Stephen Caswell © 2004
Revelation 6 reveals the horror of the reign of Anti-Christ. Like a wild beast he destroys the world and its people. Revelation 7 is a wonderful contrast of God’s grace. We will see how God in His love saves a great multitude, an innumerable company from destruction. The Great Tribulation highlights the battle of the ages for the souls of men. People will be forced to make a choice between Satan’s Anti-Christ or Jesus Christ. Satan is constantly seeking to destroy whilst God seeks and saves lost sheep. We will see the truth of what the saint’s say; Salvation belongs to our God. This is why we must take evangelism very seriously. Nothing is more important. D L. Moody: The monument I want after I am dead is a monument with two legs going around the world — a saved sinner telling about the salvation of Jesus Christ. We will see 2 groups. 144,000 Jews, and innumerable Gentiles.
Firstly, 144,000 Jews
Revelation 7:1-4: After these things I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, on the sea, or on any tree. Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God. And he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying, Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads. And I heard the number of those who were sealed. 144,000 of all the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed:
To seal something speaks of ownership. Because they belong to God they are sealed as His servants. In Revelation 14:1 we read: Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads. In Revelation 13:17 we find that the Anti-Christ marks his worshippers with a number in their forehead or on their hand. In doing this he will counterfeit what God has already done. Satan longs to be worshipped. He longs to have servants that belong to him and follow him. He has always wanted to be like God.
This sealing also speaks of protection. In this case, the seal guarantees their preservation during the tribulation. In Ezekiel 9:1-7 God assigns angels to mark his servants before others destroy the wicked. These 4 angels are given authority to harm the earth and the sea. The four winds represent destructive forces from every direction. Angels will also punish those who take the mark of the beast. Much of this will happen through the plagues detailed in the judgments of the 7 trumpets and 7 bowls. Before God begins to judge the wicked, he first seals and protects His people. Stating that there is no wind shows this is the quiet before the storms of judgment. The 144,000 sealed servants are Israelites; 12,000 from each of the 12 tribes. The number 144,000 speaks of completeness 12 x 12,000.
Revelation 14:3: They sang as it were a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth.
Revelation 14:3 says that the 144,000 Jewish servants have been redeemed. This refers to the fact that they have believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God. They are said to follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These 144,000 servants have been saved through Jesus Christ, just like we were. 1 Peter 1:18-19: knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.
After the rapture of the Church there will be no believers on the earth. God will start again to call out saints to serve Him. These 144,000 will be called out at the beginning of Tribulation. They are the start of a much larger group called the Tribulation saints. I believe they will be saved miraculously like the Apostle Paul. He had a blinding vision of Christ on the Damascus Road. I think that the 144,000 servants of God will be saved in the same way. 1 Corinthians 15:7-8: After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time. Paul indicates that his salvation experience was not the normal. It was the kind of experience that will happen in another time. Many evangelical theologians believe that the 144,000 witnesses will be saved in the same way that Paul was.
Revelation 14:4-5: These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no deceit, for they are without fault before the throne of God.
Firstly, the Lord saved these men by the blood of the Lamb. They have been redeemed out of a sinful, corrupt world. Secondly, these men will be virgins. Like the apostle Paul these men will be single. They will choose to serve God fully and lay aside their rights to marriage and family life. The firstfruits were always given completely to God. These men have been given to God for His service. They follow the Lamb wherever He leads them even though this will mean suffering and hardship. The Anti-Christ won’t take kindly to their ministry. They have devoted their lives unreservedly to the Lamb.
Thirdly, God called them into full time evangelistic ministry. There is no deceit in their mouth, only truth. They have no time for gossip only the Gospel. When we gossip we do the devils work since He has accused the saints from the beginning. When Christians don’t concentrate on fishing for men it isn’t long before we fight each other. Their ministry is fruitful because of their purity in word and deed. John says they stand faultless before God’s throne. Is deceit in our mouth? Are we faultless They are totally committed to preaching the Gospel. The 144,000 speak the truth even though it won’t be popular. They preach the truth about salvation, the Anti-Christ and God’s approaching judgment.
Revelation 7:3: saying, Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.
Vacational Bible School
I have been involved in a number of Vacational Bible Schools. Each one required a great deal of prayer, planning and preparation. We started about 6 months beforehand. A team was assembled, tasks assigned, a program was arranged and materials acquired. The message we shared was centered in Jesus Christ. Evangelism is preaching the cross of Christ and blood of Christ. Praise God that He saved about 30% of the kids who came each year. But, ministry like this doesn’t just happen. In fact ministry that accomplishes anything involves hard work and sacrifice. This 144, 000 count the cost of hunger, thirst and no home. Therefore God will bless them with a harvest never to be surpassed.
God sets apart these 144,000 servants for a reason. He will reach others through them. The innumerable multitude saved in the great tribulation is the harvest of the 144,000 Jewish witnesses. They are saved to serve Christ. They witness for the Lamb. Do we? God’s intention for Israel has always been to evangelize the nations; here she succeeds. Jesus said this in Matthew 24:14: And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. The 144,000 servants are called the firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. The firstfruits were gathered in at the beginning of harvest. It was the first part of a greater harvest that would be brought in.
