Revelation 7 – Order of Judgments

Rev Mar’s sermon text and slides for Oct 25, 2020 can be downloaded here:

Revelation  Chapter 7

  1. Introduction: In Revelation 6, we have the foundational vision in the unfolding of the Great Tribulation. There is a scroll with seven seals, and as each seal is broken a new disaster is unleashed on earth.
  1. the first seal signifies the rising of the antichrist.
  2. then comes war (the second seal), 
  3. then famine (the third seal), and 
  4. the fourth death (the fourth seal).
  5. then come persecution and martyrdom (the fifth seal).
  6. Finally, we have terrifying cataclysms hitting the natural world (the sixth seal).
  7. The seventh seal is in Revelation 8:1 which contains the 7 Trumpet Judgments and the 7th Trumpet judgment contains the 7 Bowl Judgments.
  1. Revelation Chapter 7. Here we have a break in the action, a parenthesis or interlude so that we can understand something more about the fifth seal. Chapter 7 is parenthetic, meaning, it describes some events without advancing the order of events in the tribulation.
  1. In chapter 6, there was a chronological opening of the first six seals. There is a question raised in the last verse, “For the great day of his (of the Lamb) wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand? (Rev 6:17) now, the church has already been raptured and resurrected in Chapters 4 and 5. If all the saints of all the ages have been raptured and resurrected (as indicated by Revelation 4:1), who is left to be persecuted? Where the martyrs are coming from? Who is left to die for their faith in Christ? 
  2. According to 2 Thess 2:7-8, the Holy Spirit, the power that holds back sin and lawlessness will be removed together with the church to allow sin to manifest itself. 
  3. That’s the subject of Revelation Chapter 7. Who then can be saved if the Holy Spirit is removed? Though the Holy Spirit indwells the church and is taken up with the Church during the rapture, yet the Holy Spirit is always omnipresent in the world as in the Old Testament. People still get save as in the Old Testament. In Chapter 7, there are two groups of saved people: first, the 144,000 from the 12 tribes of Israel who are protected and made to go through the Tribulation and second is the great multitude of martyrs standing before the throne and before the Lamb. These martyrs were slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they hold.
  1. Verse 1: There are four angels at the four points of the compass – North, South, East, and West – waiting to unleash some of the cataclysms referred to in the previous chapter (great earthquake and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place). God’s patience with sin and sinners has expired before the 144,000 of all the tribes of the children of Israel are sealed. This is why the four angels are empowered and sent to Earth to pour out global destruction and upheaval but they are to hold (krateo, to hold with strength and not to let it go) the four winds until He has sealed the 144,000. The release of the four winds (coming from the north, east, west and south) implies powerful, but unseen forces that will chaotically scatter and sweep away all that the human race has built.)
  2. Verse 2: Before the outbreak of judgment, an angel appeared as if coming out of the sun and carrying a sealing device. A seal is any device that makes an impression for legal purposes. In Matthew 27, the tomb of Jesus Christ was sealed by the Romans (Matt 27:66). But this angel had the seal of heaven, the seal of the living God.
  3. Verse 3: This angel had come to “seal” a core group of new converts who would become great world evangelists. A total of 144,000 Jewish evangelists were to be saved and sealed. Perhaps this occurs during the first three-and-a-half years of the Tribulation. Being sealed is a common New Testament language. The moment that we receive Jesus Christ as our Savior, we are sealed (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13 and 4:30 – And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.) So here in Revelation 7, we have a group of Jewish people who are gloriously saved at the beginning of the Great Tribulation and they are sealed. What is this seal? Whether it is the Holy Spirit or it is some visible mark or sign, it is not known. It is to be a seal on their foreheads, but we are not given any details. This seal also extends divine protection to these 144,000 as they circle the globe on their evangelistic journey.
  1. Verses 4-8: The ones who are saved and sealed number 144,000 – 12,000 from each of the 12 tribes of Israel. Twelve is the number for Israel throughout the Bible. This raises an interesting question because no one knows the identity and whereabouts of the 12 tribes. After AD 70, genealogical records were destroyed by fire when the Roman general, Titus, destroyed the temple and the city of Jerusalem. Then the Jews were dispersed. But the Lord has kept track of the genetic line. He has kept track of the Jewish bloodline. There are several websites where you can submit your DNA and it will be tested if you have Jewish ancestry. The Lord knows who possesses the DNA and the bloodline of the biblical Jews. Out of the millions of Jews on earth, 144,000 will be saved and sealed and commissioned as evangelists during the Tribulation on earth. They are a corps of redeemed Jews who are instrumental in the salvation of many Jews and Gentiles during the Tribulation.” These are the firstfruits of the Jews. We’re told in Zechariah 12:10 and 13:1 that the Jewish people will be converted en masse to the Lord Jesus at the moment of His Second Coming (also see Romans 11:25-26). These 144,000 are the forerunners, the vanguard (avante garde), the firstfruits and with their evangelization, people will be saved during the Tribulation. It may be the greatest revival in history because the Bible describes their number as “a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages.” (Revelation 7:9) But the antichrist and his forces will be violently persecuting and beheading and these are the tribulation saints of the 5th seal in chapter 6 who were slain for the word of God and for the testimony they had borne. 
