After this I beheld, and, see, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds…
The vision of pent-up judgment begins this chapter; then the sealing and the ingathering. Our text is the result of the ingathering, as seen in heaven.
I. THE NUMBERS. "A great multitude, which no man could number." The three thousand at Pentecost were a large number, but this is greater. The hundreds and thousands, both in Judea and throughout the Gentile world, at Corinth, Rome, Ephesus, Philippi, and other places, were specimens of the great ingathering; but here we have the aggregate, the summing-up of all. Like Israel, they cannot be numbered for multitude; they are like the stars of heaven, or the sand which is by the sea-shore.
II. THE NATIONALITIES. Every people furnishes its quota to this great assembly; every tribe has its representatives here; every region, every colour, every language, every kingdom, every people, every age and century. It is the general assembly and Church of the first-born. Here all nationalities meet in one great heavenly nationality, without jealousy or distrust; all one in Him who redeemed them by His blood.
III. THE POSTURE. "Standing before the throne, and before the Lamb." They "stand." It is the posture of triumph and honour; "having done all, they stand" (Ephesians 6:18). Not bowed down, nor kneeling, nor prostrate, their erect posture indicates the high position to which they have been brought; and especially is this honour apparent when we see them standing "before the throne, and before the Lamb," in the very presence of the King.
IV. THE RAIMENT. They are "clothed with white robes."
1. It is the raiment of heaven (Mark 16:5; John 20:12; Acts 1:12).
2. It is the raiment of purity and perfection.
3. It is the raiment of triumph. It is given to him that overcometh (Revelation 3:5).
4. It is the festal dress. At the marriage-supper this is the raiment provided; the bride sits down at the table in the King's pavilion "arrayed in fine linen, clean and white" (Revelation 19:8).
V. THE BADGE. They had "palms in their hands." The palm is the symbol of gladness and of victory. Here it is specially used in reference to the feast of tabernacles, the gladdest of all Israel's festivals (Leviticus 23:40). The true feast of tabernacles, the memorial of our desert sojourn and earthly pilgrimage ended for ever, the saints shall celebrate in the New Jerusalem. The days of their mourning shall be ended; their everlasting joy begun.
VI. THE SHOUT. They "cry with aloud voice, Salvation to our God that sitteth on the throne, and to the Lamb."
(H. Bonar, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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;
WEB: After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude, which no man could number, out of every nation and of all tribes, peoples, and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, dressed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands.