Headed in That Direction
...there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb (Revelation 7:9-10).
“These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb (Revelation 7:14b).
One time I walked into a mini-multitude version of what is described in these verses.
I wouldn't say it was every nation, tribe, people and language gathered in that international church, but it was headed in that direction. In surround sight and sound it was what Jesus had said: “I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to Myself.” (John 12:32)
These hundreds of people had sensed God's tug on their hearts, had interrupted their lives, and had come from around the world, laser-focused on worshiping God.
Until we hear their testimonies, a crowd is just a crowd. Maybe this is especially true when everyone looks and sounds so different? But when testimonies are shared, a crowd is knit together.
Testimonies usually include tribulation. They always include salvation.
These people arrived with testimonies. Their tribulation parts were—in varying ways—heartbreaking. Their salvation parts—thrilling to hear—were basically alike.
In Biblical metaphor robe can represent the person and his/her status. The robe given to the prodigal by his father, for example, represented his restored place in the family. The people's testimonies of salvation were alike in that they were, metaphorically, stories of receiving robes that represented their restoration to the Father's family.
If the idea of robes being washed by blood is confusing, it may help to remember that Life is in the blood. Jesus offered His Life to overcome / defeat / wipe out / wash away death.
Jesus' way is the way of restoration of our original Imago Dei life / identity. His way is freely offered to those of every nation, tribe, people and language—many of which were in that church that day.
Note that the term “race” is not included in this list. It wasn't until the mid-16th century that “race” began to take on its modern meaning, a meaning not widely settled upon until the early 20th century. Therefore “race” as we think of it wouldn't have been a known concept in the first century.
Lord, we want to be headed in that direction—eager to worship You with those from every nation, tribe, people and language, all in robes washed in the blood of the Lamb. And since in our time race is loaded with meaning, and confident of Your approval, we add every race to the list, too. Amen. So be it.