Revelation 7:9-17

Sunday Morning Bible Study

December 11, 2011


Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision

Reminder about Christmas Service schedule.

The apostle John found himself caught up into heaven where he found himself before the throne of God.

He saw Jesus take a scroll from the hand of God that had been sealed with seven seals.  As Jesus broke each seal and unrolled the scroll a little further, events begin to take place on the earth and the time that we call the Tribulation begins to unfold.

The Tribulation is a time when God’s wrath is poured out on an unbelieving world and God begins to make right all the things that have been so wrong.

We have seen Jesus break six of the seven seals, and now a few things will happen before the seventh seal is opened.  Last week we saw the special group of 144,000 Jewish Evangelists receive their calling and protection during the time of the Tribulation.

7:9-17 The Great Multitude

:9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands,

:10 and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”

:9 after these thingsmeta tauta

I think that John uses this phrase to show a connection between one event and the next.  It shows a sequence of events.

We saw this phrase used in Rev. 4:1, when John was caught up into heaven, and we talked about John being a picture of the Rapture, which takes place after  the events of the church age (Rev. 2-3).

Here we see a connection between the sealing of the 144,000 Jewish evangelists on the earth, and this event where a multitude shows up in heaven.

:9 could numberarithmeo – to number

The number is so big that you couldn’t “do the arithmetic” (literally).

:9 a great multitude

While the 144,000 were specifically identified as only belonging to the tribes of Israel, this group is from the whole world, including Israel.

People from every nation, people group, and language are represented.

They are made of:

nationsethnos – nation, people group

tribesphule – a tribe

peopleslaos – a people, people group, tribe, nation, all those who are of the same stock and language

tonguesglossa – the language or dialect used by a particular people distinct from that of other nations

However you want to categorize people, each group is represented here.

We mentioned last week that Jesus said,

(Mt 24:14 NKJV) And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.
We believe this may be a reference to the mission of the 144,000, and now we are seeing the fruit of their outreach.

:9 standing before the throne and before the Lamb

This group is in heaven standing before the throne of God the Father and also standing before Jesus, the Lamb of God, the Messiah.

:9 white robes

We’ve talked about how the white robes apparently symbolize our good works, and that once we are in heaven we are “clothed” with them (Rev. 19:8).

(Re 19:8 NKJV) —8 And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.

The last time we saw the white robes, it was at the opening of the fifth seal and we saw the souls of those who had been slain because of their testimony about Jesus.

(Re 6:11 NKJV) Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed.
They were told to “rest” until more had died for the faith and their number was completed.
It seems that time has come.  Perhaps their number is completed.

:10 crying outkrazo – to croak; of the cry of a raven; hence, to cry out, cry aloud, vociferate; cry out aloud, speak with a loud voice

:10 Salvationsoteria – deliverance, preservation, safety, salvation

:9 palm branches

I find it interesting to note that there is vegetation in heaven.

Why the palm branches?

The only other place in the New Testament that we see palm branches is when Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. (John 12:12-13)
(Jn 12:12–13 NKJV) —12 The next day a great multitude that had come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, 13 took branches of palm trees and went out to meet Him, and cried out: “Hosanna! ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’ The King of Israel!”
Palm branches are one of the ancient symbols of Israel. (Hasmonean coins)
Palm trees were incorporated into the design of Solomon’s Temple (1Ki. 6:29) and Ezekiel’s Temple (Eze. 41:18)

(1 Ki 6:29 NKJV) —29 Then he carved all the walls of the temple all around, both the inner and outer sanctuaries, with carved figures of cherubim, palm trees, and open flowers.

(Eze 41:18 NKJV) —18 And it was made with cherubim and palm trees, a palm tree between cherub and cherub. Each cherub had two faces,

They were used in the making of “booths” for the Feast of Tabernacles (Lev. 23:40)
When The Greek ruler Antiochus Epiphanes was overthrown by the Jewish revolt led by Judas Maccabeus, the Jews celebrated the rededication the Temple by carrying palm branches into it (1Macc. 13:51)
The  Jewish Hasmonean rulers put palm trees on their coins.  When the Romans finished wiping out the Jewish nation in AD 70, they minted coins with palm branches and the words “Judea has been captured” (Ioudaias Ealokuias)
The Palm Tree was also a symbol of victory
The Jews had a saying: “If a man takes palm tree branches in his hands, we know that he is victorious.”


Victory in death

PlayBasketball” video clip
There are people in life who would say this young man made his team “lose” because he chose to be honest.  They may have experienced a “death”, but the truth is, there was a great victory here.
This multitude before the throne are dead.
Like the early Christians, they died for their faith.
For most people living on the earth at that time, they will see this as a great defeat for “those Christians”.
But in heaven, there’s a different perspective.

They aren’t defeated, they’ve just finished their race and won.

They haven’t lost, they’ve gained heaven.

Paul wrote,
(1 Co 15:54–55 NKJV) —54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.” 55 “O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?” 56 The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

Death has no victory because when we die, we go to heaven.

How do you measure success?
Some people measure success by how far they go in their job.
Other people measure success by how famous they become.
God’s idea of success is to get you to heaven.

