Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.”
“Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!” And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!” Rev. 14:12-13
The book of Revelation is powerful. It’s poetical language and intense imagery can cause even the most intellectual of Bible scholars to stutter as to the meaning of everything. I don’t pretend to place myself in that elite class, but I do remember something that Neil Silverberg told me when we were studying Revelation a few years back. He reminded the church the first chapter clearly tells us the intent of this book; it is meant to reveal Jesus to its readers. I try to always keep that in mind when I’m trying to discern the meaning of a particular passage in this mysterious book.
In Revelation 14, vs. 12-13 caught my eye as I was reading the chapter. The majority of the book talks about the terrible persecution the church of Jesus Christ faces and will continue to face until the end. The point is, just like Job of old, no matter what Satan attempts to throw at the church, he cannot destroy it. The reason that is the case is twofold. The first reality is that Jesus not only saves us but He keeps us. The second is that we have precious promises we can hold onto during the worst of times.
The angel speaking to John is sending out a clarion call to true believers to endure. In the face of seeming devastation and destruction, they are commissioned to be real Christians that keep God’s commandments and continue to place their faith in Jesus Christ no matter what. These are like the three Hebrew children in the Old Testament who are in danger of being thrown into the fiery furnace for not bowing to the image of the king and say, “Our God will deliver us and even if He doesn’t, we won’t bow!”
There is a commanded blessing for those who die in the Lord, which we can hold on to as an anchor for our often-straying soul. We are reminded that death has no victory over us. We are truly blessed even in death as Christians because to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. We are blessed to rest from our life of hard work of being a disciple of Jesus Christ here on this earth. Our good deeds are to follow us not open the door for us. It is by grace and only grace that we are saved. The rewards we are promised for our good works are gifts given to us so that we might have something appropriate to present to the only one worthy of all glory and praise. We will bow before the Lamb of God, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, Jesus our Messiah, and offer back to Him the rewards we have received and we will know once and for all how very blessed we truly are!