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Back To The Future – Sermon #19


Revelation 7:1-8


Intro:  In Revelation chapter 6 we were witnesses to a world under a storm of divine judgment. The Lord Jesus took possession of the title deed to this planet in chapter 5. He began opening the seven seals of that title deed. He is beginning the process of redeeming this planet out of the hands of sin, sinners and Satan.

      We watched Jesus open six of the seven seals on the scroll. Before He did, there was a great peal of thunder in Heaven, Rev. 6:1. Thus thunder signaled the approaching storm of God’s divine wrath. As each seal was opened judgment and wrath began to be poured out upon the earth. I just want to remind you that we haven’t seen the worst of the suffering and sorrow that coming upon this world. After the seals seven trumpets will sound and seven bowls will be poured out upon the earth. As we move deeper into the heart of this book we are going to death, judgment and sorrow intensify.

      Before that happens, we are confronted with a divine parenthesis. Chapter seven is a parenthetical passage that represents a pause in God’s plan to judge the earth. The first part of the storm has passed; the worst part lies unseen in the future. We will examine the events that come later in due course. Today, we will consider the first part of Revelation 7.

      Let’s watch as the Lord extends grace to a select group of people right in the midst of the Tribulation Period. Two groups of people are in view here in Revelation 7. The first group is identified as the 144,000 in verses 1-8. The second group is identified as a redeemed multitude in verses 9-17. We will consider the 144,000 today and, Lord willing, the redeemed multitude next time.  Let’s take these verses and see what God has to say about the 144,000. I would like to preach on The Mystery Of The 144,000.


  I.  v. 1-3a              A DELIBERATE PAUSE

A.  The Reason For This Pause – God calls for a momentary peace to fall upon the earth because He has some divine business to transact. As God’s wrath is rained down upon the earth, He pauses to answer a prayer that was prayed many centuries ago by the prophet Habakkuk, Hab. 3:2. By the way, this chapter is a great encouragement! Even during a time when death, suffering and wrath will reign supreme, God will still be extending grace and saving souls for His glory! This has always been the Lord’s method of operation. He remembered mercy in wrath when the blood of the lamb was applied to the doorposts of the houses in Egypt, Ex. 12. He remembered mercy in wrath when He delivered Lot from Sodom, Gen. 19. He remembered mercy in wrath when He saved Noah and his family from the flood, Gen. 6. Let’s take a look at this break in the action.

B.  The Results Of This Pause – We are told that four angels stand on the four corners of the earth holding back the four winds of the earth. Some questions immediately begin to form in my mind when I read these verses.

1.  Who are these angels? – From verse 2, it is clear that these angels have been given the power to execute God’s judgment upon the earth. The word “hurt” carries the idea of “injury without mercy”. It is a picture of absolute destruction. These are avenging, judging angels.

2.  What are they doing? – They are holding back the four winds of the earth. When these angels appear, there will not be as much as a breeze blowing anywhere on earth. There will not be a cold wind racing over the snow capped peaks of Everest.  There will be no siroccos blowing their scorching breath across the burning deserts of the world. There will be no ill winds or cool, pleasant breezes anywhere in this world. The winds will cease for a time. 

            This is an awesome display of divine power. The winds that race through the atmosphere of this world are driven by tremendously strong forces like the sun and the rotation of the earth. Yet, four angels are able to restrain the winds. The word “holding” translates a strong word. It was used to speak of horses straining against their bits. These winds are struggling to break free from the hold of the angels.

3.  What is meant by the winds? – The word winds should be taken literally. As I mentioned there will be no winds blowing upon the earth. However, there is a sense in which the Bible uses wind in a spiritual sense. Hosea 8:7 says, “For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind:” So, these angels are holding back the wind of divine judgment from off the earth as well. There is a lull in the storm as God takes care of His servants. God harnesses the winds of His divine judgment that they should not blow for a season.

4.  What is meant by “the four corners of the earth?” – Does this mean that God thinks the earth is flat?  Of course not!  He answered that in Isa. 40:22. This is an idiomatic expression that refers to the four points of the compass. It is merely a figure of speech. (Ill. The ancient Jews superstitiously believed that winds which blew out of the north, south, east or west were favorable or good winds. They also believed that winds which came from between these directions, hence from the four corners of the earth were ill-favored winds.  These winds could certainly be described an ill-favored winds!)

5.  What is the significance of the number four? – The book of Revelation uses numbers a lot.  Often, these numbers have spiritual meaning attached to them. For instance, the number seven is the number of divine completion. There are seven days in a week and seven colors in the spectrum.  Revelation identifies seven churches, seven seals, seven trumpets, seven bowls, seven horns, etc.

