So I ask you, have you asked Jesus to make you clean? If not, I really doubt whether you have anything suitable to wear for eternity. But if you do go to Jesus, you will find that God’s promise is true - that though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; that though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. The hymn writer William Cooper described that remarkable cleansing like this: "There is a fountain filled with blood drawn from Emmanuel’s veins, and sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains." When we emerge from that cleansing fountain, we come out as spotless as the Lamb himself.

Here in Revelation 7, three features of our glorious life are mentioned: our beautiful adornment, our blessed employment, and our endless enjoyment. First, our beautiful adornment: when we all get to heaven, we will all wear long, white robes. Now, this is theologically significant. It’s mentioned several times in these verses. It is mentioned again in Revelation, chapter 19, where we are told that we will wear "fine linen, bright and clean." In fact, the history of salvation is actually a series of fashion statements.

Scholars have offered various interpretations of this great tribulation. Some think this refers to martyrdom. I think this seems unlikely because there’s nothing in the passage specifically to indicate that the people in white robes were martyrs. Ordinarily, in other places in the Book of Revelation, when John refers to martyrs he comes right out and explains that they were put to death because of their faith. Others think that the tribulation refers to a special period of persecution in the end times - what Revelation elsewhere calls the hour of trial that is going to come upon the whole world. This interpretation has much to commend it, for the sufferings of these saints are described as the great tribulation.

In this week’s lessons, we’ll be looking at several verses from the end of Revelation 7. There’s a great deal in this passage. In verse 13 someone posed the following question: "These in white robes - who are they, and where did they come from?" Who are these people? And where did they come from? Those are the questions. The questioner is referring to those who appeared to John in his vision recorded here in Revelation. John had been taken up into heaven where God was revealing to him the secrets of glory, and there John saw an enormous crowd of people gathered from the four corners of the earth.

The last horse is a livid or pale greenish color symbolizing disease or death. The color there is hard to get into the English language, which is why it’s translated "pale." It’s actually the Greek word chloros, from which we get the words "chlorophyll," the substance in plants that makes them green, and "chlorine," which is a pale greenish gas. Behind this fourth pale horse comes Hades, the abode of the dead. It says these two are given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine, and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth.