And one of the elders answered, saying to me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and from where came they?…
And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? etc. Here is an illustration of three facts in connection with the human population in heaven.
I. THEIR EARTHLY LIFE WAS MARKED BY GREAT TRIAL. "And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? [these which are arrayed in the white robes, who are they?] and whence came they? And I said [say] unto him, Sir [my lord], thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came [come] out of [the] great tribulation." An elder in those realms - struck, it may be, with certain peculiarities in their appearance and worship - puts to John the interrogatory what they were, and whence they came, and the reply he receives is that they had come out of "great tribulation." Tribulation is the common lot of humanity, and ever the discipline of the good.
1. This should teach us contentment under our trials. "No temptation hath happened," etc.
2. This should inspire us with magnanimity under our trials. The tribulations are useful. Like the gales of the mariner, they bear us away from scenes on which our heart is set. The darkest thunder cloud terrifies but for an hour; it soon passes away, and leaves the air clearer and the heavens brighter than before.
II. THEIR CELESTIAL CIRCUMSTANCES ARE PRE-EMINENTLY GLORIOUS. "Have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." Look at:
1. Their appearance. In white robes, emblems of purity and conquest.
2. Their position. "They are before the throne." A throne is the emblem of regal authority, and before this throne we are always appearing in this life, but we are not conscious of it. Their employment. "Serve him day and night;" indicating the entire consecration of their time and powers. They serve him in every department of action. Serve him lovingly, wholly, and constantly.
4. Their companionship. "He that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among [spread his tabernacle over] them." They enjoy intimate communion with the Sovereign of all.
5. Their blessedness. "They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; ... and God shall wipe away all tears." They are freed from evil, and brought into the full enjoyment of all blessedness.
III. THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN THE EARTHLY AND HEAVENLY CONDITION IS ATTRIBUTABLE TO CHRIST. "They have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne." Three things are implied:
1. That they were originally polluted.
2. That the self-sacrificing love of Christ has a purifying influence.
3. That their cleansing by this influence had taken place when on earth.
CONCLUSION. Mark well the "therefore" of the text. Why are men so different in heaven to what they are on earth - in character, circumstances, spirit, different? Not because of the priestly services Of any sect, nor because of their own intellectual attainments, but because they have had their "robes washed in the blood of the Lamb;" it is because of Christ they are in heaven. - D.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?