Glory! Glory!Revelation 7:1-17Theme: Eternity.In this week’s lessons, Dr. Philip Ryken teaches us about our future adornment, employment, and enjoyment.
LessonIn the words of the great hymn writer Isaac Watts, “Every power will find sweet employ in that eternal world of joy.” But, of course, the difference will be that our work and our play will be unstained by sin. At present we’re striving to become more and more holy and making slow progress of it. But we will not become completely and perfectly holy until we’re glorified. Glorification is the perfection of our sanctification. In heaven we will be free from sin forever. We will be unable to sin. We will live as sinless creatures in deathless bodies. And God will glorify us so that we can glorify him for all eternity.
We were made not only to glorify God, but also to enjoy him forever. Revelation 7:15-17 tells us that God will spread his tent over us, that we will not hunger, we will not thirst, the sun will not beat down upon us, and the Lamb will be our shepherd. These verses are largely quoted from the Old Testament. They contain some of the most precious promises in all of Scripture.
One passage tells us that we will find shelter under the glorious presence of God. It’s the idea of God spreading his tent over us, an idea that goes all the way back to the exodus from Egypt. This is a reference to the shekina, to the visible, hovering presence of God’s glory in the tabernacle. The Scripture promised that one day God would draw all of his people right into the shelter of that glory and that there we would be sheltered from the heat of day. We would find a refuge and a hiding place from the sun and the rain, and there we would neither hunger nor thirst. That is exactly what John saw in his vision in Revelation. He saw God’s glory spread over heaven like a canopy, and he saw all of God’s people sheltered under that glory, keeping us safe from every evil thing. In that glory we will not suffer illness or injury. We will neither hunger nor thirst.
These promises are for people who are still walking, hungry and thirsty, in the wilderness. Do not be discouraged. God will bring us safely to the Promised Land where every need will be met and every desire satisfied. And we can be sure of this because the One leading us and feeding us is the Lamb himself. The Scripture says that the Lamb will be their Shepherd. That is very strange – a flock to be shepherded by a lamb – but it is a great comfort to the sheep. Jesus knows what we need, because he himself knows what it is like to be one of us, to be one of the sheep. And he will lead us to springs of living water. He will satisfy us with the full enjoyment of God for all eternity.
This promise is for us if we are suffering the sorrows of earth. That is why Revelation, chapter 7, ends with a promise in verse 17 that God will wipe every tear from our eyes. We are still going through the tribulation. And tribulation always involves tears. From this verse it seems that when we pass through suffering into glory, we will still have our eyes wet from crying when we arrive. But our Father will be there to touch his hand to our cheek and wipe away every last one of our tears. In the end, we will be saved from suffering. The message of salvation is that we will be saved from sin with all of its sorrows. The prophet Isaiah promised that the sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces. He went on to say that once our tears are wiped away, we will give God the glory, saying, “Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the Lord, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation” (Isa 25:9).
For what purpose will God glorify us?
Make a list of all the promises found in Revelation 7:15-17.
Further StudyRead the following passages: Isaiah 4:2-6; 25:6-8; 49:10; 59:17-19; John 4:9-14; 6:35; 10:11. Compare these passages to Revelation 7:15-17.
PrayerFather, we do rejoice in your salvation. We pray that you will walk with us through our tribulation, that you will place the hope of eternity in our hearts, and that we, one day, will come to find shelter under the canopy of your glory. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.