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Revelation 7:14
I answered, "Sir, you know." And he said, "These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

If I don't connect it to other verses, it seems to me that the great tribulation in Rev 7:14 is a "global" era on earth history which has not happened yet in the past. For example, the Old Testament's people were not experiencing the great tribulation era.

But from an answer from my other question here where the answer is connecting with this verse :

Isaiah 49:10
He who has compassion on them will guide them and lead them beside springs of water.

it seems to me the "them" from the above verse is anyone who ever live on earth. This leads me to think that [the great tribulation] in Rev 7:14 is a history on individual. For example, The Old Testament Saints (Prophets) experience their own "great tribulation".

But above is my own thinking as a Non-Christian :).

So, back to the question :
What is "the great tribulation" in Revelation 7:14 ?

Thank you.

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The term great tribulation (θλῖψις μεγάλη) appears three times in the New Testament:

Matthew 24:21 (RSV)

For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be.

Revelation 2:22

Behold, I will throw her on a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her doings

Revelation 7:14

I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb."

Matthew 24:21 is very close to something found in the Septuagint version of Daniel (12:1):

And at that time Michael the great prince shall stand up, that stands over the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of tribulation, such tribulation as has not been from the time that there was a nation on the earth until that time: at that time thy people shall be delivered, even every one that is written in the book.*

An explanation of the great tribulation of Revelation 7:14 in the context of Matthew and Daniel can be found in Lawrence Farley's, The Gospel of Luke: Good News for the Poor:

[Daniel's] prophecy describes the final time of crisis and judgment in Israel as “a time of tribulation [thlipeos in the Greek translation], such tribulation as has not been from the time that there was a nation on the earth until that time.” Obviously the Matthean reference to “great tribulation” is based on the prophecy in Daniel.

This time of great tribulation seems to last throughout the age, for in Matthew 24: 29 the Second Coming is said to occur “immediately after the tribulation of those days.” The parallel version of this verse in Luke 21: 24 seems to confirm this, for it describes what Matthew refers to as “great tribulation” as a time of “great distress upon the land . . . [the people] will fall by the edge of the sword and be led captive into all nations; and Jerusalem will be trampled underfoot by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled”— that is, until the end of the age. Even the original prophecy of Daniel 12 states that the “time of tribulation” will be followed by the resurrection of the dead, when “many of those who sleep in the dust will awake” (Dan. 12: 2). It would seem then that in Matthew 24 the “great tribulation” is the age-long time of suffering for Israel that began with the destruction of the Temple in AD 70. This time of distress becomes paradigmatic in the Apocalypse for the age-long suffering of the Christians at the hands of their pagan foes. Just as many concepts are transposed from a Palestinian Jewish key in the Olivet Discourse to a Gentile Christian key in the Apocalypse, so it is with the concept of Israel’s “great tribulation”: it becomes “the great tribulation” (note the definite article)— the time of unparalleled suffering, lasting throughout the age and ending only when the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled, when the kingdom of the world becomes the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ (Rev. 11:15)

Farley notes that this interpretation of the great tribulation as the suffering of the Church helps resolve the difference in groups mentioned in Revelation 7. Verse 4 gives a number of 144,000 servants, whereas v. 9 talks of a great multitude which no man could number. Clearly the second group is much larger than the first. He explains here:

In 7:1–8, John receives a vision of the Church on earth, sealed and protected by God in preparation for their entering the final time of conflict. It is the Church of the final days. In 7:9–17, however, John sees a vaster multitude. This crowd comprises, not just the Church of the final days, but the Church gathered throughout all the centuries, coming from “the great tribulation,” the age-long struggle with the world. Unlike the former crowd, this multitude is vast beyond counting, stretching into the horizons of heaven. It is the Church glorified at last, fresh from its victorious struggle, an overwhelming testimony to the power of God.


* Brenton translation

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The great tribulation in Rev. 7:14 corresponds with a number of passages in both the Old Testament and the New Testament. In the Old Testament, especially in the prophets there were numerous prophecies concerning a time of trouble that would come to the people of Israel. One of the prime examples of this is found in Jeremiah 30 where it is called the time of Jacob's trouble. In Daniel it is his 70th week and also it is found in Zechariah. That this time of trouble was after the captivity can be seen in both the Daniel passages and in the Zechariah passages. Other passages include Isaiah 2, Micah 5, and Zephaniah 1. In these various passages it goes by different names, but the point is judgment that will bring about the restoration of Israel.

That it will last seven years comes from the seventieth week of Daniel.

In the New Testament it is found in Revelation 6-19 and there is a great deal of detail concerning nature of the judgments that will come upon the whole earth. The other place that it is found in the New Testament is the three places where the gospels record the event called the Olivet discourse. The largest example of the Olivet Discourse is found in Matthew's account in Matthew 24-25. There too, the tribulation is marked by two halves with the first 3 1/2 years being called the tribulation and the last 3 1/2 years being called the great tribulation.

Of course all of these interpretations are based on a Christian view of these events from a literal dispensational hermeneutic. There are some Christians who hold to a Covenant theology hermeneutic that consider these events to have already been fulfilled, either partially or in full. They generally go by the name preterists or partial preterists. Finally there are some Christians who spiritualize the entire book of Revelation as well as the judgment scenes in the Old Testament.

