Revelation Bible Study #11 Four Angels 144,000 Evangelists Innummerable Converts
Revelation Series #11
Well Let's Review the Seals thus Far
#1 - White Horse Rider - the AntiChrist bringing a peaceful overthrow of the World
#2 A Red Horse bringing a sword of war, and a atmosphere of murder and terror
#3 A Black Horse with scales showing famine and huge inflation of prices for grain in short supply
#4 A Pale Horse ridden by death followed by Hades ¼ die (Grave or Place of Dead) - people die by sword, famine, disease, and animals
#5 Martyrs under the Altar crying "how long" and answered in a little while
#6 Earthquake, sun turned black, moon red, stars fall, sky rolled back, mountains and islands moved from their place
Well the scene has gotten progressively more frightening. Is there any hope?
I don't think I want to see anymore
Will this be a time of wholesale slaughter and judgment?
God already has taken out the ones he wanted, his Church, right?
No … even in the most dreadful age of history, there is always on this earth an opportunity. Salvation is still available all long as we are here
Is God going to destroy everyone? Does that sound like God?
What About Israel? Is God done with Israel?
No, Remember there were a total of 70 weeks by which God was going to use Israel as a light to the Gentiles. 69 of those weeks led up to the revelation and rejection of the Anointed One, the Messiah, but then Israel was cut off. God moved from using them to using the Church
God doesn't break his promises. He is a KEEPER of his promises
READ Ezk 9:1-8
READ Rev 7
Historicists - see this fulfilled through Barbarians being unleashed against Rome and the winds being the pause before the winds of war start. Also is a double meaning to the winds of error coming into the church under Constantine
They would see the "sealing" as God's knowledge of the true ones among those of error
Preterists - would see this as an answer to the question of Chapter 6 "who can stand" in this judgment, so God identifies his true ones before he brings judgment. Just as God marked Israel before destruction in 586 BC he does here in AD 70
Futurists - a distinctive of many dispensationalist futurist is being unashamedly literal in interpretation of 4 winds, 4 angels, and 4 corners / quarters of the earth. Would see a literal 4 angels in control over the elements to "pause" from destruction before the terrible 2nd ½ of the Tribulation, the Great Tribulation, begins
But it is also a pause between the increasingly worsened sections
Spiritualist/Idealist - this is NOT a sequence of events but the order in which John saw them. The four winds would be in line with the 4 horsemen compared with Zech 6:5 but in the midst of Judgment God knows and has sealed those who are his
1. I Saw Four Angels
Remember 4 is the number of the earth so 4 angels, to for corners and 4 winds. i.e. this angels are over the whole earth hence the four corners or 4 quarters of the earth and have been given control over the 4 or total winds.
Taking a literal approach as the text reads similar to me as the rest. Also recognizing that in Chapter 8 and following between each #6 and #7 in Greek, there is a pause, I think this is a Pause. It is for dramatic effect on earth as it is in our story.
What is the pause, is it a pause in the judgment? Is it a pause in the war, and famine, and earthquakes et al? Is it a pause it a literal ceasing of the winds on the earth?
For me …
In the midst of the storm of the "beginning of sorrows" the Tribulation before the "Great tribulation" the Night before the "Great Day of the Lord" … this pause will be Frightening to the World and almost hopeful at the same time. But if the world as in the 6th Seal knows that God is at the heart of this they will wonder what comes next.
I definitely have room to be wrong, but it is not hard for me to believe that as the angels literally "stop the earth's engine" as John MacArthur says so that the winds cease to blow, things on earth will settle for just a breath, just a moment.
That pause and that breath, the remission of the cancer inflicted on the earth though has a purpose
It will be like the eerie calm that comes right before a Tornado hits.
I don't like it when I'm in a torrential storm with green clouds and suddenly it stops raining and the winds seem to stop, while above they are still moving.
I would much rather it continue to rain. But when the atmospheric pressure bottoms out it seems everything ceases … Then comes the REAL storm and the sound of an airborne Freight Train is heard overhead …
But here we are in the calm …
2. The Sealing of 144,000 Evangelists
It is not pause without purpose. I'm sure the world will wonder what is going on … But God is pausing to seal some servants … to Mark his possessions, to mark them for protection, to mark his promise, to mark or secure their position.
