Summary: The great multitude before the throne reveals that our worship of God requires us to serve Him continually.
On September 20, 2009, 105,121 fans, the largest crowd ever to watch a regular season NFL game, watched in dismay as the home team Dallas Cowboys lost to the New York Giants 33-31.
But as big as that crows was, it pales in comparison with some other large crowds throughout history:
• On January 20, 2009, an estimated 1.8 million people attended the inauguration of President Obama
• On October 30, 2004, the parade to honor the World Series champion Boston Red Sox and celebrate the end of the famous curse of the Bambino drew an estimated 3 million people.
• On January 1, 1994, Rod Stewart drew the largest crowd ever for a concert when 3.5 million people overran the Copacabana Beach in Rio de Janeiro
• An estimated 12 million people gathered in Tehran, Iran on June 3, 1989 for the funeral of Ayatollah Khomeini
This morning, as we continue in Revelation chapter 7, we’ll see a huge multitude that greatly surpasses any of these crowds – certainly in significance and probably in terms of sheer numbers as well. I’ll begin reading this morning in verse 9:
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.”
13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming 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 shelter them with his presence.
16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore;
the sun shall not strike them,
nor any scorching heat.
17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd,
and he will guide them to springs of living water,
and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
This morning I’m going to take a little different approach to this passage. Instead of examining the passage in detail and then drawing out some principles at the end, I’m going to begin with the big picture and then work our way back to a few of the relevant details.
If we step back for a moment and look at the overall picture painted by this passage, we discover that there are…
FIVE IMPORTANT TRUTHS REVEALED BY THE GREAT MULTITUDE
1. God does not play favorites – neither should we
Notice that the great multitude, which is so big that no one can number it, consists of people “from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages”. This is quite a contrast to the precisely numbered 144,000 from the tribes of the sons of Israel that we saw in the first part of the chapter last week.
John goes to great lengths to make sure that it is clear that no one who commits his or her life to Jesus is to be excluded from this crowd. We immediately notice the words “every” and “all” in the description of the crowd. We saw a very similar description back in chapter 5:
…by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation…
Revelation 5:9 (ESV)
We’ll also see similar descriptions later in the book of Revelation. Although the order is never exactly the same, in each case, there is the same four-fold description that includes nations, tribes, peoples and languages. As we’ve seen earlier in our journey, the number four symbolizes the completeness of God’s creation.
The fact that this multitude comes from all people groups throughout the world should not come as a surprise since it is consistent with the promise that God made to Abraham all the way back in Genesis 12:
Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”