Sermon on Revelation 7:9-17
As we celebrate All Saints Day, I consider our current struggles in the modern world, and I am reminded that this world is not our home. There is something much greater in store for the people of God. There is hope for the saints militant – those who are still alive and seeking after God in this world – and also for the saints triumphant – those who have already gone to be with the Lord.
Look at the incredible vision given to the apostle John in Revelation 7, where he is taken up into the heavenly realms and shown a great multitude there worshiping the Lord. I want to look at three “greats” from this passage.
1. Great Multitude
Many denominations mistakenly think that their way of doing things is the only good way of doing things, and we miss the beautiful diversity that God has given to his Church. Yet, the vision that John is given shows such a vast multitude that the people couldn’t even be counted. Not only are they diverse in denomination, but they are diverse among nations, people, and languages.
I love to imagine the great cloud of witnesses surrounding us (Heb. 12:1), and as we are gathering together and sharing in koinonia fellowship with each other, our fellowship extends among all the believers around the world and even to those who have gone before. I am filled with comfort and joy imagining that those beloved believers who have gone before me are still praising, worshiping, and delighting in God right along with me.
Our worship and delight are enhanced and expanded when we share it with others. So as the Body of Christ grows and expands around the world, the joy and worship builds upon itself and continues to multiply in each of us individually and also in the Body as a whole.
2. Great Tribulation
In John’s vision, there is a multitude of saints dressed in white, and the elder explains that those in white are those who came through the tribulation and were washed clean by the blood of the Lamb. The white robe is a symbol of the spiritual cleansing that the blood of Jesus gives to his people; it’s why we wear white robes at church even today.
We live in a sinful and fallen world, and the sad truth is that the nature of humankind is to fight and war with each other. In the Western world, we have political systems that provide for us to resolve differences without the shedding of blood, but that’s not the way it is in other places around the world, and that’s certainly not the way it was in biblical times. In times of difficulty and crisis, we see sinful human nature displayed very clearly. We need to remember, however, that our true battle is not against each other. Our battle is spiritual against the enemies of God. We fight a spiritual battle with spiritual weapons (Ephesians 6:10-18).
3. Great Salvation
As we are surrounded by strife and struggle and fighting this spiritual battle, we can remain confident that our victory is assured.
“Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”Revelation 7:10-12
As we press on and fight the good fight, we move forward with confidence that our great salvation awaits. Yes, we have difficulties; yes, we have grief. Yet our grief is not without hope (1 Thess. 4:13). We know that all those we have lost, those who have gone before us, will worship with us around the throne of God. All of our sin, sorrows, and struggles will be wiped away by the God in whom we place our hope.