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Endurance of the Saints

Pastor Gary McCluskey
Pastor Gary N. McCluskey

Pastor's Notes
Gary N. McCluskey, Pastor

"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".

Do you know from which source I have taken this line? The book of Revelation. (Revelation 14:12) We just looked at this line today in Bible study. I would argue this line in many ways sums up the point of Revelation. Though filled with much imagery mysterious to most, careful study with good Biblical footnotes can allow you to navigate through dragons, beasts, the abyss and Babylon to a message more hopeful than puzzling.

Written in a time period of great upheaval in the Christian world, the future for Christians if not the world looked grim. The Holy City of Jerusalem was destroyed. The temple, God's abode, was no more. Jews (and remember much of the early church were Jews or of Jewish descent) were thrown out of their homelands and began to be scattered throughout the known world. Christian leaders were becoming Christian martyrs at the hands of the Romans. Is our faith in vain? Is this God's judgement against us? Against the church? Against our faith? What to do!

Using code words and imagery the book of Revelation contains a message that says, "hang in there. Keep following. Keep working at those commandments. Work to not give up that faith!"  The book of Revelation reminds readers and hearers that their faith was founded on martyrdom, "THE martyrdom! The death of Jesus; the blood of the Lamb. God did not let that death prevent God from working God's way. The mess of the First Century world would not prevent God from working God's way. 

It seems you and I are being bombarded by horrific news: hurricanes, earthquakes, fires, the worst mass shooting in our history of too many such shootings. Lest we forget (and how could we?) there is North Korea, Isis, Iran, Neo Nazis and white supremacists. All this in just a couple months time! Even the most faithful of Jesus' followers today might wonder some of the same questions that troubled the early church. 

This is how scripture functions as a living document rather than simply some dead document that needs to be read and believed. It is to be read or heard and be open to how it might speak to us in our situation as once it spoke to others in theirs. Revelation speaks words of encouragement, words of endurance and patience, words of hope to us in the maelstrom of such frightening contemporary news. Troubled times, confusing times and times of great fear are nothing new to humanity nor followers of Jesus. There remains something else not new: the patient endurance of God who sticks with us through these times. The steadfast God who remains faithful when others move away or quiver. 

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