Ok, so this concept has been following me around for a long time and I just bumped into it again, so I don’t think it’s just me.  I have to say, I LOVE the thought of this.  It’s a mental picture, an image of what it looks like to be a believer in Jesus and I keep tripping over it in scripture.  

I probably need to take a deep breath and back it up a little. I’ve been in Revelation for about a week now.  Today I copied out chapter 7.  Before this I had been copying out first and second Chronicles, which took a really long time.  But the stuff I discovered in there…just wow.  God’s heart is spilling out of every page of his people’s history.  It is staggering how much of himself he showed me.  Hopefully I will get a chance to share a few insights from there one day, but all that is to say that after being immersed in the grand narrative that is the history of Judah, I was ready for something different.  And if Chronicles is how the people of God, as a nation started, well, Revelation is how it all ends. 

So here I am, barreling through a book that has always mystified me and that I have largely avoided.  But as I copy it out, as with every other book so far, my brain is hungrily processing ideas.  I am a question girl.  I want explanations for everything.  I want to know what it is, how it works, what its purpose is.  Basically, you know that toddler who responds to everything you say with a wide-eyed, “Why?”  That’s me, and God tolerates me heroically.  Never have I been more grateful for his forbearance than when I find myself in Revelation with more questions than any mortal has time for.  

So picture me, wandering through Revelation like a wide-eye toddler asking questions about pretty much everything, when suddenly I trip over a concept that already has a box in my brain.   Only, of course I trip over it because I didn’t expect to bump into it here.  The setting in chapter 7 is magnificent.  It’s the throne room of heaven.  God is seated on his throne.  The Lamb is standing at the centre of the throne.  There are four of these absolutely amazing creatures positioned in front of the throne. (Please God, let them be more than symbolic because I am desperate to one day see them with my own eyes.  Their descriptions both in Ezekiel and Revelation simultaneously capture and defy my imagination.)  Seated around the throne are twenty-four elders in shining white robes who want nothing more than to worship God and the Lamb.  Also encircling the throne are “thousands upon thousands and ten thousand upon ten thousand” angels who are singing loud praises to the Lamb.   And now in chapter 7 there is a multitude of people from “every nation, tribe, people and language” dressed in white robes and holding palm branches.  One of the elders explains that they are those who have come out of the great tribulation, whose robes have been washed white in the blood of the Lamb.  

Now, I have a lot of questions about the great tribulation.  I want to know who the elders are.  Even the hymns of worship sung to “God who sits on the throne and to the Lamb” fill me with wonder and, subsequently, with questions.  But I stop quite suddenly when I read, “he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them.” 

Let me first say with some degree of confidence that this is a reference to the old testament tabernacle where only the Levites could enter, and now every nation and people are represented inside the tabernacle in the actual presence of God.  This alone is reason enough to pause from my copying to do a mental happy dance.  (I only dance in my head.  I have no rhythm and when I actually dance I tend to alarm people). But the part that really gets me excited is the spreading his tent over them.  It’s exciting to me because it lends a little more credibility to a mental image I have had for quite some time now.  It’s one more verse that makes me think the picture I have in my head is rooted in truth, and I really want this one to be true. 

See, I know that one day I, along with every person who ever lived, will take my place in front of the judgement seat of God.  I am confused and have been a little worried about how that is going to play out.  I don’t like being judged, and when perfection is judging me… how can that end well?  

While I have many questions, I do know that because I have trusted Jesus as my Saviour and because I have made him my Lord, that miraculously, when I stand before God, I will be welcomed into his presence.  I am a million miles from perfect, and I do not and cannot deserve to live in the joy-filled presence of perfection, but because of Jesus, God will credit me with perfection.  The more I dwell on it the more convinced I am that this is one of those big-brained things that is never going to click in my head simply because there isn’t room for it in there.   But I am super good with worshipping a God whose intellect makes me look like an amoeba, so it’s all good.

ANYWAYS, this tent thing, it grabs me.  I’ve seen similar things elsewhere.  It feels familiar.  It reminds me of Colossians 3 where believers are described as hidden in Christ.  It makes me think of Galatians 3 and Romans 13 where we are given the imagery of being clothed in Christ.  And here is the picture I have been forming that I think even this passage in Revelation reinforces:

Here’s me. My life on earth is over and it is time to be judged.  There isn’t an honest, sane person alive who doesn’t know that they have fallen short of perfection.  So I too am fully aware that when God is sending all the perfect people to heaven, I will not be among them.  To be fair, the Bible is clear that there are no perfect people, (not even one).  So if he sends all the perfect people to heaven, it’s going to be empty, at least empty of people.  BUT we are promised that if we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, we will be saved, which is to say we will enjoy eternity in heaven, in the presence of God. 

So how does believing in Jesus make messed up people into heaven-ready people?  How could God, the judge look at me and say, “She looks perfect to me”?  

Here’s where I am going with all of this (at last). 

The Bible calls Jesus our advocate, our lawyer, the one who represents us before the judge, so I know he will be standing there with me in that moment when I am judged.  And do you want to know my plan, my brilliant defense that I am working out for that moment?  Here’s what I am going to do.  

I am going to wrap myself in Jesus.  

No seriously, picture me hiding in the folds of his robe.  Maybe peeking out from behind him to see the mind blowing vision that is God on his throne, but I am hiding.  

No part of me is going to be explaining away my bad behaviour.  I will not be presenting my case.  I will not be producing exhibits to illustrate my worthiness.  I will be hiding, wrapped in Jesus, so that when God looks over where the accused is seated, all he will see is Jesus.

And here’s why I’m excited about my plan.  I think that is exactly what he wants me to do.  It seems entirely possible that this isn’t just my crazy imagination trying to make sense of scattered Bible verses.  When we are told to clothe ourselves with Christ, to be hidden in Christ, I think that might be exactly what he’s getting at. Picture yourself, on the day you are supposed to be giving an account for the way you lived the life God gave you.  Instead of standing alone before your judge, you are leaning in to Jesus.  Picture yourself pulling the folds of his robe around your shoulders, standing on your tippy toes to whisper in his ear. “I trust you.  You got this.  You promised to present me faultless before your father, and I have no idea how that can work, so I’m just going to let you do your thing.  I’ll just be hiding, right here, with you.”  

Now tell me that thought doesn’t make you want to join my happy dance (the mental one of course).

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