Revelation 7:9-17

Sermon preached on November 4, 2012 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2012. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at

Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.

I've never seen the Queen. But Marg did. When she was a little girl in Newfoundland she was with a friend's family and they heard that the Queen was flying in to the Deer Lake Airport and would be driving the 30 miles to the city of Corner Brook. They had a cabin near the highway so they went out to the road and waited for the Queen. Sure enough, the Queen's motorcade came by and they waved to the Queen and the Queen waved back. Marg said it was great. It was one of the highlights of her childhood.

Seeing the Queen like that must have been thrilling. But it's nothing like getting invited to Buckingham Palace to meet her personally. Of course I wouldn't know much about that, because I've never been invited. I was outside Buckingham Palace once. But I don't even know if the Queen was inside. At the time I didn't know that if the Queen is present, her flag, called the Royal Standard, is flown over Buckingham Palace. If she is not in residence the Union Jack is flown. It's the same way with Windsor Castle or her other homes. I didn't know that when I was outside Buckingham Palace so I never even looked to see which flag was flying. So even though I was outside Buckingham Palace, I had no idea whether the Queen was there or not.

But some people get invited to an audience with the Queen. They actually get to meet her and receive some award, like becoming a member or officer of The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. That must be great, to actually meet the Queen, be able to chat with her and be honored by her. In our country it would be the equivalent of going to the White House and getting the Presidential Medal of Freedom from the President. I would suspect that for those that receive it, it would be one of the highlights of their lives. They would be at the seat of power—to be honored by their sovereign or President.

As wonderful as that may be, the honors of this life pale in comparison to the blessings that God's people will receive in the future. This morning we're going to look at some of what the saints will experience in heaven. The vision that John has here shows us that it's going to be glorious. Robert Mounce tells us that the purpose of the vision in chapter 7 is,

"to grant a glimpse of eternal blessedness to those about to enter the world's darkest hour."

The reality of the glories that await us should help us to endure the tribulations that we will face on this earth. In this regard we need to follow the example of Jesus. Hebrews 12:2 urges us to,

"fix our eyes on Jesus,
the author and perfecter of our faith,
who for the joy set before him
endured the cross, scorning its shame,
and sat down at the right hand
of the throne of God."

So the vision here is very important for us. As a Christian you are to be faithful and obedient to Jesus, faithful even to death. When you face trials, persecution, the loss of your job, the loss of your reputation, even the loss of your life—the content of this vision should be a great help to you.

The main thing we see in our text is that

the saints in heaven are exceedingly blessed. How blessed they are!

This morning we're going to look at the first thing that is mentioned in verse 15. The thing that shows the blessedness of the saints in heaven is the fact that they

are standing before the throne and before the Lamb wearing white robes and holding palm branches.

Verse 15 tells us that they're standing before the throne. They are cleansed, they are in a position of honor and they are filled with joy. Verse 9 tells us that they were,

"holding palm branches in their hands."

This shows us that they are jubilant. This is a festive celebration. They are praising God for His salvation. It reminds us of when Jesus was coming to Jerusalem in John 12:12–15. It says,

"The next day the great crowd
that had come for the Feast heard
that Jesus was on his way to Jerusalem.
They took palm branches
and went out to meet him, shouting,
'Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes
in the name of the Lord!
Blessed is the King of Israel!
Jesus found a young donkey
and sat upon it, as it is written,
'Do not be afraid,
O Daughter of Zion; see,
your king is coming,
seated on a donkey's colt."

Alfred Edersheim, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah (Accordance electronic ed. Altamonte Springs: OakTree Software, 2006), n.p.

"The waving of the palm-branches was the welcome of visitors or kings…"

They were used in 'festive' events. In the Old Testament "Hosanna" meant, "Save us, please!" (Psalm 118:25) But later it took on the meaning, "Hooray for salvation! It's coming! It's here! Salvation! Salvation!" Here the saints in heaven are celebrating. They are praising God for the salvation He has provided, a salvation that is a reality.

What is heaven? Is it a place? Yes, it is. But it's much more than that. As Michael Horton Writes, (The Christian Faith, p 974)

"heaven is not so much a place as it is a condition of God's Sabbath, where (and when) He sits enthroned in the midst of his people."

