17 – 144,000 Sealed and The Great Multitude.
It is almost as if the Bible takes a rest from the Judgements on the Earth to give us some information on what God is doing.
There are some very important things happening while judgement is taking place. God has not handed the earth over to Satan! God’s work of salvation is still continuing. Even now, the Lord is extending His everlasting Love to His Creation, giving His People a final opportunity to accept His Gift of Eternal Life. 2 Peter 3:9-10
The problem is that the day is coming when the earth will be destroyed, this time not by a flood, but by fire. God will keep His promise to us made after the Flood described in Genesis, Genesis 9:8-13, and at the time of Revelation 7 most people will never have heard of the Name of the Lord or His Salvation. His Church has been removed from the earth at the Rapture. They have been caught up with Him to meet Him in the air, and are at this stage praising Him for all His goodness and mercy to them. Now He commissions a huge and irresistible force to reach the remainder of the people who will turn to Him in these very, very last days. This force consists of 144,000 Jewish evangelists.
These Jews have not previously accepted Jesus as their Messiah, but have seen the error of their ways and have become Believers. They are now totally committed to telling every last person they can find about the amazing Gift of Salvation that God has given for all who will receive it. God has provided a great miracle of physical salvation for His people Israel, by giving them a massive victory in war over a confederation of countries consisting of Russia, Iran, African countries, (both northern and central) and some European nations. This is a single day victory (Ezekiel 38) and comes towards the beginning of the Tribulation.
These nations slink off to their various home countries providing the Jewish evangelists with a wonderful opportunity to speak to all who will listen. The news of the miraculous victory will be on everyone’s lips, but although millions will be saved, not everyone will listen to the Good News.
The Jewish evangelists are marked with God’s seal on their foreheads giving them divine protection while they undertake their task. God insists that every believing Jew is sealed, before the plagues are released with their devastating outcome. This is an amazing example of God’s Sovereignty, as He is totally in control of all that is happening, in spite of the huge outpouring of evil. The evangelists’ ministry is so effective that a great multitude of people become Believers. A seal is a common sign that would have been understood by the Believers, when John wrote about it. It was a sign of ownership.
The owner of a slave would have marked his slave with a seal, which was normally a hole drilled into the earlobe. The sealing of a person has within its meaning the concepts of safety and security, commissioning and ownership. In the same way, when we become Christians, we are marked with the seal of the Holy Spirit. ‘In Him you also who have heard the Word of Truth, the glad tidings (Gospel) of your salvation, and have believed in and adhered to and relied on Him, were stamped with the seal of the long-promised Holy Spirit’. Ephesians 1:11-13. The real Christian is marked out by the seal of the Holy Spirit; it enables him to have the wisdom and strength to cope with life in a troubled world!
Similarly, God marks His 144,000 evangelists by sealing them with His seal of Ownership. He moves them into His Presence so that they are protected from the anger of the Antichrist. The work of the evangelists continues until approximately four years after the beginning of the Tribulation (Revelation 9) when these people are mentioned as being on the earth just after the mid-point of the Tribulation. The most difficult time of the Tribulation period will be the second half (the last 3½ years). Up to that time, the Antichrist will have attempted to persuade people that he is a ‘man of peace and diplomacy’! From this time on, however, all semblance of peace, particularly towards those who wish to serve God, will be removed and the Antichrist’s real character will be displayed, Revelation 7:1-3. The judgements are withheld by the angel mentioned in Revelation 7:2 while this great work of salvation continues to completion. The 144,000 Jews come from every tribe of Israel – 12,000 from each of the 12 Tribes. Two tribes of Dan and Ephraim lost their place due to idolatry and here God has replaced them with Joseph and Levi, Genesis 49. This has never related to the false claim that the 144,000 are Jehovah’s witnesses inhabiting the earth in their new kingdom! They are sincerely misled in their zeal to attain their own righteousness. Righteousness comes only from God the Father through none other than Jesus Christ His Son Who died in our place setting those who accept Him as their Lord and Saviour free from the consequences of their own sin. The 144,000 are certainly chosen by God but from the children of Israel as we see here.
It is so important that we do not allow people to mislead us with, worldly and misguided schemes. We should not listen to any ‘get-saved-quick’ schemes from cults. The one and only way to God is through Jesus Christ, John 14:6.
God will reach an individual in the way, which He alone knows is best, and this is why it is a personal relationship. Usually, a person will ‘hear’ the Word of God from the lips of others and will respond to the invitation of Eternal Life from their hearts, as their spirit reacts to hearing the Amazing Word of Truth, Romans 10:13-18 Amp
These 144,000 men and women will first of all speak to their own people, just as Paul did when he first preached the Gospel outside of Israel. He went to the Synagogue first and when he was rejected he went to the Gentiles, but at this time, the Jews will be receptive to their brothers and sisters and all Israel shall be saved!
