Trumpets Three and Four

“Then the third angel blew his trumpet, and a great star fell from the sky, burning like a torch. It fell on one-third of the rivers and on the springs of water. The name of the star was Bitterness. It made one-third of the water bitter, and many people died from drinking the bitter water. Then the fourth angel blew his trumpet, and one-third of the sun was struck, and one-third of the moon, and one-third of the stars, and they became dark. And one-third of the day was dark, and also one-third of the night.”
Revelation 8:10-12 NLT

The third angel put the trumpet to his lips and took a deep breath. He paused, perhaps deeply touched with thoughts of sadness and dismay, because he knew what would happen once he sounded the note. What an awesome responsibility it is, to be an instrument of God’s judgement. He finally expelled the air in his lungs, and the trumpet blast rang true and pure through the Heavenly realms. 

People on earth looked up and fear gripped them as a huge bright object appeared, quickly growing larger and larger as it entered the earth’s atmosphere. It was burning, like a torch according to John’s vision. That meant that it would have had a wake of fire spewing out behind it. Finally it reached earth, falling “on one-third of the rivers and on the springs of water”. John was told it was a star with the name “Wormwood” or “Bitterness”. And it made one third of the earth’s rivers and the springs of water too toxic to safely drink. And we are told that “many people died from drinking the bitter water”. Today nearly ten percent of the world’s population do not have access to a clean and reliable water supply. Perhaps a picture of what is to come.

Then, in his vision, John saw another angel step up and put the trumpet to his lips. I wonder what he was thinking about as he took a deep breath? Perhaps he too had a feeling of trepidation, even horror, about what was to come.  The impact of this trumpet blast on the celestial objects we are so familiar with was stark. Just imagine the consequences of seeing a third of the sun disappear? There would instantly have been a reduction in warmth. But the celestial devastation didn’t end there, because John saw a chunk disappear from the moon and many familiar stars couldn’t be seen anymore. John also saw that darkness for the day and for the night increased by a third. 

We can only speculate on what would have caused such an event. Those on earth at the time would have been worried and even sick with fear, and perhaps those marked with God’s seal were working overtime explaining why all these things were happening. And they would have implored those around them to turn from their wicked ways and reach out in repentance to God.

This apocalyptic picture, so factually and unemotionally laid out in John’s vision, nevertheless perhaps instils within us pilgrims feelings of fear and trepidation as well. Perhaps we try and rationalise things and say that the events portrayed will never happen in our lifetimes. Some might even try and interpret John’s vision in a spiritual way, somehow reducing its impact and relevance. But we have to accept the end times events as written – why else would Jesus have given His friend John so many details of what was to come?

In Matthew 24:13, Jesus said, “But the one who endures to the end will be saved”. And that is really the message that we pilgrims must grasp. If we are still alive when the mayhem set out after the trumpets sound, then we call upon our faith, our trust in God, and stand firm, enduring what comes our way until the end. Sadly, Jesus also said in Matthew 24:10, “And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other”. Let’s not be counted in that number. 

Dear Father God. We confess that we experience much fear and trepidation when we read about John’s vision and try and picture in our minds what will happen. But in all that we pray for the strength to be obedient to Your call to endure to the end. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Trumpets One and Two

“The first angel blew his trumpet, and hail and fire mixed with blood were thrown down on the earth. One-third of the earth was set on fire, one-third of the trees were burned, and all the green grass was burned. Then the second angel blew his trumpet, and a great mountain of fire was thrown into the sea. One-third of the water in the sea became blood, one-third of all things living in the sea died, and one-third of all the ships on the sea were destroyed.” 
Revelation 8:7-9 NLT

The sound of a trumpet blast reverberates around the Heavens and the Earth. Did those remaining on Earth hear it? Did they wonder if it really happened, asking those around them if they heard it as well? In his vision, John tells us that after the first trumpet blast there was a terrible event, of hail, intermingled with fire and blood, being deposited on the earth. And as a consequence, the earth burned out of control, losing one-third of the trees and all the grass. What did those who survived think about what was happening? 

