CDPCKL · Who Can Withstand the Great Day? (Revelation 7:1-17)

Who Can Withstand the Great Day? (Revelation 7:1-17)

If we were to go back to the oldest parts of our bible, to the Book of Exodus, we would see that it opens with the description of a nation living in brutal slavery under the rule of the ancient Egyptian empire. 

Now, unfortunately for the Egyptians, this particular nation was descended from a man named Abraham. And this man Abraham had a very special relationship with God. So when God hears that the descendants of Abraham — the Israelite people — are about to be wiped out, he acts: he sends a prophet named Moses to confront the Egyptian empire. And he gives Moses the power to send a series of specific judgements against the land of Egypt: a series of plagues designed to prove that Moses’ God is greater than any of the Egyptian gods. 

Now, the first three plagues affect everyone in the land: the Egyptians and the Israelites. Everyone suffers under those judgements; everyone gets to experience God’s power directly. 

But after that, as the judgements become more severe, only the Egyptians suffer. The Israelites go untouched. And this proved that God knows how to protect his chosen people. 

And then, when it is time for the final judgement, God gives his people the chance to choose him in return. He challenges them to an act of faith: he wants each family to sacrifice a lamb, mark the doors of their houses with its blood, go inside, and wait for the command to leave. Essentially, the lambs’ blood will act as a protective seal upon their houses. God’s final judgement upon the Egyptians will fill the land like a flood, but every sealed household will be like a miniature Noah’s ark, surrounded on all sides by death and destruction but…safe. 

Well, it all happens just as God promised: the Egyptian empire is judged and drowned, while the nation of Israel is carried away safely to a mountain in the Arabian desert. 

Now, God had promised to lead his people to a new homeland where they would live together with him in perfect peace and freedom. And they were very eager to go, of course! But instead of letting his new bride rush off across the desert unprepared, God made sure they spent the first year of their married life right there at the foot of that mountain. 

Most of that year was spent building the house that God would share with his bride: this was a special tent called the tabernacle, which was an earthly copy of God’s heavenly temple. They also spent a lot of time practicing married life together. 

But the last few weeks of that year were spent counting the people and organizing them, tribe by tribe. And the Book of Numbers tells us that the final count was 603,550 families — so clearly we are talking about a nation of millions, a great multitude! 

At the same time, craftsmen took 12 different precious stones and carved each one with the name of one of the 12 tribes. Then they mounted these precious stone seals on a special breastplate that the High Priest would wear on his chest when he entered the tabernacle. In addition, the priest would wear a golden plate on his forehead, and engraved on it, like an inscription on a seal, were the words “Holy to the LORD.” In this way, every time the priest entered God’s presence, he symbolically carried the 12 tribes with him. 

Then, after they were counted, the entire camp was carefully organized, tribe by tribe, so that, when the time came for them to move their millions out across the desert, no one would be left behind or trampled or lost in the confusion. 

And then, finally, God gave the command to march. 

…unfortunately, most of those 603,550 heads of households did not made it to their destination. Before the journey began, each one had come forward to make sure his name and the names of his family members were written in the nation’s books of the living — but somehow all but two of them died in the wilderness along the way. 

Why? What happened? 

The simplest answer is this: instead of staying inside God’s house, safe from the flood of God’s judgement, they broke the seal and went outside, and were swept away. 

Sure, they began well: they sacrificed their lambs and sealed their households with the blood, and survived long enough to be officially counted. But apparently that act of faith was just that: an act. Or perhaps we could say that it was a true moment of faith — but it was only a moment. That moment passed. And then later on, when they were confronted with new tests of faith in the desert…one by one they lost their nerve and left the protection of God’s household. They turned aside to idols; they put their faith in other gods, or even in their own ability to fight and save themselves from disaster. 

One by one, their names were erased from the books of the living. It was the next generation that inherited the land. 

…unfortunately, that generation also had problems with idolatry, and so did the generations that followed. And the situation got so bad that, about 1000 years later, God gave a prophet named Ezekiel a terrible nightmare of a vision: he carried Ezekiel right into the inner room of the temple that had been built in Jerusalem. And there Ezekiel sees the leaders of his nation in the darkness burning incense to all kinds of crawling things and unclean animals and all the idols of Israel, while some are facing outward — facing eastward — to worship the rising sun. 

