“These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb . . . For this reason they are before the throne of God . . . And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Revelation 7:14c-d, 15a, 17c from Revelation 7:9-17 )
There are times even now, when I read from Revelation, that I am reminded of the “Left Behind” series. It was the middle 1990’s when the first book in the series came out; it was quickly followed by the second and third book. Then in 2000 the movies started. There were also two other series that were spin offs of the original. By 2007 the series was completed and the final chapter, the story of God’s return, was told.
When the series first started, I had hoped that the books would illuminate and explain the book of Revelations. But as the series continued, it became more clear to me that this was not a re-telling or an explanation of the metaphors of Revelation. This was story telling; and while I enjoyed the books, it was not the spiritual experience I had hoped for. In fact, the most lasting thing that came out of this was a surge in Christian films and Christian film companies. But I am not sure that lasted either.
The reason these verses reminded of the Left Behind series was that much was made of those who passed away during the 13 book series (of the total 16 books, three were prequels) and that they made up the “saints” who in were before the throne of God. Throughout the books, the adult and the children series (I do not know as much about that series), the passing away of faithful believers while sad was also a comfort because they no longer had to endure life on earth during the reign of the Anti-Christ. That is also the concept in these verses, that their tears are wiped away and they are joyfully praising God in heaven. It seems that the book of Revelations has a greater staying power that the works of Christian fiction.
Now, there are those who say that the author of Revelation is not recounting a dream, but creating inspirational writings that explains important theology and Christology – end times from heaven’s perspective. That is not a point I feel the need to argue.
What is my point then? We might speculate, write, or create all kinds of scenarios as to what is going to happen at the end of this world. But we do not know for a surety. Everything that has been written about it since the time of Revelation has passed away to literary history. What ever you might think about Revelation, it remains the most dependable piece of writing on the end times. So do not place your faith in storytellers. Place your faith in God and Christ. Follow holy and divine inspiration, and not the best sellers list. And do not worry about the ends times if in the “right now” you are in right relationship with God and humanity. So then if you do weep, you can be sure that in the fullness of God’s time they will be wiped away.
Selah! And shalom for your day!