Continuing the series…
“The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” Luke 10:2
There is a harvest of souls to be reaped and it is plentiful – it is not meager or sparse. The Lord of the harvest has invited us to be laborers in this joyful work. He has promised to bring people to faith from every tribe and tongue and nation – do we really consider what that means?
Heaven will be filled with great variety, sure, but heaven will be FILLED! He has not given us a small task, but a bountiful one! Revelation 7 describes it like this:
After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
“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 shelter them with his presence.
They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
the sun shall not strike them,
nor any scorching heat.
For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
No matter how you look at this, “a great multitude that no one could number” is a LOT of people! I’ve been in crowds where hundreds of thousands are gathered. I’ve seen crowds where 1 or 2 million are gathered. These are seas of humanity converging in one area together. It’s an overwhelming number of people…. But those crowds were numbered!
What does it take to gather a crowd of people together that can’t possibly be numbered?
But I have a confession to make here – I don’t really want to be crammed into close quarters with – I don’t know – billions (?) quadrillions (?) centillions (I looked that up – it’s 10 to the 303 power!) – of people! Do you ever struggle with the imagery of a heavenly city crowded with throngs of people praising God in worship and song with all the gusto they can muster? I do.
But this is the City of God I protest to my own self. How can I not want to be part of that?
Well, of course I want to be there, and I know, intellectually, that it will be good. So where do my perceptions and emotions collide with the truth of what that reality will be?
My ideas of large crowds of people are based on unpleasant experiences with large crowds of people! Masses of strangers jockeying for position in hot, close quarters (or jammed parking lots) all looking to get where they want to get before everyone else gets there…. Sporting events where people are loud and obnoxious… and then they start drinking… Conferences where being first means getting a good seat and being last means you can’t hear or see the speaker… Market places in developing countries where one wrong step could land me hopelessly lost and everyone is yelling in words I don’t understand… Amusement parks where you’ve paid a small fortune to get you and your family through the gates only to spend so much time waiting in lines that the day ends up costing $15 or $20 per ride and you’ve waited with people who have no desire to shelter your youngsters from even the coarsest of language or behaivor… No thanks.
But will this heavenly crowd be like this?
First of all, that crowd will not be strangers – it will be family. Even if we haven’t met them yet, we will know we are deeply, meaningfully, connected – related – to each other through Jesus. Family reunions, even rambunctious ones, are different from large crowds of strangers gathering together. There are lasting connections with that group – history – that makes us glad to be there. (“For whoever does the will of my Father in heaven is my brother and sister and mother.” Matthew 12:50)
(OK, I know not all families are great to be with, but Jesus’ family will be everything our earthly families were meant to be and more.)
Secondly, everyone in that crowd will be freed from their sinful selves and be on their most loving, caring, considerate behavior all the time! No selfish jostling people out of the way. No crude or angry voices. No lines that lead to disappointment. No bad seats. No one cutting in front. Rather, we will all have the genuine heart attitude of, “No, no, please, you go first.” (“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13:34-35)
Thirdly, we will care for one another the way we care for ourselves. We will be looking out for the well-being and best interest of each other – because it will give us great joy. (“For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.” Romans 12:4-5; and to further clarify, “For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body” Ephesians 5:29-30)
But most importantly, all will be right because God himself will be dwelling among us. .” (“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21:1-4)
So then, the crowds will not be the ill-mannered sports fans or conference goers or amusement ride aficionados we’ve all encountered but will be the kindest, gentlest, most genuinely thoughtful people we can possibly imagine, because God will be transforming each and every one of us!
Now, I can’t wait to see that!