What does Revelation 7: 9-17 mean to us now?

 

This passage covers the period before the second coming of our Lord that Jesus tells us about in Mark 13:6-8. It is about calamities, tumults, and chaos that are expected in suffering because of the impact and veracity of sin in the world. It is a continual experience, as the people in John’s time were going through this and, in varying degrees, we have already or will go through it. But, this is also an apex and a climax coming just before the final judgments, when the world gets a “break” and an opportunity to know Christ before His final pronouncement (Matt. 24:14). This passage’s primary purpose was not to predict the details of final events; rather, it was meant to encourage us to go through them with increased faith and our eyes focused upon our Lord. It is not important to know what takes place when, what our presumptions are, or which “end times” theory is best, as we will all be wrong on that. The important lessons are how Christ will be glorified and how we will learn and grow through it!

The sufferings and trials of life did not derail this crowd from His plan and purpose. Not even their hurt feelings, their being betrayed themselves, or the tribulations of life, whether overt or benign, dejected them. These are the Christians whose faith is real and applied. They have succeeded in their faith and now they take their triumphant entry into His presence and their reward. It is always worth it, because no matter what we face or what we go through, there is an intention from our Lord; His leading is what is best for us, including our growth and rationale. In Christ, we will succeed and prevail! 

Questions to Ponder: 

  1. What would cause a Christian to praise Christ one day, and on another day betray Him? How so?
  2. What does it mean that Christ is also your Shelter and your Hope? How do you feel that He will get you through your life and circumstances, no matter what you see, feel, or face?
  3. Do you have a favorite theory of “The Great Tribulation?” How can our theories get in the way, and cause us to miss the main point? What is the main point of The Great Tribulation?
  4. How have you celebrated victory andor God’s faithfulness in your life? Right now, carefully consider how you can celebrate God’s work in your life. How would it strengthen your faith and demonstrate victory to others? 
  5. How can you better point to Christ, showing others they have the opportunity to get their priorities in line with God’s? Think of it this way, evangelism is basically one homeless person telling another where the shelter is.”  

© 2006 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries http://www.intothyword.org

 

The Four Main Views of Revelation 7: 9-17

 

The Preterist view: They see this passage as referring to the saints who escape (emerge from) the tribulation or are the martyrs from the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D. Many see this as Judaism’s end and that the church replaces Israel. (I do not believe this is biblical). See Romans 9:1-13.

The Futurist view: They see this passage as literal, and that a greater number of Gentiles will be saved than the 144,000 Jews who will be saved. There is an in-house debate over whether the Gentiles who are saved are taken before the rapture and tribulation, or new converts after the rapture, or if there is a post-tribulation rapture. Many of this view see these convents as a lesser level of Christians because they did not come to faith through the “proper” channels. Others do not believe this is the heavenly throne as the passage indicates, but rather an “earthly throne” because it contradicts their theory. They see these “Elders” as distinct from the “24 elders” who are representatives of the Church. Some see this as the rejoicing of the Christians who claim victory after the tribulation is over.

The Idealist view: They see the winds in the passage as symbolic for the “church triumphant” being glorified in heaven. The symbols of purity and victory are preeminent as the earthly trials and tribulations are over. The robes being washed in blood (that normally stains) is the ultimate “whitener” that cleans and purifies us so we can stand before God. It is all about Christ and His sacrificial death and atonement for us, His Church. Most see this as Christians overcoming the trials and persecutions of life, and overcoming, by faith in Christ, at any time in church history, not necessarily one, great, final, seven-year tribulation. It would rather include the ordeals and hardships that have besieged the Church ever since her inception. The tabernacle is representative of the shelter and refuge we have in Christ. He is our hope and leads us because He dwells with us; He has a plan and purpose, and will carry us through when we have faith in Him.

The Historicist view: They see this passage as an encourager to the Church when the Church will face (or has faced) extreme hardships and persecutions. The crowd is the sealed, as previous noted; they are the triumphant and victorious conquers who fought the good fight…perhaps a small grouping of the same people who are given special favor.

Tribulation Terms

 

      Tribulation means “The Day of the Lord” which will come about in the “last days.” It also means “sufferings” as the Greek word “thlipsis” means “sufferings” and the Hebrew for “sufferings” means a “time of distress”. This term has been wrought with controversy in the last 100 years. I, for time’s sake, will not explore all the theories in depth (because most of them are just like the nuts left over from a squirrel convention and miss the point); however, we will look further as we progress in the book of Revelation. 

