The Book of Revelation is a book about the end times, and it can be a bit daunting to read. However, this passage from chapter 7 is a beautiful and hopeful image of the church. It describes a multitude of people from all over the world gathered before the throne of God, worshiping him and praising him. This is a reminder that the church is not just a small group of people, but a vast and diverse community of believers. It is also a reminder that the church is not limited to one place or one time, but is a global movement that will continue to grow and spread until the end of time.
The passage is also a reminder of the importance of worship. When we worship God, we are acknowledging his greatness and his power. We are also expressing our love and gratitude for him. Worship is a way of connecting with God and with his people. It is a way of giving ourselves to him and of receiving his love and grace.
Feel free to share this with anyone who you think might be interested in growing deeper in their faith and Christian discipleship.
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00:00:00:09 – 00:00:22:06
Hello. Welcome back, friends, to the Pastor Talk Podcast. We are continuing on with our Lenten series, a time this year where we’re slowing down. We’re doing some reflections on some favorite texts that Pastor Clinton myself have, and we’re glad to have you joining us here for another one of those conversations here today. This is going to be Pastor Clint’s choice for a text.
00:00:22:08 – 00:00:33:48
I’ll let him introduce it. But we’ve been all over the Bible. We’ve been through the Old Testament into the New Testament. And now we’re going to be turning our attention here to the very end of the New Testament in the Book of Revelations.
00:00:34:33 – 00:01:03:21
Yeah, I know. The Book of Revelation is a book that can make people a little nervous. Michael. And there there is, as you know, this throughout this book, lots of strange stories, lots of strange imagery, lots of strange symbolism. And I know that many people are attracted to that. They they love the sort of deep weirdness strangeness of this book.
00:01:03:21 – 00:01:37:14
And and I suppose I resonate maybe to some extent with that. But the passage that I’ve chosen is, I think, something different than that. It comes in the midst of the seventh chapter. There’s been a number of people sealed, and then beginning in verse nine of Chapter seven, we get this beautiful old global universal picture of the church and the culmination of the church.
00:01:37:14 – 00:02:18:45
So let me let me just read this for folks who may not be familiar with it. After that, I looked and there was a great multitude that could not be counted from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages standing before the throne and the lamb robed in white with palm branches in their hands. They crowd out, cried out in a loud voice, saying, Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne and the lamb and all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and they worshiped God singing Amen, Blessing and glory and wisdom.
00:02:18:45 – 00:02:57:10
And thanks. Giving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever. Amen. So in the context of the story, this is a moment where the martyrs or the church, the faithful are gathered. And I have just I’ve always loved this language, Michael. The fact that it’s a multitude that can’t be counted, a number beyond imagining the idea that it’s from every nation and tribe and people and language and they are one in worship.
00:02:57:10 – 00:03:29:25
I think this is one of the most powerful snapshots of the promise of what it means to be the people of Jesus, to be the Church of Christ that we have in the New Testament. And it’s told in this flowery, very, you know, over the top kind of language. But at the heart of it is just this this promise that sooner or later the people of Christ meet at the throne of God.
00:03:30:01 – 00:03:57:27
And when they do it, it’s it’s an unimaginable number and it represents every person and people and group that has ever been on the planet. And I, I always I’m always struck by that language. Whenever I think of the church, you know, it’s easy to sort of get focused on our our small version of church in a congregation or in an area.
00:03:57:27 – 00:04:07:53
And this text for me has always been a wonderful reminder that if you step back and try to see the big picture, it really is beyond what you can imagine.
00:04:08:13 – 00:04:35:51
If you’re reading this closely. It’s not just a kind of come by air kind of moment either. I think there’s a beautiful kind of both display of the the size, the multitude, that idea of the universal spread of the church, the universal invitation that is possible. And then ultimately that prophetic vision of the fact that all of these peoples have responded to that gospel.
00:04:35:51 – 00:05:02:54
So there’s this positive in that. But then in addition to that, know this the thing that lives at the center of all of this, it’s in verse 11 here they are falling on their faces before the throne, before God, that their worship, their communal worship is all happening with that at the center. And it’s very easy to to put the center of the the church in lots of different places.
