Three Words and a Blessing

Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

Revelation 14:6-13 | February 18, 2024 - Sunday Morning,

Sunday Morning,
February 18, 2024
Three Words and a Blessing | Revelation 14:6-13
Dr. Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor

Father, we always need Your help as we come to Your Word, in particular this morning for such a hard text that speaks to us a hard word about a certain judgment to come, but though it is a hard word, it is a necessary word and if we would heed its warning, it would be to us such unbelievable good news, that even now there is yet a way of escape, that the day of salvation is now and that the door is not yet shut. In fact, they are flung wide open that as we’ve just sung, if we would come, You would run to us and with open arms would forgive us and give us the sure promise of eternal life. So we ask, O Lord, that You would give us ears to hear all that You have to say to us in Your Word. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.

This passage that I’m about to read from Revelation chapter 14, verses 6 through 13, is, except for the very last verse, a dark and dire passage. There’s no way around it. Scripture has a meaning in each text and each text also has a certain mood and we flatten the contours of Scripture if we make every mood of the Bible the same. As if every mood is a word of judgment or every mood is just a giant bear hug of God’s grace. No, there are peaks and valleys.

This is one of those texts that if we are to be faithful to the meaning and the mood of Scripture, we have to come to grips with some hard things. Since this is a dire passage, let me start with what I admit is a bit of a dark and dire thought experiment.

Imagine that some terrible calamity were to hit us tomorrow and we would have advanced warning. I remember several years ago when there was that accidental advanced warning system that went out in Hawaii that incoming ballistic missile or some sort of catastrophic attack was on its way. I’ve only been to Hawaii once and happened to be there, not that exact time I’m grateful for but just a few days before, and my wife and I have often reflected what we would have thought if we had gotten that message come through on our cellphones, to seek shelter immediately. I said to my wife, I said, “I think I would have just thought surely this is an accident. This can’t really be happening. This really isn’t the end.” And as it turned out, that would have been right. It was an accident and it wasn’t the end.

But what if it was? What if we were given some advanced warning of some situation so dire, perhaps a lethal deadly pandemic even much worse than the one that we’ve endured, one that upon any sort of exposure you might be dead by the evening. There are stories like that from the pandemic, the Spanish flu, so-called of 1918.

What if we knew that something like that was coming? What is the message that we would need to hear? Or what is the message that you would want spoken to people that you love and care about? If somehow we knew that a bomb was falling a week from today, or that some infectious disease was so out of control that none of us had hope of life a few days from now? What kind of word would God want to speak to us?

This passage that I’m about to read is another one of those passages in Revelation. It’s hard to get the timing exactly right because so much of this is both present and future, it’s catapulting to the very end and yet this is not the very end but it’s telling us to look forward to the end, which in God’s timing the end may be in God’s watch a day, a year, a century, but it’s coming. His return and His judgment are coming soon.

So I ask the question, what would all of Charlotte need to hear if the end was imminent? Or what if it was not the end of the world as we know it but somehow God gave you or gave me some supernatural insight that the end of your life was coming and you know that it was just days or weeks away? What would God want to say to you? What would God want to say on the loudest speaker possible to this entire city if we knew that in the next week a bomb would drop and life would be over for all of us?

I told you, it’s a dire thought experiment, but this is a dire passage. We read here in Revelation 14 the message that I think God would want all of us to hear.

Listen as I read beginning at verse 6.

“Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead.”

So here’s the ancient equivalent of a text alert, an e-blast, a loudspeaker. You have an angel flying overhead.

“With an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people.”

And what is this message?

“He said with a loud voice, “Fear God and give Him glory, because the hour of His judgment has come, and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.” Another angel, a second, followed, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who made all nations drink the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality.””

““And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on the forehead or on his hand, he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of His anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.” Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus. And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!””

Here we have an answer to that dire thought experiment what would God want to declare to every people, tribe, language, and nation on the earth.

You know that when certain bombing campaigns take place, and if you have the warring parties thinking along humanitarian lines, they don’t hide themselves behind civilians but they warn civilians to get out of harm’s way. So they may drop leaflets or find other ways of communicating with people that says trouble is coming, destruction is coming, but there is yet a way for you to escape. This bomb that is going to drop, this destruction that is coming in the next days or hours hence does not have to be for you. If you would listen and flee there might yet be safety for you. That’s what this passage is about.

Notice a very clear outline. Three words and one blessing. Three words and a benediction. Three angels with the three words and then a voice from heaven telling John to write this benediction.

