Honoring Those Who Died In The Service

Title: Honoring Those Who Died In The Service

Bible Book: Revelation 14 : 13

Author: David E. Owen

Subject: Memorial Day; Death, Reward at



The first instances of Memorial Days, or as they were sometimes called “Decoration Days,” were observed towards the end or after the end of the Civil War. By the end of the 19th century, Memorial Day ceremonies were being held on May 30 throughout the nation. It was not until after World War I, however, that the day was expanded to honor those who have died in all American wars. In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday by an act of Congress, though it is still sometimes called Decoration Day. The day of observance was finally established as the last Monday in May. Over the years, the custom has grown in many families to decorate the graves of all departed loved ones, but Memorial Day is essentially the day when we honor those who have died in the service.

This morning, it’s on my heart to draw some thoughts from Revelation 14:13 where John said…”And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.”

As T.B. Baines wrote…

This passage is often quoted with respect to departed believers, nor would anybody question its general applicability. But if we would rightly divide the word of truth we must beware of supposing that all the texts which are applicable to Christians were written about them. Here the words “from henceforth” show that a particular time is referred to, and that something more is meant than a mere general statement of the truth concerning the blessedness of the believing dead. Nor, if we understand God’s dealings, at the period here spoken of, will there be any difficulty in seeing the special meaning intended. A thick cloud of moral and spiritual darkness is at this moment brooding over the earth, the Holy Ghost withdrawn, Satan working with awful energy and success in blinding the eyes of men, and human presumption and rebellion against God rising to its highest pitch. In this chapter we have revealed the blessed lot of those who hold the truth through this period of darkness, and then the dreadful fate of those who follow the two classes of delusion prevailing in the earth. But there is another class, those who hold the truth and yet perish during the miseries and persecutions of this disastrous time. These are the blessed dead here spoken of. They have had to choose between receiving the mark of the beast and death, and have chosen death.

William Kelly said of this phrase “Blessed are the dead that die in the Lord from henceforth”…

That is clearly encouragement under peculiar circumstances. All who die in the Lord must be blessed at any time; but that only makes it plainer that the circumstances must be exceptional now which require such comfort to be so expressly provided for them.

The primary interpretation of this verse then must involve those who are martyrs for Christ during this period of great tribulation, perhaps from among the 144,000 mentioned at the first of the chapter, or perhaps from among those who have chosen to follow Christ as a result of the message of the two witnesses in chapter 11.

However in his “Exposition of the Revelation of Jesus Christ,” Walter Scott said…

The message … is one for all saints, while it has its own special application to saints in that critical hour preceding the Coming of the Lord in judgment. It is ever true that those who die in the Lord are blessed, but why is the statement reserved for this awful juncture in human history" and why is it added, “from henceforth "” why from that particular moment" The answer to these questions is a simple and satisfactory one. The word “henceforth” intimates the near end, and that the blessing is just about to be entered upon.

I want to use this statement in Revelation 14:13 and apply it as a message for all saints. And I want to remind us this morning that there is coming a day and a time when God will honor those who have died in His service.

I read about a pastor who, one Sunday morning, noticed a little boy named Alex staring up at the large plaque that hung in the foyer of the church. The plaque was covered with names, and small flags were mounted on either side of it. The seven-year old had been staring at the plaque for some time, so the pastor walked up, stood beside the boy, and said quietly, “Good morning, Alex.” “Good morning, pastor,” replied the young man, still focused on the plaque. “Pastor, what is this"” the boy asked. “Well, son, it’s a memorial to all the young men and women who died in the service.” Soberly, they stood together, staring at the large plaque, until finally, in a barely audible voice the little boy asked, “Which service, Sunday morning or Sunday night"”

God will honor those who have died in His service.

Let’s notice then that…

I. The Believer’s Death Involves A Reward

(Revelation 14:13) And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.

A. This Reward Involves Our Condition – “Blessed”

1. This Is Word Of Congratulations

The Thayer’s Greek Lexicon indicates that this word “blessed” (makarios) is used in a congratulatory way.

blessed – Greek 3107. makarios, mak-ar'-ee-os; a prol. form of the poetical makar (mean. the same); supremely blest; by extens. fortunate, well off:--blessed, happy (X -ier).

2. This Is A Word Of Comfort

Barnes’ Notes says…

It is much to be able to say of the dead that they are “blessed.” There is much in death that is sad; we so much dread it by nature; it cuts us off from so much that is dear to us; it blasts so many hopes; and the grave is so cold and cheerless a resting place, that we owe much to a system of religion which will enable us to say and to feel, that it is a blessed thing to die.

Vincent’s Word Studies in the New Testament says…

In its peculiar application to the dead, there is indicated the despair of earthly happiness underlying the thought of even the cheerful and mercurial (lively) Greek. Hence, the word was used as synonymous with dead. Only the dead could be called truly blessed.

Paul said… (Philippians 1:21) For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.

B. This Reward Involves Our Connection – “In The Lord”

1. This Is The Connection Of Our Conversion

Albert Barnes said…

The language “to be in the Lord” is often used to denote true attachment to him, or close union with him. The assurance, then, is limited to those who are sincere Christians. … To “die in the Lord” would seem also to imply that there should be, at the time, the evidence of his favor and friendship.

