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JESUS THE FOCUS OF PRAISE – [4] Revelation 7: A vision of the redeemed

© Rosemary Bardsley 2015

Unless you have other information, the vision of the opening of the sixth seal generates great fear in the heart of the redeemed. It’s okay for those who are already ‘under the altar’ – already physically dead, but alive with Christ. But what of those redeemed who have not yet died when this terrible day of wrath described in 6:12-17 falls upon the earth? Where are they? How do they survive?

Another vision breaks open before John’s gaze, and here these questions and fears are answered. Here, in terms of time, the vision back tracks to a reality existing prior to, and beyond, the reality depicted by the sixth seal.


Four angels are standing at ‘the four corners of the earth’, holding back the winds of God’s judgment from blowing on the earth. These four angels have been given ‘power to harm the land and the sea’. As they hold back the judgment, another angel appears. He has ‘the seal of God’, and he called out in a loud voice, commanding the four angels not to release the judgment until ‘we’ put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of God.

The redeemed, referred to as ‘the servants of God’, are marked with ‘the seal of the living God’. This excludes them from the great day of wrath already depicted in the vision of the sixth seal.

A.1 What is this seal?
The only other New Testament references to the redeemed being ‘sealed’ by God are:

2Corinthians 1:21,22: ‘Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit guaranteeing what is to come’ [compare 2Corinthians 5:5, where there is a similar reference, minus mention of the ‘seal’].

Ephesians 1:13,14: ‘And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession …’

Ephesians 4:30: ‘… do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption’.

These references to believers being ‘sealed’ have a number of things in common:

The ‘seal’ is the Holy Spirit.

The ‘seal’ effectively sets believers apart for the salvation promised to them in Christ; it identifies them as God’s possession, ‘guaranteeing what is to come’, ‘guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption …’ and ‘for the day of redemption’.

They speak of an inheritance, a redemption, that is not yet fully complete, that, although possessed and guaranteed, still waits its ultimate expression and realisation. [This future aspect of redemption is taught in Romans 8:18-27, and is eagerly anticipated by the suffering creation, the suffering believers and the Holy Spirit, all of which are currently groaning, struggling because of the presence of sin and suffering in the world.]

The redeemed are sealed for that final redemption on the Day of the Lord, when they will be set free for ever from the presence of sin and suffering, and saved/protected from the final out-pouring of the wrath of the Lamb and of the one who sits on the throne.

Explanatory note:
In these symbolic, apocalyptic visions it is not uncommon for John to see an angel doing what in reality is actually done by God [Father, Son or Spirit]. Here in this vision John saw angels holding back the judgment, but in reality it is God who holds back the judgment. Here in this vision John saw an angel with ‘the seal of God’, and the inference that it is the angel who goes around marking the foreheads of those who believe. In reality it is God, by his Spirit, who seals and marks us as his own – and not with a physical mark on our foreheads. We must not let the symbolism cloud our thinking and divert us from the reality.

Much, much more could be said about this ‘sealing’, but that would take us deep into the meaning of the salvation the believer has in Christ, and we would be in this study ‘for ever’.  But if you are inclined to dig deeper, think about:

[1] the fact that the Holy Spirit baptizes us into Christ [1Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:27] – so unites us to Christ that all that he did for us as our substitute and representative is deemed to be ours.  That from the point of our conversion onwards God relates to us always, ever and only in Christ and through his blood. [Note that Romans 6:3 states that we are baptized into his death.] This indicates that the blood of the Lamb [see Revelation 7:9,14] also constitutes the ‘seal of God’. In this it fulfils the prophetic symbolism of the blood on the doorposts and lintels which sealed the Israelites against the final plague in Egypt on the first Passover. It is also the blood of ‘the new covenant’ referred to by Christ when he instituted the ‘Lord’s Supper’ [Matthew 26:28] – a covenant sealed and ratified by the blood of the Lamb.

[2] God needs no physical mark on our foreheads to enable him to recognize us as his own, he already holds us safe and secure in his hand [John 10:28,29].

This vision of the sealing of the redeemed is simply an apocalyptic way of assuring them that they are safe and secure on the day of God’s wrath. No other outcome is possible. They are sealed by God – by his Spirit and by the blood of the Lamb.

