Text: Rev 7:1-17; 14:1-5
Summary: God’s greatest gift to us is Jesus Christ. He is the power of God and the wisdom of God in full display and everything in Scripture from beginning to end points to Him.
Father, we ask that you would speak today. Although things are really confusing at times like this, we realize again and acknowledge that you are sovereign over all. Give us understanding during this season. We’re not sure how much longer this shutdown will last but Lord, we see the end in sight. So we trust in you. We ask that you speak to your people today. Thank you Lord. In Jesus Name, Amen
Please turn with me to Revelation 7.
1After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, that no wind might blow on earth or sea or against any tree. 2 Then I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, with the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm earth and sea, 3 saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.” 4 And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel:
5 12,000 from the tribe of Judah were sealed,
12,000 from the tribe of Reuben,
12,000 from the tribe of Gad,
6 12,000 from the tribe of Asher,
12,000 from the tribe of Naphtali,
12,000 from the tribe of Manasseh,
7 12,000 from the tribe of Simeon,
12,000 from the tribe of Levi,
12,000 from the tribe of Issachar,
8 12,000 from the tribe of Zebulun,
12,000 from the tribe of Joseph,
12,000 from the tribe of Benjamin were sealed.
9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And 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, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.” 13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 “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. 16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any scorching heat. 17 For the Lamb in the midst of the throne will be their shepherd, and he will guide them to springs of living water, and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
And I also want to read Revelation 14:1.
1 Then I looked, and behold, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. 2 And I heard a voice from heaven like the roar of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder. The voice I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps, 3 and they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. 4 It is these who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins. It is these who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These have been redeemed from mankind as firstfruits for God and the Lamb, 5 and in their mouth no lie was found, for they are blameless.
Amen. I don’t know how you feel these days, but I think Jackie described every day this week as like groundhog’s day. I don’t know if you saw that movie but every day was deja vu. The same day. What a blessing it is for those who work that there is some variation in your day. We should remember the 70% of our country that have their small businesses sheltered and closed, and they have no income. And every day they wake up and they’re waiting for the orders from the governor, is this the day that I can return and do work? And they’re just waiting. And everyday must feel so burdensome.
And I thought at a time like this, what is the Lord teaching His church? And I think the Lord is teaching many things. But the one thing that strikes me the most is that Jesus wants to shepherd us. Jesus wants to shepherd us.
Revelation 7 is just an amazing chapter. That 144,000 Jewish men, and why do I say Jewish men. It is because in Revelation 14, it says that these are virgins and they have not defiled themselves with a woman. And so we know these are men that’s being talked about in Revelation 7. 144,000. And God’s word is so precise. I don’t believe it’s 144,001, I don’t believe it’s 143,999. It is exactly 144,000 Jewish men who are first sealed.
And this is during a time of tribulation. And so we have to ask ourselves, in v.9 when it’s talking about a multitude here, it is not talking about just the nation of Israel or just Jewish men. It says a number from every nation, all tribes, people and languages are before the throne. And I never understood it until this week that God is saying that He is going to raise up an army of Jewish men in the end times, and they are going to be the missionary force and through them every nation, tribe, people and language. And we get similar messages in places like Matthew 24.
12 And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
And so I think two things are going on here. First, that God is raising up an army of Jewish men and these are Spirit-filled missionaries in the end times that God will use to save many, many peoples of all nations. I also believe because of the hatred of all the world against the disciples of Jesus, it will become so intense, the persecution will be so intense that every Christian no matter what nation you’re in, you will be brought before authorities and civil leaders and government dictators and kings and presidents. And you will be brought into synagogues and it will be the time for the church to testify.
Because is it really that we are so gifted and we’re so motivated to do missions. And then we have these 144,000, people that God has raised up specifically to save the nation. Is it because we’re so successful in missions and that is why all the nations hear the gospel of Jesus Christ and the good news of Christ, or is it a combination of missionaries going out.
