Father, teach me Your ways, release Your Spirit within me and enable me to live with confidence and hope.
Read Revelation 7:9-17
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“What no human mind has conceived–these things God has prepared for those who love him” (1 Cor. 2:9,10).
Today’s passage is part of John’s sequence of visions of heaven, which begins in Revelation 4:1. John’s vision is steeped in the imagery and language of the Old Testament, which is now understood, and in some ways transformed, in the light of Jesus. One way in which we can see this is through the relationship between what John hears and what he sees. He hears something representing Old Testament Scripture, he sees something showing what that Scripture means in relation to Jesus. Earlier, for example, he hears about “the Lion of the tribe of Judah,” and what he then sees is “a Lamb” (Rev. 5:5,6, italics added). In our passage he has just heard about “144,000 from all the tribes of Israel” (Rev. 7:4-8) and what he sees is people too numerous to count (which shows that the 144,000 must be understood as symbolic), who are there because of Jesus.
This picture of joyful and triumphant praise and worship can feel a long way from Jeremiah. Yet those who are now praising God have come from a “great tribulation.” While on earth they suffered anguish and distress (14), and there were tears in their eyes (17). Moreover, paradoxically, their garments are white only because they have been washed in blood, the blood of the Lamb (14). Their life comes from the death of Jesus, but possibly also their own death in their earthly afflictions.
In other words, this vision of joy is to strengthen both John in his suffering for his faith (1:9) and other Christians who suffer for their faith. It is a vision to give hope and confidence in times of darkness, trust that God’s truth will ultimately prevail. Jesus, too, is said to have “endured the cross” for “the joy that was set before him” (Heb. 12:2).
Is there a “trial” or difficulty you (or someone you know) may be enduring for the sake of Jesus? Ask God for courage and trust that he will ultimately prevail.
Dear God, in my times of discouragement and depression bring to my consciousness the promises of the future with You.
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