The Heavenly Crowd (20-04-23)
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.(Hebrews 12. 1 – 3)
After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” (Revelation 7. 9 -10)
A Thought Over the past couple of weeks, we have considered the crowds before and after the Resurrection, but what about the heavenly crowd? Who are they?
This crowd is different again, made up of the faithful believers, who have gone before us down the centuries. They are a great cloud of witnesses, the sort of people of faith described in Hebrews 11. Their faithfulness in times of hardship is a constant encouragement to us. When we face difficulties and discouragement, it is easy to lose sight of the big picture. However, we are not the first ones to struggle and nor do we struggle alone. Life’s challenges are the training ground for Christian maturity. These heavenly witnesses have already run the race of life and won, and now they are encouraging us to keep going and do the same. The key to winning is keeping our eyes fixed firmly on Jesus.
Then in the book of Revelation, we come across this crowd of witnesses again. This time the crowd is huge and they are all worshipping Jesus, the Lamb. The crowd represents every nation, tribe, people and language. These people have already endured life’s hardships and prevailed. They have been put right with God through the death of Jesus, sins have been forgiven, and now they stand spotless before him.
This crowd spends its time in the presence of God, serving him day and night. Jesus continues to be their faithful shepherd, but here there is no more hunger, no more thirst, no more suffering and no more tears.
All those who have been faithful through the ages are singing before God’s throne. What an amazing picture of comfort and hope for the future, but also what an encouragement and spur for the present. As we run our race through life, may we be an encouragement to others, spurring them on in their faith. And in our worship, let us give it our very best, because “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”
Jesus, pioneer and perfecter of my faith, help me to keep my eyes fixed firmly on you, so that I will one day join that great company of heaven to bring you everlasting praise.
All hail the Lamb, by Robin Mark
from The Gathering, Cardiff