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Every Tribe, Language, People & Nation

• Shawna Boren

The heavenly vision of John in Revelation 5 reveals that God redeems persons from every tribe, language, people, and nation. Shawna Boren highlights the radical contrast of this truth against our common experience of division and “othering” that occurs in small and grand ways in our lives. God calls us to love the other rather than excluding those who are different. We make this a reality as we embrace the practice of hospitality.

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In this sermon, Shawna Boren focuses on the fact that God purchased “persons from every tribe, language, people, and nation.” She asks why we are told that all are included at this point of the passage and why there is such emphasis on this fact with the use of these four words. Why is it important to see that the sacrifice of the lamb is for people from every people group in history?

To answer this question, it is important to remember that Revelation is about unveiling truth in the midst of deception. What then are the lies pertaining to the inclusion of all persons from “every tribe, language, people, and nation”? One of the reasons relates to the pursuit of power. In general, people are fighting for power—getting it, increasing it, and keeping it. And those who don’t have it are fighting to survive against those who do. History is comprised of people playing the power game and the way to win this game is to climb to the top of the power pyramid.

The most common way to play this game is to pit one group against another group. This is what drives the “-isms”: ableism, ageism, classism, colorism, nepotism, elitism, ethnocentrism, racism, sexism, sizeism, etc. Our kind, our side, our group, is better, smarter, more right than your kind, your side, your group. When our side is the goal of the game, people get excluded. We elevate our power at cost to others. It’s a game of othering people.

Historically, religion has been a part of this game, as it has most often been ethnological in nature. Different people groups worshipped and prayed to their specific god for divine blessings over and against other people groups. And sadly, the history of the Christian church shows us that various church streams have also been a big part of this game.

This inclusion of all tribes, languages, peoples, and nations is a radical contrast to the ways that religion usually works. Through the slain lamb, we are shown that the true God opts out of the power game, and if we want to know this God, then we too must lay it aside. However, the daily experience in our modern context shows us that this is not an easy task. This is our calling, but it means that we have to deconstruct the common way that we think about people who are different from ourselves.

We opt out of the power game by embracing the practice of hospitality. To learn how not to other people, we must make space in our lives for the other, for those who see the world in a different way. This means we are going to have to get better at tolerating others and listening to people who think differently than we do as we break the ‘us’ versus ‘them’ mindset.

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Topics: Hospitality, Nationalism, Power

Sermon Series: Good Heavens!

Downloads & Resources

Audio File
Study guide
Group Study Guide
Revelation 5:9-10 Langauges video
The MuseCast: July 9

Focus Scripture:

  • Revelation 5:8-10

    When he took the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each held a harp and gold bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. They took up a new song, saying,“You are worthy to take the scroll and open its seals, because you were slain, and by your blood you purchased for God persons from every tribe, language, people, and nation. You made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they will rule on earth."

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