- 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 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.
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.”
‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!'” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with
them.” 14 Then I looked, and behold, a white cloud, and sitting on the cloud was one like Or the Son of Mana son of man, having a golden crown on His
head and a sharp sickle in His hand. 15 And 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, for the hour to reap has come, because the harvest of the earth is ripe.” 16 Then He who sat on the cloud swung His sickle over
the earth, and the earth was reaped.
came out from the altar; and he called with a loud voice to him who had the sharp sickle, saying, “Put in your sharp sickle and gather the clusters
from the vine of the earth, because her grapes are ripe.” 19 So the angel swung his sickle to the earth and gathered the clusters from the vine of
the earth, and threw them into the great wine press of the wrath of God. 20 And the wine press was trodden outside the city, and blood came out from
the wine press, up to the horses’ bridles, for a distance of two hundred miles.