Historicist - 144,000 is the entire church during the roman empire and then Christ's elected graced true church gathered from among it. They were preserved from the barbarian invasion to follow
Matthew Henry sees the omission of Dan as being perhaps because they were first and greatest with propensity toward idolatry
Preterist - God has always had a remnant in Israel who are faithful in the midst of apostasy. So the Only faithful Jews at this stage were those who had received Jesus as their Messiah.
This 144,000 is representative of all the Jewish Christians that escaped Jerusalem before its destruction. Rev 14:4 calls them "firstfruits" so they couldn't be endtimes because they would be "lastfruits"
Futurist - During the Great Tribulation, a godly remnant of 144,000 Jewish people will be "sealed" for protection from the later plagues.
How much confusion could have been avoided if expositors and Christians in searching for the meaning of this vision, had not lost sight of two great facts. 1. This chapter can have no application to the Church on earth, nor to the Church in glory, for the simple reason that the Church is already complete and translated to glory. 2. The vision states clearly that the sealed company is "of all the tribes of the children of Israel." There are today perhaps a score or more of little sects who all claim to be the 144,000. … If the true interpretation of Revelation is seen, that this company is called after the rapture of the Church, these confusing theories will at once be rejected.
That these are actually Israelites and not part of the church is emphasized by them being divided and identified with the 12 tribes of Israel. Otherwise why divide them this way. This calling and sealing fulfills prophesy in Zech 12:10-13, and Rom. 11:26-32.
Of Dan being eliminated … some have suggested that the Antichrist will come from this tribe. (Gen 49:17; Jer 8:16). Or perhaps Dan and Ephraim are eliminated because of Idolatry
Many believe these will be highly and zealously evangelistic. Hal Lindsey calls them "144,00 Jewir sh Billy Grahams". A small minority of futurists see this 144,000 as the last generation church before the tribulation.
Spiritualist - represents the church as true spiritual Israel. And thus do not believe there is any difference to be seen between these tribulation jewish saints and others. Thus see all as sealed by God for protection.
144,000 Sealed -
A. The 144,000
God was holding off the judgment, on the rest of the earth, until these were marked.
1. Who are they?
7th Day Adventist believe that those of their faith who are observing the 7th faithfully when the rapture comes and will be raptured to Heaven … not them unless they are all Jewish, and even then, these aren't in Heaven but on earth
the Cult Jehovah's Witnesses used to teach that they would ALL become part of the 144,000; that is UNTIL they GOT 144,000 converts, NOW they teach that there are a set apart number of elect faithful among them who will be the 144,000 and they don't know whom it will be … but that is not true, for they don't even believe in the Deity and thus worthiness of the Lamb so how can they be his chosen
Is this just the TRUE CHURCH? Well yes we are compared to Israel in places of New Testament Scripture like Romans. BUT … I don't think this holds, if the rest of what we have come to understand is true
a. the 24 Elders - which is the church - is present here and separate from the 144,000 - they are in heaven and have crowns, they are robed and enthroned
b. we will see in chapter 14 that both groups are in Heaven THEN and still are separate from one another, each has it's own character and own blessing from God. They are together yet different
c. SO … why can't we just believe the text says what it means and means what it says … "I heard the number of those, 144,000, from all the tribes of Israel"
Israel has been scattered all over the world in every nation and people group. But God knows where they are.
This groups is named slightly different with Dan left out and with Joseph represented instead of Ephraim one of his sons and ½ tribes. Levi is included though usually excluded.
This is a difficult but doesn't create too big an issue for me. Dt. 29:29 says that the mysteries are for God and the stuff revealed is for us. So, there is enough here that we can know that we can let God worry about what we can't know.
Either Dan is not represented here for whatever God's reason, or this is just a different wording of inclusiveness of Israel.
As to the number this could be a symbolic completeness or more likely it is a fixed number probably 12,000 as written from EACH tribe. I doubt that it means ALL Israel because ALL of Israel has NEVER been included in the promise but only those who are faithful and true. Not all went into the promised land. Not all were saved along the way.
