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Worship Theme: Victorious Shepherd

Sermon Theme: There Is Victory Through the Lamb

You are going to have seasons of suffering in this life, especially as a Christian who still dwells in this sinful world. From Revelation 7:9-17, we see that even in the midst of so many disappoints, God shows us that “there is victory through the Lamb.” May 8, 2022.

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Take a look at the world around us with me for a moment. There’s war – the Russian invasion of Ukraine has been going on for over 70 days. There’s lots of crime. The murder rate in Milwaukee is on track to break records this year. Pedestrians, in this past week, were killed by careless drivers. We’re over two years into a world-wide pandemic that just doesn’t seem to want to go away. Inflation is taking its toll and the stock market is volatile. Abortion and women’s rights took center stage this past week. That’s the world just this last week.

What about your own life? You deal with frustrations, uncertainties, and troubles. The body has its aches and pains. Cancer seems to attack whoever it wants. You have your weaknesses that plague you, guilt that overwhelms you, and doubts that consume you.

The spiritual state of our society seems to be going down the tube. There’s lack of trust, lack of acceptance, lack of need. People are falling away from the Christian faith. Your friend who was once a great church-going Christian turned from the Lord and it’s sad and frustrating. You look at all these things and don’t you find that there are moments where it just seems like you’re losing?

God gave a vision to the disciple John that he recorded for us as the book of Revelation. This vision and message came at time when the early Christian church was undergoing some serious persecution. The world around the believers was dark; they were wondering if following Jesus was the right thing to do or worth it. Do you know what God said about this? He said that this type of hardship was going to come. Jesus spoke about the end times in Mathew chapter 24. And in similar fashion, in Revelation chapter six, the Lamb opened a scroll that was sealed with seven seals, the same image that is portrayed at the front of our church under the altar. As each seal was opened, a different calamity was released upon the earth – war, famine, death, earthquakes, spiritual turmoil, and so on. Doesn’t seem all that different than what you see around you today. Here’s why. We’re living in those times that God showed to John. If you are expecting that life on this earth is going to get better the more that you believe or by starting more churches or converting more Christians, then you are sorely mistaken. We live in a world that is still infected and influenced by sin.

Well, now that I’ve completely brought you to a dark and depressing place, let me take you to the words of God before us today. The Lord set these visions of calamity and turmoil before John, but after the sixth seal was opened, the Lord interjected with a sorely needed and important message of hope. Even in the midst of so many disappoints and even when it seems like all is lost in this world, God shows us that there is victory through the Lamb.

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 before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.

 God gave John a glimpse into the eternal church in heaven. What did he see? He saw a multi-ethnic melting pot of people, more than anyone could count. This takes me back to God’s promise to Abraham in the Old Testament to make him into a nation of people far greater in number than the sand on the seashore or the stars in the night sky. It’s a beautiful picture and reminder that no matter how divisive we can make this world (race, ideology, gender, and so on), there is something that can unite unlike anything else – the victory found in Jesus.

Last July, much of our city got on board with celebrating the NBA Championship won by the Milwaukee Bucks. Do you remember that? I went down to the victory parade and that reminds me of what we see in Revelation. For as far as my eye could see, Water Street was packed with people of all colors and backgrounds. They were crowded together decked out in Bucks’ gear, waving flags in the air, and cheering. The things that typically divide Milwaukee were forgotten about for a moment as people celebrated a victory.

Friends, as cool as that was, it was only temporary (unless they win again this year!) and it doesn’t come close to the victory celebration in heaven. Far better than winning a basketball tournament, or a promotion at work, or the lottery, is winning the battle over sin, death, and the troubles of this world. Here in Revelation, God shows you that while the battle may rage around you, the victory is already won and secure. Why? Look to whom the multitudes of believers clothed in white robes and waving palms attribute the victory. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”

 You are rescued from your sin and the punishment that you and your sin deserve. You are forgiven and you are given a new life with the Lord today and always. That victory is yours because Jesus, the perfect and blameless Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world, he died your death and rose to live eternally and give you that victorious life. Jesus was the sacrifice that paid the price to give you this victory and he now sits on his throne as the victor that we can celebrate today and always. No matter how much people may deny Jesus, turn against the gospel, hurt or harm one another, they cannot negate what Jesus did. The victory is won. No matter how dark your sin or the wickedness of the world, the victory celebration in heaven cannot be canceled. There is victory through the Lamb.

The Lord’s point in this account is that even though sin and wickedness will increase in this world, nothing can take away the victory that Jesus won. Keep your eyes and your faith on the victory of the Lamb even when the troubles of this world may weigh heavy upon you. Through faith in Jesus, your place in the celebration is secure.

In John’s vision, one of the elders around the throne of God asked him who those in the white robes were. The answer, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” The great tribulation is the many hardships and suffering that followers of Jesus will go through in this life. Jesus said in John 16, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (33). It’s been said that life is like a roller-coaster. That means that it has its ups and downs, its high points and low points, and sometimes troubles come your way that throw you for a loop. Jesus said these things would happen. But take heart, Jesus has won the ultimate victory and that’s proven in this account. You will be brought out of the trials of this world to stand as a forgiven saint as one of the multitude whose stains of sin have been washed away by the most powerful detergent of the blood of Jesus.

The best part of this victory through the Lamb is the everlasting joy, comfort, and peace that is yours because the Lamb is also your Shepherd, the Good Shepherd. “For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their Shepherd.” Not only is Jesus the sacrificial lamb, but in his victory, he is the Good Shepherd who cares for, protects, and leads you, his sheep. John describes the heavenly bliss that belongs to those under the Shepherd’s care. Follow along with me, starting at verse 15 as we look at this list.

“They are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presenceor literally, he will set up his tent among them. These first lines tell us that our hope and joy is found in being in the very presence of the almighty God. God does not abandon you, but will dwell with you.

Next in verse 16, ‘Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat down on them,’ nor any scorching heat. These four lines describe the freedom that you will have from the effects of sin. No more hunger, thirst, pain or discomfort. All those effects of sin that you are so familiar with in this life will be forever removed.

Finally, the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd. Jesus watches over you and guards and protects you. As your Shepherd, “he will lead them to springs of living water.” Jesus leads you to the quiet and refreshing waters of eternal life found in the words and promises of God’s Word. And lastly, “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Everything that causes you to weep in this life – death, persecution, heartache, sorrow – will all be removed forever as you dwell in the presence of God. Take a moment to just take that all in.

There’s something really cool about this list. As you might know, Revelation uses a lot of symbolism and imagery, especially with numbers. The number ten is used to represent completeness. The list that we just looked at has ten items, meaning, that the release from evil and the fullness of joy is complete. It’s not temporary like the joyful moments you have in life. But imagine living in the joy and comfort of heaven that has no end. This is your victory through the Lamb.

You are going to have seasons of suffering in this life. Especially as a Christian who still dwells in this sinful world, life will be hard. But I pray that you see the victory that John saw and that he shared with you today. It’s a victory that is secure, a victory that is yours, a victory that brings the hope of everlasting and complete joy and release from the wickedness of this life. My friends, there is victory for you through the Lamb. Amen.

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