Tuesday, April 12, 2016

All nations, tribes, peoples and tongues

TODAY’S SPECIAL: Revelation 7:1-17

TO CHEW ON: “After these things I looked, and behold a great multitude, of all nations, tribes, peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands and crying out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne and to the Lamb!’” Revelation 7:9-10

We have an annual missions emphasis month in our church, which in years past opened with a flag parade. As I watched people march in carrying the national flags from around the world, I invariably got a choke in my throat and tears in my eyes. The verse above always came to mind.

Despite what critics say about Christianity being a religion for only certain races or nations of people (and the rest should hold to their traditional beliefs and customs as a birthright for them and an anthropological curiosity for us), faith in Christ is available for and has been found and claimed by at least some citizens of almost all countries on all earth’s continents. Here John sees this multinational crowd in heaven, praising God and Jesus.

When he asks from where they come, an elder answers, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation.” An end note in my Bible explains about “come out”:

“Literally ‘ones coming out’ a present participle, expressing a continuous and repeated action, not a once-for-all action. This is not a post-consummation picture. Therefore, tribulation is to some degree taking place throughout the entire church age. The great tribulation describes the acceleration and intensification of troublesome times as this age comes to an end, climaxing in the Rapture and Second coming”- Earl Wesley Morey, in the commentary on Revelation, New Spirit Filled Life Bible, p. 1827.

[The word tribulation used here (thlipsis) is the same one Jesus used to describe our lot on earth in John 16:33. It means pressure, oppression, stress, anguish, tribulation, adversity, affliction, crushing, squashing, squeezing, distress.] 

Though those of us living in free societies may label our treatment by those opposed to Christ as tribulation, books like Tortured for Christ and Kabul 24 give us instances of real tribulation in graphic color. It’s happening right now, and all around the world.

The amazing thing about the tribulation victims pictured in Revelation 7 is that they not only come through such an experience with their faith intact, but full of praise to God. When I hear or read about people living through tribulation, I often ask myself, how would I do? The persevering  power of the gospel illustrated here fills me with hope!  

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for Canada where I have freedom to believe and worship according to my conscience. Please be with those who are suffering tribulation now. Help them to have the courage to persevere and hold onto their faith.

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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