Revelation 7:9-17

Wednesday Evening Bible Study

April 30, 1997

Introduction

We've seen the beginning of the tribulation period starting with chapter six, as the Lamb began to open up the seven sealed scroll.

In chapter seven, there's a brief pause before the seventh seal, which occurs in chapter eight.

During this pause, the 144,000 Jewish evangelists are given a seal from God to protect them during their ministry.

:9 After this I beheld

After what things? After the description of the 144,000 bondservants being sealed and ready for action.

We will see that this multitude of people are those who have come out of the great tribulation period, and it's possible that they were saved through the ministry of the 144,000.

:9 and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number

The idea is that the number is so large, you can't do the "arithmetic" (literally).

Keep in mind that earlier, when John saw a multitude of angels in heaven, he wrote,

Re 5:11 And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands;

10,000 x 10,000 = 100,000,000

Now, the size of the group in front of John is beyond anybody doing the math, so it's got to be pretty big, bigger than 100,000,000!

:9 of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues

This gives us a little background to the people in front of them.

They aren't from a single nationality, as the Jews.

They're from all different kinds of nations, cultures, races, and languages.

Note: "all tongues" indicates that we have to still finish translating the gospel into all the world's languages. Getting even closer with computers!

If you understand all of Matthew 24 as an outline of the tribulation period (which I think it is), you see that the gospel will be preached to all nations during this time:

Mt 24:14 And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.

Lesson:

Don't wait to believe.

Many will believe in Jesus during the Tribulation.

But it seems very possible that most of those who believe will come from those on the earth who had not heard the gospel before the antichrist showed up.

2 Th 2:8-12 (NASB) And then that lawless one will be revealed whom the Lord will slay with the breath of His mouth and bring to an end by the appearance of His coming; {9} that is, the one whose coming is in accord with the activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, {10} and with all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. {11} And for this reason God will send upon them a deluding influence so that they might believe what is false, {12} in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the truth, but took pleasure in wickedness.

Don't think that because your friend rejects Jesus now, but says that he'll ask Jesus into his heart if the Rapture really occurs Ö if they don't respond now, chances are they won't respond then.

:9 palms in their hands;

Palm branches are a sign of victory.

Very similar to another event, something that happened on "Palm Sunday", when Jesus rode into Jerusalem and was proclaimed king by the people.

Joh 12:13 Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed [is] the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.

:10 Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.

This is what these tribulation saints are crying out before the throne of God.

They are declaring that Salvation comes only from God and from the Lamb, Jesus.

(NIV)Re 7:10 And they cried out in a loud voice: "Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb."

There is just way too many parallels to ignore this passage:

(Psa 118:19-25 KJV) Open to me the gates of righteousness: I will go into them, and I will praise the LORD: {20} This gate of the LORD, into which the righteous shall enter. {21} I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me, and art become my salvation. {22} The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner. {23} This is the LORD'S doing; it is marvellous in our eyes. {24} This is the day which the LORD hath made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. {25} Save now, I beseech thee, O LORD: O LORD, I beseech thee, send now prosperity.

:11 And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts,

The picture is that of the throne of God along with the Lamb in the center, with the four beasts (the cherubim) and the 24 elders around God's throne.

In front of this inner circle would be the huge multitude of humans.

Around this multitude of humans then is a huge ring of angels standing.

:11 and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God,

The angels are in awe over how God has saved these human beings.

They get practice for this whenever someone gets saved:

Lu 15:7 I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

They are amazed at God's plan of salvation:

1Pe 1:12 Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.

:12 Saying, Amen

Or, "truly", or "verily" - truly these next seven things are appropriate to God.

:12 Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.

This is what the angels attribute to God.

Note the "amen" at the beginning and at the end.

These things are "truly" so.

:13 And one of the elders answered

This is one of the 24 elders around the throne.

:13 What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?

This question isn't because the elder doesn't know.

He's asking John if he knows who these people are.

Warning!

There may be quizes when we get to heaven!!!

Start studying now! Don't be caught standing there going "Duhhhhhhh".

:14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest.

Good response John!

Turn the question around on the guy asking it!

:14 These are they which came out of great tribulation

We don't even have to guess who these people are, because the elder tells us who they are.

This phrase "great tribulation" is the phrase used to describe that seven year period when God's judgment comes upon the earth.

It's the time period that began back in chapter six.

It's the time period that Jesus warned the carnal church of Thyatira, and the false prophetess Jezebel about:

Re 2:22 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds.

And now we see this great multitude of people who have come "out of" this great tribulation.

In all fairness - those who hold to a "post-trib" or "mid-trib" view (that the Rapture occurs after or in the middle of the tribulation), they tend to identify these people as the church.

For those of us who hold a "pre-trib" view, this group of people are a unique group, a group of people saved after the Rapture, but before Jesus comes back.

It has been suggested that the reason John doesn't know who these people are, is because they're not the church, but a different group.

If these were believers from the church, John might have known a few of them, but as it is, he doesn't know who they are.

How have they come "out" of the great tribulation?

They have been martyred, dying for their faith.

Again, these are the same ones (plus even more) who were previously under the altar:

Re 6:9-11 And when he had opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of them that were slain for the word of God, and for the testimony which they held: 10 And they cried with a loud voice, saying, How long, O Lord, holy and true, dost thou not judge and avenge our blood on them that dwell on the earth? 11 And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they [were], should be fulfilled.

