Wednesday, October 20, 2021

53. The Revelation - The Saints of God (Revelation 14:12-13)


THE SAINTS OF GOD (Revelation 14:12–13)

The most startling pronouncement of blessing in all of Scripture is found in Rev. 14:13. Amazingly, this second of seven Revelation beatitudes (Rev. 1:3; 16:15; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7, 14) pronounces blessing on the dead. Such a thought is incomprehensible to most people, who view death as something to be avoided.

Why are these dead blessed? The answer the beatitude presents is twofold: The dead in view here are blessed because of how they lived and because of how they died.

How They Lived

"Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. "(Rev. 14:12)

The phrase “the perseverance of the saints” introduces one of the most important teachings in Scripture. All those God has elected, called, and justified will never lose their faith, but persevere until death. That reality provides assurance to every true believer in Christ. It reveals that believers’ deaths are blessed because death ushers them into the glories of heaven.

The persevering character of saving faith is never more clearly and powerfully seen than in this passage. No group of believers will face stronger assaults on their faith than the tribulation saints. This large group of believers will include both Gentiles (Rev. 7:9) and Jews (Rev. 12:17). They will be saved through the ministries of the two witnesses (Rev. 11:3–13) and the 144,000 (Rev. 7:1–8; Rev. 14:1–5). The tribulation believers will endure the most intense persecution in human history. Yet God will set a limit on the tribulation so that the elect will not suffer more than they can bear (1 Corinthians 10:13). There is no stronger evidence that saving faith perseveres than the reality that the most tested believers in history will maintain their saving faith until the end.

The perseverance of the tribulation saints will be evident because they will “keep the commandments of God.” They also will manifest perseverance through “their faith in Jesus.” Even the threat of execution (13:15) will not cause them to abandon their faith in Christ. Like the heroes of faith listed in Hebrews 11, they will maintain their testimony until the end—even if that end includes martyrdom.

How They Died

"And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, “Write, ‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!’ ” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with them.” (Rev. 14:13)

Having lived with perseverance, the tribulation saints will die with promise. This is the sixth time in Revelation that John heard a voice from heaven (Rev. 10:4, 8; 11:12; 12:10; 14:2). He will hear such a voice three more times (Rev. 18:4; 19:5; 21:3). The voice commanded John to write. Twelve times in Revelation John is told to write. The apostle was under a divine mandate to record the visions he saw.

The heavenly voice ordered John to write, “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord.” These martyrs are blessed not only because they lived life to the fullest in obedience, trust, and purpose, but also because they died in the Lord. Even if there were no heaven, that would still be the best way to live. But there is heaven to follow this life for God’s people; therefore the deaths of the tribulation saints will also be eternally blessed. The voice informed John that not only those already dead, but also those who die from now on are blessed. The martyred believers from that point until the end of the tribulation will have nothing to fear. Their deaths, too, will be blessed.

The Holy Spirit is quoted directly in Revelation only here and in 22:17. His emphatic “Yes” shows that He agrees with the heavenly voice that the dead are blessed. As their Comforter, the Holy Spirit longs to see that suffering end. He adds two further reasons for the tribulation martyrs’ blessedness.

First, the Spirit declares them blessed because they may “rest from their labors.” The Greek word translated “labors” describes difficult, exhausting work. Certainly the tribulation saints will experience the whole gamut of that word’s meanings. They will be filled with deep sorrow as they watch those they love suffer torment and death. Their lives will be a hard, difficult, dangerous struggle for survival. Not having the mark of the beast, they will be excluded from society, unable to buy or sell, and live lives on the run as hunted fugitives. Death will come as a welcome relief.

The Holy Spirit also pronounces the tribulation martyrs blessed because “their deeds follow with them.” The Greek word for “deeds” refers to their service to the Lord. When these believers go to heaven, the record of their diligent labor will follow along with them. The Bible teaches that God will reward believers in heaven for their earthly service to Him (Hebrews 6:10).