THE 144,000 AND THEIR SEALING

The four winds mentioned in Rev 7:1 are instruments of divine judgment, and the four angels who control them are the agents to administer those judgments on God’s behalf. (Jer 49:36-37; Zech 6:7-8)  In Zechariah’s vision, he sees the winds being sent from Heaven, whereas John sees the winds in position on the Earth waiting to be released at the opening of the seventh seal – the final one to begin God’s trumpet judgments and warnings to humanity to repent.  These tribulation judgments will cover the entire Earth (‘the four corners of the Earth’). The first four trumpets bring judgments from the sky (8:7-12).

Here in Revelatiion chapter 7 we see that the angels are told to hold back the winds until the sealing of the 144,000 servants of the Living God of the living.

 Who Are The 144,000?

 ? – Jewish/Israeli evangelists, sealed with the Father’s name upon their foreheads during the Tribulation    period bringing in a great harvest of Gentile believers for theMillennialKingdom

? – Jewish/Israeli evangelists during the Tribulation period specializing in witnessing to Jewish people    around the world (like when Jesus sent out first the 12, then the 70, to the lost sheep of the House of Israel), and then martyred for their testimony of Jesus by the antichrist and his legions (rather than simply murdered as Jews/Israelis unfaithful to YHVH God’s covenant), and having part in the first    resurrection of the Church

? – Jewish/Israeli remnant from all the tribes sealed by God for protection and preservation through the    Great Tribulation, to enter into theMillennialKingdomalong with countless other redeemed peoples (similar to the blood at Passover in Egypt guarded Israelis from God’s final plague)

Whichever scenario one considers, only believers in Jesus – i.e., born-again Christians/the Church – are God’s witnesses of the truth.  Believers are those sealed with the Holy Spirit. Israel as a nation (Ezek 47:21 – 48:35)– meaning those Jews/Israelis who were not born-again through repentance and faith in Yeshua – only become believers when they see Him whom they pierced at His second coming.  This will fulfill the prophecy given to Daniel about the 70 weeks.  Then will Israel be a knowledgeable and righteous nation to be YHVH’s priestly and servant people to the nations. 

In chap. 14, the 144,000 are seen as having been redeemed and standing with the Lamb on Mt. Zion, while we next read of angels preaching the everlasting gospel of the Kingdom of God (Acts 28:30-31) to people still in the Tribulation – an indication that the 144,000 are not a special group of evangelists.  The 144,000 are “firstfruits” and “servants” of God with respect to the Davidic kingdom during the Millennium.  The innumerable company with them include Gentiles upon whom God has shown mercy. (Mt 25

Since John does not clearly write what the function of the 144,000 is – and since the scene in 7:13-17 is post-tribulational – we can consider a view which does not assume that they are a special group of Jewish evangelists, nor that they have been martyred and become part of the Body of Messiah.  The 144,000 are said to be virgin men.  Perhaps, as in the feeding of the 5000/4000 men, there could be numerous others – women and children – who would be included to make up the full remnant from all the tribes to comprise the all Israel to be saved. 

These would not then be born-again believers to be resurrected or raptured, but rather Jews/Israelis who are physically preserved through the Great Tribulation, protected from the persecution of the antichrist and from the wrath of God (Gen 4:15; Ezek 9:4), who will be converted immediately after the first resurrection/rapture when they see their Messiah Redeemer descending onto the Earth (Zech 3:8-9; 12:9-13; Mal 3:1-5; Rom 11:26-27).  They then enter the Millennial Kingdom in their natural bodies to form the core of the Kingdom restored to Israel, who is the ‘servant’ of YHVH (Is 42:18-25).  Their preservation through the Tribulation, Great Tribulation, and through God’s wrath could be likened to the situation in Egypt at the time of the Passover and Exodus.  They being “first-fruits” (14:4) could then indicate the pledge of the multitude to be born and blessed as children of the righteous during the 1000-year reign of Christ.  Being virgins undefiled with women may be literal, and probably indicates spiritual purity as well (2Cor 11:2; James 4:4; Heb 13:4; Prov 7 – 8).

