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Prayer Meeting - January 9, 2019

Here is the perseverance of the saints who keep the commandments of God
and their faith in Jesus. And I heard a voice from heaven, saying, “Write,
‘Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on!’” “Yes,” says the
Spirit, “so that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow with
them. (Rev 14:12-13)

The idea of “blessed are the dead” is a bit unique. Our culture wants to avoid death.
In fact, our motto might be, “Cursed are the dead.” But hardly could we hold up a flag
for “blessed are the dead” and expect to start much of a movement. But the text of
Scripture says, “Blessed are the dead.” Happy are the dead. That reality sounds
exactly opposite what people would commonly believe. Blessed are the living sounds
more reasonable and more appealing.

Now the word “blessed,” very common word in the New Testament, makarios,
means happy. It refers to religious joy or spiritual joy, bliss, deep-down fulfillment,
satisfaction. It refers to an inner joy that is the fulfillment of every longing, a serene,
untouchable, unassailable contentment and peace.

As in the Psalms, when you come into the New Testament, there are many more
blessings. There are beatitudes scattered around Matthew and Luke and John.
James writes in 1:12, “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial.” There are
seven such beatitudes in the book of Revelation. The first one was in 1:3, “Blessed is
he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy and heed the things
which are written in it for the time is near.” Then in chapter 14, we come to the
second blessing here in the book of Revelation, which we just read, “Blessed are the
dead.”

And the question immediately comes, “Why is it such a blessing to be dead?” Two
reasons are given in this text when it comes to saints. First reason, because of how
they lived. And second reason, because of how they died. Verse 12 discusses how
they live, and verse 13 discusses how they died. They live with perseverance and
they die with promise.

The perseverance of the saints is based on the fact that God promises it and brings
it to pass by His infinite power which guarantees that this happens. God promises
that the faith that saves lasts to the end. “The steps of a man are established by the
Lord, and He delights in his way. When he falls, he shall not be hurled headlong
because the Lord is the one who holds his hand. I have been young, and now I’m
old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken.” (Psalm 37:23-25)

They’re blessed not only because of how they live, but look at verse 13, also by how
they died. They lived with perseverance, they died with promise. “Blessed are the
dead.” Blessed are the martyrs like Antipas in 2:13, blessed are the martyrs under
the altar in 6:9-11, blessed is that innumerable congregation in chapter 7 who have
persevered to the end and died in the Lord with a promise of rest and reward.

Like the worn mariner, wearied with his long and painful endurance of the tempest
and dangers of the sea enters the calm port or home. Like a wounded soldier
mutilated, scarred and sick from the miseries of deadly battle comes back from the
fields of blood to lie in the peace and safety of his own house. So ten thousand times
more do these saints rest when they go home to glory and the Spirit says YES, let
them rest. Does that give you the sense that the Spirit of God loves us and longs for
us to enjoy the best? The damned never ever forever will rest, that’s what it says in
verse 11. Their torment goes up forever and ever and they have no rest. But
Christians rest.

There’s a second reason why they are blessed in death. Not just rest but reward, at
the end of verse 13. “For their deeds follow with them.” God’s not going to forget
your service. When you go to heaven the record of your service is going with you.
You’ll not only have rest, you’ll have reward. You’ll have reward. That’s the promise.
My, what a wonderful, glorious promise! –John MacArthur, excerpts from sermon
“Blessed Are The Dead”