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Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson

Daily Bible thoughts 1886: Monday 11th March 2019: Revelation 7:9-17: ‘They will see his face…’’

Revelation 7:9-17: ‘They will see his face…’’

“After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice:

‘Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.’

11 All the angels were standing round the throne and round the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshipped God, 12 saying:

‘Amen!
Praise and glory
and wisdom and thanks and honour
and power and strength
be to our God for ever and ever.
Amen!’

13 Then one of the elders asked me, ‘These in white robes – who are they, and where did they come from?’

14 I answered, ‘Sir, you know.’

And he said, ‘These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 Therefore,

‘they are before the throne of God
    and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne
    will shelter them with his presence.
16 “Never again will they hunger;
    never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat down on them,”
    nor any scorching heat.
17 For the Lamb at the centre of the throne
    will be their shepherd;
“he will lead them to springs of living water.”
    “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

Here are two further heavenly blessings – the second being the greatest one of all:

  1. The blessing of total satisfaction: ‘’Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst…he will lead them to springs of living water’’ (16a, 17b). Every longing will be satisfied. They will be fulfilled.
  2. The blessing of seeing God: ‘’…they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple…’’ (15a). We can compare this with verse 9: ‘’After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before throne and in front of the Lamb.’’ The supreme blessing of heaven may be summed up in these words: ‘’They will see his face…’’ (22:4). We read in 7:15 that they serve God ‘’in his temple’’. Here, the temple doesn’t refer to a building but to God’s presence. ‘Thus, in this vision, the promise written in the Old Testament that God will dwell in the midst of His people has now come to pass (Ezekiel 37:27; Zechariah 2:10)…To live in heaven with God and Christ in this way is our reward.’ Tom Hale: ‘The Applied New Testament Commentary’, p.975.

Daily Bible thoughts 1885: Friday 8th March 2019: Revelation 7:13-17: ‘That morn shall tearless be’.

Revelation 7:13-17: ‘That morn shall tearless be’.

13 Then one of the elders asked me, ‘These in white robes – who are they, and where did they come from?’

14 I answered, ‘Sir, you know.’

And he said, ‘These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 Therefore,

‘they are before the throne of God
    and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne
    will shelter them with his presence.
16 “Never again will they hunger;
    never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat down on them,”
    nor any scorching heat.
17 For the Lamb at the centre of the throne
    will be their shepherd;
“he will lead them to springs of living water.”
    “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” NIV

 

Today, we consider two further blessings of heaven:

  1. The blessing of complete protection: ‘’…and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them…’’ (15c). I understand that if you are travelling in the desert, and some of the nomadic peoples meet you and invite you into their tent, they regard it as their sacred duty to not only give you hospitality, but also, as part of that, to protect you. To be under the roof of their tent is to be in a protected zone. Think also about these words: ‘’For the Lamb at the centre of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them…’’ (17a). The Eastern Shepherd was a leader and a protector. He had both ‘’rod and staff’’ (Psalm 23). The white-robed saints we see in chapter 7 have come through big trouble, but now they are beyond its reach. They are safely home; sheltered in heaven’s harbour. The big waves and ferocious gales are in the past.
  2. The blessing of an end to all suffering: ‘’The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat…And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes’’ (16b, 17b). There is something rather tender about that last phrase, like a mother stooping down to comfort her distressed child. God, the high and Holy One who inhabits eternity, can nonetheless stoop, and come close to the poor and needy. What a gracious God! (Isaiah 57:15).

 

‘O Joy, that seekest me through pain,

I cannot close my heart to Thee;

I trace the rainbow through the rain,

And feel the promise is not vain

That morn shall tearless be.’ George Matheson.

 

Daily Bible thoughts 1884: Thursday 7th March 2019: Revelation 7:9-17: O.H.M.S.

Revelation 7:9-17: O.H.M.S.

“9 After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice:

‘Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.’