Yet there has always been a remnant among God's people.
When Elijah seemed to be the only one, God told him that there were 7,000 others 1Ki 19:18
Ezek 9 shows us another remnant marked before God's Judgment
B. A Seal
A Seal is like a signet ring or mark placed on something or someone
One of the things given by the Father back to the Prodigal son was a ring. But these are not given a ring but given the mark of the Ring
Abraham was given circumcision to mark Israel as unique from the world
In Egypt the doorposts were marked to seal the firstborn of God's people against the angel of death that took the rest of the countries firstborn
In Jericho, Rahab and her family were marked with a red sash hanging in the window and they alone survived.
In Ezekiel 9 a man with ink marked the forehead of those who wept at the wickedness of that generation.
In Rev 12 the Antichrist will mark HIS people on their forehead or right hand.
The Lord is not finished with Israel yet. He has come back to Israel for this final week of Daniels vision of 70 weeks.
He will MARK these 144,000 - what kind of mark? I don't know and we don't know. Will it be visible to all? Probably but I don't know
Criswell likens it in his mind to Moses off the mountain, his face shown with the glory of God, he says "there was a glory about him and his face shown like a sun … like Stephen amidst the Sanhedrin in power and wisdom … they are endued, endowed, and glorified of God, and their eloquence, their witness and their testimony to the truth of Christ are beyond compare. To hear them is to be moved by the presence of the glory of God in their lives. Such is the seal of the Holy Spirit of God"
The purpose of Israel was to be a light to the Gentiles so we see why God is marking these 144,000 here.
Why will they be so zealous and so fervent, because they have been taught about, looked for, longed for, wondered about the Messiah for 1000s of years, they missed him and finally see him as he is and they will be ON FIRE with the Power, Proclamation, and Protection of God.
These people are specific because they are a distinct group of people even from other Jews
We are sealed with the Holy Spirit within according to Eph 1:13,14
These are sealed with God's mark on their forehead
They, I believe are literally marked, and then that mark brings about protection when the winds are released and the trumpets begin to sound the judgment and the bowls pour out judgment.
Why? To preach the gospel to the world
They are sealed, and protected because they have a blessed purpose.
God has always protected his anointed messengers as long as they are needed for the message.
I fear nothing in proclaiming God's Word because as long as God is still purposing to use me and I am faithful to his call he will protect me.
Cancer didn't take Adrian Rogers too soon.
He fought the good fight, he finished the race and there is now set before him the crown of righteousness, the crown of glory, the crown of a soul winner
And these are marked and protected in the midst of terrible judgment …
Mt 24:14 - and this gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come
The preaching of the Gospel to the world is NOT hinged on the Rapture but hinged on the END
Satan has tried to destroy Israel throughout History generation after generation of world history has still seen the Israelite remain why? Because Jesus said so, because he intended to keep his covenant with them as a people and keep his word to use them
Mt 24:34 I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened
Israel is still here because God is not done with them
That leads to a glimpse even further into the future
Just as God's people escaped the blood, and frogs, and locusts, and death, and all the other plagues of Egypt, so these Evangelists will survive these judgments because God will be using them.
What will be the result of God's calling them out, sealing them, protecting them?
Isaiah 55:11 says - so is my word that goes out of my mouth: it will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you and all the trees of the field will clap their hands
In other words … God's word does what God's word is supposed to do … and he said that these will tell the WHOLE WORLD guess what
We get to see the end a little early
3. Innumerable Converts
What are the viewpoints on these verses 9-17
Historicist - Some see these as the same as the 144,000 but now we see them complete in Heaven - Others see them as the church from among the Gentiles that is larger in number than the church out of Israel
Preterist - these are God's throng of new family that come out and as a result of being saved because God has abandoned his rebellious wife and disobedient children in Israel and created a new family in the church and thus these Christian Martyrs follow in a great multitude
Futurist - In the dispensational view: as a result of the calling of the 144,000 a greater number of Gentiles will be brought to Christ by their testimony during the Tribulation. These with palm branches are those who come to Christ and endure the martyrdom of the Great Tribulation.
