Read Revelation 7:9-10. What group of saints does John see at this point? How are they described, and where do they come from? What are they shouting before God’s throne?
John sees a “great multitude, which no one could number”, who came “out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb” (Rev. 7:14, NKJV). That is, they are a special group of people who, despite whatever tribulation they went through, have stayed faithful to Jesus, a faithfulness symbolized by their being covered in the robes of His perfect righteousness. The word “tribulation” is used very frequently in the Bible to refer to the things that believers suffer for their faith (see for example, Exod. 4:31, Ps. 9:9, Matt. 24:9, John 16:33, Rom 5:3). Therefore, although some Adventist interpreters view this group as another representation of the 144,000, we could understand the “great multitude” as a reference to all the redeemed who have suffered for their faith down through the ages.
Here, too, in John’s description of the “great multitude, which no one could number”, we see, as we do in all the Bible, the great theme of salvation by grace. The only claim of the redeemed to salvation, to eternal life, to the new heavens and the new earth, is the righteousness of Christ, which is given to them by grace.
“Nearest the throne are those who were once zealous in the cause of Satan, but who, plucked as brands from the burning, have followed their Saviour with deep, intense devotion. Next are those who perfected Christian characters in the midst of falsehood and infidelity, those who honored the law of God when the Christian world declared it void, and the millions, of all ages, who were martyred for their faith. And beyond is the ‘great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, … before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands’. Revelation 7:9. Their warfare is ended, their victory won. They have run the race and reached the prize. The palm branch in their hands is a symbol of their triumph, the white robe an emblem of the spotless righteousness of Christ which now is theirs”. – Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, p. 665.
|Yes, we are covered with the righteousness of Christ, a gift of faith. But how can we maintain that faith and stay faithful amid trials and tribulation? Or, even more important, how do we maintain that faith and faithfulness in times of ease and prosperity? (See Deut. 8:11-17).|