• “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord, for their deeds will follow them.” Revelation 14:13 | Photo credit Creative Commons CCO

The Book of Revelation – Beatitude Number Two

Rev Willem J.J. Glashouwer - 9 October 2019

“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.” Revelation 14:13

Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord, for their deeds will follow them.” This verse stood on the iron gate at the entrance to the cemetery, the burial field where the bodies of the deceased are sown like seeds. That small burial ground was adjacent to the little church of the small congregation of Tull en ‘t Waal, the first Church I served as pastor and teacher in the Netherlands. 1 Corinthians 15:42: ”…so will it be with the resurrection of the dead, the body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable…” An old hymn says: ‘Everything that was done because of your love for Jesus will keep its value and will remain forever.

’This demonstrates the endurance of the saints.’  Paul writes to Timothy: “It is a trustworthy statement: for if we died with Him, we will also live with Him; if we endure, we will also reign with Him; if we deny Him, He also will deny us; if we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” What comfort! “…if we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny/disown Himself.”  What comforting words these are for those who trust in the Lord! James counts those who have persevered blessed. James 5:11 “As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy.”

The Lord Jesus has promised those who keep His Command to patiently wait for His Coming and to persevere in the ‘hour of trial’ that will come over the whole world. Revelation 3:10 “Since you have kept My Command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the ‘hour of trial’ that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth.” John 17:15 “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world but that you protect them from [keep them from] the evil one.” This refers to the true believers of the ‘final hour’, but it is applicable to all believers from Israel and the nations throughout the ages:”…who keep the Commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus”.

Faith in Him results in our believing like He does, and witnessing as He does. Jesus even says: “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do, he will do also; and greater works than these he will do; because I go to the Father.”  What is present perfect in Him, is in us too. This is why He is not ashamed to call us His brothers (and sisters!).  Have the same attitude/mindset as Christ Jesus, Paul says. Philippians 2:5 “In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus.”

The Apostle John has set out splendidly in his Gospel and his Epistles what God’s Commandments are. 1 John 3:23-24 “And this is His Command: to believe in the name of His Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as He commanded us. The one who keeps God’s Commands lives in Him, and He in them. And this is how we know that He lives in us: We know it by the Spirit He gave us.”

The Command to ‘write’ was emphatic. ‘Write’ is said with emphasis! This is one of the Twelve Commands to write that we find in the Book of Revelation, and it contains one of the Seven Beatitudes found in the Book of Revelation. One finds these 12 Commands to write in Revelation 1:11 and 19; 2:1,8,12 and 18; 3:1,7 and 14; 14:13; 19:9 and 21:5.

It sets in immediately, ‘from now on’—that is, all who die in the Lord, whether martyrs or not. They will already be blessed before the resurrection of the dead, during the ‘interval’, in Heavenly blessedness with the Lord.  This is what ‘dying in the Lord’ means—for us now and for the believers in the future who will die in the ‘kingdom-of-man’ of the ‘anti-Christ’.

Those who die in Christ will rise again.  They will even precede those who are alive when Christ returns at the ‘first resurrection’.  The NASB translates 1 Thessalonians 4:14 correctly: “For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.” They will rise again, but first they are blessed, like Lazarus in the bosom of Abraham.  There is no soul-sleep, but conscious bliss with Him. The true believers in Christ will open their eyes after death in the presence of God and of the Lamb. Their body rests in the earth; it is sown in the field of the burial ground, and it will be raised again gloriously at the first resurrection—completely new and glowing with everlasting life, devoid of all the deformations in the body caused by the brokenness of Creation, hereditary diseases, illnesses, aging and other consequences of sin and death.

Together with Him we will come back to planet earth, 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18! “For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with Him the believers who have died.” Winning that prize makes every effort and perseverance worthwhile. “I press on toward the goal,” says Paul in Philippians 3:14 NIV, like a sprinter in the stadium. I keep my body under the thumb and train therefore.

1 Corinthians 9:24-27 “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like someone running aimlessly; I do not fight like a boxer beating the air. No, I strike a blow to my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize.”

Paul talks about our ‘light and momentary’ troubles in 2 Corinthians 4:17. We read how ‘light’ that burden was in 2 Corinthians 11:22–33 and 1 Corinthians 15:32! There has been and will be suffering among the heroes of faith of Hebrews 11:32–40.

1 Peter 4:12 says that nothing strange happens to us, when we suffer. Yet, ultimately it will lead to Joy and Glory!

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