|Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Enquiries||Watchtower and Eschatological Topics|
The courtyard of the lambs
Great Multitude: In heaven or on earth?
This article was written in the hope that those who call themselves Jehovah’s Witnesses and who claim to love the truth - yet out of ignorance, preach another Gospel that refers to a “Great Multitude” with its worldly perspectives (Galatians 1: 8,9) - will accept the true Christian Gospel.
For this reason, we shall present some of the proofs that the Great Multitude mentioned in Revelations 7: 9-17 is portrayed in the Holy Bible as a heavenly multitude, and not a terrestrial band.
This study is also useful, to any Christian who is interested in the interpretation of Revelations.
After describing the enigmatic chorus of 144.000 Israelites, the apostle was shown an equally enigmatic “Great Multitude”:
The phrase: “great multitude”, is also found in Revelations 19: 1, where the Great Multitude appears to be up in the skies: “...I heard a loud noise, like that of a great multitude, from the sky”
In Genesis 13: 16 God tells Abraham that his seed would become so profuse, that “if anyone could count the grains of sand on the earth, then shall your seed also be counted”. So, in the way that nobody could count the grains of sand on earth and the seed of Abraham, in the same way nobody could count the number of the Great Multitude. With this phrase (“that nobody could count”), Revelations is clearly indicating that the Great Multitude is referring to the seed of Abraham.
The “Witnesses” believe that the seed of Abraham numbers a mere 144.000 faithful; this is apparently the “spiritual Israel” that alone will go to heaven. But here we see that not only is the seed of Abraham not so few in number, but innumerable.
According also to Galatians 3: 29: “If you are of Christ, you are of the seed of Abraham, and … heirs”. If –therefore- you are not of Abraham’s seed and heir, you are not of Christ, YOU ARE NOT CHRISTIAN. Necessarily, the Great Multitude must be the seed of Abraham.
But the following verse also indicates that the heirs are saints and co-inheritors of the heavenly Kingdom, with Jesus Christ: Romans 8: 16,17: “Children and heirs. Heirs of God, and co-heirs with Christ”.
The Great Multitude therefore is the innumerable seed of Abraham, which co-inherits the heavenly kingdom with Jesus Christ.
“Witnesses” believe that only 144.000 are kings and priests of God. However, if we combine the above verse with Revelations 5: 9,10, we see that “those who were bought from every nation and peoples and tongues” are ”kings and priests”. Unlike the 144.000, who are described in Revelations as being Israelites. (Revelations 7: 4-8).
“Before” signifies “in front of”. God’s throne is in heaven; therefore, the Great Multitude must also be in heaven, if it is standing in front of God’s throne.
The word “before” is not intended metaphorically here, as used (for example) in the expression: “we now stand before God” , given that God is all-seeing. John here is describing a vision. He actually saw them standing in front of God, up there, in heaven. He was not using any metaphor, any figure of speech. But nobody can actually see us standing before God right now, since we said these words metaphorically. However, the verse we are studying begins with: “...I LOOKED, and behold, there was a great multitude...who stood BEFORE the throne…”
The “lamb” is Christ. In Isaiah 1: 18, we learn that one whitens oneself, when God forgives him his sins. : “Even if your sins are purple in color, they shall become white as the snow, and if they are red like vermilion, they shall become like bleached wool.”
The Great Multitude therefore is the multitude of those who will have been vindicated, through their faith in the sacrificed blood of Christ; and this is what is symbolized, by their pure white robes.
In Revelations 3: 5, it says: “The victor shall wear white garments." But who is a victor?
Revelations 2: 26: “.…the victor and whomsoever preserves my works to the end…”
Revelations 12: 11: “...and they defeated him (the devil) for the sake of the blood of Christ and for the reason of their testimony, and they did not favor their life, even to the death.”
The victor therefore is the one who defeats the devil to the end, remaining faithful to the blood of Christ, even to their death.
By connecting the above passages, it becomes clear that, for the Great Multitude to be wearing white robes, they must have become victors, to the end, to the death. But if the Great Multitude refers to victors, it is also going to receive the heavenly kingdom along with Christ, according to the following passages:
Revelations 2: 27, and 3: 21: “to the victor….. authority over nations”; “..to whomsoever is victorious…. power over the nations”; “whomsoever is victorious, I shall bestow to him to sit with me in my throne…”.
