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 Revelation Chapter 7 (Part 45) (Verses 1 – 3)

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PostSubject: Revelation Chapter 7 (Part 45) (Verses 1 – 3)   Fri Jun 02, 2017 1:00 pm

Revelation Chapter 7 (Part 45) (Verses 1 – 3)

We come to another interlude in Revelation chapter 7. The chapter entails 2 settings or scenes. The first half, verses 1-8 takes place on Earth; the second half, verses 9-17 take place in Heaven. The focus of the first half is regarding the Jews during the Tribulation, particularly the 144,000 saved Jews who discovered Jesus Christ and have put their faith in Him. Revelation 7:1 says, “After this, I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the Earth, holding back the four winds of the Earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree.” Can you imagine the weather forecasters during this time? No wind will be blowing on the Earth. That means no tides in all the oceans and seas. No leaf will be blowing from the wind. Of course, we have not experienced that yet in history. We see here that angels do have power to control the weather. But they are under God and must bid His instructions, and have His permission to act. But the fact that they can control the weather should remind us that they are much more powerful than us Earthlings. Demons are angels. When God said that Satan can do as he pleased regarding His servant Job, except for taking his life, Satan sent a tornado to destroy his family and servants. We should just make sure that the next time we get so confident against the demons in our lives and get the nerve to face them and say, “Get behind me Satan!” that we are first prayed up enough so that they won’t look at us and say, “Paul we know; Jesus, we know; but who are you?” Only Jesus/God has the power to defeat demons and Satan.

So this scene is very calm. The four angels standing at the four corners of the Earth are holding back the four winds. Wind in the bible is often used for judgment. For example, you remember what happened to Jonah. Jonah 1:4 says, “Then the LORD sent a great wind on the sea, and such a violent storm arose that the ship threatened to break up.” Basically what is happening in Revelation here is that the 4 angels are holding back judgment from God until they get the “okay” to release the winds and the judgment that goes along with those winds. The 7th seal was just opened at the end of chapter 6; so why are they holding back judgment? Let’s read on…

Verses 2-3 read: “Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea: ‘Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel.’” Here, we have a fifth angel who is carrying a seal of the living God. This has nothing to do with the 7 seals we have been studying. This seal is to protect God’s Jewish Christians throughout the tribulation. God pauses His judgment on Earth so that He can seal His people and protect them from what is about to come. And the reason God stopped the wind on the entire Earth (and not just say, in Jerusalem or Israel) is because God’s people at this time will be dispersed throughout the entire Earth and will be gathered to accomplish His will. In Isaiah 11:11-12 we read, “In that day, the Lord will reach out his hand a second time to reclaim the remnant that is left of His people from Assyria, from Lower Egypt, from Upper Egypt, from Cush, from Elam, from Babylonia, from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. He will raise a banner for the nations and gather the exiles of Israel; He will assemble the scattered people of Judah from the four quarters of the Earth.”

I think we should pause here and get a little background of the plight of the Israelites. We all know that the Jewish Israelites rejected the Messiah when He showed up to them, and therefore, God rejected them and extended His grace to the Gentiles for a period of time. God is going to return to His Israelites after the Day of Grace. Romans 11 is all about this topic. One of Paul’s concluding verses of Romans chapter 10, Paul quotes Moses in verse 19, saying, “Again I ask: Did Israel not understand? First, Moses says, ‘I will make you envious by those who are not a nation; I will make you angry by a nation that has no understanding.’” This verse is saying that due to Israel’s disobedience, God is going to adopt the Gentiles for a period of time, and Israel will lose its exclusivity of access to God, making Israel jealous. Paul opens in Romans 11:1, “I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham from the tribe of Benjamin.” What Paul is going to lay out is that God did not reject Israel at all, rather, Israel rejected Him by rejecting the Messiah. He says in verse 2a, “God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew.” And verses 5-6 read, “So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace. And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.” Let’s recap what we have so far. Paul says that God did not reject the Israelites. He argues that he himself is an Israelite, which is proof that God has not rejected them. But, he says that at this present time, God accepts the Israelites by grace only; that is, they have to believe in the finished work of Jesus Christ: that He paid for our sin through the Cross and through His Resurrection. Paul says that any Israelite can be saved at this present time through grace but not through works.

Paul raises the question in verse 7, “What then? What Israel sought so earnestly it did not obtain, but the elect did. The others were hardened, as it is written, ‘God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes so that they could not see and ears so that they could not hear, to this very day.’” Obviously we know that the Israelites, in general, rejected Jesus, the Messiah, when He did appear to them. Ironically, they initially were looking forward to the coming of the Messiah, but when Jesus did come to them, He was not the type of Messiah that they were expecting. They were anticipating a knightly Messiah that would help them overthrow Rome and any other nation that stood against them. They did not expect a humbled, meek king who preached “love your enemies.” Little do they know, the Messiah that they once expected when Jesus first appeared to them, will be that type of Messiah when He returns to Earth the second time. Jesus will return and rule over His enemies with an iron scepter at His 2nd Coming.

