The Future Glorifying of God from the Nations
Text: Revelation 7:9-17
There are not many things that unify the nations and people's of the world. We have different philosophies of government. There are different size countries (landmass differences). You have massive differences in population. The wealth of each country differs across a broad spectrum. There are different languages, skin color, educational focuses, sports interests, and religious beliefs. Countries and peoples are vastly different across the world. [STORY: When I was in the Army, we travelled to Germany for a three week training exercise with their paratrooper regiment. I qualified with all their weapons, jumped out of their airplanes with their parachutes, and took their PT test. Those things were all different than what we did. But something that made the three week trip feel like a three month trip was they served us bread and stinky cheese for breakfast in the mornings. The cheese smelled like armpits. I held my nose for the first few days as I choked it down. Then I decided I'd rather be hungry. What kind of psychos start their day off eating something like that??! Peoples of the world are vastly different. In Haiti, eating spaghetti with chopped up hotdogs for breakfast is totally normal. Remember this next time you're gripping about America. :-)]
So are the nations united by anything? Well, we're all humans (Yay! We got that going for us us!). Every nation and people group of the world are made BY God, and made FOR God. Each bear the Imago Dei (the image of God) in their personhood. Each nation and people group (ethnic group) are sinners who have fallen short of the high and exalted position we were created to have. [Remember the previous weeks we've covered: the nations and different peoples of the world exist because of the scattering in Genesis 11 at the Tower of Babel. Mankind rebelled against God, God broke them up. This eventually brought about changes of language, new cultures, changes in skin color based on where your people settled, and adopting of new beliefs.] So the nations and peoples of the world are united in our common lot as Image Bearers, created to know and walk with God, but have sinned and fallen short of that glory we were created for. As a result, we stand united in our need for a Redeemer and Savior.
And this is what God reveals through Scripture: Every nation and people group of the earth WILL joyfully glorify God. That's the future. [STORY: Many of you probably know, but I'm a Back to Future trilogy fanatic. In the the second movie, they go to the future to fix something that's going to happen, but Marty is fascinated about seeing his future life. The movie connects because all of us would love a time machine to go forward in time to see how things will be. Our passages of Scripture do that today. They take us forward to see a coming reality without the need to hit 88 MPH.]
God will have people from every nation around his throne. He already knows their name and number. Here's a question for you: what part will you play in getting them there?
vs 9-10 -- "multitude no one can number" shows us that there are so many people redeemed that you can't even count them. This is a direct fulfillment of the promise to Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars of the sky and sand on the shore (Genesis 12 & 15).
"nations, tribes, peoples, and languages" show us this massive range of diversity. The worship around the throne in present Heaven and future Heaven is one of incredible diversity of peoples. These "nations" mentioned aren't just geopolitical nations, but ethnic groups.
The "white robes" of the gathered saints demonstrate their unity and oneness. They are united in and through the blood of the Lamb. They join in unity to sing and declare the truths of God.
The picture of the throne reminds us that the One seated on it is the King, the ruler and one reigning.
HOW do the nations get here around the throne? They have received the message of the good news. They have heard and responded to the gospel of Jesus. This is why missions and evangelism are so vital. The way the nations come to know the grace of the Lord Jesus is that we go to tell them. Romans 10:17: "Faith comes by hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ."
vs 11-12 -- the doxology is declared by the angels, elders, and four living creatures
vs 13-14 -- "those coming out of the great tribulation" can have a couple of possible meanings. This could be referring to 70AD and the destruction of Jerusalem by Rome. It could be speaking in general about the martyrs throughout church history. It could be speaking about the martyrs that come at the Last Days, which we've lived in since the ascension of Christ (Acts 2:17). This is a description of who these people are, but that is less the focal point this morning. The real picture is to notice this great gathering is filled with different peoples of all nations, tribes, and tongues.
vs 15-17 -- "Therefore" - "for this reason" - "on account of this" Heaven is their home. And three things we see are: 1. The Presence of God, 2. Freedom from the Curse, 3. Full Satisfaction for all our needs.
Now, this scene is happening, from the apparent context of the passage, in Heaven right now. John gets a vision of the throne room of Heaven now. Just so we're on the same page, it's been several years since we did our series on Heaven, but remember that there is Present Heaven, the place where believers go when they die, and Future Heaven, what Heaven will be when Christ returns. Keep in mind that when Jesus returns, as he tells us he is, he is bringing Heaven to Earth and making all things on the earth new. Heaven will be here, on a new and restored Earth. So this picture of the nations is now in Heaven. But the Bible tells us that this is a future reality as well.
READ: Revelation 21:1-27
So catch this: Both right now in Present Heaven, and in Future Heaven, there is (and will be) a great gathering of every nation, tribe, tongue, and language of people surrounding the embodied, resurrected, and ascended Jesus. Jesus is the recipient of the praises of those gathered. Jesus will receive the glory due His name from the peoples of the world who were bought and purchased by His precious blood. Catch this: THE NATIONS WILL BE HIS. THE NATIONS ARE HIS. The people of God are not those born of Jewish decent. They are not those born to good families. The people of God are a compilation of every people group of the world united (and made so) through Christ.
1. This passage challenges us to worship now, if we plan to worship then. We know that worship of Jesus is a future reality for Christian, both when we die and when Jesus returns. What makes us think if we are unwilling to give Him a full heart of praise and worship now, we will have desire and willingness to do it then? This should shape how we worship and live our lives for him in the present. Particularly as we sing
2. This passage offers hope for Christians. This life brings trials, pains, and suffering. Many who are faithful to Jesus can even die for their allegiance to Him. But the passage reminds us that our present suffering are not worth comparing to the future glory that is coming.
Romans 8:18 -- For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.
