ARE THOSE GENTILES IN REVELATION 7:9?
by Shawn Brasseaux
The Apostle John, receiving a vision concerning end-times prophecy, reported in the seventh chapter of the Revelation, verse 9: “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;….” The standard interpretation is this is a gathering of Gentiles, non-Jews. Or, are they Jews? Does the context provide any clues? Let us see what the Book says!
After the sealing of the 144,000 male Jewish preachers (verses 1-8), John sees a crowd of people in Heaven. These individuals are standing before the throne of God and the Lamb (Jesus Christ). The seventh chapter of the Revelation continues:
“ 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;  And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb.  And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God,  Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.  And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?  And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
“After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues,….” The words “nations,” “kindreds,” “people,” and “tongues” certainly sound like Gentiles. However, notice the rest of the context. Verse 15 says: “Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.” The “great multitude” of verse 9 serves God “in his temple.” In other words, they are “priests.” Moreover, the Bible says, “These are they which came out of great tribulation” (verse 14). They experienced the final half of Daniel’s 70th Week, the last 42 months of the seven-year Tribulation (yet future from us). Who are “priests” who also endure the Tribulation? Gentiles? Nay! They are Jews!
Isaiah 61:6 says to Israel: “But ye shall be named the Priests of the LORD: men shall call you the Ministers of our God: ye shall eat the riches of the Gentiles, and in their glory shall ye boast yourselves.” And Revelation 1:5-6, “ And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,  And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” Next, Revelation 5:9-10 (notice how verse 9 here parallels Revelation 7:9): “ And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation;  And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth.” Finally, 1 Peter 2:9: “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;….” The “priests” in Scripture are Jews, especially in end-times.
This all goes back to Exodus 19:5-6, the LORD God speaking to the nation Israel through Moses: “ Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine:  And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel.” Israel is to be a “kingdom of priests,” in perfect agreement with the verses we examined earlier.
Okay, I am sure you are wondering, so I will ask and answer it for you. If Revelation 7:9 is indeed a group of Jews and not Gentiles, why the language of Gentiles? Why are Jews said to be “of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues…?”
Acts chapter 2 is an interesting parallel: “ And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.  Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.  And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?  And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?  Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,  Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,  Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.”
Beginning with the Assyrian captivity (circa 722 B.C.) and the Babylonian captivity (circa 606 B.C.), the Jews in Canaan were deported and scattered all around the then-known world. At the time of Acts chapter 2, coming to worship in Jerusalem for Pentecost, they had been living in “every nation under heaven” and had adopted new languages. Verse 5 says they are “Jews” rather than Gentiles. This is exactly how we are to view Revelation 7:9: “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;….”
By the way, from where did this “great multitude” of Jewish believers come? Having been converted by the 144,000 Jewish evangelists of verses 3-8, and having been martyred on Earth, they are in Heaven before God’s throne beginning at verse 9.