I received the following question:

I have been reading through Revelation recently.  When I got to Rev. 7 starting in verse 9, I got confused.  It talks about a crowd from every tribe, people, and language.  Then it talks about them standing in front of the throne and the Lamb.  Would you say that this is a section which is out of chronological order, as it shows these people who have come out of the tribulation?  What are your thoughts on this matter?

9. 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,

This number is in contrast with those of verses 1-8, who are out of every tribe of Israel. This group is from every nation, tribe, people, and language.

10. and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11. All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12. saying:
“Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom,
Thanksgiving and honor and power and might,
Be to our God forever and ever.
Amen.”

It seems clear from what is said in the passage that those spoken of here are those from all nations who pass the test of the tribulation triumphantly, and therefore are blessed as overcomers. We can see that from the end of the passage.

13. Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?”
14. And I said to him, “Sir, you know.”
So he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15. Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them. 16. They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; 17. for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

There is some indication that there is a company of Gentiles who overcome in the tribulation, and who thereafter are allowed into God’s temple to serve Him there. The end of Isaiah (66:18-21) also seems to indicate something like this.

18. “For I know their works and their thoughts. It shall be that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come and see My glory. 19. I will set a sign among them; and those among them who escape I will send to the nations: to Tarshish and Pul and Lud, who draw the bow, and Tubal and Javan, to the coastlands afar off who have not heard My fame nor seen My glory. And they shall declare My glory among the Gentiles. 20. Then they shall bring all your brethren for an offering to the LORD out of all nations, on horses and in chariots and in litters, on mules and on camels, to My holy mountain Jerusalem,” says the LORD, “as the children of Israel bring an offering in a clean vessel into the house of the LORD. 21. And I will also take some of them for priests and Levites,” says the LORD.

I suppose one could argue that those who are taken “for priests and Levites” are those “brethren” the nations bring for an offering to the LORD, but this seems to make little sense, since there are already priests and Levites among the Israelites, and there is no need to take some of them for such. The indication seems to be that some among the nations are taken into the temple and allowed to serve there at this time. This is probably what Revelation 7 is talking about.

Yes, it does appear that Revelation 7 is not exactly chronological. Well, I suppose these faithful men of the nations are taken out of the tribulation, but why they are mentioned here between the sixth and seventh seal, I am not sure. I suppose they are to contrast with the faithful 144,000 in Israel. They serve before God in the parousia, as the passage indicates. Why they are associated with this exact point in the proceedings I am uncertain.

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