Jump Start # 2836
Revelation 2:7 “he who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the Paradise of God.”
Here in our Revelation passage two powerful thoughts are presented. Not only do we find two thoughts, but they are linked together. To have one, you must have the other. The order is essential. You can’t have the second without the first, and, you can’t have the second first.
The first thought is overcoming. That is one of the dominate themes in Revelation. Overcome. This will be repeated over and over to these seven churches. There is a blessing that follows. There is a great promise attached, but first, one must overcome. You can’t get the blessing without first, overcoming. There is no skipping the overcoming. If one doesn’t overcome, then one won’t find the blessing that follows.
Now, those familiar with Revelation realize that the book was written in stressful times that were trying the faith of God’s people. Suffering is sprinkled throughout this book. It is said that some would be imprisoned. Antipas, had already lost his life. Overcome—powerful, powerful words, but when faced with the clenched fist of Rome, how could this small band of disciples overcome? They weren’t in position to overthrow Rome. They didn’t have the resources to overcome persecution. Many, many would die. So, what were they to overcome?
I think of one of our hymns that begins, “Troublesome times are here, filling men’s hearts with fear.” That’s something to overcome. Fear. What follows fear most often is worry. Then comes doubt. Then comes giving up. The problems seem greater than God. The outcome doesn’t seem victorious. And, those beaten saints were told to overcome. Overcome with faith. Don’t let fear conquer you. Don’t allow Satan to win the battle of your heart. Don’t give up. Hold to God’s unchanging hand. Overcoming meant that even when the sword of death is pointed at us, we refuse to deny our Lord. In faith, we will overcome death. We will rise victoriously. Through that door of death we may travel, but on the other side, with the Lord, we understand that we are victorious.
Now, the second powerful thought in our verse is directed towards those who overcome. Those who overcome will be granted by God, to eat of the tree of life in the garden. The people of God know what that promise is about. It’s about eternity with the Lord. It’s about living forever.
And, what’s so powerful about this blessing is that it’s not the only one. If this was it, what a blessing that would be. It would be beyond what we could ever dream of or deserve. But, it’s not the only blessing. Here in these early chapters we find for the overcomers:
· The right to the tree of life
· Promise that the second death will not harm us
· Manna of God and a white stone with a new name inscribed on it
· Authority given over the nations
· Promise that God will not erase our names from His book
· Become a pillar in God’s temple
· Right to sit with the Lord on the throne
Blessings from above—descriptions of Heaven. Promises of God to the faithful. We all want these blessings, but we must overcome first. We must overcome temptation. We must overcome ourselves. We must overcome being molded by the world. The blessings follow overcoming.
Now, some thoughts:
First, overcoming isn’t easy. There is a battle taking place. It is easy to conform and lay low and hide. God’s call for us is to overcome. This means your faith will be noticed. It will be visible. Friend and foe may attack you—verbally, emotionally and relationally. You may not be included. You may not be invited. You may not be welcome. That hurts. Now, you can try to be more presentable to them by hiding your faith and being more like they are, or, you can overcome.
Second, God is aware of what you are going through. He knows who overcome. He knows what battles you are facing. It is God who has made these promises for those who overcome. It is God who will help His own people. There is no need to complain about how hard it is, God knows. There is no need to cry as if God isn’t aware. He is.
Third, our Lord overcame first. That’s what helps us. Jesus endured the cross. The cross may have taken His life, but it was all according to the plan. He offered His life. He laid down His life. His life was a sacrifice. And, through that, He overcame death. He overcame Satan. He overcame, leaving footprints so you and I could also overcome. Peter tells us that when suffering Jesus uttered no threats. Oh, He could have. And, His threats would not have been just talk. He could have opened up the earth. He could have called legions of angels. He could have jumped off that cross. He could have, but instead, He overcame. We remember that when we think, “I could sue,” or, “I could get even,” or, “I could say something back.” We could, but, instead we overcome.
Finally, the Lord’s blessings and promises are wrapped around the idea that those suffering disciples would overcome. This wasn’t an impossibility. This wasn’t unrealistic dreams. Today, waiting on the other side, waiting for you, are those who have overcome. They have shown us that we too can overcome. It takes strong faith. It takes patience. It takes longsuffering. But, those early disciples, in those trying times, have shown us that it can be done.
Overcome and then blessings. Faith and then promises.