John saw a great multitude, more than could be numbered. They were from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. While I’m sure that what they beheld must have taken their breath away, they could not be restrained from crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” They were those who had come out of “the great tribulation.” Those who, during earth’s darkest time, had “washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Rev. 7:9-14).
I connect. Not because I think this season is the great tribulation, but because it has been a great tribulation. Not that all have had to endure hardship to the same extent, or have suffered equally, but regardless of how things started in 2020 and how they’ve played out, for all it has been a great tribulation. And, I also connect because they are those who are clothed in white, waving palm branches of victory, and that because of the finished work of the cross of Christ and the forever cleansing of the blood of the Lamb.
And, having connected, I pause and chew on what it will be like to be with that great multitude before the throne and before the Lamb. I can only imagine (thank you, MercyMe).
But I read on and realize that it won’t just be a “spectators sport.” That the throne and the Lamb will be so much more than something we behold from afar.
“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. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and He will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
(Revelation 7:15-17 ESV)
God who sits on the throne will shelter them. The Lamb in the midst of the throne will shepherd them. Hmmm . . .
If I’m picking up what’s being laid down, heaven won’t be like some grand, outdoor concert venue where the people out there will gaze at the glory of the One seated on the stage. The spatial thing is somehow erased as the One on the throne shelters them. Literally, spreads His tent over them. Takes up residence over them. Before the throne yet enveloped by the One who sits on the throne. I can only imagine.
What’s more, the Lamb, while transfixing our gaze and evoking our worship, doesn’t set Himself apart on some pedestal for eternal adoration (though He is worthy of such). Instead, He shepherds us. Guiding us to whatever heavenly, eternal springs of living water look like, feel like, and taste like. The Lamb is in the midst of the throne of God, and yet continues to be the Shepherd in the midst of those He has bought with His blood. What will that even be like? I can only image!
A Shelter and a Shepherd. It’s what awaits those who come out of tribulation, regardless of how great (or not so great) that tribulation might be. It is our firm hope. It is our sure future.
“Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
(Revelation 7:12 ESV)
By His grace. For His glory.