Sunday, June 26, 2016

FOR THEIR DEEDS FOLLOW THEM: SCS 89

Ed Cooper in Zimbabwe (Southern Rhodesia Early 60's)
Sunday, June 26, 2016, Stoney Creek Sermonette: Number 89

PRAYER for Today:
Heavenly Father,
We know we are all broken and in need of your grace. Only You are able to heal the hearts and souls of all of us who are full of sin and bring light to the darkness in our lives. Help us Father to accept your freely given gift of grace that we might be reconciled to You. It is in Your Resurrected Living Son’s name we pray.
Amen.

SCRIPTURE LESSON for Today:  
Revelation 14 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)

The Lamb and the 144,000

14 Then I looked, and there was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion! And with him were one hundred forty-four thousand who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. 2 And I heard a voice from heaven like the sound of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder; the voice I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps, 3 and they sing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the one hundred forty-four thousand who have been redeemed from the earth. 4 It is these who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins; these follow the Lamb wherever he goes. They have been redeemed from humankind as first fruits for God and the Lamb, 5 and in their mouth no lie was found; they are blameless.

The Messages of the Three Angels

6 Then I saw another angel flying in midheaven, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth—to every nation and tribe and language and people. 7 He said in a loud voice, “Fear God and give him glory, for the hour of his judgment has come; and worship him who made heaven and earth, the sea and the springs of water.”
8 Then another angel, a second, followed, saying, “Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great! She has made all nations drink of the wine of the wrath of her fornication.”
9 Then another angel, a third, followed them, crying with a loud voice, “Those who worship the beast and its image, and receive a mark on their foreheads or on their hands, 10 they will also drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured unmixed into the cup of his anger, and they will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. 11 And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and its image and for anyone who receives the mark of its name.”
12 Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and hold fast to the faith of Jesus.
13 And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who from now on die in the Lord.” “Yes,” says the Spirit, “they will rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them.”


SERMON for Today:

This is the first sermon I have ever written based on a scripture in the book of Revelations.  I have preached hundreds of sermons on radio and on three continents (Africa, Europe, North America) and never preached from a text from Revelations. My wife asked me this morning why I was doing so today. I am not sure I can give you a good reason other to say that when I started working on this sermonette I opened my Bible to the passage above.  I am not going to pretend to have any great words of wisdom to offer you, but I have just a few thoughts on the verses I have selected.

  1. I am certain they are not to be taken literally because verse five calls the 144,000 blameless and the synonyms for blameless are such words as guiltless, perfect. pure and faultless which only apply to one person who walked the face of this earth.  Jesus Christ.  So the writer must be writing in a form we might refer to as metaphor or allegory.
  2. Verse thirteen makes clear more than 144,000 will make it into heaven even though some religious groups claims the number tops out at 144,000.
  3. Most serious scholars do not believe the word men exclude women from the 144,000.  A masculine term often was used when referring to everyone.  It still is.
  4. If you are determined to try to understand the last book of the New Testament do more than listen to one TV evangelist.  Read it in a number of translations.  Read the online commentaries.  Get a good Study Bible.  Remember it must fit with what you already know from the Gospels and Acts.

God Bless and May God Walk Beside You Each Step You Take This Week. Amen

© Ed Cooper, June 26, 2016, Stoney Creek, Tennessee, Appalachia  
  All rights reserved

(Ed Cooper is a retired minister and mental health advocate. He lives with his wife Patty in the mountains of East Tennessee.)

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