1 And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. 2 And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, 3 Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. 4 And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.
5 Of the tribe of Juda were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand. 6 Of the tribe of Aser were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nephthalim were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses were sealed twelve thousand. 7 Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand. 8 Of the tribe of Zabulon were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand.
9 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; 10 And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. 11 And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, 12 Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.
13 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? 14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 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.
In this chapter it treats of those who are and will be in the Christian heaven; and first of their separation from the evil (verses 1-3); after that, of those who are in love to the Lord and thereby in wisdom, of whom the higher heavens consist (verses 4-8); and of those who are in charity and its faith from the Lord, because they have fought against evils, of whom are the lower heavens (verses 9-17). The contents of each verse
Verse 1. “After these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth,”
The entire heaven now in the effort to execute the Last Judgment.
“Holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree,”
A withholding and restraining by the Lord, of a nearer and thence more powerful influx into the lower parts, where the good were conjoined with the evil.
Verse 2. “And I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun,”
The Lord providing and regulating.
“Having the seal of the living God,”
Who alone knows all and each, and can distinguish and separate them one from another.
“And he cried with a great voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea (verse 3), saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees,”
The presenting and withholding by the Lord of a nearer and stronger influx into the lower parts.
“Till we have sealed the servants of our God upon their foreheads,”
Before they are separated who are in truths from good from the Lord.
Verse 4. “And I heard the number of them that were sealed, a hundred and forty and four thousand,”
All who acknowledge the Lord as the God of heaven and earth, and are in truths of doctrine from the good of love, from Him through the Word.
“Sealed out of every tribe of Israel”
The Lord’s heaven and church composed of them.
Verse 5. “Of the tribe of Judah were sealed twelve thousand,”
Celestial love, which is love to the Lord, and this with all who will be in the New Heaven and the New Church.
“Of the tribe of Reuben were sealed twelve thousand,”
Wisdom from celestial love, with them who will be there.
“Of the tribe of Gad were sealed twelve thousand,”
Uses of life, which are of wisdom from that love, with those who will be there.
Verse 6. “Of the tribe of Asher were sealed twelve thousand,”
Mutual love with them.
“Of the tribe of Naphtali were sealed twelve thousand,”
The perception of use, and what use is with them.
“Of the tribe of Manasseh were sealed twelve thousand”
The will of serving, and of action, with them.
Verse 7. “Of the tribe of Simeon were sealed twelve thousand,”
Spiritual love, which is love towards the neighbor, with them.
“Of the tribe of Levi were sealed twelve thousand,”
The affection of truth from good, from whence comes intelligence with them.
“Of the tribe of Issachar were sealed twelve thousand”
The good of life with them.
Verse 8. “Of the tribe of Zebulon were sealed twelve thousand,”
The conjugial love of good and truth with them.
“Of the tribe of Joseph were sealed twelve thousand,”
The doctrine of good and truth with them.
“Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand,”
The life of truth from good according to doctrine with them.
Verse 9. “After this I saw and behold, a great multitude which no one could number,”
All the rest who are not of those enumerated, and yet are in the New Heaven and New Church of the Lord, and who constitute the ultimate heaven and the external church, whose quality no one knows but the Lord alone.
“Of every nation, and tribes, and peoples, and tongues,”
all in the Christian world, who are in religion from good, and in truths from doctrine.
“Standing before the throne and before the Lamb,”
Hearing the Lord and doing the things which He commands.
“Clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands,”
Communication and conjunction with the higher heavens, and confession from Divine truths.
Verse 10. “And crying with a great voice, saying, Salvation to our God that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb,”
Acknowledgment from the heart that the Lord is their Savior.
Verse 11. “And all the angels stood round about the throne, and the elders, and the four animals,”
All in the whole heaven.
Verse 12. “Saying, Amen”
Divine verity and confirmation therefrom.
“Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving,”
The Divine spiritual things of the Lord.
“And honor, and power, and might,”
The Divine celestial things of the Lord.
“Be unto our God for ages of ages,”
These things in the Lord, and from the Lord to eternity.
The consent of all.
