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 Revelation Chapter 7 (Part 47) (Verses 9 - 17)

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PostSubject: Revelation Chapter 7 (Part 47) (Verses 9 - 17)   Sun Jun 11, 2017 8:05 am

Revelation Chapter 7 (Part 47) (Verses 9 - 17)

Revelation 9 says, “After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.” Let’s try to identify this “great multitude.” Let’s start by identifying who they are not. The great multitude is not the 144,000. The 144,000 are on Earth at this time. The great multitude is in Heaven at this time. The great multitude is not the Church. There are several distinctions between this great multitude and the Church. The Church is wearing white garments (or sometimes translated “raiments”). The great multitude is wearing white robes. The Church has crowns; not the great multitude. The Church has harps and violas. The great multitude has palm branches. The Church communicates doxology through a new song; the great multitude cries out in a loud voice when they praise God. So if the great multitude is not the 144,000, or the Church (which is represented by the 24 elders, which includes both Old Testament and New Testament saved people), then there is only one more option that we can classify the great multitude as. The great multitude represents the saved Gentiles who got converted by the 144,000 during the Tribulation period and whose lives were taken by the persecution and apocalyptic events of the Tribulation. Only the 144,000 Christian Jews were saved for safety throughout the Tribulation; not those they converted. There will be a lot of Christian martyrs within that short period of time.

Again, the great multitude is obviously not the 144,000. The 144,000 were exclusively identified as the 12 tribes of Israel, whereas verse 9 says that the great multitude is made up of people from every nation, tribe, people and language. Interesting here is that every nation will be represented in God’s saved family. This includes nations that we don’t consider today to be “Christian”. There are Christians in nearly every nation today. They may represent a striking minority compared to their respective race and culture, but there are Christians in nearly every nation. The great multitude will include Christians of China descent, saved people from Iraq, Iran, Egypt, Russia, etc. It is the calling of Christians to make disciples of all nations. God is not racist nor has He ever been. Only people are racist. Jesus died for all and the bible declares that God’s will is that everybody get saved (1 Timothy 2:4).

Real quickly, let’s consider the palm branches in the great multitude’s hands. Palm branches was initially tied to the Feast of Tabernacles. I’m going to cite a rather lengthy passage: Nehemiah 8:13-17 reads as follows: “On the second day of the month, the heads of all the families, along with the priests and the Levites, gathered around Ezra the scribe to give attention to the words of the Law. They found written in the Law, which the LORD had commanded through Moses, that the Israelites were to live in booths during the feast of the seventh month and that they should proclaim this word and spread it throughout into the hill country and bring back branches from olive and wild olive trees, and from myrtles, palms, and shade trees, to make booths—as it is written. So the people went out and brought back branches and built themselves booths on their own roofs, in their courtyards, in the courts of the house of God and in the square by the Water Gate and the one by the Gate of Ephraim. The whole company that had returned from exile built booths and lived in them. From the days of Joshua son of Nun until that day, the Israelites had not celebrated it like this. And their joy was very great.” They celebrated this feast for 7 days and had an assembly on the 8th. Ezra read from the book of the law each day. “Booths” are sometimes translated as “tents” or “shelters”. They represented God’s protection for His chosen nation. Israelites were nomads during the Exodus. They had no real home at the time and relied on the protection of God who promised to protect them if they remained obedient to Him. They lived in booths or tents during their excursions as the Lord directed them in which way to travel. Regarding the Feast of Tabernacles, Leviticus 23:42-43 says, “Live in booths for seven days: All native-born Israelites are to live in booths so your descendants will know that I had the Israelites live in booths when I brought them out of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.” This was to be a joyous feast. I like how Ezra read the law of Moses each day they celebrated. This occasion was also to be a time to give to the Lord (see Deut. 16:16-17).

