Getting a ‘sneak preview’ of HEAVEN, our final DESTINATION: After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Rev. 7:9-10)
As we continue to follow the vision of Apostle John as he sees what is going to happen in heaven in the future, we are given a sneak preview of the variety of God’s people who will populate heaven one day. Before He left for His heavenly abode, our Lord Jesus Christ commissioned His followers to make disciples of all the nations (‘ethne’ meaning ‘people groups’, Matt. 28:19-20). Shortly after the church was established in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost, Apostle Peter was directed through a vision to the new reality that God had accepted the Gentiles into the fold of the Church, and that all people have been deemed as God’s children (Acts 10:1-11:18). Further, there was “neither Jew nor Greek…slave nor free…male nor female” for every person was one in Christ Jesus being “Abraham's seed and heirs according to the promise." (Gal. 3:28-29)
As John takes us into the throne room of heaven in his vision, we see the fulfillment of the mandate that Jesus had given to His followers. There, standing before the Lamb (‘Jesus Christ’) was a crowd so large that it could not be numbered, which was made up of “all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues” (v. 9). In fact, there were two groups present in the crowd that included the representatives from God’s people, the Jews (vv. 3–8), and countless Gentile believers (vv. 9–10). It was the direct result of the gospel starting out from Jerusalem and reaching out to people from “the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The prophecy of our Lord Jesus Christ had been fulfilled completely: “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come” (Matt. 24:14). Now Jews and Gentiles have come together to extol the salvation provided to them by their Lord Jesus Christ.
In the vision of Apostle John, he saw an innumerable multitude of people (both Gentiles and Jews) in heaven before God’s throne and they stood clothed in white robes, symbolic of their righteousness and holiness (v. 14; 19:8). White robes may be the garments of overcoming believers (3:5, 18) or, of martyrs (6:11). The palm branches that they held were typically waved by crowds at victory celebrations (see John 12:13), and thus symbolized their victory over the enemy. This great multitude consists all the redeemed out of all people groups throughout all of history, and together they praised God and the Lamb for their salvation.
What we can understand from this vision is that God intends to populate heaven with people from every ethnic background that has important implications for all followers of Christ throughout the world. God loves all the people in this world, and does not want anyone to perish: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). If God’s heart reaches out to the whole world in this manner, then our hearts should reach out to everyone in our world as well.
Another observation from this vision is that every person who has been redeemed by the blood of Christ will be on equal standing before God one day, and the focus of everyone’s worship will be Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God! Let us forgo every kind of discrimination that we hold deep inside us today (incl. denomination, race, ethnicity, gender, wealth, status, etc.), and look at every person as equal in the sight of God. Let us give all our worship, praise, and adoration to Jesus Christ, who alone will be glorified by all one day.