“These are they who have come out of the great tribulation. . . .”
Perhaps John, the narrator of this story, had a blank and puzzled look on his face when he was asked: “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?” It is easy to get lost in a crowd, especially “a great multitude that no one could count” (Revelation 7:9). No wonder John responded by saying, “Sir, you know.”
The Spirit of God, who gave John this revelation, wants us to know who these people are. We do not know them all, but we know some of them very well. They are believers in Christ who have died and have gone before us to be in heaven with God. For example, I know the 33-year-old mother of two young children. It is good to see her standing. For the last five years of her life, she was confined to a wheelchair because of multiple sclerosis (MS). She is my oldest sister. I also know the 17-year-old young man with a beaming smile. He was part of our family until he was suddenly taken away in a construction accident.
My uncle once walked me through the cemetery where my grandparents are buried. At times he stopped to read the names on some of the other headstones there. He had known these people. He had been their pastoral elder.
We grieve the deaths of our loved ones. We miss them. To comfort us, God gives us this picture of a multitude before his throne. And they are not lost in the crowd. God knows and cares for each one, and he continues to be their shepherd.
Lord and Savior, comfort all who grieve the deaths of loved ones today. Amen.