The Parade of Nations

Twenty-two time Olympic medalist swimmer Michael Phelps carries the Stars & Stripes to lead Team USA into Maracana Stadium during the Opening Ceremony of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Aug. 5. U.S. Army photo by Tim Hipps, IMCOM Public Affairs

Twenty-two time Olympic medalist swimmer Michael Phelps carries the Stars & Stripes to lead Team USA into Maracana Stadium during the Opening Ceremony of the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Aug. 5. U.S. Army photo by Tim Hipps, IMCOM Public Affairs

The Olympic opening ceremonies concludes with a beautiful ritual: the parade of nations. Athletes follow a flag-bearer into the stadium dressed to reflect their culture. You can feel the energy in the scene through your television. In a world that is more polarized and factious than ever before, it almost feels like a miracle to watch people from over one hundred countries coming together in unity for two weeks. When we watch, we feel hope.

Revelation 7 paints a similar scene. John said, “After this, I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!’” (Revelation 7:9-10)

John’s parade of nations is not celebrating the beginning of a new series of Olympic games. They are celebrating the coronation of the king of God and the beginning of an era where no sin or death will ever be seen again.

The parade of nations in Rio gives me hope, but the parade of nations in Revelation excites me even more. The one I see on TV reminds me that the one in heaven is yet to come—and it’s going to be even better!