A.2 Who are ‘sealed’?
Verse 4 states ‘I heard the number of those who were sealed:144,000 from all the tribes of Israel’. What this actually means is another of those ‘controversial’ issues where the opinion of scholars is divided.

Various opinions:

[1] The 144,000 are a literal 144,000 people saved from the physical tribes of Israel, in total.

[2] The 144,000 are a literal 144,000 people saved from the physical tribes of Israel during the ‘millennial’ reign of Christ between his (supposed) first return at the beginning of the (literal) 1000 year reign and his final return in judgment at the end of it.

[3] The 144,000 are a symbolic reference to all [unknown number] from physical Israel who are saved.

[4] The 144,000 are a symbolic reference to the total people saved from all the nations of the earth, including, but not limited to, people from the physical nation of Israel.

Some comments:

[1] The tribes listed in Revelation 7:5-8 do not comprise a complete quota of the twelve tribes of Israel. Whichever way we count the tribes of Israel, there is something wrong with this list. If we list the tribes according to the twelve sons of Jacob, Dan is missing, and Joseph is mentioned twice [once as ‘Joseph’ and once as his son Manasseh]. If we list the tribes according to their allocation of tribal territories, Dan is still missing, Levi is included (who had no tribal inheritance), and the name ‘Joseph’ replaces ‘Ephraim’.

[2] 144,000, which is 12 x 12 x 10 x 10 x 10. Symbolically the 10 x 10 x 10 indicates total completion. 12 refers to the twelve patriarchs (representing the Old Testament people of God), and 12 refers to the twelve apostles (representing the New Testament people of God).

Because of what follows from verse 8 onwards, I believe that this number that John heard is symbolic of all the redeemed from all generations and all nations. This is not the first time that what John heard and what John then saw are, or seem on the surface to be, two different things.  In 5:5 he heard reference to ‘the Lion of the tribe of Judah’, but when he looked he saw a Lamb, with the marks of violent death upon it.

Now, again he looks, expecting to see 144,000 Jews. And what does he see? Who are the sealed? A great multitude from every nation, tribe, people and language.


Suddenly, the vision has once more returned to the throne of God. Again it is over-whelming in its magnitude, as it was in Revelation 4 and 5. Again there are the four living creatures. Again there are the twenty-four elders. Again there are all the countless angels. Again, there in the centre, is the Lamb. Again there is a crescendo of praise and worship.

But there is another group that was not in that earlier vision. Now there is ‘a great multitude which no one could count’. John does not even try to indicate an approximate huge number as he did with the angels [5:11]. Here are gathered all the redeemed, all the sealed, from every age, and from every nation, tribe, people and language. This is the sum total, a massive number, the complete number of the redeemed: The ‘Israel of God’ [Galatians 6:16], the spiritual children of Abraham [Romans 4:16,17], the true ‘circumcision’ of the heart by the Spirit [Romans 2:29], done by Christ, not by men [Colossians 2:11-12]. Here, all are ‘one in Christ Jesus’, there is no difference and no distinction [Romans 3:22b-30; Galatians 3:28-29; Ephesians 2:11-22; Colossians 3:11]. Not one is missing.

B.1 They are standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb
Before we are told anything else about them this fact alone tells us of the secure position of this great multitude. Here they are, standing, in the very presence of God (‘the throne’) and of the Lamb. No sinner can stand there, but there they are. These sinners have, somehow, been granted this unheard of and impossible blessing of access to God.  They, not only the Lamb, have somehow broken through all the barriers, all the prohibitions. They are not falling down on their faces, terrified before God’s awesome, holy majesty. They are standing. They are not excluded by the fearsome living creatures whose presence before God historically banned human access. They are standing, right there in the presence of God. Accepted. Unafraid. Filled with joy.

We have already discussed this amazing access to God several times in these studies. Here it hammers home to us: you do not have to fear the wrath of him who sits on the throne. You do not have to fear the wrath of the Lamb. You do not have to fear the Day of their wrath. You are already beyond the reach of that Day of Judgment. For you, the judgment is already past. See the marks of slaughter on the Lamb!