2 Corinthians 4:17 -- For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison,
Romans 14:7-8 -- For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself. 8 For if we live, we live to the Lord, and if we die, we die to the Lord. So then, whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's.
Those who suffered under whatever tribulation is referred to here are not in sorrow or disarray, they are rejoicing in the greatness and glory of the King.
3. This passage offers hope to the world. There is a hope for all the world, and the peoples in it: Jesus. His atoning work is the payment for their sins, and through Him can they have access to God. We see a picture of the future, with a throne surrounded by people's of the earth, and we see them directing their worship to the only One who could redeem them. Genesis 11 tells us the peoples of the world are scattered because of sin, the promise of Genesis 12 is that God will reach those nations and give them hope. How? Through the Messiah and Redeemer of Israel.
Acts 4:12 -- And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
This picture of the nations gathered, saved and reconciled to God, demonstrates the kindness of God in saving us. He doesn't owe us forgiveness. Nobody here is deserving or owed eternal life with God. This is pure grace and mercy. But as we've talked about the last few weeks, it is grace and mercy displayed to showcase His glory.
4. This passage fuels us to go to the nations & our neighbors. There WILL BE a gathering of every people. The nations will be His. The nations are His. This should inspire confidence that as we go to our neighbors and to the different peoples and nations of the world, and share Christ, there will be fruit. He will rescue a people for Himself. He is gathering a flock of every nation. His bride will be ransomed. Far from crossing our fingers and hoping our labors will make a difference, this passage reminds us that there will be people who respond.
Acts 18:10 -- for I am with you, and no one will attack you to harm you, for I have many in this city who are my people.”
Knowing our faithfulness will bring fruit, it should spur us to action. Our present labors in witnessing, sharing Christ, and doing the work of an evangelist and missionary is a means to this future reality we've studied today. The picture of that coming future, happens through our present actions.
So here are some opportunities to consider:
Short-term mission trips -- these are chances to work alongside of long-term partners who are on the ground among a people group. We come alongside them to help share Christ, teach Bible studies, and pray with people. These trips are not about us getting to travel the world or get selfies, but to join the footsteps of Paul and ten thousand others in sharing Jesus with those who may have never heard of him. You're going to have chances to do that through TJC in Socorro (Philippines), Rome (Italy), Toronto (Canada), and other places.
Help out on Thursday nights with our Cumberland International Life Group. We have a team that is going to CU on Thursday nights to have meals with International students. They feed them, build relationships, and find opportunities to talk about Jesus. So far our team has connected to XX different international students from XX different countries. Fill out a connect card to help or email Christian.
Give. When you give, you are funding and fueling the preaching and sharing of Christ, both locally and around the world. In the last 3 years at TJC, because of your faithful financial giving, we have been able to dedicate $600,000 to Kingdom impact in Lebanon, our country, and around the world. This has included missions, church planting, Recovery & Redemption, Hope Beyond Abortion, supporting missionaries, funding trips, and all sorts of other things. With travel limited over the last 18 months from COVID, we still have another $130,000 earmarked for future missions support. All of this comes as part of our commitment to give 10% of everything given to TJC to mission work outside the walls of this church. So I say that to encourage you to step forward to faithfulness in giving if you're not doing that. The reason the church gives 10% of all we receive is because we think that is a model for what each Christian home should look like. And we don't want to expect something of our body, that we wouldn't do collectively. So I challenge you to step forward in giving (and you can do that through our giving boxes in the lobby or online at our website -- many people setup their giving to be reoccurring. That's why my family has done because we want to automate what is important to us, and giving is non-negotiable.)
5. This passage urges us to strive for unity now, despite our earthly differences, because of future glory. One day, we will stand shoulder-to-shoulder with people who are vastly different than us in looks, language, customs, and culture. Yet we will stand united with them in Christ. This reality should inform our present approaches to earthly differences. We should strive for unity now. We should see ourselves as identifying more with our brothers and sister in Christ in Uganda, Rome, China, Iran, and Mexico than we identify ourselves as Americans. It's okay to be proud Americans. I am. But my loyalties and commitments should lie first with Christ's Kingdom, and those who are fellow citizens with me in it.
I want to close with a challenge to our hearts. We should plead with God this morning to give us an eternal perspective, if we don't have one already. There are many ways this is cultivated (being in the Word and talking with others), but the greatest way is prayer. We need to ask God to change our perspective and give us the ability to see through the lenses of eternity.
One approach for cultivating that heart to want to see the nations gathered to Christ is praying for them. 1. Begin with praying God to soften your heart for the peoples of the earth, to birth a concern and compassion. 2. Start praying for our particular partnerships at TJC. 3. Pray for lost people around you in your life (work, neighborhood, family, etc.) 4. Use other resources that guide you toward praying for specific unreached people groups and nations of the world. Do whatever you need to do to incorporate this into your life. Set cell-phone reminders that tell you to pray. Ask someone to partner in prayer with you so it builds in accountability. On the 1st Sunday of every month in the balcony at 10:30am people are praying for the nations and a heart to reach them.
Let the absence of this desire or the coldness of it serve to convict you today. It convicts me. My heart sometimes lags behind what my head knows is right and true. This means I need God to close the gap between what I know and what I love. My affections are not in alignment with the truth. So knowing the truth in my mind, I'm going to direct my will to engage in prayer, asking God to stir my affections for the peoples of the earth. Will you join me? Will you enter into that kind of posture with me? And if you are someone whose heart is already there, direct your prayers toward the rest of us, that we will soon have our hearts aligned with yours. We should want these kind of hearts, because it is only hearts that feel deeply the need of the peoples of the Earth that will go after them. And it is only in going after them, that people are saved. King Jesus will be glorified by all the nations. Let's allow that future glory to direct our actions today.