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Wipe away every tear from their eyes: the greatest miracle?

And God will wipe away every Tear from their eyes.  This tells of a time when we won’t cry anymore.  Will this be the greatest miracle in the Bible?  Maybe that depends.  For instance – who is being talked about here.  Who’s eyes are their eyes?  And what does wipe away every tear actually mean?Wipe away every tear: the greatest miracle?

I started off by saying, “This tells of a time when we won’t cry anymore”.   At least, that’s what we usually hear about this verse.  Or what we think about when we read it. 

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.  

Let’s start with what the passage actually means.  Not at the forest level – but at the tree level.  Because sometimes our own desires and wishes make it so we can’t see the trees for the forest.

I know I always write about how context is important.  However, in this case, I haven’t even told you which book of the Bible that sentence comes from.  And while you may have a desire to go check it out – I’m suggesting that you not do that.  At least, not yet.  We will get into it later.  But if you look it up now, there’s a discovery process that you may lose out on.

wipe away every tear

Here are the Greek words in this phrase:

wipe away every tear

To start with, we see this as a future action.  No – it’s not because of the words, since will was inserted without a corresponding Greek word.  However, we will see later that it’s implied by context.

Second, away was added to make it more readable.  However, that makes sense, since in English we are often wiping something off of something else.  So, wiping the tears away from someone eyes would be a proper way to express the action of wiping.

But – what does every tear mean?  And will that change our interpretation of wipe?  Given that I’m asking the question, it’s a good assumption that we’re going to be surprised by what this action of wipe away every tear meant at that time.

wipe

1813 ἐξαλείφω [exaleipho /ex·al·i·fo/] v. From 1537 and 218; GK 1981; Five occurrences; AV translates as “blot out” three times, and “wipe away” twice. 1 to anoint or wash in every part. 1A to besmear: i.e. cover with lime (to whitewash or plaster). 2 to wipe off, wipe away. 2A to obliterate, erase, wipe out, blot out.  1)Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.

Using the Jewish approach of looking at all possible meanings and only removing the ones that make no sense, we see some interesting possibilities here.

Obviously, wipe away and wipe off make sense.  These are all things we would do with our own, or someone else’s, tears.

But what about anoint and wash?  That sounds like something that could involve Jesus.  Like washing away our sins.  

However, do we throw away obliterate and wipe out, and blot out?  They aren’t concepts we would normally apply to wiping away teardrops from our face.

But let’s not be too hasty.  Let’s keep going and look at every tear.

every

Every is an interesting word.

3956 πᾶς [pas /pas/] adj. Including all the forms of declension; TDNT 5:886; TDNTA 795; GK 4246; 1243 occurrences; AV translates as “all” 748 times, “all things” 170 times, “every” 117 times, “all men” 41 times, “whosoever” 31 times, “everyone” 28 times, “whole” 12 times, “all manner of” 11 times, “every man” 11 times, “no + 3756” nine times, “every thing” seven times, “any” seven times, “whatsoever” six times, “whosoever + 3739 + 302” three times, “always + 1223” three times, “daily + 2250” twice, “any thing” twice, “no + 3361” twice, not translated seven times, and translated miscellaneously 26 times. 1 individually. 1A each, every, any, all, the whole, everyone, all things, everything. 2 collectively. 2A some of all types. Additional Information: … “the whole world has gone after him” Did all the world go after Christ? “then went all Judea, and were baptized of him in Jordan.” Was all Judea, or all Jerusalem, baptized in Jordan? “Ye are of God, little children”, and the whole world lieth in the wicked one”. Does the whole world there mean everybody? The words “world” and “all” are used in some seven or eight senses in Scripture, and it is very rarely the “all” means all persons, taken individually. The words are generally used to signify that Christ has redeemed some of all sorts—some Jews, some Gentiles, some rich, some poor, and has not restricted His redemption to either Jew or Gentile …—C.H. Spurgeon from a sermon on Particular Redemption.  2)Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.

While the additional information from the Spurgeon sermon sounds disconcerting – note that he’s referring to people.  In that light, he’s talking about every person in the world, every person in a city, Etc.  In the passage wipe away every tear from their eyes, every refers to the tears – not to the people.  Therefore, it seems like Spurgeon’s comments would not apply.  On top of that, thinking that somehow Jesus wouldn’t or couldn’t wipe away literally every tear is like putting limits on Him.  And still crying in Heaven isn’t something we expect.

tear

tear means exactly what we expect.

