“The Saints of the Tribulation”
Revelation 7:9-17

“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,…” [Rev 7:9]

“After these things…” connects us to the first group in Rev 7; “one hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel” [Rev 7:4]. As a whole, Chap 7 is the first of several “parentheticals” in Revelation. These are inserted within the chronology of the seals, trumpets, and bowls of judgments leading to the return of Christ. They describe personalities that come on the scene during the Tribulation. The first half of Rev 7 describes 144,000 Sealed of Israel that survive the Tribulation and live into the Millennium. This remnant will be the generation that fulfills the Abrahamic covenant to fully possess the Land.

A second “After these things,” [v.7:9] highlights another group: The martyred saints of the Tribulation. This group was introduced in the 5th Seal [Rev 6:9-11]. But after the devastating 6th Seal judgment these martyrs “are no longer seen under the altar praying for divine vengeance (cf. 6:9-11)” [MacArthur]. Rather, they are standing triumphantly in white robes [with palm branches] before the throne of God. There has been a change in posture from the 5th Seal.

Walvoord suggests an interesting relationship between the two groups in this first parenthetical:

“The juxtaposition of the 144,000 in the first half of this chapter immediately preceding the description of the multitude of martyred dead from among the Gentiles would seem to imply that there is a casual relationship between these two groups. The 144,000 on earth are preserved in safety through the tribulation, as a testimony to the power and grace of God, and as a channel through which the gospel could come to the earth. The scene here suggests that their ministry had its fruit among the Gentiles, even as was true in the apostolic age, with the result that great multitudes of the Gentiles be saved. The use of the 144,000 of Israel as a channel of witness to the earth is in keeping with the general purpose of God in relation to the Jewish nation.”

During the Tribulation this Remnant of Israel will prove to be the greatest Christian evangelists ever! Even through the devastation of Judgment in the latter days, God will make a way for salvation and will use Israel as His vessel to complete His work of redemption.