      Tribulations also refer to the hardships we face. The same word in the Greek is found at: (Matt. 13:21; 24:9; 24:21; 24:29; Rom. 2:9; 5:3; 8:35; 12:12; Col. 1:24; Heb. 10:33; Rev. 1:9; 2:10; 2:22, to name a few), meaning afflictions, anguish, distress, persecution, trouble, and of course as tribulation as singular and plural. In Daniel, it is the period of suffering instigated from God because of the world’s wickedness and denial of Him. God does not always cause those hardships to go away; rather, He carries us through and uses them to bring about our maturity and character. Trials build faith and character, allowing us to be better used to glorify Him. Trials are not a personal attack against us; rather, they allow God to work more deeply in us to make us of better use to Him, and for the sake of others.

      The Great Tribulation is the time Jesus warned of (Matt. 24) as the ending of the age (Rev. 6-19), and the week is a day of the Lord found in Daniel (Dan. 12:1; Thess. 5:2). These accounts are described in various ways in Scripture; “the day of the Lord,” “tribulation(s)” and “Jacob‘s trouble” are found throughout Scripture. Besides the examples already referenced above, we also see it in Isa. 2:11, 17, 20; 6:5; Jer. 30:7; Amos 5:18; 8:9; Joel 1:15; 2:2-11; Zeph. 1:14; Dan. 9:27, 12:1; Matt. 24:21; and Rev. 7:14; 16:17-21.

      Many believe this has already taken place, as in the “Preterist” view. Josephus, an early Jewish historian who was there during the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem, describes the devastation similarly to how Jesus foretold it. Others (Futurists) believe this only applies to a future period of great distress at the end of the age before Christ’s Second Coming. Still others, such as the Historicists, see it as cycles that keep repeating. A more balanced biblical view would include both; sufferings will keep coming and they will culminate in a final fruition of great turmoil before His return.

      The point of tribulation is not the specifics or when or how; rather, it is our God, who wants us focused upon Him as Lord. What we learn in our preparations is far more valuable than what will come about in our theories. Its principle purpose is to reveal Christ as Lord and the end of the age. It also gives us firm instructions on how to live our lives by being faithful to Christ and receiving His promises as well as His warnings in our life now (Jer. 22.10: 30:7; Amos 5:16-17; Matt. 24:21; Rom. 5:1-11; Rev. 2: 1-7).

      However, neither The Great Tribulation, or tribulations in general are to be feared, as the righteous will receive the comfort of Christ in tribulation, for He is still loving and shepherding us through (Isa 25:8; 66:13-14; Matt. 5:4; John 14:16-18; Rev 21:4). Remember, this is not just about what will or may happen, but how we are through it (Isa. 35:10; 51:11). No matter what is facing us and no matter what we have experienced, what we go through in life is meant to form our character and maturity. What we learn is what we carry into eternity. When we fail and do not overcome, it is disappointing in our Lord’s sight. Being faithful is the key that opens to us the door to living in the New Jerusalem (John 13:34; 16:33; Phil. 1; 1 John 4:20; 5:4-5; Rev. 2:11, 17, 26; 3:5, 12, 21; 21:1-22:5).

Here are some more popular terms on this:

  • Preterism means “fulfilled eschatology,” or that the date, 70 A.D. that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 24 was all fulfilled. The Tribulation teaching is in reference to the rapture and resurrection of the saints that has already occurred; we are now living in the millennial age.
  • Partial Preterism means some things have been fulfilled, but Christ has not yet come back.
  • Pre-tribulation. This view teaches that the Church will not go through the tribulation but will be “raptured” away to heaven. The Tribulation is specifically to break the will of Israel and save them as a nation, as well as to have the world repent because of the judgments found in the book of Revelation.
  • Mid-tribulation refers to a mid seventieth-week rapture. The church will be taken out before the Great Tribulation which occurs when the Antichrist goes into the Temple and declares himself God approximately 1,260 days before Christ comes back.
  • Post-tribulation believes that Christ will come back at the end of the Tribulation and those who remain alive through it are raptured. There are four views within this position as well: Classic, semi-classic, futurist, and dispensational.
  • Partial-rapture subscribes that only those who are watching, waiting, and are making themselves prepared will go.
  • Pre-rapture-wrath is a three-fourths view that believes the church will go through much of the tribulation to purify and perfect the bride.

