Today’s readings.. (1 Samuel 3), (Isaiah 49), (Revelation 7,8,9)
The book of Revelation, while containing many visions of a symbolic nature that indicate the fate of the godless, also includes some plain statements of the future for those who are in awe of their Creator and who spend their lives aiming to serve him in an acceptable way.
Today’s 7th chapter begins with a picture of those “sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel” [v.4]. Then the vision opens out in v.9 & 10; “after this I looked, and behold a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’”
This event was prefigured when Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey and the crowd “took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him” [John 12 v.13] and the crowd said, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel.” These words will find their real fulfilment when Jesus comes again. The symbol of the white robes is explained in v.14 (of Rev. 7) “These are the ones coming out of great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” We can understand the symbolic language here.
As we read on into Rev. Ch. 9 we see more symbolic language about the terrible fate of the godless as this world ends. Also in Ch. 8 we read with great interest the word “wormwood” which has the same underlying meaning as the word Chernobyl where the Russian nuclear tragedy occurred some years ago; it was only after the terrible tragedies in Japan with the earthquake and tsunami that the horrible detail of Chernobyl fully came to light – and its ongoing tragic consequences. We read, “A third of the waters became wormwood, and many people died from the water …” [v.11]
Ch. 9 tells us of the final terrible judgements, “but only those people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads” [v.4] will suffer. How vital to be among the “sealed”. We started with the quote about those “sealed from every tribe in Israel” – this ties in with today’s Isaiah reading, “Thus says the Lord GOD, ‘Behold , I will lift my hand to the nations … and they shall bring your sons … and your daughters … Then you will know that I am the LORD; those who wait for me shall not be put to shame.” [Ch.49 v.22,23]
World crises are increasing, especially near God’s Holy Land – Lord, how long? At that time Israel will know! But the question for each one of us is – will I be among that “great multitude”? How we live now provides the answer..