“These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence.”
The Christians to whom the apostle John wrote the book of Revelation needed encouragement. They lived at a time when the Roman government was severely persecuting them. Being a Christian was illegal. If you were discovered to be a Christian and refused to renounce your faith in Jesus, you could be killed.
To these Christians, it may have seemed as if Jesus had abandoned them. He had promised always to be with them, care for them, and protect them. But their friends and even family members were being killed. Their own lives were constantly in danger. Where was Jesus when his people so desperately needed him?
Jesus gave John a vision that gave these Christians the encouragement they needed. He showed John a huge crowd of people, all dressed in white and waving palm branches. He was told that these were those “who have come out of the great tribulation.” In other words, these were all God’s people who had died but now were with Jesus in heaven. It may have seemed Rome had won, and they had lost. But in reality, the Christians were the victors because they were with Jesus. Jesus blood, shed for them on the cross, had washed them and made them clean. And Jesus would keep with close to him forever. Nothing would ever separate them from him.
We may not face the same type of physical persecution that those early Christians did. But we still need the same encouragement. If ever we wonder whether Jesus is keeping his promise to us and protecting us, we can look at that same crowd of people that John saw. There we see all of God’s people who have been washed clean in Jesus’ blood. There we see where we will one day be as well. A time is coming soon when we will stand in the shelter of Jesus’ presence. And we will be with him forever.
Lord Jesus, hold me tightly until you take me to be with you forever. Amen.