A Redeemed Host (Revelation 7:9-17)

A Redeemed Host (Revelation 7:9-17)

A Great Multitude Worships Around the Throne of God

A great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues: The diversity here is evidence

that the Great Commission will be fulfilled before the end, even as Jesus promised (Matthew 24:14).

Because John knew they came from different nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, we know that there will be differences among people in heaven, just as there is on earth. We will not all be the same. We will be individuals.

“I suppose as he looked at them he could tell where they come from. There is individuality in heaven, depend upon it. Every seed will have its own body. There will sit down in heaven not three unknown patriarchs, but Abraham – you will know him; Isaac, you will know him; and Jacob, you will know him. There will be in heaven not a company of persons, all struck off alike so that you cannot tell who is who; but they will be out of every nation, and kindred, and people, and tongue.” (Spurgeon)

Recall that, in the Scripture, the phrase from every tongue and tribe and nation is an idiom referring to both the totality of humanity and to the gentiles particularly. Previously we saw a remnant of the House of Israel being saved and now we see a host of gentiles being saved.

This begs a question which John MacArthur answers quite nicely.

How were Gentiles brought into the family of God?

Historically, the Gentiles (the “uncircumcision”) experienced two types of alienation. The first was social, resulting from the animosity that had existed between Jews and Gentiles for thousands of years. Jews considered Gentiles to be outcasts, objects of derision and reproach. The second and more significant type of alienation was spiritual, because Gentiles as a people were cut off from God in 5 different ways (Eph. 2:11, 12):

1) they were “without Christ,” the Messiah, having no Savior and Deliverer and without divine purpose or destiny.

2) They were “aliens from the commonwealth of Israel.” God’s chosen people, the Jews, were a nation whose supreme King and Lord was God Himself, and from whose unique blessing and protection they benefitted.

3) Gentiles were “strangers from the covenants of promise,” not able to partake of God’s divine covenants in which He promised to give His people a land, a priesthood, a people, a nation, a kingdom, and a King—and to those who believe in Him, eternal life and heaven.

4) They had “no hope” because they had been given no divine promise.

5) They were “without God in the world.” While Gentiles had many gods, they did not recognize the true God because they did not want Him.

“But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ”(v.13). “Far off” was a common term in rabbinical writings used to describe Gentiles, those who were apart from the true God (Is. 57:19; Acts 2:39). Every person who trusts in Christ alone for salvation, Jew or Gentile, is brought into spiritual union and intimacy with God. This is the reconciliation of 2 Corinthians 5:18–21.The atoning work accomplished by Christ’s death on the cross washes away the penalty of sin and ultimately even its presence. “He Himself” (v. 14). Through His death, Christ abolished Old Testament ceremonial laws, feasts, and sacrifices which uniquely separated Jews from Gentiles. God’s moral law (as summarized in the Ten Commandments and written on the hearts of all men, Rom. 2:15) was not abolished but subsumed in the New Covenant, however, because it reflects His own holy nature (Matt. 5:17–19.)

Standing before the throne and before the Lamb: Again, John saw everything in heaven in reference to the throne of God. “This is a peculiar subject of their joy: that God has a throne, that he sits upon it, and that he ruleth over all things, and all things do his bidding. The central thought of heaven, then, is divine sovereignty.” (Spurgeon)

Clothed with white robes: These robes remind us not only of the covering righteousness of Jesus, but also of priestly service. “They are arrayed for holy service, and arrayed at once, for they wear white robes fitted for their priestly service.” (Spurgeon)

Palm branches: These remind us of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem (John 12:12-16), where Jesus was also praised as Savior and King. The word Hosanna means “save now!”

Palm branches were emblems of victory. It shows this great multitude celebrates a great victory. “The palm, the ensign of triumph, indicates most certainly a conflict and conquest. As on earth palm would not be given if not won, we may conclude that the Lord would not have distributed the prize unless there had been a preceding warfare and victory… From the very fact that the glorified carry palms, we may infer that they did not come from beds of sloth, or gardens of pleasure, or palaces of peace, but that they endured hardness, and were men trained for war.” (Spurgeon)

Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb! Having an emblem of righteousness (white robes), they worship God for salvation. They recognize that God is the source of salvation, and no one else. Salvation isn’t something we earn, it is something God gives.

