9After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. 10They cried out in a loud voice, saying,
"Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!"
11And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12singing,
"Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom
and thanksgiving and honor
and power and might
be to our God forever and ever! Amen."
13Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, "Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?" 14I said to him, "Sir, you are the one that knows." Then he said to me, "These are they who have come out of the great ordeal ;they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
15For this reason they are before the throne of God,
and worship him day and night within his temple,
and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them.
16They will hunger no more, and thirst no more;
the sun will not strike them,
nor any scorching heat;
17for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of the water of life,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes."
Revelation always brings a fascinating point of view, but I also always find it so difficult to grasp. We have had no experiences like this or really anyway to relate to it. It’s “out there”, so to speak. So, you have to read this differently than you might read one of the Gospels, for instance, because it was written differently. While I can’t speak to what scholars agree the symbols mean, or how much of this is literal, I can talk about what I hear in this passage.
I find it powerful and groundbreaking that in this vision, John sees people from all over the world standing there, all in the same place, wearing the same clothes, looking up at the same throne. We forget constantly that we are all in the same boat. However it was that we ended up here, it is true for all of us; and however it is that we will leave is also universal. We point at different countries, and whether or not we say it out loud, it subconsciously comes up in our mind. “Those people are the bad ones; they should be banished; they are not as much of a human as I am.” But the truth that we need to remind ourselves of daily is that we will all end up realizing after this life on Earth is over how mistaken we really were. We will all be looking at whatever it is we are going to see, and just be in complete shock. None of the rules of the world will apply anymore and everything will be completely beyond our collective human imagination. That is what keeps me up at night, and that is what keeps me humble. Jesus tells us to love because He knows it is the only thing worth doing while we are in this life right now, and it is the only thing that will carry through.
God, we don’t know what you have in store for us and that is ok. In the meantime, help me to be fair, and to be kind, and to be loving to everyone I meet. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Written by Tucker Good
Director of Media and Communications