– John sees a “great multitude, which no one could number,” who came “ ‘out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb’ ” (Rev. 7:14, NKJV).
– That is, they are a special group of people who, despite whatever tribulation they went through, have stayed faithful to Jesus, a faithfulness symbolized by their being covered in the robes of His perfect righteousness.
– The word “tribulation” is used very frequently in the Bible to refer to the things that believers suffer for their faith (see for example, Exod. 4:31, Ps. 9:9, Matt. 24:9, John 16:33, Rom. 5:3).
– Although some view this group as another representation of the 144,000 (pehaps because v. 14 says they come out of the great tribulation i.e. they receive the seal of God and survive the seven last plagues), one could understand the “great multitude” as a reference to all the redeemed (including the 144,000) who have suffered for their faith down through the ages (because the righteous dead will also rise and be translated to heaven at Christ’s second return – 1 Thess 4:16-17).
– In other words the “144,000” will be righteous living at Christ’s second return, while the “great multitude” all encompasses the righteous living and righteous dead who will all be in heaven. It will be a great number of people i.e. great absolutely, not necessarily great relative to the number of unrighteous people. The great multitude could also include a number of people that are saved in the end times on hearing the truth about God’s word and give their life to Christ i.e. those who come out of the mother harlot and her daughters.💡
– Their warfare is ended, their victory won. They have run the race and reached the prize. The palm branch in their hands is a symbol of their triumph, the white robe an emblem of the spotless righteousness of Christ which now is theirs. 🙌🏾
NB: The identity of the 144,000 is a hotly debated issue. What seems evident in Revelation is that the 144,000 are the last generation of God’s people in the closing days of this earth’s history. We know that they will go through the time of trouble and be protected from the seven last plagues (see Ps. 91:7-16) and that their loyalty will be tested like no generation in the past. Exactly who will be in that group is not revealed to us. Their identity is one of the secrets that God has kept for Himself (Deut. 29:29). Only the future will reveal who will be a part of this group of saved saints. Regarding this mystery, we have been given a warning:
“Christ says that there will be those in the church who will present fables and suppositions, when God has given grand, elevating, ennobling truths which should ever be kept in the treasure house of the mind. When men pick up this theory and that theory, when they are curious to know something it is not necessary for them to know, God is not leading them. It is not His plan that His people shall present something which they have to suppose, which is not taught in the Word. It is not His will that they shall get into controversy over questions which will not help them spiritually, such as, Who is to compose the hundred and forty-four thousand? This those who are the elect of God will in a short time know without question.”—Ellen G. White
Source reference: SDA 1Q19 Quarterly