Revelation 7 and the ‘Great
are they? Are they human or resurrected?
does it mean, “which no man could number”?
Revelation 7:9 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; 10 And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. 11 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, 12 Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen. 13 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? 14 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. 15 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. 16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. 17 For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters (or, ‘springs of living water’, or, ‘river of living water’): and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
some questions to keep in mind as you study this subject.
God (geographically) in these verses? Where is His Throne? What is the timing of these
verses? When is this time, since the Lamb is present?
Now, on to the point at hand.
identity of the ‘great multitude’ is discernable and unmistakable. The Bible is quite
clear on this subject. You can know for absolute fact who they are, and why they are
there, and where they are going! However, it does require that all scriptures be
considered in order to arrive at the correct answer. We must not assume anything, but
instead look for concrete answers from the Bible. If we accept any assumption we will end
up with an incorrect, although possibly good sounding identity, which will be error
Perhaps the most direct method to use for arriving
at the proper identity of this multitude is to question what is said and what is not said
in Revelation, then find references to the same time and circumstance in other scriptures
and identify the subject of those scriptures. In that light, please continue.
Revelation 7:9. Does the Bible say that the quantity of individuals is so numerous (or so
many) that no human can ‘count’ that high? Well, no, it does not say that at all. We
can count much higher than the number of humans that have ever existed. We can count so
high, in fact, that the highest number we can count to only falls short of reaching infinity by ‘1’.
Does verse 9 mean that a man, on his own in the
same situation John found himself, couldn’t correctly ‘count’ the exact number of
individuals he was seeing? Yes!
What was the ‘circumstance’ John found himself
in when he said that the multitude he was looking at was more than he could count? Well,
he was in vision on the Day of the Lord and was looking at the Throne of God and the Lamb
was there next to God, and several others, and a sizeable number of individuals from
“all nations, and kindreds, and people,
So, were these ‘individuals’ spirit beings or
humans? Well, let’s see if we can determine that.
In verse 14 we read: …
These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made
them white in the blood of the Lamb.
First of all there is the expression, ‘great
tribulation’. Is that just a term describing the normal tribulation that all humans face
in their lifetime or a specific one? The Greek Interlinear has the ‘literal’ Greek
text translated to the English as: “These are the (ones) coming out of the great tribulation;”.
Notice the ‘tense’ of the verb is ‘present’, and a ‘participle’ in
Greek grammar, which makes the verb ‘are
coming’. In addition, the
‘definite article’ “the” is present in the Greek (#3588 = the, this, that, these
…) making the phrase complete as, “the great
tribulation”. The presence of the ‘definite article’ prevents any assumption
that this verse is alluding to the entire 6,000 years of mankind on the planet, thus
reducing the potential number of the ‘great multitude’ significantly!
So John is looking at a group of people who are
just ‘coming out of’ the
great tribulation. Since John is in vision ‘in’ the Day of the Lord time frame,
we might conclude that whomever this group is, John is seeing this group around the time
of the ‘end’, or ‘end time’. But so
as not to assume anything, let’s see if there is a group of people in Bible prophecy
that will be coming out of ‘the great tribulation’ during the Day of the Lord
Matthew 24:21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. (This ‘great tribulation’ is the worst one in the entire history of Israel. It could certainly be ‘the’ great tribulation as it is the greatest of all other tribulations. We know it is a reference to Israel from the full context of the chapter. Remember that the disciples were asking about the timing involved for when the ‘kingdom’ of Israel would be reinstated per Old Testament prophecies. Much of modern theology has overlooked the original intent of the disciple’s questions and perspective, and therefore Jesus’ answer, in favor of placing the ‘church’ as the center of prophecy. This had led to much misunderstanding of prophecy, especially as it concerns Matthew 24. See the article, “The Actual Message of Matthew 24” for a look into this subject.)
Jeremiah 30:5 For thus saith the LORD; We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace. 6 Ask ye now, and see whether a man doth travail with child? wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, and all faces are turned into paleness? 7 Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it. (This is in the ‘end time’ and it is the worst time of trouble ever for Jacob (Israel). It is ‘the’ Great Tribulation of Matthew 24, which is also upon Israel (other scriptures show that Judah and Israel both go into this massive national tribulation before the Day of the Lord and are freed just as the Day of the Lord is about to begin). See our articles, “The Time After Jacob’s Trouble”, “The Actual Message of Matthew 24” and “The Great Judgment Day”. Also, notice that Israel is ‘saved out of’ this tribulation, which means to be saved from dying in the great tribulation. The nation of Israel is kept from extinction!)
