I believe strongly that I serve a God of mercy.
How do I know that God is a God of mercy, especially when verses like Revelation 14:10 prove that God will send many to a burning, eternal hell? I know because he has shown mercy to me.
Do I have other evidence? Certainly, and some of it comes from Matthew 25:31-46. It is rather long and I do not want to take up the extra space here, so I implore you to take the time to read it on your own. The synopsis goes something like this:
Before him will be gathered all the nations
You need to understand that there are only three people groups as far as God is concerned. The Jews, the nations, and the church. Since the church should be gone at this point, our religious minds tend to think that after the rapture there is NO ONE left on the earth that has a standardized relationship with Jesus Christ, and that is true. Now that does not exclude the innumerable number that come to acknowledge Him (in the face of death) and are resurrected as Saints and reign over the earth with Jesus during the thousand years.
This gathering of the nations takes place at the end of the thousand years and includes all the dead throughout time.
You might ask, how do I know that? Use a little logic. The church, those who had a relationship with Jesus Christ, both living and dead, get retrieved at some point. (Matthew 25 points out that not everyone sitting in church gets retrieved.)
Who then is left on earth? Most of the Jews, those from Matthew 25 who did not take this seriously enough and had no oil left in their lamps, and all those who have chosen to ignore God’s call to obtain His mercy. Those who reject God are considered the nations, it is that simple. In truth, anyone of those can switch sides: A Jew can become part of the church, and get this, people can come out of the nations and join themselves to the church – and most of us would never know it, as this action is not always advertised.
“he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats.”
And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.
“Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you …. And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”
Did you pick up on the term righteous? Did you see what made them righteous, doing something outside of selfish motivation. They helped people, and in so doing they “did it to Jesus himself.
“but the goats on the left”
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’
Now that I busted up your theology by demonstrating that God is merciful – even to those who do not fit within the religious framework – we can move on to the passage at hand.
“And another angel, a third, followed them, saying with a loud voice, “If anyone worships the beast and its image and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand, he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever, and they have no rest, day or night, these worshipers of the beast and its image, and whoever receives the mark of its name.” Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.” (Revelation 14:9-12 ESV)
As I pointed out in my earlier post there are three parts to this equation we simplistically call “taking the mark”.
If anyone worships the beast
and (worships) his image,
and receives a mark on his forehead or on his hand,
“he (the person that caves and does all three) also will drink of the wine of the wrath of God, …. and he will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. …the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; they have no rest day and night, those who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.”
Having made this decision you will have effectively signed your life away.
Now here comes the part that is hard to understand: “Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.”
Why even put this statement in here? God did it for a reason. This is another place you find God’s definition of a saint and it shows that they by their actions have demonstrated their allegiance to God and a faith in Jesus. Another reason may have much to do with the pressure that will be put on you to sell your soul. This is not a foreign concept to the Jew, for Esau sold his birthright for a bowl of soup. You must understand that to the Jew, prophecy is pattern, not flash and advertising.
Jacob said, “Sell me your birthright now.” Esau said, “I am about to die; of what use is a birthright to me?” Jacob said, “Swear to me now.” So he swore to him and sold his birthright to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Esau bread and lentil stew, and he ate and drank and rose and went his way. Thus Esau despised his birthright. (Genesis 25:31-34 ESV)
Have you seen some of the gory pictures that come out of the Islamic nations? They are hanging Christians and chopping people up with chainsaws; I do not want to ruin your meal so I am not going to show you those pictures, however, I have on occasions, asked the question, what would you do if they torture your kids in front of you? Would you deny Christ? It’s hard to even think about.
The passage says, “those who keep the commandments of God and their faith in Jesus.” The word keep means to to watch over, to guard. The implications can be varied, but the idea here is focused on some pressure being put on you to give up your inheritance, much like Esau. What then does it mean to you? If you do not have a backbone now, how will you stand under pressure? You need Jesus!