The Great Multitude
The Great Multitude in Revelation 7 has been a matter of much interest to students of the Bible. Many have pondered their hopes and expectations as well as the joys they will experience and how they fit in with other groups of people mentioned in the Bible. But apart from that chapter, are this group written about or pictured anywhere else in the scriptures?
Psalm 45:13‑15 says "The royal daughter is all glorious within the palace; Her clothing is woven with gold. She shall be brought to the King in robes of many colours; The virgins, her companions who follow her, shall be brought to You. With gladness and rejoicing they shall be brought". Psalm 45 is written describing the bridegroom, the bride and her companions. The writer's heart is overflowing with a goodly theme describing the bridegroom, the bride and her companions.
The Bridegroom: Discovering who the bridegroom represents in this psalm is easy, it is a description firstly of Jesus in his human form and then as the victorious King. One can only imagine what a perfect man would appear like, but there is an answer to what is meant by "Grace is poured upon Your lips" (Psalm 45:2) in Luke 4:22 when those in the synagogue upon hearing Jesus speak stated. "There was a general stir of admiration; they were surprised that words of such grace should fall from his lips." (NEB) Verse 4 of the Psalm is cited by the writer to the Hebrews, "has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high." (Hebrews 1:2‑3) Paul confirms who the Psalm represents when he writes "But to the Son He says, 'Your throne is forever and ever, a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of Your Kingdom'" (Hebrews 1:8)
The Bride: The description of the Bride opens with the "Kings' daughters are among Your honourable women; At Your right hand stands the queen in gold from Ophir. Listen, O daughter, consider and incline your ear; Forget your own people also, and your father's house;" (Psalm 45. 9‑10) How similar are the sentiments of these verses to the words of Jesus in Matthew 10:37 "He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me." "The King will greatly desire your beauty" (v.11) is interesting when you look at the aspect that the bride is drawn from all the nations of the earth, fallen mankind. Paul explains in Ephesians 5:25‑27 "Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish." Verse 13 (KJV) of the Psalm reads "The king's daughter is all glorious within: her clothing is of wrought gold." The description here is one of inward beauty and Peter writes "Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel—rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God." (1 Peter 3:3‑4) The gold interwoven into her clothing could not only show her status as Queen and her position as having the Divine nature, but also her faithfulness as Peter states "so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than that gold which perishes, though proved by Fire, may be found to (result in) Praise and Glory and Honour at the Revelation of Jesus Christ;" (1 Peter 1:7 Diaglott)
The Virgin, her companions: The question arises to who are the companions and how did they come to be with the bride on the way to her wedding. The fact that they were virgins suggests that they were pure and had not been defiled. They are both going to the wedding and the wedding is in Heaven then they must both be spirit beings.
All the virgins started from the same position, fallen mankind. They had responded to Christ's message during the Gospel Age (Christian Era). Not all that heard Christ's message during His time on earth were to be selected. Christ explains "No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day." (John 6:44) And also in verse 65, "Because of this I have said to you, that no one can come to me, unless it may be given him from the Father." (Diaglott) With the death and resurrection of Christ, a way, not previously available, was open. Christ's death had paid the ransom to free mankind from the death sentence passed on them through Adam's disobedience. Another effect of Christ's death and resurrection was symbolized with the tearing of the veil in the temple which demonstrated the separation of God from mankind. Access was now available through the acceptance of Christ's sacrifice.
The coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles at Pentecost signalled that the way to "the prize of the upward (high) call of God in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 3:14) was opened. In Peter's speech to the Jews at that time he makes the statement "Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission (forgiveness) of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is to you and to your children, and for all who are afar off, as many as the Lord our God will call." (Acts 2:38‑39) The message was to the Jew first and then also to the Greeks (Gentiles) (Luke 24:47; Rom 1:16; Rom 2:9‑10) and this was the message that Christ gave at His first advent "I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel." (Matthew 15:24)
Gentiles. Peter received a vision from God explaining that the time of exclusive favour to the Jews had ended and that the way was now opened for the Gentiles to come in. Peter then spoke these words "I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness (does what is right) is accepted by Him." (Acts 10:34‑35) Three chapters later Paul and Barnabas spoke boldly "It was necessary that the word of God be spoken to you first; but since you reject it, and judge yourselves unworthy of everlasting life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us: 'I have set you as a light to the Gentiles, that you should be for salvation to the ends of the earth.' Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord. And as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed" (Acts 13:46‑48).
Some may say that God is unfair, not all who hear His word are called, not all called will be chosen, not all that make a covenant of Sacrifice will receive the same position or honour. He makes decisions on what will eventually bring about the fulfilment of His purpose. There are numerous examples in the Old Testament of decisions made that run contrary to man's thinking. He chose Isaac over Ishmael, Jacob over Esau, and Israel (although the least in number) over all the nations on earth.