“… a hardening (insensibility) has [temporarily] befallen a part of Israel [to last] until the full number of the ingathering of the Gentiles has come in, 26 And so all Israel will be saved. …….they [the Jews, at present] are enemies [of God], which is for your advantage and benefit. But from the point of view of God’s choice (of election, of divine selection), they are still the beloved (dear to Him) for the sake of their forefathers,” Romans 11:25-31 Amp.
The seal of God rests upon them and they are safe and secure, but a constant thorn in the antichrist’s side. They are living proof to the devil that his power is very limited and he is restricted by divine administration. It will not only be the Jews who listen and believe; it will also be a final remnant of Gentiles. The door will always remain open right up to the time when Jesus returns in judgement, Zechariah 8:20-23 Amp. God is Sovereign even in the earth’s most dreadful time. Pentecost was amazing but this revival will be much bigger as the Jewish evangelists go from Nation to Nation.
The work of the Holy Spirit will be even more immense than the greatest amount of repression and suffering, which Satan plans. During this Revival, the vast horde that is saved will be so many, only God knows their number. It seems that all the Gentiles were martyred for their faith, but they entered heaven with the ‘thank you’ password: “Salvation to our God Who sits upon the Throne, and to the Lamb,” Revelation 7:10 NIV. They thank God for His Grace and Mercy and take none of the glory for themselves.
John sees this great multitude before the Throne of God. They are the mid-tribulation Believers, the product of the Jewish evangelists and in order to be there, will probably have been martyred, murdered for their faith. They have joined those who were caught up to be with the Lord at the beginning of the Tribulation period.
The great multitude about which John speaks here will be for the most part a Jewish group. They will have come from all places to which the Jews have been dispersed over the years – every nation, tribe, people and language! Without a doubt they now know that Jesus is Lord and from where their salvation came! “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” Revelation 7:9-10. They are all praising God for His amazing grace. They left earth through the most horrible deaths that Satan could plan for them, but that is all over and they are overflowing with praise for His grace and gift.
Some figures say approximately 150,000 people were killed for being Christians in 2009 and the number has only increased since. These Christian Believers must have had times when they wondered if God had given up on them, because of His apparent silence. They themselves must have been tempted to give up. Yet here is such an amazing picture of the Tribulation martyrs thanking God for ‘salvation … unto the Lamb’. This cannot have failed to encourage those who have died, or will die, as martyrs before the Tribulation. Yet the faith that so inspired them is the same faith that is given to you and me to be “shining lights” for the Gospel where we live.
They will know that they are in heaven through no work of their own. They are not there because they were willing to be martyred; not because their bodies were burned, or they took joyfully the spoiling of their goods (Hebrews 10:34) or because they endured through the Tribulation, but because of the Lamb, and they know it.
How would you and I feel if that happened to us? Would our faith and trust in God be just as strong as theirs if we saw our children being dashed to pieces or our partners mutilated before our very eyes? Yet this is the faith that Jesus is looking for:
For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth to show Himself strong in behalf of those whose hearts are blameless toward Him. 2 Chronicles 16:9
They heard the Gospel from these new Jewish evangelists. Before the Tribulation, it is our responsibility to reach every nation, tribe, people and language. Without us being involved with evangelism, how will our neighbours, our nation and our world hear? As we each do our part, everyone in our country will hear and when those who respond do their part, so will the entire world! Our towns and cities are becoming more and more cosmopolitan, filled with ethnic groups from all over the world. Let us not miss this opportunity, which this brings, to reach out to a hurting and lost community. For the most part, these people have come to our country so that they can better themselves. Additionally, would it not be amazing if they were to discover the One True God, through hearing about Him from us?
‘…..”Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How, then, can they call on the One they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the One of Whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!” Romans 10:13-15.
This passage of the Bible was written about the Jews, but it applies equally well to all people. How will they hear without us telling them? Imagine if our country has Revival and all these foreign workers are involved then return to their own countries, telling their families all the miracles they have seen. This will just be like when the Holy Spirit started the Church at Pentecost, Acts 2:3-4.
Jesus told the parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins in Matthew 25:1-13. This parable can be taken as referring to two types of Believers – those who are ready for the return of the Lord Jesus, and are taken to be with Him at His return (the Rapture), but there will be those people who have heard the Word of God, have started out along the way but have become lazy and very busy. They can be described as backsliders. They have not responded to the promptings of the Holy Spirit to be ready for the return of Jesus. When the Trumpet Call of God sounds and the Believers are taken to be with Him, some of those who are left will know exactly what has happened, along with those who have just procrastinated and refused to accept Jesus perhaps saying that they will do so when they have finished having a good time.
Many of these, ‘the ‘left behind’ will take this opportunity after the Rapture to respond as they now realise what they should have done when they were told time and again before the Rapture. The question we need to ask ourselves is this: “According to this passage, am I a wise or a foolish virgin?’ Depending on the answer we give ourselves, ‘what do I need to do about it right now?”
