- Sermon Notes
God’s Promise of Rest
August 1-2, 2020
What’s happening in the world right now can be very disturbing to the soul. Jesus said, “In this world you will have many troubles, but take courage, I have overcome the world.” You take courage when you take hold of faith. That’s the key.
When the world is such a mess and there are so many troubles all around you, you begin to realize the value of peace in the soul and the rest that God promises.
“Do not let your heart be troubled,” Jesus said, “believe in God, believe also in Me.” And in another place, “Come unto me all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
King David in the Old Testament was well acquainted with troubles and he wrote, “Why so downcast O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise Him, my Savior and my God.”
In Revelation 14, we look to the future 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, which was perhaps the point.
Jesus said that in the latter days many troubles will come upon the earth. They could be categorized in stages. First, the world will experience troubles like a woman in childbirth; they will grow greater in intensity and closer together as the latter days draw near. I’m convinced we are living in those days right now.
That will be followed by a time of peace as the Antichrist arises to solve many of the world’s problems. But it’s the calm before the storm, for while they are saying “peace and safety” destruction will come upon them suddenly when the wrath of God is poured out during the Great Tribulation that will immediately follow.
Revelation 14 says that one of the torments of such trouble is the lack of peace that will come upon those who have aligned themselves against God because they have chosen the side of evil. They worshiped the beast and his image and receive a mark on their 4 heads or upon their hand. These are those who will drink the wine of the wrath of God which will be mixed in full strength in the cup of His anger.
They will be so disturbed in the torment and trouble of those days that it says, “they shall have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”
The nature of spiritual warfare will be evident in those days. It’s a study in contrasts. There will be those who stand with the Antichrist and worship his image and take ‘the mark of the beast’ on the back of the hand or on the forehead.
But there will also be those who stand with Jesus and stand for the gospel. During the Tribulation there will be 144,000 Jewish witnesses for Christ proclaiming the gospel of grace. 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 application here for us here today as well. We are called to persevere in our faith – and the promise of rest and peace are for those who persevere in their faith.
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 are troubles in this world right now and many feel beaten down spiritually and emotionally. Their souls are disturbed within them.
A. Lack of rest torments the soul
- Those who receive the mark of the beast will at first find it 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 it will result in greater troubles because 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 have been tortured by the withholding of rest. Forced to stand for hours they are worn down physically and emotionally.
- It’s also a spiritual principle. The way of transgressors is hard. People who get into worldliness and worldly things do so because they think it will be easy, or easier, but it’s not true…
Proverbs 13:15, Good understanding gives favor; but the way of transgressors is hard.
Illus – What happens if you don’t rest? I remember going three days straight with nothing more than a 45 min nap each day. I became irritable, cranky 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 conditions for living will be better.
- In a similar way, many 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 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 you discover which side you have already chosen whether you realized it before or not. Now, today, this moment, is your chance to choose the right side. God is holding back, to give us that chance. It will not last forever. You 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 your decisions. The promise of rest is far beyond what many might conceive.
Illus – Many people look forward to heaven thinking it will be glorious because of what they think they will do there. Will it be a place where there are fishing lakes like nothing on earth? Or where every golf course is perfectly manicured? Will people lounge about in the sun sipping drinks with little umbrellas in them?
- No, the glory of heaven is 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 in this book, but here he is writing about the faithfulness of those who will come 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, 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? I am convinced, I have seen the favor or God many times in my life.
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 – The story is told of a time George Mueller was traveling to an appointment by ship. Mueller had become famous for trusting God completely.
On the journey, the ship became wrapped in fog and could not move. Mueller came to the captain and said, “I must make this appointment in Quebec.” “Impossible,” replied the captain, “have you seen how thick this fog is?” Mueller declared that he would ask God to life the fog. He then prayed a simple prayer. When the unbelieving captain also began to pray Mueller stopped him, “As you do not believe, God will not answer. There is no need for you to pray.”
Indeed, the fog lifted immediately. The favor of God.
- 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 – 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.
- John says from now on because these are people who will become believers in Jesus in the Tribulation and will wonder if they missed the resurrection.
- The church will at this point already have been resurrected and raptured so these new believers 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 live in the Lord and 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.”