All the angels… the elders and the four living creatures… worshiped God: As the great multitude worships God, the others in heaven are compelled to join their voices in praise. All created beings around the throne join in.

Blessing and glory and wisdom, thanksgiving and honor and power and might: As these other created beings hear the worship the great multitude brings to God, they see more clearly the power and wisdom and majesty of God. They can worship God all the more by seeing the salvation He brought to the great multitude. 

(13-14) The identity of the great multitude.

Then one of the elders answered: It was important that John knew the identity of this great multitude. But he didn’t know that he should ask, so one of the eldersprompted him to ask.

These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation: This vast multitude, from every tribe and tongue and nation, are those rescued for God’s kingdom in the period of the great tribulation.

Note: the Greek indicates they are continually coming out. It is an active process during the Great Tribulation. If you will recall, I have mentioned several times there will be a great revival during the time of the Tribulation.

They had trouble on the earth during the great tribulation. In the ancient Greek grammar of this passage, “the” is emphatic. This was a time of great tribulation for this multitude. This leads many to believe that most, if not all, of these are martyrs from the great tribulation.

The presence of so many tribulation saints is a powerful statement of God’s grace and mercy. Even in this time of judgment and wrath on the earth, many are saved.

Keep it in your mind that the whole of Revelation is the greatest testimony to God’s Grace in the whole of Scripture. In the midst of pouring out the most terrifying judgments imaginable, God is still a Redeemer; He is still a Savior

Because the great multitude are mentioned right after the 144,000, many think they are – at least in part – due to the work of those 144,000 servants of God. Perhaps the 144,000 are evangelists who help reap this huge harvest for the kingdom during the great tribulation. This is the logical conclusion to draw because a redeemed Israel, made fully righteous, are now bringing the total fulfillment of their purpose- to be a light of God to the people of the world.

Washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb: Those saved in the great tribulation are saved just like everybody else, by the blood of the Lamb. Even if they are martyred, their martyrdom does not save them. Only the work of Jesus can cleanse and save.

“They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Not one of them became white through his tears of repentance, not one through the shedding of the blood of bulls or of goats. They all wanted a vicarious sacrifice, and for none of them was any sacrifice effectual, except the death of Jesus Christ the Lord. They washed their robes nowhere but in the blood of the Lamb.” (Spurgeon)

White by blood is an interesting phrase; we don’t think of things being made white by the application of blood. But the blood of Jesus cleanses us: Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool. (Isaiah 1:18)

  1. (15-17) What this great multitude does, and how it is blessed.

They are before the throne of God: In heaven, the redeemed enjoy the immediate presence of God. They can come right into the throne room and be with God. There are no barriers, no waiting lists.

These saints knew affliction on earth, and they triumphed over it. But it wasn’t their affliction that saved them. It was Jesus and their relationship of faith with Him. “Affliction of itself does not sanctify anybody, but the reverse. I believe in sanctified afflictions, but not in sanctifying afflictions.” (Spurgeon)

And serve Him day and night: In heaven, the redeemed serve God. We don’t know exactly how, but they do. “Heaven is not only a place of rest from earthly toil but also a place of privileged service.” (Walvoord)

He who sits on the throne will dwell among them: In heaven, God will dwellwith His people. This is the ultimate fulfillment of King David’s great desire in Psalm 27:4One thing I have desired of the LORD, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in His temple.

The Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them: In heaven, the redeemed will know the loving care and nurture of their Savior. He will protect them from every affliction (they shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat). He will also provide for their every need (lead them to living fountains of waters).

Jesus does shepherd us now, and He is close to us and cares for us now. Yes, but in heaven it will be so much more. “The true Christian life, when we live near to God, is the rough draft of the life of full communion above. We have seen the artist make with his pencil, or with his charcoal, a bare outline of his picture. It is nothing more, but still one could guess what the finished picture will be from the sketch before you.” (Spurgeon)

God will wipe away every tear from their eyes: In heaven, the redeemed will know no more sorrow or pain. The hurt and the struggle of this earthly life are gone, and tears are a thing of the past, because God will wipe away every tear.


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