At the recommendation of someone whom I highly regard, I picked up the book Gospel by J.D. Greear earlier this summer. The foreward of this book is written by Tim Keller. That's a name to know. In the book he writes:
One of the most startling pages in the Bible connects the magnificence of angels with the mystery of the gospel. Angels are incredibly majestic and powerful beings, living in God's eternal presence. Yet there is something that has happened on earth that is so stupendous that even these immortal beings experience persistent longing "to look into these things" (1 Peter 1:12 NIV). What are "these things" that could possibly and consistently consuem the attention of God-fixated creatures?
The answer is - the gospel.
Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care....It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.
(1 Peter 1:10,12 NIV)
I will be the first to say that Revelation is way beyond my comfort zone. But, as it is part of the Bible reading plan I am following this year, rather than skip it or skim it, I am reading with as much intentionality as my mind can possibly muster. Having the Greear book with Keller's thoughts deeply embedded in my head, when I read chapter 7 this morning my eyes opened very wide.
Now, I am not about to dig into eschatology. I wouldn't even try. BUT I will share what I saw and why I think it's so important.
Revelation 7:9-10 talks about a large multitude, too great to count, being dressed in white robes and crying out that salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne and to the Lamb. Concurrently, angels are standing around who then fall on their faces before the throne and worship God saying praise, glory, wisdom, thanks, honor, power and strength belong to Him forever and ever. Then an elder asks John who the people are in the white robes and then confirms that they are the ones who have come out of the great tribulation.
First, we all go through trials. IF in fact we have been experiencing the end times since the ascension of Jesus into heaven, who can better proclaim the salvation of God than those who have died and gone to heaven to proclaim His rescue, renewal, and restoration at His throne.
Second, if the angels are witnessing this, they are witnessing and responding accordingly to the proclamation of the gospel message and how God worked it out in the lives who have come through the fiery trials and are now worshipping at the throne themselves.
Third, upon their renewal of life in heaven to worship God and the Lamb forever, they are promised to never again thirst, hunger, or be scorched by the sun. They will be sheltered forever with God's presence and the Lamb will be their shepherd who leads them to living waters. And while they are there, God is going to wipe every tear from their eyes.
I'm not saying I'm right, I honestly don't know. But if there is any truth to this at all, we are the ones in the white robes and we will be the ones proclaiming the salvation of God in heaven. Most of our Bibles say that Jesus told us that in this world we will have trouble, but the Greek word for trouble is tribulation.
If you are still with me, God bless you. I can't even close this with any kind of statement because I don't even have the slightest inkling how to do that. But read this for yourself. Ask questions, pray, study it and see what God shows you. And if you see it too, embrace it, because when we get to be in His presence for all eternity, this description just made it what we've known will be good a whole lot better than we would have ever imagined.