Verse 13. “And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, Who are these that are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?”
Verse 14. “And I said unto him, Lord, thou knowest,”
The desire of knowing and the will of interrogating, and the answer and information.
“And he said unto me, These are they that come out of great affliction,”
They are those who have been in temptations, and have fought against evils and falsities.
“And have washed their robes,”
Who have cleansed their religious principles from the evils of falsity.
“And made their robes white in the blood of the Lamb,”
And purified them from the falsities of evil by truths, and thus have been reformed by the Lord.
“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,”
They are in the presence of the Lord, and constantly and faithfully live according to the truths which they receive from Him in His church.
Verse 16. “They shall not hunger any more, neither thirst anymore”
Hereafter there shall be no lack of goods and truths with them.
“Neither shall the sun fall upon them, nor any heat,”
Hereafter they shall have no lusts to evil nor to falsity of evil.
Verse 17. “For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them,”
The Lord alone will teach them.
“And shall lead them to living fountains of waters,”
And shall lead by truths of the Word to conjunction with Himself.
“And God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes”
They shall no longer be in combats against evils and their falsities, and thereby in grief, but in goods and truths, and thence in heavenly joys from the Lord.
Author: Emanuel Swedenborg (Apocalypse Revealed)
THE GREAT MULTITUDE CLOTHED IN WHITE ROBES.
IN 7th the chapter of the Book of Revelation, and at the 14th verse, you will find the Word of the Lord thus written:–And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Heaven is the grand and perpetual home of the true and the good out of every kindred nation, and tongue. This fact, which we have taken occasion to dwell upon from time to time, is set before us in the wonderful scene which John says he beheld. In the 9th verse of this chapter it is written:–After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands.
When we reflect that it was in the first century of Christianity when these Divine scenes were opened to the spirit of the Apostle. John, we shall see two or three results of great importance. But the first point of all that we wish to call your attention to is, that salvation is not confined to a very small company who are particularly orthodox in all their ways of thinking, as narrow minds often suppose.
There are many you know who say that unless people believe exactly in the same number of articles, and in the very same confession in which these Persons are accustomed to believe, salvation is not possible for them at all. Yet you see that although there was so very small a number of visible Christians at this time–seven churches comprised the great bulk of those who were yet formed into distinct societies–notwithstanding there were some from all nations and tribes and tongues who already had found their way clothed in white robes, and standing before the Lamb in heaven, and not a small company–a great multitude, he says, that no man could number; and in another place he mentions that ten thousand times ten thousand stood round about Him.
How closely this harmonizes with the speech of Peter, when Cornelius came to him: Then Peter opened his mouth and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons; but in every nation he that feareth Him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with Him. The Word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ; He is Lord of all (Acts x., 34-36).
But we shall easily perceive how this takes place if we bear in mind not only that the Lord is the universal Father, but that what is meant, by being clothed in white robes is that each one possessed an interior pure religion in his soul, whatever might be the outward appearance of errors and unmeaning ceremonials.
We sometimes fail to understand these subjects, by not bearing in mind that religion has two aspects. There is one before God, who looks upon the heart (1 Sam. xvi. 7), and one before men. The outside religion that a man has is often one he does not question; he takes it, as he finds it with his friends, and good naturedly supposes it is all right. He has been taught his catechism or his articles, or his mode of belief–sometimes a long one, sometimes a short one–because he was told it was the right thing to do.
Many have this outside religion for talk, and dispute, and discussion, and controversy, and so on, and are ready oftentimes to struggle very hard for it, but they have no interior religion at all. A persons interior religion is that which he, from his very heart, loves to think of and to practice.
And in thousands and tens of thousands of instances a mans outside religion is one thing–a thing that he oftentimes with very great zeal brings before other people; but when he comes in his very heart to reflect on what his conscience interiorly dictates, it is quite another thing.