Such an event is totally beyond our experience today. We can only try, without really much success, to think it through. Did anyone make the connection between God’s judgment and their sin? Of course all those marked with God’s seal would have been helping them make that connection, but people’s hearts were probably hardened, as they preferred darkness to light. In Matthew 24:37-39, Jesus said, “When the Son of Man returns, it will be like it was in Noah’s day. In those days before the flood, the people were enjoying banquets and parties and weddings right up to the time Noah entered his boat. People didn’t realise what was going to happen until the flood came and swept them all away. That is the way it will be when the Son of Man comes.” Isn’t it strange how resilient people can be. They can be experiencing a catastrophe but still rationalise their way through it. 

And then there was a second trumpet blast. We don’t know if the two trumpet blasts were separated by just a short time, say a day or two, or whether there was a significant gap of a generation or more between them. Had the memories of the first blast been lost over the years? And was God now allowing another judgement to take place to grab their attention? The second blast preceded another catastrophe – a mountain of fire plunged into the sea. It caused a disaster as the water turned blood red, presumably with whatever the fire was caused by, and the result was too toxic for a third of all the fish and other sea creatures to survive. And the resulting shock must have caused something like a tsunami, that destroyed any ships in its way. A third of our maritime vessels were lost. The impact of the mountain of fire must have caused human casualties as well. 

But here’s the thing. Will the people then again lapse into rationalisation, and shrug off the event as being no more than perhaps a collision with an asteroid or large meteorite, disastrous though that they may have been? Or will they finally get the message that God was at long last justly dealing with the sin and wickedness prevalent on the earth? We don’t know how people will respond or what will really happen in these terrible days, but God knows.

To us pilgrims, perhaps reeling with shock from reading what is going to happen, we can do three things. Of course we pray, even the more earnestly for people we know to get the message. And that brings the second thing we can do – we share our message – God’s message of hope and reconciliation – with the world around us. Thirdly, we look after ourselves as we make sure we stay close to our loving Heavenly Father. Only He can save us from the wrath and judgements to come.

Dear Heavenly Father, we thank You for Your presence in our lives and Your encouragement as we plod along on our pilgrimage through life. Please help us we pray to clearly deliver Your Gospel to the lost and dying around us. In Jesus name. Amen.

The End Times

“Then the seven angels with the seven trumpets prepared to blow their mighty blasts.” 
Revelation 8:6 NLT

At this point in John’s vision, the humans on earth had been through famines and earthquakes. Wars and slaughter. All the woes delivered through the breaking of the seals were behind them. There were also 144,000 of God’s people, the Jews, present on earth and marked out with a seal that clearly denoted them as belonging to God. And here we are about to embark on the seven trumpet judgements. 

This was clearly the “End Times”, an event, or series of events, during which the earth and its inhabitants would be destroyed. Note that we are not aware from John’s vision about any reference to time. We do not know if all these judgements were to take place quickly, or whether they were to be drawn out over hundreds or even thousands of years. Was a judgement to be delivered followed by a long gap before the next one or was there to be one after another in quick succession? And it also begs the question – why didn’t God apply His judgement on the wickedness of mankind all in one go?

The obvious answer is down to God’s infinite patience, grace and compassion. We saw this time and again in the Old Testament accounts of when His people, the Israelites, lapsed into sin and wickedness. Sometimes generations passed away before God brought about a judgement dealing with their wickedness and evil ways, using nations such as the Philistines or the Assyrians as His judgement tools. Perhaps in the End Times in John’s vision, God was still patiently and graciously applying His judgements a bit at a time, in the process giving everyone, even generations, an opportunity to turn from their wicked ways and embrace Jesus as their Lord and Saviour.

There are some today who believe that the End Time judgements have already started. Certainly, we hear reports of wars and strife, with the last century seeing two wars of unprecedented scale. There are global famines. Tsunamis. Earthquakes. All signs that appear both in Jesus’ accounts in Matthew, and in John’s vision here in Revelation. And there was a great expectation in the early church that Jesus would return “soon”. In reality we don’t know when the End Times will start, but we do know that one day there will come a time of judgement. Jesus’s disciples asked Him about when the world will end, and He gave them some clear answers in Matthew 24. But Jesus also said that no-one knows when it will be.