The selection of the tribe of Levi, to serve God in the Tabernacle, demonstrates God's absolute power to choose who He will and what positions He assigns, contrary to man's wisdom. Levi's character was one of violence to man and cruelty to animals. Jacob wanted no part of Levi's council and cursed him shortly before he died. (Gen.49:5‑7) Aaron who was the leader of the tribe of Levi at the time of the Exodus also appears a strange choice. In Exodus 32:4 it is written that he instigated the making of the Golden Calf and then pronounced "This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!"
The tribe of Levi's selection could be said to typify the choosing of the Church of the first born. (Hebrews 12:23) The Levites (22,000) replaced the firstborn who were saved in Egypt. (Numbers 3:40‑51) It is interesting to also note that all the tribe, not just the priests had no inheritance in the land. "The priests, the Levites—all the tribe of Levi—shall have no part nor inheritance with Israel; they shall eat the offerings of LORD made by fire, and His portion. Therefore they shall have no inheritance among their brethren; the LORD is their inheritance, as He said to them." (Deut.18:1‑2) How similar is this to the consecrated follows of Christ down through the Gospel Age, who have to put from their minds earthly things "for our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:" (Philippians 3:20) The Levites were spoken of as God's inheritance in the same way that Paul spoke of the saints when addressing the Ephesians. (Eph.1:18)
Although both Levi and Aaron had failings, when it came to Moses' question "Whoso is on Jehovah's side, let him come unto me" it was the sons of Levi that answered the call and separated themselves, maybe a picture that the Church must separate itself from the world and especially from the false religious systems. The tribe of Levi had four divisions with God selecting a different role for each family. Aaron and his sons serviced as the High Priest and the priesthood who did the sacrifices on behalf of the people of Israel. The Kohathites, the nearest kin of Aaron's house, held the highest office, the bearer of all the vessels of the sanctuary. The Gershonites had to carry the tent hangings and curtains. The sons of Merari carried the boards, bars and the pillars of the Tabernacle. The Levites also camped on the four sides of the Tabernacle putting a distance between the Tabernacle and the people of Israel.
The division of the Levites demonstrates the difference between the Bride and the Great Multitude. Both are God's inheritance, He and He alone makes the decision on what place they hold. Like the Levites they have no inheritance in the earth, signifying their Heavenly Spiritual position. In Revelation the Bride is shown as sitting with Christ on His throne while the Great Multitude is standing before the throne. They are "in the presence of" the throne of God. This from the Greek word enopion (G1799) is often translated as presence. It writes, "These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and (have) washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple (sanctuary). And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them." (Revelation 7:14‑15) They serve in the Temple sanctuary. This is the Greek word naos meaning the main part of the Temple as opposed to the Greek word hieron meaning the Temple and its court and environs. The fact that they came through great tribulation may indicate that they had great difficulty because they had not totally put their trust in God, at times relying on their own strength.
Jesus in the Parable of the Sower also has a division. Apart from the four types of ground where the seed was sown, the seed that fell on the good ground brought forward thirty, sixty or hundred times what was sown (Matt.13:23). This shows even a division among the seed that brought forward much fruit and suggests a division among the overcoming class.
The Bride has the same divine nature as her husband, Christ, sitting with Him on His throne having been "more than conquerors". (Rom 8:37) The Great Multitude is mentioned in Revelations 7:9‑14 as "a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, 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, saying, 'Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!'...Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, 'Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?' And I said to him…."These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and (have) washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb." The white signifies their status as virgins, because they washed them in the blood of the Lamb even during great tribulation.
God's divine purpose will be fulfilled as spoken of in Revelation 21:3‑5 (KJV) "And I heard a great voice out of the throne saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he shall dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither...any more pain: for the former things are passed away. And he that sat on the throne said, Behold, I make all things new."
In summary the Bride and the Great Multitude are pictured in the Bible in different ways at different times. In Psalm 45 it is as the Bride and her companions, in the Tabernacle arrangement as the Aaronic priesthood and Levites, in Revelation 7 as the 144,000 and Great Multitude as well as those who brought forward higher and lower fruitage in the Parable of the Sower. Both occupy a position of beauty and honour and are overcomers to help in the time when the kingdoms of our God have come on earth.
"And I heard, as it were, the voice of a great multitude, as the sound of many waters and as the sound of mighty thunderings, saying, "Alleluia! For the Lord God Omnipotent reigns! Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready."...Then he said to me, "Write: 'Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!'" And he said to me, "These are the true sayings of God." (Revelation 19:6‑9)