We find it an exceedingly common circumstance, when we have come to a fair understanding with one who has a conventional and, perhaps, contradictory creed, and has come to understand exactly what true principles are, it is a very common thing for such all one to say, I have been thinking like that almost the whole of my thoughtful life, although he has on Sundays been hearing, and perhaps repeating, the reverse. I have quietly thought to myself so-and-so, he says; and he has a very clear conception of what his real purpose and aim are in that respect. The white robes represent this interior heartfelt religion; and persons in every form of faith, so far as they are really zealous for the Lord Jesus and goodness, clothe their best affections with a sacred conception of what is loving, true, and right; and this is what is meant in Scripture by the white robe.
I have heard some very good people use language such as this: I dont believe, you know, in our life having anything to do with our salvation. It is Christ alone Who saves us altogether, independently of any works of ours, good or bad–of any keeping of commandments, or anything of the kind. I remember a friend of mine once telling me of a good old lady whom he respected more than anyone else in the world–in fact, his own mother–saying, Christ does everything, my son, as to salvation. She saw a straw lying on the floor, and she added, If my getting up and taking up that straw would secure my salvation, I would not do it. It would rob my Savior of the glory. When that good old lady had any duty or any work of love really to do, there was nobody who was more thoughtful, more persevering, more faithful to what was the will of the Savior, and the carrying out of the spirit of true religion. She was as good as gold.
This was a white robe, and it is this white robe of inner personal religion which constitutes our real fitness to enter the kingdom of heaven, and to stand before the Lamb. When we go into the other life, we may depend upon it there will be no asking one another how many articles of faith me have kept before us, or how many we have signed, but what has been and is the habit of our heart and life.
This term, habit, is a very expressive one. It is a word that means clothing, and the living habit of inward affection, thinking according to truth, and acting according to truth. This is the clothing of the soul. It is the clothing of the souls various parts. He that dwelleth in love, the Apostle John says, knoweth God, for God is love; and if a person is constantly seeking in himself to come into a more thorough spirit of charity and love, he will never attribute to God anything but love He may know that the love of God is felt like an angry rod by bad people, because it is opposite to their habitual states and aims, opposed to their practices, and to all which unhappily they love. That is the wrath of God, according to them. But there is no wrath really in God, never was, and never will be; He is love itself, and never changes. I am Jehovah, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.
Now a really loving heart will have this as the highest part of its heavenly dress. Just as the high priest amongst the Israelites had a white miter with a golden plate, on which was written Holiness to the Lord, so every really thoughtful, loving Christian, on this the highest part of his dress, the clothing of the head, has Jesus, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords. His breast will be clothed with the robe of affection for his neighbor, and he will not think ill of his neighbor. Feeling as the Apostle John felt, he will say, We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren (1 John iii. 14). He will endeavor to help others to be truly happy, and this will clothe his breast quite well; and it is no use to have these things as high sentiments, unless he brings them down to useful words and works. The best robe must come down to the feet. It is this inner robe of righteousness that forms a life for heaven, and this robe can be had in every country, in every church, in every class and nation.
Out of those who wear such robes the blessed ones come, and stand before the Lamb. But some one feels a difficulty in taking this truly scriptural as well as truly charitable view. Dont forget, they say, there is no other name given under heaven by which men can be saved but the name of Jesus Christ, and it is perfectly true. The name of Jesus Christ, however, does not mean a word;
it means Jesus Christ Himself, because Jesus Christ is the only God of heaven and earth, and whoever is saved, wherever he may be, and whether he knows His Redeemer or not, is saved by Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ saves all who desire to be saved.
He is the grand center through which the Everlasting Father acts, as He said:I in them, and Thou in me, that they may all be made perfect in One; so Jesus Christ, whether men know Him by that sweet title or not, is the true light that enlighteneth every man that cometh into the world; and wherever there is a soul hungering to be good, he helps such to become more loving and holy. That which thus saves them is the spirit of Jesus Christ. There is no other name, there is no other Being, by which men can be saved, because all power is His in heaven and on earth.
The blessed in heaven saw, therefore, that whatever country they came from, however many the multitude that stood there, they saw and rejoiced to confess that it was the Divine Lamb from whom their salvation came, and they cast their crowns before Him.