The 144,000 will evangelize the world like the Apostle Paul did. Paul’s conversion and ministry was exceptional. He was born out of due season. Their ministry will impact every part of the globe. We know this because verse 9 says that God saves people from every nation, tribe, people and tongue. This requires world wide evangelism. The Lord may enable these servants to perform signs and wonders as Paul did. No doubt God will be with them and bless their ministry. He will protect them until their ministry is finished.
In the same way, God saved us to serve Him. Jesus said, freely, freely you have received, freely, freely give. Acts 1:8 says we have received the Holy Spirit to witness for Christ. The most rewarding thing I have ever done is lead people to Christ. To witness a child or adult pray the sinner’s prayer is very precious. God gives His people the richest joy known when they witness for Him. When they lead the lost to Jesus Christ. When did you last share the Gospel? Do you witness to the lost about what Christ has done for you?
Secondly, Innumerable Gentiles
a. The Worthy Saints
Revelation 7:9-10, 13-15a: After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, and crying out with a loud voice, saying, Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb! Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from? And I said to him, Sir, you know. So he said to me, these are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple.
Martyrdoms Past And Present
It is estimated that more than 50 million Christians died for their faith in the Dark Ages. It is estimated that a million Christians died for their faith when the Communists seized China. Unnumbered thousands died as martyrs in the revolutions and civil wars in Africa.
The apostle John sees a great company standing before the throne of God. The 144,000 evangelists have gathered in a great harvest. Verse 9 says that they form a great multitude that no one could number. Millions and millions of souls are won to Jesus Christ at this time. They are standing before the throne of God because they belong to Him. These saints know the Lord for they call Him our God in verse 10. They testify of His power to save sinners. The elder tells John they will serve God day and night in His temple. Christ has made them worthy. Their standing before God will never change. The words stand and clothed are in the perfect tense. This speaks of a past action with an on going result.
Verse 9 answers the question of Revelation 6:16-17; who can stand in the day of God’s wrath. Only the Redeemed will be able to stand. They can stand before a holy God because they are faultless. Their sins have been washed away by the blood of the Lamb. They are clothed in white robes of righteousness. They have received Christ’s righteousness by faith. Yet there is more to their testimony than this. These saints have come out of the great tribulation. The Great Tribulation is sent to try or test the people of the earth. Everyone on earth must choose between God and Satan, between Jesus Christ and the Anti-Christ. These saints made the right choice. They believed in Jesus Christ!
Why do they have Palm branches in their hands? Because they are conquerors. When victorious generals returned home their people waved palm branches and laid them down on the road. The people did this when Jesus rode into Jerusalem. They were asking Him to conquer the Romans and rule as their King. From God’s perspective this great multitude have been victorious. Their death was not a failure but a victory. They have conquered sin, Satan, death and hell through their faithfulness to God and by the blood of the Lamb. They overcame the Anti-Christ (called the beast) by remaining faithful to Jesus Christ. They refused to worship the beast or to take his mark.
In Revelation 15:2 we read this: And I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who have the victory over the beast, over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God. These saints were faithful even unto death. Revelation 12:11: And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death.
They Would Not Trample Cross
During the terrible Boxer Rebellion in China the insurgents captured a mission station, blocked all the gates but one, and before this placed a cross flat on the ground. Then the word was passed to those inside that any who trampled the cross underfoot would be permitted their freedom and life, but that any refusing would be shot to death.
Terribly frightened, the first seven students trampled the cross under their feet and were allowed to go free. But the eight student, a young girl, refused to commit the sacrilegious act. Kneeling beside the cross in prayer for strength, she arose, and moved carefully around the cross and went out to face the firing squad. Strengthened by her example, every one of the remaining ninety-two students followed her to death.
b. Wonderful Savior
Revelation 7:11-12: All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, saying: Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom, thanksgiving and honor and power and might, be to our God forever and ever. Amen.
In response to God’s wonderful saving grace many in heaven worship the Lord. All of the angels, the 24 elders, and the 4 living creatures fall down on their faces and worship God. The word worship, προσκυνέω means to kiss the hand in a token of reverence. Among the Orientals, especially the Persians, to fall upon the knees and touch the ground with the forehead is an expression of profound reverence. This group of worshippers are amazed at the grace of God to redeem such a multitude. In the darkest time of history God is still able to save. Romans 5:20b: For where sin abounded, grace abounded much more. Such a loving, merciful God is truly worthy of our adoration and worship. Falling down on their faces before the throne is the right response to such a gracious God.
They also praise God and acknowledge His worthiness to receive 7 things. Seven speaks of perfection or completeness. These 7 = Perfect Praise. Blessing, glory, wisdom, thanksgiving, honor, power and might be to our God forever. He possesses these things and rightfully so, for He is worthy. He will always be worthy of them. The word amen is mentioned twice. This simply means, so be it. Let it come to pass.
c. Willing Shepherd
Revelation 7:15-17: Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them. They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat;
for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.