So here’s the first word, verse 6 and 7. It’s a word of warning. The message is very simple. You see it in verse 7, “With a loud voice he said ‘fear God and give Him glory.'”

If you know the Old Testament, you may recall that Ecclesiastes, which can be a very complicated book and vanity, vanity, all is vanity as the preacher there explores all of the various explanations for the meaning of life and he comes in chapter 12, verse 13 of Ecclesiastes, here is the end of the matter. After he’s tried the route of pleasure and work and personal hedonism, here’s the end: Fear God and keep His commandments. That’s what life is about.

So here the angel gives this word of warning – fear God and give Him glory because the hour of His judgment is coming.

Now many people, even if they heard that warning, would think, well, I’m not a very bad person. That’s nice for people who are really in the throes of absolute wickedness, but I’m just going about my business. I’m not a nasty person like some of those folks out there.

But remember Romans 1:25 tells us our great sin is exchanging the truth of God for a lie. That’s why it doesn’t just say, the warning is not “be nicer people, don’t be mean to each other.” No, it’s a little more profound than that – fear God and give Him glory.

We do not give God glory when we do not recognize who He is. We deny His holiness when we do not fear Him. We deny His splendor when we do not glorify Him. We deny His worth when we do not worship Him. We deny His true character when we do not honor the image of the invisible God in the face of Jesus Christ.

So realize, friends, our fundamental problem is not doing bad things or merely thinking bad thoughts. Our offense fundamentally is the rejection of God.

People don’t think of it that way. They think, well, I just am trying to be a nicer, better person.

But here in Revelation, we see the contrast of those who have the name of God written on their forehead or those who have the name of the beast. The peoples of the earth have treated the holy, one and only God of the universe as a light and trivial thing.

You don’t have to knowingly hate God in your hearts in order to be on the side of the beast. You just have to ignore Him.

What sort of husband would I be to my wife if I said, “I don’t hate you, I just don’t want to ever see you or consider you or talk to you or be with you.” Or if she did the same to me, said, “I don’t really feel anything.” That sort of trivializing, that sort of ignoring, is what unbelievers do to God.

So the warning is fear God and give Him glory.

Whenever this day of judgment, announced in verse 7, whenever there is a day of judgment, the day of the Lord it’s often call in the Old and New Testament, whenever it comes, it means fundamentally two things – salvation for the righteous and judgment for the wicked. That’s why the day of the Lord is, like we saw earlier in Revelation, remember the scroll that John ate and it was both bitter and sweet? Because that scroll, which unraveled has God’s plans for the world, is sweet for those who trust in Christ and it is a bitter word for those who don’t.

There is no way around it. This is a warning of God’s wrath to come.

One of the good things about getting older now that I’m so old is I can remember the same sorts of bad ideas and bad books that I read 20 years ago and then you read them again and they become a big thing and then everyone talks about it and you think, wait a second, I read this same thing, people saying this 20 years ago. And you know what? 20 years from now there’ll be another hot best-seller saying the same thing.

One of the perennial ideas that always resurfaces, at least in the last 150 years or so, is somebody who will tell you that we’ve really gotten the judgment of God wrong. You have made God out to be some big meanie and the fire and brimstone and sulfur and Jonathan Edwards Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God and it’s not like that at all, people will say.

The question is not what we have an appetite for as 21st century Americans, or wherever you may be from, but the question is what God in His Word has said, and this warning, and we’ll see it even further in the verses to come, is a warning of judgment. We can say we don’t like it, we can blame it on the Puritans, we can blame on the medievals, we can blame it on somebody else, but it’s right here in black and white in the Bible. It’s all over the Bible.

Psalm 1 – therefore the wicked will not stand in the day of judgment nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous for the Lord watches over the way of the righteous but the way of the wicked will perish.

You say, well, what about John 3:16. I’ve heard that often. God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. Amen. We believe that with all our heart.

Keep reading. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, that wasn’t the mission of Christ, but to save the world through Him. Whoever believes in Him is not condemned but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

Or Acts 17. In the past, Paul says, God overlooked such ignorance but now He commands all people everywhere to repent for He has set a day when He will judge the world with justice by the man He has appointed.

What do you do with that verse? On a certain day. It will be a day and it will happen. And on that day you can’t blame the Puritans or say that’s what, that was just from white evangelicalism, or that was just Reformed theology or Calvinist. It’s right here – on that day He’s appointed when He will judge the world with justice by the man He appointed.