This is what we see here. The saints are with God and they are praising Him. They are full of joy and are delighting in being there. But they're not merely delighting in being 'there', but they're delighting in being with God, in His presence, being blessed by Him. In Revelation 21 we read how John saw the new Jerusalem coming down from heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. He wrote, (Revelation 21:3–4)

"And I heard a loud voice
from the throne saying,
'Behold, the dwelling place
of God is with man.
He will dwell with them,
and they will be his people,
and God himself will be with them
as their God.
He will wipe away every tear
from their eyes,
and death shall be no more,
neither shall there be mourning,
nor crying, nor pain anymore,
for the former things have passed away."

One of the glorious things about heaven is that we will be with God. We will be with Jesus. We will see His face. As we read in Revelation 22:3–5

"The throne of God and of the Lamb
will be in the city,
and his servants will serve him.
They will see his face,
and his name will be on their foreheads.
There will be no more night.
They will not need the light of a lamp
or the light of the sun,
for the Lord God will give them light.
And they will reign for ever and ever."

The main thing about heaven—our main delight, our joy, our main source of satisfaction and contentment—will consist of the fact that we will be with God. As Vern Poythress writes about the saints here, (The Returning King, p. 119)

"At the heart of blessing is the presence of God and the Lamb, and their care for the saints."

Dwight L. Moody used to tell a story to illustrate this. The story was about, (Quoted from, Foundations of the Christian Faith, James Montgomery Boice, p. 716)

"a young child whose mother became very sick. While the mother was sick one of the neighbors took the child away to stay with her until the mother got well again. But the mother grew worse and died. The neighbors thought that they would not take the child home until after the funeral was over… After a while they simply brought the little girl home. At once she went to find her mother. First she went into the sitting room to find her mother; then she went into the parlor. She went from one end of the house to the other, but she could not find her. At last she asked, 'Where is my mama?' When they told her that her mother was gone, the little girl wanted to go back to the neighbors house again. Home had lost its attraction for her since her mother was not there any longer. Moody says, 'No, it is not the jasper walls and the pearly gates that are going to make heaven attractive. It is the being with God.'"

That's what we see in our text. Verse 15 tells us that,

"they are before the throne of God
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne
will spread his tent over them."

How wonderful it is going to be to be in God's presence—to see His face and enjoy His presence.

Sin has separated us from God. Adam and Eve hid after they sinned. In Isaiah 6 we read how the prophet was terrified when He saw God on His throne. The seraphs were praising God for His holiness and Isaiah said,

"Woe to me!"

We don't see anything like that in John's vision of the great multitude. In fact it's just the opposite. Because they have washed our robes in the blood of the Lamb, Jesus the King is going to say to them, (Matthew 25:34)

"Come, you who are blessed
by my Father; take your inheritance,
the kingdom prepared for you
since the creation of the world."

Because they have washed our robes in the blood of the Lamb, they have been made worthy to stand before God. What an incredible privilege to be able to stand before God and bask in His glory, to be accepted by Him, to dwell with Him.

Christians, we can barely conceive how wonderful it's going to be with our King. When Peter saw Jesus transfigured on the Mount of Transfiguration the first thing he said was, (Matthew 17:4)

"Lord, it is good for us to be here."

To be in God's presence and be accepted is glorious—it will bring you joy and delight like nothing else ever will. Christians, anticipate it, look forward to it. Rejoice in it.

You should be looking forward to when you get to heaven.

The thought of your blessings in heaven should help us be strong and persevere in the face of troubles, sickness and persecution. Christian, one day you are going to be in God's presence. You will bask in His glory and be able to serve Him as He rules over the new heaven and new earth. His plans for you are glorious. So much so that the words of Paul in Romans 8:18 ought to be close to our hearts. Paul wrote,

"I consider that our present sufferings
are not worth comparing
with the glory that will be revealed in us."

Secondly, this means that

you should be in awe of the Lamb's love for you.

Think of how high He is going to lift you—that you will reign with Him over the new heaven and new earth?

Why will you share in Christ's glories? Is it because you're worthy? No. None of us are worthy. Is it because we somehow earn our place in glory? No. If we got what our deeds deserved we would be condemned forever.

Why will you share in Christ's glories? It's because of His love for you. It's because of His work for you. It's because of His everlasting commitment to you.

Your life should be dedicated to His praise. Praise Him. Serve Him. Delight in Him.

Lastly, for those who don't know Jesus,

you should realize that unless you go to Jesus, you will not be in God's presence of blessing.

You will not be able to serve Him and enjoy Him forever. His tent of protection will not be yours. You will miss these blessings completely. These are the greatest blessings that can ever be for human beings. You need them. You need Jesus. Go to Him today.