Apparently, their numbers have been fulfilled now, since they're no longer under the altar, but are before the throne.

During the tribulation period, people are going to be asked to make a choice - worship the antichrist and take his mark, or be put to death. (Rev.13:15-17)

Yet those who take the mark of the beast will face the wrath of God (Rev.14:9-12)

Lesson:

Are you ready to die for God?

How's that for a great hypothetical question?

What would you do if they put a gun to your head and told you to bow to the antichrist or die?

What would you do if they told you to bow to the antichrist, or be laughed at by the rest of the guys at work?

You can't say you'll die for the Lord if you don't already live for Him.

:14 and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

Salvation during the tribulation period will be on the same basis as it is now, through the blood of the Lamb.

A person's life, their deeds, become in heaven the robe that they wear.

We are going to be clothed with our deeds:

Re 19:8 And it was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright [and] clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. (NAS)

Without Jesus, the best we can do for clothing is "filthy rags":

Isa 64:6 But we are all as an unclean [thing], and all our righteousnesses [are] as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

Jesus tells a story of somebody who tried to get into heaven with the wrong attire:

(Mat 22:10-14 KJV) So those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good: and the wedding was furnished with guests. {11} And when the king came in to see the guests, he saw there a man which had not on a wedding garment: {12} And he saith unto him, Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment? And he was speechless. {13} Then said the king to the servants, Bind him hand and foot, and take him away, and cast him into outer darkness; there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth. {14} For many are called, but few are chosen.

But when we come to Jesus, God takes our lives through a wash cycle, and removes all the filth:

Isa 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

Lesson:

Are your bags packed?

Do you have the right kind of clothes for heaven?

If you're trusting in your own goodness to get you into heaven, you're going to be like the man who came with the wrong clothes.

It's only those who have had their lives cleansed by the blood of Jesus that will have the right attire.

:15 Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple

I've heard it said that this can't be the church because the church will rule and reign with Christ, and these are "servants" of God.

I agree that this isn't the church, but I don't like this as a reason.

serve - latreuo - to serve for hire; in the NT, to render religious service or homage, to worship

This isn't the typical word for "slave" kind of servanthood.

This is the word used to describe the work of ministry that the priests do in the temple, in other words, worship.

This isn't some kind of punishment, this is a great privilege and honor given to these Tribulation Saints, for standing up to worship God rather than bowing down to worship the antichrist.

Their reward is to "serve" God day and night.

:15 and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.

shall dwell among them - skenoo - to pitch a tent, to dwell with

It's the same word used of Jesus -

Joh 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.

These people will spend eternity in God's presence.

Perhaps, there might be some kind of allusion to the Feast of Tabernacles here.

That this might in some sense be a type of fulfillment of the feast where the Israelites would live in "booths" or "tabernacles" to remember how they camped out in the wilderness, and to remember how God had "tabernacled" with them through the tabernacle itself.

:16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more

It's possible that this is just talking about the fact that life in heaven is going to be great, not having any hunger or thirst.

It's also possible that this might be an allusion to the kind of suffering these Tribulation Saints will have on earth.

Remember, these are the ones who have refused the mark of the beast,

Re 13:17 And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

Perhaps many will die of hunger and thirst because of their stand to serve the Lord.

This is a quote from Isaiah:

Isa 49:8-10 Thus saith the LORD, In an acceptable time have I heard thee, and in a day of salvation have I helped thee: and I will preserve thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, to establish the earth, to cause to inherit the desolate heritages; {9} That thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Show yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places. {10} They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them.

We may read this at times and hope that all our problems will go away, now. Not so.

Lesson:

Our ultimate rest is in heaven.

This may not be a particularly popular thing to say in these days.

People want to have it all now, they want to be healed of all their diseases, they want all their pain to stop, they want all the hunger to be gone.

Though Jesus does promise us an abundant life, He doesn't promise to take away all our problems, at least not until we get to heaven.

Joh 6:35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

:16 neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.

Again, this might be another allusion to the kind of suffering these people may have gone through.

It's interesting to note that the word for "heat" (kauma) only appears two places in the NT, here and in:

Re 16:8-9 And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire. 9 And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory.

Could it be that some of these people had to live through this?

Yet, in heaven, there will be no more suffering.

Re 21:4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

:17 For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne

A reminder of the position of the Lamb, Jesus.

He's not next to the throne, He's right "in the midst", or "in the middle" of the throne.

NIV - "the Lamb at the center of the throne"

:17 shall feed them

This is so precious.

This is just what we were talking about last Sunday (John 21:12-25).

feed - poimaino - to be a shepherd; to tend a flock

We talked last Sunday about how the duties of a shepherd were to feed, to guide, to protect, and to heal the flock.

Here we see again, Jesus as our Good Shepherd.

(John 10:10-15 KJV) The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. {11} I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. {12} But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. {13} The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. {14} I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. {15} As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep.

:17 and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters

Again, the picture is drawn from:

Isa 49:10 They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them.

Heaven is a wonderful place!

:17 God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.

Heaven isn't going to be a place where you are going to have any regrets.

All the pain and all the grief will be gone.

I've heard preachers say that we will watch our loved ones stand in judgment before God and hear them say, "Why didnít you tell me the gospel?"

I think the motive is right to exhort us to share with our family.

But I don't think we're going to have this pain forever about people in hell.