Now notice in Revelation verse 6 calls this message, strangely enough, an eternal gospel. You say, well, that doesn’t sound like the Gospel.

I’m just reading one of these books this week that said what the Gospel really is about, this message of living a Jesus way and following the Jesus way of life and it’s the best way to live. Well, yes and amen, it is the best way to live and Jesus does call us to be disciples. But the word “gospel” can have a very narrow meaning, it can have a broad meaning. Here it has this broad meaning.

You say why is this gospel? I thought gospel was good news and here all the angel says is fear God, worship Him. Well, it’s good news because those who are worshiping God and who do fear God know that Jesus is returning. That’s good. But it’s also good news for the inhabitants of the earth who are disobedient. Why? Because they still have a chance. You still have an opportunity to fear God and give Him glory.

Just like the preaching of Jonah in Nineveh. You say, well, Jonah, wow, that was not a very good gospel message. All that’s recorded is “in 40 days Nineveh will be overturned.” Now maybe that was a summary and he really gave much more of it, but that’s all we’re told he says. You say, wow, talk about law and no gospel.

But implicitly, and maybe Jonah made it explicit and we’re just not told, but implicitly at least they understood if judgment is coming, even the Ninevites understood, maybe if we relent, maybe if we turn, maybe if we call out for mercy to this God, the destruction that has been warned will not fall upon us.

This angel with the everlasting Gospel, the eternal Gospel, is announcing to the world, there is only one name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved. This is the way. This is it. This Gospel. The angel. Remember, this is John, see verse 6, “I saw an angel.” This is his vision. So it’s not necessarily that the end of the world has three literal angels announcing this. Remember, this is a vision, just like we’ve seen a vision of beasts and dragons. So here he has a vision of an angel. It may be an actual angelic announcement, or, many commentators think, this is a vision which corresponds to an earthly proclamation. Many people, in fact, make a good argument that the angel of the church of Ephesus, the angel of the church of Smyrna, that those are actually the pastors of those churches. The word angeloi simply means messengers.

So it could be that what John sees as an angel in his vision actually corresponds on earth to the faithful proclamation of God’s Word, which is chiefly through the proclamation and the preaching of His Word but also secondarily it is through the gospeling that you do as His disciples in sharing this Word with others. Fear God and give Him glory.

Now that doesn’t mean that’s where you have to start. [knocking] “Hi, I’m from Christ Covenant. Fear God and give Him glory.” Next house. [knocking] “Fear God and give…” I mean, there are worse things actually, but that’s probably not… You start, you earn a hearing, you have a relationship, you have a friendship, you look for an open door, you practice hospitality… All of that.

But if all we ever do is just be good friends or all we ever do is just set a good example, and we never see like 2 Corinthians 5, “be reconciled to God.” That’s the hard part, but that’s the very part that people need to hear.

We have a lot of good doctors in this church and they would not be good doctors if they gave to all of us when we come in only the diagnosis that we want to hear. Hmm, so tell me, Pastor Kevin, what’s the matter? Oh, yes, you do need to drink more Mountain Dew. Very good. Yes, thank you. How many marshmallows and Lucky Charms? Well, more, you need more.

If they only told you what you wanted to hear, yes, smoke all you want, don’t exercise, you don’t have to lose weight, everything is fine. You wouldn’t have to go through all the years of training and medical school to just tell everyone everything’s fine. Thanks for coming and seeing me.

You wouldn’t be a good doctor, unless everything was fine, but if there’s a problem and you love someone and you can see it, you say it.

So it is with the most important things in life, and in eternal life, if I never give to you the warnings, I’m not being a faithful physician of souls. You’ve heard me say this before and I will say it now again – one of my deep and abiding prayers is that no one, no member at Christ Covenant Church can ever stand before God on that final day and say “no one ever told me there was a judgment to come.”

Now it could be you’re not paying attention, I can’t help that. But honestly, “no one ever told me.” There are lots, there are too many churches people can sit in year after year after year, some of you have stories maybe of being in those churches. Never hearing this warning, this very warning that the angel gives here – fear God, give Him glory. There is a judgment that is coming.

Look at the second word. It’s a word, that was a word of warning, here is a word of woe. Verse 8 – a second angel says fallen, fallen, is Babylon the great.

Now what is Babylon? Babylon is shorthand for this fallen wicked world. The first beast was really the perversion of the state, so this isn’t exactly the state. You might think of this as the system, or worldliness, whatever is broken and fallen and geared against God and toward immorality, that’s Babylon.

