The book of Revelation talks about a group of people called the “great multitude.” This group is so numerous no man can number it. And it holds a powerful lesson that we must understand today. Your very life depends on it!
This critical message at the very heart of the book of Revelation relates directly to the civilization-threatening problems facing our world today—and shows what you, individually, must do to be protected from them.
This message is twofold. First, it is a warning. If you heed the warning, you will not even have to experience the kind of tribulation that the great multitude will experience! Second, this is also a message with magnificent hope. In this world full of troubles, at a very urgent time, we all need to see this hope!
An Example of God’s Mercy
Here is the description of this group: “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” (Revelation 7:9). This mass of people, speaking different languages, is clothed in white robes. This indicates that these people had heard God’s truth and repented. How would they know to repent unless they heard God’s message of repentance?
This is the time when we see the real fruits of our labor today!
The context shows that their repentance takes place during the Great Tribulation, a 2½-year period of suffering unlike anything this world has ever experienced. As a result of their repentance during the Tribulation, they will escape the Day of the Lord—the yearlong time of God’s wrath that follows the Tribulation.
The painful truth is that these people could have also escaped the Tribulation, with all its suffering, had they listened and responded to God’s Word today!
Nevertheless, this is an example of God’s wonderful love and mercy for all of mankind. God always sends a message to warn of an approaching calamity, giving people the opportunity to turn from their sins and repent. We all have that opportunity, but most fail to take advantage of it.
Why Palm Branches?
These repentant people, dressed in white robes, meet Christ with palm branches in their hands. What is the significance of this detail?
This detail evokes the Feast of Tabernacles, an annual sacred festival picturing the 1,000-year rule of Jesus Christ on Earth, when the whole world will experience peace, prosperity and joy.
The only other place in the New Testament with a similar occurrence is in John 12:12-13: “On the next day much people that were come to the feast, when they heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem, Took branches of palm trees, and went forth to meet him, and cried, Hosanna: Blessed is the King of Israel that cometh in the name of the Lord.” These people came with palm branches to meet Christ at His first coming.
When Christ came the first time, God began harvesting His firstfruits, the small harvest that is occurring today. Those who understand God’s way of life are being prepared today to help Christ rule over the whole world in the 1,000-year Millennium. God is giving these firstfruits an absolutely staggering reward.
God wants these people to flourish like palm trees (Exodus 15:27; Numbers 33:9). Smith’s Bible Dictionary says this about palm trees: “[T]hey were renowned in the time of the gospels and Josephus. The Jewish historian mentions the luxuriance of these trees again and again, not only in allusion to the time of Moses …, but in the account of the Roman campaign under Pompey …, the proceedings of Antony and Cleopatra. Herod the Great did much for Jericho and took great interest in its palm groves.”
There was a time when Jericho was called the city of palms (Deuteronomy 34:3; Judges 1:16). This city was flourishing in many ways! But Jericho today has no palm trees. Even the Mount of Olives once flourished with palm trees, but today there are very few. This symbolizes the degenerate state of this terrible world. Our world is not flourishing. It is plagued with problems.
Look at our financial condition. Commentators and analysts are expressing concern about the world economy. A National Association for Business Economics poll taken earlier this year said three fourths of American business economists expect a major recession to hit America by the end of 2021, and half expect it to arrive earlier. They can see that our finances are not flourishing like the palm tree. And a financial crisis in America would shake the entire world!
Many other crises threaten our world. A rising European superpower, increased aggression from Iran, division in the United States, the embarrassment of Brexit—to name a few. So many in this world turn a blind eye to these developments.
What is the cause of such problems? We have lost so much of the beauty God created for us, because we are not spiritual as we ought to be. Man continues to degenerate in character. Yes, we make advances in technology, but we don’t appreciate God’s beauty—the natural world that He created—because we don’t think like God.
God never intended for this world to suffer the pain and misery we see today. God gave us the option between life and death—and we chose death (Deuteronomy 30:19). It was our choice. God certainly wouldn’t allow this to happen if men followed Him.
Yet God says that even amid this turmoil and upheaval, He will protect those who are submissive and obedient to Him (Revelation 3:10; 12:14). God promises to do that. And He will follow through because He will never, ever lie (Titus 1:2; Hebrews 6:18). But do we really believe God? If there is ever a time to truly believe His promises, it is now. God will protect those who live His way of life today. If we do that, He says He will never forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).
