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Bible Commentaries

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

Revelation 7



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Verse 9


‘After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands.’

Revelation 7:9

These are the saints of God. They have been men and women like ourselves. They were diverse in character, they had come from all nations, they were equally diverse in experience, they had had helps, but they had had trials and difficulties. Many of them had their faults, but they are the saints of God. They are one in this, that their testimony is to the triumph of the Lamb.

There are two marks especially which are characteristic of the saints of God.

I. The purity of the saints.—The first is their purity. Their victory may be over the passions of their own nature, it may involve struggle itself, but it is clear enough that purity is the mark of God’s saints. Yet we do wrong if we fail to recognise that in the Holy Scriptures that great word means something more than we generally associate with it. It does mean singleness of aim, it does mean sincerity of purpose: ‘If therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.’ It is stated of those who are standing round the throne of God that they have washed their robes in the Blood of the Lamb. I take that to mean that in the self-sacrifice of the Blessed Lord they have so learned to love Him, to become one with Him, and to be imbued with His spirit, that their own selfish and sinful aims have lost all power over them, they have been cleansed from them, they have been washed from them, and realising the love of Christ Who loved them and gave Himself for them, they have found their home, their forgiveness, and their peace with God. And to this may we not each of us attain?

II. The purposefulness of the saints.—The second mark of these saints of God is their purposefulness. No man can ever drift into sanctity. No man can go to sleep a sinner and wake up a saint. He may forget what is past, but he needs cleansing from it. No man can serve God without an effort. No man can do his duty without really meaning to. In all respects the best work in the world is done by men of purpose. Of course it involves self-discipline, it involves the restraint of foolish imaginations, it often means the curbing of many natural impulses; but is it not the case that too often we fritter away our best ideals and we never seem in any way to realise them? Our very energies fail us because we have not sufficiently concentrated our minds on any true end. But God’s saints have felt the constraining love of Christ.

Bishop G. W. Kennion.

Verse 17


‘The Lamb Which is in the midst of the Throne shall be their Shepherd.’

Revelation 7:17 (R.V.)

The relation of Jesus and His people as that of the Shepherd with His sheep is thus revealed as being an eternal relation. The heavenly life is a life lived under the pastorate of Jesus. ‘The Lamb Which is in the midst of the Throne shall be their Shepherd.’

I. Jesus is the Good Shepherd Who, like Moses of old, leads His flock to the mountain of God and ministers to them there.—When the evening of the present age shall be here, He will come as a Shepherd to gather His flock together. What ‘a gathering of the flock’ will that be! The waiting sheep in Paradise will come forth from their pastures at the call of the Shepherd’s voice and rally round Him ‘in the air.’ The faithful in the earth will undergo their change from corruption to glorification, and, thus set free to respond to the attraction of our Lord, will be caught up together with them to meet the Lord. Thus the two flocks will become one visibly, as before they were one in inner reality.

II. It is not on earth or in Paradise, but in heaven, that this ideal is fully expressed.—Only in heaven does Jesus fully satisfy the hunger and thirst of His people. ‘In Thy presence is fulness of joy, and at Thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore.’ But what is this life of heaven? I ask, What is the heavenly life, not where is heaven? A threefold bliss marks this heavenly life.

(a) There is the bliss of realised personal perfection. Imperfection marks Christian life here.

(b) There is the joy of perfected union and communion with our fellow-citizens in the heavenly city.

(c) There is the joy of perfected union with God in Christ through the Holy Ghost. This is an essential condition of the life of perfect satisfaction.

III. Thus Christian life, from the font to the throne, is a life lived under the pastorate of the Risen Jesus.—It is a life lived in His one Holy Catholic Church under its various conditions as militant on earth, expectant in Paradise, glorified in heaven.

Rev. Canon Body.


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Bibliography Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Revelation 7:4". Church Pulpit Commentary. 1876.

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