Now we’ll have much more to learn about Babylon in the chapters ahead because Babylon is likened to a prostitute. We see why at the end of verse 8, because the nations are drunk on the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality.

Now it’s not just that Babylon is marked by sexual sin, though it is, but sexual sin is also a kind of representation of all spiritual harlotry. It’s called Babylon because in the Old Testament Babylon swept in and they took the people of Judah into captivity and they had to live as exiles in Babylon. There did come a day, you can read about it in Isaiah , when the real Babylon fell, was wiped out.

Well, in the same way, we live as strangers and aliens, as exiles in the world. However much we want to make our nation to be influenced by Christian ideas and Christian principles, yet we must never forget that here we have no lasting city. Our lasting city is the one to come. We live as strangers, as aliens. We always life in the midst of Babylon, that is, a fallen world, a fallen place.

So do you understand what this second angel is communicating to us? Babylon is fallen. See, the people on the earth, maybe some people even in this room, we fool ourselves into thinking that all of these goodies in life, this way of the world, this way of sin and idolatry and adultery and all of this, this is going to last. You see the metaphor here – drunk on the wine of the passion of Babylon.

It’d be nice if temptation wasn’t appealing, wouldn’t it? It’d be nice if temptation wasn’t tempting, but then it wouldn’t be temptation. It’d be nice if sin wasn’t ever enjoyable, but it is enjoyable, at least for a time.

It’s like addiction. Addiction satisfies you at first then it becomes an addiction because what little bit you get then you need more and you need more of a hit and you need more explicit images and you need harder stuff and you need riskier behavior. And an addict will tell you that there is this love/hate with this thing that has control over their lives. I don’t want this, I don’t want to be an addict to sex or drugs or alcohol. I don’t want to be addicted to gambling. I hate it. Yet, I’m drawn to it compulsively. I can’t seem to put it away.

That’s the spirit of Babylon. The wine, the intoxication of her passion. We all come to points in our life, and maybe you’re at one this morning, where obedience to Christ seems very hard and very strange. There are times where even as Christians to obey Christ will feel unnatural, like this can’t be the right thing to do. To love a cheating husband, to forgive a bad wife, to refuse to nurture bitterness against your parents, to turn off the trash that’s in your ear or in front of your eyes. We come to those spots in our life where we do not want to be different than the world. We like living in Babylon.

That’s why this message, this word of woe, is what we need to hear. This Babylon will fall.

Are you and I living for a way of life that has already been judged, destined to be destroyed? Are you living for a city that has no foundations?

You remember when your kids, or when your grandkids now maybe are over and they want to build a big fort. I do admit I’m a bit of a grump with the big massive forts in the house. I say to my shame, I’m sure I like them when I was a kid, but you get all the couch cushions and you move the tables around and you get some blankets and you put books on top of them so they don’t fall off and you have this massive fort, this ramshackle fort put together and you go in there with flashlights and even this illustration means this is what I have later today, I’m putting it into their head, it’s my own fault, this massive fort and the thing is kids love the fort. Always ask, “Can I keep the fort another day? Please.” But you need to that sleep on and we don’t have anywhere to sit and the things a big mess, but they just want, “Can I live…” If you asked them, they would choose to live in the fort, they would make plans, the wedding in the fort, the college in the fort, they’re living, they’re just in the fort. This is life.

Of course, you know as adults there is no lasting city there. That’s fun for a moment. That fort is coming down. All I have to do is say the word, come through, and a whirlwind of parental grumpiness and the fort is over.

So you would be foolish to make plans for the rest of your life based on a childhood fort of couch cushions. Yet, adults, adults do this, as if the Babylon of this world and all the ways of the world are going to last forever. Let’s make our whole plans for all eternity as if this is going to last.

This is why it’s called good news, actually, that you might receive this word of warning and receive this word of woe lest we become intoxicated with the maddening wine of Babylon’s adulteries.

Then there’s a final word in the next paragraph, a word to the wicked. This calls, you see verse 12, for the endurance of the saints. We are called to endure, not despite the power of the wicked but because of the fury of God’s judgment to come. In other words, saints of God, hold on, judgment is coming.

