Blessed to die in the Lord!
Scripture reading for December 23rd: Revelation 14:1-20
“Then I heard a voice from heaven say, “Write: 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.” (Revelation 14:13) This is the second of the ‘beatitudes’ or ‘blessed’ statements found in Revelation. It is a curious ‘blessed’, speaking of the dead who die in the Lord as blessed. As we read this chapter, we come to understand why this is so.
John saw the Lamb and the 144,000 who were marked with His name standing on Mt. Zion. They were singing a new song that only they could learn. This special company had been redeemed from the earth and followed the Lamb. They were holy, having kept themselves from the defilement of sin on the earth, and set apart as an offering to Him. (Revelation 14:1-5)
Next John saw three angels flying in mid-air. The first angel was proclaiming the eternal gospel to those still on the earth. “Fear God and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come. Worship Him who made the heavens and the earth, the sea and the springs of water.” (Revelation 14:7) God is faithful to warn all men of what is to come. The first and greatest commandment is to love God and worship Him only. Men must not worship the creation, but the Creator of all things. This angelic messenger proclaims this eternal gospel.
The second angel proclaimed the fall of Babylon. “Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great, which made all nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries.” (Revelation 14:8) Those living on earth were drunk on the wine of the evil world system of Babylon. God announced the fall of this system again during the great tribulation. He had done this through Jeremiah over 600 years earlier. (Jeremiah 51:45-49)
The third angel announced the warning to resist the beast and his mark or face the full fury of God’s wrath! The penalty was laid out for those receiving the mark, “He will be tormented with burning sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever.” (Revelation 14:10b-11a) This warning was to call the saints to remain faithful to Jesus and prepare for endurance. Death would be blessed for those saints who endured!