All Saints’ Day “Following in Their Footsteps”
November 1st, 2020 – Revelation 7:9-17
Grace, mercy, and peace be to you from God our Father, and our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.
Do you ever think about death? Of course, you do it from time to time. What makes you think of death? Events like Halloween & Horror movies? When you do think of death, about what it will be like, do you think of the Hallmark aspects of it? Sitting on clouds playing harps? Do you think about the deeper aspects of it, like this idea of nothingness? How about the peace from the cares of this world that death promises? We can think about all of these common ideas about death, but what doe God shows us we can expect?
Jesus tells us the moment of death, we can expect to be in “paradise with Him.” Paradise and all that the word encompasses. However, we also hear in Revelation that in heaven, the Saints will be around the throne asking a question of God. They are asking “How long O Lord?” They are waiting for more than this paradise with God, but they are waiting for the grand finale of the resurrection and the final consummation of God’s plan of saving us from death. This would entail completely reversing death to the point that we stand on earth again in our bodies as we were initially created in a perfect world where we live forever.
As those who have died wait around the throne they ask the question, “How long?” but they also worship God for all He has done so far. They sing to Him the words which we join in and sing in This is the Feast, “Blessing, honour, glory and might be to God and the Lamb forever, Amen!”
People. A lot of people. People from all around the world from all times in history are joined together in one place around God’s throne as Saints worshipping. Parents, grandparents, great-grandparents. Husbands and wives who have died. Lost children. Adam and Even. Noah, and Abraham. Paul. Everyone who God has redeemed in Jesus.
Revelation says that all of these people are the ones coming out of the Great Tribulation. What Great Tribulation is this?
The world is filled with tribulation. We all suffer many things as God’s people did since the Fall. 1 John 3 says that the World, people who do not know or choose to not know, God, they do not know us either. We are foreign to them and we are treated as outsiders. Yet, Jesus says blessed are you when others persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Him (Matthew 5:11). Even worse, we are slaves to sin and death as Romans 6 points out. We are always tempted 1 Peter 5. So not only are we not known by the world, but we also are the biggest hypocrites because we suffer from sinning and suffer for being forgiven by God in Christ.
AS you all know, this life of a Christian is not easy. In fact, the harder you try to follow Jesus the harder life seems to get. It can make one ask the question, “Has anyone ever made it through?” Has anyone made it through life with the tribulations, and are now resting with God?
Many, of course, have made it through. These are the Saints. Many have struggled through trying to figure out what is right and wrong according to God. Many have lived with persecution, the light social out-casting and the outright torture and beheading for being a Christian. Many have struggled with their faith just like you. Many were baptized. Many have studied our Scriptures for their lifetime. Many have lived as the Holy Spirit has worked in them. Over time, people have been creative in their Christian life. Are you familiar with the bobo doll experiment? Children are shown to, on their own, naturally, find new and aggressive ways to beat on a blow-up hitting doll? The Holy Spirit working through us does the same thing in reverse. We find new and creative ways to love and show God’s love to our neighbours. God allows us the freedom to let our love shine in many different ways.
We have a whole host of people’s lives we can look back on and learn from as examples of faith to follow. Not perfect people with perfect lives. Not like Jesus. Sinful ones. More relatable ones.
We can look to their examples of humility, repentance, confession.
We can see how God gave all these people faith and hope amid everything they went through.
We can look at them and see God at work. Forgiving. Restoring.
Look to them and see where we are headed.
“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.”
Connected Through Baptism
Whether Saints are in Heaven with Christ, or still living on earth, they are in His care: All Saints children of God. As children, as a family, we eat a meal together. In the sacrament, heaven and earth merge with Jesus’ presence at the epicentre.
We are connected to All the Saints in heaven by our worship of God together. We sing “with angels and archangels and all the company of Heaven, we laud and magnify God’s glorious name.”
We are connected to the Saints because we are all clothed in white robes which have been washed in the blood of the Lamb. Our robes were dirty with sin. The blood of Jesus, the Lamb-sacrifice of God, cleanses our robes of all dirt of sin. Clothed in Christ through baptism. Gal. 3:27 You have a garment worthy of entry into heaven. Not just heaven but rising again too in the full restoration.
The Saints in Heaven are waiting. We Saints here on earth are waiting.
We pray with the Saints “How Long O Lord?”, and “Come, Lord Jesus.”
We all want restoration. Pray for the pain to go away. Arguments and fights to stop. Stupidity to cease. Insecurities to wash away. Families united.
We want no more tribulation and for it to be easy to bring people into the church.
It’s not easy now. It will not ever be easy. We are hated by the world. God says He sends us out as sheep among wolves (Matthew 10:16).
But we have a cloud of witnesses cheering us on. All who had suffered. All who are now free.
(Declarative) Live in this world as God’s children because it is where we live forever. We pray all the time “Thy Kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven.” We pray that we could live now, with at least a glimpse, of what it will be in the Resurrection.
Live as the resurrection has happened. Live like a Saint. Your sins have already been forgiven. God will forgive them over and over again your whole life just like every other Saint who has lived and still lives.
Follow in the footsteps of the redeemed as you yourself leave footsteps for the ones still to come to follow as they walk the hard path through this life of being a Saint in Christ.
In His name.