2. This Is The Connection Of Companionship

It was A. T. Pierson who said…

Now, that phrase “In the Lord” must have three great interpretations. In this sphere the limitation to which I have referred, the penitent believer goes from the world, and from sin and Satan, and condemnation redemptively into this Divine sphere of safety, and holiness and happiness. And then, in the second place, actively and actually, for your life is taken into the life of Christ; your work taken into the work of Christ; your destiny taken into the destiny of Christ; your life plan taken into the life plan of God. Oh, the magnificence of that thought! I would to God I could rise to it, and help you to rise to it. While you live you are in this sphere: in Christ Jesus. Each may enter into that sphere. When you die, when you fall asleep as to your body, you are at home with the Lord. Now the apostle says that the man who lives unto the Lord dies unto the Lord. The Lord has not surrendered His control of him when death comes upon him. (From The Biblical Illustrator)

II. The Believer’s Death Involves A Rest

(Revelation 14:13) And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.

A. Let’s Notice How This Rest Is Definite

1. There Is A Confirming Word

yea – Greek 3483. nai, nahee; a prim. particle of strong affirmation; yes:--even so, surely, truth, verily, yea, yes. Assuredly.

As one dear brother says, “Uh hum. Yessirr.”

2. There Is A Confirming Witness

saith the Spirit

At first, it is only voice. But now the voice is identified. Why does the Spirit speak here" Usually the Son is doing the speaking for the Godhead. According to verse 14, the Son is getting ready to ride out with His sickle. John saw what Julia Howe later wrote during the Civil War days…

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;

He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored;

He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword;

His truth is marching on.

Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!

Glory! Glory! Hallelujah! His truth is marching on.

B. Let’s Notice How This Rest Is Defined

1. There Is Something Burdensome In The Current Labor

Labors "kopoon". From "koptoo "”to strike.” Hence, “to beat breast” in grief. "Kopos "is, therefore, primarily, “a smiting” as a sign of sorrow, and then “sorrow” itself. As “labor,” it is labor which involves weariness and sorrow.

(From Vincent’s Word Studies in the New Testament)

2. There Is Something Better In The Coming Life

rest "anapausoo". Originally “to make to cease;” Tyndale: “ease;” Wycliffe: “refresh.” The radical conception is that of relief. (From Vincent’s Word Studies in the New Testament)

It is when we finally breathe our last breath that we will ultimately catch our breath.

As the unknown songwriter said, we’re “Gonna’ lay down our burdens Down by the Riverside.”

III. The Believer’s Death Involves A Remembrance

(Revelation 14:13) And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.

Albert Barnes said of this phrase “their works do follow them”…

That is, the rewards or the consequences of their works will follow them to the eternal world, the word works here being used for the rewards or results of their works.

A. In Remembering Our Works, There Will Be An Element Of Judgment

1. There Will Be A Manifestation Of Our Works At The Judgment

(1 Corinthians 3:12-15) Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; {13} Every man's work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man's work of what sort it is. {14} If any man's work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. {15} If any man's work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.

As the songwriter Ray Boltz said, these works may be “unnoticed on the earth, (but) in heaven now proclaimed.”

2. There Will Be A Meeting With Our Works At The Judgment

(2 Corinthians 5:10) For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

receive – Greek 2865. komizo, kom-id'-zo; from a prim. komeo (to tend, i.e. take care of); prop. to provide for, i.e. (by impl.) to carry off (as if from harm; gen. obtain):--bring, receive.

Suggestively it has the idea of being restored to each other.

"The Thayer’s Greek Lexicon says that “in the rewards and punishments of deeds, the deeds themselves are as it were requited (returned) and so given back to their authors.” This is when the chickens come home to roost.

Adam Clarke said…

Their works follow WITH them. They are in company. Here is an elegant prosopopoeia or personification; their good works, sufferings, etc., are represented as so many companions escorting them on their way to the kingdom of God.

B. In Remembering Our Works, There Will Be An Element Of Joy

1. We Will Finally Experience The Harvest

(Galatians 6:9) And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.

(Hebrews 6:10) For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have showed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.

2. We Will Finally Enjoy The Happiness

(1 Corinthians 15:58) Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

This verse is in the context of a passage dealing with the resurrection. So it suggests that after “the great getting up morning,” we will see that our labour is not in vain.


An elderly preacher was rebuked by one of his deacons one Sunday morning before the service. “Pastor,” said the man, “something must be wrong with your preaching and your work. There’s been only one person added to the church in a whole year, and he’s just a boy.” The minister listened, his eyes moistening and his thin hand trembling. “I feel it all,” he replied, “but God knows I’ve tried to do my duty.” On that day the minister’s heart was heavy as he stood before his flock. As he finished the message, he felt a strong inclination to resign. After everyone else had left, that one boy came to him and asked, “Do you think if I worked hard for an education, I could become a preacher — perhaps a missionary"” Again tears welled up in the minister’s eyes. “Ah, this heals the ache I feel,” he said. “Robert, I see the Divine hand now. May God bless you, my boy. Yes, I think you will become a preacher.” Many years later an aged missionary returned to London from Africa. His name was spoken with reverence. Nobles invited him to their homes. He had added many souls to the church of Jesus Christ, reaching even some of Africa’s most savage chiefs. His name was Robert Moffat, the same Robert who years before had spoken to the pastor that Sunday morning in the old Scottish kirk. (Author Unknown – http://www.sermonillustrations.com/a-z/f/faithfulness.htm)

I would love to be looking on when the old unnamed preacher comes marching in as his works follow him, and by extension the multiplied works of Robert Moffat. Even more, I would like to see the expression on the old deacon’s face as he saw the great procession of works that resulted from the preacher’ faithfulness.

God will honor those who die in His service!

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