Just Announced: Philippians Sermon Series

Summary: Are you part of the 144,000?

“The Great Unveiling: Guaranteed Security”

Rev. 7:1-17

Last week we looked at the seven seals and saw how much of God’s judgment is already underway in history. We learned that there is still much more to come, and with increasing intensity. But after the sixth seal there was a break in the action – prior to the final seal, in chapter 7, there is an entirely different scene in this divine drama. But it’s critical to our understanding because it contrasts the panic of the pagan world with the security and salvation of the faithful.

The presentation of the sixth seal ends with people facing the wrath of

God crying out, “Who can stand?” In the face of God, who is able to stand, to measure up and be worthy? Who will be able to bear up? After all, didn’t Paul say “There is none righteous, no not one?” These are legitimate questions which Chapter 7 answers. There are those who will bear up and survive. As we learn more about them, let us pray.

Most righteous Father – we realize again how imperfect and unworthy we are. When we see your holiness and meet you in glory, we, too, wonder how we can ever bear up. As we catch yet another glimpse of your heavenly bliss, remind us once more of your grace. Help us get beyond the controversy and confusion of Revelation into your heart; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The first scene in Chapter 7 (1-8) gives us a SENSE OF SECURITY. In verse 1 we meet angels standing on the four corners of the earth holding back the winds. The picture communicates THE POWER OF CHRIST (1-3). In Zechariah the 4 horsemen were interpreted as “the four winds of heaven.” Keeping in mind that people in those times believed the earth was flat and therefore had 4 corners, we can understand the significance of the angels’ position. They surround the world with power. And with that power they are holding back the winds of destructive judgment. Since for the Jews every act of nature was directly from God, John’s readers knew that John was saying that GOD HOLDS BACK THE WINDS AND HORSES OF JUDGMENT. God has heard the question “Who can stand?” He’s heard the inquiry of “What will happen to believers during this time?”, and He’s answering. Think about it – before we entered these last days – again, we are in the last days – God suspended the decisive action of judgment and history.

Isn’t it amazing? The earth, the sea, the trees are all standing still at the command of Jesus Christ! The Lord who stilled the storms and calmed the seas, holds back the words of judgment. As someone once said, “…every moment on the earth is made to serve the redeeming purpose of God for mankind. The 4 winds…cannot blow and vent their rage as they like, but only as they are made to serve the Church of Christ.” In EVERY MOMENT, THE DESTINY OF THE WHOLE WORLD IS IN THE HANDS OF CHRIST! Not one moment of your life, or the life of this earth, passes outside His control.

So Jesus momentarily suspends decisive, final judgment. Why? Because prior to the end of the last days another angel is ready to go forth with the seal of God. At this point THE SEAL IS THE MARK OF GOD’S OWNERSHIP; it marks a person off as a possession of God. Once again, John’s vision comes from the prophets. The people of Judah had turned their backs on God. In a vision Ezekiel saw a man dressed in linen with pen and inkwell in his hand, who was told, (Ezek. 9:4): “Go throughout the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on the foreheads of those who grieve and lament over all the detestable things that are done in it.” Everyone, except those who had the mark on their foreheads, was slaughtered. As Paul later wrote to Timothy (2Tim. 2:19), “The Lord knows those who are his.” He puts His stamp upon them. It assures the believer of the protection of the all powerful, living God. So when the 4 horsemen finally ride forth, when the winds are released, the believers are protected; they are secure.

But how is this power of Christ practical for us? (4-8) We look more closely at THE PLAN OF CHRIST. The first thing we encounter is another controversial issue. John wrote that 144,000 were sealed. What is THE MEANING OF THIS 144,000? Is this a literal or symbolic number? I believe that it is, like all the numbers in Revelation, symbolic. Here’s why. 12x12x10 squared = 144,000. So what?

12 IS THE NUMBER OF TRIBES IN THE OLD TESTAMENT AND THE NUMBER OF THE APOSTLES IN THE NEW TESTAMENT. Together they represent THE ENTIRE CHURCH THROUGHOUT THE AGES. When multiplied together they are then multiplied by the square of 10. 10 IS THE NUMBER OF PERFECTION AND STANDS FOR COMPLETENESS – the perfect total. Throughout Scripture it does not indicate limitation but rather fulfillment and completion. For example, when the Psalmist in 50:10 said, “He (God) owns the cattle on a thousand hills…,” did he mean that sheep on the 1,0001st hill are not His? Of course not! He owns them all! The 1,000 hills symbolize all, the complete total. So the 144,000 stands for EVERYONE WHO TRUSTS IN THE LORD – the complete number of those established by our Lord.

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