The Great Multitude in Heaven: Page 2 of 4 (series: Lessons on Revelations)
by John Lowe
10 And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.
(5) The shout of the triumphant faithful ascribes salvation to God. It is God who has brought them through their trials and tribulations and distresses; and it is His glory which they now share. God is the great Savior, the great Deliver of His people. And the deliverance which He gives is not the deliverance of escape but the deliverance of conquest. It is not a deliverance which saves a man from trouble but one which brings him triumphantly through trouble. It does not make life easy, but it makes life great. It is not part of the Christian hope to look for a life in which a man is saved from all trouble and distress; the Christian hope is that a man in Christ can endure any kind of trouble and distress, and remain erect all through them, and come out to glory on the other side.
They (the great multitude) were saved by trusting the Lord Jesus. In their psalm (song) they celebrate their salvation and attribute it to their God and to the Lamb, and they thanked God for His gift. “Salvation,” they say, “unto the Lamb.” These are Gentiles who will be saved during the Great Tribulation by trusting the Lord Jesus.
They are in heaven, not because they were willing to be martyred, not because they gave their bodies to be burned, not because they were counted as sheep for the slaughter, not because they endured to the end, not because they took joyfully the loss of their goods, not because they came through great tribulation, but because of the Lamb. And they know it!
“Salvation” from sin’s penalty can come only through Jesus Christ and His sacrifice. Suffering, or even martyrdom, cannot save anyone. Have you had the guilt of sin removed in the only way possible? Turn to Christ for cleansing and forgiveness.
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,
The picture created here is of a series of great concentric circles of the inhabitants of heaven. On the outer ring stand all the angels. These are unfallen angels, therefore they had never known the joy of experiencing salvation; however, they always rejoice in the salvation of sinners on earth (see Luke 15:8-10). They add their “Amen” whenever a soul is saved. To say “amen” means to say, “may this be according to you, God.”
Near the throne are the twenty-four elders (who are unfallen); still nearer are the four living creatures (also unfallen); and before the throne are the white-robed martyrs—human beings who have been redeemed—the only ones who could sing of the salvation they had received. The martyrs have just sung their shout of praise to God and the angels take that song of praise and make it their own. “So let it be,” say the angels; they say “Amen” to the martyrs’ praises. Then they sing their own song of praise and every word in it is meaningful.
Please notice here that all praise, honor, worship and adoration is directed to the Lamb “because He is worthy.”
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.
This verse is loaded! Not a member of that redeemed host is silent. Their struggles and trials are over. Those worshipping around the throne of God, praise Him for seven characteristics of His:
(1) They ascribe blessing to God; and God’s creation must always be blessing Him for His goodness in creation and in redemption and in providence to all that He has created. As a great saint put it: “Thou hast made us and we are thine; thou hast redeemed us and we are doubly thine.”
(2) They ascribe glory to God. This multitude that John saw recognized the source of their salvation and victory. Not one of them is silent. And rightly so! When sovereign grace does its mighty works of salvation in any man’s life, there is cause for praise to God and the Lamb. The praise of the redeemed ones causes the angelic hosts of Heaven to fall on their faces and worship God. God is the King of kings and the Lord of lords; therefore, to Him must be given glory. God is love but that love must never be cheaply sentimentalized, men must never forget the majesty of God.
(3) They ascribe wisdom to God. God is the source of all truth, the giver of all knowledge. If men seek wisdom, they can find it by only two paths, by the seeking of their minds and by waiting upon God—and the one is an important as the other.
(4) They offer thanksgiving to God. God is the giver of salvation and the constant provider of grace; he is the Creator of the world and the constant sustainer of all that is in it. It was the cry of the psalmist: “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits” (Psalm
(5) They ascribe honor to God. God is to be worshipped. It may be that sometimes we come to think of Him as someone to be used; but we ought not to forget the claims of worship, so that we not only ask things from him but offer ourselves and all we have to Him.
(6) They ascribe power to God. God’s power never grows less and the wonder is that it is used in love for men. God works his purposes out throughout the ages and in the end His kingdom will come.
(7) They ascribe strength to God. The problem of life is to find strength for its tasks, its responsibilities, its demands. The Christian can say: “I will go in the strength of the Lord.”
The “Amen” of the Angelic worshippers endorses the praise of the redeemed multitude, while they, too, add their thanksgiving.
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.
The elder asked John “What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? (v. 13). The wise elder’s answer— “These are they which came out of great tribulation,”—seems to show that he expected the question and was prepared to give the answer. The elder knew all along who they were, but God wanted John to know, and He wants us to know. They are the saved ones out of every nation, tongue, tribe, and kindred on the face of the earth. These people didn’t go with the raptured church, since they were not yet saved. During the seven-year period they will be saved, martyred, and enter heaven. Though it is a time of unparalleled judgment, it is also a time of unparalleled grace in salvation (Matthew 24:12-14). They will be saved through the preaching of the 144,000—but they will be saved by “the blood.” These glorious martyrs have not died as yet; they may not even have been born, but God wants the saints of all ages to know about them. He wants them properly recognized. He wants their glorious victory to be eternally recorded on the deathless pages of Holy Writ so that the record may be read long after the stars have ceased to shine! The elder, who answered his own question is convinced that he and his people are standing at the end time of history and that that end time is to be terrible beyond all imagining. The whole point of this vision is that after that terrible time glory will follow. It is not tribulation in general of which he is speaking but of that tribulation which Jesus foretold when he said, “In those days there will be such tribulation as has not been from the beginning of the creation which God created until now, and never will be” (Mark 13:19; Matthew 24:21). The tribulation of our present passage is the persecution of the followers of Christ which erupted in such intense malignity in John’s day and continues until the ultimate triumph of Christ. (We western Christians may forget too easily that the present day is one of intense and large-scale persecution of the church, especially in Muslim areas.) “They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the lamb”: a vivid way of saying that their present blessedness and their fitness to appear in the presence of God has been won for them by the sacrifice of Christ. “Blood of the Lamb” refers to the atoning sacrifice of Christ (1:5; 5:9; Romans 3:24, 25; 5:9).
To have “come out of the great tribulation” does not mean that they exited the earth before the hour of tribulation. To of the contrary, they did indeed experience the tribulations of this evil age; but now in heaven they enjoyed the presence of God, where they will hunger no more nor thirst any more. No longer subject to death (21:4), they will drink of the water of life, will no more experience the oppressive heat of the sun, and will have every tear wiped from their eyes. As the true Israel of God, Christians (“the servants of our God”) have the seal of God. Having refused the mark of the beast (13:16-17), they hold to the testimony of Jesus in spite of persecution and therefore have the promise of final heavenly deliverance from this evil age of great tribulation.
The great crowd of the blessed ones are in “white robes.” The Bible has much to say both about “white robes” and about soiled robes. In the ancient world this was a very natural picture, for it was forbidden to approach a god with robes which were unclean. The picture was still further intensified by the fact that often when a Christian was baptized he was dressed in new white robes. These robes were taken to symbolize his new life and to soil them was the symbolic way of expressing failure to be true to the baptismal vows.