And for these people, they have arrived.  In heaven.

Note how they include the “Lamb” in this.
Jesus is the one who died on a cross to pay for our sins, so we wouldn’t have to pay for our own sins.
He is the One who has purchased heaven for us.

:11 All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God,

:11 fell on their faces

This is the “position” they take during worship.

:11 worshipedproskuneo – to kiss the hand to (towards) one, in token of reverence; among the Orientals, esp. the Persians, to fall upon the knees and touch the ground with the forehead as an expression of profound reverence

:12 saying: “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom, Thanksgiving and honor and power and might, Be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”

:12 Blessingeulogia – praise, laudation

:12 glorydoxa – opinion; in the NT always a good opinion concerning one, resulting in praise, honor, and glory

:12 wisdomsophia – wisdom, broad and full of intelligence; used of the knowledge of very diverse matters

:12 Thanksgivingeucharistia – thankfulness; the giving of thanks

:12 honortime – a valuing by which the price is fixed; honor which belongs or is shown to one

:12 powerdunamis – strength, power, ability

:12 mightischus – ability, force, strength, might

:12 Blessing and glory and wisdom …

This list of things are both things spoken to God (blessing, thanksgiving) as well as things ascribed to God (glory, wisdom, honor, power, might)

:12 Amen … Amen

The word means “truly” or “for sure”.  Their worship starts with Amen and ends with Amen.

:11 and worshiped God


The Choice

Ray Comfort has an excellent new video out called “180” (free to watch on YouTube) where he talks to people on the street about various issues, and eventually dealing with the issue of abortion.  He starts off asking them about Adolf Hitler and whether they know who he was.  Then he describes a time where thousands of Jews were shot and buried in mass graves, even though some were still alive when they were buried in the pits.
Play180 Ethical Dilemna” clip.
You can see these young men and women wrestle with this ethical dilemma.  Would you drive that bulldozer and bury people alive?  Or would you be willing to die for what is right?
The believers in the Tribulation will be faced with a similar question – will you deny Jesus Christ in order to keep your life?  Would you be willing to keep openly trusting in Jesus Christ, even if it means that you die?
Polycarp (69-155), was one of the disciples of the apostle John.  He was put on trial because of his faith in Christ.  When the Roman governor told him to deny his faith, Polycarp answered, “For 86 years I have served Him, and He has never wronged me.  How can I blaspheme my King, who has saved me?”
Why is all of heaven worshipping God at this point?
Because all these newly arrived believers have passed their test.

They chose Jesus over living, and now they are safe in heaven.

All heaven responds not in applause for these martyrs, but for the God who has safely brought them home.
For us, the “choice” isn’t yet about whether we’re ready to die for Jesus, the issue for us is, will we live for Jesus?
Are we willing to do whatever it takes to live for Him, even if it means we lose our lives, we lose our job, we lose our reputation?

The real goal of life isn’t building your reputation, it’s arriving in heaven.

:13 Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?”

:13 one of the elders

One of the twenty-four elders wants to know if John recognizes these people.


There may be a pop quiz when we get to heaven!!!

I want you to be prepared, so I’ve put together a quiz to get you ready:

From which animal do we get catgut, used in violin and cello strings?
Usually sheep or goats, occasionally from cattle, hogs, horsesmules, or donkeys.
What is a camel's hair brush made of?
The hair of an ox, sometimes the hair of a squirrel, pony, goat, mongoose, or a badger.
The Canary Islands in the Pacific are named after what animal?
The Latin name was Insularia Canaria - Island of the Dogs.

Of course if you don’t know the answer, you can always respond like John does…

:14 And I said to him, “Sir, you know.” So he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

:14 Sirkurios – he to whom a person or thing belongs, about which he has power of deciding; master, lord; is a title of honor expressive of respect and reverence, with which servants greet their master

:14 washedpluno – to wash: with reference to clothing

:14 who come out of the great tribulation

These people from every nation have died for their faith.  They have come out of this coming seven year period we call the “Tribulation” which started back in Rev. 6.

Some of you might say, “I thought you said that it would be hard for a person to be become a believer during the Tribulation.  How could there be a great multitude of people here who have believed during the Tribulation?

You’d say this because I told you about 2Thessalonians:
(2 Th 2:9–12 NKJV) —9 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11 And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, 12 that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

The ones who will have a hard time believing, and who will be deceived by the antichrist are those who “did not receive the love of the truth”.

In other words, Paul is describing people who have heard the truth and rejected.

If you are a person who has heard the truth about Jesus Christ NOW, and reject Jesus Christ, then you are a person who is likely to be deceived in the Tribulation.

I think there’s a possibility that there will be a lot of people in the Tribulation who have never heard of Jesus Christ.  They’ve never had the chance to reject the truth because they have yet to hear the truth.

When the events of the Tribulation begin to take place, and the 144,000 start preaching the gospel, a great number will come to Christ and be martyred.

:14 washed their robes

When we get to heaven, we will be clothed with the deeds we’ve done in this life.

(Re 19:8 NKJV) And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints.

But without Jesus, we have a problem.  The best clothing we can come up with are just “filthy rags”.