And as Ezekiel stands there, completely horrified, God calls for six angels, armed with swords, and commissions them to pass judgement upon the whole city, beginning at the center with these leaders and then working their way outward. 

But before God releases these warrior angels, he calls a seventh angel, armed with a pen, and says, “Go throughout the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done in it.” 

And then God tells the six warrior angels to follow the other angel, and to kill everyone — “but do not touch anyone who has the mark.” 

But Ezekiel is not sure the angel with the pen is going to find anyone to mark. So he falls facedown, crying out, “Alas, Sovereign LORD! Are you going to destroy the entire remnant of Israel in this outpouring of your wrath on Jerusalem?” 

Basically, Ezekiel is asking God if anyone is going to survive. The great day of God’s wrath has come, and who can withstand it? 

But just then the angel with the pen comes back and reports that he is finished marking the faithful few, so there is Ezekiel’s answer: some people in the city have not soiled themselves by worshiping crawling things and unclean animals and idols. 

And the warrior angels do as they are told: they pass over every person who has been sealed with the mark of Life, but they pass judgement upon everyone else, all those who have been marked for death by their worship of false gods. 


And so, now, as we return to the Book of Revelation, we realize that John himself is receiving the same kind of vision Ezekiel did. 

Just like Ezekiel, John has been carried away in the spirit to see the earth from God’s perspective. And last week he watched as the newly crowned Lamb — Jesus Christ — began to break the seals on the book containing his inheritance. 

Now, the first four seals contained a series of judgements upon the Roman empire, which had decided to enslave and destroy Jesus’ people. And those first four judgements took the form of four horsemen — the same four winds of heaven that the prophet Zechariah prophesied about 600 years earlier. And, just as during the Exodus, those first few judgements affected everyone in the empire: Romans and Christians alike. 

But then, as the Lamb broke the fifth seal, we saw God’s people in heaven, praying and crying out for an end to the whole mess. 

So the Lamb answered their prayer by opening the sixth seal, and triggering the beginning of the end of the world. And at that point everyone on earth also began praying and crying out for an end! And the very last thing we heard them say was, “The great day of God’s wrath has come, and who can withstand it?” 

That is the question we closed with last week: when the Lamb opens the sixth seal, are we going to be able to withstand it? Or are we going to be swept away with everyone else? 

Chapter 7 contains the answer to our question: 

[1] After this, John says, I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree. 

[2] Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: [3] “Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.” 


So, let me get this straight: just a minute ago, at the end of Chapter 6, John saw absolute chaos overtaking the earth: mountains and islands were collapsing, stars were falling, people were screaming and running — but now, suddenly, everything is quiet? Somehow the land, the sea, and the trees have not been harmed by those disasters? 

But if we pause and think about this, we realize that it is very normal to tell narratives out of order: to tell one part of a story from one perspective, and then rewind and retell that part of the story from another perspective. 

That is what John is doing here: he is rewinding and retelling. Which means that this quiet windless moment must have actually happened before the disasters of the previous chapter. Just as Chapter 6 filled in some of the details left out of Chapter 5, it looks like Chapter 7 is going to fill in some of the details left out of Chapter 6! So: 

Right away, in verse 1, we see four angels mentioned, four corners of the earth, and four winds being held back. And right away we realize that these four angels here are somehow connected back to the four horsemen in Chapter 6, which were connected even further back to the four winds of heaven in Zechariah’s vision, which were sent out to the four corners of the earth to pass judgement upon the nations. 

So these four “wind” angels are apparently another manifestation of the four horsemen we met last week, the four dreadful judgements that were released by the first four seals on the Lamb’s book. 

Which means that this moment of stillness actually happened before the Lamb began to break open the seals in the last chapter. 

So, apparently — to put the narrative into its proper order — these four angels were already holding back the winds when John first arrived in God’s presence. Then the Lamb arrives and takes the scroll from his Father’ hand. He gets ready to break the seals and unleash judgement. The four angels, the four horsemen — the four winds of heaven — are there, all tensed up and ready to go just like Zechariah said they were:  straining to go throughout the earth. Then, suddenly this other angel comes up from the direction of the rising sun — up from the east where the garden of Eden once stood — having the seal of the living God. And he shouts, “Wait! Wait, wait wait, wait, don’t release them yet until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God!” 