But also, wherever missionaries and wherever Christians live. there will be such persecution that you will be brought before non-believing authorities, non-believing Jewish leaders and synagogues. You’ll be brought before leaders of all sectors of society who hate Jesus. And in that moment, all Christians will be given an opportunity to testify about our love for Jesus. And we will not recant, we will not deny Him. And in those two ways, the Gospel will be preached to all the nations and then the end will come.
And if you look at that list in Revelation 7, you should be very puzzled by that list. Because one tribe is missing. Then, one extra tribe is added. Manasseh, who is Joseph’s son, and Jacob’s grandson. And so if you were to compare the original 12 tribes and this list, it’s a different list, and it’s out of order. And so we have to ask the Lord, why is it like this.
And from the beginning of the Bible, to the very last chapter, I could sum it all up with one word. Jesus. Everything in the Bible is Jesus. If you think about even the Old Testament. Adam and Eve had two children, Cain and Abel. What do we see in those two sons? You have Abel, the righteous son. You have Abel, the one who was hated by Cain, because Cain saw the righteousness of Abel. And it’s a picture of the hatred of this world toward Christians. That’s what we read elsewhere in Scripture.
And if you think about the patriarchs of our faith, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, one way to look at it is, it’s a tale of three sons. You have Abraham’s son, Isaac. You have Isaac’s son, Jacob. And you have Jacob’s son, Joseph. And the first son was sacrificed. Isaac was sacrificed. The second son Jacob was overlooked or rejected. And the third son Joseph was thought to be dead but he was alive.
That’s the story of Jesus Christ, the Son who was sacrificed on the cross, the Son who was rejected by this world, the Son who was thought to be dead, but He raised a life. Everything in Scripture from beginning to end, if you see, if you can have the right lens, you will see that everything is about Jesus Christ.
And even Revelation 7. In this rearrangement of 12 tribes and adding of Jacob’s grandson and removing of one tribe, the tribe of Dan, there’s a message here that God has for His church. And God gives some clues as to why the tribe of Dan was not included and why Jacob’s other grandson Ephraim was not included.
It says in Hosea 4:17 that Ephraim is joined to idols, and it says in Judges, 18:30-31 that Dan also fell victim to idolatry. That’s not a final judgment on the entire tribe. It’s just saying that this final privilege of having members in your tribe, Jewish men raised up for this final push of the Gospel to the ends of the earth, those two tribes, Ephraim and Dan were excluded because of idolatry.
And you have to even ask why was Ephraim and Manasseh even under consideration? And it’s such a strange story, because we would think the 12 tribes in the Old Testament should be the same very 12 tribes that we read about in Revelation 7. But why is Manasseh there? And if you recall the story of Joseph bringing his two children to Jacob when he is failing in his eyesight. And Joseph obviously wants his older son to be blessed. And so he brings him to Jacob’s right hand, and Jacob does this crisscrossing of arms, and he blesses Ephraim the younger son first.
And there was an interesting statement there. Let’s look at Genesis 48:13.
13 And Joseph took them both, Ephraim in his right hand toward Israel’s left hand, and Manasseh in his left hand toward Israel’s right hand, and brought them near him. 14 And Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on the head of Ephraim, who was the younger, and his left hand on the head of Manasseh, crossing his hands (for Manasseh was the firstborn). 15 And he blessed Joseph and said, “The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life long to this day, 16 the angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the boys; and in them let my name be carried on, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.” 17 When Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on the head of Ephraim, it displeased him, and he took his father’s hand to move it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. 18 And Joseph said to his father, “Not this way, my father; since this one is the firstborn, put your right hand on his head.” 19 But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great. Nevertheless, his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his offspring shall become a multitude of nations.” 20 So he blessed them that day, saying, “By you Israel will pronounce blessings, saying, ‘God make you as Ephraim and as Manasseh.’” Thus he put Ephraim before Manasseh.
And it’s just a weird picture that Joseph wanted his eldest, obviously, to be blessed, but Jacob crisscrosses. And you have to wonder, why does he bless the younger. Is it because Jacob was the overlooked son of Jacob? He was the rejected son, his father Isaac favored Esau because he was the older one and he was the more manly one. And although Rebekah heard from the Lord that the blessing should go to Jacob, Isaac wanted to pass over him and bless his elder son.
