Martyrdom! Judgment! Death! Calamity! Revelation 6:9-11 details the opening of the fifth seal and describes those who were martyred for the cause of Christ. In Revelation 6:2-16, the sixth seal is opened and God’s wrath pours out on the world. In such times of trial, which is described as “great tribulation” (v. 7:14), two questions arise: (1) How can people be saved in such a time? (2) Who will be saved in that time? The first question is answered in Revelation 7:1-8. The second question is answered in Revelation 7:9-17 in four descriptions.

Who the Washed Ones Are (Rev. 7:9)
These people are first identified as a “great multitude.” That multitude is so large “that no one could count” the numbers. This is an innumerable throng of people who have come to believe in the Savior.

John next observes their universality. He piles up expressions, showing they are from the whole world. They come from “every nation, tribe, people and nation.”

Then John describes them as being redeemed and rejoicing. Their redemption is visualized by their white robes. These are long flowing robes, the best of robes; they are radiantly white. This demonstrates their salvation as verse 7:14 confirms. Their rejoicing is signified by the palm branches. Those connected with the Feast of Tabernacles, a time of rejoicing over deliverance, from Egypt (Exodus 23; Leviticus 23) and from Babylon (Nehemiah 8). They now portray the rejoicing in heaven.

What the Washed Ones Say (Rev. 7:10-12)
These who are redeemed during this time of tribulation give their own personal praise to the Lord (v. 7:10). They cry out in a loud voice so all can hear their salvation comes from the sovereign God who sits on the throne, and from the sacrifice of Christ, the Lamb.

This praise from the redeemed is accompanied by further praise from the heavenly host, identified from their description in chapter 5 (vv. 7:11-12). The praise begins and ends with “Amen,” spoken in confirmation of the praise given by the saints. Between the two amens, we see the adoration of our God, given in terms almost identical to those of verse 5:12.

Where the Washed Ones Are From (Rev. 7:13-14)
An elder approached John and verbalized the thoughts which were in the apostle’s mind: Who are these people, and where are they from (v. 7:13)? John may be confused as to the answers, but he confidently asserts the elder knows, implying he also wants to know. The elder answers the questions in reverse order. To begin, they are from the great tribulation. More important is who they are: those washed in Christ’s blood.

HowStuffWorks.com deals with numerous household issues, including blood stain removal. It begins: “Blood stains are one of the most difficult stain types to remove.” Many of us have faced that challenge. No one washes their clothes in blood to get them white. Yet, that is exactly what is required to be cleansed from sin, as these saints experienced.

What the Washed Ones Experience (Revelation 7:15-17)
These martyred saints experience the marvels of God’s presence. It begins with the service of spiritual worship (v. 7:15a). They serve without weariness, day and night, in the presence of God in His temple.

Their experience continues with satisfaction (vv. 7:15b-16). Their heavenly satisfaction is because of God’s shelter (v. 7:15b), as He spreads His tent of protection over them. However, that is not all. God also provides all they need, including deliverance from physical and spiritual afflictions (v. 7:16).

Their experience culminates initially with the Lamb as their shepherd (v. 7:17). In a reversal of normal roles, the Lamb becomes the Shepherd. This is appropriate as Christ is the Good Shepherd (John 10:11), the Great Shepherd (Hebrews 13:20) and the Chief Shepherd (1 Peter 5:4). As their Shepherd, He leads them to “springs of the water of life” (cf. John 4). Their experience culminates finally with God the Father wiping away every tear, showing that all sorrow is past.

God’s love and grace extend over the entire earth. He will bring multitudes to Himself through the blood of the Lamb. That message must be proclaimed so it can be believed.

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