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Easter Sunday: The Resurrection in Revelation Print E-mail
Easter Season
Sunday, 08 April 2012

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Easter is about the defeat of death.  It is about Christís glorious victory over our greatest of enemies.  I do not have to tell you that death is unavoidable.  The life that you are now living will not continue forever.  I read an article this week about a pastor who was retiring.   A young pastor was visiting him as he was packing up his office and he told the young man to look in a particular box.  The box was full of folders with a name on each one.  The older pastor told him that that was all of the funerals that he had preached in his ministry, over 200 of them, and that he could not throw away the box because each folder represented a life. There is a good chance that a day will come when a pastor, perhaps me, has a folder in his office that represents your life.  The sobering truth is that each of us faces death.  And this is why Easter is so important, for in the story of Christís death and resurrection we find solid hope for future victory.

The New Testament has much to say about the resurrection of Christ and what it means for our lives.  Yet, one book in particular shows us the great power and hope of Christís resurrection.  The book of Revelation teaches us about the risen Lamb who has conquered death and it teaches us how His resurrection is connected to our own.  So then, what does the book tell us?

Jesus was raised from the dead (1:5, 1:18, 2:8, 5:6ff)

When Jesus was on the earth, He foretold His disciples that He would suffer and die and be raised from the dead on the third day (Matthew 16:21).  Each of the Gospels teach us that Jesus was indeed raised (Matthew 28, Mark 16, Luke 24, and John 20).  The Apostles proclaimed to any and all that Jesus was raised from the dead (Acts 2:24, 1 Corinthians 15, etc.).  The book of Revelation affirms that Jesus was crucified for our sins but was raised again from the dead.

Consider some passages.  Look at 1:5.  Jesus is described as the firstborn of the dead.  He died to free us from our sins by his blood.  He was buried in the ground and three days later He was raised the firstborn of the dead, meaning He is the first to be raised to such new life and the preeminent One over all of life.  Jesus speaks of this authority again in 1:17-18.  Look at that passage with me.  Jesus is the first and the last.  He is eternal.  He has always been and will always be.  He is the living one.  Yes He died, but now He is alive forevermore.  He did not stay dead.  He came back from the dead.  And what is the significance of this?  He tells us: I have the keys of Death and Hades.  Jesus has authority over Death and Hades.  Death has no power over Him.  He is in control of all our destinies.  Jesus encourages the Church in Smyrna with this truth.  Look at 2:8.  This Church faced severe persecution and some of the believers there would seemingly be killed for their faith in Christ.  Yet, Jesus encourages them by reminding them that He has already defeated death so they do not have to fear.  His resurrection over death is to be their hope as they face their own death.  The letters to the Churches were written to encourage them in their faith and perseverance.  Jesusí victory over death is a cornerstone to such faith and perseverance.

Finally, the throne-room scene in Revelation 5 shows that even though Jesus was slain for our sins, through His death He has conquered the grave, come back to life, and is worthy to open the seals of the scroll.  They are not worshipping a dead Lamb.  No, the Lamb who was slain has been raised victorious over the grave.  They are worshipping a Savior who is alive!

In all of this we see that the book of Revelation indeed affirms the truth that Jesus was raised from the dead.  He came in the flesh, lived a perfect life, died on the cross for our sins, and was raised on the third day.  The Lamb who was slain is the Lamb who reigns over death.

All will be raised from the dead (or death is not the end) (12:11-12, 14:13, 20:11ff)

Many doubt that anyone will ever be raised from the dead.  When the New Testament was being written, there were religious groups who did not believe in the resurrection (the Sadducees are one example, see Acts 23:8).  Paul argued against those who did not believe in the resurrection by pointing to Jesusí resurrection.  His argument is that if we do not believe in people being raised from the dead, then we cannot believe that Jesus was raised from the dead.  And if Jesus was not raised then we have no hope (1 Corinthians 15:12ff).  Many today do not believe that we will be raised from the dead.  They believe that death is the end, that there is no life after the grave.

