an extension ladder works, right? Just two ladders and you lower the second one, right? It's way up there like this and I'm trying to lower it down but the rope comes out of my hand, and so the top ladder comes flying down and smashes my hand.
It smashed my hand and it didn't hurt. I'm telling you the truth. How is that possible? I was sitting there thinking the same thing because I'm holding it, I just smashed my hand and I'm thinking, "How is that possible that it's not hurting my hand?" Then I realized my ring. My ring took the entire blunt of the thing on it and the ring saved me, her love saved me. The ring was smashed. I had to get some pliers to open them up and took them to the jeweler to get it fixed but it saved me. Then I thought, "You know what God-- can you just imagine that smashed hand?"
The pain, I couldn’t play the keys, I’ couldn’t worship you, God. But the little things, just the favor of God. I remember there's a story I read of a captain of a ship George Muller, you might know him from history, a famous believer of Christ, George Muller in England. He was on the ship. Muller was famous for his faith, actually, for trusting God but the ship was wrapped in fog and could not move.
Muller came to the captain and said, "I have to make this appointment in Quebec." Coming across, "Impossible" implied the captain, "Impossible. You see how thick the fog is? It's impossible." George Muller said, "Then I will pray that God will lift this fog." He began to pray, very simple prayer. The captain, a nonbelieving captain, decided that he would also pray. George Muller stopped him. "As you do not believe, God will not answer. There is no need for you to pray."
He walked away. Because he understood something about faith, it's about believing, faith is about believing. So he stopped the man from praying
Because he wanted him to connect the two together. Muller prayed and he believed. And by the way, the fog immediately lifted. It's well recorded in history. It's a wonderful story.
B. Blessed are those who die in the Lord
These verses in Revelation 14 are given to us here to strengthen our faith. And then he says something interesting in verse 13. "Blessed are those who die in the Lord." What an interesting phrase? But he adds that the expression, "Blessed are they who died in the Lord from now on." Why did we hear those words "from now on"? Hasn't it always been true that those who die in the Lord are blessed? Yes, it's always been true.
I have stood by many gravesides and done many graveside services and reminded everyone of that great truth written in Revelation 14, "Blessed are they who die in the Lord." But John says "from now on" because these are believers who have come to faith in the Tribulation and he wants to encourage them. You did not-- it's not too late for you. You did not miss the resurrection. That will be the fear. I missed the rapture, I missed the resurrection. It's too late for me. It's not too late for you.
That's what I say. The key is understanding that we are blessed. We understand death. Very differently than the Lord does. We look at death very differently than the Lord does, because we have a difficulty with the concept of dying. But for God-- what does the Scriptures say? Psalm 116:15 "Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his godly ones."
It's like Enoch. Enoch, the Scriptures says, walked with God and was no more. I mean he walked with God. That's how he lived his life. He walked with God. And then at the end of his life, he walked to God. He just kept walking. It's like. Welcome, my good and faithful servant. It's like you just keep on walking. It's like it's graduation day. Like it's a glory day. It's like a day of celebration in heaven. Here comes a godly one, here comes a saint. Welcome him home. Well done. Well done.
We have to understand the rest that he is telling us there's a far bigger concept to this. Romans 14 gives it the right perspective. "If we live. We live for the Lord. If we die we die for the Lord." Take that and write that on your heart. Because when things get really bad in this world that's a great thing to remember right there. If we live. We left with the Lord. If we die, we die for the Lord.
There's a movie coming out next spring about when hijackers hijacked the plane that left Tel Aviv and the hijackers insisted they be flown to Entebbe, Uganda. Remember this sort of history it's a real story. And that the hijackers separated the Jews. They separated the Jews from the non-Jews. It was very clear that those who were Jews were being separated. That risk of life.
What was interesting is that there were several people who volunteered to join the Jews though they were not. They made their choice. "You're separating us? Count me over there." I just think there is something that resonates in the heart when we recognize the value of that which is honorable is greater than even death itself. To live your life with honor and glory to the Lord is greater than death itself.
Romans 14, "If we live we live for the Lord, if we die we die for the Lord." Therefore whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's, for to this end Christ died and lives again that he might be Lord, both of the dead and of the living. Therefore, what we need to recognize is that God wants us to live our lives fully unto the Lord. Because when you live your life fully unto the Lord, your soul is alive. And if your soul is alive you are living.
That's what God wants to live. Jesus says, "I've come that you have life and have it to the full. If your soul is alive then you are really living. Let's pray.
We have the Lord's church tonight. He's asking us where you have a faith that's real. The time for games is over. That's long past. Things are changing before our eyes. We have a real faith a genuine faith. Would you say even tonight, would you say to the Lord "If I live, then I'll live for the Lord. If I die, then I'll die for the Lord. whether I live or whether I die, I am the Lord's.
Just raise your hand. Say to the Lord, "I want you to know this lord. I don't care whether I live or whether I die. I am the Lord's and yours, Lord. Here's my heart. Here's my life I'm yours. Lord. Let's give the Lord our praise and thanks.
Revelation 14:9-20 NASB
9 Then another angel, a third one, followed them, saying with a loud voice, "If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, 10 he also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger; and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name."