Today’s pilgrims know what is coming. And we look around at the wickedness that is infecting our world like a cancer, spreading out of control, threatening to consume us all in a maelstrom of evil. Our politicians have adopted anti-God ways and attitudes. Oh, if only they would read Psalm 2, and turn towards the One who has all wisdom and whose heart is breaking with pain over what they are doing. So we pilgrims pray for all those in government. All those who have rejected God and His ways. We pray for our friends, families and communities. And patiently wait for the Creator of the Universe, our loving Heavenly Father, to work out His ways in the souls of mankind.

Father God. I pray with my fellow brothers and sisters for our governments, our families, and friends, our communities, that Your Kingdom will come and Your will be done, today and forever. Amen.

Seven Trumpets

“Then the seven angels with the seven trumpets prepared to blow their mighty blasts.” 
Revelation 8:6 NLT

Seven angels each had a trumpet. These would not have been any old ordinary trumpets because they were each capable of delivering a mighty blast. And the angels doing the blowing were obviously strong enough to provide the necessary air pressure.

In the Bible, the trumpet was an essential instrument with a two-fold role – to grab people’s attention and to add to the mix in the Jewish praise bands. But what was it like? One thing it wasn’t – it was not like the modern trumpet in all its guises and variations. The trumpets referred to in our verses today would most probably have either been based on the Jewish rams horns, or Shofars, or on the trumpet made of beaten silver that we find in Numbers 10. But whatever they were, they were quite an instrument. It should also be noted that some skill would be required to play them, as anyone who has tried to play a brass instrument knows.

There was one notable occasion in the Old Testament when trumpets or rams horns achieved a remarkable result. Joshua 6 records the details of how the city of Jericho was conquered by the Israelites, and trumpets played a significant role in its demise. We read in Joshua 6:8, “After Joshua spoke to the people, the seven priests with the rams’ horns started marching in the presence of the Lord, blowing the horns as they marched. And the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant followed behind them“. Reading on we find that the walls later collapsed, with the trumpets co-ordinating the people’s shouts.  But notice that there were seven priests blowing seven trumpets or rams horns (depending on which Bible version we read). That number seven again, denoting completeness and perfection.

For today’s pilgrim it is easy to feel somewhat detached when reading this verse. It describes something that will happen at some time in the future, too far removed to have any relevance. The expression “blowing your own trumpet” isn’t heard so much in these digital days, but it describes the act of bragging or boasting about exploits, or things we have done, with perhaps some amplification and exaggeration spicing up the story. We read in Proverbs 27:1-2, “Don’t brag about tomorrow, since you don’t know what the day will bring. Let someone else praise you, not your own mouth— a stranger, not your own lips.” And at the end of a detailed list of all the abuse and hardship the Apostle Paul had experienced, he said, “If I must boast, I would rather boast about the things that show how weak I am.” He was not going to be accused of boasting about what he had experienced. However, there is one thing worth blowing a trumpet about – the Lord. We read in 1 Corinthians 1:31, “Therefore, as the Scriptures say, “If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord.”” Now there’s something worth blowing our trumpets about – our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Father God. We gladly blow our trumpets announcing all that You have done for us. We praise and worship You today with deeply grateful hearts. Amen.

The Incense Burner

“Then another angel with a gold incense burner came and stood at the altar. And a great amount of incense was given to him to mix with the prayers of God’s people as an offering on the gold altar before the throne. The smoke of the incense, mixed with the prayers of God’s holy people, ascended up to God from the altar where the angel had poured them out. Then the angel filled the incense burner with fire from the altar and threw it down upon the earth; and thunder crashed, lightning flashed, and there was a terrible earthquake.”
Revelation‬ ‭8:3-5‬ ‭NLT

Something significant happened when the incense burner collided with Planet Earth. We are not told in John’s vision the extent of the devastation but the thunder, lightning and the earthquake would have been yet something else to be endured by the remaining inhabitants, those still alive on earth. But in what way was it significant?

