Its not unusual to hear a sermon on the danger of loving the world, but today well address the danger of hating the world, because, surprising as it may seem, there is a large number of believers who feel that way. When some of us read descriptions of the glories of heaven like the one in our text today, we not only feel comforted that this hope is waiting for us at the end of our lives, but we deeply wish we could be there right now. Weve lost the joy of living and have fallen to a place where we have effectively withdrawn from life and are merely waiting to go home. Sickened by the evil in the world, tired of wrestling with the emotions and temptations that stir unwanted in our flesh, amazed at the devils unrelenting resistance to everything good, we feel more and more like strangers in a foreign land or travelers in a terminal waiting for an outgoing plane. Something is dying inside us. As John shows us this scene of Jesus personally comforting martyrs from the tribulation we can almost feel for ourselves the joy, comfort and peace those weary souls must be feeling. Never again will they have to be satisfied with passing moments of His presence. Theyll never hunger or thirst again. Never will they suffer the blazing heat or freezing cold of this earth again. And best of all, Jesus will personally wipe every tear from their eyes. Its a beautiful scene. And some day well be there... but not yet. Our days are not over, and He wants us to live the days we have left boldly and joyfully. Here are some insights that may help us do that.
A. Overview of 7:9-17
(v 9) A heavenly Palm Sunday (Lk 19:28-44)
(v 14) An uncountable number of martyrs from every people-group who come out of the great tribulation
(v 15) They have entered complete fellowship with God
(v 16) Physical hardship is gone
(v 17) Jesus personally refreshes them:
- Eternal life replaces death and dying
- The joy of the Lords presence removes sorrow
- Isa 49:10; 25:8
The message of this passage is clear: you may suffer and even die for your faith, especially in the last days ...but the one who endures to the end... will be saved (Mt 24:13). This is what happens to those who are faithful to Jesus. The world may hate you but Hes waiting to dry the tears from your eyes.
B. A Believers Struggle
When we see how beautiful it will be in heaven its natural for us to envy those who are there, and even wish we were there already. One does not have to live in the midst of violent persecution to grow weary of this world and long to escape to heaven.
Left behind: people whose spouse or other family have passed away
Oppressed: people who struggle with relentless spiritual harassment
Aged: people who see themselves as old with their good days in the past
Injured or ill: people who believe they are no longer useful
Disappointed: people whose dreams have died
Abandoned: people who have been discarded by others and fear they be rejected again
Regretful: people who believe they have made mistakes that have ruined their lives
Bitter: people who blame others for ruining their life
Believers trapped in these kinds of attitudes can find themselves merely enduring life as they wait for the end.
C. Jesus Example: The Mount of Transfiguration (Mk 9:1-19)
Jesus shows us that though this world is not our home, it is our assignment.
D. Attitudes that Help us Live Boldly
Forget the past and move on (Php 3:13, 14)
Live one day at a time: quit focusing on tomorrow (Mt 6:34)
Earnestly desire spiritual fruit (Mt 6:19-21; 13:23)
Stay healthy (diet, exercise, sleep, rest, nutrition) (dont fixate here)
Embrace the pain: quit judging yourself harshly for being sad, tired or overwhelmed; learn to regularly find refreshment in God
Pray consistently: this transforms our thinking, especially when we also read the Word
Learn to walk by faith (the sparkle in some peoples eyes)
Refuse to live alone: be part of a community of believers.
Dont be picky: use whatever opportunity you have to serve God
Plan to serve God till you drop (Php 3:12-14)
Be grateful for every day youve been given to live: let God number your days not you (Ps 139:16)
E. Important Scriptures
He 12:1 run with endurance the race...
Is 46:4 Even to your old age I shall be the same. And even to your graying years I shall bear you.
2Ti 4:6, 7 I have finished the course...
Php 1:21-25 For me to live is Christ, to die is gain.
2Pe 2:7 Righteous Lot, oppressed by the conduct of unprincipled men (for by what he saw and heard that righteous man, while living among them, felt his righteous soul tormented day after day...)
What do you consider to be the best gifts God will give us in heaven?
Do you cherish life? What forces make it hard at times for you to love life?