Three passages in the Old Testament (Tanach) support the view that the 144,000 are sealed as a special protection from the persecution of antichrist (whom they resist while still not believing in Jesus as Messiah, the Son of God), and also sealed to shield them from God’s wrath:

Joel 2:32 (3:5 Heb); (Mt 24:29-30)   In the context of Armageddon, and immediately after mention of celestial phenomena which occur between the Great Tribulation and the Presence (Parousia) of the    Lord, God promises/prophesies the salvation of a Jewish remnant.

Zeph 3:8-13   Here is a prophecy of a conversion of a Jewish/Israeli remnant following the battle of   Armageddon, described in language similar to John’s description in Rev 14:5:  no guile or deceit found in their mouths.

Zech 12:2 – 13:1; (Mt 24:30; Rom 11:26-27)   At the post-trib advent of Jesus, the prophecy speaks of the Jews/Israelis repenting and being cleansed when they look on Him whom they have pierced as He    comes to deliver them from their surrounding enemies.

(See online, ICHTHYS, Bible Study for Spiritual Growth, by Robert Luginbill, which is helpful, due to its comprehensiveness, to make me study to show why I may not always be in agreement.)

Yom HaKippurim – Day of Atonements – 18 Sept 2004

Day of Atonements and Understanding the Centrality of Our Faith

For us who believe in Jesus and the New Covenant, understanding the Messianic roots through the Old Testament given to Israel helps us to see some of the details that are supplied to grasp more fully the fulfillment which is in Jesus and His sacrificial atoning death on the cross and subsequent resurrection.

Simply stated, the King of Glory (Ps 24) – the Lion of the Tribe of Judah (Gen 49:8-12; Rev 5:4-7), the Ram whom God supplied as a burnt offering (Gen 22:9-19), the Lamb slain who sits on the Throne (Rev 5) – humbled Himself by clothing (identifying) Himself in the likeness of sinful flesh – as a Goat! (Lev 16; Rom 8:3-4; Mt 25:31-46) – and willingly offered (sacrificed) Himself in purity and without blemish unto God as a sin and guilt offering, shedding His own blood, to the glory of God the Father, and taking upon Himself all of our iniquities, transgressions, and sins in order to be the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe, that we might live with the Holy Father – indeed, that God may live with and in us.

Lev 16: 29-34; Heb 10: 11-23 N.T. in Messiah our everlasting reality of annual Day of Atonements

Lev 23: 28-30; Rom 11: 25-27 anyone not appropriating the God-provided sacrifice personally, and so  afflicting his own, is cut off from the people corporately.  Jesus died for the whole world, but especially for those who believe.  All Israel are those who, when they see Him whom they pierced, accept the covenant blood sacrifice.

Lev 16: 5-10; Jn 10: 17-18; 11: 49-50 Living scapegoat bearing all the iniquities, transgressions, sins of Israel, and Israel being atoned for on the basis of the accepted blood sacrifice of the first goat unto the LORD; two goats. . .one sin offering; atonement (reconciliation) and the effectual removal of guilt and uncleanness from the camp on the innocent goat — made sin for us – sent alive into the desert as a witness and testimony of the accepted sacrifice by God of the first goat slain.

We are to be with Jesus, outside the camp, willing to bear with Him His reproach, which falls on us who believe in Him.  He is worthy! (Heb 13:12-14)

Memorial of Shouts

Lev 23:24; Num 29:1 YHVH spoke to Moses, saying, Speak to the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, on the one of the month, you shall have a sabbath rest, a Memorial of Blowing of Trumpets, a holy convocation.

Mt 24:29-31,36 Immediately after the tribulation (see v.21) of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken.  Then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in Heaven, and then all the tribes of the Earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.  And He will send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. . . .But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in Heaven, but My Father only.

1Cor 15:51-52 Behold, I tell you a mysterywe shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed – in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet.  For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.

1Thes 4:15-18 For this we say to you by the Word of the Lord:  that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep.  For the Lord Himself will descend from Heaven with a shout of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Messiah will rise first.  Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.  And thus we shall always be with the Lord.  Therefore comfort one another with these words.

Ps 50:3-6 Our God shall come, and shall not keep silent; a fire shall devour before Him, and it shall be very tempestuous all all around Him.  He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that He may judge His peopleGather My saints together to Me, those who have made a covenant with Me by sacrifice.  Let the Heavens declare His righteousness, for God Himself is Judge.

