Alive in Christ / Revelation 7:2–17 / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday November 5th 2023 / All Saint's Day (Observed) / Mount Olive Lutheran Church
Mount Olive Lutheran Church / Pr. Ted A. Giese / Sunday November 5th 2023: Season of Pentecost, All Saints Day (Observed) / Revelation 7:2–17 “Alive in Christ”
Then I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, with the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm earth and sea, saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.” And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel:
12,000 from the tribe of Judah were sealed,
12,000 from the tribe of Reuben,
12,000 from the tribe of Gad,
12,000 from the tribe of Asher,
12,000 from the tribe of Naphtali,
12,000 from the tribe of Manasseh,
12,000 from the tribe of Simeon,
12,000 from the tribe of Levi,
12,000 from the tribe of Issachar,
12,000 from the tribe of Zebulun,
12,000 from the tribe of Joseph,
12,000 from the tribe of Benjamin were sealed.
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
“Therefore 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 presence.
They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
the sun shall not strike them,
nor any scorching heat.
For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
and He will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
Let us pray: May the words of my mouth and the meditations of all our hearts be acceptable in Your sight O Lord. Amen.
Grace peace and mercy to you from God our Father and from our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Good Christian Friends I will not be discouraged by death, because Christ Jesus has conquered death. Believe this, for it is true, or you can choose to wallow in death, you can let it consume you, you can allow the fear of death to blind your eyes to life, to thieve away all your joy. Death wants no more than to throw a dark pity party in your heart as it marches you into the grave. Anxieties bubble up and you say to yourselves, “Time has slipped away on us! We’re old; we have no strength left in us! We’re all going to die and what will the world look like after we’re dead and buried!” Do you fret, as you mourn the dead, as you morn what you think lay ahead in the future? Is this you today? Have you been this person in the past? Are you afraid you are becoming this person this very moment? Good Christian Friends I will not be discouraged by death. What does your Lord Jesus say to you today, He says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Turn away from the fear of death, turn away from mourning, and hear the comfort of the Lord.
In the Gospel of Saint Mark Jesus is being pressed during Holy Week by Sadducees concerning eternal life, now these powerful Jewish leaders of the day didn’t believe in an afterlife or in the resurrection of the dead, they believed you lived your life now and after that nothing, so you’d better make the most of today, and they did. Ultimately this is why, when they could find no other way to change Jesus or silence Him, they thought Jesus’ death would solve their problems because for them dead was dead and they didn’t believe any of the accounts of the Old Testament about resurrections from the dead. They were smart; they thought they knew what was what. So when it came to this particular topic of death and life after death they looked down on the Pharisees because they thought the Pharisees were fools for their lives lived with a of hope of a future reward in the new heavens and new earth at the hand of God (On this topic, for all their faults, we and Jesus agree with the Pharisees). Now to these Sadducees who’d asked a frivolous riddle of a question about remarriage and the resurrection on The Last Day, trying to corner Jesus with what they’d thought was wisdom, Jesus responds, “as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God spoke to him, saying, ‘I Am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’? He is not God of the dead, but of the living.” Dear ones take this to heart.
Saint John in his Gospel says of this same Jesus, “In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.” Later in the same Gospel Saint John records Jesus’ words where on the night before Jesus’ crucifixion, Jesus of Himself says “I Am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” And Saint Peter, following the events of Holy Week, of Good Friday, of Easter and Jesus’ Ascension says this of Jesus “God raised Him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for [Jesus] to be held by it.” And to the Christian in Colossae, people like you, who were very much living and breathing at the time Saint Paul wrote to them, he says, “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” Did you notice? Saint Paul speaks of death as something that happened in your past not something that will one day happen in your future. Yes Jesus “is not God of the dead, but of the living.” This, your Jesus, is the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.’
And so we can sing with the church these words, “A multitude comes from the east and the west to sit at the feast of salvation, with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob the blest, obeying the Lord’s invitation. Have mercy upon us, O Jesus.” In Holy Communion when we are gathered around Jesus with the angels and arch angels and all the company of heaven we are gathered with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob the blest who are not dead, but rather who are alive in Christ Jesus.
So it is, that along with all the faithful within the twelve tribes of Israel which would include Abraham, Isaac and Jacob we are gathered in as part of the multitude that Saint John saw in his Revelation which we heard from today when John says, “I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’” This same Jesus says of Himself, “Fear not, I Am the First and the Last, and the living one. I died, and behold I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of Death and Hades.”
