THE HAPPY PEOPLE
Some thoughts upon Revelation, 7, 13.
The Lamb that was slain, as a sacrifice to satisfy divine justice for us, the once dying Lamb in the midst of the cross, is now the everliving Lamb in the midst of the throne. And from this throne of God, where He reigns, we expect our food and provision upon the feast-day; according to the words of the text, “The Lamb which is in the midst of the throne, shall feed them.”
From Revelation 7, 13 we have a description of the honour and happiness of these that shall faithfully serve, and patiently suffer for the Lord Jesus Christ. Some interpreters think that the happiness of the saints militant, even in this world, is here described; some, that it is only the happiness of the saint triumphant in heaven; others make this place of scripture relate to both, and with these especially I join; because, whatever honour and happiness of suffering saints is here set forth, they enjoy the same partly in this life, and fully in the life to come, as may appear by the particulars here mentioned.
The happy persons are spoken of, ver. 14, “These are they that have come out of great tribulation.” Whatever relation some think this may have to the church of Christ on earth, after they have escaped the antichristian bloody persecution; or as others, to the martyrs in heaven, that have suffered unto death for the Lord Jesus Christ; yet it may be said of all the militant saints, who, through much trouble, enter into the kingdom of heaven, and therein are conformed to their suffering Head, the Lord Jesus Christ, and bear about in their body the dying of the Lord Jesus. “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers them out of them all.” It may be said of all the saints. These are they that have come from trouble to rest, from bondage to liberty, from death to life, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. The perfection of this purity they have in heaven; but even here on earth they are washed in the blood of Christ, and clothed with the white robe of His imputed and imparted righteousness.
Verse 15, “Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.” This seems to be a further description of the happiness of the saints both militant and triumphant; as they are happy.
1. In their state, being washed, justified, and sanctified, in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of their God.
2. They are happy in their station, being always before the throne of God. The glorified saints in heaven are always in that presence where there is fullness of joy: and the sanctified ones upon earth have this blessing also bestowed upon them, they are said to sit with Him in heavenly places; and it is their daily work to come boldly to the throne of grace. Again,
3. They are happy in their service, for, “They serve him day and night in his temple.” Though these that are in heaven, serve Him without weakness or weariness, which we cannot here do; yet it is the property of all the true circumcision to worship God in the Spirit, and in truth, and to pray without ceasing; meditating on His law day and night, and going to the altar of God; to God in Christ, the true spiritual temple.
4. They are happy in their company; for, “He that sits upon the throne shall dwell among them.” This points out friendship, fellowship, and familiarity between God and the redeemed; which also Christ allows to the militant saints in part, when He opening the door of their hearts, comes in. He comes in and sups with them, and they with Him, Rev. 3, 20. And they are in case to say, “Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ,” I John 1,3. Yea God says, “I will dwell in them, and walk in them, and will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
5. They are happy in their freedom; they shall be freed from all want and all uneasiness. From all want; for, “They shall hunger no more, neither shall they thirst any more;” for this freedom will be perfected in heaven, as it is commenced on earth; as the prophet says, speaking of Christ’s spiritual kingdom, Isaiah 49, 10, “They shall not hunger nor thirst,” &c. Hence says Christ, John 6, 35, “He that comes to me shall never hunger, and he that believeth in me shall never thirst,” pointing out the spiritual pleasure and satisfaction they shall have, and never be altogether deprived of. From all uneasiness also shall they be freed; “Neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat:” or as it is in the forecited Isaiah 49, 10. “Neither shall the heat nor sun smite them.” The redeemed above are perfectly freed from all uneasiness; and even the redeemed on earth, according to the measure of faith, such will be their measure of ease, even amidst all things that tend to make them uneasy. Christ says to them, “Fear not, only believe: Fear not, I am with you: Fear not him that can at most but kill the body; the very hairs of our head are all numbered; you may be perfectly easy”. Nothing is more uneasy than the sun in the meridian regions; so are afflictions and persecutions to the saints, and the temptations they are attacked with from earth and hell. But “God is faithful,” says the apostle. “who will not suffer you to be tempted above what ye are able, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it,” I Cor. 10, 12.
6. They are happy in their provision, because “The Lamb that is in the midst of the throne shall feed them;” hence He is said to feed his flock like a shepherd. The feeding here spoken of imports also rule and government, such as a shepherd hath over his flock. It is in the believing view of the provident, loving Shepherd, the Psalmist says, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want,” Psalm 23,1.
7. They are happy in their direction and conduct, in their director, guide, and conductor: “He shall lead them unto living fountains of waters.”Now, of these living waters the Lord Jesus
speaks, as they respect even His people in this world, John 4, 14, and 7, 38, “The water that I give shall be in him a well of water springing up to everlasting life; and, Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living waters.” By these they have matter of comfort amidst all their crosses. Hence,
8. They are here said to be happy in their joys; for, “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes;” that, is all their griefs and sorrows shall be swallowed up in the fullness of joy and consolation that shall be abundantly allowed them. The commencement of this joy is even here, amidst all the troubles and trials of the militant saints: “For, behold, says God, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy, and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard.” Isaiah 65, 18. And hence they are sometimes filled with joy and peace in believing: yea, with joy unspeakable and full of glory.