Summary: The role of the Church is central to the story of Revelation. How does God portray in this book, and what can this mean to us about our part in God's eternal plan?
OPEN: Harry Emerson Fosdick told the tale of a little church on the coast of England that was ruined in a hurricane. The congregation was poor and didn’t have the money to rebuild. Then one day a representative of the British Admiralty came to the preacher and asked if they intended to reconstruct their church building.
When the preacher explained why they couldn’t, the other man replied:
"Well, if you do not rebuild it… we will.
The spire on your church is on all our charts and maps. It is the landmark by which our ships set their course."
What the representative of British Navy was saying was this:
That church was important to them.
Throughout the book of Revelation, that’s the same message Jesus gives us.
You (for you are the church) you are important to Him.
You remember the children’s song – "Jesus Loves Me"?
Sing it with me.
“Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong, they are weak but He is strong.
Yes, Jesus loves me.
Yes, Jesus loves me.
Yes, Jesus loves me.
The Bible tells me so”
According to that song - how do we know Jesus loves us?
(The Bible tells me so)
In the same way we know Jesus loves us because Revelation tells us so.
• He “… loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood.” Revelation 1:5
• He has “… made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father…” Revelation 1:6
• He has given us robes made “… white in the blood of the Lamb.” Revelation 7:14
• ”… he’ll guide (us) to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from (our) eyes.” Revelation 7:17
• We will conquer Satan “… by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of (our) testimony….” Revelation 12:11
• We have “his name… written on (our) foreheads…” Revelation 14:1
• And we sing “… a new song before the throne…” Revelation 14:3
And it goes on and on and on.
Yes, Jesus loves us… Revelation tells us so.
Now, there are many prophetic teachers out there who will say:
“Yeah, Jesus loves you (the church)… but not as much as He loves Physical Israel.”
Last week, we examined this chart dealing with a powerful prophecy from Daniel 9.
The prophecy is called the “70 weeks prophecy” in which God accurately told His people the date when the Temple would be rebuilt and the exact date when the coming Messiah (Jesus) would begin His ministry.
But right at the end of that prophecy (just before the last 7 years of the prophecy) these prophetic teachers “stop the clock”. They put in a “time gap” they call the “Church age” because (they believe) the church was NOT God’s most important focus in the prophecy… physical Israel was.
And thus – they say – when Jesus comes back – the Gentile church will be raptured out and physical Israel will be saved.
Essentially, they are telling us that the Church was an afterthought with God.
The Gentile church is not loved as much as the physical Jews were.
To their way of thinking – physical Israel is the apple of God’s eye.
The church is loved… just not as much.
Now that’s a bizarre interpretation of Daniel 9 because the 70 weeks prophecy doesn’t even give a hint that such a “time gap” existed, nor does that prophecy speak of God stopping the clock for the sake of physical Israel.
Part of the reason these prophetic teachers are so convinced of the importance of physical Israel is because Revelation talks about a group of people called “the 144,000”.
Have you ever heard of the “144,000”?
You can read about it in Revelation 7:4b-8
“I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel:
12,000 from the tribe of Judah were sealed,
12,000 from the tribe of Reuben,
12,000 from the tribe of Gad,
12,000 from the tribe of Asher,
12,000 from the tribe of Naphtali,
12,000 from the tribe of Manasseh,
12,000 from the tribe of Simeon,
12,000 from the tribe of Levi,
12,000 from the tribe of Issachar,
12,000 from the tribe of Zebulun,
12,000 from the tribe of JOSEPH,
12,000 from the tribe of Benjamin were sealed.”
That sounds pretty conclusive doesn’t it?
The 144,000 are said to be from every tribe of the sons of ISRAEL!!!
Therefore, these 144,000 MUST BE physical Israelites.
Well… not so fast.
There are a few problems with this interpretation, and one of the most obvious has to do with the tribe I highlighted in the list
Do see that tribe of “Joseph” toward the end of the passage?