Revelation 7:9-10 “After these things, I looked and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, from all tribes, tongues, peoples, and nations, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes with palm branches in their hands. And they cried out with a loud voice saying, ‘Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne and to the Lamb!’”
Should Church-Age Believers (Age of Grace Believers) in Jesus Christ primarily hope for and work for the outcome of this scenario to play-out?
My initial response is kind of confusing: No and Yes.
So you are likely wondering what’s my beef and what’s driving me to ask this question.
I was recently part of a group discussion at church that summarized our successful efforts to reach the lost with the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. A member of the group observed how this progress would likely play into the outcome of Rev 7:9-10. My friend’s perspective is not unique to him. In observations, I have noted there are other Church-Age Believers who share a similar perspective, that we as the church should strive now to ensure the fulfillment of Rev 7:9-10.
Let me make it clear up front. The individuals of this Innumerable Host standing before the throne of God and before the Lamb is not a bad event. However, this scenario, as I assess it, needs some perspective which follows throughout this essay. In fact, this scenario is a good outcome for the individuals of the Innumerable Host, but it is not cool.
My objection: While the outcome of that Rev 7:9-10 scenario is a good one, in my assessment, we Church-Age Believers should not primarily hope and pray for the Rev 7:9-10 scenario and outcome but the 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 scenario and outcome.
This passage describes that wonderful scene of our Most High God, our Lord Jesus, returning in the heavens to take home His Church-Age Believers. Our Lord Jesus rescues and evacuates us from this world so we will not see or experience the incredible unprecedented horrors that loom in the world’s near future during the Tribulation. Check out these verses.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 “But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.”
Our Lord Jesus also reveals His Rapture-based rescue and evacuation in John’s gospel.
John 14:1-4 “Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. And where I go you know, and the way you know.”
For Church-Age Believers who are evacuated from the world at the Rapture, that event is a glorious blessing and reward. For each individual raptured, it represents one’s faith finally becoming sight. No more hoping. No more merely believing. It all becomes a gloriously joyful crescendo of reality in an instant, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye (I Corinthians 15:51-53).
At the time of the Rapture, at the very instant of its occurrence and immediately thereafter, all those who dwell on the earth will, for at least a short time, fall into the category of unbelievers. Dr. Thomas Ice’ Pre-Trib Research Center refers to this group remaining as earth-dwellers. For all unbelievers, the Rapture represents a horrific indictment, judgment, and punishment against their intractable hardness of heart and rejection of our Lord Jesus. This Rapture event will rock their lives!
Why do I say Church-Age Believers are exempted from the unprecedented horrors that will soon seize the world?
Because our Lord Jesus makes the promise that we will not see or experience His Wrath. He promises to deliver and evacuate us via the Rapture before His wrath falls upon the earth. Later in this essay, I will explore this “exemption from wrath” some more.
Now mind you, as I consider my friend’s comments regarding Rev 7:9-10, there are a host of things running through my mind. We’ve just seen the Presidential election stolen from President Trump. And in my opinion, the outcome of our national election impacts the world.
This betrayal is a great evil in our modern lives. The world will eventually convulse violently at the greater evil that rolls out from this event. The implications for the future are huge.
We’ve watched the complicit betrayal of President Trump, our nation, and the American people. We are watching deceptive forces in our nation and globally usher in the incredible evils of socialism, Marxism, fascism, and tyranny. For those paying attention, we know the World Economic Forum (WEF)-compelled Great RESET is coming, and in accordance with prophetic scripture, this event will serve as a tool of even greater evil which is likely designed to change times and law (Daniel 7:25) to globally change life as we know it for the worse – much, much worse.
We Church-age Believers should cry out, Maranatha! Our Lord, come! Come quickly to fetch us home in the Rapture, and today is a good day for You to do that! We long for immediate evacuation!
The core of my position as to why Church-Age Believers should not primarily hope for this outcome is because the scenario we see in those verses and later on in Revelation chapter 7 is not NOW the best thing for the individuals who comprise that Innumerable Host. When we consider that those individuals are likely alive today, the scenario they find themselves in is not NOW the optimal scenario for them.
We read later in Rev 7:14 that those who comprise this Innumerable Host, seen praising God and the Lamb, have come out of the Great Tribulation (after the seal judgments) and have not merely weathered the storm but have likely experienced some of the greatest horrors that have ever come upon humankind.
Before I go further, I need to offer some explanations and definitions so that readers will better understand some of the terms I use in this article. It will help separate time periods and the peoples involved in those time periods. In some instances, I won’t offer any clarification, but I will allow scripture, our Lord Jesus, our Most High God’s inerrant, immutable, infallible, and totally sufficient Word to speak for itself.