This appears again and again in many beautiful ways, both in this Book and in the Gospels, as well as in the Old Testament. There is only one God, the Divine Father from eternity, Who became our Savior. All excellence is in Him.
He was pleased to present Himself as the Divine Man, the embodied Godhead, and that is the Lamb. I am the door, he says; by Me, if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out and find pasture. The Godhead was within Him. The humanity was the door to the Godhead, just as each mans body is the door of his soul. By means of his body, a mans soul goes out to be useful to others. It is the door by which they can come to him and find him there.
So, in the 22nd and 23rd verses of the 21st chapter of this Book, you will read that it is said not only that the Lord God Almighty is the Light of heaven, but that the Lamb is the Lamp thereof:And I saw no temple therein: for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are the temple of it. And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it; for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light (THE LAMP) thereof. Just what a lamp is to the light, just that the Divine Humanity of Jesus is to His everlasting light and love.
So the whole Godhead, all the blessings of salvation, and salvation itself both in time and in eternity, all progress, all perfection, and all happiness in heaven, come from the Lord Jesus Christ, who is Head, as the Apostle says, of all principality and power.
The Lord is the universal Father, the universal Savior, and the universal Friend. This conception of the white robe is one of the very greatest practical importance. It is one that we should lay well to heart. We live in a Christian country, and belong to a Christian church. That is our profession; but how do we stand as to our inner robes before the Lord? You have the outward robe of profession; but what kind of an inward robe have you got on? Just refer to the 17th and 18th verses of the 3rd chapter of this Book, and you will find the Lord Jesus says of some:–Thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
Every soul must be clothed with heavenly robes, unless it will remain in evil lusts and passions. To appear before the Lamb, there must be as entire change, a real new dress, not simply a sham profession. Without a really new dress, no man will be fit to appear in the glorious and orderly company of heaven. I counsel thee, the Lord says, to buy of me white raiment. Let us take this invitation to heart. Are we really intent upon having a pure genuine interior religion from head to foot? No matter what our nominal Christianity or external profession may be; are we doing that one essential thing? Remember what is said in Matt. xxii. 12: And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man who had not on a wedding garment: And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither, not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. The term rendered friend here, in the original language is companion, not friend. It is not so tender al term. A man never becomes a friend of the Lord without doing what He commands. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. When a person has the knowledge of religion, he may be a companion; but only when he has it in heart and life is he a friend. The Lord discriminates, Companion, how camest thou in hither, not having on the wedding garment?
The result was that the command went forth to cast him into outer darkness.
Oh, let us, then, my beloved friends, whatever comes of our outside profession, seek from the Lord Jesus Christ this sacred white robe. Do not imagine that it is a thing to be obtained by any mere fancy. It is to be an absolute dress that me are to purchase from the Lord. What, are we absolutely to pay for it? perhaps some friend may say. Certainly; you are to make an exchange, but all the profit will be yours. You are to part with everything that is sinful and pernicious. Whatever takes away your comfort, peace, and happiness, you are to part with, and take instead the bright truths and the blessed affections which form the soul for heaven. All the blessed ones stood there with white robes.
We must not only get the white robes, but we must carefully guard against defiling them; or, if stains get upon them, we must wash them anew. It is said, concerning the truly good and heavenly minded, They have riot defiled their garments, and they shall walk with Him in white, for they are worthy. Imperfections, that we have mainly, but not altogether overcome, will sometimes shew themselves in specks upon this white robe. Therefore it is said in our text, they have washed their robes.
To attain complete purification of mind, wet must often wash our robes. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin (Ps. ii. 2.), might be better rendered, wash me often. Harsh thoughts, perhaps imperfections, will come; unkind and fretful observations, it may be; some spirit of impatience, errors that ought to have been overcome, will sometimes appear again, and make defilements on our robes; but when we see them we have to do what is expressed in our text: They washed their robes. In order fully to understand the beautiful lesson, we must not forget that in Scripture, truths which flow into the mind are represented by liquid objects, goodness by solid objects. Hence the Lord Jesus says: I am the bread of life; he that eateth Me shall live by Me. Those who receive the Divine goodness from Him as heavenly bread shall acquire His image and likeness, and spiritually live by Him.