To me, the symbolism was of the holiness of Heaven colliding with the sin and wickedness present on Earth. The incense burner held two things of significance, which were God’s incense, and the prayers of the saints. And they were poured out on the altar as an offering to God. But the angel then took fire from the altar and filled up the incense burner, before hurling it through the spiritual dimension of Heaven to the Earthly dimension below. Did those still alive on earth at that time see something hit their surroundings; perhaps they thought it was a meteorite or asteroid, as some might assume? Or was there just another apparently natural event that once again caused much devastation? Of course, we don’t know, but John’s vision was clear. The Bible does tell us that Heavenly events can have an earthly impact. For example, in Luke 10:18 Jesus said that He saw satan fall from Heaven like lightning.

Perhaps the fire confirmed what John the Baptist had prophetically said about Jesus some time before, which we read in Matthew 3:11, “I baptise with water those who repent of their sins and turn to God. But someone is coming soon who is greater than I am—so much greater that I’m not worthy even to be his slave and carry his sandals. He will baptise you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.” Fire purifies. Fire cleanses. Perhaps on this occasion fire represents yet another judgement from God in response to the wickedness found on Earth. 

And the message was clear – sin can in no way prevail when it encounters holiness. An electrical storm of celestial proportions was followed by a “terrible earthquake“. Did the remaining inhabitants on earth rationalise the seemingly natural disaster to make it fit their entrenched belief system? Or did they at last realise that they were experiencing the consequences of their sins and wickedness? 

In these verses located between the judgements of the seven seals and the seven trumpets, we pause and consider how devastating sin really is and how it breaks God’s heart to see His creation behave in sinful and wicked ways.

Father God. On our knees before You today we confess our sins and pray for Your forgiveness. Your kindness, love and compassion knows no bounds. We are so grateful. Amen.


“Then another angel with a gold incense burner came and stood at the altar. And a great amount of incense was given to him to mix with the prayers of God’s people as an offering on the gold altar before the throne. The smoke of the incense, mixed with the prayers of God’s holy people, ascended up to God from the altar where the angel had poured them out. Then the angel filled the incense burner with fire from the altar and threw it down upon the earth; and thunder crashed, lightning flashed, and there was a terrible earthquake.”
Revelation‬ ‭8:3-5‬ ‭NLT

In John’s vision, another angel appears. He was carrying a “gold incense burner”, which is a vessel usually ornately carved or adorned with a variety of designs, and punctuated with holes to allow the burning incense smoke or fumes to be released into the atmosphere. It would be suspended by a chain or cord, so that it could be carried around. The angel carrying it “came and stood at the altar”.

What is incense and what is it for? Incense is a fragrant oil or wax that, when heated or burnt, gives out a fragrant or pungent smell. In early Jewish liturgy, incense was burnt as a holy offering to God on a purpose built altar. Spiritually, incense is associated with prayer, symbolically rising into God’s presence as the incense smoke rises into the air. So the prayers of God’s people are considered to be an acceptable offering to Him, confirming that we must never neglect our prayer life. He thinks it is something special and pleasing.

The first mention of incense in the Bible was in Exodus 30, where the Lord gave instructions to Moses about the building of an incense altar. So in this picture in John’s vision, we see that incense was still being burnt in Heaven, this time on a gold altar located before God’s throne. 

In the vision, John saw incense being given to the angel, who mixed it with the prayers of God’s “holy people”. That’s important. Incense is associated with holiness. Unholy and inappropriate prayers are unacceptable to God. Paul reminded his protégé, Timothy, of this. We read in 1 Timothy 2:8, “In every place of worship, I want men to pray with holy hands lifted up to God, free from anger and controversy.” In Psalm 141:2, we read, “Accept my prayer as incense offered to you, and my upraised hands as an evening offering.” Whatever our liturgy or theology, Biblically, there is an association between the act of lifting our hands and our holy prayers. Just by opening our hands in God’s presence, as we stretch them up to Heaven, bares our souls before our mighty Creator God, in an attitude of worship and service. And by so doing, our prayers somehow become as pleasing as incense before His throne.

