Revelation 7 Devotions
by Pastor Mark Hudson
This chapter is the last chapter in the 2nd of 7 sections in Revelation. The section focuses on the church in the tribulation. But this word tribulation does not refer to what some of you may think when you hear the word: tribulation. This refers to all the trials, persecution, and tribulations that Christians have gone through since the resurrection of Christ. This chapter ends with the saints in heave worshiping Christ and “God . . . wip (ing) away every tear from their eyes.” V. 17.
One of the more perplexing sections is the number of 144,000 from verses 4-8. Then the next verse Johns sees, “a great multitude that no one could number.” Also the tribes of Israel are mentioned in vs. 4-8, but in v. 9, John sees people, “from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages . . . .”
So first why the exact numbers of 144,000 and 12,000? Since this is a highly symbolic book, we should expect each of the numbers to be symbolic and not literal (contrary to other religious groups). One way to look at this number is 12 is significant due to the 12 tribes in Israel and 12 apostles. That might be the source of 24. The 1,000 is generic number for a great multitude. But honestly, it is hard to pin down where this number comes from. Maybe it is my lack of understanding the symbolic Biblical use of numbers.
Yet, I think we can agree on this: When a believer gets to heaven there will NOT be only 144,000 people in heaven. There will be so many in heaven, we won’t be able to count them v. 9. Heaven will be filled with so many different skin hues, from different cultures, from different beautiful languages (at least they originally spoke many languages on earth). Heaven, in that sense, will resemble L.A. and New York City more than Fenton, MI.
We ought to see beauty in these differences – hair, skin, culture, and language. But there is also a unifying factor. Without this unifying factor we would only see differences: different values, different goals, and different destinies. Heaven is a place of unity, harmony, and shared values – all focused on the glory of God and the worship of Jesus Christ. First, they were sealed v. 4 signifying salvation and ownership. Then in v. 9 they are standing before the throne and before the Lamb. “To stand before the throne and the Lamb means to have fellowship with, clothed in white (forgiveness Rev 7:14) with palm branches in their hands indicating salvation (John 12:13). They are unified in worshipping the one true God through Jesus Christ. This unifying factor brings nations, cultures, and different people together. Don’t you long to be truly one worshipping Christ with all kinds of different people from different parts of the world? What a magnificent experience and sight that will be.
In verse 14, some Christian think the “great tribulation” refers to short period of time after the rapture. But as we have clarified, the tribulation can refer to what Christians of all ages go through: Matt 24:9; John 16:33; Rom 12:12; Rev 2:9. You will notice what John writes at 7:15-17 is similar to 21:3-4. What we know is that we are promised to be with him forever in heaven. Of course, we know the Bible’s view of heaven has been criticized as pie in the sky or wishful thinking. But we are told about heaven often enough to suggest something more significant for us.
We should focus on this hope. We should think deeply about heaven and meditate on what God has prepared for us. Do not think you are wrong to drink deeply of the hope of heaven since God has promised this to all who love our Lord Jesus. This is not escapism. Meditating on heaven is longing for your real home where you belong if you love Jesus Christ. You should long to be there if you long to worship Christ now. Pity the person who does not long to worship Christ now. Sadly, you will go to a very different place.