The Book of  REVELATION
James J. Barker


Lesson 14
PEOPLE SAVED DURING THE TRIBULATION — PART 2

Text: REVELATION 7:9-17


INTRODUCTION


  1. Two major groups of tribulation saints are mentioned here in chapter 7: the 144,000 from the twelve tribes of Israel (7:4), and "a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues" (7:9).
  2. In contrast to Revelation chapter 6 which gives the chronological sequence of the major events of the great tribulation, chapter 7 does not advance the narrative but gives us information regarding these two major groups of saints in the tribulation.
  3. The opening portion of the chapter pictures 144,000 saved Israelites who will minister on earth during the great tribulation. The latter part of the chapter describes this great multitude of martyred dead in heaven.
  4. We already spent much time describing the 144,000; tonight, we will focus on the "great multitude" (7:9).  These are described as believers who died as a testimony to their faith from every kindred, tongue, and nation, and they are pictured before the throne of God in heaven (7:9).

 

I. THE GREAT MULTITUDE (7:9-10)

  1. A distinction is made between the 144,000 and the "great multitude, which no man could number" (7:9).
  2. This second half of Revelation chapter 7 teaches that not only will many Jews be saved during the tribulation, but also many Gentiles.
  3. In his vision John sees "a great multitude, which no man could number" coming from "all nations, kindreds, people, and tongues" standing before the throne, clothed with white robes, with palms in their hands, ascribing salvation to God and to the Lamb.
  4. In contrast to those coming from the twelve tribes of Israel, pictured earlier in the chapter, this throng comes from all nations. Their white martyr's robes were mentioned back in Revelation 6:11.
  5. The palms in their hands indicate their triumph (7:9).
  6. This great multitude is heard by John in a great symphony of praise as they ascribe salvation to God. The fact that they are martyrs is stated later in Revelation 7:13, 14.
  7. Revelation 13:15 says those who will not worship the image of the beast will be killed.
  8. Revelation 20:4 says these martyrs will be "beheaded for the witness of Jesus, and for the word of God, and which had not worshipped the beast, neither his image, neither had received his mark upon their foreheads, or in their hands."
  9. I believe that in the coming tribulation it will be very difficult to publicly declare one’s faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Today there is a growing hostility towards Christians, even here in America.
  10. I read an interesting article recently. It was written by a woman named Jen Floyd Engel. She asks, "Why do people hate Tim Tebow?"
  11. It is obvious many people hate him because he is a committed Christian.   Our Lord said in John 15:18, "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you."
  12. I will not read the entire article, but will quote part of it.
  13. "A good many NFL players and fans seem to be rooting for this guy (Tim Tebow) to be a massive failure.  I could not figure out what was causing this onslaught of venom for a guy almost everybody claims to like, and I finally decided it is more about us. He makes us uncomfortable. He is a reminder that the blue-red, liberal-conservative fight over taking God out of everyday life is intellectually dishonest. He is too good.  Tebow is proof that God goes comfortably into whatever arena of your life you wish to take Him. I used to work with a great guy, Simon Gonzalez, a very devout Christian, and he prayed before every meal. Others would be killing free press meals and he would stop, bow his head and silently say thanks. He was not making a spectacle of his beliefs. He believed that God deserved thanks for what was before him, and not just when convenient for Simon. And people would squirm -- not because what he was doing was wrong but because it was right. It is the same for Tebow."

 

II. THE WORSHIP OF THE HEAVENLY HOST (7:11-17)

  1. Joining the multitude of the saints, the angels and all those in heaven are described as falling down before the throne to worship God in a sevenfold ascription of praise similar to that we saw in Revelation chapter 5:12 (7:12).
  2. One of the four and twenty elders asks, “What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?” (7:13).
  3. This makes it clear that the four and twenty elders are representative of a group different from those who are here pictured as the great multitude in white robes.
  4. As we saw in our study of Revelation 4, the four and twenty elders represent the New Testament church.  The great multitude here in Revelation 7 represents those tribulation saints who will be martyred for not submitting to the antichrist.
  5. In answer to the question from the elder, John confesses that he does not know; whereupon John is told, “These are they which came out of great tribulation.”
  6. In the Greek, it means literally, “These are those who came out of the tribulation, the great one.” It is clearly a reference to the seven year tribulation period of which our Lord spoke of in His Olivet Discourse.
  7. Our Lord said in Matthew 24:21, "For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be."
  8. The scene here in Revelation 7:9-17 is in heaven, during the time of the tribulation. The martyrs are before the throne and before the Lamb. The picture is similar in many ways to Revelation chapters 4 and 5.
  9. The “great multitude” represents a large portion of those mentioned in Revelation 6:9-11 who are given white robes as faithful witnesses to the Word of God and to the testimony of the Lamb.
  10. During the tribulation, countless people of all nations will come to know Christ.  Many will be saved despite severe persecution and even martyrdom.
  11. In his book, We Can Have Revival Now, John R. Rice refers to the great revival that will take place during the tribulation, and that is recorded in Revelation 7.
  12. "In this blessed revival to come and spread over the whole earth during the reign of the Antichrist, during the tribulation period itself, when true preachers and Christians will have been carried away in the rapture, to Heaven, and the churches will have been taken over by unbelievers, and when it may mean death to turn to Christ -- then uncounted multitudes that no man can number from every nation and kindred and tongue and tribe will turn to God. What a revival! Nothing less than millions could be meant by these terms, 'a . . . multitude, which no man could number.' Past counting will be the converts in the marvelous revival yet to come in the Great Tribulation.  The Great Tribulation revival, so clearly prophesied in Revelation 7:9-14, proves that the day of great revivals is not passed, shows that the greatest revivals are yet to come."