1144 δάκρυον [dakru, dakruon /dak·roo/] n n. Of uncertain affinity; GK 1232; 11 occurrences; AV translates as “tear” 11 times. 1 a tear.  3)Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.

Where are we so far?

At this point, we still have questions about whether or not to include obliterate and wipe out, and blot out in our definition of wipe.  Other than that, no surprises at all.  But I didn’t bring to to this point to say the passage wipe away every tear from their eyes means exactly what you think.  Therefore, the twist must be in the last three words – from their eyes.

from their eyes

wipe away every tear from their eyes

Yes, there are three words.  But let’s start with the first and the last.  After we get an understanding of them – we’ll look into whose eye’s this passage is about.

from

1537 ἐκ, ἐκπερισσῶς, ἐκφωνέω [ek, ex /ek/] prep. A primary preposition denoting origin (the point whence action or motion proceeds), from, out (of place, time, or cause; GK 1666 and together with Strongs 4053 as GK 1735, together with Strongs 5455 as GK 1771; 921 occurrences; AV translates as “of” 367 times, “from” 181 times, “out of” 162 times, “by” 55 times, “on” 34 times, “with” 25 times, and translated miscellaneously 97 times. 1 out of, from, by, away from.  4)Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.

OK – so tears are being wiped from eyes.  We still have the questions about wiped – does it include obliterate and wipe out, and blot out?

eyes

Next – let’s look at eyes.  This will answer a question.  But it will raise more questions.  Notice that there are two Greek words that we translate into one English word.  The first (3588) is a definite article – usually untranslated, but generally meaning “the”.  If we stay with that definition, it’s like saying the eyes of the person about whom we’re reading.  It’s a clarification that isn’t usually made in English.

But the second word is the key to wipe away every tear from their eyes.

3788 ὀφθαλμός [ophthalmos /of·thal·mos/] n m. From 3700; TDNT 5:375; TDNTA 706; GK 4057; 102 occurrences; AV translates as “eye” 101 times, and “sight” once. 1 the eye. 2 metaph. the eyes of the mind, the faculty of knowing.  5)Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.

The first part of the definition is as expected.  So is the second part, if we take time to think about it.  But how many of us do that?  The eyes of the mind.  The faculty of knowing.  Now obliterate and wipe out, and blot out make sense.  Tears don’t get obliterated or wiped out.  And while tears may get blotted or blotted dry – who talks about tears getting blotted out?  But memories and knowledge of things that made us cry?  Having them blotted out, wiped out, or obliterated?  Those are words that fit.

Remember earlier – we talked about washing as something that Jesus might do.  Now look at this passage from Hebrews:

The Blood of Christ

Heb 9:11 When Christ came as high priest of the good things that are already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not man-made, that is to say, not a part of this creation. 12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, having obtained eternal redemption. 13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!

So we have that concept as well.  

Completing the circle

And it all comes full circle when we look at ourselves – from God’s point of view.

“For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more.”

This is from Jer 31:34.  That verse is also referenced in Hebrews 8:12.

So now we’ve come all the way around – from Old Testament – to New Testament – and even to Revelation, which is where the original passage comes from.  wipe away every tear from their eyes.

What is the impact of wipe away every tear from their eyes

So – here’s a question.  What does this mean for us?  It seems like there are two possible ways to look at this.  Well, at least two.

1. We’ll understand what happened with all the events in our lives that made us cry.  And with that understanding, those events won’t make us cry any more.

2. All memories of everything related to any event that made us cry will be wiped away from our memories.

Having said that – I also see more questions arising from both of those options.

Understanding leads to no more tears

While He was addressing the Jews in the temple courts, Jesus said this:

The Children of Abraham

Jn 8:31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Jn 8:33 They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”

Jn 8:34 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are ready to kill me, because you have no room for my word. 38 I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you do what you have heard from your father.’”

Jn 8:39 “Abraham is our father,” they answered.
“If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do the things Abraham did. 40 As it is, you are determined to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. 41 You are doing the things your own father does.”
“We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.”

As Christians, we should be in the position of holding to Jesus’ teaching.  If you don’t – then the message for you starts at verse 33.  For those who do – the message is very short: Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.  We don’t know the truth now.  Therefore, the time when we will know it is presumably after our resurrection.  And that truth will set us free.

