Patient Endurance
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56. Patient Endurance
Revelation 14.12-14

"This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus. Then I heard a voice from heaven 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 crown of gold 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 an "Upside Down Jenny" or "Jenny Invert" and shows a Curtiss JN-4 airplane printed upside down by mistake in its stamp frame. One such postage stamp went missing when its owner died. The family searched everywhere for the valuable stamp but to no avail. Finally, one of them thought to look in the waistcoat pocket of their dead loved one in his casket! His hope 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!

Deeds Will Follow

Open CasketThe only thing we take with us from this world when we die is our value as human beings and our relationship to God. We came into this world with no possessions and will leave the same way. In Revelation 14.13, a voice from Heaven says, "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord." While it is true that we can't take money, fame, and belongings with us from this life, God's people can produce fruit for eternity 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 will follow them."

Fall Asleep in Christ

Gardener's ScytheThe euphemism for "those who fall sleep in Christ" refers to those who die in the Christian Faith. They rest from their labors. The idea of those who "fall asleep in the Lord" occurs several times in the New Testament. Saint Paul speaks of "the dead in Christ" in 1 Thessalonians 4.16 and of those who "fall asleep in Christ" in 1 Corinthians 15.18. These phrases apply to those at the end of their human lives who are still committed to Christ. Many things and people try to separate Christians from Christ, but those who come to the end of their lives still one with the Master whom they love are supremely happy. The promise to them is of rest. Those who die in Christ will rest from their labors. Rest is never so sweet as after the most strenuous toil. This Revelation chapter pictures Christ as "the Son of Man," separating the faithful from the unfaithful like a farmer harvesting his crops of wheat and tares "with a sharp scythe." The "Son of Man" theme is also reflected in Daniel 7.13, "In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and led into his presence." Note here that the "son of man" in Aramaic "bar enash" means in a general sense "human being." It is a mark of the humility of Jesus that he wants to be known by the common name of the Son of Man. Christians will receive their due reward from the Son of Man and not fear falling asleep in Christ or the Last Judgment.

Works Follow Faith

Seeds and FruitRevelation describes how works follow faith. Both works and faith bear fruit, instill character, and eventually bring rest from labor. According to Jewish thought, people's "actions followed them as witnesses" into God's court. Their works follow their faith, and not the opposite for faith does not follow actions. The seeds you sow in this life bear fruit in the next. So we need to be sure that our values are in line with God's values, and decide today to produce fruit that lasts forever.

Blessed Dead

Thyatira RemainsAt first, the idea that works bear fruit in the next world sounds like Revelation preaches a doctrine of salvation by works, 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.

Victorious Figure

Son of Man in CloudsThe Son of Man sits on the Heavenly white cloud and comes to the faithful as a victorious figure wearing a golden crown. The final vision of Revelation 14 is of judgment depicted in Jewish thought. The vision begins with the image of a triumphant person like "a son of man" coming on the heavenly white cloud.

Daniel's Vision

Jesus in CloudsJohn of Patmos' experience reflects Daniel's vision in Daniel 7.13-14, "In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and led into his presence. Authority, glory, and sovereign power are given to Jesus; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom will never be destroyed."

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 Remembers

Icon of JesusGod will remember our love, kindness, and faithfulness, and 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 © 2020

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