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The Seven Beatitudes of Revelation: Blessed for Staying Awake

Weekly Devotional for Preachers
The Seven Beatitudes of Revelation: Blessed for Staying Awake
Image: Cyndi Monaghan / Getty

My Dear Shepherds,

Staying awake is the stern duty of sentries, security guards, and shepherds keeping watch over their flocks by night. And of faithful servants of Christ, waiting deep into the night if need be, for the bridegroom we serve to return from his banquet. We stay vigilant even while this dark world careens toward its cataclysmic end.

John’s Revelation carries watchers up to the heart-thumping brink of the final battle in chapter 16 where three demonic spirits “go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty.” Then, it’s as if the screen freezes and a secret coded beatitude is whispered to the saints.

“Look, I come like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake and remains clothed, so as not to go naked and be shamefully exposed.” (Rev. 16:15)

The interrupted prophecy resumes: “Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.” We seem to live far removed from that apocalyptic spectacle. We hear of nations warring, of famines and earthquakes, but even those “birth pains” seem far from most of us.

Only God knows if you or I will ever personally be caught up in the upheaval of Armageddon but, regardless, our King tells us to remain awake and dressed, ready for Christ’s sudden return. The fact that Jesus “will come like a thief” is itself a blessing, for Satan, no matter how cunning and vigilant he may be, will have no clue when Jesus will burst through the clouds to seize us away and complete his final conquest.

The risk for us is not the devil’s fury but that we will be caught sleeping and undressed when our Bridegroom flings open the door. For some professing believers, the long wait into the centuries’ wee hours will find them dozing. For others, the enticing temptations of night-lovers will render them in a drunken spiritual stupor.

Christ’s phrase, “stays awake and remains clothed,” has a tapestry of cross-references. One is Luke 12:35-36, “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet ….” We dress for that heavenly service by our loving service now. Our righteous acts here will be woven into the “fine linen, bright and clean,” of our wedding dress.

And what blessing awaits those who are dressed and ready to meet the Lord? Jesus promised in John 12:26, “My father will honor the one who serves me.” The high King of heaven singling us out with his, “Well done!”

There’s more! He promised that wise and faithful servants will be “put in charge of all the master’s possessions,” even entrusted with authority over nations. Also, we will “serve him day and night in his temple.”

Of all the blessings Jesus promised to faithful servants, this one in Luke 24:37 astounds me most:

Truly I tell you, [the master] will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them.

It seems Jesus pictured us all coming into that great Upper Room in our new immortal bodies, fresh from meeting him in the air. Before us is spread his vast bridal banquet, lavish and regal. Then, instead of taking his seat at the head of the table, the Lord Jesus lays aside his blood-dipped, gleaming white robe and golden sash to dress as a servant, and he begins to wait on us! That is worth waiting up for!

Be ye glad!

Lee Eclov recently retired after 40 years of local pastoral ministry and now focuses on ministry among pastors. He writes a weekly devotional for preachers on Preaching Today.

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