Of course, when Christians think of palm branches, we first think of Jesus’ Triumphal Entry when He rode a donkey to Jerusalem, and the crowds greeted Him with palm branches, shouting “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord! Blessed is the King of Israel!” This is the same crowd who, 4 days later will be shouting “Crucify him!” For a brief moment, Jesus was accepted as King of Israel. It was short-lived because Jesus was not the type of king they were hoping for. But here in Revelation 7, the great multitude in Heaven will be truly praising Him with the palm branches and wholeheartedly accept Him as King. Note that since these people are in Heaven, that means that God provides these people with the palm branches from Heaven. The main connection that I can make between the palm branches in Revelation 7 and the rest of the bible is that “Hosanna”, the word the people shouted during Jesus’ Triumphal Entry means “save”, and Jesus rode in as King of Israel. Revelation 7:10 says, “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” Jesus is saving Israel, and now sits as their accepted King. Something strange that I am just now seeing as I am going through my notes and bible: Remember, Dan was omitted from the list of Tribes in Revelation 7, which we went over last time. This is likely completely coincidental, but is notable. Please look at Genesis 49, where Jacob proclaims different blessings for each of the Tribes of Israel. When we he gets to Dan, in verses 16-18, he says the following: “Dan will provide justice for his people as one of the tribes of Israel. Dan will be a serpent by the roadside, a viper along the path, that bites the horse’s heels so that its rider tumbles backward. I look for your deliverance, O LORD.” My bible commentators suggest that Jacob, the one giving the blessing, pauses in the middle of proclaiming blessings to say, “I look for your deliverance, O LORD.” But that is only the opinion of the commentators. It could be Dan’s tribe speaking here, as Jacob tells it. Interpreted this way, it will be the tribe of Dan who is seeking the LORD’s deliverance. It may be just coincidental that right after Dan is omitted in the list in Revelation 7, that the great multitude praises God for His deliverance, that is: salvation.

As noted, the great multitude is standing before the throne. In Jewish and Roman biblical culture, to be standing in a courtroom setting indicates high status or prominence. They are standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. Verse 10 says, “And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” And verse 11: “All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshipped God, saying: ‘Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever, Amen!’” These are attributes that we Christians should always be attributing to God and our Lord Jesus Christ. We ought to give Him praise, glory, thanks, and honor for all that He has done for us; and we should acknowledge His wisdom, power and strength. These things will be much more prominent and clear to us when we are before Him and see Him on His throne face to face. God is above all and has first place in everything and has reached down to an unworthy people to die on the cross for their sins to save them from a deserving punishment, as we have all fallen way short of His glory and standards. He is worthy of our praise all of the time.

In our series, we have distinguished the fact that the church sings their doxology to the Lord, while angels, who can’t sing, “say” or speak their doxology to the Lord. Sometimes, as in this passage, angels and the church are grouped together, so John, in this passage, chose to use the word “saying” as a general term to express that humans and angels are taking part in the same doxology. God demands and deserves the same praise from both humans and angels (and whatever other unknown intelligent species that may be out there in the universe of billions and billions of galaxies that He has kept hidden from us). He is the Creator of the universe and demands and deserves the same praise from all of His creation. And if it is true that there are other hidden intelligent life forms, and of course, I wouldn’t know (for sure, God didn’t reveal everything to us), but I can say that He may hide them from us and us from them via the vast distances that separate us, but God would not hide Himself from us or from them because God demands worship and praise from all of His creation.

The next two verses are quite comical. Verse 13 says, “Then one of the elders asked me, ‘These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?’” One of the church folks asked John, knowing the answer themselves, perhaps to quiz John, or to test his understanding on the situation, who the great multitude are. John says, ‘Sir, I’m not even going to answer that one.’ That’s paraphrased—he actually said, “Sir, you know.” The elder obliges the answer, saying, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” The great multitude are the same people we looked at in Revelation 6:9-11. I’ll requote it here as a reminder: “When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the Word of God and the testimony they had maintained. They called out in a loud voice, ‘How long, Sovereign Lord, holy and true, until you judge the inhabitants of the Earth and avenge our blood? Then each of them was given a white robe, and they were told to wait a little longer until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed.’” The great multitude also has white robes. The great multitude also cries out in a loud voice. Note that the last verse quoted here says that their numbers are still growing. Their numbers are growing because their numbers will include more Christians killed during the Great Tribulation.