And so does Jacob think that it’s the way it happened in the past with him. It happened with my father and he made a mistake, so let me make it right this time. And we see that if you compare the blessing of a human father Jacob in Genesis 48, and we look at Revelation 7, and the blessing of the Heavenly Father, it is different.
And so we can’t do things just because that’s the way it happened to us. There’s no cookie cutter in the kingdom. Ephraim fell away to idolatry and they were not privileged to have 12,000 of their men from their tribe raised up as missionaries in the final days. Instead Manasseh was blessed by the Lord.
The names of these tribes come in the context of such chaos in the family of Jacob. Laban tricked Jacob. And I don’t think Jacob is a deceiver. I don’t think that’s what we should remember Jacob as. He is actually an overcomer. He is a supplanter. He is somebody who sees the blessing of God and he goes after it. That’s why it’s not the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob the deceiver. No, it is the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob the overcomer.
He is one who sees the blessing of God and he goes after it. But Jacob, he makes a mistake and he was deceived and later Laban gives Leah, the older daughter, and maybe, the less attractive daughter to Jacob. And could it be that this was God’s will? That even in the midst of the trickery, it was God’s will that Jacob should have been content with one wife.
Because, as far as I can tell in Scripture, although God allowed multiple wives in certain situations, for the most part, God intended for every man to marry one woman. But because Jacob was infatuated with Rachel and was obsessed with Rachel, although he was given Leah, he introduced so much chaos into his family.
And to make it even worse, they’re two sisters, one an older sister who is blessed by God and given 10 children, and a younger sister who was blessed in a different way. She is more attractive. She is loved by the husband, more than her older sister. And there is jealousy, and there is a wrestling match between these two sisters. And although Rachel was the more favored one by the husband, she had no children. And so she was also struggling in her way. And into this kind of a mess of a family, God gives 12 children.
And if you look at the names of these 12 children, they are out of order and so we have to see that there’s a coded message here, and an incredible prayer for the believer. Judah means I will praise the Lord. Leah said this. She is the unfavored wife who was given sons, and she thought when Judah was born, I am going to praise the Lord for now my husband will pay attention to me. Now I will be favored by Jacob.
Judah wasn’t the first son but he is the first son listed in Revelation 7. Everything has been rearranged in Revelation. Leah says when Judah is born, I will praise the Lord.
And then Ruben comes next, and that means, He sees my affliction. Gad comes and that means, good fortune has come. Asher means, I am happy or blessed. Naphtali, I have prevailed after wrestling with my sister. And this is where you see the turmoil of Leah’s heart. She says I have prevailed over my sister with great wrestling. Manasseh, which is Joseph’s son or Jacob’s grandson, means, the Lord has caused me to forget all my hardship.
Simeon means, He heard that I am hated. And that’s how Leah felt. She felt hated, she felt rejected, she felt unfavored. Levi, he is attached to me. That’s from Leah. Issachar, He has rewarded me. And Zebulun, He has honored me. And Joseph, Jacob and Rachel’s first, He has added to me. And then Benjamin, the son of my right hand.
And if you look at the 12 tribes, an amazing prayer emerges for God’s people. It’s this.
Father, I will praise you.
You’ve seen my affliction.
Good fortune has come.
I am happy and blessed.
I have wrestled but prevailed.
You have caused me to forget all of my hardship.
You’ve heard that I was hated.
You’ve joined to me.
You’ve rewarded me.
You’ve honored me by adding to me the
Son of Your right hand–Jesus Christ.
So everything in Scripture from Genesis to Revelation can be summed up in this one word, Jesus. Jesus in this season wants to shepherd His people. There’s so much confusion in this world right now. And I’m reminded that in Genesis 2, there were two trees in the garden, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, and the tree of life. And these are the two pathways of life.
One path is you can try to make sense out of all the confusion and all the chaos in this world and do it through your own knowledge and whatever you’ve gained from society, and try to sort through all the confusion. And if you do it that way, I can tell you, you will be deceived. Nobody is telling us the truth right now. Nobody has the full picture. Everybody has partial understanding. And if you piece together 10 people with partial understanding, you’re utterly confused. One hundred percent confused.