Isaiah 27:13 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the great trumpet shall be blown, and they (Israel, see Isaiah for complete context.) shall come which were ready to perish in the land of Assyria, and the outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the LORD in the holy mount at Jerusalem. (In that Day is a reference to the ‘end time’ or Day of the Lord timeframe. While Israel, the ten tribed house’ went into Assyrian captivity in 721 BC, this scripture is a prophecy for another captivity by Assyria in the last days, immediately before the restitution of the kingdom of Israel and the setting up of the Kingdom of God on earth. Neither of these events have thus far occurred, so this scripture remains unfulfilled. Keep in mind that it could not have been fulfilled after the 721 BC captivity ended as there was no kingdom set up then.)
Luke 21:36 Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man. (Many people think that this verse is in reference to a ‘place of safety’ for the church. It is not! It is in reference to the very subject of this article.)
Isaiah 49:9 That thou mayest say to the prisoners, Go forth; to them that are in darkness, Shew yourselves. They shall feed in the ways, and their pastures shall be in all high places. (There are too many scriptures to list them all here, please see the article on The New Heavens and the New Earth as well as The Time After Jacob’s Trouble for fuller details. Suffice it to say that this is yet one more scripture revealing a return of the nation of Israel to the land of Israel after a great and horrendous captivity. And again, this is immediately prior to the on set of the Day of the Lord.)
Daniel 12:1 And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. (This states that ‘when’ Israel is in the midst of this horrendous tribulation then Michael stands up for them to prevent annihilation and they are saved from death as a people and nation. Sure fits Revelation 7:14 so far.)
But some will say that the rest of verse 14 ‘proves’ that
these individuals are ‘spirit beings’, resurrected to eternal life after dying in this
‘tribulation’. The rest of verse 14 reads: and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. It
is assumed by many that because they are wearing ‘white’ robes that were ‘washed’
in the blood of the Lamb that they must be repentant believers who died and have been
resurrected. Let’s see what we can or can not assume and what the Bible says or does not
say on this matter.
Can we exclude flesh and blood humans from this verse for these
Revelation 3:4-5 Thou hast a few names even in Sardis which have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with me in white: for they are worthy. 5 He that overcometh, the same shall be clothed in white raiment; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels.
Revelation 3:18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
While some may assume that this can only be referring to the
‘church’ and, as such, means that they receive their ‘white’ garments after death
in a resurrection to spirit life, that is not what it states. These people should be
wearing white garments now, but are not. The few in Sardis who are ‘presently’ in
‘white’ are exhorted to continue in overcoming so that they will still be wearing
white when the ‘Son’ comes. They must already be wearing white in order to be worthy
in the first place!
Revelation 6:11 And white robes were given unto every one of them; and it was said unto them, that they should rest yet for a little season, until their fellowservants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were, should be fulfilled. (Do the ‘white robes’ here require that anyone found wearing a white robe anywhere else be dead, or a martyr? No, it does not. Remember that some were wearing white in Sardis already, and they were still human. Also, the Laodiceans were to buy white clothes, which they should have already been wearing, but were not.)
Now, before we move on, let’s notice something else about
Revelation 7:14. These robes were ‘washed’. Many suppose that because the Christian is
supposed to be ‘washed’ and this multitude is also ‘washed’ that they must somehow
be the same group. 1 Corinthians 6:11 And
such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are
justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. We see that a
true Christian is ‘washed’, but does that make the ‘great multitude’ the
resurrected ekklesia, or ‘church’? No, it does not. The word for washed in this verse
is ‘apolouo’ and means, "to wash off or
away", and is used in referring to bathing the body. The ‘washed’ in Revelation
7:14 in the Greek is ‘pluno’ and means, "to wash, with reference to clothing". These are
two different words used for two different but similar purposes. The point being is that
to be ‘washed’ as a Christian is not the same kind of ‘washed’ that takes place in
Revelation 7:14. This is another indicator that this ‘great multitude’ may not be the
resurrected ekklesia. It is important to note here that neither ‘washed’ is to be
taken literally. A Christian cannot bath in water and wash off sin. Neither does anyone
literally wash his or her clothes ‘white’, and certainly not in red blood. The use of
‘white garments’ is expressive of becoming or conducting oneself in righteousness.
