9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands,
10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God,
12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
Revelation 7:9-12 is such a rich passage and there is much to highlight. May I begin with a personal story that I think of every time I read these verses?
In 2006 I made my first pilgrimage to Israel. It was truly the trip of a lifetime, and one I highly recommend to every Christian.
On our last day we visited Golgotha and the Garden Tomb. We sat and looked at the hill where Jesus was crucified, attempting to place three crosses there in our mind’s eye. From Golgotha we walked a few steps, bent low, and entered the Tomb where Jesus was laid after He was crucified. IT WAS EMPTY!
We left the tomb and moved into the beautiful Garden to a secluded spot where we observed Communion, or the Lord’s Supper. We drank juice out of miniature olive wood chalices and placed matzo bread on our tongues, while reliving the sacrifice that Jesus made for us…for me.
Suddenly, from another place in the Garden a song began to be sung. It was a familiar song, yet it was sung in a language not our own. I had just swallowed the bread, the symbol of the body of my Lord, and held the cup in my hand that symbolized His blood that was shed for me. The emotion of the moment was palpable. When the song began, I, and many who were in my group, could hold back the tears no longer.
God sent his son
They called him Jesus
He came to love
Heal and forgive
He lived and died
To buy my pardon
An empty grave
Is there to prove
My Savior lives
Because he lives
I can face tomorrow
Because he lives
All fear is gone
Because I know
He holds the future
And life is worth the living
Just because he lives
The beautiful Gaither song, sung in another language, yet understood by my heart, immediately brought thoughts of the scene that we will witness one day in heaven when every nation, tribe and tongue stands round the throne singing praise and adoration to the Lamb.
A logical question to ask is whether the 144,000 earth-dwelling Jewish witnesses in verses 1-8 and these multitudes before the throne in heaven are connected in any way. It seems reasonable to assume that the two groups are related, otherwise there would be no reason to link the two groups in this chapter.
I am quite taken with the thoughts of John MacArthur on this issue. May I offer them here?
“God’s saving work during that future time will be twofold. First, it will the time of Israel’s national salvation, which Zechariah in the Old Testament (Zechariah 12:10) and Paul in the New Testament (Romans 11:25-27) predicted. The firstfruits of Israel’s salvation will be the 144,000 Jewish evangelists (7:1-8), who will preach the gospel both to their countrymen and to the Gentiles.
“It is the salvation of those Gentiles that is in view in 7:9-17 ~~ a salvation promised in Scripture. The Abrahamic Covenant, in which God promised to bless Israel, also promised salvation to the Gentiles:
Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go forth from your country, and from your relatives, and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you; and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Genesis 12:1-3)
“In the future, God will graciously grant Israel a second opportunity to be His witness nation, and at that time they will not fail. Led by the 144,000 evangelists, Israel will be a light to the nations during the darkest hour of earth’s history. God’s promise to bless the nations of the world through Abraham’s descendants will be fulfilled on a massive scale.” (The MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Revelation 1-11)
The beauty of the seventh chapter of The Revelation is unmatched in Scripture. Because His own people, the Jews, rejected Jesus, Gentiles had the opportunity for salvation. In the final days of earth’s tenure, His own will accept Him and be the catalyst for a worldwide revival. Oh, the mercy and grace of Christ!
I’m eager to hear your thoughts on this passage. Let’s engage in the comments.