Uses this familiar image of the wine of God’s wrath, verse 10, see it there? Drink the wine of God’s wrath poured full strength into the cup of His anger. Do you see the juxtaposition? If you want to live in Babylon and you just say pass it around, give me another gulp of all of the good stuff of Babylon, I’m going to get drunk on all of her adulteries, all of her immorality, the way of the world I’ll drink that down. God says, “Okay. If you’re going to drink of that cup, just know I have a cup for you to drink from,” poured full strength into the cup of His anger.

Psalm 75, verse 8 – in the hand of the Lord is a cup full of foaming wine mixed with spices. He pours it out and the wicked of the earth drink it down to the very dregs.

It is a drinking of judgment. That’s one image.

It’s also tormented, verse 10, with fire and sulfur. So the coming judgment is likened unto drinking a chalice of God’s wrath and here it is likened to fire and sulfur.

If you don’t like that image, it’s here in the Bible. You need to take that up with God because God has revealed to us what this judgment is like. Will it be literal fire and sulfur? I don’t know. This is a vision. But it’s described as fire and sulfur because it is as painful and as miserable as fire and sulfur. Notice, verse 11, the smoke of the torment goes up forever and ever.

It is a hard doctrine, we recognize that. Yet it is revealed to us here, the eternal conscious torment of the wicked. Because for all time their implacably opposed to God so He pours out His judgment.

Some have tried to soften this doctrine and some have used verse 11 in particular. They say, well, the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and this is likened as a kind of destruction, but perhaps it’s just the smoke. So their torment doesn’t last, but just the smoke goes up forever and ever. After all, doesn’t Isaiah refer to the destruction of Edom as the smoke rising up forever and ever and there it meant just a long time? So some have argued for a position that’s called “conditional immortality,” or annihilationism. It’s the view that says those who don’t go to heaven go to hell where they are annihilated, they’re literally destroyed, they simply cease to exist.

Most famously John Stott toward the end of his life argued for this position of annihilationism. You can see a certain appeal to it. Even though that’s bad news, that sounds a little more palatable. You either get all the good stuff of heaven or you just don’t get anything and you cease to exist.

Yet I don’t think we can come to that conclusion if we deal fairly with Scripture. This word, torment, basanizo in the Greek, is always used of conscious suffering, never for the removing of existence.

We read in Revelation 20:10 the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of burning sulfur where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown and there they are tormented day and night forever.

Jesus Himself, in Mark 9, says if you’re eye causes you to sin, pluck it out, it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell where the worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.

All of this imagery, smoke rising from their torment forever, a worm that never dies, a fire that is never quenched, gives us no grounds for concluding that the wicked simply cease to exist and are snuffed out and annihilated. But rather we must conclude with great soberness and gravity that the punishment of the wicked continues forever and ever.

Which is why this angel announces this Gospel, this chance, this opportunity, and as the third angel says, “If anyone worships the beast and its image he will drink from the wine of God’s wrath, the smoke of their torment will go up forever and ever.” It’s a painful, hard doctrine but it’s right here.

There’s another euphemism some of us like to talk about, hell is eternal separation from God. There’s a half-truth there. 2 Thessalonians 1:9 says that judgment is to be separated from the presence of God, but there the presence of God is His covenantal presence of blessing, His peace, His shining face. That’s what it means.

But sometimes we use the phrase, well, hell is just the absence of God’s presence, to sort of make hell sound more palatable, as if again hell is just you don’t have the good things of God’s blessing, you just don’t have His presence. Well, how is that even a warning to the non-Christian? If you’re a non-Christian here this morning and you don’t believe in God and you don’t worship God and someone says to you, “Here’s the warning, if you don’t believe in God now, you won’t ever get God?” “Okay, so? I’m already on that track.”

No, it’s not the absence of God as if God is not there in any sense. No, God’s holiness and glory is very much present for all eternity. Present in heaven for the everlasting joy of His saints and present in hell for the everlasting torment of the wicked.

Jeremiah 23:24 – Can anyone hide in secret places so that I cannot see him, declares the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth?

Psalm 139 tells us there is no place we can go to flee from God’s presence.

No, hell will very much be full of God and His justice and His righteous wrath.

We’ll see later in Revelation that heaven is a new creation, a literal new garden of Eden, and what happened to Adam and Eve when they sinned in the garden? Well, they were exposed. They became afraid, their nakedness was uncovered and they were expelled. They didn’t cease to exist but they were expelled from the presence of God as His blessing and they were made to walk east of Eden and now to live in the midst of the fear and the judgment of death.

Three words. A word of warning, a word of woe, a word to the wicked. Thankfully, that’s not the end of this passage. For there is a final blessing.