So this is Ezekiel’s vision all over again: the warrior angels are there, poised to begin their deadly work. But first, this other angel needs to put a mark on the foreheads of the faithful few. 

[4] Then, John says, I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel. 

And as he continues to listen, he hears God’s people being registered in the book of the living, tribe by tribe — exactly as they were back in the Book of Numbers, when God was getting them ready for their great journey home through the wilderness. 

Except that, when we compare the list from Numbers with this list from Revelation, we find some troubling differences: 

First, one of the ancient tribes is completely missing from this list: the tribe of Dan is gone, replaced by “Levi”, the tribe of priests that was not counted in the original census. 

Second, back in the Book of Numbers the total was 600,000+, which is a much larger number than 144,000. Why so small? 

Are these typos? Did John’s auto-correct mess up Dan’s name here? It this number actually supposed to be 144 million, or billion, or something? 

No. These differences are actually designed to catch our attention and help us realize something new: 

So: why was Dan replaced by Levi? Originally, Dan was the largest tribe, after Judah’s tribe. And back in the Book of Numbers God told Moses not to count Levi at all, because the Levites belonged to God alone as God’s priests, and God alone wanted to know their true complete number. 

Later on, however, after God led his people into their promised homeland, the tribe of Dan gave up trying to conquer the territory that God had assigned to them. They moved away to the far north, conquered some unauthorized territory, and then started worshiping the local gods of that territory. As a tribe, they essentially left the protection of God’s household, they broke the seal on the door and took their chances on the outside…and they were eventually wiped out, never to be seen again. 

Okay. But why is Levi counted now when they were not before? 

Well, if you recall, God’s plan from the beginning was to eventually turn the entire nation into a kingdom and priests. Which means the uncountable tribe of Levi was really just a preview of what it would look like when all of the tribes of Israel were transformed into tribes of priests. 

Basically, what John is witnessing here is the counting and sealing of an entire nation of priests, whose true complete number is known only to God! 

Okay. But then: why is this “true complete number” so small in comparison with the Old Testament number? 

Well…it’s not. 144,000 is actually a very sophisticated way of saying “all of God’s people from beginning to end”. 

Let me explain: 144,000 is 12×12…x1000. Right? Those numbers are all very symbolic.  

We have already encountered the number 12: back in Chapter 4 we met the 24 elders, who symbolized the 12 sons of Jacob plus the 12 apostles of Jesus, the fathers of the Old Testament Church plus the fathers of the New Testament Church. So we discovered that 12+12 symbolizes the complete and perfect representation of God’s people in God’s presence. 

Here, in Chapter 7, we are seeing the 12 fathers of the Old Testament Church times the 12 fathers of the New Testament Church. 12+12 has become 12×12, which results in a much larger number. But then that larger number is also multiplied by 1000! And 1000, for ancient people, was a very large and mysterious number. It was not the same thing as uncountable infinity — they had a different word for that — they understood that 1000 was a limited number, but it was at a level that only specialists could really understand. 

Basically, what John is witnessing here is the counting and sealing of the 12 Old Testament fathers and their almost uncountable followers times the 12 New Testament fathers and their almost uncountable followers: 12,000×12,000=144,000…this number symbolizes the entire Church of Jesus Christ from beginning to end. Every tribe, every clan, every family, every name written down and stamped and sealed in the census books of the Lamb’s nation. Every forehead stamped — just like slaves were branded in the Roman empire — with a mark that says, “This person belongs to the Lamb.” Every priestly forehead covered with a golden plate engraved with the words: “Holy to the LORD.” 

This is the sealing of a nation of slaves, a nation of priests, whose true complete number is known only to God. Only he can count to 144,000. We cannot. 

How do we know? Because, John says: 

[9] After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language. 

From God’s perspective, he has 144,000 children, which is his symbolic way of saying, “I know exactly how many children I have. You don’t!” 

And sure enough, from John’s human perspective, when he looks at this 144,000, he sees a multitude that no one can count. And the fact that this multitude comes from every nation, tribe, people and language just confirms for us that the 144,000 really are God’s people from everywhere at every time. Even though the census is listed under the names of the ancient tribes of Israel, those ancient tribes now include everybody who has come forward to be counted and sealed by God’s angel. 