We cannot go through this season like the one that we’re in by going to the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Satan wants you to do it that way. Satan wants you to go after the tree of knowledge of good and evil that is offered through the world’s system. He wants you to try to piece together what actually is going on through the lens of the world and trust what is being told to us at face value.
Like does it make sense that entire states have millions of people in lockdown when just a few dozen have died in that state? Does that make sense? Have we done that with anything? It just doesn’t make sense. But if you keep pursuing the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and you keep listening to what you consider knowledgeable people, you will be a hundred percent deceived. Nobody is giving us the truth. Nobody is giving us the hundred percent truth.
Eventually, maybe God will do it. But most times, as I’ve looked at over history, we’ve only gotten partial truth. Throughout history, the real reason things have happened have been covered up and hidden. That’s just the way it is in this world’s system.
So my recommendation in this season is do not pursue the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, it will get you confused. It will lead to deception, it will lead to frustration. Instead, bring all of your confusion and your burdens and your boredom to Jesus Christ. That is what it means to pursue the tree of life, instead of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Jesus wants to shepherd us during this time. Jesus says, learn from me. I’m humble in heart. I’m gentle. He doesn’t get frustrated that we are still on lesson number one of Christian life. He doesn’t get frustrated that you keep coming to Him with the same sins. He’s not going to turn you away because He’s not harsh. He’s not angry. He’s not that kind of a person. He is humble in his heart. He is so gentle.
And so during the season, while we’re so burdened, confused, anxious, bored, whatever it is, turn all of that into a prayer and bring it to Jesus. Because even in the end, look at this amazing prayer of Revelation 7. The conclusion of this prayer is that you’ve been given the Son of God, the Son who sits at God’s right hand. He has been given to you through all the wrestling of this life.
Through all the deception of the evil one, through all the attacks and accusations of the devil, at the end, the solution is always Jesus Christ. The solution is always Jesus. And at the end in Revelation 14, we want to be a people who follow the Lamb wherever He goes because He will shepherd us for all eternity.
And so if all of eternity is the sheep and the flock of God being shepherded for all eternity, shouldn’t we learn it now. Isn’t that why we’ve been given time and we’ve been given another day on earth. And we have been given breath in our lungs. Isn’t it so that we can learn what it means to be shepherded by Jesus Christ?
Because in eternity, that’s all there is, there is God sitting on a throne and the Lamb on His throne. And Jesus will shepherd His people. He will wipe every tear from our eyes, and He will quench all the thirst in our soul. And Jesus will shepherd us and feed us and nourish us for all eternity. Isn’t that why we’ve been given breath on this side of glory, to learn what it means to be shepherded by Jesus.
And so our main repentance I think always is, Lord, I didn’t think I needed to be shepherded by you. I thought I was wise in my own eyes. I thought I was strong enough to go through this day on my own. Isn’t that our main repentance every day, that we don’t allow Jesus to shepherd us?
1 Corinthians 1 says Jesus Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. And so if you want to be wise, where is the source of wisdom. Where is the wisdom of God in full display? Where will we learn wisdom? It’s by being shepherded and learning from Jesus. That’s why Jesus says, come to me. We don’t have the strength in ourselves to endure the hatred of all the nations, that tribulation, the Great Tribulation that is coming upon this earth.
And if you just look, the signs are there that we’re approaching the end. The signs are all over the place that we’re approaching the end. I mean, Bill Gates. He is a computer nerd with a lot of money. Why is he the face of the vaccine movement? We have to just ask these questions. Why is he the face just because he knows computers and he has money? Why is he the face of the vaccine movement?
Why did Microsoft have a partnership with a satanic witch named Marina Abramovich? You can look it up. As soon as it was put up, it was taken off, because they got so much backlash. Why is Microsoft, a computer company, doing deals and partnerships with satanic witches, saying this is art?