As the scene in John’s vision rolled on, he wrote, “The smoke of the incense, mixed with the prayers of God’s holy people, ascended up to God from the altar where the angel had poured them out”. This had a dramatic impact. The holiness of the incense and the altar contrasted with the unholiness prevalent on the earth, and as a result, the angel filled the incense burner with fire from the altar and threw it to the earth resulting in thunder, lightning and a “terrible earthquake”.  

For pilgrims everywhere the importance of holiness is non-negotiable. We read in 1 Peter 1:16, “But now you must be holy in everything you do, just as God who chose you is holy. For the Scriptures say, “You must be holy because I am holy.”” Believe it or not, there are some things that is impossible for God to do. One of these is that He is unable to accept or allow any form of unholiness in Heaven. Because God is perfectly holy, anyone or anything tainted by even the most infinitesimally small amount of unholiness will fail to gain entry into His presence. And that includes mankind, big time. Thankfully, through Jesus, we can attain that holiness, but we have a big responsibility in ensuring that we remain on the “Highway of Holiness”, as described in Isaiah 35:8. “And a great road will go through that once deserted land. It will be named the Highway of Holiness. Evil-minded people will never travel on it. It will be only for those who walk in God’s ways; fools will never walk there.” We cannot claim the righteousness that was gained for us by the death of Jesus, and then continue in our old sinful ways. The Apostle Paul wrote to the Ephesian church the following (Ephesians 4:21-24), “Since you have heard about Jesus and have learned the truth that comes from him, throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy.”

So we pilgrims turn our backs on our previous lives, tainted as they were by sin and all forms of unholiness. And we keep short accounts with God, confessing our sins with repentant hearts. We have a new nature through Jesus, truly holy. And that is what we must wear.

Dear Father God. Once again we thank You for Jesus, the Alpha and Omega of our faith. There is none other worthy of praise and worship. Amen.

Silence in Heaven

“When the Lamb broke the seventh seal on the scroll, there was silence throughout heaven for about half an hour. I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and they were given seven trumpets.
Revelation‬ ‭8:1-2‬ ‭NLT

We now come to the seventh seal in John’s vision. That number seven again, in this case denoting a complete set of judgements as written on the scroll. The seventh seal allows the final section of the scroll to be unrolled, and the last judgement read out. And silence followed. Two days ago we considered how noisy it will be in Heaven, with all the shouting and singing going on. But now there’s silence. Why?

Perhaps the writing on the scroll behind the seventh seal describes a judgement so severe that all of Heaven draws in breath, feeling tension in the air. And if we read on, we see that the seven trumpet judgements are about to be released. Or perhaps, the silence allows a time of reflection in Heaven, as the enormity of what is happening down on Planet Earth becomes known. But whatever the reason, there now follows the scene in John’s vision of seven angels collecting seven trumpets. 

This is the Time of the End, as far as the earth is concerned. The sin of mankind has finally come to the point where John was shown in his vision that it has to be judged and dealt with. This is a sobering time, even for blood-bought Christians. Jesus spoke much about judgement and hell when He was out and about in Palestine. He warned the people of His day what was to come. For example, we read what He said in John 12:47-48, “I will not judge those who hear me but don’t obey me, for I have come to save the world and not to judge it. But all who reject me and my message will be judged on the day of judgment by the truth I have spoken“. One day there will be a day of reckoning.

What should we pilgrims do, knowing what we know? One thing for sure, we cannot just stand back and let our loved ones and neighbours face the terrible consequences of God’s judgement. Especially when God sent His Son Jesus to tell us what was to come and how we can be spared from such devastating consequences. Jesus also spoke much about hell, which he compared with a familiar place known to His people, the Jews. It was the valley of Hinnom, also referred to as Gehenna. It was here that the dead bodies, usually of criminals, and rubbish were continually burned on smouldering fires, that never went out. That was what He said hell would be like.

