Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Revelation 7:9-17

Verse 9-17 “After this I beheld, and lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms, in their hands. And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God. Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen. And one of the elders answered saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? And whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them into living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.”

Now John sees a huge group, which have suddenly appeared before the throne. They are dressed in white robes. They have come from all over the world and every nation. They have palm branches in their hands, reminiscent of the palms on Palm Sunday. One of the elders asks John if he knows who they are and from where they came. It is a rhetorical question, as he knows John has no idea and expects to have to tell him. He then tells John that they have come out of the great tribulation. Notice the term great tribulation. This particular phrase is used only three times in the entire Bible. The first time is in Matthew 24 where we have the Olivet discourse and Christ is talking about these events. The second is in Rev. 22 where he has threatened to throw Jezebel and the church of Thyatira into great tribulation unless they repent. This passage is the third time that this phrase is used. Once again, using the Bible to explain the Bible, we see that this phrase is only ever used by God in connection with the events after the abomination of desolation. This is not speaking of the many tribulations that the saints have suffered through the years. This is that one particular tribulation that is greater than any that has ever been on the face of the planet. These are the martyrs that the fifth seal martyrs were told had to be killed as they were. This shows how many Christians are going to die during the great tribulation. It will be a number that exceeds any previous holocaust. Even the holocaust of WWII.

When I first began my study of Revelation I thought that because this came after the tribulation, that this must be the rapture. But this did not set peacefully in my spirit, as there were discrepancies that came about with that approach. I could not reconcile other scriptures in Revelation as a result of that theory. I did not know why, but I knew it was wrong and grappled for years with finding the truth. I finally came to realize that the reason I could not reconcile it was because I was not ready to accept the truth, as the truth was more horrible than I had at first been willing to accept. I was raised a pre-tribulationist. This also never set peacefully in my spirit, as I could not reconcile some scriptures with that interpretatioin as it was taught. When I finally went to the Lord and told Him that I was willing to be taught the truth no matter how hard it may be to take, He began to show me why the discrepancies were occuring, through an intense study of the scriptures comparing scripture to scripture. I had been accepting teachings that were based on presumptions, assumptions, and the changing of the meanings and literal readings of the Word of God. When I was finally willing to accept that I would most likely be martyred for my faith, he was able to show me that the church would go through the tribulation. But I still did not want to accept that the church might have to go through the events of the next few chapters after this one we are currently studying. Fear prevents God from being able to show people the truth, as even if He tries, they will not accept it. Fear comes from Satan. He will use fear (or anything that will work) to block people from realizing what the truth is. He uses it to close their minds, as people will rationalize away what they do not want to accept, or they will deny anything that makes them uncomfortable or frightened. Satan will always give them what they will see as logical and rational alternative ways of viewing things, if they do not want to see the truth. When I finally got to the point that truth was more important than anything else, He allowed me to see that this was not the raptured saints, but only the martyrs alone. That really scared me, as this number is beyond counting. This time truly will be more horrific than anything that has ever occurred on the earth before. Satan will have antichrist slaughter people by the millions. It is no wonder that Christ said that it had to be cut short or nobody would be left. And the people here are only the true born-again Christians. People who refuse the mark of the beast for political or other reasons, but have not accepted Christ as their personal savior will not be in this group. How many more will be killed that do not appear here? It appears that the seven churches are all going to be thrown into the great tribulation, to rid them of the sins for which they would not willing repent ahead of time. Christ is going to purge those sins out of them. That is why the elder says that they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. While our sins are forgiven when we accept Christ, if we are not walking in holiness and repentance, we dirty up our robes. He warned the churches (five in particular) that if they did not clean up their act and their robes, He would clean them up for them, and He has.

It also appears that this is going to happen in a very short amount of time, as they all seem to appear at once. There will be mass executions by antichrist, so these people will basically all be killed at the same time. They have been given white robes, just as the first group under the altar were, but not the glorified bodies that they will receive at the rapture/resurrection. As already mentioned there is nothing here that indicates that this is the rapture (other than a group suddenly appearing, which can be explained by mass executions). The Lord has not been seen leaving heaven to reap the harvest, as is shown in the gospels. He is still standing there opening seals. It is merely a group that shows up in heaven, and Christ has not been seen leaving the scene to go collect them. Had this been the rapture, John would have seen Christ leave and return with this group, and he would have known exactly who they were based on those actions. The fact that he does not know only verifies that this is not the rapture. In point of fact, he has not seen Christ go anywhere and is clueless as to why this huge goup of people have suddenly appeared out of nowhere and for seemingly no reason. Added to that is the fact that there is a reaping later on in Revelation which precicely resembles the rapture/resurrection described in Matthew 24 and Paul's writings. The martyrs were told to expect more like themselves, and since it says these have come out of the great tribulation, and we know that many Christians will be killed during that time, this tells us that these are those martyrs for whom the fifth seal martyrs were waiting.

This group cries out to the Father and the Son and waves their palms just as the people did on Palm Sunday. Following their praise, the elders, angels, and beasts also fall down and worship. The praise begins and ends with an amen. This praise is very similar to the one in chapter 5, which gave the sevenfold praise of power, riches, wisdom, strength, honor, glory, and blessing. This praise mentions thanksgiving instead of riches, and might instead of strength (which is almost the same thing). Thanksgiving is much more important now that they have come out of such a horrible event. They are thankful that they no longer have to suffer, and that they have been purged and refined to qualify to be there.

John is also told that this group will serve God in his temple. This was one of the promises to the churches, that they would be a pillar in God’s temple. During the tribulation, people will not be able to buy or sell unless they take the mark. Food will no doubt be scarce for everyone given the conditions that the seals bring, but this group will not be able to buy or sell what little there may be, because they will not accept the mark of the beast. They will hunger. The atmospheric and weather conditions that have been discussed will make for hot conditions and a drought. They will suffer the heat and thirst. Now they will no longer suffer these things. Christ will feed them from the trees of life, and they shall drink of the living fountains of water. And there will be no more sorrow. Something of which they had plenty on earth.

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