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God’s Plan for Israel, Part 2

God will put His seal on Israel to save Israel, nations, and creation.

 

Revelation 7:9-17 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

 

Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?”  I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

 

“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.”

 

 What do you do and where do you go when you are hit with situations from all directions? Growing up as a Christian in Pakistan, my whole existence was one long episode of pain and suffering on an unprecedented level. I had no one else to turn to but Jesus. Perhaps some of you are in a long period of suffering and pain and you are not sure what to do and to where to turn, Revelation 7:9-17 offers hope and invites us to turn to Jesus and take refuge in Jesus.

 

The problem is that people who are hit with situations from all directions often search for relief. What they need is not relief, but hope and refuge in Jesus. When we looked at God’s Plan for Israel, Part 1, we saw that it was never dependent on their faithfulness to God, but God’s faithfulness to Israel. Similarly, God’s plan for the world is never dependent on its faithfulness but on God’s; thus He offers hope and refuge.

 

Revelation 7:9-17 was revealed to a generation of believers who were hit with situations from all directions. In the midst of intense persecution, they needed to hear, verse 10, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne and to the Lamb!” and verse 15, “He who sits on the throne will shelter them with His presence,” and verse 17, “God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” This did not end their suffering, but it did end their hopelessness because they knew where they were heading.

 

The big idea is that turning to Jesus as our hope and refuge in a season of pain may not end our suffering, but it will end our hopelessness because we know where we are heading. Do you know where you are heading?

 

In Revelation 7:1-8, we learned that in the end times, Israel will seek after God and God will put His seal on Israel to save Israel but that doesn’t mean they will not suffer or be persecuted, but it gave them hope about a hopeless world.

 

God Will Put His Seal on Israel to Save Nations

 

Revelation 7:9 starts with After this” after the sealing of the 144,000 Israelites. In this new scene, verse 9 reads, “After this I looked, and behold a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands.” This heavenly scene may not end your suffering but if you understand the depth of this scene, it will surely give you hope of salvation, security, and safety in a hopeless, fallen, spiritually, and morally degraded world.

 

God’s Plan of Salvation of Nations After the fall of man in Genesis 3, humanity did not only fall into sin, but it also fell under the just wrath of God. Though it did not deserve a second chance, God in His mercy activated a preordained plan of salvation of nations by sending His Son Jesus to save people from every nation, tribes, and language.

 

The execution of the plan of salvation of nations was through the election of Abraham. In Genesis 12, God made an unconditional unilateral covenant with Abraham in which only God had to do something. Genesis 12:3 reads “I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

 

Galatians 3:7-9 says this was the preaching of the gospel beforehand, meaning God’s plan of salvation of nations. In Genesis 35:9-12, God reaffirms Abraham’s unconditional unilateral covenant with his grandson, Jacob, renamed Israel, and eventually from the tribe of Judah, came the salvation of the nations, Jesus, the Son of God. Jesus Himself in John 4:22 said, “Salvation is from the Jews.”

 

Israel’s rejection of their Savior, the Messiah Jesus, was also preordained so that Gentiles can be reached to save nations. We see that in Romans 11:25, “a partial hardening has come upon Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.”

 

However, in the end times, God’s Plan for Israel is that once the church is raptured, God will begin His work with Israel again. Revelation 6–19 describe that work and in Revelation 7, we see a hopeless and Christ-less world get one last chance of eternal refuge in Jesus because of the sealing of Israel to save the nations.

 

God’s Plan of the Celebration of Nations The verse describes the great multitude as a multiethnic, multilingual, and multicultural group that no one could count. This heavenly scene shows the eclectic taste of God.

 

Racial superiority is the tool of the devil that has divided nations, peoples, tribes, and even the church. I do not understand why Christians in the past and even now are divided over something that should be celebrated in the church. If believers cannot get along because of the color of their skin, language, or culture, then how will they propose to live together in heaven forever?

 

I thank God for the diversity in our church. We celebrate it because that is what heaven is going to look. Our vision reflects our desire as a church to strive to be a diverse Christ-centered community caring for every generation in every situation. With that comes a great responsibility and ability to share Jesus with every people group.

 

God’s Plan of Sanctification of Nations Sanctification is the process by which God makes us holy to set us apart exclusively for Him. It is a state of separation from the world unto God by the blood of Jesus. Suffering seems to be a part of that sanctification process.

 

In Revelation 6:9-11, the souls of the slain under the altar were in the outer court and not before the throne of God. When they cried about how long before God's justice prevails in Revelation 6:11, they were told “rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brothers should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.”

 

Unlike the souls of the slain, the great multitude in Revelation 7:9-17 has direct access to God which probably means their sacrifice completed the number of martyrs on earth and thus completed the number of saints in heaven. Saints are sanctified people in heaven.

 

They are clothed in white robes and holding palm branches in their hands, a sign of celebration of victory to welcome the victor. Who is the victor in Revelation 7?