Verse 11 says, “Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious.” Verse 12: “But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their fullness bring!” Basically, if God turned to the Gentiles with the purpose of making Israel jealous, that indicates that God did not just give up on them. He will return to them and restore them with great riches, yea, even greater than what He is giving to the Gentiles. Just to be clear, a Gentile is any person who is not of Jewish descent. I’m a Gentile, and the odds are, the reader is a Gentile. Paul here is referring to saved Gentiles. Paul says in verse 13, “I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the Apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them.” Interestingly, Paul is trying to use “envy” to convert any Israelite that he can. Envy—we are not supposed to be envious nor incite others to envy. Yet Paul is trying to use envy to change the minds of Israelites so that they can become saved. I often hear Christians say, “We shouldn’t have to scare people to be saved.” There are variations to this idea, such as, “We shouldn’t offend people into becoming saved.” Or, “Christians shouldn’t use Hell and Eternal Fire to scare anyone into becoming saved.” Paul would say, “Do whatever it takes! Do whatever it takes to save anyone from an eternity of separation from God and an eternity in the lake of fire.” Christians should not be so apologetic when we evangelize. There is no command that says that we are not supposed to offend another. Jesus often offended without apology. Truth offends. God’s Word offends. There is a false doctrine that says that Christians are not supposed to offend others. The world has no scruples when they offend us with their carnality; and they complain that we offend them when we speak of Jesus in their presence—let them be offended! They don’t apologize when they say all kinds of demonic language and curse words around us.

Paul continues in verse 15, “For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?” We should have an ironically somber, gratefulness that Israel rejected the Messiah for a time because their rejection of Him turned God to the Gentiles, even though the entire thing was predestined before history began. Don’t think too much on that last statement…lol. Their rejection brought reconciliation to the world. God will one day receive them again, through the 144,000 that we are currently studying, and Israel will be alive again. Keep in mind that Paul’s audience in writing Romans are Gentiles, not Jews. Within the following verses, he warns them to not be boastful due to God turning away from Israel (for a while) and turning to them. Let’s pick up at verse 20: “Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you either.” God wants all Gentiles to always be highly respectful of Israelites, His chosen people from the beginning. Much of the world hates Israel. Satan hates Israel and seeks to put that hatred into the hearts of men.

Verse 22 says, “Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in His kindness. Otherwise, you will also be cut off.” Oh, no! Does that mean that a Christian can lose his or her salvation? Note that this verse does not say, “provided that you be kind,”; rather, “provided that you continue in His kindness.” We addressed this in the Works vs. Faith series. Note that the reason why Israel was cut off was because of their lack of belief or faith. Faith is what saves us. Faith in Jesus Christ is the only thing that saves us. If we discard that faith, then yes, indeed you will lose your salvation. If you decide to become a Muslim tomorrow, or a Jehovah’s Witness, then you would have discarded your faith (the only thing that saves you). So as long as you have faith in Christ, which, all Christians would have, then a Christian cannot lose his or her salvation. So the only way a Christian can lose his or her salvation is by taking up a different religion or becoming an atheist. Such a person no longer believes. Paul says in verse 23, “And if they (Israelites) do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.” Likewise, if a Christian becomes a Muslim tomorrow, they will lose their salvation, however, if they were to later become a Christian again, say, 5 years from now, then they would be grafted back in again.

Skipping to verse 25, it says, “I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved…” When all of the Gentiles who will be saved becomes saved, God will turn back to Israel again. This will not happen before the Rapture. As we have noted from our study, there will be many converts during the Tribulation period. Once we get to the end of Revelation 14, then there will be no more saved people (Christians) on Earth.