 

Exegetical look into Revelation 7: 13-17

 

  • One of the elders asked me. It was common for Jewish teachers to ask rhetorical questions to guide their students, with questions that they knew but the people did not, or questions that the other person did not know (Dan. 7:16; 8:13-16; 12:6-8).
  • Great tribulation refers to the sufferings and trials Christians go through. Great meant a more significant period of it, such as war and pestilence like the Seven Churches were going through. These great trials come about frequently throughout church history, such as the Roman occupation of Israel and the destruction of the Temple in 70 A.D., as well as our more current civil wars, world wars, or extreme persecutions such as in Sudan. This may also refer to “the great tribulation,” as stated in Daniel, denoting extreme persecution and hostility that comes about at the end of the age, and that may come about before Christ’s return. However, the application is more likely in mind here, and not just the foretelling of events. The point is that when we persevere in our faith, in spite of the obstacles that a sin-infested world provides us, and we prevail as we persevere in our faith, we will come out of the tribulation because neither great or small crises or doubts will have gotten us since we are in Christ (Dan. 12:1; 2 Thess. 1:5-6; 1 Tim. 3:1-12; Rev. 1:9; 2:9-10).
  • Washed their robes… in the blood of the Lamb denotes more of a ritual cleansing than just an image. It is acknowledging what Christ has done on our behalf. It refers to sacrifice and how the blood in ancient Jewish rituals was a cleansing that preceded worship (Heb. 9:21-22).
  • Before the throne of God is the Jewish image of a messianic banquet at the end of the age (Isa. 25:8; John 10:1-18; Rev. 4:6-7).
  • Serve him. This echoes a new “exodus” where the faithful Elect leave their troubled lives on earth and ascend to a new home in eternity. This also denotes that we still will have a plan and a purpose in Heaven; we will not merely sit on a cloud playing a harp! 
  • In his temple means God is our refuge. The word used for “temple” in this book indicates the inner shrine and the tabernacle (used before the temple), where God’s presence dwells, not the campus or main, outer building (Lev 26:11-13; Psalm 121:5-6; Isa. 4:5-6; 49:10; Rev. 4:6-7).
  • Shepherd. He is the One who leads; He is the One we look toward to lead us. Some ancient kings considered themselves to be the shepherds of their kingdom (Gen. 48:15; 49:24; Psalm 23; 80:1; Micah. 7:14; Matt. 2:6; John 10:11-18; Heb. 13:20; 1 Pet. 5:4).

 

Exegetical look into Revelation 7: 9-12

 

  • A great multitude. These people may be a different group of people from those in the previous passage, or perhaps a different depiction of the same grouping, a common Jewish use of expression. Some have suggested these are the martyrs from chapter six (Gen. 41:25-27; Rev. 5:9; 6:11; 7:1-8; 10:11; 11:9; 13:7; 14:6. 17:15).
  • No one could count/innumerable indicates that this crowd was so big it was impossible to count, but it does not mean infinite.
  • Standing before the throne infers that because of Christ, we now have direct access to Him!
  • White robes indicate coming before the Lord in worship, clothed with the proper attire of attitude and reverence. (See Revelation 3:1-6.)
  • Palm branches pointed to a celebration of victory, such as Israel’s victory over Egypt in the Exodus, as well as God’s faithfulness. They were used for celebrations such as the “Feast of the Tabernacles.” This was also a prediction from Zechariah that all nations will partake in this celebration (Lev. 23:34-43; Num. 29:12-38; Duet. 16:13-15; Zech. 14:16; Luke 19:28-40; John 12:12-13).
  • Cried out. We come before God’s throne as unworthy guests, clothed in His atonement and reserved by His love. This is a vow to follow Him as Lord!
  • Salvation belongs to our God/Salvation comes from the LORD. He delivers us, as He is the only One who can. This is a prayer seeking His help (Gen. 49:18 John 2:9).
  • Fell down is an aspect of real reverence and worship. In context, this is also how we are totally dependent upon God for every aspect of our lives.
  • Praise acknowledges Christ as Lord over all, including us; it is recognizing His attributes, His sovereignty, and His control, and then seeking His strength. The purpose, for us, is to realize that we must eventually learn to surrender to Him and be trusting and obedient to Him (Gen. 18:18; 22:18; Isa. 60:1-5; Gal. 2:20-21; Phil. 1:6; 3:1-14; Rev. 5:12; 10:11; 12:5; 13:7; 14:6-8; 15:4; 17:15; 18:3; 19:15; 20:3; 21:24-27).

