Summary: At last, the tears are wiped away from our eyes.
CHORAL SYMPHONY No. 2
As in Revelation 5:11-14, the Lamb is the focus of the praises of the redeemed here in Revelation 7:9-10. We are presented with an innumerable number of worshippers, drawn from “every nation, tribes, peoples, and tongues” (Revelation 7:9). This numberless number - literally: “arithmetically impossible for anyone to number” waved their palms in adulation.
This is a great celebration - but these people had more to celebrate than a Roman triumph, or a modern sporting victory. It was like Palm Sunday all over again (John 12:13) - but better, because there was no more Cross on the future horizon, either for our Lord, or for His followers. It was like the greeting of an Emperor - only better, because the One being worshipped is truly, and not feignedly, the source of our salvation (Revelation 7:10).
“Salvation belongs to Him who sits on the throne of our God, and to the Lamb,” sings the multi-ethnic crowd (Revelation 7:10). The responsorial returns to the angels and the elders and the four living creatures, who each one “fell on their face before the throne, and worshipped God” (Revelation 7:11). “Amen,” they cried, and repeated much of the wording of their earlier worship - but with the exception that ‘wealth’ (Revelation 5:12) is replaced by “thanksgiving” = ‘Eucharist’ (Revelation 7:12).
One of the elders asked John a question, which he himself intended to answer: “Who are these, who are clothed with white robes, and where did they come from” (Revelation 7:13). The tour-guide identifies the believers who “have washed” (past tense) their robes as those who “are emerging” (present tense) from “the great tribulation” (Revelation 7:14). Their robes are “made white in the blood of the Lamb” - see Genesis 49:10-11, and Isaiah 1:18.
1. Tribulation has been with us from the beginning (Acts 14:22).
2. On the night that He was betrayed, Jesus - already assured of victory - said: “In the world you have (present tense) tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
3. John identified himself as “a fellow-partaker in the tribulation and in the kingdom and endurance of Jesus Christ” (Revelation 1:9).
4.Salvation is promised to those who endure (Matthew 24:13).
6. Martyrdom awaits some, as indicated at the opening of the fifth seal (Revelation 6:9).
7.Tribulation has its fiercest manifestation as the assured victory draws near (Mark 13:19).
This huge crowd before the throne of God “serve Him day and night in His Temple” (Revelation 7:15). As a result, the Lord literally “pitches His tent” amongst them. There are echoes here of John 1:14, without which there would be no heaven for any of us!
Revelation 7:16-17 echo Isaiah 49:10, which pictures the exiles returning from Babylon with much the same words, except that ‘He who has compassion’ is now identified as “the Lamb” (Revelation 7:17). Psalm 23:1-2 is brought into play in Revelation 7:17, except that it is the “Lamb at the centre of the throne” who is now the shepherd who “will lead them to living fountains of waters” (Revelation 7:17). These are the water-courses after which we have been panting (Psalm 42:1-3) - but now, at last, the tears are wiped away from our eyes (Isaiah 25:8).