Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Multitude in White Robes

Revelation 7:9-17

The Great Multitude in White Robes

9 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.

10 And they cried out in a loud voice:

“Salvation belongs to our God,

Who sits on the Throne,

and to the Lamb.”

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 worshiped God,

12 saying:


Praise and Glory

and Wisdom and Thanks and Honor

and Power and Strength

be to our God for ever and ever.


13 Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?”

14 I answered, “Sir, you know.”

And he said, 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.”

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 spread His tent over them.

16 Never again will they hunger;

never again will they thirst.

The sun will not beat upon them,

nor any scorching heat.

17 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.”

Verses 13-14

First, the elder is answering the second question asked in verse 13b, “from where have they come?”

In English, a “where” question usually anticipates a specific location. However, a specific place is not given but a specific time is indicated. The great tribulation has one parallel in Scripture - Matthew 24:21.

In that specific passage, the definite article the, (he) is not used. As one of the original recipients of the Olivet Discourse (Mark 13:3), John, the apostle, heard Jesus use this very specific term. Therefore, his use reflects previous knowledge.

The great tribulation is not a place, but a specific time. This is reflected in the translation of NASB, which states, “For those days will be a time of tribulation… (Mark 13:19).”  This is in harmony with Daniel 12:1, which also calls this period “a time of distress.” This universally innumerable multitude will arrive in heaven during the period of the great tribulation.

‘Out of  ἐκ(ek) suggests that this universally innumerable multitude come out of the midst of the great tribulation. The phrase, the ones who come translates a Greek substantival participle ( Οὗτοι εἰσιν οἱ ἐρχόμενοι ἐκ τῆς θλίψεως τῆς μεγάλης )

In the context, the universally innumerable multitude is composed of “the ones who come.” The participle in and of itself does not speak to issue of the timing of their arrival. However, this group is not in the process of coming one by one, but they come as a group. This is supported by the following statement.

“They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb”answers the second question posted in verse 13b above. The fact that the Lord states that “overcomers shall be clothed in white garments (Revelation 3:5),” and that the Laodiceans should purchase “white garments, that the shame [of their] nakedness may not be revealed…(Rev 3:18),”  limits the interpretation of Revelation 7:14b.

The fact that every member of the universally innumerable multitude has “washed and made white” his robes removes any possibility that martyrdom is the action described here. While some members of the universally innumerable multitude did die the death of a martyr, this cannot be said for the entire group. Yet, every single member “washed and made white” his or her robe.

Dear readers,

Do you want to be a part of the great multitude in white robes? I do want to. Then we all need to wash our robes and make them white in the blood of the Lamb. Did you say you washed your robe already?  Still we will need to wash every day to keep them white and pure.

So be it!

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