They were standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. [10] And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” 

And this image of worshipers wearing white robes and holding palm branches is yet another reference to the great Exodus from Egypt: 

In the Book of Numbers, after the people were counted and organized, their journey began, a 40-year pilgrimage through the wilderness. But after their pilgrimage was over, the whole nation used to go camping for one week every year to celebrate their deliverance from the tribulations of their desert journey. They would cut palm branches, and build temporary shelters; they would read the old stories, and sing songs of remembrance about the days when God carried them safely home. 

And this is where we are supposed to realize that John has, once again, skipped from the beginning of the story to the end: 

In verse 8, God’s people were still being sealed and organized for their journey through the wilderness. Here, suddenly, in verse 9, they are home: standing before the throne with palm branches, singing songs of remembrance and rejoicing. 

And this is where we realize that our closing question from last week has just been answered. Chapter 6 ended with the peoples of the earth saying, “The great day of God’s wrath has come, and who can withstand it?” 

This is the answer: only those who have been sealed, who have been marked “Holy to the LORD”, will be able to stand before the throne on the Day of Judgement. 

[11] All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, [12] saying: “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!” 

This part here, at the end of Chapter 7, is the heavenly counterpart to what is happening on earth at the end of Chapter 6. 

In Chapter 6, the sixth seal is broken, the created order begins to fall into chaos, and the whole world suddenly sees God as he really is. 

Here, in Chapter 7, the angels finally put a seal of perfection upon the worship that has been happening in God’s presence from before the beginning of time: they say “Amen” to properly finish the songs of remembrance sung by God’s people. Then they praise God for seven distinct attributes, essentially presenting him with the entire universe. Then they end the service with a closing “Amen”, which basically means: “That’s it. We are done. The results are in God’s hands now.” 

[13] Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?” 

[14] I answered, “Sir, you know.” 

Which is the right answer, by the way. John probably has a very good idea who these people are: he understands what white robes and palm branches mean — or, at least, what they used to mean in the Old Testament. But as we discovered right at the beginning of Revelation, this is a book of symbols and parables designed to separate out true believers from false believers: true believers do not assume they already have it all figured out, they approach Jesus for an explanation. 

And since this elder has now approached John to offer him an explanation…it was wise of John to say, “I really have no idea…you tell me.” 

So the elder said, “These are they who have come 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.” 

So this confirms for us that this is the great multitude of God’s people from every nation and every age of the earth. They have come out of the great tribulation: they have survived the terrible journey across the desert, they have passed through the valley of the shadow of death. They did not lose their nerve along the way; they did not break the seal they were sealed with at the beginning of their journey; they clung to their Saviour even as the floodwaters rose about them, and now they are washed and dressed and home safe. 

Back in Chapter 6, we saw their souls under the altar asking “How much longer?” Here, at the end of Chapter 7, we see them standing, singing, serving in the original heavenly garden of Eden. 


Let’s review a bit here: 

Last week Chapter 6 gave us an outline of history, beginning with the moment Jesus took his throne and ending with the opening of the sixth seal: the dawn of Judgement Day. 

And last week we learned that where we stand now, in history, the first five seals of Chapter 6 have been opened. The first four released the four horsemen — the four winds of heaven — with permission to kill one fourth of the earth with the plagues of conquest and civil war, famine and disease. The fifth seal revealed the souls under the altar in heaven, praying and waiting for the sixth and seventh seals to bring an end to injustice. And so, last week, we learned that Christians also suffer under the torment of the four horsemen, the only difference being that — when we die — we enter God’s presence, while those who have rejected God go down into the darkness to wait for the final Judgement. 

This week, Chapter 7 has outlined the same history, but from a slightly different perspective. And through this new perspective we have now discovered why the four horsemen cannot truly harm Christians: it is because, even before the four horsemen were released, God’s children were all counted and sealed, their names written down in the eternal book of life, the citizen-list of God’s eternal nation. 

Now that is Good News! 

Which brings us to the question we like to ask every week: what does our Father want us to do in response to this Good News? What is our practical application for today? 