Revelation 7:9-17

 

Introduction 

The Great Multitude   

Suddenly, John sees a crowd of people so vast that it cannot be numbered, standing before the Throne of the Lamb. This multitude comes from all walks of life and people-groups where there is no division in caste or pedigree, where there is no separation of color or wealth or language, all in Christ, all glorifying Christ. This is reminiscent of Christ’s “Triumphal Entry” (Mark 11:1-11) just before His execution, where He is first praised, and then betrayed. But, here there is no betrayal, only praise; there is no separation, only those who are assembled in Him; there is no fear, only triumph and achievement. This is an image of strength and unity, of victory and assurance, of hope that is achieved and received, then expressed by the shouting of praises to Christ for who He is and what He has done. This crowd is not just shouting praises—they are experiencing them; they are involved as they partake in the worship of Christ. They are overcome with His presence, and in awe as the crowd, angels, and witnesses again fall, prostrate before the Sovereign Lamb. 

Behold all the people who have been virtuous, who have persevered in life, have overcome obstacles, withstood temptations, and have remained faithful to our Lord. He is our shelter and our hope, and He will get us through no matter what we see, feel, or face. His leading has a reason, and our experiences have a purpose when we remain faithful in Him; this is our purpose here on earth and this is what booms and echoes throughout eternity (Rev. 14:1-5). 

This passage gives us great comfort and hope. Christ shows us He is always with us; thus, we can live a life that is worthy¾a spirit-filled, empowered life that will be acknowledged by Him both now and in the future, and will have an intention for us in the present. When we face hardships, we can know for sure that He will wipe away both our tears and our fears! 

This passage comes to us like a “parenthesis,” a seemingly addendum or digression in the midst of the context of judgment. However, it is not some detour or distraction. Rather, it is a telling of God’s mercy and love (Rev. 10:1-11:13). This passage is about hope and a reason for us to persevere in whatever we may face, both now and/or in the future. This is a respite in judgment and a look at what lies ahead. 

 

What does Revelation 5: 8-14 mean to us now?

This is a picture of worship, as a congregation gathers to collectively praise and honor Christ and offer themselves to Him in sacrifice. John is actually calling his people, who are in dire straits, to forget their current struggles and picture themselves in a heavenly choir-worshiping Christ, surrounded by angels and breathtaking music, and receiving their reward and His love for their faithfulness. For the early church in persecution that was meeting in secret, fearing for their lives, this message came as a great comfort and reassurance that “doing” church and being a Christian community is meaningful, relevant, and important both for now and for eternity. The chorus we will be a part of in Him will be far greater than the “noise” we hear from our enemies and persecutors.

Did you notice that in the context of this passage, starting in chapter four, the praise for Christ grows and grows until is encompasses all that exists in the universe? Worship is what the Christian life is about. It is our goal, purpose, and call. It is where we start and finish and what we do in eternity. Heaven is a place of worship and our church is a mere shadow of this-a rehearsal that pales in comparison. Worship is our heart pouring out to His. True worship of Christ by our submission to Him with earnestness, sincerity, and serenity helps create our character and maturity, and prepares us for life both now and for eternity. It lines us up to Christ and away from our sin and agendas. We must allow our pride to yield to the necessity of being accountable to one another. The more mature people in the Lord must model and disciple the immature. All of us are equal in the Lord; however, we must never allow our maturity and growth to be a source of pride or use it to put others down! Remember, others have their eyes on us. If we stumble, others will, too. If we succeed, others will, too!

Questions to Ponder:

  1. What does it mean to your daily Christian life that Christ’s eternal power, authority, strength, and the completeness (the life He gave us) empowers us to live a life that is worthy? What would a worthy, spirit-filled, and empowered life be like for you?