Consider Revelation 19:8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white:
for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. This does not limit ‘linen’
clothing to be literally worn only by ‘saints’. This is figurative, just as the
‘washed’ and the ‘white’ garments are, too. Neither the true Christian nor the
‘multitude’ is literally ‘washed’ or wearing ‘white’. They are both used
figuratively to represent a state or condition or attitude. Therefore, because someone is
described in the Bible as being ‘washed’ it in no way mandates that the ‘great
multitude’ is somehow automatically the resurrected ekklesia (church or Body of Christ).
Likewise, because the ‘multitude’ is wearing ‘white’ does not make any of them an
angel, as angels are usually portrayed. What is implied is the same attitude or condition
that is symbolized by the ‘white’ clothing of an angel or other individual wearing
white is also symbolized in the ‘great multitude’. Either way, to this point, there is
nothing that makes the ‘great multitude’ either one thing or the other.
We are not ignoring the ‘blood of the Lamb’, but will
address that later, after more information is presented. Many think that this blood is
only for Christians. We would ask that you review the associated addendum to this article
(see link at end of article).
So, for now, it would appear that there is no compelling reason to believe that this
‘great multitude’ must be spirit. The question of whether they are physical or spirit
will be answered in a little while, but before we finish with that let’s address one
more related point.
Let’s see what multitudes, or great multitude(s),
or innumerable multitude(s) we might find spoken of in the Bible in order to see how the
Bible uses this kind of expression overall, and who is referred to in these other
Genesis 13:16 And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth: so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered. (This is a promise to Abraham by God.)
Hosea 1:10 Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God. (Israel will be an innumerable multitude according to Hosea. And, yet again this is a reference to a returning nation of captives coming back to the land of Israel.)
Luke 12:1 In the meantime, when there were gathered together an innumerable multitude <3461> of people, insomuch that they trode one upon another, he began to say unto his disciples first of all, Beware ye of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. (The word innumerable multitude translated from the Greek here in Luke means: <3461> a ten-thousand; by extension, a "myriad" or indefinite number:—ten thousand. Obviously there were not millions of people here in this particular instance, not even tens of thousands, but notice that it was an ‘innumerable multitude’, meaning a lot of people.)
Hebrews 12:22 But ye are come unto mount Sion, and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable<3461> company of angels, (This ‘innumerable’ means a ‘myriad’. This is normally a larger quantity than ‘great multitude’.)
Rev 7:9 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude,<3793> 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; (The Greek word translated ‘multitude’ here is different from the Greek words translated into ‘innumerable multitude’ in Luke 12 and Hebrews 12 above. Here, <3793> means: a throng (as borne along); by implication, the rabble; by extension, a class of people; figuratively, a riot:—company, multitude, number (of people), people, press.)
It should be noted that in the Greek the
‘innumerable multitude’ of Luke 12 and Hebrews 12 typically represents a ‘greater’
number than the Greek words do for ‘great multitude’ of Rev 7. Once again, evidence
showing that the ‘great multitude’ of Revelation 7 is not as great a number as some
would like to make it.
Hebrews 11:12 Therefore sprang there even of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of the sky in multitude, and as the sand which is by the sea shore innumerable<382>. (Here ‘innumerable’ simply means ‘not numbered’.)
We can see
from these and other scriptures that a innumerable multitude, or a multitude that cannot
be measured (counted), is basically a figure of speech implying no specific number at all.
What John experienced and stated in Revelation 7:9 was simply the fact that they were more
than he could physical keep track of. For example, if someone dropped you off on top of a
large sports stadium on game day, could you count the number of fans present? No, you
could not! Not without massive help and total cooperation by the individual fans. We have
all seen crowds of people in stadiums, it is literally and physically impossible for an
unaided human to sit there and count the total in attendance, even if he had all day, and
John did not. With fans moving around, getting hot dogs, beer, going to the restrooms,
etc. a human could not track each one there by just looking and counting, and neither
could John. I hope the point here is clear. We must remember the circumstance that caused
John to write, not only the things that he wrote, but also why he wrote them that way. A
huge mountain has been made from a molehill, when it comes to this ‘great multitude’,
by not considering the obvious.
let’s look at the next three verses of Revelation 7 and see what else these verses say
and don’t say.
Revelation 7:15 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. (‘Therefore’ means, ‘On this account’, or ‘For this cause’. Day and night is a Hebraism for ‘continually’, which only means that they were not serving another God, but only this one. This is not a 24-hour requirement for their presence before the throne and they could not do anything else. But, let’s notice what the Bible has for us on this subject in this context.)
16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.
