Yes, I know, I should be studying. Like hardcore. But I’d much rather study the Bible. And Revelation 7 was the perfect reading for this morning. Except it made me long even more (if that is possible) for finals to be over and for Heaven to be here!
Let me frame the context. Six of the seven scrolls of God’s judgement have been opened. False peace, War, Famine, Death, Martyrs, and Widespread Chaos (aka the earth falling apart). So, chapter 7 comes in as an interlude, a break in the action, before the seven scroll is opened (and all Hell breaks loose on earth–quite literally). And what a beautiful pause it is.
The 4 angels at each corner of the earth are holding back the wind, and another angel is holding the seventh seal poised and ready to unleash it’s destruction upon the earth. But then John hears that angel’s voice, saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.” And God seals 144,000 people from the tribes of Israel. Not literally, understand, but 144,000 = 12^2 t x 10^3. The number 12 always represents God’s people. The number 10 always represents completion. So, God’s people are completed! Then John see more people–from every tribe and language and tongue–standing before the throne, falling on their faces and worshipping the One seated on the throne.
Then one of the elders who sit around the throne speaks to John and asks him who these people are. John has no clue, but he knows this guy must know so that is exactly what He says, “Sir, you know.” And the elder says that these are those who have come out of the tribulation and have washed their robes white in the blood of the Lamb. He continues,
“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.”
Wow, what an ending to this chapter. I want to focus in on the italicized phrase. That was what hit me hard with grace this morning.
I just finished going through Ruth with some wonderful people from church. And it’s been wonderful. And this phrase brought me back to when Boaz says of Ruth that she will be blessed because she has found refuge under the wings of God. Well, the idea is a bit different here and I’m gonna try and bridge the two…hopefully it isn’t too out there. It’s just what comes to mind. The image here in Revelation 7 is that of God spreading His tabernacle over us. He dwells with us (See Revelation 21:3). He invites us to dwell in His communion and protection. So, the picture that comes to mind when thinking about the tabernacle is the Ark of the Covenant. Try and picture it in your mind? Focus on what the top would have looked like. The mercy seat is in the middle (not really a seat, just an empty spot)…and what are on each side of the mercy seat? Wings. Of the seraphim. So, here in Revelation 7, we find ourselves right there in the middle. Except it’s better, because God’s wings surround us. And the mercy seat is completed. Through Christ. And we are surrounded by God’s very presence.
To close, focus on that. His presence.
Psalm 16:11…”You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fulness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”
Psalm 65:4…”Blessed is the one you choose and bring near, to dwell in your courts! We shall be satisfied with the goodness of your house, the holiness of your temple!”
Remember that His presence is right here with you.
Do not forget that He is Immanuel. God with us. Always and forevermore.