Dressed in White

David Bast

Read: Revelation 3:5-7; 7:9-17

The one who conquers will be clothed thus in white garments. (3:5)

Revelation 7 describes the church in two different but equally dramatic ways. First is a carefully numbered community of 144,000, drawn equally from the twelve tribes of Israel. This does not mean that only those descended from the original children of Israel are saved, or that the population of heaven is capped at the size of a small city. Revelation’s numbers are symbolic. The church consists of 12 x 12 x 1,000, meaning the full total—whatever that may be—of God’s redeemed, sealed by him as his own and protected.

Next, John saw this same church as a great, uncountable multitude. It is multicultural, multiracial, multinational, and multilingual, drawn from every place and people. They hold palm branches in their hands as a sign of victory; songs of worship are on their lips; promises of everlasting joy are theirs. The church is one huge, beautiful mosaic. But with all its diversity, there is one way everyone is the same: they are all dressed exactly alike. “They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Rev. 7:14).

Heaven has a dress code: the white robe of Christ’s righteousness, purchased by his sacrificial blood, received by faith. So take the poet’s advice: “O, make thyself with holy mourning black, / And red with blushing, as thou art with sin; / Or wash thee in Christ’s blood, which hath this might, / That being red, it dyes red souls to white (John Donne, Holy Sonnets, 4). —David Bast

As you pray, give thanks for the perfect righteousness of Christ given you.