In the previous two articles, we addressed how many saints are in glory? From where have they come? Where are they now? How do they look? and What are they doing?’ Let’s now consider who else is in glory with the saints and why they are there.
*Who Else is There?
Rev. 7:11… “All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the 4 living creatures…”
Yes, the saints in glory are gathered around the throne of God. But they are not the only ones that occupy heaven.
Revelation 7:11 (above) tells us that all of God’s holy angels are also there. Heb. 12:22 refers to them as “an innumerable company of angels”. These are magnificent and powerful creatures that are occupied in praising God in heaven, doing His bidding in heaven or on earth, and are also assigned to minister to Christians on earth (Heb. 1:14). Angels played a significant role in the Christmas story. The angel, Gabriel, appeared to Mary to inform her of being divinely appointed to conceive and give birth to the Messiah, and to Joseph, informing him of Christ’s miraculous conception and birth, and to give Him the name, Jesus. After Christ’s birth in Bethlehem, the angels announced it to the shepherds and directed them to go see the holy Child as He lay in a manger.
Verse 11 also mentions that the elders are there and they are joining in the worship of God around the throne. These are the 24 elders also mentioned in Rev 4:4,10, Rev 5:6,8,11,14, Rev 11:13, and Rev 19:4. Their conduct and the context would suggest that these elders are representative of the Church (New Testament saints), the Bride of Christ in heaven. The Church is specifically listed as part of the heavenly multitude as Heb. 12:23 states… “to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are registered in heaven to God…” Why the number 24? We are not told in Scripture, but perhaps that number is representative of the 12 tribes of Israel (Old Testament saints) and the 12 disciples (New Testament saints), all who make up the saints in glory.
The 4 Living Creatures
Verse 11 also mentions there are 4 living creatures that are part of this massive crowd that are participating in worship before the throne of God. Again, there is some mystery here. It is not specifically explained who or what these creatures are. The Bible does allude to different categories of angels;, namely the Seraphim (Isaiah 6:2,6), the Cherubim (Gen. 3:24, Ex. 25:18-20, I Kgs. 6:23-29, Ps. 99:1, Ezek. 10:1-9, Heb. 9:5), and the main host of angels. Perhaps John saw what Ezekiel was describing in Ezek. 10:14 as cherubim. Ezekiel said that each one had 4 faces; like a cherub, a man, a lion, and an eagle. Though John did not say these 4 living creatures were Cherubim, it is likely they were. This is a mighty astute crowd gathered at God’s throne along with the saints in glory!
Rev 7:13-14 Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?” And I said to him, “Sir, you know.” So he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
In these verses, John asks the elders about this group of apparently “new arrivals” who are also standing at God’s throne. The elder’s answer tells us who these newcomers are and why they are in heaven.
*Why Are They There?
The elder’s answer also informs us of two things that all of the saints in glory have in common, and why they are there.
They Have Died Physically
“These are the ones who have come out of the great tribulation…” (Rev 7:14)
The elder by the throne was explaining to John that this group of newcomers had just arrived because they were put to death by the Antichrist and his followers. They have been martyred for their faith and devotion to their Lord Jesus Christ.
For centuries there have been many Christians who have been persecuted or killed for their allegiance to Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and this mistreatment and martyrdom is still going on today around the world. Thankfully (thus far) we live in a country where we can still freely practice our faith, but still we are tested and often misunderstood or maligned for our belief in the Word of God and the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Regardless of how our life on earth ends, all must go through the valley of the shadow of death, but only we who are saved will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.
All the saints in heaven are there because their life on earth has ended.
They Were Saved Spiritually
“These (have)…washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” (Rev 7:14)
All saints in glory understood that they were sinners in danger of eternal separation from God, but they humbly responded by repenting of their sin, and placing their faith in Christ alone. By being saved spiritually, the Tribulation saints (as well as all Church Age saints) entered into Heaven at death.
*Who Is With Them?
Rev 7:15-17 “They (saints in glory) are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple; and He who sits on the throne will dwell among them…for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters.…”
Yes, it is wonderful to be a part of that vast multitude in heaven—the saints in glory. Yes, it will be marvelous to also be in the company of the holy angels, the Old and New Testament saints, and the four living creatures. But it will be indescribably sweet and stupendous to be in the company of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit (mentioned in Rev. 1:4, Rev 4:5, Rev 5:6, Rev 14:13, and Rev 22:17)!
This is the most precious aspect of heaven…God is there! No wonder almost all Christians testify of times when they get homesick for heaven.
In the last chapter of Revelation, John records, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them, and be their God” (Rev 21:3). In the very next verse (Rev 21:4), we read, “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying, there shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” And in Rev. 22:20, we read the last promise of the Bible where Jesus says, “Surely I come quickly”…and then John responds with the last prayer in Scripture, ”Amen, Even so come, Lord Jesus!” I certainly join with John in praying for the Lord’s soon return.
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- Who is in Heaven with God’s Saints?
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