Well, in our search for an application, we are going to go back and visit one of the seven churches that Jesus spoke to at the beginning of the book: we are going to visit the church in Sardis. 

Let me start with some background: 

Sardis was a wealthy city that was famous for three things: 

First, even though it was built on a cliff and impossible to conquer, it had been conquered twice in history through sheer carelessness, laziness, and over-confidence. Basically, while the city was surrounded by enemy armies, the citizens of Sardis unsealed the back door and then went to bed without closing it again properly. Two times! about 200 years apart. 

Second, Sardis was famous for its wool industry, for its fashion industry. And the city’s marketing strategy was so strict that, basically, every citizen was required to help advertise the city’s products by wearing them. But if a citizen went out in public in dirty clothing, that person’s name would be deleted from the list of citizens! 

Third, the city was famous for its “necropolis” — which literally translates to “city of the dead”…yes, exactly: they had a famously over-decorated graveyard. The people of Sardis were not just extremely image-conscious; they were not just concerned about getting enough sleep; they were also obsessed with death. A lot of their pagan religious life was centered around fertility, death, rebirth, all that stuff; and there was a sacred hot spring nearby that was — supposedly — one of the gates to the underworld. 

So with this background in mind, we can understand better why Jesus says what he says to this church: 

[1] “To the angel of the church in Sardis write: these are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. [2] Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. 

[3] “Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief — like a conquering army sneaking in the back door? — and you will not know at what time I will come to you.” 

Jesus is speaking to a church that shares many of the same cultural problems as the city it lives in: the Christians of Sardis look like they are alive, they look confident, they look like they are doing lots of “good deeds” in the community…but actually, most of them are dead. Most of them have soiled their clothes by forgetting the original Gospel that was taught to them: they have left the protection of God’s household and they are out there in public now putting their faith in idols and other gods — or even in their own “good deeds”! And as a result most of them are in extreme danger of having their names erased from the list of God’s citizens. 

And Jesus advice for them is: “Come back inside and close the door, or you’ll be swept away by the flood when it comes!” 

[4] “Yet,” Jesus says, “you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. [5] The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels.” 

Now, Sardis was a city and a church in ancient Roman Asia. Kuala Lumpur is a city and a church in Modern Asia. So we have to ask: is there any overlap here? Can this letter also be applied to the church in Kuala Lumpur, to our collective Christianity here in Malaysia? Are there many Christians and churches in our city who are over-confident, who look very busy, but are actually sound asleep? Are there many Christians and churches in our city who are committed to having clean robes, maintaining a good public image, but are actually soiled and dead, enslaved by the same idols that obsess our wider culture? Are there many Christians in our city who have actually forgotten the Gospel, and abandoned the household of God? 

I think we can say, pretty confidently, that the answer is yes. 

However, our task here is not to figure out which churches are desperately soiled and which churches are on the purer end of the spectrum. That is an important conversation to have from time to time, but we are not going to have that conversation now. 

No, the main lesson we are going to take away from this letter today is this: in any given city or nation on earth, there are always going to be a certain number of people who call themselves Christians, but actually are not. 

So, for instance, according to our official census records, Malaysia is about 9% Christian, which means there are approximately 3 million of us right now. The reality, however, is that among our 3 million, only a few have not soiled their clothes. 

In other words: there is always an official census of “registered” Christians on this earth, but — within that larger number — there is a true complete number of “real” Christians that is known only to God. 

And, in fact, this same truth is contained right here in Chapter 7, within the number of those who were sealed. This is how John outlines it: from the tribe of Judah 12,000 were sealed. From the tribe of Reuben 12,000, from the the tribe of Gad 12,000, and on it goes…which tells us that the “official” tribes were actually larger than this: only 12,000 people from each of those larger tribes were truly sealed by God’s angel. 

Okay. What exactly are we supposed to do with this information? 

Well, it is becoming clear that, as Christians, we are now living through the great final Exodus of God’s people from this earth. The Exodus of Israel from Egypt was just a shadow, a preview of what Jesus’ Church is going through now. Which means that we are supposed to look back at their experience and learn from it. 

And when we look back, this is what we learn: during that original Exodus there was an official, publically numbered and organized nation of Israel: 603,550 heads of household. But only two of that number were truly “sealed”. And we can tell because only two men of that whole generation actually arrived at their destination. 