And so in our first reading today for All Saints Day observed when Saint John is asked, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” His answer is “Sir, you know.” And the one asking John says, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” Dear ones, Today I’m here to say to you that these ones with their robes washed white include all the baptised. Are you baptised? Yes! Than this is you, for you who are yet to be baptised this is your invitation. “O God, let us hear when our Shepherd shall call in accents persuasive and tender, that while there is time we make hast, one and all, and find Him our mighty defender, Have mercy upon us, O Jesus.”
Daily you will find your mighty defender, the Lord Christ Jesus, in the waters of your baptism, you will find Him where He promises to be in the Holy Supper and you will find Him in His Holy Word. I mentioned that as a Christian your death is in the rear view mirror of your life this is why Saint Paul in his letter to the Galatians writes “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.” This same Saint Paul in his letter to the Romans writes “For if we have been united with [Jesus] in a death like His, we shall certainly be united with [Jesus] in a resurrection like His.” “So [it is that as Christians] you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus.”
The Bible gives us our marching orders when it comes to death. Death is our enemy to be sure and death seeks our life. Yet, I will not be discouraged by death, because Christ Jesus has conquered death. In the mean time we all have questions, why does this person die from this and that person die from that, why is death permitted to continue. What will our eternal life in Christ Jesus be like? When will my suffering over the evils of death in this world, in my family, be relived? Today we live with the truth of what Scripture teaches concerning death and we live with the promise of the resurrection and eternal life in Christ Jesus, we live in the waters of our Baptism and in the shadow of the cross of Jesus’ crucifixion. The same Jesus who says to grieving Martha, “I Am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in Me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in Me shall never die,” says these words for you today as much as He said them back then for Martha. Do you remember then what Jesus asks the dead Lazarus’ sister Martha, He asks her, “Do you believe this?” This is not just a question for Martha, this is a question for you too. She says, “Yes, Lord; I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” Is this what you believe? That Jesus is Christ; that He has come into the world; that He truly is the resurrection and the life. Believing this you can look forward to The Last Day and the promise from the Book of Revelation that “God will wipe away every tear from [your] eyes” on That Day: “All trails shall be like a dream that is past, forgotten all troubles and mourning. All Questions and doubts will be answered at last, when rises the light of that morning. Have mercy upon us, O Jesus.”
Dear ones what did our Epistle say today? Saint John writes, “Beloved, we are God’s children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when He appears we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him as He is.” On That Day of Jesus’ appearing the hand of the one you loved so dearly that died with their faith in Jesus, who death took from you, will not be cold and still; that hand because of Jesus’ victory over Death will be full of resurrected glory, full of the Life of the Living. The jaws of Death and Death’s steely teeth that you witnessed sunk into their flesh of the ones you love shall be broken, once for all. When Jesus was swallowed whole at the cross Death could not hold Him because Jesus had no sin of His own for death to eat, three days later Death spat this Jesus out of the grave and Jesus walked out of the tomb risen from the dead. The wages of sin were paid and all your sin that Jesus took upon Himself at the cross He likewise took with Him into the grave, all of it swallowed up by death but remember when Jesus walked out of the grave your sins stayed dead and buried and in exchange you no longer have the wages of death now you have the wages of righteousness, which are everlasting life and a crown of glory. For the names we remember today, these dearly departed, for all those who died in the one true faith, the Christian faith, for those like these who come to mind from days and years gone past this is likewise what they have in Christ Jesus not because they had no sin of their own but rather because they had and have even now the sinless Lamb of God, this Jesus a their righteousness. On The Last Day the graves will be open and our bodies shall arise immortal, incorruptible, and imperishable forever crowned in glory. Today we remember them, those at rest in Christ, and we look forward to our happy reunion when, “The heavens shall ring with an anthem more grand than ever on earth was recorded. The blest of the Lord shall receive at His hand the crown to the victors awarded. Have mercy upon us, O Jesus.” “Therefore,” as the writer of the Book of Hebrews says, “since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Amen.
Let us pray:
Lord have mercy on us, Christ have mercy on us, Lord have mercy on us, “take our minds and think through them, take our lips and speak through them, take our hearts and set them on fire; for the sake of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, Amen.
 Mark 12:26
 John 1:4
 John 14:6
 Acts 2:24
 Colossians 3:3–4
 “A Multitude Comes from the East and the West,” Lutheran Service Book, Concordia Publishing House, 510 stanza 1.
 Revelation 7:9-10
 Revelation 1:17–18
 “A Multitude Comes from the East and the West,” LSB, 510 stanza 2.
 Galatians 2:20
 Romans 6:5
 Romans 6:11
 John 11:25–27
 “A Multitude Comes from the East and the West,” LSB, 510 stanza 3.
 1 John 3:2
 1 Corinthians 15:54
 “A Multitude Comes from the East and the West,” LSB, 510 stanza 4.
 Hebrews 12:1–2