In Part 42 of our series, in covering this passage in Revelation 6, I stated that these are people who were killed during the Day of Grace. I now believe that to be incorrect. Admittedly, I was going back and forth in that determination when I wrote it. I incorrectly stated it on the assumption that the 144,000 Christian Jews are introduced in chapter 7, but this is chapter 6, so there are no Christians on the Earth at this time who are able to convert anyone to Christianity, so how could these people in Chapter 6 be Christian? It is true that there are no Christians on the Earth before chapter 6 because recall that all Christians got Raptured off of the Earth in Chapter 3. But that does not mean that an atheist needs a Christian in person to convert to Christianity. Although all Christians got Raptured off the Earth, Christians left behind many artifacts. There still remains on Earth many Christian books, tapes, sermons, videos, brochures, writings, etc. The Rapture ought to pique the curiosity of many. Imagine being an atheist when the Rapture occurs. You look around and you notice that all of your Christian friends disappear, but you realize that it was only your Christian friends that disappeared, and no one else. That should pique one’s curiosity of Christianity to prompt one to go to the local library and check out some material that Christians have left behind. So in my final analysis, I conclude that these in chapter 6 that make up the 5th seal did not come from the Day of Grace, but rather, are early converts to Christianity. They got converted during the Tribulation, not personally by anyone, but by the books, tapes, and writings that Christians left behind when they got raptured away. All of their details are the same as the great multitude in chapter 7.

This is also a good place to review something else we covered earlier in this series. The Tribulation is not the time that one should wait to be converted to Christianity. That will be a very difficult thing to do. The Day of Grace is the easiest time to convert because the bible says that in the last day, God will send a great delusion so that those who rejected Him during the Day of Grace will not find Him in the Day of Wrath. We looked at 2 Thessalonians 2:9-12. That passage reads as follows: “The coming of the lawless one [that is, the Anti-Christ] will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs, and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason, God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness.” During the Tribulation, the word of the Anti-Christ will look like truth. Many will be deceived and will be unable to convert to Christianity. It appears that the ones who do convert will be only the “less hardened” or “naïve” people: those who did not have much information regarding Jesus during the Day of Grace.

Let’s finish out our passage in Revelation 7. Verse 15 says, “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 spread His tent over them.” That word “tent” should remind us of the palm branches that are in the hands of the great multitude. We saw in the Old Testament that the Israelites built tents with palm branches. “Tent” here is symbolic of protection. This great multitude, we concluded, are saved Gentiles from the Tribulation. But what they are doing was only possible of priests in the Old Testament. Only the priest, or Levites, had the privilege or right to serve God before His throne in the temple. Jesus Christ gives the Gentile the right of the priest to be able to serve God at His throne. Note that there will be no sleeping in Heaven. We will not have the need or urge to sleep. It says that they serve Him day and night in His temple (but cf. with 1 Chronicles 9:33).

Verse 16 says, “Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat.” This is a quote of Isaiah 49:10. It is good to know that we will never thirst nor hunger in Heaven. The new bodies God will give us will have the capacity to consume food while never going hungry if we don’t eat. The part about the sun may imply that at the time of the Tribulation, the ozone layer is compromised where the sun beats upon the Earth with scorching heat. And finally, verse 17 reads, “For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; He will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” Jesus sits at the center of the throne because He is God. Note the future tense of the last part of this verse. God has not yet wiped away their tears; He will do so after Revelation 21:4. Jesus often used the phrase “living water” as an analogy to Himself when He spoke of Himself to His disciples. I believe that living water is not only analogous to Jesus shedding His blood so that we will have life, but also refers to literal living water. Revelation 22:1 is describing the Kingdom City on the New Earth, and it says, “Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city.” So there will be a literal “water of life”, i.e. “living water”. This water of life is feeding the Tree of Life that will also be located in the Kingdom City, the New Jerusalem. And recall, in the Old Testament, God led His people, via Moses to living water. In fact, let’s close with that today.