Truths are represented by liquid objects, because these glide into the thought as if we were drinking them.
Indeed, we do mentally drink them in, and hence you will find sometimes that truth is described be water, sometimes by milk, sometimes by wine, and sometimes by blood. Our Lord Jesus Christ says: Whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him, shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life (John iv. 14). That is to say, those who receive the Divine truths, out of them shall arise a succession of new ideas like the flashing streams from a beautiful fountain.
One of the most charming images you can have is the representation of a fountain on a sunny day, the living water springing up, and streams rising in the sunlight like liquid silver. When new truths spring up in the mind, leading to higher and higher things in our spiritual progress, it is a fountain of heavenly water. Of this, in Isa. lv. 1 we read: Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. MILK represents the simple truth that instructs those who are in the beginning of their progress towards heaven. I have fed you with the sincere milk of the Word, that you may grow thereby.
WINE represents those of a cheering, animating, encouraging kind; those which help a person when he has got weary, and needs rousing again to work out his salvation with fear and trembling. The soul becomes faint and weary at times, and needs the new wine of the kingdom.
But, above all, we need the BLOOD of the Lord Jesus–that is, the inward spirit of Jesus Christ circulating in the human soul, and giving it strength to go on in its progress, removing its old corruption, and forming it into a NEW MAN. Inward impurities are removed, and inward strength is imparted, by NEW BLOOD. They wash their robes, and make them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Were you peevish or selfish yesterday–did you do something that was not quite right, or say something that was unkind–go to the Lord Jesus Christ, and pray Him to give you new strength. The spirit of the Lord Jesus will flow in, and will remove the offensive stains. The robes well washed, the faults will be seen, hated, and subdued. A Christian thus becomes stronger and stronger, because he is purified and renewed by the blood of the Lamb.
The soul can then say, Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits; Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; Who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; Who crowneth thee with loving kindness and tender mercies (Ps. ciii. 2-4). Thus you find, in some parts of the Word, it is water that purifies us. In some parts it is truth which purifies and saves us, and in other parts it is the Word. Now ye are clean, through the Word that I have spoken unto you (S. John xv. 2). Sanctify them by Thy truth; Thy Word is TRUTH (S. John xvii. 17)
Elsewhere it is the blood; but in reality it is always the inward spirit of Divine Wisdom which flows from the Lord, and that pours itself into mans nature, restores his spiritual strength, and our faults and errors; truth describes our evils and dangers; truth opens new hopes, aims, and encouragements; truth points to the Savior and to heaven. When received in love and circulated through our being, it is new SAVING BLOOD.
A dear old lady friend whom many years ago I had occasion to see and to comfort from time to time, evinced, by her excellent life, that she wore a white robe. She had looked very discouragingly into herself–as often happens in severe afflictionand was afraid lest she had not been as sincere, and made as real progress, as she had hoped. She was afraid that she might not have been truly faithful, and she needed to be cheered and comforted. After much mourning and depression one day, her state had quite changed. She received me with a smile, and said, I had a very happy dream last night. Well, I said, what was it? I dont know, she replied, whether it was more than a dream; but I thought I had come into the other world. I was not as I am now, but it seemed as if I had come back to my youthful time of sixteen years of age. I was dressed all in white, and thought I had died. She was almost daily in expectation of dying. I was clothed in white, she continued, and three angels came to me in a most loving and heavenly way. They looked most affectionately at me, and then pointed to parts of my dress. I saw it was white, but a number of little spots were here and there. They told me that I had the right robe, but that it was not quite what it should be.
I must go back again. It was not time for me to go altogether. I had got the right robe on, but it needs must be more purified. She added: I felt so happy when I awoke, and I feel quite happy now. I have got the right robe on, only there are those spots. I know they are there, and I must get rid of them. I have no doubt she did get rid of them. Thus, my beloved friends, remember that we have some lessons for each of us to take home. It is not the Lord who repels anyone from entering into eternal life. He is everlastingly desirous that every soul that He has created should be eternally happy. He loves us a thousand times better than those who love us best; but it is absolutely essential we should acquire the qualities which make heaven in ourselves. This must be our inward condition.