Of course – that should lead to another question.  Set us free from what?  Or set us free in what way?  Well, this:

1659 ἐλευθερόω [eleutheroo /el·yoo·ther·o·o/] v. From 1658; TDNT 2:487; TDNTA 224; GK 1802; Seven occurrences; AV translates as “make free” six times, and “deliver” once. 1 to make free. 2 set at liberty: from the dominion of sin.  6)Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.

It sets us free from the power of sin.

One more question – if I may.  Does that mean when we understand events that made us cry in this life – we’ll truly understand them, and they will no longer make us cry?  And if it’s that, another question comes up.  Does that mean that when we realize our friends, loved ones, family members, even spouses are not with us in Heaven – that we will so completely understand that we won’t cry over their absence?  And let’s go one step further.  If it’s that – doesn’t it also mean that we won’t feel sad about our own lack of attempts to talk with those same people?  

You can see where this is going.  It’s hard to fathom how all of this can lead to no tears.  If it’s all correct – it is a great miracle indeed.

And we can’t even begin to think about how God must have felt about all those things along our lives, including the ones we thought were bad but He allowed to happen.  The things that happened to us.  The things we did, but shouldn’t have.  The things we didn’t do, but should have.

The miracle of wipe away every tear from their eyes just seems to get greater and greater as we go deeper and deeper.  Is it / will it be – the greatest miracle?

Or is something still missing?

Before we decide that understanding leads to freedom, as in the freedom to not cry anymore about past events, let’s keep going.  

Remember the second possibility above related to wipe away every tear from their eyes. All memories of everything related to any event that made us cry will be wiped away from our memories.  If both of those are possibilities, we need to at least consider this one before deciding that understanding is the answer.

Does understanding apply here?

I didn’t include the passage from John 8 to mislead you.  It’s here because it seems to apply.  At least, it seems to on first thought.  However, when looking at it in context, maybe not.  

Look at the second verse of the passsage:

32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

“Then” refers us back to some previous verse(s).  And the consequence of that verse is we are set free.  Free from sin.  OK.  But let’s look at the previous verse.

If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples.

This is where things get a bit complicated.

What we really have is this:

1. IF we hold to Jesus’ teaching, THEN we are really His disciples.

when we add the next verse, we have:

2. IF we hold to Jesus’ teaching THEN are His disciple, THEN we will know the truth AND the truth will set us free.

Effectively – and actually – what those two verses tell us is that, as true Christians,
IF we are true Christians – who held to Jesus’ teaching,
THEN we are His disciples.
AND
AFTER that happens, we will know the truth.
AND 
AFTER we know the truth,
THEN we will be free of sin.

So what happens when we have memories of the past?  Memories that made us cry.  Will we have a realization that sin was involved in those events, but not be affected by them?  Will we have no sense of loss?  Will we be like Job?

Job’s First Test

Job 1:6 One day the angels came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came with them. 7 The LORD said to Satan, “Where have you come from?”
Satan answered the LORD, “From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it.”

Job 1:8 Then the LORD said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.”

Job 1:9 “Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. 10 “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. 11 But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.”

Job 1:12 The LORD said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.”
Then Satan went out from the presence of the LORD.

Job 1:13 One day when Job’s sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, 14 a messenger came to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys were grazing nearby, 15 and the Sabeans attacked and carried them off. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

Job 1:16 While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The fire of God fell from the sky and burned up the sheep and the servants, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

Job 1:17 While he was still speaking, another messenger came and said, “The Chaldeans formed three raiding parties and swept down on your camels and carried them off. They put the servants to the sword, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

Job 1:18 While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, “Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, 19 when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!”

Job 1:20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said:
“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
and naked I will depart.
The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away;
may the name of the LORD be praised.”

Job 1:22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.

Who reacts like this?  I never have.  And I don’t know anyone who has.  Will this be what we’re like in Heaven when we think of the sad and painful things from our past?

It may sound good.  But there’s probably one huge difference between Job and mist of us.  We read of that difference in the two verses just before the passage above.

Job 1:4 His sons used to take turns holding feasts in their homes, and they would invite their three sisters to eat and drink with them. 5 When a period of feasting had run its course, Job would send and have them purified. Early in the morning he would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of them, thinking, “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts.” This was Job’s regular custom.

Again – who does that?  And in terms of what a Christian should do – how many of us know that all our friends, loved ones, family members, Etc. are saved and bound for Heaven?  Seriously – all of them.  How many of us have even talked to all of them?

