#123 "Blessed Hope"
November 27, 2007
"Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near." (Revelation 1: 3)
From Parade magazine comes the story of self-made millionaire Eugene Land, who greatly changed the lives of a sixth-grade class in East Harlem. Mr. Lang had been asked to speak to a class of 59 sixth-graders. What could he say to inspire these students, most of whom would drop out of school? He wondered how he could get these predominantly black and Puerto Rican children even to look at him. Scrapping his notes, he decided to speak to them from his heart. "Stay in school," he admonished, "and I'll help pay the college tuition for every one of you." At that moment the lives of these students changed. For the first time they had hope. Said one student, "I had something to look forward to, something waiting for me. It was a golden feeling." Nearly 90 percent of that class went on to graduate from high school.
A golden feeling...hope. Something to look forward to...something waiting for me...hope. I don't know about you, but I think that life can be a big, fat bully. Trials and tribulations, problems and circumstances, can beat us up and leave some very painful bruises on our hearts. And like a child who gets beat up on the playground and knows that running to Mom and Dad will make it all better, we need to know that there is somewhere to run where there is hope. We need to know that there is more to life than this. Whatever your "this" may be. I don't know about you, but couldn't we all do with some hope today?
I have been studying the book of Revelation in the Bible for the last couple of months. It is a difficult book to say the least. I don't think that any book of the Bible has been so highly debated, has produced more interpretations, or caused as much debate among scholars, as this final book in God's Word. You may take the book literally, historically, symbolically, or futuristically. You may be pre-Trib, mid-Trib, or post-Trib. You may be premillenial, amillenial or postmillenial. My purpose today is not to teach the right interpretation, or to change your mind if I don't agree with you. I believe that I saw something today in this wondrous passage of Scripture that will land a few blows on the bully and send him running home to mama. Jesus Himself has given us hope and a vision to heal the wounds that life so brutally inflicts.
In the very first chapter of Revelation, in the third verse, Jesus Christ says that we will be blessed if we read the words of this prophecy, hear it and take it to heart. I've read that verse many times over the years and often wondered what kind of blessing I would receive just from reading Revelation. Would I be blessed in health? Would my finances prosper? Would my children all come to know the Lord? Would there be peace in my home? What would that blessing be? The Amplified Bible says that I will be "happy, to be envied" if I "heed them [the words of this book], laying them to heart." First of all, I can't just read the book and get the blessing. That's just abracadabra and kind of spooky. The key is to take it to heart.
After spending weeks reading Christ's messages to the seven churches, visualizing with John the seals, trumpets, and judgements of God on the earth and watching the demise of the dragon (Satan), the beast (Antichrist) and the false prophet, I came to the awesome climax of the story. The Rider on the White Horse, called Faithful and True comes on the scene. (Revelation 19:11) Jesus Christ rules and reigns on earth for a thousand years, Satan and his minions are thrown FOREVER into the lake of burning sulfur (Revelation 20) and then ... there it is...this is better than any suspense thriller you have ever read!
This is only my opinion, mind you, but I believe that I found the "blessing" of Revelation 1:3 today. And I believe it is found in Revelation 21: 1-5. Listen: "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true."" So I ask...Are you getting it yet? The blessing of Revelation 1: 3 is HOPE! When you read the book to the end and take it to heart....there is hope. Something to look forward to. Something waiting for you. It's a golden feeling...hope.
The old order of things will pass away. Your disease is the old order. Your poverty is the old order. Your loss is the old order of things. There will be no death. You will never lose a loved one again. You will never mourn or cry or experience the pain that you are feeling right now. All of your tears will be wiped away and you will never cry again. My precious friend, today's hurt and pain is NOT all there is. There is a bright and glorious future to look forward to. To give you hope. And that's the blessing of the book of Revelation...at least for me.
The last few days have been hard. My family has suffered loss and hurt, pain and uncertainty. We have gone through a roller coaster ride of emotion. But...this is NOT all there is. We have a Blessed Hope in Jesus Christ, our Lord, who is the Glorious Victor over it all. We can endure today because of our vision for tomorrow. I can dare to dream about tomorrow. And maybe that's why I am "to be envied". Because I can look the trials and tribulations and hurt and pain square in the eye and still have hope. There are many more chapters in this story we call life. If you have trusted Jesus Christ to be your Lord and Savior, today, you have this same hope. You can send the bully back home. You can endure today because you know what the future holds. The Rider on the White Horse, the one whose name is Faithful and True says that He is making all things new. He says, "It is done." There is the blessing of the book of Revelation. Blessed Hope. He is coming soon. And in His own words, "These words are trustworthy and true."
Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.
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