So What Is This Great Tribulation Period or Event?
In a nutshell, it’s the wrath of God, the wrath of the Lamb being poured out on the earth and its human inhabitants for sin and for their rejection of God’s mercy and grace. Check out these scripture verses.
Matthew 24:21-22 “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened” (Also, see Mark 13:19-20).
Jeremiah 30:7 “Alas! For that day is great, So that none is like it; And it is the time of Jacob’s trouble, But he shall be saved out of it.”
Daniel 12:1-2 “At that time Michael shall stand up, The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; And there shall be a time of trouble, Such as never was since there was a nation, Even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, Everyone who is found written in the book. And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, Some to everlasting life, Some to shame and everlasting contempt.”
When all the elements and pieces of this Tribulation period are combined, it creates an extinction level event for humankind. And if allowed to run its course without interruption, no flesh would survive. However, according to Scripture, our Lord Jesus intervenes and prevents the total annihilation of humankind. But many billions, more than half the world’s population, dies. And the destruction and devastation to our globe is incalculable.
What Are the Cut-out, Clearly Defined Time Periods That Are Core to My Position?
Church Age, also known as the Dispensation of Grace – Those years, decades, and centuries beginning with the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior and Most High God, is ended by an event known as the Rapture (see above 1 Thess 4:13-18). As of January 2021, we are still living in the Dispensation of Grace or Age-of-Grace, Church-Age, and we still anticipate the Rapture to happen in the near future. However, time and opportunity to reserve a space for the Rapture is quickly running out.
The Tribulation is a seven-year period that, as of January 2021, is yet future. As the scriptures above indicate, it is an incredibly unprecedented horrific time of intense global human suffering, deceptions, deprivations, devastation, destruction, supernatural activity, and hugely voluminous loss of human life.
This seven-year period has many hot points; most notably are key events that occur at the beginning, the 3.5-year mid-point, and at the end.
The Tribulation period also goes by other names: Daniel’s 70th Week, The Time of Jacob’s (Israel’s) Trouble, The Day, That Day, In That Day, For That Day, A Time of Trouble, The Hour of Trial, God’s Wrath, The Wrath of The Lamb, The Lord’s Day, and The Day of the Lord.
Why Is There A Time Period Known as The Tribulation?
The reasons are likely several and varied. Here’s my understanding of the matter.
One: The Tribulation is to bring about the salvation of the Jewish nation, Israel, and the remnant of Jewish people. Recall the verses above: Jeremiah 30:7 and Daniel 12:1-2. These verses specifically identify the Jewish people who have historically rebelled against God and who have collectively rejected the Lord Jesus Christ. He uses the events and outcomes to seize the attention and the hearts of the Jewish people. And individually and collectively, they finally believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and call upon Him to save them. The above verses reveal that the Lord Jesus intervenes and cuts short the horrific outcomes to save His elect people.
Yep! The elect people are the Jewish people. And our Lord Jesus has a wonderfully amazing plan for the Jews that will bless the world and its future inhabitants. The Jewish people already bless the world and will do even more so in the future.
Two: Our Lord Jesus uses the events and outcomes of the Tribulation to cause hard hearts of individuals of many other people groups to believe in Him, to trust Him, to choose Him, to call upon Him in salvation. My wife calls this outcome Kick-You-In-The-Teeth Faith. Likely, most of those who finally believe and trust in the Lord Jesus during some point in the Tribulation would not have done so unless He incentivized them to do so – and He does so in a big way. Many will make the correct choice. The Innumerable Host we see in Revelation chapter 7:9-10 are covered by this reason.
Three: Our Lord Jesus uses the events of the Tribulation to compel people to choose sides and to reveal their true allegiances. People have a choice: choose the Lord Jesus alone and to abandon and forsake all other so-called gods, including the god of human self. Or people may choose an evil so-called god and suffer the consequences. At His second coming, our Lord Jesus literally separates the righteous “sheep” who choose Him and trust in Him from the unrighteous “goats” who reject Him (Matthew 25:31-46). This passage holds a specific contextual application, but it illustrates well that people must and will choose a side, and have already done so.
Four: Our Lord Jesus uses the events of the Tribulation to bring temporal and eternal judgment and punishment upon people for their sin of rejecting Him and for rejecting His extraordinary forgiveness, mercy, and grace. He will literally take away in death all those who reject Him. Supernaturally speaking, all those who reject our Lord Jesus are kept in a temporary spiritual jail cell called the Place of Torments. Here they await their final disposition when they are resurrected and finally cast alive into the torments of the Lake of Fire, a place of eternal punishment (Rev 20).