(Is 64:6 NKJV) But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags…

Jesus described heaven as a wedding feast, where guests are invited, and it is important to wear the proper attire:

(Mt 22:11–12 NKJV) —11 “But when the king came in to see the guests, he saw a man there who did not have on a wedding garment. 12 So he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you come in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless.
The party crasher was thrown out because he wasn’t dressed properly.

The important lesson for us is to be sure to get our “clothes” cleaned with God’s washing machine.

We come to Jesus and admit our sins.  We ask Jesus to forgive us.  And our “clothes” become “washed” with the blood of the Lamb.

Isaiah wrote,

(Is 1:18 NKJV) “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet, They shall be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They shall be as wool.


Are you ready?

On a long trip, it’s important to pack the right clothes for your destination.
In the summer of 2010, our trip to Russia was incredibly hot.  We landed in 100 degree weather.  Shorts and light t-shirts were the clothes for the day.
Play “Russian Snow” clip

When I visited back in March, it was quite different.

You have to pack for your destination.

Have you packed the right clothes for heaven?
Are you trusting in your own good deeds to make it into heaven?  Those are some pretty stinky clothes to be packing.
Or have you allowed Jesus to forgive you and wash you?

:15 Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them.

:15 servelatreuo – to render religious service or homage, to worship

This isn’t the word that describes lowly, menial, slave-like work (douleo), but “serve” in the sense that the priests served God in the Temple by offering sacrifices, incense, praying, praising, etc.

These people won’t be serving in the Temple in Jerusalem, they will be serving in the Temple in heaven.

It’s interesting that they are not Jewish, nor from the Tribe of Levi, or the family of Aaron, but just regular Gentiles like most of us.

:15 templenaos – used of the temple at Jerusalem, but only of the sacred edifice (or sanctuary) itself, consisting of the Holy place and the Holy of Holies

:15 will dwellskenoo – to fix one’s tabernacle, have one’s tabernacle, abide (or live) in a tabernacle (or tent), tabernacle

The Feast of Tabernacles was a special holiday to remember when God “dwelt” with His people in the wilderness.  God “dwelt” in the “Tabernacle”, the tent-like portable worship center.

Christmas is a holiday when we celebrate the birth of Jesus, when He “pitched His tent” by taking on human flesh and lived among us.  John wrote,

(Jn 1:14 NKJV) And the Word became 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.

In heaven, God will once again literally “dwell” among us.

We know that He is with us by faith, but in heaven we will see Him face to face.

:16 They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat;

:16 hungerpeinao – to hunger; to suffer want

:16 thirstdipsao – to suffer thirst

:15 heatkauma – heat

:16 hunger … thirst … sun

Some have suggested that these are some of the things that these martyrs will have endured on the earth.

We know that during the Tribulation, the antichrist will require that everyone worship him and receive a “mark” showing that they worship him…

(Re 13:17 NKJV) and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
If you are a believer in the Tribulation, you will have trouble buying food at the grocery store.  You might have trouble buying or renting a house or apartment.  That means hunger, thirst, and a bit of sun.

:17 for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

:17 will shepherdpoimaino – to feed, to tend a flock, keep sheep; to rule, govern

:17 leadhodegeo (“the way” + “to lead”) – to be a guide, lead on one’s way, to guide; to be a guide or a teacher

(Jn 16:13 NKJV) —13 However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come.

:17 the Lamb … will shepherd

An interesting picture.  We usually think of a shepherd shepherding a lamb.

We will be shepherded by the Lamb, Jesus.

It makes me think of what David wrote:

(Ps 23:1–6 NKJV) —1 The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. 2 He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. 3 He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. 4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me. 5 You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over. 6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me All the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord Forever.

:17 will wipe awayexaleipho – to anoint or wash in every part; to wipe off, wipe away

:17 will wipe away every tear


I get it

One of the hardest things to deal with in life is the question “Why”.
We will all go through hardship of one form or another.

Inevitably we ask ourselves, “why”.

When God wipes away our tears, I don’t think it means that He will remove the memory of those hard times.
The Bible says that in heaven, we will have full knowledge.

(1 Co 13:12 NKJV) For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.

(1 Jn 3:2 NKJV) —2 Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.

In heaven you will retain your identity. 

You will be “you”.  You don’t become absorbed into the great cosmic “borg” and become a faceless drone that serves the “hive”.

When Moses and Elijah appeared on the Mount of Transfiguration with Jesus, they were still Moses and Elijah.  They were recognizable.  They were themselves.

I think that this means that you will retain the memories of your life and how you lived.

So if we still remember everything, what does it mean for God to “wipe away every tear”?
I think it means that He will answer the “why”.
We’ll “get it”.  We’ll understand why things happened the way they did.

We too will be able to proclaim with all heaven that God is “all powerful”, that He is “wise”, that God is “good”, that God is “just”, and that He “loves” us.

Can I tell you the “why” on this side of heaven?  Probably not.

For now we live by “faith”, we learn to trust in the unseen.

When we get to heaven, we will “get it”.  We will no longer need to live by “faith”, because we will understand.