            Four, on the other hand, is the number of the earth. There are four seasons, four elements – earth, wind, fire and water, directions, etc.

            Here, four angels hold four winds at the four corners of the earth. This number just lets us know that we are dealing with events that are transpiring upon the earth. This is a time of earthly judgment!


  I.  A Deliberate Pause


 II.  v. 2-3               A DIVINE PERSONALITY

A.  The Identity Of This Angel – As John watches, a fifth angel appears on the earth. This angel rises from the east like the morning sun. Some have taken this to mean that this angel is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. However, the word “another” translates the Greek word “allos”, and tells us that this angel is just that, an angel. 

      We may not who he is, but we do know that he has power awesome. He comes commanding the first four angels to refrain from their mission of destruction upon the earth.

B.  The Intentions Of This Angel – This angel has come to “seal the servants of God in their foreheads.” By the way, if you don’t know it by now, Satan is an imitator. Throughout this book he is seen attempting to duplicate many of the things God has done and is doing. We will see his place a mark on his servants in Rev. 13:16-17. He will give them the “mark of the beast”. This mark will identify them as his servants.  In this passage, we are going to see the Lord God as He seals His servants. 

      The word “seal” refers to an official stamp.  It brings to mind the signet rings used by kings to mark documents as official. A piece of wax would be placed on the document and the king’s signet ring pressed into it. This seal signified possession, protection and preservation. This is seen several times in the Word of God, Gen. 41:42; Est. 3:10; Dan. 6:17; Matt. 27:66.

      In the Bible, there are several instances of God sealing His people. Noah and his family were sealed up in the Ark, Gen. 7:16. Rahab was sealed by a scarlet thread hanging from her window, Josh. 2:18. The children of Israel were sealed by the blood of the lamb on the doorposts and lintels of their homes, Ex. 12:13.  The clearest example of this is in Eze. 9:3-6. Just as God sealed His servants in Ezekiel’s day and protected them, He will do the same for His servants during that Tribulation Period.


(Note:  While we are on this subject, let me just remind you that if you are saved today, you too have been marked by God. You have been sealed by Him. In Eph. 1:13-14, the Bible says, “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, 14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.”

      When you were saved, an invisible mark was placed upon you. No one can see it, but it is there. God sealed you at that instant and He marked you as His Own. What does this invisible mark mean?

1.  It is a Seal of Possession – God places His seal upon your life and marks you as being His possession! He claims you as His very Own.  He paid the ultimate price to redeem you from your sins and He owns you now, 1 Cor. 6:19-20. Because He owns you, He is going to return again for you some day.  He will not desert you to the enemy.

2.  It is a Seal of Protection – Since we are His, we can expect Him to protect us from the attacks of the enemy. Satan would love nothing better than to defeat us and drag our souls to Hell, 1 Pet. 5:8.  But, because we are sealed, he cannot get to us.  We are “kept by the power of God”, 1 Pet. 1:5.  The word “kept” means “garrisoned”. The Lord has set an eternal guard around our souls and we are sealed and safe in Him!

3.  It is a Seal of Preservation – Eph. 4:30 – This verse tells us how long this seal will last. We are sealed until the day we arrive home in glory. Just as a jar of beans is sealed until someone pops that seal, we have been sealed by God and we are safe in Him until the day we make it home to Heaven.


  I.  A Deliberate Pause

 II.  A Divine Personality


III. v. 4-8                  A DISTINCT PEOPLE

(Ill. Now, we are introduced to the people the angel has come to seal. He calls them the “servants of our God”.  The word “servants” is the word for “slaves”. These people are saved, sealed, sold out servants of Jesus. But, who are they and what do they do?)

A.  v. 4-8  Their Origin – The Bible is very clear as to where these people come from. They are from “all the tribes of the children of Israel”. Over the years, many groups have tried to claim that they are part of the 144,000. The Jehovah’s Witnesses, the World Wide Church of God, the Seventh-Day Adventists, among others, have all tried to make that claim.  Well, if anyone ever comes up to you claiming to be part of the 144,000, just ask them which tribe they are from. That will usually put them on the run. Others have said that these 144,000 represent the church. The text is clear, however, these 144,000 are Jewish men, called and saved out of the tribes of Israel.

      This brings to mind a few questions that need to be answered concerning these Jewish men.

