“For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; He will lead them to springs of living water.  And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”  Revelation 7:17; All Saints Sunday; 11/3/19

Grace…

We all need something to look forward to in life.  It may be a meal in which you’re looking forward to getting together with friends.  It may also be a family gathering.  It may be an outing like a football game or a game of hockey that you are going to go to cheer your team on to victory.  It may be a musical or some other kind of artistic kind of outing.  It may be a favorite show on tv.  It may also be a weekly choir practice or a Bible study.  We all need something to look forward to.

Because life, as we know it, gets pretty hard.  Sometimes it’s the monotonous, day in-day out type of thing, that we sometimes feel drones on and on.  Some of you, may feel like your school, work, or life, is the same thing day after day after day.  But, sometimes life’s so much tougher than that.  We hear news of storms roaring through areas and people losing their homes and belongings.  We hear of violence that erupts and there seems to be no easy answer.  We hear of layoffs and loss of jobs.  We hear of sickness, and news of long periods of treatments.  And then we hear of death, and sometimes it’s even the death of a loved one.  It’s not very easy.  Not very fun at all.  Where is the good news in all of this?

Well, today God’s Word in the Book of Revelation gives us something great to look forward to.  In fact, it gives us a victory song!  Over the past several weeks here at Trinity, we’ve been going through the letters to the Churches in the Book of Revelation.  But, today we dig even further into the book.  And as we do, it’s important that we understand a few things about the book.  First, the book of Revelation was inspired by the Holy Spirit to the Apostle John, while John was exiled on the island of Patmos.  Second, through this Revelation, John was able to see the full scope of history.  He was, in fact, able to see behind the curtain of what God was really doing in the world and also behind the scenes. And third, it’s important to understand that the book was written during a time of great persecution.  Christians were being beaten, thrown in jail, and killed for the faith, because they would not bow down and worship the emperor, Domitian.

So, the Apostle John wrote what he saw and heard about the truth of what God was doing, even though Satan and the culture of the world were warring against Him.  Our God is victorious.  He has conquered the devil and the world through His almighty Son, Jesus Christ, and has given the ultimate victory in heaven to those who believe in Him. This victory is definitely something to look forward to!

So, come along!  Let’s listen and look forward to this together.  John writes, “After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.  They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.  And they cried out in a loud voice:  Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne and to the Lamb!” John sees a great multitude of believers, larger than anyone could count standing before the throne of God.  They were from every nation, tribe, people, and language.  What an amazing multi-ethnic event.  People from all around the world, every walk of life.  And they were wearing white robes.  White, the color of righteousness, and innocence.  And they were holding palm branches, a symbol of victory, and shouting out in a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne and to the Lamb!”  What a sight!  What a sound!

Those palm branches bring up memories of another time.  It was a time that John described in his Gospel.  A time where people had gathered together in Jerusalem.  They were preparing to celebrate the Passover.  And there in the distance came a humble man, riding on a donkey into the city.  This was no majestic stallion or war horse.  It was a beast of burden, a humble donkey.  The people had heard of His mighty teachings, His healings, His miracles, and yes even raising the dead.  They had great hopes for Him.  Some, even thought that He would overthrow the hated Roman overlords.  And they went out to meet Him, and waved palm branches, saying to Him, “Hosanna, blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the king of Israel.”(John 12:13)

And yet it sure didn’t seem like a victory song for long.  The Pharisees, the scribes and the ruling council, schemed to oppose Jesus.  They even developed a plan to capture Him, and bring Him to trial.  They didn’t want the forgiveness, peace, and life that He promised.  So they brought Him before Pilate, with false charges.  And although Pilate wanted no part in it, he had Jesus bound over to be flogged and crucified.  It sure didn’t seem victorious.  The suffering, the nails, the agony.  Yet, through it all, God’s plan was being fulfilled.  Jesus, the Lamb of God’s, suffering and death was the payment in full for all the sins of the whole world, and from the cross He announced it to the world.  “It is finished!”  The debt had been paid.  And by His rising from the dead on the third day, Jesus won the victory for all who believe.  Satan, sin, and death have been defeated, for in Jesus we have triumphed.  We can join in with the angels and the elders around the throne singing, “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God forever and ever.  Amen!”  It’s so beautiful, and definitely something to look forward to!

But for so many of us, life is so very hard.  The discouragements of life seem to truly mount up at times. We have a hard time singing a victory song.   Every day we hear and see things that are not like they should be.  Children not being raised in love.  Families fighting, and husbands and wives just giving in and giving up.  We see people suffering, and loved ones getting sick and even dying.  “It is what it is”, they say.  And it seems as if there’s nothing but a sad song, like a dirge in life.

But, we need to remember and hold firm to the victory song of heaven, the truth revealed in Revelation.  The truth that is said before the throne of God.  The truth about the believers who praise God around the throne.  The truth that states, “Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst.  The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat.  For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; He will lead them to springs of living water.  And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Dear brother and sister in Christ, dear saints, through faith in Jesus.  Perhaps this past year or these past few months have been very tough for you.  Our hearts, my heart, goes out to you in true Christian sympathy and love.  We want to say to you that we are your brothers and sisters in faith, and will stand with you as your friends in your time of loss.  God’s Word also wanted to point you to your Greatest Friend , as Paul says in 2nd Corinthians, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles…”(2 Cor. 1:3-4) And even further God’s Word wants to help you rejoice in the victory song that is ours through faith.  Jesus has won the victory.  He is the Lamb at the center of the throne.  He will lead us to the springs of living water where we will be fully comforted.  And God will wipe away every tear.

Maybe it’s not you right now, but maybe you have a loved one, or someone you know who is going through a particularly rough time.  Maybe there are struggling through a situation in life where it seems like everything is going against them.  It’s really powerful to know that another person cares.  Maybe you can reach out to them and simply be a friend by listening to them.  Sometimes people just need to talk.  Maybe you could send a card to them or something as simple as a text message.  This is where the saints of God, become a communion, a communion of saints, a church that cares for others, and lets them know that God loves them, sent His Son Jesus for them, and promises a Victory Song in heaven for them!

God grant it…