  1. What is the sign of reverence and prostration that Christ asks of us? What must we do to worship Christ effectively and earnestly?

  1. How can the true worship of Christ by your submission to Him with earnest sincerity and serenity helps create character and maturity in you and prepare you for life now and for eternity?

  1. What does it mean to put Him first in all that we do in life? How do we maneuver our Church to be under His rule and kingship, rather than our committees and trends?

  1. How would you describe spontaneous and just worshipping Christ? What can you do to prevent your church’s worship from becoming a performance for themselves, for the members, or for a show of personalities? What can be done to do as we are called, that is, to be offerings of praise to the main and only audience-Christ our Lord?

© 2006 R. J. Krejcir Ph.D. Into Thy Word Ministries http://www.intothyword.org

The Four Main Views of Revelation 5: 8-14

Preterist view sees this passage as a start to the sentence of judgment as we will see in the following chapters. The Lamb invokes an outburst of extreme worship and introduces a new song to God’s praise and worth for our redemption. His old song refers to creation. The prayers refer to Christians pleading with God for relief in their persecutions, and their deliverance is made by destroying Jerusalem (I do not see how that spells r-e-l-i-e-f, or helps us now or in the future). They see the kingdom of priests as being the priests of Israel in Exodus 19:5-6 and replaced by the Church in Hebrews 7-8. The new song is a response by the angels, counted in the millions, giving a doxology for God’s glory, for He is worthy. Then, the worship climaxes when the elders fall prostrate and say Amen.

Futurist view: sees this passage as the beginning of the end of the present age and the start of the new age and the coming of Christ. Prayer of the saints refers to “thy Kingdom be done” and the fulfillment of God’s will. The reign on earth is seen as the millennial Kingdom as the Christians will rule the earth with Christ. The worship of Christ by countless angels as in Psalm 19 and 68 indicates power/strength and is seen as His Second Coming. They see every knee as referring to angels and/or to animals, because they believe the Church will be “raptured” prior to this (even though there is no biblical support for this theory, no matter how personally appealing it is, or how hopeful I am for it!). It also ignores many other scriptures.

Idealist view: They see this passage as the fulfillment of Daniel 7:9-14, where the “Ancient of Days” is to have dominion. The incense means prayers, and the new song is the response of God to them. Also, it means the New Covenant of the God of our redemption. The reign on earth is seen as the royal priesthood of all believers. They see the worship of Christ by countless angels as mainly metaphoric because their scope of reason cannot contort enough to see that all of creation can do that, thus not taking into account the omnipotence and omnipresence of God. They do bring up a valid point that in the following passages, mankind is still cursing God and being judged. However, this vision is not limited to a time sequence or chronology. Since God lives outside of space and time, it is rather a prediction of what will eventually happen.

Historicist view: sees this passage as God being benevolent and merciful as our Redeemer and the universe rejoicing in profound adoration because of this. God’s providence depicts that Jesus is the only One who is worthy to save. The reign on earth is seen as the ascendancy of Christianity to the world in its influence and scope. Some argue that all earthy rulers will be Christians before the Second Coming, although this is a big stretch. Others say this is referring to the “a millennial” spiritual reign of Christians in our present time as we will no longer be slaves to sin.

Exegetical look into Revelation 5:12-14

This passage is also a picture of our faithfulness reaching to God’s awareness. The incense He desires is the love and trust we give to Him and to one another, and our obedience as we remain in Him. Our authenticity and closeness to Christ is what touches and resounds into eternity. These are the lyrics of the angel’s songs of what Christ has done and how we are responding.