Verse 13 – “And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this”” and there’s a benediction. There are, we’ll find, actually seven benedictions in the book of Revelation. This is the second of them. The first is in chapter 1 verse 3. “From now on,” it says, now this is meant as an encouragement to future martyrs, to future Christians who will die before the Lord, so it doesn’t mean that this is a new way of existing but it’s an encouragement to all the faithful Christians in John’s hearing and here today and for all time, that if you die in the Lord, your life of faithfulness will not be a waste. No matter now insignificant you may seem to yourself, no matter how quickly you will be forgotten, and let’s be honest, all of us will be quite quickly forgotten by 99.999 repeating percent of the world.

But notice the good news – their deeds follow them. God will not forget. Their deeds will follow them and will be for all time in the glorious echo chamber of heaven redounding to their honor and ultimately to the glory of the God who saved them and transformed them.

So even in the midst of all this woe, there is the opportunity for blessing.

The cup, the cup of the wrath of God that the third angel warned about, can you think of another cup? Do you remember Jesus in the garden when He asked His heavenly Father, “Father, might this cup pass from Me?” Jesus understood what it was. Jesus was no liberal modernist theologian. He understood what this was. This was a cup of wrath. And He said, nevertheless, not My will but Yours be done.

So submitting Himself to the Father, He drank that cup of God’s wrath for His people, for His sheep, for His bride, for His Church, for all of you who will fear God and give Him glory. You need not drink the cup of the wrath of God because Christ has drunk from it already.

You need to run to Him. How are you going to experience true and lasting happiness? Because that’s what this is about. Blessed, I know it’s a very spiritual word, but happiness. Be true to yourself? Is that it? Make money? Spend money? Avoid aging at all costs, stay young, never grow old? Be famous, be loved, be feared, be powerful? How will you have true and lasting blessedness?

Here it is – die in the Lord.

Some of you, many of you, and some very recently have had the occasion to bury a loved one in the Lord, and may this be your great hope and comfort, that that loved one who died in the Lord is even now experiencing this eternal blessedness, that they are all the richer for though we mourn for them here on earth, because they belong to Christ. The question, the eternal question, is to whom do you belong? If someone, and I’ve said before, it’s not a visible mark on the forehead, it’s a spiritual mark, but if someone were to categorize your life right now, to whom do you belong, would you be confident that the people who know you best, your kids, your parents, your loved ones, your friends, would they say about you, oh, absolutely, written on the spiritual forehead of her life is the Lamb, is God the Father and the Lamb and the Spirit, that’s written.

Or might they wonder, there’s a lot of Babylon in her. He sure is enticed by those two beasts.

Because we all would like to think there’s some third options. I don’t really want… Do I have to be all in on this Jesus thing? I don’t want a beast. That sounds scary. Can I just kind of be normal?

You’ve only got two options. You’ve only got one of two names to be written across your forehead.

There’s a lot of judgment in Revelation and there’s more judgment to come, but we must deal with it because if you can stick with us for the next months, it is going to make Revelation 21 and 22 all the sweeter.

Notice here in closing this last line. With all of the cacophony of sound and activity and thunder and fire and all we’ve seen, there’s armies and locusts and pyrotechnics and dragons and beasts, with all of that don’t you love what the end of verse 13 says? That they may rest.

Yes, the Spirit says, at war now, but on the other side rest.

If you would give up on yourself now, you can have rest then. Even rest now in preliminary measure, this Sabbath rest, which we prefigure, looking forward to that great and glorious rest to come, rest from all the dragons, all the Babylon, all the beasts. But you have to give up. Don’t give up the fight against the dragon but you have to give up holding on to your own self, to die to yourself, that part of you that says I don’t need this warning, I don’t need these angels overhead. That’s for somebody else. That’s for somebody who didn’t grow up in the Church. That’s for some really bad person out there. Not me.

If you would but give up on yourself and give yourself over to Christ, then and only then can you know this benediction. What is your only comfort in life and in death? Your only comfort that I am not my own but belong body and soul in life and in death to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ.

Let’s pray. Father in heaven, we give thanks in His name that there is yet hope for any here who have wandered from the path, any within the sound of my voice, watching this online, some years from now pulling up seemingly by chance this sermon on the internet, who have not bowed the knee to Christ, who are mired in all of the maddening adulteries of Babylon. Would You set them free and give to us the rest and the hope and the only comfort that comes from Christ. We pray in His name. Amen.