Responsive Reading: Revelation 19:1-10
Key Verse(s): Revelation 19:6-7
Background Scripture: 1 Corinthians 15:50-58; James 1:12-18
In the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, we are shown a future picture of the day when we, the genuine believer, have crossed the finish line and are in God’s heavenly kingdom. The picture that we see in heaven is filled with great happiness, joy, pomp and circumstance. In other words, there is going to be a great celebration in heaven!
All of this month I have been taking a look at our journey – our walk of faith – through life as we, the true believer, make our way to heaven. The journey, we know, is not an easy one as we have many trials and many tribulations. Just this past week, we know that there was another mass shooting done out of hatred. This then led to the same fruitless conversations that they always lead to – gun control and racism still being in existence like it’s a surprise.
Imagine going through all of what we go through in line – those heartaches, worries, pains, and stress – only to receive nothing. If that was me, I would wonder what we even lived for? Some are walking this journey just to receive nothing at the finish line. Personally, at the end of my journey, I want to be rewarded with a good prize which I know for certainty is waiting for me. So, I want to focus on the finish line today and what awaits all who have followed where God has guided them and depended on Him as both provider and protector.
Judgment of the Righteous and Wicked
As we have seen in recent weeks through our Sunday School, every knee will bow and every tongue will make a confession to God – everyone will be judged by Him (Is. 45:23; Rom. 14:11). Now, from what we have studied in scripture, we know that the righteous will stand before the judgment seat of Christ at their finish line to be judged. The wicked, we know, will stand before the Great White Throne at their finish line to face judgment.
The finish line for the wicked
Now, this is a subject that Paul spent a great deal of time focusing on and teaching to believers. In his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul encouraged the Corinthians to run the race of faith in a manner to obtain a reward from the Lord (1 Cor. 9:25). The reason why Paul spoke about this subject was because he understood the rewards waiting at the finish line for both the wicked and the righteous.
You see, all will be rewarded for their journey through life – this even includes the wicked. To show you this, in the book of Isaiah, we will see that the Lord said through the prophet, “Woe to the wicked! It shall be ill with him, for the reward of his hands shall be given him (Is. 3:11).”
The reward of the wicked will be given at the Great White Throne; it will be an ill (not healthy or good) reward. Today, the wicked spend all of their time laboring for the riches of this world but where does this get them? On the spiritual journey, it gets them nowhere. In fact, the gains they do have in the world are temporary because this world will pass away into nothingness. So, the reward that awaits them at the finish line in this world is nothing and spiritually speaking, it is also nothing.
Solomon, when he spoke about the wicked and their desires for worldly riches, said it was vanity and like trying to grasp the wind – it cannot be obtained (Eccl. 1:3-4). In the end, there’s no true profit to our laboring for the riches of this world because we are going to one day leave this world, and as Paul said to Timothy, “we brought nothing into this world and it is certain we can carry nothing out (1 Tim. 6:7).”
So, the reward at the finish line for the wicked is emptiness and loneliness; they will be cast away from Him for eternity. Out of His presence, there will be no happiness, just sorrow, as the soul of the wicked will wallow in pity for all of eternity. Does this sound like a reward that you would want at the end of your journey? This is not the kind of reward that any one should desire to receive at the end of their journey through life.
The finish line for the righteous
At the judgment seat of Christ, those who genuinely believe will not receive such an ill reward from Christ. We are shown in scripture that when the true believer reaches the finish line, we will be blessed with the good rewards of God.
To the Corinthians, Paul said that in the twinkling of an eye, when Christ returns for the church, the true believer will be changed. This change is the beginning of the many rewards that awaits the true believers; we shall be raised incorruptible and that this mortal, which we are now, will put on immortality and we will have victory (1 Cor. 15:50-55).
Rewards at the Finish Line
In his letter, James joined Paul in speaking about the great day when we all get to heaven. He wrote, “Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him (Jas. 1:12).” The crown of life – another heavenly reward waiting at the finish line – is not a reward that James made up from his own imagination but one that is very real.
In the book of Revelation, we see Jesus speaking of this same crown. To those who were suffering at the church in Smyrna, Jesus said, “Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life (Rev. 2:10).”
You and I suffer today – we go through some things! Yet, through our suffering, there is a crown waiting at the finish line for us!
Hidden manna and the white stone
As we continue in the book of Revelation, we will see that the rewards are many for those that chose to depend on God’s guidance, direction, providence, and protection. Jesus said to those that overcome, He (Jesus) will give them some of the hidden manna to eat (Rev. 2:17).
Manna, we will remember, was the bread of heaven that was given to the children of Israel to replenish and nourish them as they journeyed in the wilderness. They lived by manna and manna alone for a long time as they made their journey. Now, the hidden manna that Jesus is speaking of is laid up for us in heaven. Therefore, it will not be physical manna but spiritual manna that is eternal. This eternal manna will provide us with spiritual nourishment and life for all of eternity.
In that same verse, we will see Jesus speak of another reward that we will receive in heaven. Jesus, again, saying to those that overcome, He will reward us with a white stone and on the stone will be a new name written (engraved) that no one will know except the one who receives the stone.”
Now, this is a very unique token that is given to every child of God because we all overcome the trials and tribulations of the world and sin through Jesus Christ (John 16:33). The new name, I believe, is not a new name assigned to you but a name of Christ that is engraved on the stone. We will carry this stone as a signet for all of eternity as a seal of being in fellowship with Christ. I don’t know about you, but I want my crown, and to eat that eternal manna, and to carry that precious stone – I want these heavenly rewards!