Saviour Like A Shepherd Lead Us
One Christmas Eve, Ira D. Sankey was traveling by steamboat up the Delaware River. Asked to sing, Mr. Sankey sang the Shepherd Song. After the song was ended, a man with a rough, weather-beaten face came up to Mr. Sankey and said: Did you ever serve in the Union Army? Yes, answered Mr. Sankey, in the spring of 1860. Can you remember if you were doing picket duty on a bright, moonlit night in 1862? Yes, answered Mr. Sankey, very much surprised. So did I, said the stranger, but I was serving in the Confederate army. When I saw you standing at your post I said to myself: That fellow will never get away from here alive. I raised my musket and took aim.
I was standing in the shadow completely concealed, while the full light of the moon was falling upon you. At that instant, just as a moment ago, you raised your eyes to heaven and began to sing. Music, especially song, has always had a wonderful power over me, and I took my finger off the trigger. Let him sing his song to the end, I said to myself. I can shoot him afterwards. He’s my victim at all events, and my bullet cannot miss him. But the song you sang then was the song you sang just now. I heard the words perfectly: We are Thine, do Thou befriend us, be the Guardian of our way.
Those words stirred up many memories in my heart. I began to think of my childhood and my God-fearing mother. She had many, many times sung that song to me. But she died all too soon, otherwise much in my life would no doubt have been different. When you had finished your song it was impossible for me to take aim at you again. I thought: The Lord who is able to save that man from certain death must surely be great and mighty and my arm of its own accord dropped limp at my side. The Good Shepherd guides His sheep.
The saints Praise Him. This redeemed multitude will stand before the throne of God day and night. They will serve Him in His temple continually. The word temple is, ναός and means the holy of holies. God’s servants will have a very intimate relationship with Him. Revelation 22:4-5 tells us that the saints will serve God and see Him face to face. The word serve, λατρεύω, speaks of priestly service. Their ministry will include worship, music, and praise. What a privilege to serve God and the Lamb who love us so much. A son they will sing is recorded in Revelation 15:2-4:
And I saw something like a sea of glass mingled with fire, and those who have the victory over the beast, over his image and over his mark and over the number of his name, standing on the sea of glass, having harps of God. They sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying: Great and marvelous are Your works, Lord God Almighty! Just and true are Your ways, O King of the saints! Who shall not fear You, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy. For all nations shall come and worship before You, For Your judgments have been manifested.
He Provides For Them. The Lamb will meet all the needs of His faithful servants. During the Great Tribulation they were hungry and thirsty. Because they refused to take the mark of the beast they could not buy or sell. They probably had no place to live for they were exposed to the sun and its heat. They suffered great physical deprivation for their Lord. This will not happen ever again for now they have entered into the joy of their Lord. The Lamb will shepherd them and lead them to living waters. He will comfort them by wiping away every tear. They experienced a lot of sorrow during the Great Tribulation. But their days of suffering are now over. The Lamb will refresh His flock with water from living fountains. He will feed them from the Tree of life. What a wonderful Shepherd!
What lessons have we learnt today?
· God always has his faithful servants. The 144,000 witnesses are an example of this.
· In this present age a battle rages for the souls of men. God saves, Satan seeks to destroy.
· Every person must choose between Satan or God, Anti-Christ or Jesus Christ.
· In the darkest of times, God can still save. Where sin abounds, His grace abounds more.
· Salvation belongs to our God. He’s done it all. Therefore He alone is worthy of praise.
· Evangelism is the very heartbeat of God. His only Son is a missionary.
· If we count the cost and share and share the Gospel God will bless with souls saved!
· Is evangelism important to you? When did you last share the Gospel with someone?
· God cares for His servants in time and eternity. We are sealed. Are you serving Him?
So Little Time
So little time! The harvest will be over,
Our reaping done, we reapers taken home.
Report our work to Jesus, Lord of Harvest,
And hope He’ll smile and say, Well done!
How many times I should have strongly pleaded;
How often did I feel to strictly warn,
The Spirit moved, oh, had I pled for Jesus!
The grain is fallen, lost ones not reborn.
Despite the heat, the ceaseless toil, the hardship,
The broken heart o’er those we cannot win;
Misunderstood because we’re oft peculiar,
Still no regrets we’ll have but for our sin.
A day of pleasure, or a feast of friendship;
A house or car or garments, lair or fame,
Will all be trash, when souls are brought to Heaven.
And then how sad to face the slackers’ blame!
The harvest white, with reapers few is wasting
And many souls will die and never know
The love of Christ, the joy of sins forgiven.
Oh let us weep and love and pray and go!
Today we reap, or miss our golden harvest!
Today is given us lost souls to win.
Oh then to save some dear ones from the burning.
Today we’ll go to bring some sinner in.
Jude 24-25: Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior, Who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.