Isn’t there a distinction between the 144,000 and the great multitude?


I don't disagree about the symbolism John constantly uses in Revelation, but I noticed a distinct difference he says concerning the twelve tribes, for the 144,000, but then he goes on to talk about other people.

Revelation 7:8 Of the tribe of Zebulun [were] sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph [were] sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin [were] sealed twelve thousand.
Revelation 7:9 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;

The distinction I notice is that it talks about the twelve tribes, then it says after this I beheld great multitude which no man could number, of all nations and kindreds, etc. What I don't get is: is John using symbolism here or is he actually referring to twelve tribes? I don't understand his reason for quoting the twelve tribes (well what you said make sense so it could work) then making a distinction about saying all nations and people etc. I just thought there was a big difference is all. But Revelation always has been hard for me to understand. I will look at your information on your website for more on Revelation.


The way to read Revelation, and most prophecies for that matter, is to realize that they are a series of visual scenes being described for you with words. In order to understand the overall picture, you need to grasp what most of the elements represent. Even if you can't grasp every single detail, if you can get a handle of much of it, the rest begins to fit into place like a jigsaw puzzle.

In Revelation 7, verse 9 begins the description of a different scene from verses 1-8. Verse 9 begins with "After these things I looked, and behold ..."; therefore, telling us that there has been a change in time as well as introducing a new scene to be described. Verse 1 had begun in a similar manner: "After these things I saw ..." There is also a change in location. The scene in verses 1-8 takes place on the earth as a whole (across the whole globe). "After these things I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, on the sea, or on any tree. ... Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees ..." (Revelation 7:1, 3). The scene beginning in verse 9 takes place in heaven before the throne of God. "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" (Revelation 7:9).

Taking what I stated before, we have a group, numbered at 144,000 who are on the earth and another group which is too great to be counted standing before the throne of God. (I happen to like these verses because they throw Jehovah's Witnesses into a tizzy. Their doctrine says the 144,000 are before the throne and the great multitude is on the earth -- the exact opposite of what appears in Revelation.) The 144,000 represent the saved who are currently alive on the earth at any moment in time. Their number is limited and while great, they are actually only a small portion of earth's population at any moment in time. The great multitude is all the saved throughout history. While at any moment in time the number of saved on earth appears small, the accumulated number in heaven is beyond counting.

Notice that the great multitude in heaven are all wearing white robes. "He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels" (Revelations 3:5). This garment is explained for us: "And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints" (Revelation 19:8). The garments became clean because, "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" (Revelation 7:14).

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