The Great Multitude

The Virgins, Her Companions

“After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb,
clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, (10) and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (Revelation 7:9,10. All scriptures from New King James unless noted otherwise).

by Nicholas Charcharos

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The great multitude of Revelation 7 has been a matter of much interest to students of the Bible and a matter of some controversy regarding their ultimate location and role in God’s plan. 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. An examination of scriptures finds the Great Company pictured in several passages.

Psalms 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 colors; The virgins, her
companions who follow her, shall be brought to You. With gladness and rejoicing, they shall be brought.” Psalm 45 describes 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 look like. This Psalm provides the answer: “Grace is poured upon your lips” (Psalms 45:2). Luke
4:22 adds when those in the synagogue heard Jesus speak, “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 identifies the bridegroom of Psalm 45 when he writes, “But
of the Son he saith, ‘Thy throne is the throne of God forever and ever; And the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of thy kingdom’ ” (Hebrews 1:8 RVIC).

The Bride: The description of the bride opens with, “Kings’ daughters are among your honorable 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” (Psalms 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 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 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.”

This profound loyalty creates a deep appreciation in the heart of the bridegroom: “The King will greatly desire your beauty … The
king’s daughter is all glorious within; her clothing is of wrought gold” (Psalms 45:11,13). 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 shows not only her status as Queen
and her position as having the Divine nature but also her faithfulness.

Peter likens the refining of faith to the purifying of gold when he states, “so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than that gold which perishes, though proved by fire, may be found [result in] Praise and Glory and Honor at the Revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:7 Diaglott).

The Virgins, Her Companions: The question arises regarding the identification of the companions and how they come to be with the bride on the way to her wedding. The fact that they were virgins indicates that they were pure and undefiled. If they are both going to the wedding and the wedding is in heaven, then they must both represent spiritual classes.

All the virgins started from the same position — fallen mankind. They have responded to Christ’s message during the Gospel Age (the 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). In verse 65 he adds, “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 provided 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 by the tearing of the second veil in
the temple. It demonstrated that access to God was now available through the acceptance of Christ’s sacrifice (Hebrews 6:19,20).

The coming of the holy Spirit at Pentecost signaled that the way to “the prize of the upward [high] call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14) was opened. In Peter’s sermon to the Jews he said, “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, Romans 1:16, 2:9-11).

Gentiles: While Jesus said at his first advent that his ministry was for Jews exclusively (Matthew 15:24), Peter received a vision from God explaining that the time of exclusive favor to the Jews had ended and that the way was now open for the Gentiles to come in. Peter then spoke these words, “In truth 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). To the Jews at Pisidian Antioch, 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).

God Not Arbitrary in Selection

Some may say that God is unfair. Not all who heard His word are called and not all called will be chosen. Not all who make a covenant of sacrifice will receive the same position or honor.
Jehovah makes decisions on what will eventually bring about the fulfillment 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 whom 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 counsel and cursed him shortly
before he died (Genesis 49:5-7). Aaron, who led the tribe of Levi at the time of the Exodus, also appears to be a strange choice. Exodus 32:4 says that he yielded to the peoples’ pressure in making the golden calf and they then pronounced, “This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!”

The selection of the Tribe of Levi typifies the choosing of the Church of the Firstborn (Hebrews 12:23). The Levites (22,273 in
number) replaced the firstborn who were saved in Egypt (Numbers 3:40-51). It is interesting to also note that the entire tribe had no inheritance in the land, not just the priests. “The priests, the Levites — all the tribe of Levi —
shall have no part nor inheritance with Israel; they shall eat the offerings of the 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” (Deuteronomy 18:1-2).

How similar this is to the consecrated followers of Christ down through the Gospel Age who must lay aside earthly things for spiritual: “For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, 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 (Ephesians 1:18).  Although both Levi and Aaron had failings, when it came to Moses’ question, “Whoever is on the LORD’s side, come unto me” (Exodus 32:26), it was the sons of Levi who answered the call and separated themselves. This once
again illustrates how the Church must separate itself from the world and especially from the false religious systems.

The tribe of Levi had four divisions, God selecting a different role for each family. Aaron and his sons served as the  priesthood who performed sacrifices on behalf of the people of
Israel. The Kohathites, the nearest kin to Aaron’s house, were the bearers of all the sanctuary vessels. The Gershonites carried the tent hangings and curtains. The sons of Merari carried the boards, bars, and the pillars of the Tabernacle. The Levites also camped adjacent to the Tabernacle on all four sides, putting a distance between the Tabernacle and the other Israelites.

The division of the Levites demonstrates the difference between the bride and the great multitude. Both are God’s inheritance. God alone decides 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. “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. Temple is the Greek word naos (Strong’s 3485), meaning the main part of the Temple as opposed to the Greek word hieron, meaning the Temple and its
court and environs. Coming through great tribulation may indicate great difficulty in putting their total trust in God, at times relying on their own strength (Ezekiel 44:10-14 and 15-16).

Jesus, in the Parable of the Sower, described the difference between the most faithful class and the great multitude. 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 a hundred times what was sown (Matthew 13:23). This shows even a division among the seed that brought forward much fruit and suggests a difference in growth even among the overcoming class.

The Divine Nature

The bride has the same divine nature as her husband, Christ, sitting with him on his throne having been “more than conquerors” (Romans 8:37). The great multitude is mentioned in Revelation 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 with 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?’ … ‘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.’ ” 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.’”

The bride and the great multitude are pictured in the Bible in different ways at different times. In Psalm 45 they are shown as the bride and her companions; in the Tabernacle arrangement the two classes are seen in the Aaronic priesthood and the Levites; Revelation 7 mentions the 144,000 and the great multitude.

In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus described those who brought forth more fruitage and lesser. Both classes occupy a position of beauty and honor and are overcomers. Both will provide help to mankind 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).

 

 

 

 

 

 

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