The great multitude therefore, is only a part of the church of the saints, for the kingdom of heaven.
This is also evident in Revelations 22: 14,15, where, in its ancient text, it says the following: “Blessed are the ones who have washed their robes, so that they can…enter through the gates of the city…...outside, are the dogs….and those who love and preserve deceit.”
In Revelations 21: 9,10, we are told that this city is the Church, the bride of Christ; in other words, the body of the Church who were to reign together with Him. Whomsoever is not a member of that church, is compared to a dog. Since, therefore, there is no Christian outside of it, and since the great multitude with their white robes enter into it, then the Church cannot be comprised of only 144.000 people; it is innumerable.
Another problem that the white robes pose in the dogma of the “Watchtower Witnesses” is the following: The “Witnesses” believe that the Great Multitude will be vindicated at the end of the Thousand-Year Kingdom which –according to them- will take place after the “Great Tribulation”.
But, if those of the Great Multitude “wear white robes, having come from the great tribulation”, it would mean that they are already vindicated, BEFORE THE MILLENNIUM! (Revelations 7: 14).
In Revelations 4: 4 and 7: 11, it is stated very clearly, that the 24 elders were standing “around the throne” of God, in heaven.
So, when the elder asked: “where did they come from?” it is positive proof that the Great Multitude CAME to him, there, IN HEAVEN.
How can the Great Multitude be INSIDE the temple of God, if they were not priests?
In ancient Israel, only priests were permitted to enter the temple. Therefore, the Great Multitude is a hieratic (and consequently a heavenly) order, and the priests are not limited to only 144.000.
The Watchtower organization’s reply to the above comment, is the following assertion:
“The temple also has a courtyard. The Great Multitude therefore isn’t inside the temple, but outside, in the courtyard, therefore they don’t necessarily have to be priests!”
But the word “temple” in the Holy Bible ALWAYS SIGNIFIES THE TEMPLE BUILDING ONLY, as is evident in Revelations 1: 2: “the courtyard that is outside the temple you must cast out, and not count it”.
However, because the Watchtower is aware of this problem, it strives deceitfully to conceal it, by mutating (as it does habitually) the text of the Holy Bible in their own translation, and replacing the same verse with the following version: “as for the courtyard, however, which is outside (the sanctum) of the temple, you must leave it out, entirely…”
In total disrespect of the holy text, and in defiance of the warning in Revelation 22: 18, it adds the word: “sanctum”, in order to salvage its exposed dogma.
And where is the temple, inside of which the Great Multitude worship God as priests ?
Revelations 11: 19: “and the Temple of God which is in heaven opened up”. (Comments are redundant here…)
The Great Multitude is referred to with the same words, in the following passage also:
Revelations 21:2-4: “and I saw the renewed holy city of Jerusalem, descending from the sky….as a bride……behold, the tabernacle of God amongst the people, and He shall camp with them…and they shall become His people, and He, the Lord God, shall be with them as their God….and He shall eliminate every tear…”
The careful reader will realize that here, the Great Multitude is included in the tabernacle of God, the Church, which “descends from the sky”.
But even Paul the Apostle Paul came to agree that the Great Multitude are the “sons of God”, and consequently members of the Celestial Jerusalem, in Corinthians II, 6: 16-18: “as God had said, that: I shall inhabit with them, and I shall walk among them and I shall be their God and they shall be my people…and I shall be unto you as a father and you shall be unto Me as sons and daughters..”
The Great Multitude is present in many passages of Revelations, and always as a part of the celestial Jerusalem, the Church. There is not another order for heaven and another for earth, since the Church itself is the same one, that descends from the new heavens to the new earth.
This is exactly what confuses the “Witnesses”. They were not taught the simple, evangelical truth, that the saints do not only live in the “new heavens”, but also on the “new earth”. Hence, there is no need for two orders, but only one: that of the innumerable Church.
Translation by A.N.
Article published in English on: 3-9-2005.
Last update: 5-9-2005.