After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes . . . And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:9a, 10 NIV)
In the midst of the darkest period of human history, we see this multitude of believers standing before the throne of the Lamb. Looking at the passage, we notice several things: First, they are wearing white robes, a reference to 6:9-11, where those who were martyred “because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained” were given white robes. Second, they came “out of the great tribulation” (7:14), meaning they were killed during this specific period in history, and are now in heaven before the throne of God. Third, there is an uncountable multitude from every nation, tribe, people, and language – the ultimate fulfillment of Christ’s command to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every people.
These tribulation martyrs give us a glimpse of what eternity with God looks like. No hunger, no thirst, no scorching heat from the sun, and best of all, “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes” (7:17b). The message is clear – the only ones who need to fear the wrath of God laid out in Revelation are the unbelieving enemies of God. For those that believe, death is a friend that ushers them into a Christ-filled eternity.
I was telling my kids the Christmas story tonight, trying to put Joseph and Mary’s journey and experience long ago into terms my 3-year-old daughter could understand. She got pieces of it, but when I finished, her response was “Daddy, look how big those lights are on the tree.” I have to admit, when I try to understand what eternity and heaven will be like, I feel just as dazed by it all as my daughter was tonight. I take comfort knowing that I can trust the Maker of the universe with my future. I don’t need to know every detail of the eternal state; I just need to know the One who was born long ago who died for me.
Thank you, Jesus, for coming to earth and dying for me. You paid the price for my sin and gave me a hope and a future with you. I stand in awe of your plans for the future, and I trust in your unfailing love and faithfulness to those that believe. Help me to share the good news of your grace with others this Christmas day, for your glory and our good.