04 August 2012

"Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, 'Who are these, robed in white, and where have they come from?' I said to him, 'Sir, you are the one that knows.' Then he said to me, 'These are they who have come out of the great ordeal; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.'" (vv. 13-14)


12-08-04A cartoon strip, popular with students during the exam season asks: "If a single teacher can't teach all the subjects then how can they expect a single student to learn all of them?" In similar vein another cartoon poses the question: "Why do teachers ask questions to which they already know the answer?"

John's vision in Revelation 7:13 seems to share a similar viewpoint. John is asked by one of the 24 elders who surround the very throne of God, what is the identity of a vast multitude clothed in white drawn from every nation, tribe, people, and tongue.

Can you imagine being asked by one of those who sit in the very throne room of God, 'Who are these people?' It's a bit like being invited into Buckingham Palace and then being asked by Prince Phillip about the identity of all the other people visiting the palace that day. How would you know?

John's response is a master class in deference and wisdom: "Sir, you are the one that knows". He recognises that, just like teachers' questions, this question is not an attempt to elicit information. Rather it is a mechanism for imparting information.

Teachers ask questions not because they want to learn something from their students (though they often do); rather teachers ask questions because they wish their students to learn something from them.

So it is with God - who tests us not in order that God might learn something about or from us through the test. Rather it is that we might learn something of God and about ourselves through testing times.

Those whom John saw in his vision were those who had come through "the great ordeal", a time of great testing.

To Ponder

  • What 'testing times' have you been through recently?
  • How do you go about figuring out what it is that God might wish you to learn about yourself and about God when you endure testing times?


Bible notes author: Calvin Samuel

Image by Deacon Tim Coleman. Used by permission. For more details go to Tim's website.


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