In heaven a vast crowd from every nation was praising God because of his salvation (verse 10). Salvation means the rescue and safety that God gives to his people.
John had seen that, in heaven, 24 rulers have their thrones (royal seats) near to Godís throne (4:4). One of those rulers explained to John who the people in the crowd are.
The ruler first showed John that the people were wearing white clothes. The colour white is a word-picture for something that is pure and holy. A personís clothes are a word-picture for the state of the person himself (compare Zechariah 3:3-5). So, these people are pure and holy because they have a right relationship with God.
That was not their former state, however. These people were sinners, in other words, they were guilty of many wrong and evil deeds. They had no right to go to heaven in that state. They deserved only death and punishment; however, God sent Christ to die on their behalf. Like the lambs (young sheep) in Exodus 12:1-13, Christ suffered death so that other people could live (Isaiah 53: 4-6; John 1:29; 1 Peter 1:18-20). His blood means his death (Matthew 26:28). To wash means to accept the kindness of God when he forgives (Isaiah 1:18; Mark 1:4-5; Hebrews 9:22). His action to forgive is like when someone washes dirty clothes. As water washes away dirt, so the blood of Christ removes a personís sins (evil deeds).
The ruler said that these people had come out of the great tribulation. Tribulation means trouble; it is the word that John used to describe the terrible state of this world in Revelation 1:9. Many people use the phrase Ďthe great tribulationí to mean the terrible troubles during the 7 years before Christís return. They refer to Paulís account of how God will rescue his people from their troubles in Thessalonians 4:16-17. However, it is not clear whether Revelation 7:9-17 refers particularly to that event. Revelation 7:14 could mean simply that God takes Christians from their troubles in this world, into heaven.
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© 2016, Keith Simons.