00:05:02:54 – 00:05:28:04
We don’t do it intentionally, but sometimes we make it about our own comfort or we make it about our building, or we make it about a program or fellowship thing that we like. It’s easy to invest in the stuff of church, but a text like this, I think Clint reminds us that our faith is never chiefly about what we get out of it or what interest we have in us saying it’s always is centered around the throne of God.
00:05:28:04 – 00:05:54:21
God is the core principle foundation of everything. And here in this beautiful vision that we have, the people have all of those distractions, put aside all the stuff that might clamor in competition with God, that stuff fades away. And here we see everything as it should be. God at the center and the people surrounding God with worship and praise.
00:05:54:43 – 00:06:44:47
Yeah. And, and not not that it would say this, Michael. So I know that this is interpretation and to some extent putting this on the text, but notice that it doesn’t say denomination, it doesn’t say worship style, it doesn’t say, you know, preferences, it doesn’t say hymns or praise. So it that beyond all of our differences, beyond all the ways we’ve sort of divided up the idea of faith and the idea of Christianity, the idea that that our our preferences and our theologies have led us to our own camps, that beyond that, there is this promise that when the day comes, that all of that is lost.
00:06:44:47 – 00:07:26:24
What will matter is that each of us takes our stand among that uncountable number of people who praise Christ together and who do so presumably in their own language, in their own color, in their own context, in their own culture. I just think this is a this is a for me, a powerful reminder. And when I find myself maybe disenchanted with the church, when I find myself wishing we got closer to this more often, these words have been a comfort to me.
00:07:26:52 – 00:07:58:57
And I. I hold them pretty close to the heart they have been for me a really a guide. They’ve been a nice map to the idea of or to the goal of never forgetting that we talk about church as the place we live and the place we go. But we borrow a word that is much deeper, much bigger and much more profound than we often remember.
00:07:58:57 – 00:08:03:01
And so this has been a really important passage to me.
00:08:03:01 – 00:08:22:28
I think that it would be easy to interpret this text and to read into this text our own individual hopes. I hope I’m part of that number. You know, that that idea that we want to participate in and I want to hear the gospel, I want this to be part of my story. And that’s a beautiful gift. And I certainly hope that we would be moved to do that.
00:08:22:28 – 00:08:49:01
But what strikes me about this text, Clint, is how communal it is, how much it’s not just about your individual experience of the thing, but rather this future vision, this even promise that at the end we will be amidst the sea. The multitude that’s uncountable this, this whole corporate worship that is much, much bigger than you and I individually.
00:08:49:01 – 00:09:21:25
And that I think is a very helpful biblical corrective to some of the assumptions that we sometimes make, because we do make the assumption that the church is on some level about us, about what it gives us, or about what we give to it. We approach the church with that individual question in mind so often. And yet a text like this reminds us that there is a cosmic movement happening, that this Kingdom of God is way beyond our own personal life, in our own personal time, our own personal service.
00:09:21:25 – 00:09:55:26
It’s beyond our individual church’s building, it’s beyond our denomination, it’s beyond our nation, our tribe, our race. It’s beyond all of these things. And our hope ultimately is that God will be at the center of all of these things, that to whatever extent we qualify our life with any one of these descriptors, whether that be our finances or our region or our culture, our tongue, all all of this at the end, as seen here in Revelation, will be we’ll stand beneath the throne of God.
00:09:55:26 – 00:10:17:58
And that, you know, clean is a really good word and a place of hope, quite frankly, in a world that continues to seem to fracture and divide on a lot of these lines. Here we see an image in which those fractures don’t stand under the throne of God. And that’s a deeply hopeful thing to call us forward.
00:10:18:43 – 00:10:47:25
Right. And especially, you know, to sort of take a meta meta or historical view, Michael, and remember where this text comes from, I think especially in light of the fact that revelation, though, I don’t think this is really its point. But revelation has often been read with an eye toward who’s left out, who you know, who’s in, who’s not in who, what, what are the separations, heaven and hell, that kind of thing.
