Monday, December 31

Salvation comes from our God.

Candle Lighter:I saw a vast crowd, too great to count,...”
Response: “…from every nation and tribe and people and language.”

Scripture: Revelation 7:9-16

9 After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. 10 And they were shouting with a great roar,

“Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne

   and from the Lamb!”

11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living beings. And they fell before the throne with their faces to the ground and worshiped God. 12 They sang,

“Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom

   and thanksgiving and honor

and power and strength belong to our God

   forever and ever! Amen.”

13 Then one of the twenty-four elders asked me, “Who are these who are clothed in white? Where did they come from?”

14 And I said to him, “Sir, you are the one who knows.”

Then he said to me, “These are the ones who died in the great tribulation. They have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb and made them white.

15 “That is why they stand in front of God’s throne

   and serve him day and night in his Temple.

And he who sits on the throne

   will give them shelter.

16 They will never again be hungry or thirsty;

   they will never be scorched by the heat of the sun.

Reader: The word of the Lord.
Response: Thanks be to God.

Some thoughts:
John’s vision is filled with fantastic images and descriptions of a world we cannot see. Into this world are some  actions to which we can relate. Yet, there are some more specific things we can draw from the passages. You note the vast array of human beings who have not lost their individual, national, family, or language identities. They find unity in Christ while maintaining each of their uniquenesses. In a portion of culture which strives for a united global culture where nations and the uniquenesses of the people is downplayed, the Scripture seems to stand in stark contrast. Pentecost is another example of the same idea. Unity among people is found in Christ, not in all trying to develop a generic identity. They spoke many languages with a single message. The unity was in the message, not the languages. Secondly, I noticed they were all wearing white robes, the robes of priests, indicating their fitness to serve as priests in God’s sight. The white robes and the  waving of palm branches are reminiscent of victory. On Palm Sunday the crowds, waving palm branches, the symbol of victory, shouted “Hosanna,” meaning “God save us.” Here is the heavenly completion of that “earthly shadow.” The white robes also indicate purity of character, after all, there is no sin in heaven. Worshipers are perfect in the presence of God because of the Lamb. We’re reminded of the passage in Isaiah, “Though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow.” (Is.1:18) White is the color of rest as well as joy. It is as though the Bride of Christ is in bridal robes awaiting the marriage supper of the Lamb. In all this discussion about “white robes,” make no mistake, they are white because they have been washed in the blood of the Lamb. Next we see of the angelic heavenly host singing of seven glorious qualities of our great God. (Remember what we said about the significance of the number seven a few days ago.)  The heavenly host sang at the entrance of the Savior into the world and here again they sing rejoicing in the completed work. What a glorious picture of what lies ahead!

Music: “Mary’s Little Boy Child”  Andy Williams (This an oldie by one of the smoothest voices you will hear! A very nice setting of this classic. Some of you younger people won’t know who Andy Williams was!)

Heavenly and eternal Father, Source of all being, from whom I spring, unto whom I shall return,―Thine I shall ever be. Thou wilt call me unto Thyself when my hour comes, Blessed shall I then be if I can say, “I have fought a good fight.” I fear not death, O Father of life; for death is not eternal sleep; it is the transition to a new life, a moment of glorious transformation, an ascension towards Thee. How could that be an evil that cometh from Thy hand, when Thou art the All-good! Lord of life and earth, I am in Thy hand; do unto me as Thou deemest fit; for what Thou dost is well done. When Thou didst call me from nothing into life, Thou didst will my happiness; when Thou callest me away from life, will my happiness be less Thy care? No, no Thou art love, and whosoever dwells in love, dwells in Thee, O Lord, and Thou in him―Amen.
― Heinrich Tschokke   1771-1848, Prayers Ancient and Modern

© 2018 Dan Sharp – All rights reserved