In days where the struggles between peoples of different nations, races and religions seem increasingly violent and close at hand, it is helpful to remind ourselves of the Biblical promises of a future where such conflicts will be no more. Our heavenly Father’s heart for all the peoples of the world means that He sent His Son into the world not just that a few white British people might be saved but that people from every nation and language will be part of His Kingdom.
One of the most beautiful parts of the Bible speaks of the result of Jesus’ mission. There will be countless millions gathered from ‘every nation, tribe, people and language’ standing before God in heaven (Revelation 7:9-10). Each one is clothed identically in white. This is not an early advert for a heavenly washing powder. Rather, the white clothes show that there is only one way in which to enter God’s presence: clothed in the spotless rightness of Jesus. There is no place for national showmanship, for a national uniform any more. People from Britain, Bhutan and Burkina Faso will all be on level ground before the throne of God. Each one is equally undeserving to be there on their own merit, each one is depending entirely on the saving death of Jesus. This is truly the place where human beings are equal.
This wonderful picture continues. The huge crowd are all carrying symbols of triumph and victory. In today’s world, we’re familiar with the massive triumphal parades of armed soldiers, tanks and armoured vehicles. We’ve seen countless pictures of machine-guns raised in victory. But this is not the Biblical picture of the triumph of God. Instead of weapons, the crowd are clutching branches from palm trees. These are not branches to be used to batter others when no other weapons are available. Rather, they are to celebrate the return of a triumphal king. These crowds are celebrating that someone else has won peace for them all. People from Devon, Darfur and Detroit are all able to celebrate equally the victory of Jesus. The song they’re singing reminds us of the way God brings about victory:
“Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.”
God’s salvation for all these people is through the giving of His Son as the sacrificial Lamb. God’s victory over death, sin and Satan is achieved through the death of Jesus. His death makes a way for people once separated by war, tribal loyalties, or cultural con ict to be made one. The great enemy of humanity – death itself – has been defeated.
At St. Andrew’s we have the chance to be a sign of this coming kingdom of God in the way that we treat one another from different backgrounds and nations. These people who once were strangers are made our fellow citizens of God’s kingdom. In these troubled times, let’s pray for God’s help that we can be a church that points people towards this coming reality.