The story is found in Exodus 17, verses 1-7. The people of Israel, who had been recently set free from bondage from Egypt, were complaining of thirst as they wandered in the Desert of Sin (pun may be intended by the Holy Spirit). Moses was told by God to take some elders and go to a rock at Horeb and strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink. Very often, whatever God tells Moses to do that does not make sense at the time, is really some type of symbol or analogy to Jesus Christ to be understood much later. The “rock” represents Jesus, and at Jesus’ crucifixion, those who crucified Him struck Him in His side in the heart, and water poured out. Anatomically, there is a water sac within our heart, and the guards who struck Him hit that section, proving that Jesus died on the cross. Some non-Christians try to argue that the Jesus never died on the cross, and thus no resurrection ever occurred—that Jesus somehow, blacked out and later appeared to His disciples (of course, this is false). Puncturing the water sac of the heart is guaranteed death. Well, that’s a nice story in Exodus. But we get a parallel scenario in Numbers 20:1-13.

The people again get thirsty in the desert, but this time in the Desert of Zin. Hmm…just a slight change from the last desert name. Again they complain to Moses, and also to Aaron. Moses and Aaron inquire of the Lord as to what to do, and the LORD speaks in verse 8 and says, “Take the staff, you and your brother Aaron gather the assembly together. Speak to that rock before their eyes and it will pour out its water. You will bring water out of the rock for the community so they and their livestock can drink.” That’s interesting. The first time, God told Moses to strike the rock with his staff. This time, God says to bring the staff, but don’t strike it, don’t even use it; just speak to the rock and it will pour out water. Verse 9 says, “So Moses took the staff from the LORD’s presence, just as He commanded him.” So far, so good… Verse 10: “He and Aaron gathered the assembly together in front of the rock and Moses said to them, ‘Listen, you rebels, must we bring you water out of this rock?’” Moses sounds like he is mad at the people. The rebellious people complained too much for Moses. Moses is wishing that these people would just learn to trust God more, especially after witnessing what God did for them in the past. Moses gets so angry that either he forgets what God commanded him, or he simply didn’t care anymore. Verse 11 says, “Then Moses raised his arm and struck the rock twice with his staff. Water gushed out, and the community and their livestock drank.” So all is well, right? Nope, not at all. All may seem well to the people who drank. But Moses disobeyed the Lord.

Verse 12 says, “But the LORD said to Moses and Aaron (seems unfair for Aaron—It was Moses who did it), ‘Because you did not trust me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them.’” So apparently, the people heard God’s command to Moses to only speak to the rock, but the people witnessed Moses disobey and strike the rock twice. This verse says that Moses did not honor God as holy in the sight of the Israelites. If they did not hear the command, they wouldn’t be any wiser of God not being honored. This event is what kept Moses (and Aaron) from entering the promised land. Moses was a good boy up to now; he obeyed nearly everything that God commanded him since he went to Pharaoh to tell him to let God’s people go. Why was God so angry with Moses over this that He prevents Moses from entering the promised land based on not following this one directive? Remember, nearly everything that God tells Moses that does not make sense at the time, is something symbolic of Jesus Christ to be understood at a later time. By not speaking to the rock, Moses messed up the analogy to Jesus that God was trying to make. Had Moses obeyed and struck the rock, the analogy would be this: The first time, Moses was commanded to strike the Rock, it represented the Roman soldiers striking Jesus on the cross. But Jesus did not stay on the cross. The second time Moses should have just spoken to the Rock, using God’s Word that He gave to Moses, and the Rock would have poured out water. Christians today should speak God’s word in prayer to the Rock, Jesus Christ (who is the Word) whenever we get thirsty and the Rock, Jesus Christ, will satisfy our thirst for Him and take care of our needs.

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Revelation Chapter 7 (Part 47) (Verses 9 - 17)
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