Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Revelation of Man's Destiny

Part 20 of a series through the book of Revelation

Text: 14:1-20

BEYOND YOUR WILDEST DREAMS

This month we traveled to North Conway, New Hampshire for a family vacation. Traveling can be difficult if the kids are fighting in the back seat, or they’re asking every five minutes, “Are we almost there?”, or the baby is crying, or you get lost, or your car gets a flat tire. (Fortunately, we avoided most of these difficulties.) Following Christ is like a journey.

Following Christ can be a difficult journey, but the destination will be rewarding beyond imagination.

Then I looked, and behold, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads (v. 1).

The 144,000 (cf. 7:1-8) give us two ways to view our commitment to Christ. First, we are committed to Christ as His army. A “good soldier,” according to 2 Timothy 2:3-4, does not get involved in “the affairs of this life” (NLT) but always seeks to “please his commanding officer” (NIV). Second, we are committed to Christ as His bride.

IN WHAT ARE YOU TRUSTING?

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” (v. 7).

Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great, she who made all nations drink the wine of the passion of her sexual immorality” (v. 8).

People make one of two choices: either they trust in the gospel, or they trust in substitutes. The first commandment states, “You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3). An idol is a substitute for God. The substitutes (money, power, fame, etc.) don’t satisfy.

The gospel is “eternal” (v. 6), but Babylon is “fallen” (v. 8). Babylon could be seen as symbolizing man’s self-reliance. (The number of the beast, 666, symbolizes man’s incompleteness without God.) In Daniel 4, King Nebuchadnezzar said to himself, “Is not this great Babylon, which I have built by my mighty power...?” (v. 30), and was humbled by God.

If you trust in substitutes, you will be disappointed in the end. Jesus said, “What profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?” (Matthew 16:26).

As Christ’s army and bride, idolatry is betrayal. As Christ’s army, we must not betray our leader. As Christ’s bride, we must not betray our true love. “Sexual immorality” (v. 8) probably symbolizes idolatry (spiritual adultery).

WHAT IS YOUR DESTINY?

“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” (v. 11).

“Write this: Blessed are the dead who dies in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!” (v. 13).

People have one of two destinies: either heaven, a place of eternal rest and reward or hell, a place of eternal unrest and punishment.

When we traveled to North Conway, there were many possible routes we could have taken (the shortest route, the scenic route, etc.). Are there different routes to heaven? No. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6). “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

My children found the trip long, but there were willing to endure it because of the destination: Story Land—and amusement park for kids. In the journey of life, there is a destination! The journey might be difficult, but the destination (heaven) is rewarding beyond imagination.