To jog your memory and confirm this wonderful truth, read these scriptures again:
John 5:24
Romans 8:1
Ephesians 2:18
Hebrews 4:14-16
Hebrews 10:19-22
1John 4:16-18

B.2 They were wearing white robes … washed … made white in the blood of the Lamb
Here is yet another indication of the security of believers on the day of wrath and judgment: they are wearing white robes [7:9]. The reason their robes are white is that they have been washed and made white in the blood of the Lamb [7:14]. This is the key to understanding their unobstructed, fearless access to God. This explains how these humans, and no others, stand in the presence of God.

These white, washed robes of the redeemed point us to the ‘cleansing’ from sin granted to all who believe in Jesus Christ. This forgiveness is described in many ways, and its impacts are also many. Again, we are here talking about the whole of salvation, a concept that would keep us busy for years. But let us look at just a few Scriptures that communicate this removal of sin.

The concept of cleansing or purification:
1John 1:7,9
Titus 2:14
Colossians 2:14 [where ‘cancelled’ = ‘erased’]
Ephesians 5:26
1Corinthians 6:11
John 13:10b; 15:3

The concept of the imputed righteousness of Christ [= justification = legal acquittal = declared not guilty]
Romans 1:16,17
Romans 3:21-26
Romans 4:5,6
Romans 5:16,17
1Corinthians 1:30

Associated with the previous two, the concept of being holy and perfect in Christ
Ephesians 1:4
Colossians 1:12
Colossians 1:22
Hebrews 10:10
Hebrews 10:14

The concept of our sin having been held against Christ, and therefore no longer held against us
Romans 4:7,8
2Corinthians 5:21
Ephesians 1:7
Colossians 1:14
Colossians 2:13-15
1Peter 2:24

We read in 6:9 that ‘white robes’ were given to each of those ‘under the altar’. We are in a different vision now with different symbols in play, but the same is true of these white robes worn by the uncountable multitude in the presence of God and the Lamb. These are not ‘white’ because of personal purity or personal merit or personal achievement. These robes are ‘white’ only because of ‘the blood of the Lamb’. The whiteness is a ‘given’ whiteness. A gift. A grace. Something that has been given to each individual in this multitude through their faith-relationship with Jesus Christ. It is his purity and perfection, not theirs, the result of his action, not theirs. Because they have received him, all that he is, and all that he has done is also counted theirs. Their life is hidden in him. He is their life [Colossians 3:3,4]. They can be nowhere else but here where he is. Here, before the throne.

This ‘blood of the Lamb’ [his death, his life given] is the legal basis of their white robes and their ‘standing’ in the presence of God:

His blood is poured out for the remission/forgiveness of sins [Matthew 26:28].
He gave his life as a ransom for many [Mark 10:45].
By his own blood he bought ‘the church of God’ [Acts 20:28].
His blood is a sacrifice of atonement, that turns away the wrath of God [Romans 3:25].
His blood justifies [Romans 5:9].
His death reconciles us to God [Romans 5:10].
Through his blood we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins [Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14].
Through his blood we are brought near to God [Ephesians 2:13].
Through his blood God made peace and reconciled us to himself [Colossians 1:20-22].
By his blood he obtained eternal redemption for us [Hebrews 9:12].
His blood purges our consciences [Hebrews 9:14].
By his blood we enter the ‘Most Holy Place’ – the presence of God [Hebrews 10:19].
By his precious blood we are redeemed [1Peter 1:18,19].

There is no doubt whatsoever of their security and acceptance in the presence of God. They trust not in themselves, but in the Lamb who was slain. They depend not on themselves but on his blood, shed for them, for the remission of their sins. Only if that blood can fail to save, can the redeemed fail to stand here before the throne. Only if that blood can fail to justify, will the redeemed ever face the wrath of the Lamb and the wrath of the one on the throne.

And it cannot fail. They are secure. They are already, in Christ, beyond the judgment, beyond the wrath.

[Note: Ephesians 2:4-7 we are taught that those who believe in Jesus Christ have already been raised together with Christ and are seated in Christ in the heavenly realms.]

B.3 … they were holding palm branches in their hands
[Greek – ‘and palms in their hands’]

In Israel palm branches were employed historically in joyful celebration.

[1] They were held by the joyous crowd that welcomed Jesus as he rode into Jerusalem a week before his crucifixion [John 12:13]. They hailed him as the one who brought God’s salvation. They hailed him as the King of Israel, as the blessed one who came in the name of the Lord. In this they quoted from both Psalm 118 and Zechariah 9.