When you have that assurance, you don’t need to fear events on the world scene. You can have trust and faith in the great living God! (To learn about true godly repentance, request my free booklet How to Be an Overcomer. It will show you what God expects of you.)
Will You Repent?
We must understand the tremendous lesson wrapped up in Revelation 7: “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” (verses 13-14). These people had to wash their robes! They were filthy. And God wanted them to clean up. They may have thought they were clean, but they were not. In the Great Tribulation, they had to face reality.
These people washed their robes “in the blood of the Lamb.” That is the precious blood of Jesus Christ. He came to Earth and died for us, suffering as no man ever has, so we can have His righteousness and flourish like the palm tree. He did that for you and me. We must never take that sacrifice lightly. God in the flesh—a being without sin—was marred more than any man and then murdered (Isaiah 52 and 53). That is the price for our sins!
Those in this multitude will repent during the worst suffering in human history. But consider the lesson! Look at how severely God had to correct them, and what terrible calamity He had to allow, before they were willing to turn and seek Him! He does not want to have to do that. Those people will escape the Day of the Lord. But they could have completely avoided the suffering of the Tribulation had they heeded God’s warning message today.
What depth of suffering does it take to make you change? What will it take to make you recognize God’s love, and seek His way?
Throughout the Bible, God says He will protect His people from that terrible time because they obey Him now. The great multitude, however, didn’t heed soon enough. They got to the point of nearly losing their physical lives—but repented in time.
Can you recognize when God is trying to reach you? Do you know enough about God to know where He is speaking? The Bible is Jesus Christ in print, and there is only one place on Earth where you can hear the full message He is speaking. You cannot escape the coming Tribulation unless you know where God is speaking and then heed the message being delivered by His people.
Learn the Lesson!
There are two big problems with the great multitude before they repent. First, they are not clothed with white robes, meaning they lack righteousness. They had deceived themselves into thinking they were righteous, as many professing Christians do today. Second, these people are not flourishing like a palm tree. God wants us to live with excitement and thrills. He wants us to have the abundant life! (John 10:10). That is the way that God intended everyone to live, but man has chosen not to. He has decided to go his own way.
This innumerable multitude is composed of people who remember hearing God’s warning message and, because of that, turn around. The great multitude must have heard God’s message before the Great Tribulation. But they didn’t commit themselves to it; they didn’t repent, washing their robes.
Notice a prophecy for today in Ezekiel 33: “And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they sit before thee as my people, and they hear thy words, but they will not do them: for with their mouth they shew much love, but their heart goeth after their covetousness. And, lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not. And when this cometh to pass, (lo, it will come,) then shall they know that a prophet hath been among them” (verses 31-33). These people loved to hear God’s Word, but they wouldn’t do anything with what they heard. Again, this prophecy is for today.
Look at the terrible things happening in the world today. We are on the outer edges of the great storm of the Tribulation right now. Time is very urgent. But you must prove this for yourself.
That is the message the great multitude didn’t heed at the right time. But they will heed it in the Great Tribulation—and then they will come out and turn to God! They will wash their robes with the blood of Christ, and will come to understand this great and marvelous vision. And the moment they repent, God will bring them out of the Tribulation so they need not face any more suffering. This shows how wonderfully merciful God is.
“Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth” (3 John 2). God loves us; we are His beloved. He is a God of perfect justice and judgment. He will try us and test us. He will punish us when necessary. But above all things, He wants us to prosper and be in good health, as the Apostle John wrote. He wants us to flourish like the palm tree! He doesn’t want us living in fear as the whole world does today.
The innumerable multitude will escape the worst year in this planet’s history. And God is happy to protect them. But He would have done so earlier—if only they had heeded what He says now, while there is still time.
Learn this powerful lesson of the “great multitude”! You are hearing the message of God today! Do not just file it away in your memory and act on it later. Act now! Turn to God in repentance! Learn to love His way of life and to love the Bible, because there is nothing like it when you truly understand it. God is offering us a life that is full of hope! He wants to protect you and look after you right now—and He promises to do so if you turn and obey Him today. That is something to be excited about!