The Feast of All Saints (observed)

Readings: Revelation 7:2-19 | 1 John 3:1-3 | Matthew 5:1-12

Text: Revelation 7:2-19

Theme: The victory and salvation of the Church of all time belongs to the Lamb, which He has given to you.

I. Reading the Book of Revelation is kind of like diving into the Old Testament. It seems to be full of contradictions, scary judgments, and uncertainty about who belongs to God and who doesn’t.  Only occasionally are there some quotable parts that bring comfort…

Examples of seeming contradictions: The wickedness of man is great, so God destroys all except eight through the Flood.  God desires to bless the nations, and then he orders Joshua to exterminate them. He promises great things for Israel, but then sends them into slavery in Egypt, then later rebellion and exile. 

But neither the Old Testament, nor the Book of Revelation can be properly understood without God’s Son, Jesus Christ.  Just as the Old Testament is the story of God’s people—the patriarchs and Israel—Revelation is about the Church.

II. One of the reasons Revelation isn’t appealing is because it has a stark, honest view of the fallen world.  It’s like a horror movie that takes a level view of the evil so that you can see just how insidious and deadly it is. Unlike slasher movies or grotesque video games, it does not glorify the evil or cheer for how bad things can get.  Rather, Revelation shows the true nature of man’s wickedness, the devil’s contempt and murderous plans, and the only Power that can overthrow such worldwide corruption.

III. This section of Revelation gives us a view from above, the eternal picture of the Church, lest we be weighed down with the moments we endure right now.  It’s actually through the past history of God’s people, recorded in the Old Testament, that we understand the full significance of this vision.

a. The evil of this world (as uncontrollable as it seems to us) is held back at God’s command, just as it was when God sent the Flood (Job 38:11).  It is God who knows His own, and calls them out as an exceedingly great host, preserving them against the seemingly out-of-control forces of darkness.

b. The ranks of Israel recall the battle census of Numbers, where each tribe is accounted. But something is different here! Judah is at the head of the line.  The Lion of the Tribe of Judah has conquered as the Lamb standing even though it had been slain.

“Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” And…I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain…And he went and took the scroll from the right hand of him who was seated on the throne” (Rev. 5:5-7)

c. Now that the Lamb has conquered in the fight, there is a great multitude—an exceeding army[1]—that no man can number. This is what the Lord indeed had sworn would be to Abraham (Gen. 15:5-6).

d. The great tribulation has played out from the time when enmity was set between the woman’s seed and that of the Serpent (Gen. 3:15), carried out by those who are of the devil.  It’s pictured in Daniel 12:1-3, rising again in the destruction of the Temple in 70 AD (Matt. 24:15-21), but reaching its apex in the time immediately before the return of Christ. It is not identified merely by intensity at a particular point in history, but from the Fall all the way until the final Judgment (Matt. 23:29-36).

e. Because of the Lamb’s victory, they stand in victor’s robes and bearing the palm branches of pilgrims (Lev. 23:40) and victors (1 Macc. 13:51). Not because they had the strength, but because the Lord fought for them (Exod. 14:14)

40 And you shall take on the first day the fruit of splendid trees, branches of palm trees and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days.” (Lev. 23:40)

The Jews entered it with praise and palm branches, and with harps and cymbals and stringed instruments, and with hymns and songs, because a great enemy had been crushed and removed from Israel.” (1 Macc. 13:51)

So their cry gives glory to God: “Salvation (security, safety) is by our God who sits on the throne and by the Lamb” 

f. They are before the throne of God and are serving Him day and night.  He who sits on the throne makes His dwelling among them 27 My dwelling place shall be with them, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 28 Then the nations will know that I am the Lord who sanctifies Israel, when my sanctuary is in their midst forevermore.” (Ezek 37:27-28, and John 1:14).  Theirs is the victory over God’s enemies—over sin, devil, and even death itself.  Hear the promises all rolled together here:

10They shall not hunger or thirst, neither scorching wind nor sun shall strike them, for he who has pity on them will lead them, and by springs of water will guide them.” (Isaiah 49:10)
6The sun shall not strike you by day, nor the moon by night.” (Psalm 121:6)
8He will swallow up death forever; and the Lord God will wipe away tears from all faces, and the reproach of his people he will take away from all the earth, for the Lord has spoken.” (Isaiah 25:8)

IV. From this eternal, heavenly perspective, we see what is true for us.  These words are already yours in Christ.

So what do you think of the Church?  If you were to just look with your eyes and measure by your human understanding, you would see defeat and scattering, division and failure.

No!  Look with the eyes of faith which God gives you, so that you may know that the Church is the weak and victorious.  Small and forlorn in ourselves.  Dead and dying to the world.  But in Christ—the Lion of Judah, the Lamb who has conquered His foes—we are God’s great host, beloved and holy, though we die yet shall we live.

Beloved of God, we are already part of that multitude, so take up the praise already, because it is yours to hold onto, even while we now dwell in the shadow of death.  That shadow will pass away when the true light comes.  In the Name of + Jesus.


[1] In this context, ochlos can mean “a mass of soldiers” (

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