11 All the angels were standing round the throne and round the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshipped God, 12 saying:

‘Amen!
Praise and glory
and wisdom and thanks and honour
and power and strength
be to our God for ever and ever.
Amen!’

13 Then one of the elders asked me, ‘These in white robes – who are they, and where did they come from?’

14 I answered, ‘Sir, you know.’

And he said, ‘These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 Therefore,

‘they are before the throne of God
    and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne
    will shelter them with his presence.
16 “Never again will they hunger;
    never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat down on them,”
    nor any scorching heat.
17 For the Lamb at the centre of the throne
    will be their shepherd;
“he will lead them to springs of living water.”
    “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”NIV

 

Over the next few days we will look at some of the blessings of heaven as we find them in this passage. The first one I’m going to mention is:

The blessing of continuous service:

‘’…they…serve him day and night…’’ (15b). This must be a reference to continuous service (see 21:25). If, even now, we recognise what a privilege it is to serve God, just try to imagine the delight we will have when we fully awake to its joy. We will not sit on our hands for eternity. We will not be idle. We will be occupied…and we will be endlessly happy and fulfilled.

Someone said, quite correctly, that there is no retirement as long as we are alive. We can never retire from God’s service in this world. But, he added, there will be time enough to rest in heaven. I understand the sentiment, but it looks like we’re going to be busy even after we exit this life! We’ll be ‘On His Majesty’s Service’ for ever.

AMEN to that!

Daily Bible thoughts 1883: Wednesday 6th March 2019: Revelation 7:9-17: Heaven is a wonderful place.

Revelation 7:9-17: Heaven is a wonderful place.

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne,and to the Lamb.’11 All the angels were standing round the throne and round the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshipped God, 12 saying:‘Amen!Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honour and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever.Amen!’13 Then one of the elders asked me, ‘These in white robes – who are they, and where did they come from?’14 I answered, ‘Sir, you know.’ And he said, ‘These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 Therefore,‘they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne  will shelter them with his presence.16 “Never again will they hunger never again will they thirst.The sun will not beat down on them,”nor any scorching heat.17 For the Lamb at the centre of the throne  will be their shepherd;“he will lead them to springs of living water.”  “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”NIV 

In this book we are transported, with John, to that other realm where God’s people have come out of all trouble. They are ‘’with Christ, which is better by far’’ (Philippians 1:23); they are in the place of ‘’gain’’ (Philippians 1:21). Whether it is technically correct to refer to this other reality as ‘heaven’ may be up for debate, but there is no doubt that it is a most wonderful place. Over the next few days we are going to look for clues in the passage that give an idea what it is like.

But before we look at some of the specific blessings of heaven, let me make two further observations:

  1. There are obvious similarities between this section and chapter 5 (see, e.g. 5:12 and v.12 here);
  2. There is no other way to be in heaven than by the blood of Jesus (14; see Hebrews 10:19; 1 John 1:7/9). The blood of Jesus is the most powerful ‘cleansing agent’ in the world. The white robes speak of purity. You can’t be in heaven without them; and you can’t wear these white robes without the application of Jesus’ blood to your life, by faith. This is how a person washes their robes and makes them white. It doesn’t mean that we save ourselves, but we have a part to play, by God’s grace. It is to have ‘’faith in his blood’’ (Romans 3:25).

PRAYER: I thank you Lord, so much, that salvation is by grace, through faith, and that you gave me the gift of faith to trust in Jesus’ blood.

Daily Bible thoughts 1882: Tuesday 5th March 2019; Revelation 7:14: All my trials, soon be over.

Revelation 7:14: All my trials, soon be over.

14 I answered, ‘Sir, you know.’ And he said, ‘These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.NIV

This morning, as I read a part of this chapter out loud, at a prayer meeting, I realised that the last book in the Bible is given to us to wash in, to bathe in, to soak in. We are to breathe in its atmosphere; move to its music and enter into its exuberant worship – join in with that numberless multitude, even now.