  1. You may notice, after reviewing the twelve tribes listed in Revelation 7:5-8, that the tribe of Dan is missing and the tribe of Ephraim is renamed to Joseph. The inclusion of the tribe of Levi in Revelation 7 is significant for this is the only place in the Bible where the Levites are numbered as one of the twelve tribes after the death of Moses. (Deuteronomy 33) (The tribe of Joseph is another name for the tribe of Ephraim.)
  2. Why was the tribe of Dan excluded from the list of 12 tribes of Israel from where the 144,000 selected and saved Jews that will evangelize during the Tribulation period resulting in the conversion of multitudes of Jews and Gentiles that were slain for the word of God and for their testimony that they maintained? (Revelation 6:9-11; 7:9-10)
  1. There is a divine principle that is obvious throughout the Scripture. When a man or woman spiritually disqualifies himself or herself, God is not honored and his or her ministry is an abomination to the Lord. (Some examples: the sons of Samuel, Hophni and Phinehas (1 Samuel  2:22-36) were two priests who disqualified themselves by committing sexual sins with women; King Saul disqualified himself by disobedience and by lying to God (1 Samuel 15:20-23).
  2. After Christ’s resurrection, God established a list of qualifications for the church leaders called elders and deacons (1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-9). Any proven violation of the qualifications disqualified the man from continuing to serve in office.
  3. Not only individuals but the Lord also punishes nations which sin. In Luke 21:20-24, Jesus prophesied the future destruction of the nation of Israel because they had rejected Him. In Revelation 7:4-8, all of the tribes of Israel will be witnesses for the Lord during the seven-year tribulation period except for the tribe of Dan. Why? The answer appears to be that the tribe of Dan turned apostate. As a result, the nation was taken captive by the Assyrian army ( Judges 18:30 – children of Dan set up the graven image; 1 Kings 12:28-30 – setting golden two calves one in Bethel and one in Dan, cf. 2 Kings 10:29). They continue to reject Christ in the tribulation.
  4. Ezekiel 48 – All of Dan Becomes Righteous. At the end of the tribulation period, their situation will change at the second coming of Christ when He comes to defeat the armies of the nations of the world at the battle of Armageddon. Zechariah 12:10-14 says that when the nation of Israel sees Christ, at that moment God will pour out the Holy Spirit over Israel and they will realize that they had rejected Jesus as the true Christ and will repent of their sin. Romans 11:25-26 teaches us that all of the Israelites who are alive will repent. Therefore, the tribe of Dan will also repent and become believers in Christ. After the Sheep and Goat judgment, Christ will establish His millennial kingdom.
  1. Ezekiel 48:1-2, 32 teaches that during the millennial kingdom, Dan will be given their allotted portion of land in the Promised Land. Notice that Ezekiel 48 describes the land assignments for the different tribes.  Dan is the first tribe mentioned. God gives the tribe of Dan first place in the land assignment.
  1. Lesson: Ezekiel 48:1-2 reveals that God will keep His promise and Dan is included in His promises. God promised the nation of Israel the Promised Land.  The tribe of Dan was promised a portion of that land. They will finally inherit it in the millennial kingdom!
  2. Conclusion: The tribe’s apostasy is also a sad reminder that God seeks godly men as His ministers. Those who fail will be disqualified and will not have His blessing for ministry. The apostle Paul was fearful of being disqualified and he strived to not be disqualified (1Corinthians 9:27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified. cf.  2Timothy 4:6-8). Let’s strive to keep our testimony without fault that we may not be disqualified to be a witness of the Lord Jesus Christ.
  1. Verse 9: Now the scene returns to heaven and we see the action around the throne as these who are converted under the ministry of the 144,000 are slain and welcomed into heaven during the Great Tribulation. They stood before the throne and before the Lamb clothed in white robes washed in the blood of the Lamb and with palm branches in their hands.
  1. JESUS’ PROPHECY OF A WORLDWIDE EVANGELISM CAMPAIGN DURING TRIBULATION WILL BE FULFILLED BY THE 144,000 (MATTHEW 24:9-14) The Bible says so many people will come to Christ during that time that they cannot be numbered. (Rev 7:9) “Behold, a great multitude which no one could number.” And they represent all of the nations and tribes and the peoples and the tongues from all over the earth. The harvest from the great evangelistic campaign of the 144,000 witnesses. This is the fulfillment of the promise of Jesus given in His Olivet Discourse. Jesus said the Gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations and then the end will come. (Matt 24:14)
