Multitude Before the Throne (Rev. 7:9–17)
The previous vision (Rev. 7:1-3) revealed God sealing seal the one hundred and forty-four thousand, forming a new creation in Christ and demonstrating the characteristics of this new creation.
Here is another vision where God reveals the new creation appears as a great multitude of people in their eternal blessedness. They are before the throne of God in the full manifestation of His Kingdom.
Showing them in heaven is intended to encourage the church toward its heavenly triumph, a needed message for the church at all times, especially in the time of spiritual decline and suffering.
7:9 After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands,
John saw a multitude, too large to count, before the throne. The four-word description “nation, tribe, people, and language” indicates God’s plan to visit the Gentiles to take out of them a people for His name (Acts 15:14).
The Abrahamic Covenant in which God promised to bless Israel also promised salvation to the Gentiles (Gen. 12:1–3). “Is God the God of Jews only? Is He not the God of Gentiles also?” asked Paul. Then, answering his rhetorical question, the apostle added, “Yes, of Gentiles also” (Rom. 3:29).
This vast, uncountable crowd is standing before the throne of God in heaven (Rev. 4:2). They were also in the presence of the Lamb, whom John saw in his earlier vision, standing near the throne (Rev. 5:6). They are “the spirits of the righteous made perfect” (Heb. 12:23).
The crowd appeared “clothed with white robes” (Rev. 7:9). The white robes signify God’s righteousness credited to them by washing away their sins in Christ’s blood (Rev. 3:4,5, 13–14).
Such white robes, which also symbolize holiness, are reserved for Christ (Matt. 17:2; Mark 9:3), angels (Matt. 28:3, Mark 16:5), and the glorified church (19:8,14). People clothed themselves with dazzling, brilliant, shining, white, long, full-length robes for festivals and celebrations in ancient times. The white robes picture the believers’ exaltation, victory, and rejoicing.
The multitudes also appeared with “palm branches in their hands” (Rev. 7:9). Scriptures associate palm branches with celebration, deliverance, and joy.
Palm branches were prominent during the Feast of the Tabernacles (Lev. 23:40). The Israelites used them to construct the booths and lived during that feast (Neh. 8:15–17).
During Christ’s triumphal entry, the joyous crowd waved palm branches as they welcomed Him into Jerusalem. They were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord, even the King of Israel” (John 12:13).
The palm branches show that the multitudes before God’s throne participate in the festive praise to Him for His salvation through the Lord Jesus Christ. They joyfully cry, “Salvation belongs to our God” (Rev. 7:10).
7:10 And crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!”
God desires loud praise (Ps.66:1; 100:1). The saints before the throne constantly cry out with a loud voice and joyfully worship God and ascribe salvation to Him and the Lamb.
Salvation is the theme of worship throughout Revelation. The believers praise God for all He has performed and brought them salvation in Christ. When the believers say praise “be to our God,” they acknowledge these things already belong to Him (Rev. 5:8–10, 7:10, 12:10, 19:1; Rom. 11:35).
The work of those in heaven is continual, eternal praise of the Almighty God and the Lamb of God. John heard something like a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, “Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God” (Rev. 19:1).
7:11 All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God,
All the angels who were standing around the throne joined the praises of the saints. Their number, too, was innumerable. In an earlier vision of God’s throne, John could only describe the number of angels as “myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands” (Rev. 5:11).
Angels rejoice at the salvation of humans (Luke 15:7,10). The wonder of God’s gracious salvation displayed before the angels stimulates them to praise and worship (Eph. 3:8–10).
The twenty-four priests and the four living creatures joined the saints and the angels in worshipping God. The whole picture describes an incredible gathering of millions of faithful voices from the earth and heaven. They are all focusing on the one on the throne and the Lamb. That is where our focus must be, as well. In (Rev. 5:8-10), the angels around the throne sang the redemption’s song. And in (Rev. 7:11), they praised the God of redemption.
Overwhelmed by God’s majesty, glory, and the splendor surrounding His throne, all those present fell on their faces before the throne and worshipped Him. So it is the appropriate reaction of all creatures to prostrate themselves in humble adoration before the unequaled glorious and majestic presence of the only true and holy God.
7:12 saying: “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom,
Thanksgiving and honor and power and might,
Be to our God forever and ever. Amen.”
The angels, elders, and living creatures say, “Amen,” that is, “This is certainly true.” Their prayer is that blessing and glory and wisdom as well as thanksgiving and honor and power. It might be attributed to our God forever and ever (Rev. 4:11; 5:12).
The phrase “forever and ever” (Rev. 7:12) indicates that this praise will continue eternally. It is worship that will never cease.
7:13 Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?”
The subject of the conversation between the elder and John was the identity of the crowds standing before God’s throne and how they were able to reach such glory.
7:14 And I said to him, “Sir, you know.” So, he said to me, “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.
Verses 13 through 17 reveals where the white-robed multitude came from and where they are now. They have come out of the “great tribulation” and are now before the throne of God.
Verse 14 in the NIV says, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation.” Here John uses a present-tense verb to describe the multitude in white as those coming out of the great tribulation. The Lord Jesus Christ warned His disciples, “In this world, you will have trouble” (John 16:33). Paul and Barnabas encouraged the early Christians to “remain true to the faith” when they said, “We must go through many hardships to enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22).
The Lord Jesus Christ promised those who overcome would dress and walk with Him in white clothes (Rev. 3:4–5). So the twenty-four elders, representing all the true worshippers of God, were dressed in white, too (Rev. 4:4).
(Rev. 7:14) explains the symbolism of the white robes. The priest said to John, “They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.” likewise, God cleanses our filthy rags. By the blood of Christ, God credits Christ’s righteousness to us and clothes us in white robes.
7:15 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 dwell among them.
Revelation provides many beautiful glimpses of living in fellowship with the Father and the Son in heaven. The description of the saints, in (Rev. 7:15-17), is gorgeous.
Appropriately, John defined the first reason of the bliss of heaven by the dwelling of God among the saints. David looked forward to this bliss when he wrote, “You will fill me with joy in your presence, with eternal pleasures at your right hand” (Ps.16:11).
Those who imagine heaven as a boring place with nothing to do but play harps are wrong. Instead, they should be sure that the believers will find fulfilling service day and night.
7:16 They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat;
God’s presence protects the saints from every evil power and shields us from every sorrow that Satan and sin cause us.
7:17 for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”The Good Shepherd, who pastured His sheep on earth besides the “quiet waters” of His word (Ps.23:2), now “leads them to springs of living water” (Rev. 7:17). “Living water” means “eternal life” (John 4:10,13,14).
 Rev. 4:10, 5:8,14, 11:16, 19:4; Gen. 17:3; Lev. 9:24; Josh. 5:14; Judg. 13:20; 1 Kings 18:39; 2 Chron. 20:18; Ezek. 1:28, 3:23; Matt. 17:6; Phil. 2:9–10