The Book of Revelation
“Sealed by God”
It might be a good thing to review where we stand. Jesus is now holding the Scroll of Destiny, the Father’s Last Will and Testament for humanity and the universe. Last week we looked at the 5th and 6th seal revealing the martyred saints in heaven along with the earth and heaven are being ripped apart by the greatest earthquake to date, the sun becoming dark, the moon turning a blood red, a meteorite shower of unprecedented proportion, and the sky receding like a scroll.
But before the 7th seal is broken releasing the seven trumpet judgments, there’s a pause in heaven for the Lord to seal a special group of believers so they don’t experience God’s wrath that’s about to come.
Read Revelation 7:1-8
The first thing John sees after the 6th seal is opened and its judgments poured out are four angels placed upon the four corners of the earth holding the winds of judgment until these special servants of God are sealed.
This picture reveals that judgment is in in the hands of God’s, not Satan’s. And that’s comforting to know because not only is God a just judge, but He’s gracious and merciful too boot.
King David not only knew of God’s justice, but also His grace and mercy when he sinned in numbering the people, something God expressly forbid Israel from doing. So God sent Gad the prophet to tell David that he had a choice of three punishments – famine for seven years, three months of being defeated by their enemies, or three days of plague. David said,
“I am in great distress. Please let us fall into the hand of the Lord, for His mercies are great; but do not let me fall into the hand of man.” (2 Samuel 24:14 NKJV)
God’s judgments are a lot less severe than anything that man can hand down, and they’re more merciful because God’s judgments have our redemption as their goal.
And so God sent a plague against Israel. What this reveals is that there are consequences to our sins, not only for us individually, but also corporately as others suffer as a result.
Our sins have a way of finding us out, and those sins we think we’ve hidden; God has a way of making them public. We try to hide them, but the guilt eventually eats us up and changes who we are, and it becomes noticeable.
Dr. Wilbur Chapman said, “It takes the look of joy from your face; it takes the peace from your heart; (and) it takes the power from your life.”
But there’s hope, and it comes through confession and repentance. To heal and bring resolution we not only need to confess our sins to God, but also to one another.
This scares us to death, because we don’t like for others to know our business, especially that which is embarrassing. But the very thing we run and hide from is the very thing that will bring healing. The Apostle James said,
“Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (James 5:16 NKJV)
And if you are given this honor to pray for someone, make sure you are faithful and keep the trust.
Why pray and ask forgiveness? Because it’s far better to fall into the hands of a merciful God, than it is to fall into then hands of sinful man.
And so God holds back His wrath until this special sealing takes place.
What is this sealing? To understand this question is to understand what a seal is. A seal is a mark of possession, authority, and power. In ancient times when a document was sealed, wax was dripped upon the document and the author or owner’s signet ring was pressed into the wax. Whoever read that document knew who wrote it, and whose authority made the decree. Such seals also showed ownership on possessions.
So God seals these 144,000 with His very own name, which shows that they are the exclusive property of the Lord God Himself. This is revealed later in Revelation.
“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.” (Revelation 14:1 NKJV)
This seal upon their foreheads was God’s mark of possession and protection. These 144,000 would be protected from God’s wrath when it’s poured out upon the earth. We see this protection during the 5th trumpet judgment. God releases demonic locusts upon the earth to torment humanity for five months. It says,
“They were commanded not to harm the grass of the earth, or any green thing, or any tree, but only those men who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads.” (Revelation 9:4 NKJV)
This mark being placed upon their forehead is significant. It wasn’t an uncommon practice for people to receive such marks upon their foreheads as a sign of consecration to a deity, signifying they were religious followers. The forehead was chosen because it’s the most conspicuous place and left little doubt as to whom that person served.
So this mark being our heavenly Father’s name, and that these 144,000 were direct descendants from the 12 tribes of Israel, and since they are called servants of God, and later identified with Jesus Christ, it leaves very little doubt that these were Jewish believers; followers of Jesus Christ.
Further, they’re called virgins, that is, they’ve never married or have had sexual relations. This is again seen in Revelation 14.
“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.” (Revelation 14:4 NKJV)
I believe the purpose of this sealing is because they’ll dedicate their lives to the service of God and the cause of Jesus Christ during this time of Tribulation. As virgins they’ll commit their lives to Jesus as their bridegroom, and will be ministers of the gospel message to the inhabitants of the earth during this time just as the church is today.
And the reason I say this is because I believe that the church, those who are the bride of Christ today, those who are ministers of the gospel message will be gone, because the Rapture will have taken place prior to this event.
Otherwise, why create a special body of believers to do what the church has been commissioned and empowered by God to do today. And why would God only protect these 144,000 Jewish believers and let the church go through His wrath, which is something God promised would not happen. God never appointed us to wrath, but to salvation.
