Revelation 7:9-10 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 were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice:
“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.”
It’s been over 20 years since I learned the song made from verse 10 and verse 12, so I can’t read this without that going through my head and heart. It’s a glorious song! However, it’s verse nine that is most resonating with me at the moment. This one verse refutes both those who say the number of people in heaven is limited, as well as those who feel any particular group of people is more fit for heaven than any other. This explicitly negates racial prejudice. It’s interesting to me that though it specifies these people are from “every language,” they are evidently speaking the same language as they praise God. Obviously, language barriers don’t exist in heaven! It is also significant to me that this totally egalitarian group is, according to verse 14, “they who have come out of the great tribulation.” In other words, no group or locality will be exempt from that great tribulation. Again, there are some who dream up scenarios whereby their group, whatever it might be, is exempt from that tribulation. The point isn’t what we go through so much as it is where we end up once we have gone through it. Avoiding trouble is a natural impulse, and we aren’t to seek out suffering, but Jesus made it clear that we are going to have our share of it, (John 16:33) so we aren’t to focus on the tribulation but on the glory that is to follow. As I write this, Russia is invading Ukraine. That certainly counts as tribulation for the Ukrainians, even though it isn’t persecution for religious reasons. We never know what we will encounter, but God is greater than it all, and as Paul said, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Corinthians 4:17)
I have always felt that “pre-trib rapture” theology was escapist, even as I have been increasingly convinced that the final outcome of our faith is going to be glorious beyond words. We all experience “junk” that is less than enjoyable, but that is part of living in a fallen world, just as Jesus said. I need to be like Jesus, “who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame.” (Hebrews 12:2) I expect to go through more stuff before I leave this earth, but God’s presence is more than sufficient to get me through anything.
Father, thank You for Your totally amazing grace. Thank You that I don’t have to be anxious about anything. I do pray for my brothers and sisters in Ukraine, that You would keep them from any unnecessary suffering, and I pray that Your purposes in allowing this to happen would all be fulfilled. Thank You for the many Russians who are protesting this action on the part of their leader. I pray for those in the Russian military who are not on board with what they are being ordered to do. Thank You that what is visible is only a fraction of all that is actually going on. May Your name indeed be acknowledged as holy and Your rule and reign be manifested as Your will is done, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!