“After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice, saying,
“Salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
And all the angels stood around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, singing,
“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)
It is said that our dreams, normal earthly human dreams, come from bits and pieces of our own lives. We dream what we know, or think we know; do not dream what we do not know. Therefore, one must assume one of the following three things: the dreamer John knew of all of these events in heaven; or he thought he knew about them; or it was not a dream that came from earthly understanding, but was inspired by the Divine. Now, what is interesting is what follows.
“Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?” I said to him, “Sir, you are the one that knows.” Then he said to me, “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.” (Verses 13 to 14)
It is not the content of the verses that I am focusing on but the teaching that is done by question and answer; it happens several times in the book of Revelation. Teaching by engaging the learning in dialogue, or questions and answers is method that has its root in Greek learning traditions, but is also strong in Judaism. But why, I have to wonder, if this form of educating and illuminating found in a dream? Could it be that the book of Revelation was written more as a teaching and lesson than it was in relating an experience that the dreamer had?
There may be some of you, beloved reader, who believe that the book of Revelation and the rest of the bible was inspired by the Divine; and I do not mean to dispute that claim. My point and purpose to suggest that the book of Revelation was written as a message to the early Christian church as to what heaven might be like, and the struggle between Jesus/God’s perfect good and the evil that had control of the world for a time.
“For this reason they are before the throne of God, and worship him day and night within his temple,
and the one who is seated on the throne will shelter them.
They will hunger no more, and thirst no more; the sun will not strike them, nor any scorching heat; for the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of the water of life, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Verses 15 – 17)
The early Christian church, just as the spectrum of Christian churches today, was struggling to make sense of what was happening around them, and happening to them, and why. If there was persecution going on in heaven as well as on earth, then maybe heaven was not so far away. And what they suffered on earth would be made right in heaven. It was to give them hope, and help them endure what was to come. And that, beloved reader, is a help to us in our modern lives. The analogies and metaphors may not fit today’s world, and the outcomes may not match the outcomes we look towards, but hope in a broken world is hope. And we should cling to hope wherever we find out. Selah!