After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
15 “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.
16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
the sun shall not strike them,
nor any scorching heat.
17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
– Revelation 7:9-14 [ESV]
I was listening to a commentary by Steve West, Perspective of a thousand years, on The World and Everything in It podcast. He made the point that living 1000 years would give someone a sense of eternity. I guess that’s right. But 1000 years doesn’t even touch the edge of forever. Like a friend of mine used to say, “Eternity lasts a long, long time.”
That gives new gravitas to hymn of praise. “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” If these acclamations of blessing, glory, wisdom, honor, power, and might are to be eternally expressed and realized, the nature of both the One receiving the praise and those who praise him must be perfectly in sync. God must be worthy of this. Those who praise him must delight in giving him that praise; and never flag in that delight. Eternity lasts a long, long time.
Recent conversations about heaven and loved-ones who have died have tended toward delighting in seeing their loved ones who have gone on before. There is great comfort in that anticipation. My sisters would be 58 and 67 years old if they were still alive. My mom would be 99 and my dad would be 101. I look forward to seeing them and feeling great joy and love with them. We would have so much to say to each other. But I wonder whether that conversation would last 1000 years. Maybe it would. I don’t know.
But the main focus of these hymns in Revelation point us to an eternity of praise to God. And in that space and place we will never grow weary of doing that. The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness (Lamentations 3:22-23). There will be a new cause for praise to God each new morning in heaven. and our focus will be fixed on God.
The hymn, Behold a Host Arrayed in White expresses beautifully the joy of singing the praises of the One who is worthy of all blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might forever and ever! Amen!
Behold a Host, Arrayed in White
Behold a host, arrayed in white, Like thousand snow-clad mountains bright!
With palms they stand; Who is this band Before the throne of light?
These are the saints of glorious fame, Who from the great affliction came
And in the flood Of Jesus’ blood Are cleansed from guilt and shame.
They now serve God both day and night; They sing their songs in endless light.
Their anthems ring As they all sing With angels shining bright.
Despised and scorned, they sojourned here; But now, how glorious they appear!
Those martyrs stand, A priestly band, God’s throne forever near.
On earth they wept through bitter years; Now God has wiped away their tears,
Transformed their strife To heav’nly life, And freed them from their fears.
They now enjoy the Sabbath rest, The heav’nly banquet of the blest;
The Lamb, their Lord, At festive board Himself is host and guest.
O blessèd saints in bright array Now safely home in endless day,
Extol the Lord, Who with His Word Sustained you on the way.
The steep and narrow path you trod; You toiled and sowed the Word abroad;
Rejoice and bring Your fruits and sing Before the throne of God.
The myriad angels raise their song; O saints, sing with that happy throng!
Lift up one voice; Let heav’n rejoice In our Redeemer’s song!
Text: Public domain