They are distinct from the Elders which represent the church and distinct from the 144,000. Like the 144,000 they didn't respond to the period of grace so they will have a different "status" as a saint but will enter into the millennium. They have come out the of GREAT TRIBULATION meaning the 2nd ½ of the 7 years. This vision, according to Gaebelein, applies:
to saved Gentiles on earth. … This great company therefore does not stand before a heavenly throne, but before the millennial throne on earth. … The temple mentioned is the millennial temple (Ezek. xl-xliv). And then there is a description of the millennial blessings for these redeemed nations.
Some futurists that do not believe in a rapture of the church would see this as the Church after the tribulation having faithfully endured, been martyred and received
Spiritualist/Idealist - scene goes from earth to heaven … 144,000 is the church on earth, the innumerable is the church in heaven --- church militant on earth and church triumphant they have come through difficult times at the end though it doesn't apply to any particular time of Tribulation
The Innumerable Converts
Differences Two Groups Mentioned here
Numbered - 144,000
Sealed on Earth
Cause - of the 2nd group being included
Gentiles from Every Nation
Unable to Count
In Heaven - Standing before the Throne
After the Tribulation
Effect - of the 144,000
These are Gentiles from Every People Grouping possible
Tribe - connections
People - ethnicity
They are Not Old Testament Saints because they are separate from other saints in Heaven and they have come from a different Era, The Great Tribulation - not A but THE a specific time and era still to come
They are distinct from the 144,000 they are distinct from the Church in the 24 Elders. There will be a distinction we will see even going into the millennium.
We see them having a distinct service in the Temple. During the Millennium we will see later a Temple in Heaven and a Temple on Earth in the New Jerusalem.
BUT distinction WILL pass away by the end of this book. And there will be no need for a Temple by the end of this book because the Father and Lamb will be the Temple … just so you know ALL distinctions will be washed away eventually
1. Standing - The 24 Elders are Seated on Thrones --- so John didn't know who they were and the Elder next to him must have noticed it and asked out loud what John was asking inside … "who are these people"
2. They are Accepted - or they would not have been before the throne because those who are not accepted are not allowed to give praise to God before the Throne - you can be sure that they had known rejection on the earth as they believed in Christ in the worst day of rejection ever in history - they were overcomers with Palm Branches and white robes - though they don't have crowns like the Elders
3. They were Joyful - they sang praises instigating all of Heaven to join in the worship …
4. Rewarded -
Isaiah 49:8-13; Isaiah 25:8
a. Service - they are at God's throne and they serve in his Temple, probably a millennial job until there is no more need for the Temple at the end of that age. And in their Joyful Service they are
b. Shepherding - Psalm 23
c. Satisfying - Isaiah 49:8-13; 25:8
spread his tent over them - literally to set his large tent in their midst which is so great as to cover all their tents
his very presence will provide all they need and cause they to forget what they have gone through
In the Great Tribulation they have known Hunger, Thirst, Homelessness, Tears, Pain, and Suffering but now they have no more of that but a loving Shepherd. The Sacrificial Lamb has now become their Shepherd
Their Substitute has become Savior and Lord
Before we see God's Worst Judgment in the Trumpets and Bowls, we see the end result even in Judgment is still his grace and mercy
Hab. 3:2 "… in wrath remember mercy"
All the world has the same choices today
Surrender to the Lamb or follow the Beast
Know God's grace or Experience his Judgment
But if we come to him now we can escape the coming night as David Jeremiah calls it
We Can be enthroned and crowned as part of the 24 Elders we can escape the deception of the Evil one and his Antichrist and the martyrs blade for those who believe at that late date
Wednesday Night Bible study Fall 2005-Spring 2006
The following resources were used among others in preparation
Revelation Four Views: A Parallel Commentary – Steve Gregg
W.A. Criswell Expository Sermons on Revelation
Dr. J.A. Seiss Expositions on Revelations
MacArthur Bible Studies: Revelation – John MacArthur
Dr. David Jeremiah Expositions on Revelation
The Pulpit Commentary: Revelation
Wiersbe: The Bible Exposition Commentary