Then one of the elders responded, saying to me, “These who are dressed in the long white robes—who are they, and from where did they come?” I said to him, “My lord, you know [the answer].” And he said to me, “These are the people who come out of the great tribulation (persecution), and they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb [because of His atoning sacrifice]. For this reason, they are [standing] before the throne of God; and they serve Him [in worship] day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne will [e]spread His tabernacle over them and shelter and protect them [with His presence]. They will hunger no longer, nor thirst anymore; nor will the sun [f]beat down on them, nor any [scorching] heat; for the Lamb who is in the center of the throne will be their Shepherd, and He will guide them to springs of the waters of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes [giving them eternal comfort].” – Revelation 7:13-17
For years I thought that heaven was all about worshipping and playing harps and spending time with God – and it will be – just not all the time.
Here is such a description and by the sounds of it – these individuals are doing just that – worshipping God and being in His presence all the time – and today I had to ask myself – why them?
Most of us do not know what persecution is – at least for those who live in a more democratic environment of government. As part of the Partners International ministry, I know exactly what this portion of Scripture is saying. Our national workers have shelter some of the time, no protection most of the time, hunger because of the poverty of their mission field, and thirst because of the lack of clean water and the lack of it’s abundance. The elements of their world make the enjoyment of life not a priority. So when they hear David declaring that the Lord is their Shepherd, they take that literally – counting on and trusting in His guiding hand. So for heaven to be a place of divine care and attention, life-giving water and eternal comfort – well no wonder that because they have given so much, given their lives, they are given eternal rest from responsibilities and are tasked for only the primary purpose of us all – to glorify God before His throne and worship Him.
Therein lies our hope – not that life would be gracious and kind to us – to know that whatever God has tasked us to do here, He is with us and has a promise that He will be with us, forever.
May the Lord sustain you and keep you and may you find your strength today not in the things that you know but in the hope that the God who holds you in the palm of His hand will keep you and bless you and give you His favour.