Five: The Lord Jesus uses the outcomes of the Tribulation period to identify and bless and reward those survivors who honored Him by taking actions on behalf of His elect Jewish people. At the sheep and goat judgment (Matthew 25:31-46), our Lord Jesus tells these survivors, “In as much as you did these good deeds to one of the least of these my elect people, you did it to me.” In the midst of the Tribulation, these survivors also chose the Lord Jesus.
Six: Our Lord Jesus uses The Tribulation to close out and bring to a final end the sinful reign of human governance over the world and its systems. He also uses this event as the transitional period to set up, inaugurate, and establish His millennial (1,000 years) kingdom on the earth. David Reagan of Christ In Prophecy characterizes the time: when peace, truth, justice, and righteousness will cover the earth like water covers the seas.
Note: There is no guarantee a person will make it through the Tribulation period and stand at the sheep and goat judgment. Pretty much everything is working against you and doing its very best to kill you. Our Lord Jesus offers you a better, more sure means to salvation. Believe in Him today. Trust Him today. Call upon Him today. He guarantees this means of salvation.
How Are People Classified / Categorized During These Defined Time Periods?
Church-Age Believers – any person who has believed on the Lord Jesus Christ and the work He completed to purchase our forgiveness and reconciliation; any person who has trusted the Lord Jesus Christ and Him alone, and who has called upon the powerful name of our Lord Jesus Christ to save and transform one’s life. I like the manner in which Dr. Michael S. Heiser conveys the matter. I offer my synthesized rendition of what I understood him to say: “Anyone who chooses the Lord Jesus Christ alone and who also forsakes and abandons all other gods, who forsakes all other lesser elohim, to include: the gods of this world, those fallen disobedient, defiant, rebellious “angels”; the demonic Nephilim spirits, and the god of human self.”
As of January 2021, our Lord Jesus continues to lavish grace, blessing, and gifts upon those who believe on Him and call upon His name during this Dispensation of Grace. You want and need to become a member of this group! Becoming a member of this Church-Age Believers group represents the OPTIMAL scenario with the OPTIMAL outcome. The Lord Jesus Christ is our Blessed Hope right now, today! (Titus 2:13).
Tribulation Believers – those people who at some future point beginning AFTER the Rapture, who come to call upon and trust the Lord Jesus Christ and believe on Him and in Him. They finally trust the Lord Jesus Christ during some early point in that horrific seven-year period. Because these people did not trust in the Lord Jesus and call upon His name BEFORE the Rapture, during this present Dispensation of Grace, they must suffer, at least partially, the unprecedented horrors and calamities of The Tribulation.
The individuals who will comprise this group of Tribulation Believers are not the same as those who comprise the group of Church-Age Believers. Tribulation Believers are not the Church. Don’t conflate the two groups; one does not morph into the other. They are two uniquely distinct groups that exist within two separate cut-out periods of time.
I believe those individuals who comprise the Innumerable Host of Rev 7:9-10 are one segment of these Tribulation Believers.
Many of these Tribulation Believers are likely brutally slaughtered by the evil forces and rulers that will wickedly govern during The Tribulation period. And many others, probably most, will die when they agonize through and eventually succumb to the sufferings, deprivations, destructions, and devastations of the horrific worldwide conditions during that time.
This group of Tribulation Believers DOES NOT represent the OPTIMAL scenario with OPTIMAL outcome right NOW. These Tribulation Believers experience a sub-optimal outcome. You really want to become a member of the Church-Age Believers right now!
Unbelievers – all those people throughout all ages and time periods and dispensations who have rejected the Lord Jesus Christ and the plan of God and His Word, the Bible. These folk have rejected and continue to reject the Lord Jesus. They have chosen to believe in and trust some other supernatural entity or god, or they have continued to trust in human self as god. They have not abandoned these so-called gods. Indeed, these folks embrace and worship them with deliberate intention and joy. And they do so to their own peril: now and for eternity.
The Lake of Fire – the place of final disposition for all beings, human and supernatural, who have continued in their rejection of our Lord Jesus Christ and/or have received the Mark of the Beast and worshipped him in lieu of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Lake of Fire is a place of God’s true and righteous judgment and punishment of unbelievers. It’s a place of eternal torment. Here the smoke of tormented unbelievers and rebellious supernatural entities rises up forever and ever (Rev 14).