It is not art. These are satanic rituals. Before Satan lurked in the shadows. Now Satan is out in the open. You have to see that the end is coming. And so if you are playing basketball and you’re in the fourth quarter, that’s when there’s not a time to relax anymore. You can kind of be careless here and there in the first three quarters of the game, but in the fourth quarter, and then certainly in the last two minutes of the game, you’re playing to win.
And we’re entering the fourth quarter or the Two Minute Warning of a football game. It’s getting serious out there. And Satan is not playing around. Because we have to ask, why is Bill Gates now saying that, before we lift up this shelter-at-home order, we need to have some kind of digital vaccination record on every person? And Revelation speaks of a mark of the beast.
And what is this vaccination record that he wants. He’s not talking about a piece of paper. He is talking about something that’s in your body. Something digital. That’s a version one prototype of the mark of the beast. If you take Revelation as God’s word, as literal truth, and this is how the end is going to unfold, we have to see that what was inconceivable even a few decades ago now, it’s in plain sight. We have to see the mark of the beast, the first version prototype number one is now being talked about on the mainstream news.
And it’s by a computer guy. He’s not medically trained. Why is he the face? Because in the end, medicine and technology is going to merge and it’s going to form this beast system. And it starts with a mark, and they’re already talking about it that without this digital vaccination record, you can’t fly. You can’t perhaps go into crowded venues, you can’t maybe buy and sell in the future. It’s all talked about in the book of Revelation and we’re seeing it happening before our eyes.
And we don’t know the exact day when Jesus is going to return but we see the signs. And if this is happening in our current events, as you turn on the news, what do the believers have to do? It’s time to level up. It’s time to raise our game. We need to learn how to be shepherded by Jesus, and how to run to Jesus and how to be sheltered by Jesus and be defended by Jesus, and to become an overcomer as Jesus overcame this world.
We, too, must overcome and resolve, I will never let go of Jesus. This is a time to learn how to not do life on your own. Where has that got you? Are you happy, the days when you didn’t even think about Jesus, and you just went through the day, you went through the week, how was that for you? In times like this, we realize we cannot live even a day without Jesus. I hope you feel it.
I hope that’s what God is trying to communicate to His church, that once this shelter-at-home is lifted, will I just rush off and do life on my own, or will I have learned during these weeks and months in lockdown how to do life being shepherded by Jesus and finding shelter in Him.
Okay, let’s pray.
Father, we praise you. You’ve seen our affliction. Good fortune has come. We are blessed, we have wrestled and prevailed all the hardships of this life. We can forget and have forgotten our hardships because you’ve heard us. And you’ve been attached to us. And you’ve rewarded us and honored us, and the end of this prayer, is the most significant because you’ve added to us, the Son that sits on your right hand, Jesus Christ.
Everything in Scripture from beginning to end is Jesus. It’s all about Jesus. Thank you, Lord, that in this prayer you give us a heads up of what we need to hold on to during the Great Tribulation, it is Jesus Christ.
I pray that we can learn during this season where we have some breathing room and some time and some room in our schedule, that we can learn how to be shepherded by you. Forgive us, Lord, for chasing after idols. Forgive us, Lord, for doing life on our own, for pursuing the tree of the knowledge of good and evil in this world.
I pray that we would repent of our independence and our pride, and for trusting in our own wisdom, and in our own strength. We see clearly now the wisdom of God, and the power of God are in full display in the person of Jesus Christ. And so Jesus, we come to you and in you we have strength, in you we have become wise, not in ourselves, but because we are in Christ.
Teach us, Lord, how to stay near to you as you’re always near to us. You never leave nor forsake. We pray that you’ll be with all the people who don’t have school, or who don’t have work, and they’re sheltering in home, and they can’t pay their bills and they’re being broken down by the enemy and all of his lies. I pray that you will strengthen those people. That they will turn to you and really learn how to do life by learning from Jesus. That you would get them through.
I pray you get all of us through this coronavirus season, we see the plans of the enemy. We see the strategy that he’s laid out in plain view, we see what he’s up to. And so Lord, thank you for preparing us. We are more awake now and more ready to fight. So Lord Jesus, we come to you. I pray that you will lead your church. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus Name, Amen