We cannot frighten people these days with a description of hell. I find that there can be a cynicism and flippancy permeating anything to do with Christianity amongst those who are not Christians. I can remember sharing about the judgement to come with a man who lives in my community. His response was that he would prefer to join, what he called, “the big party downstairs”, than to spend eternity with God. He has sadly heard about God’s love and grace and has rejected it. And unless he has a change of heart, he will find out what the “big party downstairs” will really be like. But we must still share all that God has done for us with those around us, in the prayerful hope that salvation will knock at the doors of their hearts.

Father God. We thank You that You sent Jesus to this world to save us. And in these difficult times I pray that You lead us to just the right people who You know are just waiting to be told about Your love and grace. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.

No More Tears

“… “These are the ones who died in the great tribulation. They have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb and made them white. That is why they stand in front of God’s throne and serve him day and night in his Temple. And He who sits on the throne will give them shelter. They will never again be hungry or thirsty; they will never be scorched by the heat of the sun. For the Lamb on the throne will be their Shepherd. He will lead them to springs of life-giving water. And God will wipe every tear from their eyes.”
Revelation 7:14b-17

Earlier in this Revelation chapter, John saw in his vision a great crowd clothed in white gowns and holding palm branches. And they were shouting out a declaration of why they were in Heaven – solely because God saved them. He saved them from the consequences of their sins. He saved them through His grace and mercy. He saved them so that they could spend eternity with Him. And John is told that this great crowd of souls were wearing robes of white. Not just an earthly white, but these must have been a dazzling white because they had been washed in Jesus’ blood. There would have been no impurities in those robes. They epitomised total righteousness and holiness. And those souls deserved to wear them because they stood firm through such difficult times.

John tells us that this great crowd were standing in front of God’s throne, serving Him continually in His Temple. But then comes the really compassionate and poignant bit. However, to really appreciate what John saw about these souls, we have to remember what they had been through. They had all lived through the consequences of the six seals revealed in the precious chapter in Revelation. So from the first seal, they would have been involved in many battles. The second seal brought war and slaughter, and some of the “great crowd”would have perished here. The third seal led to desperate times of famine, when hunger and thirst would have been the norm, and people would have died from malnutrition. The fourth seal brought more hunger, along with summary executions and disease. The fifth seal revealed God’s people who had been martyred for their faith. And finally, the sixth seal destroyed their homes through an unprecedented series of natural disasters, rendering them homeless. But here’s the thing. Our wonderful Heavenly Father gave them shelter. Never again were they to be hungry or thirsty. Jesus was going to look after them, and provide for all their needs. And all the tears that would have become common place, would never return, because God had wiped them all away.

We don’t understand why God’s people will be caught up in the Great Tribulation. Some will resent the fact that God won’t take them away from the earth before He exercises His judgement on all those who remain. One day we will find out why, but in the meantime, we pilgrims carry on through our lives, trusting in the One who gave us life in the first place. 

Dear Father God. We have so many questions. But with unshakeable faith and trust in You we offer you our grateful thanks for helping each one of us on our journeys. You stand with us through the hard and difficult times. You lead and guide us when the way forward seems confused. And we thank You that one day You will bring us to pools of life giving water, sustaining us through eternity. Amen.

Singing in Heaven

“And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living beings. And they fell before the throne with their faces to the ground and worshiped God. They sang, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honour and power and strength belong to our God forever and ever! Amen.””
Revelation‬ ‭7:11-12‬ ‭NLT

If we had ever hoped to find a quiet and peaceful place in Heaven, when we get there, then we are going to be disappointed. Earlier in this chapter, we heard a “great roar” from a crowd too numerous to mention, making a shout of declaration about God’s salvation. And then in chapter five there was a new song being sung, the twenty four elders and the four living beings singing the verse, millions of angels singing the chorus, and then every living creature, on earth, under the earth and in the seas, making a tuneful contribution to the song for the bridge part. Well, here we are with another song being sung, and the lyrics are, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honour and power and strength belong to our God forever and ever! Amen.” Once again it is the twenty four elders and the four living beings who are singing, prostrated before God’s throne in adoration and worship. Heaven will be full of song, full of shouting, full of praise and worship to God, and full of much God-focused life. Not a quiet place for the dead at all.

