Missions: God’s Heart for the World Week 06

Diversity in Heaven Heaven (Rev. 7:9-14)

October 26, 2014

Group Resources

For the Week of October 26, 2014

Purpose: To see the culmination of God’s mission in a global, cross-cultural worship service. Through Abraham and his children of faith, all the nations have indeed been blessed by the saving work of Jesus Christ.

General note. Why does God inform us that people from “every nation, tribe, people and language” will be worshiping together in heaven? God celebrates the diversity of culture and ethnicity—to the point that John’s heavenly vision indicates that we will still have some aspect of ethnic distinction in heaven.

Sermon Principle: “Revelation 7 is the fulfillment of Genesis 12–an unbelievably diverse multitude in unified declaration of God’s heart to redeem a people for His own glory. Salvation belongs to our God!”

This Week’s Resources:


Do you ever wonder how heaven looks? If a “heavenly vision” (see Revelation 8) is supposed to motivate us to endure and tolerate hardship, what does this vision look like? Are we all playing harps and using our wings to float from cloud to cloud? Is it just a world-without-end choir concert?

The book of Revelation (a.k.a. the Apocalypse) gives us the clearest vision of heaven, even though it’s filled with symbols. Several of the clearest heavenly visions tell us that the work of missions has been accomplished, and the great multicultural family of God has come together to celebrate.

  • Looking back at your notes from this week’s sermon, was there anything that particularly caught your attention, challenged or confused you?
  • What in the Bible’s teaching on heaven do you understand such that you can say, “This we know for sure about heaven”?
  • In thinking about your service to others, either in your own culture or somewhere else in the world, what potential losses do you fear most?
  • Jonah’s racism (Jonah 4) prevented him from wanting any Ninevites in heaven. Do you have any such biases? If so, ask God to prepare you for the challenge of the text ahead.

Read the Text (Philippians 2:1-11)

Revelation has had many interpretations over the nineteen hundred or more years since John first wrote these words. Some say the entire book of prophecy was fulfilled in the first century. Others believe it’s futuristic only, targeting the specific events just preceding the end of the world. Still others believe that it represents epochs or eras of Christian history. The only thing that most agree on is that it is a depiction of God’s final victory over evil in human history. Among the testimonies of this victory are the glorious heavenly worship services that John experiences. Our text takes us to one of these worship events. Read Revelation 7:9-14.

Digging Deeper

  • Describe the crowd that John sees.
  • Why does the writer emphasize that people from every nation, tribe, people and language are present?
  • What would it have felt like to be a part of this crowd?
  • Think about worship experiences you have had with people from backgrounds different from yours. What was that like?
  • What is their worship song?
  • Who is the Lamb (read also Revelation 5:8-10)?
  • What are the worshipers wearing, and what do you think this attire symbolizes (v. 14)?
  • What have these worshipers endured (vv. 13-14)?
  • Analyze the words of the saints’ worship as well as the angels’. How much focus is on who God is, and how much on what God has done for us?
    How does this compare with the worship style in your church?
  • How do these verses encourage you to endure whatever tribulations and hardships you might be facing?
  • Simply put, worship which includes cultural and ethnic diversity previews heaven.
  • What does this passage (especially 7:9) say to the church of Jesus Christ today in light of facts like (1) there are over a billion people who have never heard of Jesus Christ, (2) there are still several thousand languages with no written translation of the Bible, and (3) whole ethnic groups (what John calls “peoples” or “tribes”) still have no witnessing church?

Thank God for creating a world of people who love him.

Concluding Thoughts

Read Acts 10. This passage shows the struggle of Peter and the early church to accept the reality of a multicultural body of Christ. Read it through noticing the struggle that both parties faced in accepting each other as equals. Take note of the ways that God brought people together through both the miraculous (visions) and the pragmatic (an in-home visit, a meal together and so on).

Look for an opportunity in the next couple of months to worship at a church that is ethnically different from your own. Go participate in a worship service with the prayer, “Lord, give me a taste of heaven today.”