God’s Heart Is Big
Let me tell you what all this means in a practical sense. Number One, God’s heart is big and includes all the ethnic and racial groups in the world. Revelation 7:9-10 pictures an amazing scene when Christ returns to the earth. The Apostle John saw, “a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ’Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’” This passage gives us a great deal of helpful information about heaven. First, note the number of the redeemed. There is a vast crowd before the throne, so huge that it defies human calculation. Second, note the variety of the redeemed. There are saints from every nation, tribe, people and language group. Third, note the posture of the redeemed. They are before the throne of God, standing like an army before its Commander in Chief. Fourth, note the appearance of the redeemed. They wear white robes, a symbol of purity, and they hold palm branches, a sign of victory. Fifth, note the song of the redeemed. They sing about salvation that comes from God and from the Lamb. What a picture this is. The saints are redeemed and rejoicing. As Tony Campolo says, if you want to get ready for heaven, go to choir practice!
I think the Apostle John was struck by the immense size of the throng. What do we learn by pondering that unnumbered multitude? Certainly it teaches us that God will not be defeated. There will be no empty thrones in heaven. God will not be satisfied with a handful in heaven while the devil gets the majority. What kind of salvation would that be? Many will be saved. Many from every nation! God has a quota and the quota will be met. This ought to teach us something about the power of the gospel, about the greatness of God’s heart, and the universality of the church. In this scene we have the end to all sectarianism, the end to all pessimism, and the end to evangelistic discouragement. It’s easy for us to say “Us four and no more” as if somehow sinners are so evil they can’t be saved nowadays. Away with all such poor-meism and unbelief! I realize that as we look at the cultural decline around us, it’s tempting to conclude that the bad guys are winning. They aren’t. God keeps score in his own way. And even when it looks like he’s losing, he’s not. He only appears to be trailing. But in the end, God wins. And he wins big. There will be more people in heaven than we have dreamed possible because our God is greater than our limited imagination.
This picture of a vast multitude also teaches us that in the end every barrier that separates us will be swept away. Every prejudice will be gone. Every bit of human strife will be left behind and partisan bickering will simply be forgotten. What a good day that will be when all God’s children will meet together around the throne.