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Archive for November, 2008

Sweet Relief

“They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living foundations of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Revelation 7:16,17

 

Close your eyes and imagine the picture being drawn here. No more hunger. Nor more thirst. No more days toiling under the unrelenting sun. No more suffering under oppressive heat. I don’t think God is just talking about those things specifically. I think He mentions them because they were common difficulties faced by the people who first read these words. I think He’s talking about the hardships of life in a cursed creation, period. Nevermore will we hunger for food, or for the Word of God. Nevermore will we thirst for water, or for the presence of God. Every need will be met in Christ. After a lifetime of struggle and pain, every tear will one day be wiped away.

I sometimes imagine the sense of relief I will feel when I first enter the gates of Heaven. Walking in righteousness will be as natural as breathing. I won’t ever have to struggle against my sin nature again. Sometimes in the winter, I take a blanket and put in the dryer. Once it’s good and hot, I take it out and wrap myself up in it. Every muscle relaxes as the heat of the blanket permeates my body. I sometimes imagine that what it will feel like to be with Christ in Heaven. I will finally, completely, freely relax. Not that I think we’ll be idle, of course, but life will never again be a struggle. Oh! What a relief it will be!

One day, all the struggles, all the trials, all the suffering will be over. Sweet relief is on its way, maybe very soon.

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“After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’” Revelation 7:9,10

 

Can you imagine the roar of sound as this great multitude lift their voices in triumphant praise to God! Just the thought gives me chills of anticipation. Notice the makeup of this crowd. The Word tells us that every nation, tribe, people and tongue is represented. There is no group of people who are excluded from the good news of the gospel. While we may not know exactly how, every person who ever lived will have had the opportunity to accept or reject the salvation God offers. This crowd is proof of that fact. Every group of people here proclaims that salvation belongs to God and to the Lamb. Not to whatever or whomever you believe God to be, but to the God who sits on the throne and to the Lamb, God the Son, Jesus Christ.

And yet, while this group includes members of all peoples, it is still a very exclusive group. The angel with John tells him why these people are here. They’ve washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. We are often, as Christians, accused of being exclusive. In sense, the accusation is correct. No, the Bible doesn’t teach that some people are excluded from the salvation Jesus offers. But it does teach, uncompromisingly, that only those who accept that salvation will escape the judgment of hell. Your heritage doesn’t determine whether or not you will go to Heaven. Your choice does. There is only one name under Heaven by which we must be saved: the name of Jesus Christ, the Lamb, Son of the Living God.

God, through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, threw the doors of Heaven wide open to all. But those who reject Christ will find those doors eternally closed.

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