Leaving definitions and returning to the main point.
The individuals of the Innumerable Host of Rev 7:9-10 could have achieved something far better, something far greater, something far more glorious. Each one could have been taken out of the hour trial, out of the time of trouble and rescued and delivered from The Tribulation. Each one could have been spared the horrors of this time period.
These individuals find themselves in this less-than-optimal scenario with a sub-optimal outcome because in our present day in which these individuals now live, our Church Age, our cut-out time period also known as the Dispensation of Grace or Age-of-Grace, they chose to continue in unbelief, rejection, defiance, and rebellion against our Lord Jesus Christ, our Most High God. Each one had time and opportunity to believe on the Lord Jesus, to follow Him, to call upon His name and to be saved but rejected that opportunity.
Beginning in Revelation 7:16, look at the horrific ordeal the individuals of this Innumerable Host chose to suffer.
- Starvation … they shall neither hunger any more,
- Dehydration … nor shall they thirst any more.
- Extreme Solar Radiation … the Sun shall not strike them, nor
- Unrelenting Heat/Extreme Weather … any heat.
- Despaired of life itself … the Lamb shepherds them and leads them to living fountains of waters, and God wipes away every tear from their eyes.
According to Scripture, since this Innumerable Host comes out of The Great Tribulation, consider what they choose to experience and suffer as they fall under the punishments and judgments of the wrath of the Lamb (Rev 6).
This Is Some Kind of Badness!
- The Seven Seal Judgements:
- The White Horse Rider: incredible unprecedented and supernatural evil, lawlessness, deceptions, lying signs and lying wonders, and tyranny (Rev 6).
- The Red Horse Rider: incredible unprecedented hatred, lawlessness, purging, human violence, bloodshed, murder, and wars (Rev 6).
- The Black Horse Rider … incredible unprecedented famine, starvation, inflation, injustice (Rev 6).
- The Pale Horse Rider (Death) and Hades: incredible unprecedented death from deception and tyranny, murder, wars, famine, pestilence, and a new level of death caused by the beast of the earth. These two entities were granted power to kill 25% of humankind (Rev 6).
- Martyrdom: incredible persecution and slaughter of God’s followers, for the Word of God and for the testimony they held about God and our Lord Jesus Christ (Rev 6).
- Celestial events that will literally rip the physical structure of the earth apart and cause unprecedented “natural disasters” and cataclysms that will race across the earth, causing incredible death and destruction, suffering, misery and deprivation (Rev 6).
- Opening the seventh seal initiates a whole new series of events known as the Trumpet judgments; this is when events and their outcomes go from bad to much worse (Rev 8).
And as this new series of Trumpet judgments and punishments begin, they are layered upon the utter misery the world is already suffering. So new troubles and their effects are compounded upon the existing troubles and their effects and aftermath of the seven Seal judgments.
Before we discuss the Seven Trumpet judgments, what’s up with those four angels we see as our focus chapter, Revelation seven opens up?
Rev 7:1 “After these things, I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth so that the wind would not blow on the earth, on the sea, or on any trees.”
Rev 7:2-3 “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 granted to harm the earth and sea, saying: Do not harm the earth, the sea, or any trees until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.”
There’s likely lots one could say about these verses and the first part of this chapter, but my key point is it’s just one more indicator that the Innumerable Host of humanity seen in Rev 7:9-10 have come out of and agonized. It indicates they have suffered a less than optimal scenario and a less than optimal outcome.
These four angels are temporarily delayed in their mission, but ostensibly, as soon as the 144,000 male virgin Jews are sealed, these four angels let loose and execute the harm they were granted to do.
These four angels were granted power and authority to wreak untold damage and destruction on the ecological systems of the world. Ecological disaster directly or indirectly impacts humankind. If a person lives in the world at this time, as do the individuals of the Innumerable Host, then those people are suffering in a huge way as the world is writhing in convulsed agony.
The impact of these four angels is felt worldwide – not some fraction of the earth, or sea, or trees, but all the earth, all the sea, and all the trees.
Based upon these verses above, it’s hard to know for certain if these four angels are agents executing the previously prescribed judgments and punishments or if they are agents executing entirely new levels of judgments and punishments in addition to what is already prescribed in Scripture.
The point is: these four angels and the global harm they execute upon the earth, the sea, and the trees is just one more element of The Tribulation. The Innumerable Host we see in Rev 7:9-10 must likely face this round of awful events.
This ends Part 1 of this 3-part series.
If you would like to see a chart comparing second-best outcomes to optimal outcomes using scripture, you can email me at: email@example.com