We may not be able to understand all its details; and some things we fail to grasp now may become clearer as history moves forward towards the return of Christ. But even without full understanding, ‘Revelation’ can sink into our pores and change us.

Since the turn of the year, I have been spending regular time in this book, and I realise that the other world (just through ‘Narnia’s door, as I keep saying) has become more real to me than ever. This is the effect it is having on me. It has not come about, however, because I understand everything, but just by allowing ‘Revelation’ to wash over me. I’m not saying we shouldn’t seek to understand, but the Apocalypse is likely to affect you in ways beyond understanding. Seek to live in its realities. There is a blessing for those who read it, hear it and take it to heart (1:3)

The other side of the wardrobe door will see an end to all our troubles:

‘’These are they who have come out of the great tribulation…’’ (14a).

Jesus could not have been clearer in stating that in this world His disciples will have trouble. Whether we face the last great tribulation in human history, or smaller days of tribulation on route, we can be sure we will come out the other side. Jesus has overcome the world.

Someone said that John was writing to prepare the churches to go through a nightmare time. But the assurance is that one day they will wake up in the very presence of God. God’s people on earth, though sealed by Him, are not necessarily safe from suffering; but they will come safely through, and find themselves in a wonderful place – a prepared place (John 14) we’ll consider in more detail over the next few days.

Daily Bible thoughts 1881: Monday 4th March 2019: Revelation 7:9: Prevailing church

Revelation 7:9: Prevailing church

After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.”

We have seen that in both sections of Revelation 7 we are probably looking at the church. Verses 1-8 deal with the church on earth, but from verse 9 it’s the church in ‘heaven’ we are seeing – in that other realm, just beyond the doorway of death.

Jesus declared to Peter that He would build His church, and the gates of hell would not prevail against it. The context for this book of Revelation is that the gates of hell are battling hard against the church and trying to win. But they cannot.

This ninth verse encourages us in our missionary endeavour. In spite of all the opposition that comes our way; even if the enemy does his very worst, there will be people in heaven ‘’from every nation, tribe, people and language’’.

PRAYER: Lord, help us to trust your Word and not, at times, our own defeatist feelings.

Daily Bible thoughts 1880: Friday 1st March 2019: Revelation 7:1-8: Sealed.

Revelation 7:1-8: Sealed.

After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree. Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: ‘Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.’ Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel. From the tribe of Judah 12,000 were sealed, from the tribe of Reuben 12,000,from the tribe of Gad 12,000,from the tribe of Asher 12,000,from the tribe of Naphtali 12,000,from the tribe of Manasseh 12,000,from the tribe of Simeon 12,000,from the tribe of Levi 12,000,from the tribe of Issachar 12,000,from the tribe of Zebulun 12,000,from the tribe of Joseph 12,000,from the tribe of Benjamin 12,000. NIV

 

This is a helpful quote from ‘Search the Scriptures’:

‘Before the revelation of further judgments, two visions are interposed for the comfort of believers. In all that has been shown so far, nothing has been said of the church, except with regard to those who have been martyred. The passage shows the church first in this life, on earth, and so always limited in number (verses 1-8), and then, numberless, in heaven, having life for evermore.’

So it seems like we are looking at the church in both halves of this chapter. The sealing (2,3) it would seem, is with the Names of God and the Lamb (14:1). The seal is the mark of ownership. The church belongs to God, and will be protected from the power of Satan. Paul writes in a number of places about believers being sealed with the Holy Spirit. We have the seal of the whole Trinity upon us.

Tom Hale explains: ‘This sealing will not save them from suffering and death, but it will give them the right to enter heaven.’ ‘The Applied New Testament Commentary’, p.974.

It is not helpful to take the 144,000 literally. In the Bible this number speaks of completeness, as does the number 7. Here it stands for the whole church, the ‘’Israel of God’’ (see Matthew 19:28; Romans 2:28, 29; Galatians 3:29; 6:16; Philippians 3:3; 1 Peter 2:9).

