Patient Endurance
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56. Patient Endurance
Revelation 14.12-14

"This calls for patient endurance by God's people who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus. Then I heard a heavenly voice say, 'Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.' 'Yes,' says the Spirit, 'they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them.' I looked, and there before me was a white cloud, and seated on the cloud was one like a son of man with a golden crown on his head and a sharp sickle in his hand." (Revelation 14.12-14)✞

Inverted Jenny

Inverted JennyThere is an old proverb from a 1936 comedic play in three acts by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart, "You can't take it with you when you die." A good illustration of this is a valuable and rare American stamp printed in 1918 called by philatelists the "Inverted Jenny." It is also known as the "Upside Down Jenny" or "Jenny Invert."It shows a Curtiss JN-4 airplane in its stamp frame printed upside down by mistake. One such postage stamp went missing when its owner died. The family searched everywhere for the valuable object but to no avail. Finally, one thought to look in their dead loved one's waistcoat pocket in his casket! His plan to take his prized treasure with him when he died was thwarted! How precious are the Inverted Jennys? A block of four was sold at auction in 2007 for 2 million dollars!

Works Follow Faith

Open CasketThe only thing we take from this world when we die is our human values and our relationship to God. We came into this world with no possessions and will leave the same way. In Revelation 14.13, a heavenly voice says, "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord." While it is true that we can't take money, fame, or belongings with us from this life, God's people can produce eternal fruit by inviting others to follow Jesus. These survive even death when a person loves and serves the Lord Jesus Christ and his people - for "their deeds follow them." Revelation describes how acts follow faith. Works and faith both bear fruit, instill character, and eventually bring us rest from our labors. According to Jewish thought, people's "actions follow them like witnesses" into God's court. Their works follow their faith, but faith does not follow what they do. The faith seeds you sow in this life bear fruit in the next. Be sure that our values line up with God's to produce everlasting fruit.

Fall Asleep

"Those who fall asleep in Christ" refers to those who die in the Christian Faith. They rest from their labors. The phrase "falling asleep in the Lord" occurs in several New Testament passages. Saint Paul writes of "the dead in Christ" in 1 Thessalonians 4.16 and those who "fall asleep in Christ" in 1 Corinthians 15.18. Many things and people try to separate Christians from Christ, but those at their lives' end who are still one with the master whom they love are supremely happy. The promise to those dying in Christ is of rest from their labors, for rest is sweet after the most strenuous toil. Christians will receive their due reward and will not fear falling asleep in Christ or the last judgment. At first, the idea that works bear fruit in the next world sounds like Revelation preaches a "salvation by works doctrine," but here, faith comes first, and works result. What does John of Patmos mean by works? He speaks in Revelation 2.2 of the Ephesians' actions, their labor, and patience. He describes the Thyatirans' actions in Revelation 2.19 as their charity, service, and faith. By works, John of Patmos means both the resulting good and the giver's instilled character.

Son of Man

Thyatira RemainsRevelation 14 pictures Christ as the "Son of Man." This theme reflects Daniel 7.13, "In my night-time vision I looked, and there before me was a son of man, coming with heaven's clouds." The phrase "Son of Man" is in Aramaic "bar enash," meaning "a human being." Jesus wants to be known as an ordinary guy! The Son of Man sits on a white heavenly cloud as a victorious king with a golden crown. Jesus' title, "The Son of Man," is retained in the New Testament, based on Daniel's reference.

One With Christ

Earth and MoonDr. William Barclay (1907-1978), commentating on Revelation, suggests that John of Patmos is saying, "When you leave this earth, all you can take with you is yourself. If you come to the end of this life still one with Christ, you will take a character tried and tested like gold. It has something of his reflection, and if you take with you to the world beyond a character like that, blessed are you." God will remember our patient endurance, love, kindness, and faithfulness. Those who accept Christ through "our witness will join us in heaven." These are God's obedient saints faithful to Jesus.✞

"What is patient endurance?"
by Ron Meacock © 2021

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