[2] In Psalm 118:27 we read of a festal procession, with boughs in hand [NIV], moving up to the horns of the altar, rejoicing in the protection and salvation provided by God. [This Psalm is one of the processional Psalms sung by pilgrims journeying to Jerusalem for the three holy feast periods.]

[3] One of those holy annual gatherings in Jerusalem was the Feast of Tabernacles, the most joyous of all feasts. During this Feast the people were instructed to take palm fronds etc, and ‘rejoice before the LORD for seven days’ [Leviticus 23:40]. This particularly joyful feast is still celebrated today. It is so joyful that ‘The Rabbis say, “He who has not seen Jerusalem during the Feast of Tabernacles does not know what rejoicing means”’ [The Gospel in the Feasts of Israel, Victor Buksbazen]. When we ask ‘Why this measure of joy?’ and ‘Is there some connection here with the palm branches in the hands of the redeemed in Revelation 7?’ we find some instructive answers:

The Feast of Tabernacles follows five days after the Day of Atonement, during which atonement for sin was provided. This rejoicing follows deliverance from sin.

The original institution of the Feast of Tabernacles was at Sinai, immediately following God’s redemption of Israel from slavery in Egypt. Again: this joyous feast follows deliverance from slavery.

At that time, God (symbolically) dwelt among his people in the Tabernacle [= ‘tent’], which was surrounded by the tents of the Israelites. His presence among them was symbolized by a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. This assured them of his presence and protection. Living in tents, without the protection of a fortified city, they were dependent solely upon God and his presence with them.

As it developed over history, a range of additional traditions characterised this Feast: it became not only commemorative of the redemption from Egypt but also a prophetic prayer for the coming of the Messiah and his salvation. Two of these traditions, in particular, were deliberately referenced by Jesus Christ and applied to himself: the pouring out of a jug of water, as a symbolic prophetic prayer for the spiritual blessings, and the brilliant illumination of the temple during the Feast. In this context Jesus taught that he is the source of living water [see John 7:37-39], and he is the light of the world [John 8:12]. Those who believe in him are blessed with endless spiritual life and light.

In addition to this use of actual palm branches, we find in both Solomon’s temple and the symbolic temple of Ezekiel 40 numerous palm tree decorations scattered throughout the structure on the doors and the walls. Interestingly, these palms, elsewhere symbols of human joy in the presence of the Lord, were interspersed in an alternating pattern between cherubim, symbols of human prohibition from God’s presence.  Two things that were mutually exclusive are placed together.

Here in Revelation 7 the palm branches in the hands of the redeemed and the cherubim surrounding the throne are seen together in their eternal reality: humans stand in the presence of God in joyful celebration; by the blood of the Lamb their death and darkness has been replaced with life and light in reunion with God. Sin no more separates. Sin no longer bans them from his presence. With joy and with confidence they stand before him, with the whole universe, including the cherubim, the four living creatures, surrounding them and celebrating because of their salvation by the Lamb.

B.4 And they cried out in a loud voice …
The Greek is present tense – ‘they were crying out …’ Together, as one, their voices acknowledge that God and the Lamb are the source and the cause of their salvation. It is the sovereign work and the sovereign gift of God and the Lamb.

This reflects the truth expressed in both the Old and New Testaments that God is salvation, that God saves.

Suggested reading:
Exodus 15:2
2Samuel 22:2,3,47
Psalm 62:1,2,5-8
Isaiah 12:2,3
Isaiah 25:9
Isaiah 43:11
Micah 7:7
Habakkuk 3:18
Ephesians 2:8,9
Titus 2:11
2Peter 1:1

The sovereign Lord, against whom we have sinned, and from whom judgment is warranted, together with the Lamb, whom we humans rejected, is the only Saviour. And he is himself the salvation that he gives. How great and how deep is this mystery, this mercy.

As Psalm 118 [noted above in relation to the palm branches] states:

‘The LORD is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation’ [verse 14].
‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone,
the LORD has done this, and it is marvellous in our eyes’ [verses 22,23].