  • Voice of many angels is the representation of a heavily choir worshiping our Redeemer and Savior as God’s great plan has been fulfilled and has succeeded (Gal. 3:13).
  • Numbering thousands upon thousands means indefinitely and countless. Those are not actual numbers, because “ten thousand” was the largest single number in the Greek then, but is a rhetorical phrase for “beyond counting.” Frequently, ancient songs would exaggerate numbers in battle such as the song of David killing “tens of thousands,” but here, it is no exaggeration (1 Sam. 18:7-8; Dan. 7:10; Heb. 12:22).
  • They sang. What starts in Heaven resounds through the entire universe, and that is the worship of Christ. This is not about style or ethnicity of worship; rather it is about how we are diverse, yet one in Him by our celebration of Christ.
  • Worthy is the Lamb is a picture of all peoples saved in Him, celebrating their redemption. All peoples, tongues, and locations are unified in Christ (Gen. 22; Ex. 12:3; Isa. 53:8; John 1:29; 3:16; 2 Cor. 8:9).
  • Receive power, as in praising the Lord, everlasting to everlasting (1 Chron. 29:10-19; Rev. 7:12).
  • Every creature in heaven and on earth. This infers that eventually, in the end times, all will submit to God. This is also an image of God’s sovereignty and how all things in the universe are submitted to Him now. He allows our pride and free will to lead us into thinking we are submitted to no one, and in refusing His election and grace, we judge ourselves in our defiance to His authority and love (Isaiah 45:23; Rom. 14:9; Phil. 2:10; Col. 2:3).
  • Said, “Amen.” Nothing can thwart God’s will and purpose. Satan thinks he can, and our pride makes us think we can, but God is totally sovereign. Our control is merely an illusion and a delusion to ourselves and others that He puts up with so we can eventually learn to surrender to Him and be trusting and obedient to Him (Gen. 18:18; 22:18; Isa. 60:1-5; Rev. 7:9-17; 10:11; 12:5; 13:7; 14:6-8; 15:4; 17:15; 18:3; 19:15; 20:3; 21:24-27).

Exegetical look into Revelation 5: 8-11

  • Fell down before the Lamb is a sign of reverence and prostration, as one would bow before gods and kings in ancient cultures. It is honoring someone with our sincere praise. We honor Christ with worship¾our heartfelt, deep gratitude for who He is and what He has done for us (Gen. 17:3; 2 Chron. 7:3; Mark 3:11).
  • Harp, a small bowed stringed instrument used in Jewish worship (not to be confused with the large, modern European harps from the 12th century), was considered the most beautiful musical instrument at the time, and is presented here as an image of something used to praise God with sincerity and reverence (1 Chron. 25:1-6; 2 Chron. 5:12; 29:25; Neh. 12:27; 1 Sam. 10:5; Psalm 33:2).
  • Golden bowls full of incense. Incense was burned in a flat, shallow cup for worship. Here, it refers to a common, ancient metaphor for prayers that are pleasing. This is a Jewish image of the Temple and one of our worship for eternity in His Kingdom Come. This is also a call for us to be fragrant and poured out to our Lord, for that is what pleases Him. (Deut 33:10; Psalm 141:1-3; Gal. 2:20-21; Phil. 3:1-14; Rev. 8:3-4).
  • Sang a new song means being inspired by the Spirit and/or to be spontaneous in worshipping Christ. It is an image of real music used as an offering to express our deliverance or blessing. Here, it denotes the opposite of something “canned,” or obligatory. In our planning of worship, we must allow the Spirit to direct us. It is OK to compose, plan, and rehearse our praise and music, but we should not allow our worship to be a performance or a show of personalities. Rather, we are called to be an offering of praise to the main and only audience, who is Christ our Lord (Psalm 33:3; 40:3; 96:1; 98:1; 144:9; 149:1; Isa. 42:10; Rev.14:3).
  • To take the scroll means to receive it. Christ takes it for action and He unseals and unfolds its contents of redemption and judgment in the coming chapters.
  • Your blood you purchased men for God. This passage contains the essential, Christian salvation message. This is an image of how Israel was redeemed out of Egypt and led into the Promised Land. It was the blood of the Passover lamb that protected them; now, Christ is the ultimate depiction and application of this¾Jesus Saves (Mark 10:45; 1 Cor. 6:20)!
  • Every tribe and language. Our allegiance is to Christ by His sacrifice, not to a political power or a people group. We can be patriots to our nation as long as Christ and His Kingdom come first in our mindsets (as the American Founding Fathers demonstrated). When we are in Christ, we are part of a greater Kingdom than one of race or nationality.
  • Made them to be a kingdom and priests to serve our God refers to how Priests were to be bridges from God to man in the Old Testament. Now, through Christ, there is no division or caste. We have direct, intimate access to Him. All of God’s people are holy to Him, and in the future, each of us will reign with Him (Rev. 1:6; 2:26-27; 20:4, 6; 22:5)!