According to Zechariah 13:7-9, the saved Jews during the Tribulation Period will represent 1 third of all of the population of Jews in the entire world. Let’s hope that the 144,000 do great work in converting many Jews to becoming Christian because let’s hypothetically say that they fail to convert anyone into Christianity: that would mean that the 144,000 is the one third of all Jews on the planet at that time. If that were the case, then the Jewish population as we know it today will be drastically reduced by the time we reach the Tribulation period. Consider that today there are 15 million Jews worldwide. Going back to our hypothetical scenario, if the Jews failed to convert anyone, then 1/3rd of 144,000 would be the result of only 432,000 Jews total on the Earth. So from 15 million today, there would only be 432,000 by that time comes? Such a decrease of numbers suggest that Israel will be nuked before the Tribulation. However, if the 144,000 are more successful are in converting Jews then the better the numbers get. For example, if they manage to convert 500,000 Jews during the Tribulation, then that would be 500,000 plus 144,000 saved Jews, which equals 644,000. That would represent the 1 third, which would mean that the total population of Jews during that time will be close to 2 million. There would still be a decrease of 15 million to 2 million, which would still suggest a terrible nuclear event that will happen in the future for the Jews. If we even take the 15 million that are alive today and apply the passage of Zechariah to today (say, the Tribulation starts tomorrow), then 2/3 killed would be 10 million, where 1/3rd is 5 million. Either way, something devastating, according to Zechariah, is going to happen to the Jews. That’s a scary passage in Zechariah. One thing for sure, the 144,000 Jews will make up a portion of the 1/3rd who will be saved from the total 2/3rd of all of Israel. Hitler actually did kill 2/3rd of Jews so many apply Zechariah’s words to Hitler’s pogrom. However, the last part of Zechariah says that the 1/3rd that survives will “Call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The LORD is our God.’” Such sounds to me like the 1/3rd refers to the 144,000 along with whoever they convert because as of today, the Jews are still rejecting the true God. Both parts of Zechariah would have to be fulfilled for the prophesy to be fulfilled. The one third that survived the Holocaust did not turn to God through Christ Jesus.

Unlike what many may think, there really are not that many Christians on Earth today. There are a lot, but not as many as most think. Jesus even said, “Small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matthew 7:14). To be a Christian, one must believe only in the finished work of Jesus to receive credit for one’s sins. It is not by works. Many have a false doctrine of believing in Christ and their deeds to get them to Heaven. Romans 11:6 says, “And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.” This verse clearly shows that to have both cancels out the grace. How can it be grace if we throw in our 2 cents of righteousness? Salvation does not cost righteousness. And we know that the Catholics’ doctrine includes works for their salvation. So that rules them out. But upon a quick probing some professed Christians who do not claim to be Catholic, you may be surprised to find that many of them believe that going to church is what keeps them saved (or doing some other duties, including being a so-called good person). That would rule them out. There are some professed Christians who do not understand the Trinity. They don’t claim to be Jehovah’s Witness, but yet, they struggle understanding and believing that God can be 3 distinct personalities at the same time and still be one God. I heard a professed Christian say, “God cannot die, so therefore, Jesus can’t be God. He is God’s Son, not God.” I fault certain style of preaching for such an understanding. Many preachers do not delve into the text and talk about important issues; instead they play only on emotions to get the crowd roused up to receive their applause. Obviously, people who have not accepted the Trinity are ruled out. There really aren’t as many Christians as a media pole would suggest. Yet, interestingly, God made a promise to Abraham regarding his seed. God said to Abraham that his descendants will be more than the stars and the grains of sand on the seashore.

As of today, there are far, far more Muslims than Israelites. Muslims outnumber the number of Christians as well. One statistic I see says that in 2016, there were 2.14 billion Muslims in the world, and in 2017, there are 2.18 billion. Wikipedia says that there are 2.4 billion Christians in the world, but when we consider that the numbers of Christians are skewed because they don’t take into account true Christians only, then the numbers of Christians really pale in relation to the number of Muslims. Another pole I found says that Catholics comprise of 50 percent of Christians worldwide, so that 2.4 billion Christians should at least be sliced in half. That leaves 1.2 billion. And of that, many trust in works or a combination of works and faith for their salvation. So how can God’s promise to Abraham be possible? How can what God promised to Abraham, and what Jesus said both be true at the same time? Jesus said that narrow is the gate and few will find eternal life; whereas, God promised Abraham that his seed will be more than the stars and grains of sands on the shore. Putting the two together sounds like a contradiction. The answer lies in an understanding of the New Earth and its inhabitants. We covered this in our Works vs. Faith series regarding the Kingdom of Heaven. Our study took us to Isaiah 65, where we saw that throughout eternity, some will have the ability to procreate. Indeed, it will be from these 144,000 Jews who come out of the Tribulation period who will still have their Earthly bodies when the New Earth is created, who will have the ability to procreate. They will fulfill God’s promise to Abraham. Christians who die in Christ today will not have the ability to procreate in the next life, as Jesus tells us that we will not marry nor be given into marriage, for we will be like the angels of God. However, the 144,000 Jews (and supposedly whoever else they manage to convert during that time) will be raptured up during the Tribulation, which is after the Day of Grace, and they will not yet be given their newly resurrected bodies until they have lived on the New Earth, then die, and immediately be restored to life. They will populate the New Earth.

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Revelation Chapter 7 (Part 45) (Verses 1 – 3)
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