“… “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.”
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.