Mar 25 2012 - E100.98d – Revelation 7, A great multitude before the throne
Revelation 7 is the answer (in part at least) to the martyrs' cry "How long, Sovereign Lord...?" of Revelation 6:10.
John is granted a vision of the coming judgment of God. But before that judgment can be unleashed, he sees an angel who is given the task of "sealing" the people of God – protecting them from the judgment to come. The number sealed is 144,000, 12,000 from each of the twelve tribes of Israel.
There is much debate over the relationship between these 144,000 and the "great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language" which John sees next. These, I believe, are two pictures of the people of God. The first emphasises that God has determined to save his people and not one of them will be lost; each and every one will be protected by God. The second picture reminds the suffering church of the scope of God's plan of salvation. God purposes to save for himself a people from every nation, tribe and tongue in fulfilment of his promise to Abraham that through him and his descendants all nations on earth would be blessed. Nor is it sufficient for God to save one or two from this nation and a few more from another. The scope of God's mercy and love is as wide as the earth itself. He will save for himself a vast host from every nation. No wonder the multitude cry out in a loud voice, "Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb" (7:10).
In response to the cry of the martyrs, God assures them that their lives are not wasted. It is through the testimony of his suffering people – the followers of the Lamb – that God is at work for the salvation of the world. Nor can this age of suffering be cut short, for God has not yet finished his great work of salvation. Judgment is held back until salvation is complete.
What then will happen to God's people who pass through suffering and persecution? They will be brought safe to glory. The chapter ends with this beautiful picture (vv.15-17):
“They are before the throne of God
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne
will shelter them with his presence.
‘Never again will they hunger;
never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat down on them,’
nor any scorching heat.
For the Lamb at the centre of the throne
will be their shepherd;
‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’
‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’”
Thank you Lord Jesus that you are the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world and the Great Shepherd of the sheep who will bring every one of your people safe home to glory. Help me always to hear your voice and to follow you.