Sabbath, December 15, 2012
“And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? 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.” Revelation 7:13, 14.
Two groups of redeemed
1. After hearing the number 144,000 as those who receive the seal of the living God, what group in white garments did John see in vision?
Revelation 7:1-4 And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.
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.
2. After John saw the great multitude in white garments, what question did one of the elders ask him?
Revelation 7:13 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?
“The sealing having been accomplished, John beholds a countless multitude worshiping God in rapture before His throne. This vast throng are undoubtedly the saved out of every nation, kindred, tribe, and tongue, raised from the dead at the second coming of Christ, showing that the sealing is the last work accomplished for the people of God prior to translation….
“The questions proposed by one of the elders to John, ‘What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?’ taken in connection with John’s answer, ‘Sir, thou knowest,’ implying that John did not know, would seem to be devoid of all point, if they had reference to the whole of the great multitude now before him.” –Uriah Smith, The Prophecies of Daniel and the Revelation, pp. 468, 469.
The experience of the 144,000
3. What experience will the group in white garments in Revelation 7:13 pass through? Compare that to the experience of the 144,000.
Revelation 7:14-16 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. 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. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat.
“Upon the crystal sea before the throne, that sea of glass as it were mingled with fire–so resplendent is it with the glory of God–are gathered the company that have ‘gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name.’ With the Lamb upon Mount Zion, ‘having the harps of God,’ they stand, the hundred and forty and four thousand that were redeemed from among men;… ‘These are they which came out of great tribulation;’ they have passed through the time of trouble such as never was since there was a nation; they have endured the anguish of the time of Jacob’s trouble; they have stood without an intercessor through the final outpouring of God’s judgments. But they have been delivered, for they have ‘washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.’ Revelation 15:2, 3; 14:1-5. ‘In their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault’ before God. ‘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.’ They have seen the earth wasted with famine and pestilence, the sun having power to scorch men with great heat, and they themselves have endured suffering, hunger, and thirst. But ‘they shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. 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.’ Revelation 7:14-17.” –The Great Controversy, pp. 648, 649.
Characteristics of the two groups
4. From where and what time period does the great multitude come?
Revelation 7:9 After these things I saw, and behold, a great multitude, which no man could number, out of every nation and of all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, arrayed in white robes, and palms in their hands.
“The seer of Patmos, looking down through the ages to the time of this restoration of Israel in the earth made new, testified:
“ ‘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; and cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.’ ” –Prophets and Kings, pp. 720, 721.
5. Describe the differences in the characteristics between those in the great multitude and the 144,000.
Revelation 7:4-9 And I heard the number of them that were sealed, a hundred and forty and four thousand, sealed out of every tribe of the children of Israel: Of the tribe of Judah were sealed twelve thousand: Of the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand; Of the tribe of Gad twelve thousand; Of the tribe of Asher twelve thousand; Of the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand; Of the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand; Of the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand; Of the tribe of Levi twelve thousand; Of the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand; Of the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand; Of the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand; Of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand. 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.
• Origin: From the twelve tribes of Israel, meaning all who faithfully follow the three angels’ messages.
• Time: The sealing time of the 144,000 began in 1844, when the sealing work began.
• Seal: The 144,000 receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and have the seal of the living God.
“Those who would have the seal of God in their foreheads must keep the Sabbath of the fourth commandment. This is what distinguishes them from the disloyal, who have accepted a man-made institution in the place of the true Sabbath. The observance of God’s rest day is the mark of distinction between him that serveth God and him that serveth Him not.” –(MS 27, 1899) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, p. 970.
The great multitude
• Origin: From every nation, tribe, people, and tongue; they are the redeemed from down through the centuries.
• Time: The time extends from the beginning through the centuries, until the time of the end.
• Seal: The redeemed have the seal of the Holy Spirit.
“And beyond is the ‘great multitude, which no man could number 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.” –The Great Controversy, p. 665.
