Die Standing Up (Rev. 7 & 18)

Posted: March 22, 2010 in Uncategorized

Die Standing Up (Revelation 7 & 19:1-10)
 
When I was a kid in the ’80’s, we were convinced that at some point we would go to war with Russia.  This spawned a whole series of movies where we kicked some commie butt! 

My favorite movie was “Red Dawn.”   It was the story of a high school football team taking on the Russians when they invaded their hometown.   My favorite scene was where the team stormed a prison camp to free their friends and began to pass out guns so that they could fight as well.  One of them screams, “but, we’ll die!” To which, one of the freedom fighters shouts, “We’re all gonna die, die standing up!”  Sweet!

I dreamed of the day when my friends and I could do the same.  I wanted to personally defend the Ohio River Valley from the Russkies!

I, like a lot of people, just hoped to live (and even die) for something great.  I didn’t just want to live a series of same old, same old days until I died in a nursing home. 

I still want to live and die for something great.

Let me ask you, what do you live for?  What would you die for?

Let’s look at Revelation 7 and see what John has to say about it:

7:1 After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, that no wind might blow on earth or sea or against any tree. 2 Then I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, with the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm earth and sea, 3 saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.” 4 And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel:

5 12,000 from the tribe of Judah were sealed,
12,000 from the tribe of Reuben,
12,000 from the tribe of Gad,
6 12,000 from the tribe of Asher,
12,000 from the tribe of Naphtali,
12,000 from the tribe of Manasseh,
7 12,000 from the tribe of Simeon,
12,000 from the tribe of Levi,
12,000 from the tribe of Issachar,
8 12,000 from the tribe of Zebulun,
12,000 from the tribe of Joseph,
12,000 from the tribe of Benjamin were sealed.

9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

15 “Therefore they are before the throne of God,
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.
16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
the sun shall not strike them,
nor any scorching heat.
17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

 What is going on here? First of all, holding back the winds would have crippled the Roman Empire’s commerce and this was a way for God to show who truly has power.
 
Second, the seal on the people of God represents ownership, not rapture.  As you see from the rest of the chapter, those sealed and honored are those who have died like Christ.  These are not people who were necessarily “successful” pastors.  They were just faithful even unto death.
 
Now let’s look at Revelation 19:1-10,

19:1 After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying out,

“Hallelujah!
Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,
2 for his judgments are true and just;
for he has judged the great prostitute
who corrupted the earth with her immorality,
and has avenged on her the blood of his servants.”

3 Once more they cried out,

“Hallelujah!
The smoke from her goes up forever and ever.”

4 And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who was seated on the throne, saying, “Amen. Hallelujah!” 5 And from the throne came a voice saying,

“Praise our God,
all you his servants,
you who fear him,
small and great.”

6 Then I heard what seemed to be the voice of a great multitude, like the roar of many waters and like the sound of mighty peals of thunder, crying out,

“Hallelujah!
For the Lord our God
the Almighty reigns.
7 Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready;
8 it was granted her to clothe herself
with fine linen, bright and pure”—

for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

9 And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are the true words of God.” 10 Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.

Do you see that those invited to Jesus’ great party at the end of time are those who are so radically faithful that they would die for their king?
 
There will come a day when it becomes clear that Jesus is all that is worth living for or dying for. Those who die anonymously now will live as heroes for eternity.
 

Why does it matter it so much? What purpose does it serve to die for Jesus?

Have you ever heard of William Borden?

In 1890, William Borden was at Yale and stood to inherit a fortune from his family who owned Borden Dairies.  But William met Jesus and gave all of his money away and prayerfully followed a call to become a missionary overseas.  He went to Cairo to learn Arabic but contracted a disease and died before he was able to hit the mission field. 

His friends found these words written in his diary shortly before he died, “No reserve.  No retreat.  No regrets.” 

William Borden understood that the purpose of life is to be faithful to God regardless of the consequences and as one that was, he will be a hero in eternity.

What about you?

What do you live for? What would you die for?

If you died now could you write the words, “No reserve. No retreat. No regrets”? That’s what it’s all about.

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