But the book of Revelation makes it plain that death is not the end.  Over and over again we see people existing, living, after death.  Let me point out just a couple of examples.  First, look at 12:11-12.  The context of this passage is Satan being judged and thrown down to the earth.  We are told of people conquering over Satan by the blood of the Lamb.  Yet, the text goes on to say that these people loved not their lives even unto death.  In other words, even though they gave up their lives for Christ, they conquered over Satan and were not defeated in death.  How can this be if death is the end?  Look also at 14:13.  The context of this passage is the judgment of those who worshipped the beast.  We are told that any who do that will be judged and have no rest.  Yet, those who do not worship the beast, they will be blessed.  And this blessing is not just for this life, but for the life that will come after they die in the Lord.  The dead are blessed because they will be raised that they may rest from their labors.  So we see in this that existence extends beyond death for both the righteous and the wicked.  This point becomes crystal clear in the passage where John describes the white throne judgment (20:11ff), which we will look at in a moment.  Thus, these and other passages in the book of Revelation make it plain that all will be raised from the dead.

You will be raised to eternal life or eternal judgment (11:18, 20:4-6, 20:11ff)

Even though all will be raised from the dead, the book of Revelation also makes plain that all will not experience the same thing at resurrection.  We see this in the passage we just considered.  Those who worship the beast will be raised to eternal torment, while those who do not will be raised to blessing and rest.  Other passages teach this as well.  Look at 11:18.  After the seventh trumpet is blown, signaling the end of this age, we read again of the twenty four elders worshipping around the throne.  They praise God for His great power.  They also praise Him for judging the nations, those outside of Christ, and rewarding His servants.  Those who serve Christ and fear His name will be rewarded.  Those who did not will be destroyed.  Godís people will be raised for joy and blessing while His enemies will be raised for punishment and destruction.  We see similar ideas in 20:4-6, which we will be discussing more in the weeks ahead.

One final passage makes the coming judgment abundantly clear.  Look at 20:11-15.  This is what is called the ĎWhite-throne Judgment.í  What does the passage teach us?  First, it teaches us that all of the dead will be judged.  Again, death is not the end.  We all must stand before God on that Day.  All will be raised to face that judgment.  Second, it makes a distinction between those whose names are written in the book of life and those whose names are not.  Those whose names are written in the book of life, who have turned from their sinful ways and followed after Christ, obeying Him and worshipping Him, will be raised to new life.  Those whose names are not written in the book of life, those who rejected Christ and remained in their sins throughout their life will be thrown in the lake of fire.  In other words, on that Day, all will be raised and all will be judged, and all will be divided into two groups: those obedient to Christ and all the rest.  The only thing that will matter on that Day will be what you have done with Christ.  What you believe about His death on the cross and His resurrection will determine what happens to you at your own resurrection.  Those who have turned from their sins and obeyed Him, will be raised to eternal life.  Those who have not will be raised to eternal judgment.

So then, one question remains: to which will you be raised?  Have you turned from your sins and trusted in Christ?  Are you living your life in obedience to Him?  Are you following hard after Him as your Savior and Lord?  If not, then you will be raised to eternal judgment.  That is what this passage is teaching us.  Yet, the good news is that you can turn from your sinful ways and follow after Christ even this day.  By believing in Jesusí death for your sins and His resurrection from the dead, your eternal future can be changed from death to life, from destruction to blessing, from eternal punishment to eternal reward.  I plead with you: let today be the day of your salvation.  The only thing that will matter on that Day is the only thing that should matter today, namely what are you going to do with Jesus Christ?  Will you be raised to eternal life or eternal judgment?

The book of Revelation ends with a glorious description of the reward that will be given to all who believe in Christ.  Look at 21:1-4.  Because of the work of Christ, because of His victory over death, we are told that death shall be no more.  We celebrate Easter because Jesusí resurrection is the beginning of the end for death.  He laid death in His grave. 

As we close, let me encourage you to apply these truths in two specific ways.  First, we must battle against our obsession with the temporary.  We are consumed with our lives upon the earth.  Because of this we fail to recognize the truth of Christís resurrection, namely that this life is fleeting, that death is not the end, that we need to be focused on our lives to come.  Fight the distraction of the temporal by believing in the resurrection of Christ which guarantees the eternal.  And second, along those lines, live like eternity matters more.  Christ has promised to raise us up to eternal life with Him.  He has promised to give us victory over death.  What else matters more than that?  What else should we be spending the majority of our time on?  What else should receive our attention and devotion?  The resurrection of Christ, His defeat of death on our behalf, demands that we live with an eternal perspective.  So then, let us live like men and women who are going to be raised from the dead because we follow a risen Savior.  Amen.

1 The article can be found here: http://www.ordinarypastor.com/?p=10155.

~ William Marshall ~

Last Updated ( Tuesday, 17 April 2012 )

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