“In the work that was accomplished on the day of Pentecost, we may see what can be done by the exercise of faith. Those who believed in Christ were sealed by the Holy Spirit.” –(MS 85, 1903) Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 6, p. 1055.
6. Who are the spiritual people of Israel today? Did the apostle James send his letter to the literal twelve tribes of Israel or to the church of God? James 1:1.
James 1:1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.
“That which God purposed to do for the world through Israel, the chosen nation, He will finally accomplish through His church on earth today….
“… The word of God through His prophet to those who should yield themselves to Him and observe His law was that they should thenceforth be numbered among spiritual Israel–His church on earth.” –Prophets and Kings, pp. 713, 371.
“The ten tribes of the northern kingdom had gone into captivity in 722 B.C. (2 Kings 17:6, 23). Only a few of their descendants ever returned to Palestine (cf. on Ezra 6:17; 8:35). So the twelve tribes of Israel didn’t exist in the times of John and James. James may have used the term ‘twelve tribes’ in a collective sense of God’s people all over the world.” –Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, comments on James 1:1.
7. Summarize the personalities of the twelve sons (tribes) of Jacob, and compare them to the characteristics of modern Israel.
Genesis 49:1-27 And Jacob called unto his sons, and said, Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days. Gather yourselves together, and hear, ye sons of Jacob; and hearken unto Israel your father.
Reuben, thou art my firstborn, my might, and the beginning of my strength, the excellency of dignity, and the excellency of power: Unstable as water, thou shalt not excel; because thou wentest up to thy father’s bed; then defiledst thou it: he went up to my couch.
Simeon and Levi are brethren; instruments of cruelty are in their habitations. O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united: for in their anger they slew a man, and in their selfwill they digged down a wall. Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel: I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel.
Judah, thou art he whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand shall be in the neck of thine enemies; thy father’s children shall bow down before thee. Judah is a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up? The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be. Binding his foal unto the vine, and his ass’s colt unto the choice vine; he washed his garments in wine, and his clothes in the blood of grapes: His eyes shall be red with wine, and his teeth white with milk.
Zebulun shall dwell at the haven of the sea; and he shall be for an haven of ships; and his border shall be unto Zidon.
Issachar is a strong ass couching down between two burdens: And he saw that rest was good, and the land that it was pleasant; and bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant unto tribute.
Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel. Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward. I have waited for thy salvation, O Lord.
Gad, a troop shall overcome him: but he shall overcome at the last.
Out of Asher his bread shall be fat, and he shall yield royal dainties.
Naphtali is a hind let loose: he giveth goodly words.
Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall: The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him: But his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob; (from thence is the shepherd, the stone of Israel:) Even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee; and by the Almighty, who shall bless thee with blessings of heaven above, blessings of the deep that lieth under, blessings of the breasts, and of the womb: The blessings of thy father have prevailed above the blessings of my progenitors unto the utmost bound of the everlasting hills: they shall be on the head of Joseph, and on the crown of the head of him that was separate from his brethren.
Benjamin shall ravin as a wolf: in the morning he shall devour the prey, and at night he shall divide the spoil.
“ ‘Gather yourselves together, and hear, ye sons of Jacob;’ ‘that I may tell you that which shall befall you in the last days.’ Often and anxiously he had thought of their future, and had endeavored to picture to himself the history of the different tribes. Now as his children waited to receive his last blessing the Spirit of Inspiration rested upon him, and before him in prophetic vision the future of his descendants was unfolded….
“During the years these sons of Jacob had changed in character. Envious, turbulent, deceptive, cruel, and revengeful they had been; but now, when tested by adversity, they were shown to be unselfish, true to one another, devoted to their father, and, themselves middle-aged men, subject to his authority.” –Patriarchs and Prophets, pp. 235, 225.
For review and meditation
• How can we explain that the great multitude and the 144,000 are not the same group?
• Is the great multitude composed of people from just one group or nation?
• What is the relationship of the 144,000 to the message of the third angel?