As the great multitude gathers around the throne, the angels can only fall down on their faces in wonder at the amazing faithfulness and loving kindness of our God. ‘Saying, Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honour and power and strength be to our God for ever and ever. Amen!’ Revelation 7:11-12. Next time your head is telling you fearful lies just repeat this verse being proclaimed round the throne today. Our faith will rise rapidly.
The atmosphere is so wonderful that the combined praise of these new family members in heaven causes all in Heaven to fall on their faces to worship God. That is the challenge to us; to ensure that our words and actions cause others to worship Him and not us. All Glory belongs to Him alone. As all in heaven witness these new saints they can’t help but praise God as they know that the fire and fury of the Tribulation has raised such a multitude of martyrs.
We are known to cry in trials and troubles but on the other side of death we shall worship God for it, ‘Consider it wholly joyful, my brethren, whenever you are enveloped in or encounter trials of any sort…’ James 1:2. Let us learn today to rejoice in ALL circumstances and to remember who we are in Christ, and how much we have to be thankful for. These Tribulation saints should challenge and encourage us as they praise round His Throne.
The elder wanted to ensure that John knew exactly who these people were who were arrayed in white, so that their victory could be recorded accurately for our benefit.
He wants us to be encouraged in whatever we go through we will come out in victory both here and in Heaven. These victors are rewarded by being in the innermost court of the Father following His every instruction. They are before the throne of God looking into the face of God, what a reward for all the horror. These men and women may have missed the return of Jesus for His people, His Church, but through His great and amazing mercy, they will not have missed out on Eternal Life with Jesus. The conditions are always exactly the same: those who come into the Kingdom of God at this time will need to do it by confession of their sins, repentance and then asking Jesus to be their Saviour and Lord of their lives. Instantly, they will be changed and as John puts it so vividly for us: ‘Then He told me,
“These are those who come from the great tribulation, and they’ve washed their robes, scrubbed them clean in the blood of the Lamb. That’s why they’re standing before God’s Throne. They serve Him day and night in His Temple. The One on the Throne will pitch His tent there for them: no more hunger, no more thirst, no more scorching heat. The Lamb on the Throne will shepherd them, will lead them to spring waters of Life. And God will wipe every last tear from their eyes.” Revelation 7:14-17 Msg.
This will surely be a day of great rejoicing. Those who should be home with the Lord have come home. The Prodigals have returned. The Living God spreads His tent of protection over them so after all the fear and insecurity of their time on earth they are guaranteed eternal security. They will have abundant provision in Him. They will never again suffer from the effects of the judgements meted out by the four horsemen of the apocalypse and of the other judgements which we shall see later. The sadness they felt at being as foolish as to be left behind will be gone, and God Himself will wipe away every tear from their eyes. His family, His Bride is home! Their reward is to be close to the Lamb; He will be their Shepherd, dedicated to their welfare, their happiness and their undying joy. How could this be a time of recrimination or sadness? On the contrary it will soon be a time of celebration and joy at the Marriage Feast of the Lamb!
17 – 144,000 Sealed and The Great Multitude – Challenge questions
It is suggested that you answer all the questions in your homework but only do those marked with ‘*’ in your group to save time and give more time to prayer.
1. *Read the Notes and the Bible Verses referred to in them. Highlight the points that ‘speak’ to you and be prepared to share with your group.
2. How do you feel about people who are tortured and face death for their faith?
3. “Do I love the Truth enough to live it?” this is a question from the Vicar of Bagdad! How do we live ‘Truth’ in the UK and how different should we look from the world?
Read Daniel 1-2 and Daniel 7-12
We need to delve back into history just a little. If we don’t do this, it may be possible to lose track of the biblical events described in the following chapters of Revelation 9-16.
4. *Why was Daniel in Babylon and how had he got there? When he arrived, what job was he assigned? Daniel 1.
5. Daniel made a decision what was it? What was the result of Daniel’s decision to be obedient to God?
6. Daniel left the audience with the king with some work to do. What was it? How did he go about it? Daniel 2:16
7. *What does Daniel say that no wise man, enchanter, magician or diviner can do? (Daniel 2:27 Msg)
8. Give two major points about Daniel’s decision to get close to God that we can use in our own life? Daniel 2:17-23
9. *Describe Nebuchadnezzar’s dream in your own words, Daniel 2:31-36
10. *What was Daniel’s interpretation of that dream? Daniel 2:36-45
11. *Why is the fourth kingdom significant from our standpoint living in the 21st Century?
12. *How different is the fifth kingdom that is mentioned in the Bible? Daniel 2:44
13. List some points about the fourth kingdom (the beast) that interested you. (Daniel 7:21-25)
14. Do you think that the European Union might have a part to play in the Tribulation Period? Explain your answer.
15. *What points describe the Antichrist here? Daniel 8:23-25. What is his final outcome? Daniel 9:27
16. Who is behind the Antichrist manipulating him to carry out his plans? What plans does this person have?
17. Daniel describes that this time will be a time of distress. How bad will it be? Daniel 12:1-3
18. Sum up in one short sentence what you have read in Daniel that is prophesied in relation to what we have already learned in our study of Revelation.