Patient Endurance
Next Previous Index Tellout Home

56. Patient Endurance
Revelation 14.12-14

"This calls for patient endurance on the part of 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)✞

Can't Take it With You

Inverted JennyThere is an old saying, "You can't take it with you when you die." A good illustration of this is a valuable and extremely scarce American stamp printed in 1918 called by stamp collectors the "Inverted Jenny." It is also known as the "Upside Down Jenny" or "Jenny Invert" and 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 his casket in their dead loved one's waistcoat pocket! His plan to take his prized treasure with him when he died failed! How precious are the Inverted Jennys? A block of four was sold at auction in 2007 for $2,700,000!

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 fruits 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 rest from our labors. According to Jewish thought, people's "actions followed them like witnesses" into God's court. Their works follow their faith, but faith does not follow works. The faith seeds you sow in this life bear fruit in the next. So we need to be sure that our values line up with God's values and decide today to produce seeds for everlasting fruit.

Fall Asleep in Christ

Gardener's Scythe"Those who fall sleep in Christ" refers to those who die in the Christian Faith. They rest from their labors. "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. 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 works of the Ephesians, their labor, and their patience. He describes the actions of the Thyatirans in Revelation 2.19 as their charity, service, and faith. By works, John of Patmos means both the resulting good and the character it instills in the giver.

Son of Man

Thyatira RemainsRevelation 14 pictures Christ as the "Son of Man," separating faithful and unfaithful people like wheat and tares by a farmer "with a sharp scythe" in his hand. The "Son of Man" theme reflects Daniel 7.13, "In my night-time vision at I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with heaven's clouds. He approached the Ancient of Days and led into his presence." Here the "son of man" in Aramaic "bar enash" means "human being." Jesus humbly wants to be known by his common name, "son of man." Christians will receive their due reward from the son of man and will not fear falling asleep in Christ or the Last Judgment. The son of man sits on a heavenly white cloud and comes to the faithful as a victorious king wearing a golden crown. Revelation 14's final vision is of judgment. "Son of Man" is retained here because of its New Testament use as Jesus' title, probably based mostly on the Daniel verse.

One With Christ

Earth and MoonDr. William Barclay (1907-1978), the leading commentator on the Book of Revelation, suggests that John of Patmos is in effect 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 with you a character tried and tested like gold, which has something of his reflection in it, 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 the saints who obey God's commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.✞

"Patient Endurance"
by Ron Meacock © 2021

^Top Page Next Previous