Rev 10:6-7 But in the day of the sounding of the seventh angel, when he is about to sound, the mystery of God will be finished, as He declared to His servants the prophets.

Rev 11:15-19 Then the seventh angel sounded [the trumpet], and there were loud voices in Heaven saying, The kingdoms of this world have become of our Lord and of His Messiah, and He shall reign forever and ever.”  And the twenty-four elders who sat before God on their thrones fell on their faces and worshiped God, saying, “We give You thanks, O YHVH God of Hosts, the One Who Is and who was and who is to come, because You have taken Your great power and reigned.  The nations were angry, and Your wrath has come, and the time of the dead that they should be judged, and that You should reward Your servants – the prophets and the saints and those who fear Your Name, small and great – and should destroy those who destroy the Earth.”  Then the Temple of God was opened in Heaven, and the Ark of His Covenant was seen in His Temple.  And there were lightnings, noises, thunderings, an earthquake, and great hail.

Next  week begins what the Jewish people call the New Year, but what the Bible calls the Memorial of Shouts, or of the Blowing [of Trumpets].  This is one of the appointed times of the LORD, and is the beginning of the final set of holy-days to bring Israel to confession of sin and repentance, unity as a people, to put away evil, bring in the harvest of the righteous, and to re-establish God’s Kingdom in Israel and over all the nations of the world (Ps 2).  These times of the LORD to Israel help us as believers in Jesus and the New Covenant to understand God’s plan of redemption and salvation, and His calendar for when these things will be.  The Mishna teaches the Jewish people that the time of the blowing of the trumpets through the Day of Atonements are the “days of awe”, days of judgment when all the inhabitants of the world pass before YHVH God, like flocks of sheep:  They either are chosen to live or to die, depending on their righteousness.

Many Bible teachers connect the “Feast of Trumpets” as marking the time of the rapture of the Church, that this is the next event as far as believers are concerned.  This is both right and wrong!  It is right in that there is a connection between the two; it is wrong to say it marks the time it will happen.  This can be said with certainty because of what is written in Lev 23:24—giving a specific day—and in Mt 24:36—saying that the day is unknown.  Num 10: 1-10 instructs Israel that the blowing of trumpets is for a purpose and also as a memorial for them before God.  They will remember their special covenantal relationship with the LORD, and He will remember them to deliver them from their enemies.

As Jesus has Himself, as the Savior, fulfilled the appointed times of Passover – Unleavened Bread – First Fruits – the beginning of Harvest in their sequence and times; if He is presently by the Holy Spirit fulfilling His work of grace and truth since Weeks/Pentecost; then we should expect that Trumpets – Atonements – the beginning of Booths/Tabernacles will be fulfilled by God in their sequence and times – a matter of days and weeks at the end of the age — as Yeshua is revealed to be the King of the Jews and of all the surviving nations.

As believers in Jesus we are not subject or bound to times and seasons (Acts 1:7; Gal 4:9-11; Col 2:16-17; 1Thes 5:1-10).  Think about it a moment:  if the Lord were to take up the believers to Himself at the time of the new moon of the seventh month, then satan would be waiting and watching on that day each year to guard his household, and believers would be waiting, too.  And if the Lord did not take us up this year, for example, then we would not be expecting Him for at least another year, along with the devil!  Yet we are plainly warned not to wait for a certain day or hour, because this is God’s secret, but rather to hope in faith and love and do His work until He comes, as a servant would His lord or as a bride would her groom.  We can “hasten” the day by wanting Him to come while living in obedience with faith until then! (Heb 9:28)

Israel, though, does have a set time in her calendar given by YHVH Himself to remember a shout (תרועה) at the beginning of the seventh month and preceding the Day of Atonements.  What shout is Israel to remember?  It is here that I want to suggest that God is waking up Israel with this memorial,

  1. to acknowledge and recognize that YHVH God of Hosts has indeed entered the battle to deliver His saints – Jewish and gentile believers who hold faith in Yeshua without seeing — out of the hands of the enemy and of the great tribulation – at the sounding of the 7th trumpet;
  1. to prepare herself for coming judgment and wrath – and the hope of mercy – through repentance and fear for rejecting the truth of God spoken through Moses and the prophets, and especially by Jesus Himself (Jn 15:22), regarding the Messiah, who is none other than Jesus. (Zech 12:10; Lev 23:29; 26:40-42); and
  1. to call upon the name of YJVH, Yeshua the Messiah the Nazarene, for salvation and deliverance out of Jacob’s Trouble, the great tribulation. (Jer 30:7; Mt 24:21-22; Num 10:9; Mt 23:39)

As in the days of bondage in Egypt, the LORD will hear the heart cry of His people in their affliction, and will send the One greater than Moses – Messiah Yeshua – to save His people from their oppressors (Num 10:9) and from their sin and uncleanness on the Day of YHVH, the Day of Atonements.

