THE CALM BEFORE THE STORM
Thank You, Lover of my soul, that I am surrounded by Your love and presence. Draw me nearer, I pray.
Read Revelation 7
7 After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree. 2 Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: 3 “Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.” 4 Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel.
5 From the tribe of Judah 12,000 were sealed,
from the tribe of Reuben 12,000,
from the tribe of Gad 12,000,
6 from the tribe of Asher 12,000,
from the tribe of Naphtali 12,000,
from the tribe of Manasseh 12,000,
7 from the tribe of Simeon 12,000,
from the tribe of Levi 12,000,
from the tribe of Issachar 12,000,
8 from the tribe of Zebulun 12,000,
from the tribe of Joseph 12,000,
from the tribe of Benjamin 12,000.
The Great Multitude in White Robes
9 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 before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice:
“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.”
11 All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying:
Praise and glory
and wisdom and thanks and honor
and power and strength
be to our God for ever and ever.
13 Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?”
14 I answered, “Sir, you know.”
And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 Therefore,
“they are before the throne of God
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne
will shelter them with his presence.
16 ‘Never again will they hunger;
never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat down on them,’[a]
nor any scorching heat.
17 For the Lamb at the center of the throne
will be their shepherd;
‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’[b]
‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’[c]”
a Revelation 7:16 Isaiah 49:10
b Revelation 7:17 Isaiah 49:10
c Revelation 7:17 Isaiah 25:8
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectHave you read any stories of martyrs? Think about any you might know of.
There’s still one more seal to be broken open, but before that, God deals firstly with the Jewish nation (4–8) and then with everyone else (9–17). It’s done in the calm before the storm—God commands angels to hold back the winds so that he can “seal” his servants. Think of sealing wax and signet rings, showing the authority of the originator—it belongs to him and is authentic.
What do you notice about the people (9)? This enormous, diverse crowd of worshippers have seven words they ascribe to God (12). Is this perhaps the perfect way to worship? The angel explains to John that these are the martyrs who died for their faith—they submitted their lives to Christ, lost everything in this world for love of him, and their reward is a great love and a greater depth of worship of him forever. What does God do for them (15,16,17)?
Helen Roseveare, missionary doctor in the Congo in the mid-twentieth century, suffered enormously for her faith during the civil war. Yet she said it was a huge privilege. Instead of asking, “Is it worth it?” she asked, “Am I worthy?” Her reply? “No: but he is worth it.”
Giving our lives for Christ is an ultimate show of faithfulness, yet Christ calls us to give our lives each day. How can you give up your life for Christ today: your plans and hopes and preferences?
You are worthy Lord, and You are worth it all.