00:10:47:42 – 00:11:36:10
And so to have this moment where we see in the broadest possible sense the Church of Christ gathered at the throne of God, I think is, you know, it’s it’s a helpful reminder, even in the context of the this book on a personal level, I think it’s humbling and encouraging for us to think that somewhere today on the globe that we live on is a person in a in a place will never be whose name, will never know, who’s language we wouldn’t understand and whose life we really can’t imagine.
00:11:37:35 – 00:12:01:28
And the day will come where we may be shoulder to shoulder with them. And the only thing that we would have in common is that both of us, in our own context, in our own life, tried to put our faith in the cross and tried to be followers of Jesus Christ. And that’s enough that that truly, when you get right down to it, is in some ways the only thing that matters.
00:12:01:28 – 00:12:33:18
Now. How you live that out does make that matters too. But but from a from a glimpse of this picture, the only thing that that person and I may share is the one that we sought to follow and the one we trusted with our life and, you know, we just don’t think like that. We we think about going into the sanctuary and singing songs we know and whether the sermon was good or whether a person’s Presbyterian or a methodist.
00:12:33:18 – 00:12:53:00
And so I just think this is a helpful corrective when I get overly focused on the small picture, this is the biggest picture possible and it overwhelms me. It astounds me. And I think it it really assists me to remember the thing to which were called to be a part.
00:12:53:52 – 00:13:27:59
Maybe the last thing for me that jumps out here is in verse 12, this this very simple but powerful word B to our God forever, which is an amazing thing to say, our God to say my God in the first place. But then our when you just go back to no one can count the nations, the tribes, the peoples, the languages, when all of them can join their voices together and say, B to our God forever, that kind of universal claim that this is our God.
00:13:27:59 – 00:13:59:25
Clint that that’s a beautiful frame. In fact, in many ways this a controversial and challenging frame because it calls us to ask ourselves honestly, to courageously question, is that the kind of strong, ultimate, providential, loving God that I believe in? Do I believe that that God is big enough and desires enough for all of us to be able to say our and if we believe that it should shape and change our lives in a fundamental ways, in challenging ways?
00:13:59:25 – 00:14:27:48
And I think to your point, we are very tempted, I think, to go inward to to make some very basic kind of assumptions when we come to church about what’s going to happen there. And a text like this calls us to see far beyond not just this place and not just these people, but even this time, I mean, even beyond the moment in which we live and to our hope and trust that in that day, we too will raise our voice to say our God forever.
00:14:27:48 – 00:14:59:09
Yeah. And you know, the Book of Revelation, Michael, again, as you well know, is not the kind of book that intends to be taken literally. It’s a symbolic book. There’s a lot of there’s a lot in it that isn’t verbatim. And yet I’ve always thought of this as a literal, you know, tried to imagine literally a people beyond number and every color and every language and every tongue.
00:14:59:09 – 00:15:35:33
And again, I just find that whenever I go back to this verse, this passage, I’m moved by it. And so I hope there’s something maybe in it that speaks to someone else. I think this conception of the timeless universal Church of Jesus Christ meeting at the Throne for no other reason than to proclaim blessing, glory, wisdom, Thanksgiving, honor, power and might be to our God, is a really powerful moment and one that I think we can benefit from.
00:15:36:05 – 00:15:59:47
Absolutely. I hope that there has been something encouraging, challenging and inviting in a text like this that we could imagine ourselves in this scene and certainly hope that as you continue this Lenten journey, it might be a moment for you to both reflect upon your own understanding of your part in this greater witness and maybe even inspired to grow deeper within that hope that you’ve been blessed.
00:15:59:47 – 00:16:02:51
And we look forward to seeing you next week on Thursday. Thanks.
00:16:03:18 – 00:16:24:43
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00:16:24:59 – 00:16:43:51
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00:16:44:04 – 00:17:17:29
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00:17:17:40 – 00:17:34:39
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