 

Not the saints. Verse 10 reads, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” ” The victor is Jesus whose blood sanctified them. This is a unified acknowledgment of the savior by those brought in the presence of God during the Rapture and post-Rapture.

 

Next, starting in verse 11, “And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” Heaven is full of worshippers from all times to worship God and God’s Son Jesus.

 

This is when we, the readers of Revelation, are told who this group is. Verse 13 we reads, “Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” ”

 

I was talking to two new believers who are coming out of Catholicism. It was hard for them to see the difference between believing in Jesus for salvation and letting go of the allegiance to Mary and the saints. Letting go of traditional religious Christianity or any other religion is really hard. However, the truth is, salvation belongs to the Lord Jesus, and only those who are washed in the blood of the Lamb that is Jesus will enter heaven and will be in His presence forever.

 

The application for us is celebrate diversity and use your ethnic, linguistic, and cultural differences to share the gospel with others and never give credit for salvation to anyone or anything except Jesus alone— not good works nor Mary nor some saint. Salvation belongs to Jesus only.

 

God Will Put His Seal on Israel to Save Creation

 

God chose to save Israel, nations, and creation. It is not explicitly said in the text, but Revelation 7:15 reads, 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.” In heaven, the restored people of God will worship God day and night in His temple which is the dwelling place of God in heaven.

 

God’s presence will be their shelter. Why do we need shelter today? Is it because of elements like heat, cold, rain, and other environmental factors— perhaps because of the absence of God’s presence.

 

The Garden of Eden was the perfect shelter for all living things because of the presence of God. I believe the things that were created for the good of man turned against us because sin did not corrupt humanity alone but nature itself. Therefore, today three basic needs food, water, and shelter are not the issue of humans only but also of other living things.

 

The restoration of creation starts with the restoration of the broken relationship between man and God. In Genesis 3:17, God told Adam, “Cursed is the ground because of you, in pain, you shall eat of it all the days of your life.”

 

In the heavenly scene, restored relationship between God and man in the presence of God will result in restored creation so we read in Revelation 7:16, “They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat.”

 

Revelation 7 closes with a great comforting image of the shepherd guiding his sheep in verse 17 saying, 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.”

 

Some time ago, I read an article where the argument was that Christians do not care about the earth because they believe in a new earth post apocalypse. I think we should do everything in our power to care for the earth because God put the earth under our care but the problem is not us it is the sin and the broken nature.

 

As a way of application, here is the challenge: God never wanted His creation to suffer but also God never wanted to create robots. God became man to suffer on our behalf to put an end to our eternal suffering and to restore everything. Turning to Jesus as our refuge in a season of pain may not end our suffering, but it will end our hopelessness because we know where we are heading in the eternal presence of God where there is no pain and suffering.

 

Last week, I was listening to a Rabbi who talked about how God’s chosen people, Israel, have suffered under Egyptian, Syrian, Babylonian, Greek, Roman, Ottoman, and Britain empires but Israel outlasted all those empires. What kept Israel going was the promise and hope of the Messiah. For thousands of years, no doctrine, dictator, or even the devil himself, could take that hope from them. Ever since God’s election to save Israel, nations, and creation, Satan has been influencing people against Israel so that God’s Plan for Israel may not come to pass to save Israel, nations, and creation.

 

When we are hit by situations from all directions, don’t look for relief from anywhere except from Jesus. Turn to Jesus, the hope of our salvation and eternal refuge.

 

Do not be discoursed that turning to Jesus as our refuge in a season of pain may not end our suffering, but know that it will end our hopelessness because we know where we are heading. If Jesus is our refuge, then a day is coming when Jesus will wipe away every tear from our eyes. He will end our suffering and pain. He will restore the whole creation. He will shepherd us, and He will be our sustenance forever.

 

Study Questions

 

1.       What is the identity of the great multitude? Compare Revelation 7:9, Revelation 6:11, and Revelation 7:14.

 

2.       What role will Israel play in the conversion of “a great multitude that no one can count” in Revelation 7:9 during the great tribulation?

 

Also, in Revelation7:9, what is the significance of the palm branches in their hands (the futurist approach and other interpretations might not see any connection)?

 

3.       What does “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” mean in Revelation 7:10?

  

Deeper Study Questions

 

1.       How does Revelation 7:9 help you to understand diversity in the body of Christ? 

 

2.       If God’s heart is for nations, how have you been reaching people from different nations with different languages?

 

3.       Revelation 7:15 tells us that all believers will serve God in His temple in Heaven day and night.

 

a.        In what way can believers serve God on earth in the church day and night?

 

b.       Our church mission is that we make a difference (together) by creating intentional gospel-centered spaces of worship, connection, and service. Our strategy to fulfill our church’s mission is threefold: Worship, Connect, and Serve. We connect in our Small Groups to worship God by studying His Word together. How are you individually serving God in the church, your neighborhood, and around the world?


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