Job had a sense of security for his family that few, if any of us have.

Will we look back on our failures as well and feel no sense of remorse?

Memories wiped away

With all those questions still looming, let’s look at the possibility of certain memories being wiped away.  Just how much gets wiped away is one question.  If I look back at my own life, my first sad and scary events go all the way back to when I was four years old.  They involve my parents.  There were more than enough that came later as well, also involving them.  Would any memory of my parents get wiped away?  Or would it only be the ones that made me sad / scared / alone / Etc?  There would be huge gaps.  Even if only certain events got wiped out of our memory, there could / would still be huge gaps for some (many / most?) people.  

And then what happens when / if we meet others in Heaven who had a different kind of relationship with the people who made us cry?  Would our friends remember some things that maybe we wouldn’t?  The possibilities are mind-numbing.  “Just” looking at the physical side of our universe reveals so much complexity.  Adding the emotional side of our lives to the puzzle makes things exponentially more complex.  For instance, take a “natural” disaster.  Maybe a hurricane.  Friends and family die.  We cry over that.  But strangers help out.  There is some level of joy from that.  Different people have different views of the same event.  How is that reconciled?

It’s all so complicated that it’s hard to begin to even envision how it could be possible.

wipe away every tear from their eyes. But – whose eyes?

Let’s take a break from that line of thought.  We will return though.

So far, we haven’t looked at context.  We probably assume that our eyes are included in the ones that will have the tears wiped away.  But is that a realistic assumption?  Let’s look at some context.  It’s from a section the NIV titles The great multitude in white robes.

The Great Multitude in White Robes

Rev 7:9 After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice:
“Salvation belongs to our God,
who sits on the throne,
and to the Lamb.” 11 All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying:
“Amen!
Praise and glory
and wisdom and thanks and honor
and power and strength
be to our God for ever and ever.
Amen!”

Rev 7:13 Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?”

Rev 7:14 I answered, “Sir, you know.”
And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 Therefore,
“they are before the throne of God
and serve him day and night in his temple;
and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them.

Rev 7:16 Never again will they hunger;
never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat upon them,
nor any scorching heat.

Rev 7:17 For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd;
he will lead them to springs of living water.
And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

OK.  There’s a celebration here.  As for timing – it comes between the sixth and seventh seals.

The Seals

Rev 6:1 I watched as the Lamb opened the first of the seven seals. Then I heard one of the four living creatures say in a voice like thunder, “Come!” 2 I looked, and there before me was a white horse! Its rider held a bow, and he was given a crown, and he rode out as a conqueror bent on conquest.

Rev 6:3 When the Lamb opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” 4 Then another horse came out, a fiery red one. Its rider was given power to take peace from the earth and to make men slay each other. To him was given a large sword.

Rev 6:5 When the Lamb opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, “Come!” I looked, and there before me was a black horse! Its rider was holding a pair of scales in his hand. 6 Then I heard what sounded like a voice among the four living creatures, saying, “A quart of wheat for a day’s wages, and three quarts of barley for a day’s wages, and do not damage the oil and the wine!”

Rev 6:7 When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, “Come!” 8 I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth.

Rev 6:9 When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained. 10 They called out in a loud voice, “How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the earth and avenge our blood?” 11 Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed.

Rev 6:12 I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, 13 and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. 14 The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.

Rev 6:15 Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains. 16 They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb! 17 For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”

So there’s lot’s of death and destruction from the first six seals.

That’s followed by the sealing of the 144,000 from the tribes of Israel.

144,000 Sealed

Rev 7:1 After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree. 2 Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: 3 “Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.” 4 Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel.

Then we have the passage from above about the great multitude in white robes.

That’s followed by the last, and probably most famous, of the seven seals.

The Seventh Seal and the Golden Censer

Rev 8:1 When he opened the seventh seal, there was silence in heaven for about half an hour.

Rev 8:2 And I saw the seven angels who stand before God, and to them were given seven trumpets.

Rev 8:3 Another angel, who had a golden censer, came and stood at the altar. He was given much incense to offer, with the prayers of all the saints, on the golden altar before the throne. 4 The smoke of the incense, together with the prayers of the saints, went up before God from the angel’s hand. 5 Then the angel took the censer, filled it with fire from the altar, and hurled it on the earth; and there came peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning and an earthquake.

