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First Baptist New Orleans

The Future Present: Every Nation, Tribe, and Tongue

It always helps to know a little about the future. You can configure your life today more wisely. If I had known the future better, I would not have shown up two weeks early for a root canal. 

The trouble is—we cannot see the future. All our imagined scenarios about the future are just that—imagination. 

Human predictions about the future are almost universally bleak and depressing. Watch a few apocalyptic movies, and you will see what I mean. The future is full of zombies, for instance, and aliens who are trying to eat us.

Humans don’t do very well in the future, according to our predictions as a species. We really think future generations are going to mess it all up. Maybe we are extrapolating from the anticipated performance of our own offspring.

Curiously, the Bible has the reputation for giving rise to a lot of this bleak view of the future. I want to challenge that impression this morning. I think the bible expresses a wonderful hope and expectation for the future.

Here are five things you will see in the future. You can mark them down as truth revealed by God for the comfort of his own. They were first revealed to Christians who were dying fore their faith—caught up in terrible persecutions and purgings that made the whole world look like chaos and destruction. But they were written to help those original readers see beyond their troubles to the central truth.

You Will See the Lion of the Tribe of Judah:

“Do not weep! See, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has triumphed…” — Revelation 5:5

John wept and wept because no one could open the scroll or look inside of it. That means that the scroll represented something exceedingly important. Some people say it was the title deed to planet earth that was in the right hand of the One who sat on the Throne. Maybe it was the purpose and destiny of all humans—the explanation of our origin and our future fulfillment.

The Lion was a symbol of the Tribe of Judah. It was on the banner in the encampment in the wilderness that rallied the tribes and clans of Judah to the eastern side of the tabernacle. It speaks of courage and strength and relentless determination.

He is the root of David, a reference from Isaiah 11. This Root would gather the nations together, according to the prophecy, and was understood to be the Messiah.

He has triumphed. He triumphed in his life, his death, and his resurrection. He is the reigning King. 

  • One day you will see the Lord Jesus Christ enthroned in his majesty.

You can see that Lion now. He is the courageous and powerful one who is determined to rescue us sinners. When you see Jesus, that is the future present.

You Will Know the Center:

"Then I saw a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain, standing at the center of the throne." — Revelation 5:6

One day you will see the center of this universe. 

A child asked me this week, “What is heaven?” I said that heaven is the center of the universe, the place where God dwells in his majesty and rules from his throne.

  • The center of this universe is the place where it all began—the core of existence itself. Not only is the Center the creative core of the universe, the origin of all things, but it is also the sustaining center of all things.

The Center you see one day will be occupied by a Lamb, look as if it had been slain. That can only be Jesus with the marks of his crucifixion upon him. But even though he bears the death marks, he is alive and standing in the center.

You can find that Center now. When you invite Jesus Christ into your life to be your Lord and Savior, you invite him to the center of your world. That is the future present.

You Will Hear A New Song

"And they sang a new song." — Revelation 5:9

I am glad there will be singing in heaven. I love to sing, and I love music. I think that is true for most of us.

  • This song is about what the Savior did upon the cross. With his blood he purchased people. 
  • The blood indicates the ultimate sacrifice. Jesus died to accomplish his mission.
  • He purchased persons. We had a debt we could not pay. The Son of God paid our sin debt. In this way he purchased us and our salvation. He paid the ransom for our deliverance.
  • This sacrifice and payment were effective for persons from every tribe, language, people, and nation.

I don’t know if you will sing this song. It’s hard to sing a new song the first time through.

  • The elders know this song. The four living creatures know this song.
  • They understand better than us what God has done in rescuing us through the giving of his Son.

Fathers, you are elders in your homes. You can learn how to tell this story about the Lamb of God to your children and all within your sphere of influence. This is the task of the Christian father—teaching the household the gospel story.

You can hear this song now. It is the actual “music of the spheres,” that universal sound that indicates the harmony of all creation. Tuning into the harmony of the Lion and Lamb, that is the future present.

You Will Hear the Voice of Many Angels:

"Then I looked and heard the voice of many angels, numbering thousands upon thousands, and ten thousand times ten thousand." — Revelation 5:11

I know how thrilling it is to hear a multitude speak together the same words. This happens when we sing together in great arenas.

But angels singing—that is part of your future. You are going to hear the angels sing like they did over the fields of Bethlehem at the announcement of Christ’s birth.

Fathers, be aware that the angels are given assignments on your behalf. You may feel that you are taking risks for your family and your faith. Maybe you feel that all the world is on your shoulders. Realize, though, that God is on your side. He has deployed his amazing and powerful messengers into the earth on your behalf.

You can embrace the reality of legions of angels now. They are God’s messengers sent into the earth on behalf of his own. Knowing this amazing level of God’s care for you—that is the future present.

You Will Experience the Gathering:

"Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, saying: 'To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power,
for ever and ever!'” — Revelation 5:13

The Gathering involves every creature in heaven and earth. These are the creatures who can vocalize—people and angels and the four living creatures and others that God has created for his own purposes.

The Gathering includes people from every tribe, language, people, and nation.

  • You may have seen that the resolution condemning the white supremacist movement and all racism actually quoted this verse: every tribe, language, people, nation.
  • There is nothing more important than the good news that draws people together. No other familial or social or cultural or racial affiliation is as important as the Jesus connection between us.

The Gathering is a Worship Experience.

  • As you worship today you are in the future present. What happens as we give God praise in this place is part of as future reality that we can only imagine.
  • The Gathering is called together by God himself just as our gathering today is called together by God. 

As you gather today to give praise to God and to the Lamb, you can see how that is the future coming into the present. This is where all creation is headed.

"I beg you therefore brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God, which is your spiritual service of worship." — Romans 12:1-2

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