Reward of joy and happiness
When we get to Revelation 19, where my key verses are located for today’s sermon, the picture of heaven is full of joy and celebration. This chapter opens with a view of a great multitude in heaven rejoicing and singing praises to the Lord (Rev. 19:1). This great multitude, I want to point out, is made up of all who have believed – the elders, believers of the church age, tribulation saints, and the heavenly angels!
Understand this, you and I – the true believers – are seen in this picture — we are already there! What this means for us is that all we have to do is simply stay the course in our walk of faith and that future picture of us being in heaven will be fulfilled!
We are going to be singing and rejoicing because we will have overcome our journey – every trial and tribulation – and will have victory! So, all of those trials, tribulations, and adversaries that tried to crush us will have failed because we stood firm in our faith in Christ. Satan, who threw everything he possibly could at us, will have failed because our faith in Christ did not break. When we cross that finish line and enter into the heavenly kingdom, you better believe that we are going to be rejoicing!
Being in the heavenly kingdom of the Lord is going to be a great reward! With a voice, the sound of many waters and mighty thungerings, the great multitude in the first of my key verses will sing out, “Hallelujah! For the Lord God Omnipotent (all powerful) reigns!” Now, notice that there is no sadness, grief, or pain in this picture. When the true believer crosses the finish line, there will only be happiness and great joy – this happiness and joy is truly a great reward, especially compared with what we go through now.
Married to the Lamb
In the second of my key verses, we will see the great multitude announce that the marriage of the Lamb – Christ – has come and that His wife has made herself ready. The wife of Christ, we should remember, are all of those that believed during the church age – from pentecost to the day of the rapture.
Here we see another reward of genuinely believing in Christ today. You, as a genuine believer, are going to take Christ’s hand in marriage and be married to Him for all of eternity – this seals our fellowship (relationship) with Christ. As the bride of Christ, the church will be the crown jewel of heaven that will appear like a jasper stone and will be clear as crystal (Rev. 21:9-11)!
We are going to be a beauty to behold! It will be granted to the bride of Christ to be arrayed in fine linen, a robe, that will be both clean and bright (Rev. 19:8). We are told that this robe is the righteous acts of the saints. All of our lives, the true believer has striven to be righteous and when we get to heaven, we are going to be clothed in righteousness! We are going to be full of glory and we will be that perfect image of the Lord that we strive to reach on this journey!
God will say of those that attend this wedding, “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” The Spirit then said, “Yes, that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them (Rev. 14:13).” Let us remember that to be blessed means to be spiritually happy. We are going to be spiritually happy in that day because our soul will be at rest – we will be content! Our contentment comes from having not to worry about today or tomorrow; there will be no more burdens and stress.
Peace or Suffering
And to think that some believe that gaining the riches of this world is the finish line. Solomon said of those that strive for the riches of this world, their days are sorrowful and their works burdensome with no rest (Eccl. 2:23). The outcome of it all, Solomon again said, was vanity (empty/pointless).
I look around and see gas prices that are nonsensical to me. I then turn on the news and hear that there is a shortage of baby formula on top of all the other things that simply don’t make any sense. And yet, people would wonder why heaven is always on my mind! Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy this life that the Lord has blessed me with, but at the same time, I gleefully dream of the day when I reach that finish line and cross over it into the Lord’s heavenly kingdom.
A place of eternal peace
When one runs a race and they can see the finish line ahead of them, there is a sudden renewal of energy to get to that finish line. As I said before, heaven should be your finish line and if it is your finish line you should be filled with hope to make it to that line! I encourage you today to keep on running towards the heavenly gates and don’t stop to look back for one second!
When those who run a marathon cross the finish line of a marathon, some raise their arms in victory and others collapse to the ground as they try to catch their breath. When you and I cross that finish line, the Lord tells us that He is going to wipe away every tear. In His heavenly kingdom, Jesus said that there will be no more death, sorrow, crying, or pain (Rev. 21:4). Why would I not want to go to this place? Why would you not want to go to this place?
Those who cross the finish line and collapse in hell, will never catch their breath. Hell is a place that is pictured throughout scripture as a place of torments (sorrows). In the story of the rich man and the beggar named Lazarus, the rich man ended up going to this place of torments (Luke 16:19-31). The torments were so great for the rich man that he desired greatly for relief from his torments. He pleaded that his loved ones be made aware of that place and they be warned to do everything possible not to end up there!
Scripture shows us that Satan and all who choose to follow his path will be cast in this place of torments called the lake of fire – this fire won’t be physical but spiritual (Rev. 20:7-15). The torment of this place will be a torment from day to night, forever and ever. Let us consider that time as we know it will not be such a thing in eternity – so this suffering will be long lasting, nonstop.
One last plea
Does this sound like a prize you would want to receive after having lived in this world? I certainly hope not! So, I will make one more plea of encouragement to you in this series of sermons. If you are already heading in the direction of heaven, continue steadfastly in that direction by following Christ. If you are heading in the opposite direction of heaven, I encourage you to repent – turn away from that direction – and follow Christ.
My hope is that after hearing of the great happiness, joy, pomp and circumstance of heaven, when compared to hell, you will feel more motivated to get to heaven. Lay up for yourself treasure in heaven where neither moth nor rust destroys the treasure and thieves cannot steal it. There are great rewards waiting for us there in heaven, so let us strive to receive those prizes.