Feb 14 13

Before the Throne of God Above

vmsmith

Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. [16] They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. [17] For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes. (Revelation 7:15-17)

In the sixth chapter of Revelation, we are introduced to a seven year period of tribulation that will engulf the earth after the rapture of God’s people. Those of us that are believers in Christ are anxiously waiting the appearing of the Saviour because we expect our final salvation which is complete deliverance from the presence of sin. Those that are not believers can expect no such deliverance but instead will be plunged into this terrible time of God’s wrath poured out on the earth. In recent years, we have been astonished and saddened by the numbers of lives that have been lost in natural disasters such as tsunamis, hurricanes, and earthquakes. Sometimes these disasters take thousands of lives. In the tribulation, these types of disasters and others will be common and much more intense in their destruction. During this time, not thousands but multiple millions of lives will be lost.

In the seventh chapter, we see there is some hope for people that are left behind at the rapture. There are 144,000 Jews that are sealed by God—12,000 from each of the 12 tribes—that will become God’s witnesses of the gospel. Through their testimony, many people will receive the truth of the gospel and be saved. However, they will be terribly persecuted and many believe every one of them will be killed before the end of the Tribulation. Their lives will be characterized by hunger and thirst as they are not permitted to buy food or participate in the world’s economy. The armies of the Antichrist will relentlessly pursue them into their hiding places and cruelly take their lives (for a frightening perspective on this, read also Matthew 24).

In the end of the seventh chapter, these martyred Tribulation saints are seen in heaven where they gather around the throne of God to worship and continually serve Him. It is notable that all of the heartache and troubles they had on earth will be reversed as they enjoy the company of the Saviour who promised to feed them and lead them to living fountains of waters. W.A. Criswell in commenting on verse 16 explains the multiple use of negatives as God reverses the heartaches they had on earth. He writes: “The next description is: ’They shall hunger no more, they shall thirst no more, neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.’ These negatives are often used in Revelation. In the twenty-first chapter, where heaven is described, there is an abundance of negatives. The Greeks, as they wrote things, had an emphatic way of putting them down. In English, double negatives mutually eliminate each other. If you say, ‘don’t not,’ then you actually do. That is English. But in Greek, the more negatives are piled up, the more emphatic the meaning. We get the meaning, even in English when we do that. If someone said to you, “I don’t know nothing nohow,” you would get the idea that he did not know anything. If a man comes up to you and asks for a job, saying, ‘You don’t know nobody nowhere what wants nobody to work for him, don’t you?’, you know he is asking for a job. But that is good Greek. It may be bad English, but it is marvelous Greek. That is what God says here. He just piles up negatives, ‘no,’ ‘not,’ ‘neither,’ ‘nor,’ adding one to the other, as He describes God’s separate remembrance and provision for His people.”

I sincerely hope there is no one in our church that will be left behind when Jesus comes. Although millions will be saved during the tribulation, I have serious doubts that anyone who has heard the gospel prior to the coming of Christ will be afterwards convicted by the Holy Spirit to believe. While we say there is hope for some because of the witness of the 144,000, this is not any guarantee that any particular individual will ever come in contact with these witnesses, or if they do they will believe when the gospel is preached. The scripture says today is the day of salvation. There is no guarantee of tomorrow; and if tomorrow does come it may already be too late. Trust Christ today and be sure of your place at the throne of God.

Pastor V. Mark Smith