17 For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters (or, ‘springs of living water’, or, ‘river of living water’): and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
So from verses 15-17 we see God on His Throne and God is
dwelling among this ‘multitude’. We also see that this multitude is told that they
will no longer become hungry or thirsty, that they will not have to worry about sunlight
and heat causing them problems, and that the Lamb (Jesus Christ) will feed them and
‘lead’ them to springs of water. Finally, they will have their tears wiped from their
eyes. As a note on this last point, it is not logical that we should expect this to mean
that God will personally wipe physical tears from each individual. This expression, if
taken totally literally would not only require God the Father to be the personal tear
remover of each person in the multitude, but would also prevent Jesus, the Lamb, from
participating in this endeavor as well. Yet, it is supposedly the Lamb that will be
responsible for feeding them and leading them to water to drink. This is an excellent
indicator that what is written implies something more than, or other than, what is
literally stated. So, what does this all mean and who does it apply to?
Please read the following scriptures and related comments with
Revelation 7 (or all of Revelation for that matter) in mind. Let’s see what God has said
in the past about these issues and what was meant then and for whom.
Zechariah 2:11 (vss6-12 is best to read) And many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and shall be my people: and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto thee. (So, God will dwell with Israel.)
Exodus 29:45 And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will be their God.
1 Kings 6:13 And I will dwell among the children of Israel, and will not forsake my people Israel.
1 Chronicles 23:25 For David said, The LORD God of Israel hath given rest unto his people, that they may dwell in Jerusalem for ever: (Dwelling in Jerusalem ‘forever’ does not mean that they will never be able to leave Jerusalem and visit any other city in the world, only that they will never again be taken prisoners and removed from their land. This is the same concept as ‘serve him day and night in his temple’.)
Psalms 68:16 Why leap ye, ye high hills? this is the hill which God desireth to dwell in; yea, the LORD will dwell in it for ever. (And where is that hill where the Lord will dwell forever? In Israel! On the earth! See our article The New Jerusalem)
Psalms 68:18 Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the LORD God might dwell among them.
So, if God is ‘among’ His people Israel, might
His Throne be there, too? Certainly! Now, continuing:
Jeremiah 3:17 (vss14-19 is best) At that time they shall call Jerusalem the throne of the LORD; and all the nations shall be gathered unto it, to the name of the LORD, to Jerusalem: neither shall they walk any more after the imagination of their evil heart.
look again at verses 16-17 of Revelation 7 together.
16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. 17 For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.
Who does the Bible identify as the recipients of
these verses? Let’s consider who the
recipients of the following verses are and in what ways the concepts of thirst, hunger,
tears, etc. are used elsewhere in the Bible. Then afterward perhaps we can form a factual
biblical viewpoint on this matter.
Psalms 77:2 In the day of my trouble I sought the Lord: my sore ran in the night, and ceased not: my soul refused to be comforted.
Psalms 98:3 He hath remembered his mercy and his truth toward the house of Israel: all the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God.
Psalms 110:2 The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. 3 Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth.
Psalms 134:1 <<A Song of degrees.>> Behold, bless ye the LORD, all ye servants of the LORD, which by night stand in the house of the LORD. 2) Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the LORD.
Psalms 42:2 My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? (This is figurative language, just as in Revelation. David was human and in the flesh. Notice what David ‘thirsted’ for. It was not water.)
Psalms 63:1 <<A Psalm of David, when he was in the wilderness of Judah.>> O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; (Again, figurative and it involves a human as opposed to spirit being.)
Psalms 143:6 I stretch forth my hands unto thee: my soul thirsteth after thee, as a thirsty land. Selah. (Again, figurative and human. Here we see the use of ‘simile’. The word ‘as’ in ‘as a thirsty land’ does not mean that there is a literal thirst for water, but only that the thirst for God is similar in kind to a dry lands thirst for water.)
Isaiah 41:17 When the poor and needy seek water, and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I the LORD will hear them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them. (Again, a figurative use for God’s action toward a human. God takes a real thirst for water and shows us why He is God and just what the Love of God is. See Isaiah for the full context. This is much more about God than water.)
Isaiah 49:10 They shall not hunger nor thirst; neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: for he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, even by the springs of water shall he guide them. (Could this be where John quoted Revelation 7:16 from? Who does it apply to here? Answer, Israel! - a nation of living, physical humans who have just come out of captivity, hmmm.)
Matthew 5:6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. (Is there any reason to believe that Jesus only meant after you die? Notice that even here in the New Testament the use of ‘thirst’ and even ‘hunger’ are figurative and refer to the same old theme of being thirsty for God. Further notice that being thirsty for God is at a time when you are still human and in the flesh and looking for a time when God will dwell with His people as so many prophecies state! Then, when God does dwell with His people they will no longer ‘thirst’ for Him because He will be with them.)
