Bethlehem Lutheran Church & Bethel Lutheran Church, Lebanon & Sweet Home, OR
All Saints Day (observed) – November 5, 2017
Text: Revelation 7:9-17
“After this I looked, and behold”: For now, faith and sight are now distinguished from each other.
We know that God is good, that He loves us, and that He has brought us into His Kingdom.
But all that we see is evil, hatred and rejection, and an ever-increasing discord among the kingdoms of the world.
How do we know that God is good? Of His mercy? That He has a bright future for us? John was given a vision of it, but we must hear His Word
John 20:29 – “Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
Luke 11:28 – “Blessed are those who hear the Word of God and keep it.”
Psalm 119:105 – “Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” And 2 Peter 1:19: “We have something more sure—the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts”
The Lord actually rebukes us if we are too eager to end this time of faith and hearing: Matthew 12:39: “An evil and adulterous generation seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.”
God’s sure message for faith comes in His Word (and nowhere else). How often have people fallen into despair because they thought they were a lost cause, that God didn’t exist, or even if He does that He doesn’t love us because of what’s happened—all based on their experience instead of the Word.
When we dwell on His Word, what our eyes see disappoint and saddens, because we see how it’s meant to be and how far it is from perfect. The more you are in the Word, the less at home you will feel in this world, and the more you will long to be with the Lord. You will feel like a stranger, but at home whenever you are with God. Yes, you’ll long to be with Him face-to-face, but you’ll also have a longing to be with Him where He promises—in hearing His voice in the Scriptures, and reclining at table with Him in Communion.
What our eyes see in the here and now can wear us down. When we lose someone to death, when we see people who we thought were Christians and friends betray us, and when we see the enmity of the world increase—these things wear out our eyes and fill them with tears.
If we grow weary of waiting, we begin to look for our hearts delight in what our eyes do see. Wouldn’t it just be easier to give up longing and be satisfied with enjoyment of this life? Do everything possible to fill our coffers and live an easy life now! Live like our unbelieving friends and neighbors who have no concerns about sin or eternity, but only if they’re happy.
What’s more, our ears can become dull of hearing. It can become too comfortable or familiar to hear the Word of God that we no longer actually listening it. It’s like going through the liturgy without actually listening. Then we bemoan worship and say it isn’t exciting or novel.
Hear anew the Word which calls each of us to repent of our weary eyes and dull ears! John’s vision in Revelation was specifically given for Christians who have lost their heavenward focus. So the Lord gave this visual confirmation of His Gospel. We hear of God’s Kingdom, but here is the vision of it:
9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
Let God’s trustworthy Word breathe new life and hope into you. He hasn’t changed, and the kingdom and future He has for you has not gone away even if you don’t feel it as strongly as you may have before. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” (Col. 3:16) God does provide you with the strength you need to press on—in His Word, in the gift of the Holy Spirit, in the Lord’s Supper.
This future is on the horizon for you and all believers:
13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming 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.
16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
the sun shall not strike them,
nor any scorching heat.
17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
Every believer is pictured in that great multitude, and even though our lives may look pretty mundane, our life of faith is a great struggle, but we will come through it by the Blood of the Lamb, Jesus our Savior.
The people who walked by the light of God’s Word will dwell in the light of the Lord. In eternity: Revelation 22:5: “They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light.”
When faith becomes sight, those eyes which have shed tears will be comforted.