Remember, God is in control of nature ( v.1; see 14:18; 16:5; Hebrews 1:7). No harm can come to God’s people unless (or until) He permits it. God knows His own and can protect them (Ezekiel 9:3-6; John 6:27; 10:27-29; Revelation 9:4).

‘God’s people are not always saved from trial, but they are kept safe in it.’ F.B. Meyer: ‘Devotional Commentary’, p.639.

Let this thought encourage you!

Daily Bible thoughts 1879: Thursday 28th February 2019: Revelation 6:12-17: No hiding place.

Revelation 6:12-17: No hiding place.

12 I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, 13 and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as figs drop from a fig-tree when shaken by a strong wind. 14 The heavens receded like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.15 Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and everyone else, both slave and free, hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. 16 They called to the mountains and the rocks, ‘Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! 17 For the great day of their[b] wrath has come, and who can withstand it?’ NIV

‘’But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears?’’ (Malachi 3:2; see also Nahum 1:6).

There is something almost incongruous about the expression ‘’the wrath of the Lamb’’. I have felt wary when walking through a field of cows, and I certainly can say I’ve encountered an angry cow! But I’ve never been fearful of walking through a field of sheep, and definitely not lambs.

The imagery in vv.12-14 is like that frequently used in the Old Testament to symbolise great upheavals among the nations. It will pay you to have a look at Isaiah 13:9-11, 13; Ezekiel 32:7-9 and Nahum 1:5. These refer to tumultuous, cataclysmic events, lying between one era and another. (Examples of such might be 9/11, or the day the Berlin Wall came down). There may be many such days in history, but a final day of wrath is coming.

There is something to be feared more than death itself (vv.15-17; see Isaiah 2:19-21). It is the final judgment, and you can see how comprehensive it will be, affecting high and low. You will notice that those who have to face it, beg the mountains to fall on them and kill them, so they will not have to endure God’s terrible anger (see Hosea 10:8). On that day, unrepentant sinners will rather die than be in the presence of God.The only way to be saved from ‘’the wrath of the Lamb’’ (Jesus), is to trust in the blood of the Lamb who was slain (John 1:29, 36)

Tom Wright explains this seemingly contradictory expression in this way: ‘’But the lamb’s anger is the utter rejection, by Love incarnate, of all that is unloving. The only people who should be afraid of it are those who are determined to resist the call of love.’ Tom Wright: ‘Revelation for everyone’, p.68.

At the beginning, when man first sinned in Eden, there was no hiding place. Ever since, humanity in sin has been seeking to hide from God. But it’s not possible, and the fullest realisation of this will come at the end of history.

There is a fate worse than death. These are sobering words in Revelation 6, and should be read with utmost seriousness:

‘Therefore, let us not delay, but let us repent at once and put our faith in Christ.’ Tom Hale: ‘The Applied New Testament’, p.974

Daily Bible thoughts 1878: Wednesday 27th February 2019: Revelation 6:9-11:A cry for justice.

Revelation 6:9-11:A cry for justice.

When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. 10 They called out in a loud voice, ‘How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?’ 11 Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the full number of their fellow servants, their brothers and sisters, were killed just as they had been.”NIV

It’s important to note that the souls of the martyrs, under the altar, are not calling out for vengeance, but for justice. It’s not that they want to get even. They appeal to God’s character: ‘’Sovereign Lord, holy and true…’’ (10). If God is who He is, He must punish those who have taken their lives. They have been treated unjustly, as if they were criminals. It’s not fair. So it’s a question of when. ‘’How long…?’’ (See Psalm 94:3; Hab.1:2).

Ultimately, this is a longing for the honour of God’s Name. It’s zeal for His reputation. Unless we see this we will fail to understand the prayer. If God is holy and just, He must punish unrepentant sinners.

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