Revelation 7:13-17

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. 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.” Revelation 7:13-17

This past Sunday was All Saints Sunday and this text from Revelation was one of the texts we read in worship. It had been a tough week at church. Two very difficult funerals. The whole week passed with the taste of the “great ordeal” in my mouth.

I was just a kid when I read The Late Great Planet Earth. The writer basically combed the Bible for as much poetry and apocalyptic fantasy (yes, I said it) that he could find and then he tied as much of that as possible to rewriting history, spinning current events (in the 1970’s), and projecting future events. It would culminate in a horrible war and then Jesus would show up and clean house.

It scared the heck out of me. And sold millions of copies. It still sells.

I thought about all of that last week as the weekend drew near and an All Saints sermon was cooking inside of me. And then it occurred to me that we are already living in the midst of the great ordeal from which we long for release. We always have.

The Ebola virus has now been overtaken in the news by the NEXT BIG THING. As bad as it has been in some places, it pales before the plagues of the Middle Ages, the flu and the polio outbreaks from just a hundred years ago. There are wars and threats of war around the world (although nothing of consequence in the major population centers of the “developed” world.) Bad things are happening all around us. And always have.

The real question for us isn’t “When will Jesus return and clean house?”, the real question is “How are we to live in the meantime?”

Are we just to sit back, take what comes our way, fend for ourselves, and ride it out until that day when God will guide God’s own to springs of the water of life, and wipe away every tear from our eyes?

Or, seeing that day off in the distance, continue to live that future vision into reality by doing whatever we can to make a positive, loving, peaceful, life-giving difference as much as we can, as often as we can, to as many people as we can?

It’s a rhetorical question. I think we know the answer.

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, you send us into the world in your name, to be your hands, your feet, your listening ears, and your truth-telling lips. Encourage us to live fully and confidently, even in the face of the ordeals of our lives, with the confident expectation that you will take care of the big picture even as we tend the little corners of the garden where you have placed us. Let our love for you and others be a foretaste of the feast to come in the midst of a broken, self destructive, world. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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2 Responses to “Revelation 7:13-17”

  1. kirk921 Says:

    Blessed be the name of the Lord, A men

  2. Carolee Groux Says:

    There is truth in the statement that “hell is here on earth”; the ordeals of living, the strife around the world, fighting our own personal demons, etc. The list is long, but the answer to our troubles is short, “let go, let God” lead us. Jesus is our salvation.

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