SYNOPSIS – John saw an innumerable multitude of men and women from every nation standing before the Lamb and the Throne – Revelation 7:9-12.
In the seventh chapter of Revelation, the same group of saints is presented using two different images; first, an image of the tribes of Israel assembled for travel. Second, as an innumerable multitude of men and women standing before the “Lamb” and the Throne. In this vision, imagery and language from the story of Israel sojourning through the Wilderness to the Promised Land continues to be employed.
(Revelation 7:9-12) – “After these things, I saw, and 1o! a great multitude, — which, to number it! no one was able, — of every nation, and [of all] tribes, and peoples, and tongues; standing before the throne, and before the Lamb; arrayed in white robes, and palm-branches in their hands; — and they cry out with a loud voice, saying — Salvation unto our God who sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb! And all the messengers were standing round about the throne and the elders and the four living creatures; and they fell down before the throne upon their faces, and rendered homage unto God, saying — Amen! The blessing, and the glory, and the wisdom, and the thanksgiving, and the honour, and the power, and the might, — be unto our God unto the ages of ages. [Amen]!”
Previously, John “heard” the number of the sealed men, or the arithmos, 12,000 males from each of the twelve tribes of Israel. Now, he “sees” a vast multitude that no one can number (arithmeō). “Number” links what he heard to what he now sees. Just as the roaring “lion of Judah” became a “slain Lamb,” so a numerically limited group from the “tribes of Israel” is transformed into an innumerable multitude of men from every “tribe” and nation.
The “Lamb” fulfills his messianic role by redeeming men and women “from every tribe and tongue and people and nation” – A verbal link to his earlier vision of the “slain Lamb”:
(Revelation 5:9-10) – “And they sing a new song, saying — Worthy art thou to take the scroll and to open the seals thereof; because thou wast slain and didst redeem unto God by thy blood [men] out of every tribe, and tongue, and people, and nation, And didst make them unto our God a kingdom and priests, — and they reign on the earth.” – (The Emphasized Bible).
Members of the multitude are “arrayed in white robes.” What the “white robes” signify or how the group obtained them is not stated. The same term was applied to the martyrs “underneath the altar” in the fifth seal opening when they were issued “white robes” and told to wait until the full number of their “fellow servants” was assembled. The term “white robes” links the two groups.
The image of “palm-branches” is reminiscent of the annual Feast of Tabernacles, a time of great joy and celebration at the ingathering of the “fruits of the land”:
(Leviticus 23:39-40) – “Howbeit on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when ye have gathered in the fruits of the land, ye shall keep the feast of Jehovah seven days: on the first day shall be a solemn rest, and on the eighth day shall be a solemn rest. And ye shall take you on the first day the fruit of goodly trees, branches of palm-trees, and boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before Jehovah your God seven days.”
Previously, John saw “angels, Living Creatures and the elders” proclaim the “Lamb” worthy “to receive power, wisdom, might, honor, glory and blessing.” These same groups now ascribe the same honors to the “Lamb,” only the “innumerable multitude” has added its voice to the chorus.
“From every nation and tribe and people and tongue.” The reference alludes to key messianic prophecies from the Old Testament. The “obedience of the nations” was promised to the future “lion of Judah” and the Davidic king. The promises are now fulfilled as the “innumerable multitude” from every tribe and nation appears before the Throne and the “Lamb”:
- (Genesis 49:9-10) – “A lion’s whelp is Judah, From the prey, my son hast thou come up! He hath stooped — hath crouched As a lion—or as a lioness, Who shall rouse him? The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, Nor the commanders staff a from between his feet, — Until that he come in as a Shiloh, And his be the obedience of the peoples.”
- (Psalm 2:7-9) – “I will tell of the decree: Yahweh said unto me, Thou art my son; This day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I will give thee the nations for thine inheritance, And the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; Thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
- (Daniel 7:13-14) – “I continued looking in the visions of the night, when lo! with the clouds of the heavens, one like a son of man, was coming, — and unto the Ancient of days he approached, and before him they brought him near; and unto him were given dominion and dignity and kingship that all peoples, races and tongues unto him should do service.”
The multitude is seen “standing before the throne and before the Lamb.” This is in contrast with the sixth seal opening when men from every level of society attempted to hide from the impending “wrath.”
On the “Day of the Lord,” no one was able to “stand” before the “Lamb” or the Throne, but now, a vast multitude that no one can number is “standing” before the Throne and the “Lamb,” and in celebration, not dread. How is this possible? Who is able “to stand?”
The “Lamb” has prepared his priestly kingdom to march to the Promised Land. All tribes, sections, and members now move together. The completed assembly stands numbered, “sealed,” and thus prepared for any eventuality.