Rev 7:9-17: After this I looked, and 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.” All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!” Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?” I answered, “Sir, you know.” And he said, “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. 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 spread his tent over them. ‘Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat down on them,’ nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center before the throne will be their shepherd; ‘he will lead them to springs of living water.’ ‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’”
One of my favorite passages in the Bible is where it describes heaven and the joy in the presence of the Lord. Where nothing separates us from the love of our heavenly father.
We probably all know what it is like to be a little kid that is hurt for some reason and that comes crying to Mom or Dad, jumps up on their lap, only to have Mom or Dad wipe the tears away. The reason for crying is soon forgotten in the presence of the love and care of Mom or Dad.
This is the image that is painted for us about heaven. God himself, the almighty, loving father picks us up and sets us on his lap and wipes away our tears. He smiles at us and our sorrows no longer exist.
Who are these people that belong to this great crowd that stand before God and that are being taking care of by our heavenly father himself and that enjoy his loving care day and night?
It is said that they are the ones that have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. This is the image that inspired the Norwegian hymn writer to sing about the host arrayed in white, like thousand snow clad mountains bright. Those that make it to heaven are those in white robes. White robes is a symbol of purity and of a pure heart. There is no impurity in these people.
But notice that the Bible does not say that these people have kept their clothes white all the time. It does not say that they never had gotten dirty. Rather, they have had their robes washed. That is why they are white. That means that they have not been clean and white all the time. They had gotten dirty. The people that make it into heaven are not the ones that have kept themselves from messing up. They are the ones that have been washed. That is why they are white.
Personally, I have to say that this is my only hope. Because I mess up a lot, and I am getting dirty all the time. But in Jesus Christ I am washed clean all the time. No one who makes it into heaven is good enough to be there.
Consider what kind of people they were, the great persons that we read about in the Bible. There is David, the great king of Israel. He was an adulterer. And later, when his adultery was about to be disclosed, he became a murderer, to cover it up. Consider the great apostle Paul. He was an accessory to murder. When the mob stoned the deacon Stephen to death, Paul stood by and watched and gave his assent to what they did. Consider the apostle Peter. He was a traitor. At the most crucial moment in Jesus' life, Peter denied that he had ever known him. These are the kinds of people that are giants in heaven. Adulterers, murderers, and traitors.
Why is that? Because they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of Jesus. Their robes are not white because they had kept them clean. They had gotten dirty. Very dirty. But they were washed in the blood of the Lamb. The Lamb in the Book of Revelation is Jesus Christ. He is the Lamb that was sacrificed for our sins. In everyday language we use the term scapegoat. That means someone who has to take the blame, usually someone who really has done nothing or very little wrong, but who is made to take the blame for others. Jesus Christ is the perfect scapegoat. He never did anything wrong. But he took the blame for all of us. And he died for all of our sins. This way he takes our guilt upon himself and washes our guilt away, so that our robes can be pure and white.
Everyone who makes it into heaven is there because they have put their faith in the grace of Jesus. Because they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ.
© Sigurd Grindheim