As believers, we can continue to pray for God to reveal the truth about Yeshua now to the Jews (and Arabs and other gentiles), so that as many as possible can have their part in the first resurrection.

As believers, we do not wait for holidays to direct our lives but rather by the Holy Spirit dwelling in us each and every day, that we, too, will be ready and not ashamed when the Son of Man comes.

AFTER THE TERRORIST ATTACK – 3 Sept 2004

Mt 24:6-14   signs of the end of the age and the return of Jesus

This evening we have obeyed with faith the Lord Jesus Christ in the two ordinances which He left believers:  baptism and the Lord’s Supper.  Faith and life go on in the face of evil and suffering.  Love is stronger than death, and so is the power of an endless life.  Jesus said, “I AM the LIFE”.  By participating in the baptisms, by participating together in the Lord’s Supper, we proclaim our hope and confidence in the good news of God:  Jesus Christ died for our sins, was buried, and rose from the dead on the third day. . .and He will come again, and we will live with God!

This week in Beer Sheva we suffered a terrorist attack similar to what many other major cities inIsraelhave already suffered.  I received phone calls and messages from Arab and Palestinian believers expressing their sorrow and anguish with us.  At least one believer, Olga Farsevich, was seriously injured in the bus bombings.  Neither our city nor the righteous are exempt from suffering or from evil in this present darkness.  These horrible things go on every day somewhere in the world.  We tend to notice them more when it happens close to us.  Yet even then, LIFE GOES ON because Yeshua is risen from among the dead and seated at the right hand of the Father!

What can we say to these things?  We often do not have a satisfying explanation for specific causes and their consequences.  In the big picture we can say honestly that there is evil in the world and evil-doers.  If we are speaking only relatively, those same workers of iniquity could – and do – claim to be justified in their deeds of lawlessness.  Olga had plans to leave Beer Sheva on Wednesday – the day after the attack – and move to Maalot in the north to begin work at a drug rehab center managed by believers.  Was it God’s will that she go?  She will not be there soon but, God willing, later.  And we are talking here about only one individual out of the more than 100, not to mention their families.

What we can know is that evil must serve the Sovereign YHVH God, for NOTHING can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord, and God works ALL THINGS TOGETHER for good to those who love Him and are called according to His purpose!  The reality of our faith is tried and proven by such troubles.  Jesus promised us that we would have troubles in the world, but to be of good cheer. . .He has overcome the world. . .and so will we by our faith in Him.  Roman Sokolovsky heard the gospel many times, but as far as we know never believed it for himself.  We went to his funeral on Thursday without the joy of his destiny (destination).

Our preparation for the troubles and trials to faith to come are not so much supplies of water and food.  We do not know whether we will be secure in our homes or whether we will be fleeing from place to place from persecution.  Our preparation is primarily spiritual.  Jesus told His disciples to watch and pray, that they not enter into temptation.  Their spirits were willing but their flesh weak (Mt 26:41). 

Some things we can do to exercise our faith so that we will endure through to the end victoriously are:
–be filled with the Holy Spirit for power to overcome
–obey God and do what He says
–sanctify ourselves in the fear of God
–rejoice in the Lord at all times
–watch and pray, believing and trusting God
–abide in the true Vine, Jesus, so as to bring forth good and holy fruit
–forgive one another while it is still ‘today’
–visit the sick and the prisoners and help feed the poor and the needy
–be faithful to always give honor to God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ
–pray for the [true] peace ofJerusalem, because her peace is also Beer Sheva’s and every other place
–love one another.  If we do not, who have known the love of God in Messiah, then who will?  We are His witnesses and His children.
–preach the gospel, for it is the power of God to save both the Jew and the Arab and the Greek and the   Roman and any other national or people group