Summary: Take your stand with the redeemed; otherwise, you will fall with the condemned.
A man in business for himself enjoyed so much success, he had to move to a bigger place. The move was rather burdensome, but it was nice to have a larger warehouse and a bigger sales office. So on the day of the grand opening a friend sent him some flowers to celebrate.
However, the order got mixed up at the florist shop, and the businessman received a bouquet that was intended for a funeral. It came with a card which read, “My deepest sympathy during this time of sorrow.”
When the businessman’s friend found out, he immediately went to the florist to demand and explanation. The florist met him outside the shop and was obviously upset. He said, “I am terribly sorry about the mix-up with the flowers, but I hope you will understand. Your situation is not half as bad as the one down at the funeral home. The folks there received your flowers accompanied by the card which read: BEST WISHES IN YOUR NEW LOCATION.” (Bible Illustrator)
What a great card for the funeral of a believer! When we as believers die, we move from a cramped, difficult situation to much larger and nicer quarters. The move itself may be burdensome, but the new location is out of this world.
Jesus said, “In this world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). Even if we go through a lot of pain in this life, even if we go through some tribulation, it will be worth it all when we get to glory.
If you have your Bibles, I invite you to turn with me to Revelation 14, Revelation 14, where we see a group of believers who will go through more pain and tribulation than any of us will ever experience in this life. In fact, they will go through the Great Tribulation itself; but on the other end, they will stand victorious with Jesus Himself and sing His praises. Look at it.
Revelation 14:1 Then I looked, and behold, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb (i.e., Jesus), and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. (ESV)
The 144,000 here are the same 144,000 Jewish believers that were sealed in Revelation 7. There, before the trials of the Tribulation got too intense, God set aside 144,000 Jewish believers for Himself. He sealed them with a special mark on their foreheads. He wrote His own name there to show the world that they belonged to Him, and to protect them from the evil one.
Then, during the Great Tribulation, Satan does everything he can to make their lives miserable. He starves them to death, as we saw in the last chapter. He persecutes them, and he kills them.
He is able to mutilate their bodies, but he cannot touch their souls. For here they are, all of them, standing with Jesus. Not a one of them is lost, and that’s what happens to the redeemed in any age. We who know Jesus will stand victorious with him no matter what happens to us on this earth.
Dan Richardson, a radiant believer and a godly man, lost his battle with cancer. At least that’s the way it seemed from the earthly perspective, as his body wasted away and died.
But there is a whole different story form the heavenly perspective. Here is the piece that was distributed at his memorial service: Cancer is so limited… It cannot cripple love, It cannot shatter hope, It cannot corrode faith, It cannot eat away peace, It cannot destroy confidence, It cannot kill friendship, It cannot shut out memories, It cannot silence courage, It cannot invade the soul, It cannot reduce eternal life, It cannot quench the Spirit, It cannot lesson the power of the resurrection.
Romans 8 says, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Romans 8:35-37).
We, who are the redeemed of the Lord, we, who are believers in Jesus Christ, we will stand victorious with Jesus in glory.
And we will sing with joy before the throne. That’s what the Tribulation saints will do. With a loud, booming voice, they will sing a new song in heaven. On earth, they sang a lament song of pain. But in heaven, they will sing a loud song of praise.
Revelation 14:2-3 And I heard a voice from heaven like the roar of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder. The voice I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps, and they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. (ESV)