1.  Why are there exactly 12,000 from each of the 12 tribes? – Twelve in the Bible is a number associated with Israel. There were 12 tribes in Israel. There were 12 loaves of bread on the table of Shewbread in the Tabernacle. There were 12 gates into the city of Jerusalem. There were 12 stones in the breastplate of the high priest. The Lord is showing us that these men are from the nation of Israel.  This teaches us a valuable lesson: God is not finished with Israel! He has a plan for their future restoration and redemption, Romans 9-11.

2.  Why are some of the tribes not mentioned? – The tribes of Dan and Ephraim are not mentioned, while the tribe of Levi, which did not receive and inheritance among the other tribes is.  You will also notice that the tribe of Joseph is mentioned. Back in Genesis 48, Joseph’s two sons Manasseh and Ephraim were adopted by Jacob and given an inheritance in Israel. It appears that Dan and Ephraim are not mentioned here because they went away into deep idolatry during the kingdom years.  Therefore, they are left out of the list.

3.  How and when will these 144,000 be saved? – I believe they will be saved by the preaching of the Two Witnesses mentioned in Rev. 11:1-12. God will send two preachers to preach the Gospel in Jerusalem. These 144,000 will be converted and will be sealed to a special ministry by the Lord.

4.  What makes them so special? – To answer that question, we have to fast forward to Rev. 14:1-5. There, we learn that these men are sexually pure. They are virgins. We are also told that they are completely dedicated to the Lamb of God. They follow Him wherever He goes. They do His bidding without question. They are also called to “firstfruits” to God and to the Lamb. They are the first of a vast multitude that will be saved during the dark, dangerous, deadly days of the Tribulation.

            Another thing that marks them as special is that God knows who they are! There is only one Jew in the entire universe who knows which tribe He is from. There is only one Jew who still possesses an accurate genealogy of his ancestry and His name is Jesus Christ. He is from the tribe of Judah, Matt. 1. o other Jew knows which tribe he is from because all the genealogical records were destroyed in 70 AD when Titus, the Roman general, destroyed the temple in Jerusalem. The birth records were stored there and they were destroyed forever.

            Now, no Jew may know which tribe he is from, but God does. He knows how to find them. He knows how to save them. He knows how to use them.

B.  Their Occupation – Now that we have a little more information regarding these men, let’s look at what their mission will be during the Tribulation. Back in Matthew 24:14 the Bible says, “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come.” Despite 2,000 of evangelism and mission work, this has verse has never been fulfilled. There are hundreds of millions of people in our world who have never heard the name of Jesus, much less the Gospel of grace.

      There are places in our world where missionaries cannot go. During the Tribulation that will change. The Lord will raise up an army of 144,000 converted Jewish evangelists who will take the Gospel to the ends of the earth. They will fulfill the prophecy of Matt. 24:14. The Antichrist will try to stop them, but he will be powerless to hinder their ministry. He will not be able to silence them, kill them or stop them. They have been sealed by God and they will be protected until their ministry has been fulfilled. Have you ever met a converted Jew? When a Jew comes to faith in Christ, you have never seen anyone with as much zeal for souls as a born again Jew!


(Note: For all intents and purposes, the church has failed in her efforts to reach the world. We have spent trillions of dollars and still the world is filled with the unconverted and the unreached. We live in a day of global communications and still we have not been able to take the Gospel to all the peoples of the earth. God help us, we won’t even take the Gospel to our own city!

      That will all change during the Tribulation! You might not imagine it, but the Tribulation will see the greatest evangelistic effort the world has ever witnessed. These 144,000 redeemed Jewish preachers will take the Gospel to the while world and a vast multitude will be saved as a result.

      That excites me! I am glad the Lord is going to redeem millions during the Tribulation. Still, I want to see us do more to get the Gospel out in our day! We could do better, we should do better and we must do better!)


Conc: These 144,000 are still a mystery to me. We will study them in some more depth when we get to chapter 14. For, now, we should take a moment thank God for His grace. We should praise Him that He has a great plan to save many people during the most horrible time earth will ever know. We should also thank Him for His sealing ministry in our lives. What a blessing it is to know that we have been sealed and that we are safe and secure in the Lord Jesus Christ. We should also look at our efforts to share the Gospel in these days. I don’t know about you, but I am ashamed of myself! I could do a much better job of getting out the Gospel and I would like for you to pray for me.

      So, here is the invitation. If you would like to praise the Lord for Hid grace in your life and for the seal He has placed on you, come and do that now. If you would like to ask Him to help you be a better witness for the glory of God, you come now. If you would like to be saved so that you can miss the Tribulation, you can do that now.

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