Are You In or Out?
Gracious Lord, Your extravagant promises amaze me, Your challenging call to obedience overwhelms me. Enable me to trust and obey.
Read Revelation 14:1-13
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“These are the words of him who is holy and true … I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown” (Rev. 3:7, 11).
Sometimes Revelation’s symbolism is difficult to understand, partly because the symbols are unfamiliar. We see such symbolism here, but this part of John’s vision has a clear message for everyone. Malachi spoke of the “distinction between the righteous and the wicked” (Mal. 3:18) and between the “arrogant and … evildoer,” and those who revere God’s name (Mal. 4:1,2). He knew that the eventual fate of the two groups would be very different. Revelation 14 picks up the same distinction between those worshiping the beast and those remaining faithful to Jesus. John’s readers must ask themselves if they are in or out. There is a time limit involved. Identify yourself now with God’s people, because eventually the opportunity will be lost—and identification involves more than simply saying, “Lord, Lord” (Matt. 7:21).
The real point of John’s message is encouragement. He wants to support the Christians who face really difficult situations, perhaps involving persecution and torture. First of all, he encourages them to “hang in there.” It is hard, he says, but if you just have confidence and keep going to the end it will be worth it. I have just been reading about some of the terrible sufferings of Jews in Poland during World War II when the whole society seemed to be against them. One can understand why the picture of the eventual fate of those causing such suffering might be spoken of in such vivid terms. But perhaps there is also another encouragement. If those in the “out group” face such a terrible fate, then surely it is the responsibility of the “in group” to warn them and tell them of the possibility of change.
Talk to someone this week about if and why you or they look forward to heaven. Make an effort to pray for someone who is persecuting Christians.
Father, I am so grateful for what is mine in Jesus Christ. I am blessed with forgiveness, meaning, and the hope of heaven. May others know this as well.
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