After this I saw four angels, standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to stop any wind from blowing on earth, or on the sea, or on any tree….After this I looked, and lo and behold a huge gathering which nobody could possibly count… ~REVELATION 7:1 & 9
We come to the first of the ten interludes in Revelation 6-16. There are two interludes back-to-back in chapter 7: the sealed 144,000 in verses 1-8, and the innumerable multitude of saints in verses 9-17.
This is another one of those features of Revelation which I never noticed before. Why all these interruptions in the narrative flow of this book? Just when you think the seventh seal is gonna get cracked open, we come instead to this digression of four angels holding back destruction.
These interludes, I’ve come to find out, are here to give the listener/reader a little break. They keep you from becoming too depressed from all the carnage and mayhem going on. Most importantly, they give the listener a glimpse of hope by pulling back the curtain to reveal God’s world–what is happening in the heavenly realm, the truest truth, and the realest reality.
John’s letter is saying to these seven churches, “Hey, you’re not alone! I know it looks bad, but there are way more of you than you realize. Stay faithful. Keep working to bring about the Kingdom of God here on earth as in heaven. Endure to the end. Just take a peek at what it looks like in God’s realm for a minute.”
And what does it look like?
A gathering of people so huge that no one can possibly count them all, from every nationality and ethnicity on earth, standing in front of the throne of Yahweh and in front of the Lamb shouting praise, as well as all the angels, the 24 elders, and the four living creatures falling down before Yahweh and Christ in full-on worship of them. Everyone is completely satisfied, without any hunger or thirst whatsoever, always being lead by the Good Shepherd to springs of living water, having every tear they’ve ever cried wiped away from said Shepherd. They are all experiencing “the joy and praise that come from eternal relationship with God”, as Brian Blount puts it.
So, it’s pretty good there.
In the deep words of Kung Fu Panda, it’s “PURE AWESOMENESS”.
Sometimes, maybe a lot of times, we need to pull back that curtain and be reminded of what is going on in God’s world, where Yahweh and the Lamb are on the throne, ultimately in charge, bringing everything on earth into order, even as we speak. It may look rough, it may not be our timing, but it is surely transpiring. I think of my mom and dad there in heavenly bliss praising God, completely fulfilled as they never could have been here.
We must guard our hearts from sinking into a small, isolated view of this world only and its circumstances. Not that it doesn’t matter, but always remembering there’s more that matters.
Perhaps you need to more regularly pull back the veil and be reminded of just who is really in charge and where this is all going. Or maybe you’re being called to do this for someone else. Do you know anyone who has forgotten God’s world, the realest reality? Or someone who has grown so weak from being beaten down by the world that they no longer think they have the strength to peel back that lighter-than-it-looks curtain?
You can be an encouragement today to someone who is fixated on this world’s darkness only. You can redirect their eyes to see not only the heavenly realm in another dimension but the heavenly kingdom which has already begun to take root like a mustard seed here on earth now. Remind them and yourself that full consummation of all the good being done here and now will eventually come to fruition!