When we enter the eternal world, if we have got this robe on, as those angels had, we shall be welcome amongst the white-robed multitude, and adore the Lord, and say: Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, and cast their crowns before Him.
They had all, however, fought the good fight again and again. Without faithful campaigning, there is no victory. They had palms in their hands. A palm, you know, is that noble tree which is the very picture of an upright man. It has a crown also, the emblem of the CROWN OF LIFE. The Psalmist says: The righteous shall flourish like the palm tree; he shall grow like the cedar is Lebanon (Ps. xcii. 12). We must be soldiers of the Lord Jesus, and fight when our old dispositions to evil show themselves. Our selfishness will come up in a variety of ways, and we must determine to keep it down. Dont imagine that you can get things done in a spiritual way any more than you can get them done in a natural way, by leaving them to do themselves. We must fight when we find we have a tendency to wrong–should any impulse arise to overreach our neighbor, to do anything unkind, or sanction anything untruewe must immediately take up arms against it. Work out your salvation with fear and trembling. We are sure of victory, if we persevere and do our part. We shall have tribulation, but we shall conquer. It is the only campaign upon which we can enter, and be sure of winning.
We have an Almighty Friend, Jehovah (Jesus), and He will take care that we are not overcome, if we are but faithful.
Should anything morally wrong present itself to us, it is impossible to overcome it of ourselves. Let us look up to the Lord Jesus, and ask Him for strength to overcome it entirely, and we shall overcome it. Then we can have in our hands the palm of victory. A lowly love to the Savior, and faithfulness to Him, will make us ready at length to take our part amongst those who have gone to their eternal home, and say, O, grave, where is thy victory; O, death, where is thy sting?
With palms in the hands of their heavenly bodies, the glorious ten thousand times ten thousand, clad in their white robes, the symbol of pure mind and feeling, had come out of much tribulation. They had washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. They could join in the Sacred anthems of heaven: Salvation to our God, which sitteth upon the throne–the infinite Love which fills heaven. Upon, in heavenly language, means within and unto the Lamb, the Visible Deity, the Divine Man.
The circumstance of their having come out of much tribulation implies that they had gone through much trial and sorrow.
The Christian is often the subject of grief, and would fain avoid many of the difficulties with which life is encompassed, yet probably the day will come when we shall know that every trouble had its reason. The clods of earth need much breaking before the ground is mellow enough to produce a fertile harvest. Need we wonder that the ground of the human soul which is to bloom and bear and bless throughout eternity requires to be well broken up.
The gems of earth demand continuous rubbing ere they attain the brilliancy that becomes a joy for ever. Shall the jewels of the Lord complain that they, too, are subjected to treatment seemingly hard to endure, but which will prepare them to shine with angelic beauty among the blessed?
If no great thing is accomplished on earth, whose fashions change and. in a few years pass away, without much patient toil, much perseverance, and grave and steady work, can we be astonished that the human soul, that wondrous structure that is immortal, should have its labours and its griefs, it storm and sunshine, it dangers, its difficulties, and its triumphs?
Oh, no! through much tribulation we are made meet for heaven.
But what care we for tribulation, in view of the eternal results! Why should we pine, to endure a few years what He permits who knows us far better than we know ourselves, and who loves us infinitely better than finite being can–than father, mother, sister, brother.
Does the brave earthly soldier endure hardship, face dangers boldly, persevere in spite of obstacles, and labor until his laurels are won, and shall we complain if we endure temptation and struggle to win our everlasting bliss?
Rather, let us smile in our sorrows, rejoice in our tribulations, for they are a sign that our heavenly Father sees we can bear them. He never afflicts men willingly, or grieves needlessly. Tribulation worketh patience, and patience hope, and hope with faith, salvation. These enable us to mingle with the glorious host of whom the Angel said, These are they who have come through much tribulation. They have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.
Author: JONATHAN BAYLEY—– THE MAGNIFICENT SCENES IN THE BOOK OF REVELATION (1878)