How does that make us pilgrims feel? Challenged perhaps? Worried about having to take part? Unable to get our minds around what a different life with God in Heaven will be like? Do we have unrealistic expectations?  Perhaps there are golfers amongst us who expect Heaven to be full of wonderful golf courses, with perfect greens. Or musicians who expect to find Heavenly orchestras, playing with skills out of this world. Or physicists who are looking forward to answers to their unsolved problems and unanswered questions. Or ministers expecting to preach even longer sermons. But none of these worldly views or expectations feature in John’s vision. All he could see was an environment of totally God-focused worship and praise. There will be no room for anything else.

We of course do not know what we will find in Heaven but we do know who lives there. He is the King of kings and Lord of lords. He is the mighty and merciful God. He sent His Son, Jesus, to show us the way and invite us to spend an eternity with Him. When we look around us and see how wonderfully He has made us and the earth in which we live, and realise that, through Adam’s sin, this is a world under a curse, populated by sinful people, and then we turn our eyes to what Heaven must be like, totally untainted and just as God designed it, I know it’s going to be a wonderful place to be. So let’s fix our eyes on our Heavenly home, just over the horizons of our consciousnesses, and start to flex our praise and worship muscles so we’re ready and raring to go when the time comes.

Father God. You are worthy of our praise and worship, unrestrained from every part of our beings. Please bring a touch of Heaven to this sin-laden world, and increase our knowledge of who You are. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

The Vast Crowd

“After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. And they were shouting with a great roar, “Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne and from the Lamb!””
“Then one of the twenty-four elders asked me, “Who are these who are clothed in white? Where did they come from?” And I said to him, “Sir, you are the one who knows.” Then he said to me, “These are the ones who died in the great tribulation. They have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb and made them white””.
Revelation‬ ‭7:9-10,13-14‬ ‭NLT

Again the scene changes before John in his vision. He now becomes aware of a “vast crowd, too great to count”. They were wearing white robes and held palm branches, and their focus was on God, sitting on His throne, and on His Son Jesus. A “great roar” rose from them, as they shouted out the phrase, “Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne and from the Lamb!”

Immediately, our thoughts take us back to the last time a crowd shouted out praises to Jesus. Do we remember when Jesus was riding a donkey into Jerusalem and the people were crying out “Hallelujah”? We read in John 12:13, the people “took palm branches and went down the road to meet him. They shouted, “Praise God! Blessings on the one who comes in the name of the Lord! Hail to the King of Israel!” 

But back to John’s vision. Who were this “vast crowd”? One of the twenty four elders must have had the same thought because he asked John the question, “Who are these who are clothed in white?” John was unable to comment and instead respectfully referred the question back to the elder, who then supplied the answer. The “vast crowd”, too numerous to count, consisted of all the Christians who had died in this time of Tribulation. And in the vision, John recorded, “They have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb and made them white”. What can this be otherwise than a graphic description about how each of the Christians had gained righteousness and holiness through their acceptance of Jesus’ death on Calvary, crucified on a cross so that His righteousness would be traded for their sin. What a wonderful Saviour!

A thought occurred to me this morning. Are we pilgrims prepared to shout out the declaration John heard in Heaven? Or would we become all embarrassed and instead whisper it under our breath. Do we belt out the songs of praise in our churches and fellowships, or do we mutter under our breaths, afraid that someone might hear us? Are we a people who are openly and honestly prepared to state our faith before all men or do we hide our lights under a bushel, as the phrase goes? Do our workmates, neighbours or families know that we belong to God? Or would they have doubts? Hmmm…

One day, we hope to be numbered with the inhabitants of Heaven, shouting out our praises to our wonderful Heavenly Father and to His Son, Jesus. We need to get into practice here on earth – there will be no passengers in that mighty crowd, or any other gathering of God’s children in Heaven. We will find ourselves in an atmosphere of uninhibited praise and worship, straining every part of our new bodies and souls to give God all the glory.

Dear God. We thank You for all that You have done for us. How can we not praise and worship You? Please help us to cast aside our inhibitions and instead grant You all the praises, all the honour, all that You deserve. Amen.