Sermon – All Saints’ Day – November 1st, 2019
Text: Revelation 7:9-17 – “Who Can Withstand?”
War, conquest, famine, death, persecution, judgement. All of this is the context of reading from Revelation this morning. All of these things are predicted to happen between Jesus’ death and when He returns again. All of this evil. All of this bad.
Amid all of this evil, we come to chapter seven in the book of the Revelation. Chapter seven is where our text this morning comes from and it is chapter seven which answers the big question chapter six leaves off with. What is the big question chapter six ends off with? Chapter six ends with “for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can withstand it?”
Who can withstand the day of wrath? Who can withstand the Day of the Lord? Who can withstand the judgement day?
All who can withstand this great and terrible day are those who do not have to endure its punishment. All who endure this coming day are those who are perfect. Are you perfect?
Hear the reading of the Lamb opening the six scrolls of the apocalypse from Revelation chapter six. Hear the intensity. Hear the weight of the Day of the Lord that is coming:
“I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, “Come!” 2 I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest.
3 When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” 4 Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make people kill each other. To him was given a large sword.
5 When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. 6 Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, “Two pounds[a] of wheat for a day’s wages,[b] and six pounds[c] of barley for a day’s wages,[d] and do not damage the oil and the wine!”
7 When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” 8 I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth.
9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. 10 They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” 11 Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters,[e] were killed just as they had been.
12 I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, 13 and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. 14 The heavens receded like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.
15 Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. 16 They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us[f] from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! 17 For the great day of their[g] wrath has come, and who can withstand it?”
Thus ends the reading.
My grandfather who just died was a baptized child of God, who was in church every Sunday, an Elder, regularly was fed and nourished by Christ’s body and blood. He believed in many very strange and different things. He believed in many things that directly went against the Word of God. He believed in things about God and heaven which are found in various different Eastern religions. He believed in hidden powers that can heal the body and mind when called upon. He believed in manifesting good with positive thinking and warding off evil with rocks, oils, or by following a path of higher enlightened thinking. He believed in some very different things; some of which I know some of us even believe in.
When it comes to the great judgement day, what do you think, will he be able to withstand it?
When you wake up on Sunday morning and think, “I really don’t want to go to church because… I don’t think I agree with what is being read… or …I really don’t like the people who are going to be there… or … I hate that one person who is at church… or … It’s so boring I would rather stay in bed or watch TV or just look out the window at nature instead and worship that way… When you treat the Sabbath Day, God’s Word, your neighbour, God Himself like this – when it comes to the great judgement day, what do you think, will you be able to withstand it?
Someone who is guilty of breaking one simple small tiny detail of God’s Law is held accountable and guilty of breaking the whole thing. Don’t get me wrong here, when I stand up here in front of you and tell you this, I am not saying I’m innocent of all of it and this message is only for you in the pew. When it comes to the great judgment day, will I be able to withstand it? Will any of us be able to withstand it?
You know the answer as well as I . . . Yes!
We won’t be able to withstand the day of the Lord because we always love our neighbour or cherish the Sabbath day by gladly hearing God’s word, or always loving our neighbours, or have our theology just right and always trust in what God tells us. If the day of judgement was about these things, there is just no way we would be able to withstand it.
In fact, if our ending was dependent on all of the things we do – how could we even withstand living life, right now. How could we get up in the morning and endure getting out of bed as our body aches and ages ever coming closer to our inevitable death? How could we look in the mirror and love ourselves when we can see how much hate for other people we have in our hearts? How could we go through each day enduring injustice and aggression towards us? How could we watch the news and see all the evil and carry on in this life seeing the signs of the end-times reigning down destruction on us?
If right now is so unendurable, how can we not be led to take our own lives over the pain we suffer? – especially because the government is making it so easy for us to take our own lives?
We endure the now knowing that it is not us and our actions and beliefs which are able to withstand the day of the Lord. Who can endure that day? Let’s look at what our reading for today; let’s see what Revelation chapter seven has to say.
The ending is being held back until all of God’s people can be marked with His seal. How many are being marked to withstand the judgement? Reading this in light of the book of Numbers we see that it is a military count of all of God’s people. John hears the number of those who will be sealed with God’s seal. John hears the number, but then he looks and sees “a great multitude that no one could count” all clothed in white robes standing before the throne of God with palm branches worshipping Him.
What does this all mean? Our baptism is God’s seal on us which marks us as His own. It is this seal which gives us the definitive answer to the question of “will we be able to withstand the day of the Lord?” It is YES because God has clothed us in sinless-white and made us perfect in the blood of the Lamb.
We withstand the persecution, and death, and destruction now because we have been sealed by God and marked for eternal life with Him. We, who are living on earth, are a part of His military count. We are His Church Militant as we follow in the Lamb’s footsteps proclaiming God’s love by our lives of love, proclaiming His Word, and dying sticking to God’s unpopular message.
We will withstand the day of the Lord and be clothed in white robes because of Him who died for us. We will come out of the great tribulation singing praises to our God. As chapter seven ends we hear about what life as the throng of saints will be like in heaven. We hear and think of the life those who died in the faith now live and the hope we have to live and endure with, in this time of trial. Chapter seven ends with a quote from the prophet Isaiah which says All of the Saints:
“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 ‘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.”
May this hope of the future for you now, reminder of the life of those who have died in Christ, and the amazing message of God’s love and forgiveness which is given to us in our baptism, keep and guard your hearts and minds until the day of the coming of our Lord Jesus.