God’s People Named by Many Names (Bowl Plagues 2)

I have noted earlier that there is evidence in Revelation that the multiple names for God’s people all refer to the same end-time group rather than multiple end-time groups. For example, we noticed in the blogs on Revelation 14 that God’s faithful end-time people are called remnant in 12:17 and 144,000 in 14:1. The allusion to Joel 2:32 in Rev. 14:1 made it clear that John sees the two groups as the same. But this is not the only place in Revelation where two different expressions for the people of God are clearly parallel.

We noticed in Revelation 7 that the 144,000 and the Great Multitude appear to be opposites. One group contains a fixed number of people drawn from the twelve tribes of Israel. The other group contains an uncountable number from every nation, tribe, language and people. But these two seeming opposites are drawn together by the fact that John never sees the 144,000, he only hears about them, when he turns to look he sees the Great Multitude. So these are also two ways of describing the same end-time group (see Rev 5:5-6 for the literary pattern).

Another, similar instance is in the latter part of the book. God’s end-time people are called 144,000 in Rev. 14:1 and “saints” in Rev. 14:12 and 17:6. So God’s one end-time people are called by many names in Revelation: 144,000, Great Multitude, Remnant, and Saints. They stand by the sea of glass (Rev. 15:2), they are the ones who keep their garments (16:15) and are the called, chosen and faithful followers of the Lamb (17:14).

So the visions of Revelation are not intended to identify many various versions of God’s people at the end-time. The people of God are seen as a whole, although that whole can be described in a number of different ways. The primary path to God has not changed. Claims to total uniqueness are probably exaggerations of reality. The people of God can rejoice that they are sealed, but should never be proud or arrogant on account of that fact.

4 thoughts on “God’s People Named by Many Names (Bowl Plagues 2)

  1. Robert Whiteman

    I have concluded from my study of the Revelation that there is one group in Revelation 7, in answer to the question of Revelation 6:17. This is a most important passage for all who would be “able to stand. The description of these “servants of God”(important detail!) speaks of their experience in symbols easy to understand in gospel terms.

    As you mention, John “heard”, then turned and “saw”. Some feel there are two groups, but if we understand the symbolic language, and keep in mind the question that the prophecy uses to direct our attention to the answer which is vital to understand, it seems the conclusion is rather clear.

    First, the two descriptions would be incomplete without each other. Also, consider that you are standing at a very large area where there are over 100,000 people. Could you count(number) them? Of course not. That’s a large group! John reacted to the throng as anyone would. But, we must also conclude the number given is symbolic, and the actual count simply not given to us.

    I remain convicted this is one group being described in both symbolic and literal terms, the people who will be “able to stand” at the coming of our Lord with joy and praises, unlike those in Revelation 6:15-17 who are seeking to hide in terror.

  2. Owen Bandy

    I appreciated your distinction between John hearing the number of God’s people and then turning and seeing them. I have long seen these two groups as the same. I really appreciate these blogs you share.

  3. Owen Bandy

    I concur, looking at a group of people that “could not be numbered” is merely a way of saying “a really big group”. Any group could be numbered if you had the scientific way of doing it. There is no group that is infinite. Even the number of all the intelligent beings in the universe is finite. And if you were to look at a group of even less than a 144,000 you would be so impressed that you might say “I can’t number that.”

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