No wonder the redeemed in Revelation 7 are crying out in joyful praise! They are experiencing the eternal and complete salvation that was predicted from Genesis 3:15 onwards, the eternal salvation planned and purposed by God before the beginning of time, embedded in Psalm 118 and enjoyed here in Revelation 7. Surely, here in this vision the redeemed are voicing the concepts of this Psalm:

‘This is the day the Lord has made; let us be glad and rejoice in it. Hosanna! God has saved us! Blessed is the Lamb who came in the name of the Lord. Here, in the presence of the Lord we bless you, the Lamb. In you, the Lord made his light shine upon us. With boughs in our hands we join in praise of the Lamb who was slain to purchase our redemption. You are our God. We will give you thanks. You are our God, and we will exalt you. We give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever’ [adaptation of Psalm 118:24-29].

Such is the praise rendered by the redeemed. Such is their salvation. Such is their security. Forever.

B.5 The angels affirm the praise of God and the Lamb [7:11-12]
Those millions of angels whom we saw in 5:11,12, surrounding the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and now also surrounding the redeemed, add their ‘Amen!’ to the praise expressed by the redeemed. By their double ‘Amen’ they affirm that praise, confirming that the one on the throne, and the Lamb, are indeed ‘the salvation’. They ascribe to God a seven-fold adoration, including most of what they had already ascribed to the Lamb in 5:12.  Here, in response to the salvation of the redeemed, God is given the glory due to his holy name.

Suggested reading:
Psalm 29:1,2
Psalm 96:1-9



Just as in Revelation 5, one of the elders now speaks to John. He asks John who these people in white robes are, and where did they come from. John does not hazard an answer, but throws it back on to the elder, just as Ezekiel did to the Lord in Ezekiel 37:3.

C.1 … out of the great tribulation …
This great and countless multitude from all the nations and tribes and people and languages of the earth have come out of ‘the tribulation, the great one’. Some commentators understand this to mean the brief but ‘great tribulation’ that Jesus said would occur just prior to his return [Matthew 24:21,22], but the symbolic ‘144,000’ indicating completeness [verse 4], and huge number of the redeemed ‘that no one could count’ [verse 9], and the promises made to them in this chapter, indicate that these are all the redeemed from all ages. The great tribulation out of which they have come is surely the great tribulation, the great trouble, that has characterised the whole world from Genesis 3 onwards in every generation: that heavy burden of sin and suffering, pain and pathos, that entered this world because of our rebellion against God, cutting us off from him, incurring his wrath and his judgments upon not only humans but the whole earth, and making those who align themselves with God the targets of human hatred. Tribulation – trouble, afflictions, anguish – this is the common lot of sinners, of all the inhabitants of the earth. To this, persecution because of their faith is added to the suffering of the redeemed. Out of all the humans born in this troubled, runaway world, these standing here in the presence of the throne and the Lamb have escaped, have found the way back to God and to eternal life. They alone have been saved. They were in the great tribulation, but now they have come out of it. They have been redeemed – rescued, set free, delivered – from it by the Lamb.

C.2 … have washed their robes and made them clean in the blood of the Lamb.
This explains how the redeemed ‘have come out of’ ‘the great tribulation’. We have already looked at these white robes at length in discussing verse 9. There are two facts that we did not consider there.

[1] both verbs in verse 14 are in the Aorist Tense, indicating a decisive, once-for-all action, not an action that needs to be repeated.

[2] The subject of these verbs is the believers. They washed their robes. They made them clean in the blood of the Lamb. This reminds us that cleansing in the blood of the Lamb is not automatically applied to all human beings, even though it is sufficient for all, and the invitation goes out to all. Nor is it something that is acquired by these people without their knowledge or involvement. There is something that singles out these individuals and distinguishes them from all others, from the unredeemed. At some point these individuals have personally believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, acknowledging him as their Lord. By this confession, by this personal alignment with him, the salvation that God provided in him is granted to them [John 8:24; Acts 4:12; Romans 10:9]. Lest we should conclude that their faith is a work of human merit, Scripture assures us that it also is a gift of God [Ephesians 2:8], and that their coming to Christ is only possible by the synergistic work of the triune God [Matthew 11:27; John 1:12; 3:3-7; 6:44,65; 2Corinthians 4:4-6]. Their redemption, their escape from the great tribulation, is not an easy thing, not something they themselves could achieve: it took God the Father; it took God the Son, and it took God the Holy Spirit to accomplish it.

