Commentary on
6.1 Heaven Rejoices over the reclaimed righteous.

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Heaven Rejoices in Progress

Heaven Rejoices in Progress

A Great Multitude: Revelation 7:9-17

Point 1

John's attention now seems to be directed to heaven and he sees a great multitude so large that he can't number them.

Who are these people? "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." "They serve Him day and night in His temple."

This language sounds much like the description of the 144,000 as described in Revelation 14:1-5. Also, remember,The earlier part of Revelation centered on the 144,000 as well. Would it make any sense to suddenly jump to another group other than the 144,000. John is talking about the righteous who were sealed on their foreheads. If the great multitude is not the 144,000 then who are they?

Some say that since the great multitude is so large that no one can count it, shows that the group can't be the 144,000 since a 144,000 is a number that can be counted. An additional reason is in the identification of the group. The 144,000 comes from the 12 tribes of Israel; However, the great multitude of composed of people from all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues.

What could this great multitude be? Some suggest that it is composed of all who are saved upon the earth, from all times. Even of those who are long dead. Others think that a second group other than the 144,000 will go through the time of trouble, however they are not part of the first fruits group that is identified as the 144,000.

There are some reasons not to go along with the notion that the great multitude is some other group than the 144,000.

1) Looking at John's prophecy so far, we see that John has introduced each new topic in a logical sequence. John first sees the opening scenes in heaven that allows Jesus to start opening the seals of the scroll. Then we see what happens when the seals are actually opened. Then in the seventh chapter we see that the seals can't be opened until the 144,000 are sealed.

John now starts describing the 144,000. Why would John now start speaking of another group without saying what the group is or how it relates to the sealing or to the seals?

Contextually John is still talking about the 144,000. The 144,000 could be the great multitude.

2) The arguments against the great multitude are not conclusive. When John says the groups is too large to number, he could just be using a figure of speech. Any group composed of humans can be numbered since the number of humans throughout history is a finite number. Even if we include the wicked.

John could we seeing 144,000 and find the group too large to number. In other words, he could not then easily determine the number of people in front of him.

3) The other argument says: look the 144,000 are from the 12 tribes of Israel, but the great multitude is from all peoples of the world. How could they be the same group?

We need to remember that there is a problem with having the 12 tribes making up the 144,000. Most of the tribes no longer exist now, much less at the time of trouble. Either the 144,000 was chosen from people from an earlier time when the tribes existed or some other explanation is needed.

Some think that since Christians have been drafted in to Israel, making up Spiritual Israel that it is only natural that the 144,000 would be comprised of people from all the peoples of the world.

Another explanation might be: Yes the tribes don't exist as tribes any longer but the descendents of the lost tribes could be found among all the peoples of the world. They might be found among all races.

It makes no sense to say that these people come from before the time of trouble. Since in verse 14 the angels says "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation." It seems safe to assume that the great multitude are the ones who went through the time of trouble.

We also remember that the 144,000 also are living in the time of trouble as the seals can't be opened until they are sealed of their foreheads.

It seems that the 144,000 and the great multitude is the same group. In heaven we see that they "serve Him day and night in His temple." Etc. This description sounds like the 144,000 as well.

Point 2

It seems strange to have the 144,000 being sealed on their foreheads on earth before the seals can be opened yet to have them in heaven following the lamb where ever He goes. The second coming doesn't seem to have yet happened, yet we find the great multitude in heaven. How did they get there? Is it possible that they are there because they are the first fruits and thus will be brought to heaven earlier. If this is true then why doesn't John describe the 144,000 departure from earth separately from the others?

Either John is describing things in the order that they happen or he is describing things in the order that will give the greatest sense to the topic that he is discussing.

If John is describing things in order than the great multitude is in heaven (the 144,000 is in heaven). This logic has encouraged some to assume that these people came up in the special resurrection when Christ was brought up after He rose from the grave 2000 years ago.

There are problems. This would allow them to be composed of the 12 tribes however it does not explain why they must be sealed before the seals are opened. If they are in heaven they should already be sealed.

The other explanation is that John is describing things in the order that will give the greatest sense to the topic that he is discussing.

John has just introduced the 144,000, it makes sense that he would give us a larger picture of who this group was. Also, John shows the position that the 144,000 will have in heaven.

It is the opinion of the author of this harmony that John introduces subjects topically. The events are not always introduced in their correct order but instead he introduces things in a way that will give the greatest sense to the topics he discusses.

Point 3

What is the main point of seeing the great multitude (144,000) in heaven. In this text we not only hear who this group is and what it continues to do, we are told what they say before the throne of God.

They cry out saying: "Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!" We now see a new group who praises both God and the Son.

The 144,000 is an important group in the world. They are those who will live through the time of trouble. Its important that we see that they also will praise God, even after experiencing the trials of the time of trouble.

It makes sense for John to add this small section to the prophecy since he has shown others to have the same attitude toward God. Remember God's purpose is to win the hearts of the universe. He especially wants to win those of this world.

The 144,000 Revelation 14:1-5

We again have the 144,000 on the forefront. However this time they are before the Lamb on Mount Zion. In Revelation 7 they were before the throne of God.

We have to face the same controversy again. Are the 144,000 in heaven? There possibly is a Mount Zion in heaven as well as the one on earth. After all, the word Zion can mean heaven, paradise, beyond or Eden in addition to being the mountain that Jerusalam is on.

It is clear in Revelation 7 that 144,000 were sealed just before the earth is hurt in the time of trouble. On the other hand we see that they are chosen from 12 tribes of Israel which don't seem to exist at this time.

So, whether we have them sealed long ago or whether they are sealed in the last days, there is a problem!

In verse 4 is reads "These were redeemed from among men, being first fruits to God and to the Lamb".

There is a possibility that they were redeemed before the others at the second coming. That would explain the term first fruits.

On the other hand, the organization of these chapters could be organized to show this relationship between God's created beings acknowledging God's right to do what He is about to do and His actually doing it.

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Copyright 1999 - 2011 by Michael Brown all rights reserved
Officially posted June 2, 1999
last revised January 1, 2011