-1

Great tribulation that the saints went through is the trouble they received from the world. In the words of Jesus:

John 16:33

33 These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

There is a difference between the tribulation the saints are currently enduring from the world and the tribulation that the world is going to be recompensed by God:

2 Thessalonians 1:4-10

4 So that we ourselves glory in you in the churches of God for your patience and faith in all your persecutions and tribulations that ye endure:

5 Which is a manifest token of the righteous judgment of God, that ye may be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which ye also suffer:

6 Seeing it is a righteous thing with God to recompense tribulation to them that trouble you;

7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,

8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:

9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;

10 When he shall come to be glorified in his saints, and to be admired in all them that believe (because our testimony among you was believed) in that day. The tribulation that God is going to recompense the world is the wrath of the lamb after the end of the period of Grace. Before that tribulation the saints will be taken off the scene for God to punish the world for their inequities.

Isaiah 26:19-21

19 Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead.

20 Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast.

21 For, behold, the LORD cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.

This tribulation is the wrath of the lamb, the opening and manifestation of the sixth seal.

Revelation 6:12-17

12 And I beheld when he had opened the sixth seal, and, lo, there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth of hair, and the moon became as blood;

13 And the stars of heaven fell unto the earth, even as a fig tree casteth her untimely figs, when she is shaken of a mighty wind.

14 And the heaven departed as a scroll when it is rolled together; and every mountain and island were moved out of their places.

15 And the kings of the earth, and the great men, and the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man, hid themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains;

16 And said to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:

17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?

The true blood washed saints will not pass through this tribulation of the wrath of the lamb.

Luke 17:26-30

26 And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man.

27 They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all.

28 Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded;

29 But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all.

30 Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.

The saints of revelation 7:14 who were before the throne are the raptured saints. At this time God deals with Israel and seals the 144000. This chapter during the sixth seals, two scenes come in preview, earth where the 144000 are being sealed, God dealing with the Jews. The second scene is heaven where blood the saints of all ages are gathered before the throne.

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My answer on Revelation will be different than anyone on this forum but I think it will satisfy your question.

In short, Rev. 7:14 refers to the great tribulation as in Babylon, the harlot, killing all believers (Rev 17:5-8). The book of Revelation may have the most allusions to the Old Testament in any book in the New Testament, however the story is the time of writing forward. The best way to understand who are the believers is to follow the white robes. The robes gives us the clues as to what is the great tribulation.

Below are the relevant passages as to who are the believers in Rev 7:14. Please note the Hebrew Poetry (how the text compare and contrast things such as living and dying, clothed and naked, seeking to be avenge and cursing).

The Fifth Church (Rev 3:1-6):

  • The church in Sardis believe they are alive but Jesus tells them they are dead (Rev 3:1).
  • Those that don't soil their white robes will walk with Jesus (Rev 3:4-5).

The Fifth Seal (Rev 6:9-11):

  • The believers are dead (martyred) but living below the throne of God (Rev 6:9).
  • The believers were given a white robe and told to wait a little longer until the numbers are complete (Rev 6:11).

The Believers in Heaven (Rev 7:9-17; continuation of Rev 6:9-11).

  • The believers are in heaven and comforted (Rev 7:15-17).
  • The believers are given white robes (Rev 7:9).

The Fifth Trumpet (Rev 9:1-11):

  • The unbelievers are alive but wished they are dead (Rev 9:5-6).
  • They will be in pain for 5 months and will seek death but not find it (Rev 9:5-6).

The Fifth Bowl (Rev 16:10-15):

  • The unbelievers live on earth, in pain, curse the believers in heaven (Rev 16:10; see Rev 6:9-11 where the believers in heaven seek Jesus to avenge those who killed them on earth).
  • Jesus will come like a thief, a warning that they should not be caught naked (Rev 16:15).

The Saints Avenged (Rev 19:1-8):

  • Great multitude in heaven praising God for the destruction of Babylon (Rev 19:1-6).
  • The saints where the robes of righteousness (Rev 19:8).

The Second coming (Rev 19:11-21):

  • The great multitude ride with Jesus to defeat the beast (Rev 19:11-21).
  • They wear white robes (Rev 19:14)

Satan Bound for 1,000 Years (Rev 20:1-6):

  • Satan imprisoned for 1,000 years (Rev 20:1-3).
  • The saints wearing white robes and judging with Jesus (Rev 20:4-6).

I encourage you to read the main passages in bold because they tell a story that is easily missed reading Revelation normally. Revelation has many more of these storylines that span the entire book.

  • Thank you for the answer, Kim Lewis. If I'm correct to get what you mean, so the "them" in Isaiah 49:10 is not talking about "the great multitude" as it read in Revelation 7. The "great multitude" in Revelation 7 is talking about specific individuals who are experiencing "the Babylon" time, the great tribulation era. Please CMIIW, Kim Lewis. – karma Dec 19 '17 at 3:30
  • Karma, you are correct on the Isa 49:10 reference. It was a source that John used in Rev 7:9-14. I looked it up in my book, How John Wrote the Book of Revelation: From Concept to Publication and there it was. It only shows I need to read it more often. If you are interested in how John constructed all of Revelation using the Hebrew Scriptures I would recommend reading it. It will take you through the process of how it was written. It is rated high by Atheists and Ministers alike which is an accomplishment in itself. – Kim Lewis Dec 20 '17 at 1:20

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