C.3 Therefore …
The elder continues speaking. He lists the blessedness of this great and countless multitude. Every aspect of blessing that he identifies is dependent on this ‘Therefore …’, that is, all of these blessings are enjoyed and will be enjoyed by the redeemed because their robes are washed in the blood of the Lamb. His saving, atoning, cleansing blood is the basis on which these blessings are granted to the redeemed.

C.3.1 They are before the throne of God …
We have looked at this under B.1 above. This access gained only by means of the Mediator, Jesus Christ, our great High Priest, who is also our King, the Lamb on the throne.

C.3.2 … and serve him day and night in his temple …
Here is a perpetual service, a perpetual worship – a perpetual life lived in the service of God. This calls to mind the earlier references to the redeemed as ‘priests’ [1:6; 5:10]. Here again we must remember that we are in the midst of a vision. We must not let ourselves be deceived into thinking in terms of a physical temple. Revelation 21:22 tells us quite clearly that there is actually no temple in the world to come – because God himself, and the Lamb, are there and they themselves are ‘the temple’. There is no longer any need for a physical Temple; it was a mere symbol, a weak shadow, of the real presence of God. And here we are in ‘the big picture’ – a picture of a world in which everyone honours, serves, worships God with every fibre of their being and every moment of their lives. What we were created to be, that we will then be. Created, and recreated, in his image. Reflecting his beauty and his glory. [Read 1John 3:2.]

C.3.3 …he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them …
God dwells with them and his protection is over them, just as those redeemed from Egypt lived under the protection of the pillar of cloud and fire, symbolic of God’s protection. The redeemed live under ‘his tent’. They are precious to him. He is their refuge.

Suggested reading for images of God’s loving protection:
Ruth 2:12
Psalm 17:8
Psalm 36:7
Psalm 91:4
Matthew 23:37

Unlike the protection experienced in this life, this security of the redeemed is an eternal security, without physical threat and without spiritual threat. Here is the new heaven and the new earth, of which we will read later, where God dwells with his people and all actually is right with the world.

C.3.4 Never again will they hunger …
Verse 16 sums up the absence of physical threat. All that is dangerous, all that threatens physical survival is gone. Three aspects are mentioned here – hunger, thirst, excessive heat. Other aspects will be mentioned later. Perfection is restored to the physical world.

But behind these symbols of real physical perfection, we must also see the total spiritual sustenance and completeness enjoyed by the redeemed: Jesus, the bread of life, promised that whoever believed in him would never again hunger or thirst [John 6:35]; Jesus promised that the water he gives becomes ‘a spring of water welling up to eternal life’ [John 4:14]. Paul taught that the redeemed are ‘complete’ in Christ [Colossians 2:10]. All spiritual hunger, all spiritual thirst, all spiritual lostness, emptiness and destitution are removed and replaced by complete and sustained spiritual satisfaction. For the redeemed Christ, the Lamb, is all they need, more than they need: his grace, his forgiveness, his love, has been lavished upon them, super-abundant, immeasurable, incomparable, inexhaustible [Ephesians 1:7,8; 2:7; 3:17b-20].

C.3.5 For the Lamb … will be their shepherd …
Taking up a concept rich with significance, the elder now tells John that the Lamb, now sharing the throne of God, will be their shepherd.

The reality expressed by David in Psalm 23 here reaches its eternal perfection.
The promise of God in Ezekiel 34 is here completely fulfilled.
The perspective of Jesus Christ in John 10:1-30 is here in place.

The Lamb is the Shepherd. The Shepherd is the Lamb who was slain.

‘The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep’ [John 10:11,15].
‘No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord’ [John 10:18].

The ‘springs of living water’ to which the shepherd leads the redeemed [Revelation 7:17] is the salvation, the ‘life … to the full’, the ‘eternal life’ promised by Jesus, the good shepherd [John 10:9,10,28].

C.3.6 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
The exodus from Egypt was a cause for rejoicing; the return from the Babylonian exile was a cause for rejoicing. But here is an even greater cause, and even greater joy, an even greater removal of human tears. Now, there are no more tears, and there is no more cause of tears. As we will learn later [21:4], all pain and sorrow will be gone. This is the new heaven and the new earth, where truly the redeemed will experience ‘everlasting joy’ [Isaiah 51:11].