A Great Multitude and a Great Hope

Kevin DeYoung:

After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:9-10)

imgresThe great multitude is a host of overcomers.  They’ve done it.  They triumphed.  They finished the race. They faced hunger and thirst and heat and tears (v. 16), but they did not curse God. They did not bail. They did not compromise.  They held fast to word of God and the testimony of Jesus.  They proved to be more than conquerors through him who loved us.

They also prove to be a colorful bunch. This is not a vanilla multitude. When we get to heaven we will be pleased to find a vast array of people that do not look like us. There are going to be millions of Africans in that great multitude and plenty of Brazilians and Chinese and Filipinos, and lots of Mexicans and Indians and Arabs, and there will be some white people too.  And if you think it is great to sing your favorite hymn in English, it’s going to be even better when you get to hear it in Shona and Swedish and Swahili. You’ll thrill to hear praise in Fang and French and Finnish, and rejoice to see the throng spill out their songs in German and Japanese and Hausa and Hungarian and Quechuan and Kazakh and Korean. Heaven will be diversity without the political correctness and multi-culturalism unified in one single purpose. Every heart, every head, every voice giving glory to God and to the Lamb.

Revelation 7 is the final fulfillment of the promise to made to Abraham to multiply his offspring and make him a great nation. God’s plan has always been for more than ethnic Israel, more than Europe, more than the West. His plan has been to make a people for himself from every nation and tribe. God loves to be praised in white churches and African American churches and Russian churches and by every other congregation that calls on the name of his Son.

How sweet it will be when all our churches can sing together. Let us pursue now what we will enjoy in glory then. For what started with one man, called out of paganism, and joined to his barren wife, will one day come to culmination on the other side of the seven seals with a vast array of singing saints more numerous than the sand on the seashore.

Peter serves as a pastor-teacher, at home and abroad, resourcing gospel-centred communities.

One thought on “A Great Multitude and a Great Hope

  1. Absolutely a desireable group to be counted in, well that is until you understand the price that it costs to be numbered here.

    Rev. 7 verse 14 tells us that these people, the great multitude, are those, “which come out of the great tribulation”
    It’s important to understand the origin and who “they” are because there seems to be confusion surrounding this issue.
    The confusion is caused by the translation of the word ‘come’ from the Greek text. In the Greek it is a verb with a present imperfect verb tense. In the English this verb tense is non-existant.

    Wikipedia states this about the imperfect tense:
    “Imperfect” comes from the Latin imperfectus “unfinished”,[2] because the imperfect expresses an ongoing, uncompleted action. The equivalent Ancient Greek term was paratatikós “prolonged”

    This paragraph is written to help understand the verb tense in the Greek:
    In the English language can be used in both past and present tenses. The command “Come here!” is very much a present tense, however if it is used with ‘have’ come or ‘has’ come it clarifies the word tense as past tense. If Noah was to tell his wife, “The animals now come two by two into the ark.” The tense of the verb come would satisfy the usage of the present and imperfect tense of the Greek word tense scrutinized here. This satisfies the verb tense because the verb form is presently happinging and ongoing. If Noah was to tell his wife, “The animals had always come two by two before”, then the verb tense would be past imperfect. The spanish language has a special ending for this particular verb tense. The English language has no defining characteristics to clearify this tense. Therefore there can be confusion between the two languages when translating them.

    The Correct translation:
    Lets’ look at the verb “come” in the verse Rev. 7:14. The Greek reference number for this word is 2064. The Strong’s states that this word in the Greek is only used in the present and imperfect tenses. However, the NIV version of the Word puts this verb in the past tense, as a completed action. This is an incorrect usage of this verb tense. The KJV states, “which come” , this is a correct form of the verb. If the KJV had stated ‘which have (or has) come’, it would be an incorrect interpretation. This is because it is a present (not past) imperfect tense. Which means presently happening and ongoing. Any interpretation of past tense must be ruled out. Confusion can happen when people assume that the verb is past tense, because the word “come” in the English language can be used in both past and present tenses. The Greek interlinear parallel New Testament by, Alfred Marshall clarifies it best in this passage, “These are the[ones] coming out of affection – great…” (Sorry, I don’t have the ability to type the Greek above each word as this version has.) This version removes any of the confusion that is caused in translation. The passage is about those who are currently coming out of the great tribulation. The KJV is correct, but too many people attempt to slide in the word ‘has’ or ‘have’ in front of the word ‘come’, changing it’s tense and meaning.

    Understanding the passage:
    Who are the ones coming out of great tribulation (vs. 14)? These are in reference to the great multitude mentioned in verse 9.
    Who are the “great multitude” (verse 9)? Those who are coming out and continuing to come out of the great tribulation (verse 14).

    Who are they who’s numbers are not complete, but still coming out of the great tribulation? Rev. 6:9-11, makes that clear. Those experiencing martyrdom in the fifth seal. They are told to, “…rest yet for a little season, until their fellow servants also and their brethren, that should be killed as they were should be fulfilled.” These people are still coming out of the great tribulation. If you are still not getting it, read the whole passage Rev.6:9 through Rev.7:14 again for the first time. Only those who are deceived by man, through the pretrib additionial information added to Revelation, cannot read the plain and simple truth. A pretrib rapture does not exist in Revelations unless man ADDS it into this book.

    At no time can anyone come to the conclusion in this passage that the “great multitude” is made up of raptured people unless they have been indoctrinated by someone who has told them that a secret rapture took place in Rev. 4:1. Even then you must have an itching ear and twist scripture (change verb tenses) to buy into it. Those who indoctrinated the church in this manor have added to the book and have endangered themselves in receiving its plagues according to Rev. 22:18. Be careful that no man deceive you!

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