Psalms 22:26 The meek shall eat and be satisfied: they shall praise the LORD that seek him: your heart shall live for ever. (This is about humans again.)
Psalms 28:9 Save thy people, and bless thine inheritance: feed them also, and lift them up for ever. (Humans need food to live, spirit beings do not. Doesn’t this verse say virtually the same thing as Revelation 7:16-17? Who are the ‘people’ here? They are ‘thy people’, and that means Israel.)
We might note that this ‘feeding’ of Israel or
anyone else, while it is dual, meaning that it refers to both physical food and spiritual
food, nevertheless is expressly directed to human beings. Nowhere does this refer to
‘feeding’ a spirit being as they do not ‘need’ to be fed.
Isaiah 40:11 He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young. (Even the ‘figurative’ uses all apply to living humans and not spirit beings. And these humans are all Israelites.)
Ezekiel 34:23 And I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and he shall be their shepherd. (Same again.)
Micah 5:4 And he shall stand and feed in the strength of the LORD, in the majesty of the name of the LORD his God; and they shall abide: for now shall he be great unto the ends of the earth. (Ditto, again.)
Micah 7:14 Feed thy people with thy rod, the flock of thine heritage, which dwell solitarily in the wood, in the midst of Carmel: let them feed in Bashan and Gilead, as in the days of old. (Still about physical people in a physical nation.)
Isaiah 35:6 Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert. 7 And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes.
Jeremiah 2:13 For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewed them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water. (Again, even the figurative continues to apply to the physical nation.)
Jeremiah 31:9 They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble: for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn. (Here we see a people, Israel, who are weeping and in need of help. We also see that God is the one helping them.)
Isaiah 25:8 He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it. (A close examination of this chapter reveals that the nation of Israel will be rescued from death as a nation, be reborn or resurrected, if you like, back into statehood from captivity. So, in that light notice the ‘wipe away tears from off their faces’. This is the result of coming out of Jacob’s Trouble, The Great Tribulation. They are still physical and still Israel.)
Isaiah 30:19 For the people shall dwell in Zion at Jerusalem: thou shalt weep no more: he will be very gracious unto thee at the voice of thy cry; when he shall hear it, he will answer thee. (More of the same. Doesn’t God talk about anything else but Israel?)
Isaiah 35:10 And the ransomed (Jacob/ Israel, see context of chapter) of the LORD shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away. (The Great Multitude of Revelation 7 is primarily made up of these returning Israelites. They have just survived the worst captivity in Israelite history and God is about to initiate the Day of the Lord upon the ‘Gentile’ nations.)
Isaiah 60:19 The sun shall be no more thy light by day; neither for brightness shall the moon give light unto thee: but the LORD shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory. 20 Thy sun shall no more go down; neither shall thy moon withdraw itself: for the LORD shall be thine everlasting light, and the days of thy mourning shall be ended. (This is yet again a reference to the returning captives who will be dwelling with their God in the new heavens and new earth. Notice the apparent ‘conflicting’ verses. Verse 19 ‘appears’ to state that the sun and moon will no longer shine over them in the day and night respectively. Then, to paraphrase, verse 20 states that the ‘sun’ and ‘moon’ shall not set again, but remain visible all the time. In one verse there is no sun and moon, and then the next verse states that they will never set on them again. Do you know what the bible means by this? Some have taken it to mean that this is all spiritual and that all physical life and matter are done away with, but is that what it says? No, it is not at all what is said or meant. Many other prophecies and Old Testament scriptures explain this ‘apparent’ conflict. For a fuller explanation please see the articles on The New Heavens and the New Earth as well as The New Jerusalem. The truth is much simpler than one might imagine.)
These scriptures should be enough to get the idea of who the
recipients are of Rev 7:16-17. There are many, many more scriptures and you can find them
all in your Bible.
So who is the ‘great multitude’ that no man, including John
was able to count?
They would be the rest of Israel who were not included in the
144,000 listed in Revelation 7:1-8, plus any ‘Gentiles’ who wanted to come with
Israel! This great multitude rejected the ‘mark’ of the beast and survived the worst
time of national captivity that ever was upon Israel. The Great Multitude are those whom
God re-gathers from captivity and brings to the land of Israel. They are then protected by
God from the plagues of the Day of the Lord that follows their re-gathering.