After this comes more death and destruction from the seven trumpets.  Similar to the seals, there is a break between the sixth and seventh trumpets.

The Two Witnesses

Rev 11:1 I was given a reed like a measuring rod and was told, “Go and measure the temple of God and the altar, and count the worshipers there. 2 But exclude the outer court; do not measure it, because it has been given to the Gentiles. They will trample on the holy city for 42 months. 3 And I will give power to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.” 4 These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. 5 If anyone tries to harm them, fire comes from their mouths and devours their enemies. This is how anyone who wants to harm them must die. 6 These men have power to shut up the sky so that it will not rain during the time they are prophesying; and they have power to turn the waters into blood and to strike the earth with every kind of plague as often as they want.

Rev 11:7 Now when they have finished their testimony, the beast that comes up from the Abyss will attack them, and overpower and kill them. 8 Their bodies will lie in the street of the great city, which is figuratively called Sodom and Egypt, where also their Lord was crucified. 9 For three and a half days men from every people, tribe, language and nation will gaze on their bodies and refuse them burial. 10 The inhabitants of the earth will gloat over them and will celebrate by sending each other gifts, because these two prophets had tormented those who live on the earth.

Rev 11:11 But after the three and a half days a breath of life from God entered them, and they stood on their feet, and terror struck those who saw them. 12 Then they heard a loud voice from heaven saying to them, “Come up here.” And they went up to heaven in a cloud, while their enemies looked on.

Rev 11:13 At that very hour there was a severe earthquake and a tenth of the city collapsed. Seven thousand people were killed in the earthquake, and the survivors were terrified and gave glory to the God of heaven.

Rev 11:14 The second woe has passed; the third woe is coming soon.

And there’s more death and destruction coming, since the seven plagues and the seven bowls of God’s wrath are yet to come.

The great tribulation

So why do I bring all up all this death and destruction?

Going back to our original passage and it’s context – remember that we read this:

Rev 7:13 Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?”

Rev 7:14 I answered, “Sir, you know.”
And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

There are the ones who will have for whom God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.  But – who are they?  There’s an incredible amount of disagreement among “knowledgeable” people who study these things.  Here are just a couple of them.

From The Bible Exposition Commentary

There is no doubt as to who this multitude is, because one of the elders explained it to John (Rev. 7:14): they are Gentiles who have been saved through faith in Christ during the Tribulation. (We will meet this same group again in Rev. 14.) While today, in most parts of the world, it is relatively easy to confess Christ, this will not be the case during the Tribulation, at least during the last half of it. Then, unless persons wear the “mark of the beast,” they will not be able to buy or sell; and this would leave them without even life’s bare necessities. Revelation 7:16 indicates that they suffered hunger (see Rev. 13:17), thirst (see Rev. 16:4), and lack of shelter. (On the heat of the sun, see Rev. 16:8–9.)
The fact that they are standing before the throne and not seated around it indicates that these people are not identified with the twenty-four elders. In fact, John himself did not know who they were! If they had been Old Testament believers, or the church, John would have recognized them. That the elder had to tell John who they were suggests that they are a special people, which, indeed, they are.
Of course, in the heavenly city (Rev. 21–22), all distinctions will cease and we shall all simply be the people of God in glory. But while God is working out His program in human history, distinctions still exist between the Jews, the Gentiles, the church, and the Tribulation saints.  7)Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, pp. 590–591). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

There is no doubt as to who this multitude is.  Actually – whether one uses the word doubt or disagreement – there’s quite a bit of both over who this multitude is. 

There are lots of people today, and always have been, people who suffer from literal hunger, thirst and lack of shelter.  We can see this by looking at the Greek from which those words are translated in Rev 7:15.

Hunger3983 πεινάω [peinao /pi·nah·o/] v. From the same as 3993 (through the idea of pinching toil, “pine”); TDNT 6:12; TDNTA 820; GK 4277; 23 occurrences; AV translates as “hunger” 10 times, “be an hungred” nine times, “be hungry” three times, and “hungry” once. 1 to hunger, be hungry. 1A to suffer want. 1B to be needy. 2 metaph. to crave ardently, to seek with eager desire.  8)Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.

Lk 6:21 Blessed are you who hunger now,
for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who weep now,
for you will laugh.

Mt 5:6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.