 

III. WASHED THEIR ROBES IN THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB

  1. Revelation 7:14 says the martyrs have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Normally one cannot make anything white with blood.
  2. But according to the Bible, the only way sins can be washed away is through the precious blood of Christ.

              What can wash away my sin?
              Nothing but the blood of Jesus;
              What can make me whole again?
              Nothing but the blood of Jesus.

     

              Oh! precious is the flow
              That makes me white as snow;
              No other fount I know,
              Nothing but the blood of Jesus
    . -- Robert Lowry

  3. Leviticus 17:14 says, "The life of all flesh is the blood thereof.”
  4. Hebrews 9:22 says, "without shedding of blood is no remission.”
  5. Acts 20:28 says the church has been purchased with the blood of Christ.
  6. Romans 5:9 says we are “justified by his blood.”
  7. The martyred saints are described as being before the throne of God -- a place of prominence and honor.  "Therefore" (7:15) indicates they are honored because they were faithful even unto death.
  8. Their special privilege includes serving the Lord day and night in His temple (7:15).
  9. This reminds us that heaven is not only a place of rest from earthly toil but also a place of privileged service.
  10. Those who have served well on earth will have a ministry in heaven. Their service is said to occur in the temple of God, a reference to the temple in heaven (cf. 11:19; 14:15, 17; 15:5-8; 16:1, 17).
  11. Revelation 7:16 says that they will be delivered from the afflictions of life such as hunger, thirst, and the heat of the sun. This may refer to some of their sufferings which they endured in the tribulation.
  12. According to Revelation 13:17, those who refuse the mark of the beast will not be able to buy or sell.  Many believers will probably go hungry during the tribulation rather than submitting to the worship of the antichrist.
  13. Their trials and troubles now behind them, Revelation 7:17 pictures them being led by the Lamb to "living fountains of waters."
  14. The concluding statement in Revelation chapter 7 is that “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes" (cf. 21:4).
  15. Our Lord will tenderly comfort them, and their tears shall be wiped away. The grief and tears of the past, which speak of their trials in the tribulation, will finally be over when they get to heaven.
  16. Once they arrive up in glory, these tribulation saints will be occupied with the beauty and wonder of heaven, and the worship of their Lord and Saviour.
  17. Revelation 7 teaches that God is going to judge Israel during the coming tribulation.  Jeremiah 30:7 refers to the tribulation as "the time of Jacob's trouble."
  18. Furthermore, 12,000 Jews from each tribe, totaling 144,000, will be protected and sealed from the judgments which will fall upon Israel in particular and the world in general.
  19. In addition to the great number of Jews saved during the tribulation, a great multitude of Gentiles will also be saved, but many of these will be martyred. Revelation 7 pictures "a great multitude," representing every tongue and nation, of these martyrs in heaven worshipping God.
  20. It is an indication that even in the dark days of the tribulation, many souls will receive Christ as their Lord and Saviour and be saved by His grace.

 

CONCLUSION:

  1. The book of Revelation has much to say about heaven. The word "heaven" is found 56 times in the book of Revelation.
  2. And the book of Revelation has much to say about the wonders of heaven.  We're told there's a throne set in heaven, and there's "a rainbow round about the throne, in sight like unto an emerald" (Rev. 4:3).
  3. And there are innumerable angels in heaven, and together with the four and twenty elders, they worship God day and night, saying, "Holy, holy, holy, LORD God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come" (4:8).
  4. But the most wonderful thing about heaven is we will spend eternity with God.
  5. I was reading a sermon by W. A. Criswell, and in this sermon he quotes the famous 19th preacher from Brooklyn, Dr. T. DeWitt Talmage:

    "I do not want to go to the skeptic’s, the rationalist’s, the materialist’s heaven. 
    I would not exchange the poorest room in your house for the finest heaven that Tom Paine,
    John Mill, Huxley, Darwin, or Ingersoll ever dreamed of—those great infidels—their heaven has no Christ in it."

  6. Thank God, our heaven has Christ in it.
  7. Jesus said, "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also" (John 14:1-3).
  8. The emphasis is: "Where I am, there ye may be also" (John 14:3).
  9. Revelation 7:16, 17.

Since Christ my soul from sin set free,
This world has been a Heav’n to me;
And ’mid earth’s sorrows and its woe,
’Tis Heav’n my Jesus here to know.

 

O hallelujah, yes, ’tis Heav’n,
’Tis Heav’n to know my sins forgiv’n,
On land or sea, what matters where?
Where Jesus is, ’tis Heaven there.

Once Heaven seemed a far off place,

What matters where on earth we dwell?
On mountain top, or in the dell,
In cottage, or a mansion fair,
Where Jesus is, ’tis Heaven there.
  (Charles J. Butler)



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