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Seeking to equip people to live as Christian disciples wherever God has placed them.

Saturday, April 21, 2018

“All Nations”

Revelation 7:9-12

This is a vision that John of Patmos has of the throne of God.  In this vision he sees “a great multitude which no one can count.” This crowd is from “every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages.”  In other words this is a vision that takes in all the people groups in the world.  This is the fulfillment of Christ’s great command to go and disciple all nations.  That task will be carried out.  It is clear that in the final analysis the greater number of humanity will be brought to God.  This is a heavenly Palm Sunday celebrating God’s great gift of salvation.

The apostle Paul goes even further with his vision of “all the gentiles” (Rom. 1:5) and “all Israel” (Rom. 11:26). While not denying God’s judgment, Paul repeatedly speaks of all being saved (understanding that “many” in the context here also means “all”) (Rom. 5:12-21; 11:32; Col. 1:19-20; I Tim. 4:10; Titus 2:11).  Yet these assurances need to be held in tension with human responsibility and choices.

Given these pictures should we say there is no need for our witnessing?  If this “great multitude” is assured, if God will showing mercy to all finally, why must we “go and make disciples of the nations?”  Isn’t God going to accomplish this whether we do anything or not?

Yet this kind of thinking moves us from the promises of scripture into speculation.  We can be confident of the task of missions since we know that people will accept the gospel.  Yet the other side of the issue is that without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6).  We therefore have the obligation to call people to faith in Christ (Eph. 2: 9-10). We go out in confidence knowing that, even though some may reject, there will be many who will respond, indeed, “a great multitude.”

Eternal loving and gracious God, I praise you for this vision of the great multitude that will one day surround your throne.  May I be part of that great crowd and may there be others there because of my witness.  I pray this in Jesus’ name, amen.