“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; And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. 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, Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen. 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. 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. 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” (Rev. 7:9–17).
Having heard the number of 144,000, John turns, looks and sees this innumerable host. The earlier number is specifically cited as being numbered as Israel, and this throng is from all nations, peoples, languages, etc. Some believe this necessitates taking them as distinct groups. I follow the other view which takes the symbolic number of Israel as representing the innumerable host of the Church. The previous group was sealed on earth and the latter group is saved in Heaven.
So this great multitude is dressed in white, symbolizing purity, and they are holding palm branches, which symbolizes victory. Dressed this way, and holding their palms, they stood before the throne and the Lamb, and they cried out. How loud might an innumerable host be? They cried out in order to ascribe salvation to God, the God who was seated on the throne, as well as to the Lamb. At that point the angels, the 24 elders, and the four living creatures all prostrated themselves in order to worship God. And they said Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.
One of the 24 elders asked John if he knew the identity of the great crowd. He confessed that he did not. The elder says that they are the ones who came out of the great tribulation. If this crowd is identified with the church through the ages, this means the great tribulation refers to something bigger than the tribulation that was to befall Jerusalem in just a few years. Although the fall of Jerusalem is a theme of Revelation, the composition of the very global crowd appears to preclude that reading.
They came out of the great tribulation—the church militant—and are those who washed their robes white in the blood of the Lamb. They are now the church triumphant, palm branches in hand. They are before the throne, and the one who sits on the throne dwells among them as Emmanuel. This is plainly the company of the saved. They will not hunger or thirst anymore. The sun shall not beat down on them, or any heat. The Lamb will feed them, and lead them to waters, and God will wipe away every tear.
One more thing should be mentioned, which is that this section of Revelation is rich in references from the prophet Isaiah.
“They shall not hunger nor thirst; Neither shall the heat nor sun smite them: For he that hath mercy on them shall lead them, Even by the springs of water shall he guide them” (Is. 49:10).
“He will swallow up death in victory; And the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces; And the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: For the Lord hath spoken it” (Is. 25:8).
“And the Lord will create upon every dwelling place of mount Zion, And upon her assemblies, A cloud and smoke by day, And the shining of a flaming fire by night: For upon all the glory shall be a defence. And there shall be a tabernacle for a shadow in the daytime from the heat, And for a place of refuge, and for a covert from storm and from rain” (Is. 4:5–6).
In short, this is the language of salvation that applies to all God’s people.