Given the current state of affairs, interest in reading about the “end times” is becoming popular. There is, once again, a renewed interest in the book of Revelation. One thing is clear from Scripture: we are living in the end times, just like the apostles were. The writer of the book of Hebrews says that while in former times God spoke through the prophets, in “these last days” he has spoken through his Son (Hebrews 1:1–2). We are living in the last days, the days in which God has spoken definitively through his Son Jesus Christ.
In Revelation John frequently used a pattern of “hear” and “see.” He would hear something but when he saw it, it was far greater than he could have imagined. In chapter 1 he hears a “loud voice like a trumpet” (1:10) but what he sees is Jesus on display in his full divinity (1:12–16). In chapter 5 he hears one of the 24 elders speak of the conquering “Lion of the tribe of Judah” (5:5) but when he looks he sees something far greater than a conquering Lion: a slaughtered Lamb (5:6). It is the great accomplishment of that Conquering Lion / Slaughtered Lamb that is most amazing thing in all of the book of Revelation.
In chapter 7 John is again reporting what he heard. Angels were sent to seal the servants of God all over the earth, as a means of protecting their eternal destiny.
And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel…Revelation 7:4 ESV
Numbers in apocalyptic literature are highly symbolic. The point John is making is that he heard of a great number of people being sealed, but following his pattern of hearing something great and then seeing something greater, what John sees next is so incredible it cannot be fully comprehended:
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.”Revelation 7:9–12 ESV
Our God is saving men and women all over the world—from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages! The sovereign God who is guiding human history toward his intended outcome is working toward this: the salvation of his people, wherever they are found in this world.
As we pray today, let’s praise God for his love to us in Christ. Let’s praise him for saving us and for saving men and women all over the world. Let’s praise him for building his church. Let’s pray for his kingdom to continue to grow as more and more people begin to recognize him and gladly bow their knee to King Jesus. Let’s pray for revival to come in our city, for many to come to faith and repentance.
Let’s pray for our missionaries. Pray for Jonathan and Noella in Italy. Pray for God to save many Italians, even as they can only connect via digital media. Pray that the lockdown in Italy continues to cause many to turn their thoughts to God, and for Jonathan and Noella to be ready to give an answer for the reason for the hope they have (1 Peter 3:15). Pray for Kizombo and Wababili in Congo. Pray for their endurance as they continue to serve the village of Kitindi through the school they run and through the numerous churches they’ve planted and by continuing to train the pastors they’ve raised up to serve those churches.
God is at work in Italy and in Congo and in Grand Rapids. Let’s praise him today and ask him to let us see even greater things than we’ve heard.