Thirst:  1372 διψάω [dipsao /dip·sah·o/] v. From a variation of 1373; TDNT 2:226; TDNTA 177; GK 1498; 16 occurrences; AV translates as “thirst” 10 times, “be thirsty” three times, and “be athirst” three times. 1 to suffer thirst, suffer from thirst. 1A figuratively, those who are said to thirst who painfully feel their want of, and eagerly long for, those things by which the soul is refreshed, supported, strengthened.  9)Strong, J. (1995). Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon. Woodside Bible Fellowship.

In addition to Mt 5:6, remember when Jesus talked to the Samaritan woman at the well.

Jesus Talks With a Samaritan Woman

Jn 4:1 The Pharisees heard that Jesus was gaining and baptizing more disciples than John, 2 although in fact it was not Jesus who baptized, but his disciples. 3 When the Lord learned of this, he left Judea and went back once more to Galilee.

Jn 4:4 Now he had to go through Samaria. 5 So he came to a town in Samaria called Sychar, near the plot of ground Jacob had given to his son Joseph. 6 Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired as he was from the journey, sat down by the well. It was about the sixth hour.

Jn 4:7 When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” 8 (His disciples had gone into the town to buy food.)

Jn 4:9 The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans. )

Jn 4:10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

Jn 4:11 “Sir,” the woman said, “you have nothing to draw with and the well is deep. Where can you get this living water? 12 Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did also his sons and his flocks and herds?”

Jn 4:13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give him will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Jn 4:15 The woman said to him, “Sir, give me this water so that I won’t get thirsty and have to keep coming here to draw water.”

Jn 4:16 He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.”

Jn 4:17 “I have no husband,” she replied.
Jesus said to her,You are right when you say you have no husband. 18 The fact is, you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband. What you have just said is quite true.”

Jn 4:19 “Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. 20 Our fathers worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.”

Jn 4:21 Jesus declared, “Believe me, woman, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. 22 You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 Yet a time is coming and has now come when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for they are the kind of worshipers the Father seeks. 24 God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in spirit and in truth.”

Jn 4:25 The woman said, “I know that Messiah” (called Christ) “is coming. When he comes, he will explain everything to us.”

Jn 4:26 Then Jesus declared, “I who speak to you am he.”

Not only does this passage talk about Jesus as the answer to our non-physical thirst, but it shows Jesus leading the woman to the springs of living water from Rev 7:17.  And that spring is Himself.

Shelter: While the commentary uses the word shelter, that word is not in the verse which it references.  Remember, what it does say is this:

Rev 7:16 Never again will they hunger;
never again will they thirst.
The sun will not beat upon them,
nor any scorching heat.

The passage is about the sun.  The author makes an assumption that the people will finally have refuge from the sun, as if they will have a shelter to protect them from it.  To further that point of view, there’s a reference to this verse from Revelation:

Rev 16:8 The fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and the sun was given power to scorch people with fire. 9 They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him.

As far as this verse goes, there are a couple things to point out.  This was during what is called The Great Tribulation.  It was on earth.  And it was only for a time.  It wasn’t an on-going condition.   

But more importantly, I believe there’s a better reference verse.  Also from Revelation.  But much more important when talking about the sun.  As opposed to The Son.

Rev 21:22 I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. 25 On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. 26 The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. 27 Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.

As with hunger and thirst, the commentary focuses on the sun.  All are related to the physical side of life.  But just as Jesus said He is the bread of life – and the spring of living water – so is He the shelter from all the spiritual attacks that we have suffered in this life.  Yes – on a certain level, this is about physical issues.  But at a much deeper and more complex level – it’s all about Jesus as our salvation.  It’s about God saying He will wipe away every tear from their eyes in every possible way.  Physical and Spiritual.

Let’s continue.

The fact that they are standing before the throne and not seated around it indicates that these people are not identified with the twenty-four elders. In fact, John himself did not know who they were! If they had been Old Testament believers, or the church, John would have recognized them. That the elder had to tell John who they were suggests that they are a special people, which, indeed, they are.

John didn’t say that he didn’t know who these people were – the ones from whom God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.  He told the elder asking the question that he (the questioner) knew the answer.  Given that, the rest of the related statement is up for question.

Of course, in the heavenly city (Rev. 21–22), all distinctions will cease and we shall all simply be the people of God in glory. But while God is working out His program in human history, distinctions still exist between the Jews, the Gentiles, the church, and the Tribulation saints.

Again, this seems like a questi



This post first appeared on God Versus Religion, please read the originial post: here

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