Unveiling Revelation: ‘From every nation, tribe, people and language’

To supplement our ongoing tour through the World’s Worst Books, I’m taking some time on Fridays to remember what the book of Revelation, and other apocalyptic literature in the Bible, is really all about.

This week’s reminder comes from Rachel Held Evans in her first book, Evolving in Monkey Town:

… I finally found what I was looking for in Revelation 7, where the author describes a world without a cosmic lottery, a kingdom in which the suffering are not forgotten. Writes John:

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. And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” … He who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them. Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. 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. — Revelation 7:9-10, 15-17

… I wondered what exactly John saw and heard to convince him that the kingdom of God includes people from every nation, tribe, people, and language, people from the north and the south and the east and the west. … He must have seen faces of every shade and eyes of every shape. He must have seen orange freckles and coal-colored hair and moonlike complexions and the lovely flash of brilliant white teeth against black skin. He must have heard instruments of all kinds — bagpipes and lutes and dulcimers and banjos and gongs. He must have heard languages of every sound and cadence, melodies of every strain, and rhythms of every tempo. He must have heard shouts of praise to Elohim, Allah, and Papa God, shouts in Farsi and Hindi, Tagalog and Cantonese, Gaelic and Swahili, and in tongues long forgotten by history. And he must have seen the tears of every sadness — hunger and loneliness, sickness and loss, injustice and fear, tsunami and drought, rape and war — acknowledged and cherished and wiped away. In one loud and colorful moment, he must have witnessed all that makes us different and all that makes us the same.

Every now and then, we get lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the world as God sees it, a little revelation that gives us the hope to look beyond the confines of our current environment. … The fact is, while the Bible certainly speaks of God punishing the wicked, no single passage on judgment can compete with the scope and size of John’s description of the redeemed. With this in mind, I returned to John’s vision often, sometimes daily. Even on days when I wasn’t sure that God exists, when I wasn’t sure I loved him or even liked him much, I knew that I cherished this image of him. I don’t know anyone, believer or skeptic, who doesn’t long for a day when God wipes every tear from every eye, when “there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain” (Rev. 21:4 NASB). Even the faintest inkling that this might be true can keep you going for one more day.

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  • kittehonmylap


    Please keep my husband & me in your good thoughts/prayers; his boss fired him yesterday effective at the end of the year. It was hugely unexpected- he loves his job & felt that he has been doing well. This seems to be as a result of her bad management rather than for anything that is actually DH’s fault, but unfortunately his funding has already been directed elsewhere & he’s going to have to find a new position. He’s going to look in the town we live in already & he may be able to get another job at the place he’s working now, but this is still a real blow to him (and me). And it’s possible we may have to uproot & move cross country agin when we just did this 1.5 years ago.

  • flat

    I am sorry to hear that, I wish you all the luck in the world.

  • (O_O) Wow, that sucks harshly. I hope some good luck shines on you two.

  • christopher_y

    Best of luck to you both.

  • Good luck.

  • Fusina

    You have both. I am so sorry this happened to you.

  • esmerelda_ogg

    How very very awful. Good luck to him in finding a secure (obsolete word, used to mean safe and dependable) new job that he’ll enjoy in a place where you’ll both be glad to live (don’t know if you have a job yourself – if so and you have to move, good luck to you too in finding equally great new work). I’ll pray for you both.

  • Panda Rosa

    All my prayers and hope go with you. If his reputation is good, he’ll be picked up by anyone who recognizes it. Wish you well, it’s got to be hard.

  • Jeff Weskamp

    I said a prayer for you and your husband. I hope he can at least find a job in your hometown.

  • GeniusLemur

    Good luck with whatever comes next.

  • Abel Undercity

    That’s terrible! I hope you get the best of possible outcomes from this situation.

  • kittehonmylap

    Thanks for all of the well-wishes. I think the next step is to talk to his boss’s boss & let him know his side of things; he also will be meeting with his soon-to-be-former boss to show her some work results. His immediate boss is known to be an absolute crap manager (frankly, after this, once her boss learns of her mismanagement I would be surprised if she kept this position- she’s a good scientist but doesn’t understand the first thing about people) & I am hoping that her boss may provide some help in moving DH to a different position within the lab. I also want to look at his contract- it’s a gov’t position which implies that he should have been given a warning before termination for something that boils down to a miscommunication. Not necessarily, but…it seems odd.

    We’re still in shock- he vacillates between “I have completely failed my life” and “WTF WHY??? One 10 minute conversation 2 months ago would have solved this!” I’m glad I’m not allowed in the lab- I wouldn’t actually go but it removes even the remote temptation of getting in his manager’s face & giving her a piece of my mind.

  • flat

    so there is still hope, nice to hear.
    But please remain calm there might be a oppurtinity he get his job back, but you have to be prepared for another shock if things not happen the way you like it.

  • This is beautiful. :)

  • It is a rather overlooked message of unification among all humanity, something LaHaye and Jenkins would recoil from because it isn’t on their terms.

  • The_L1985

    Also off-topic.

    OMG, you guys, I did it. I’m in my fiance’s house.

    And I’m scared to death. Keep me in your thoughts, I guess.

  • o/ for being at your fiance’s place! And loads of best wishes for your continued well-being.