What Jesus is telling us now is that, during this — our final Exodus — there is also an official, publically numbered and organized nation of Jesus Christ: 2.3 billion of us at last count, organized into various tribes and denominations, the largest religion on earth at the moment. But what is the true number of Christians on earth today? How many of us are actually going to arrive at our destination here in verse 15? 

Only ”a few”. Those are Jesus’ words, not mine. 

And, friends, I don’t know about you, but for me this is chilling. This is terrifying. Because, if there is one more lesson we can learn from Jesus’ letter to Sardis, it is this: most of those who call themselves Christians but are actually dead do not know they are dead! Most of those who think they are sealed are not sealed! 

…and what are we supposed to do about that? 

Well…what does Jesus tell us to do here? 

First, he says, “Wake up! Strengthen what little bit remains and is about to die.” 

Okay. Gladly! How? 

Like this: “Remember what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent! And then he says this: “Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches,” which was always Jesus’ way of saying, “Hey! Do not assume you already have it all figured out! Make sure you come and ask me for an explanation!” 

Brothers and sisters…what if I am dead and don’t even know it? What if you are dead and don’t even know it? Is there any way for us to tell? Sometimes I feel dead, and that worries me…which is an oxymoron, I suppose, because if I was dead I would no longer be worried about being dead…yeah. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that sometimes I feel like I am about to die. I am certain my deeds are unfinished in the sight of my God. I am certain that I have soiled my robes. But don’t get excited! The bible tells me that all of you oso same, so…there’s that. 

We are all in the same boat here. The only question we are trying to answer now is whether our boat is sinking or whether it is going to withstand the great flooding tribulation of God’s judgement. 

Now, yes, we do have this promise: “The one who is victorious will, like those few, be dressed in white.” But victory is only established at the end of the battle, not in the middle of it. And we are in the middle of it: this is the great tribulation. It has been the great tribulation for 2000 years, and it is getting greater all the time — more on that later on in Revelation…But the point is this: we have not been told the true names or the true complete number of those among us who are going to make it. God alone knows that; we will only find out for certain on the day the Lamb breaks the final seal and opens the door of our ark and we find ourselves standing there safe before the throne. 

So, since we are not there yet, this is what we are going to do, this is our application: we are going to obey Jesus’ commands to the church in Sardis. Sure, maybe this letter does not apply to us! Maybe we are awake and alive, maybe we are among the few who have not soiled their clothes. Maybe we are still sealed up safely within God’s household, our names written in the Lamb’s book of life. But just in case, we are going to wake up! We are going to strengthen what remains by remembering what we have received and heard, holding it fast, and repenting again and again. 

Okay then. In that case: what exactly have we just received and heard? What is the Good News that we must hold on to? 

Simply this: when the four horsemen — the four winds — sweep across the nations of this earth, when Death comes for each one of God’s children, they are not dragged down into darkness, they are carried upward into the garden of God’s presence. Why? Because, even before the four horsemen were released, every single one of God’s people were counted and sealed, their names written down in the Lamb’s book of life. 

We are going to keep on remembering this. We are going to keep on reminding one another to hold on! We are going to keep on calling one another to repentance. 

And, in closing here — and this is the really mind-blowing part — according to Jesus’ words in this letter, it is as we remember, hold on, and repent that we prove ourselves to be among those who are truly sealed. It is through the process of remembrance, faithfulness, and repentance that we wash our robes and make them white in the blood of the Lamb. 

So it is actually possible for us to have confidence, even in this life, that our names are written in the Lamb’s book of life. Yes, it is true that the dead do not know that they are dead, but they do prove to everyone else that they are dead by refusing to remember, hold on, or repent. And the reverse is also true: the living can know they are alive by testing themselves with these three questions: are we remembering? Are we holding on? Are we living lives of repentance? 

Friends, if our answer to these questions is yes, and continues to be yes, then we can be confident that we will arrive at our destination. 

And what will that be like? 

This is how the elder described it to John — and this is our closing benediction for today — [16] “’Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat down on them,’ nor any scorching heat. [17] For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; ‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’ ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’” 

And all God’s people said: Amen! 

That’s it. We are done. The results are in God’s hands now. 

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