  2. The fifth Seal Judgment in chapter 6 of the Book of Revelation reveals that persecution and martyrdom will break out against followers of Jesus early in the Tribulation. These described in Revelation 7:9-17 are those martyrs written of in Revelation 6:9-11. Chapter seven explains how people will come to faith in Jesus as Savior during the first half of the Tribulation: It will be by the means of the gospel preaching of the 144,000 Messianic Jews sealed and sent by the Lord throughout the world. Through their preaching people of every tribe, tongue and nation will come to faith and be saved.
  1. Verse 10: These new arrivals in heaven (the ones converted by the 144,000) are singing, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” They were saved by the Lamb from their sins, from the antichrist and from eternal hell. They recognized this salvation was unmerited or earned on their own. It is by grace alone through faith in Jesus Christ, the Lamb who was slain from the foundation of the earth to take away the sin of the world (Revelation 13:8)
  2. Verses 11-12: And as the Tribulation saints worship, another level around the throne, all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
  1. Verse 13: So we have two groups of Christians in heaven: (1) Those who have been raptured and resurrected at the end of the church age, and who therefore have their glorified bodies; and (2) those who have been saved and slain after the rapture of the church and whose souls are in heaven but whose bodies are still on earth. John does not recognize this new group of souls in heaven. One of the elders asks John, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 
  2. Verse 14: John said, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation (tribulation saints). They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.”
  3. Verses 15-17: “Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore (John 6:35  Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.”); the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb amid the throne will be their shepherd (John 10:11  I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep; Hebrews 13:20 – our Lord Jesus, the great shepherd of the sheep.), and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. (Revelation 21:4  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”)
  1. REFLECTION The sealing and sending of the 144,000 Jewish evangelists is yet another manifestation of the Lord’s mercy and love for sinners. The Apostle Paul refers to God as our Savior who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. (1 Timothy 2:4 (ESV) Also in 2Peter 3:9  The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
  1. Since the Fall of Adam in sin, it has always been us who depart from the Lord, not the other way around. Even after Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden, everyone at that time, knew the Lord – even Cain. Still, we rebelled against the Lord and followed Satan until the human race was so depraved the Lord judged the wicked upon the earth by a great flood. How many people got off the Ark? Eight. What percentage of the human race at that time knew the Lord exists? 100%. But in a fairly brief period, people rebelled again and built the Tower of Babel against the commandment of the Lord for them to be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. We always move away from the Lord but the Lord searches us like lost sheep.
  2. The Lord is longsuffering but the “day of the Lord” (Tribulation)  will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up..(2Peter 3:10) The day of the Lord is coming and no one (not kings of the earth, nor the great men, nor the rich men, and the chief captains, and the mighty men, and every bondman, and every free man) can escape the wrath of the Lamb or stand before the Lamb. (Revelation 6:16-17) 
  3. But there is a way to escape the wrath of the Lamb before it comes. Paul writes in Romans: “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (cf. Romans 8:1). Believers will not face judgment, because their sins were judged when Jesus died in their place on the cross (cf.2Corinthians 5:21; 1Peter 2:24 Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.)
  4. If you are hearing this message and have not put your faith in Jesus for salvation, know that the Lord, like a “good shepherd of the sheep”, is searching for you right now. It is no accident that you are hearing this message. Jesus loves you and He gave Himself to die on the cross to pay the penalty of all your sins and my sins, was buried and rose again on the third day to give you eternal life. There are still people around the world who have not heard the good news of salvation from sin and death by the Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. But you are hearing it today and I want to encourage you to accept God’s gift of forgiveness and salvation today. Put all your faith in what Jesus did for you on the cross and in His resurrection, hold on to the hope of everlasting life and love the Lord Jesus Christ with all of your heart, with all of your soul and with all of your mind and with all of your strength. The Lord will make everything new in your life. Behold old things have passed away; all things have become new in your life.

The Lord bless you all!

The Lord’s Message, 24/10/2020

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