“For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us.” (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10a NKJV)
Everyone today has the privilege to escape the judgment and wrath of God through belief in Jesus Christ. But when the time of tribulation comes, only those 144,000 Jewish believers will be so lucky, the rest, even those who come to faith during this time, will experience these judgments that are going to be poured out.
But for us God sets His seal within our hearts, which is no One less than the Holy Spirit. The presence of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life today seals and guarantees that they belong to God and will escape God’s ultimate judgment and live eternally with Him.
“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance.” (Ephesians 1:13-14a NKJV)
And so for those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and have confessed the same before others, God tags them by placing the Holy Spirit in their hearts as His seal. They’ve been stamped and sealed then by the Holy Spirit and are now God’s special possession.
As believers we are owned by God and have been purchased by God through the redemption priced paid by Jesus Christ when He took our place upon the cross and died the death we all deserve. We are therefore no longer our own, but His, and as His; we’re under His protection until the great day of His redemption.
Paul goes on to say that the Holy Spirit has also been given as a guarantee of our inheritance. Now, what exactly does that mean?
The word guarantee was used in ancient times in commercial transactions signifying a first installment payment or a down payment if you would. In other words it’s a portion of the price paid in advance securing legal claim to the item to be purchased, thus sealing the deal.
In Modern Greek it’s used of an engagement ring promising marriage, but in itself is not a part of the marriage.
In giving those who come to faith in Jesus Christ the Holy Spirit, God is not just promising them the final inheritance of eternity, but is giving them a foretaste of what it will be like.
It’s like when we put our tongue to the tip of a spoon to taste the flavor of a dish or sauce that’s being served. The giving of the Holy Spirit is just the tip of the tongue taste of the fullness of what God has in store for us in heaven.
If you’re having a hard time seeing or sensing this, take a journey back and remember.
• Remember the release you felt when God forgave you of your sins
• Remember the awe and wonder you experienced during times of worship and praise
• Remember the feeling of being filled and baptized in the Holy Spirit and seeing God move in miraculous ways
Now multiply all of these a million and billion times over, that’s what you’ll feel like when you get to heaven. To say it another way, God’s gift of the Holy Spirit is an earnest deposit of a much larger possession to come in heaven. The Apostle Paul said,
“‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’ But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.” (1 Corinthians 2:9-10 NKJV)
Therefore it’s only by the Holy Spirit who is the guarantee of our inheritance that we can now get a glimpse of all that God has in store for us. It’s through the Holy Spirit that our eyes are opened, our ears unstopped, and that we can begin to understand what God has prepared for us.
The whole point of this message is that today you can be one of the sealed of the Lord as well, just as the Lord in the Great Tribulation seals these 144,000 in order to protect them from His wrath.
God seals today all those that come into that saving grace of Jesus Christ. And although we go through times of trials and tribulation, this sealing protects us from experiencing God’s ultimate wrath to come.
And so the question becomes, “Is this sealing evident in your life? Do others know you to be a fully devoted follower of Jesus Christ?” Search your hearts; don’t wait, because no one knows when this awful time of Tribulation will be upon us.
Read Revelation 7:9-17
These are believers who have died either by natural means or violent deaths during the Tribulation. This is seen in verse 14. Literally it reads, “Those who are coming out of the Great Tribulation.” And so their number is constantly being added to.
Being believers is seen in the later part of the verse saying that they’ve washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.
When you think about it you really can’t make anything clean or white by washing it in blood, but that’s exactly what God does. In God’s economy it’s only through a blood sacrifice that a person can be forgiven of their sins, that is, made clean and white before God. This is made implicit in God’s law
“For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.” (Leviticus 17:11 NKJV)
This is confirmed by the writer of Hebrews in the New Testament saying that without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins, that is, there is no forgiveness (Hebrews 9:22).
Throughout the New Testament we see that the Old Testament sacrificial system and the blood sacrifices were a type or foreshadow of a much greater sacrifice that was to come. That it would be through the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, and the sacrifice He made upon the cross, that not only would our sins be forgiven, washed and cleansed, but that we would also escape the wrath to come.
“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God's wrath through him.” (Romans 5:8-9 NIV)
Now our modern world is offended by the very thought of a substitutionary sacrifice, but in God’s economy there’s no safer place to be.
The outcome is that upon our death we’ll be with all the other believers in heaven praising the Lord because of who He is and that we’ve been delivered from the limitation and afflictions of this present life.
We’ll no longer be hungry or thirsty, where the elements of nature will no longer plague us, and that all the grief and sorrow we carry now will be over as He wipes away all our tears. Please know that in heaven whatever burdens you carry now will be gone.
“And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:4 NKJV)