144,000 & the Seal of God, Pt. 1

144,000 & the Seal of God, Pt. 1

Scripture: Revelation 7:1-10, Revelation 14:1-5
Date: 02/22/2017 
Who are the 144,000 spoken of in Revelation 7 and 14? Is the number literal or symbolic?

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Each branch of the US Armed Services has one or more elite teams of commandos. They fight using sophisticated guerrilla warfare tactics. To serve in one of these select units, a soldier must be highly disciplined, and they pass through incredibly difficult physical and mental training. Even a small team of these commandos, because of their intense training, can achieve great victories in a short time. During the Gulf War, a team of US Navy Seals created a convincing diversion by storming the beaches of Kuwait. And they created such havoc that the Iraqi generals were completely fooled into thinking the US-led attack was coming from the sea. Within a couple of days, the whole war was over. And it all started with less than 20 soldiers.

The book of Revelation tells about another special forces unit, an army of 144,000 that have the greatest mission in the last days, to prepare the world for Jesus' return. Let's explore together what the Bible facts are, about the 144,000, and learn how you can receive the seal of the living God.

Tonight, our presentation is going to be dealing with the subject of the 144,000, which you find in chapter 7 and 14 of Revelation, and the seal of God. And it pictures a time when angels are holding back winds of strife. And I remember hearing a story about... I think it was in 2012, in March, Paul Walden had his wife and daughter call. They were at work and they said, "Have you seen the news? There's a terrible stream of tornadoes that are coming through." And he never paid much attention to storm warnings, but he thought he ought to step outside and look at the sky. And, right when he went out to look up at the sky, he saw this great big gray wall that was moving towards him, that was churning up his neighbor's house. He thought, "Oh, this is the real thing." He ran inside, he grabbed a couple of dogs, and he jumped in the closet right by their staircase. And then it hit.

You've heard the expression "It sounds like a freight train is going by when you have a tornado go by"? And the whole house began to shake and he had both hands on the door, with all of his strength he was hanging on and trying to keep the door shut as the suction of the storm was trying to pull the door open and suck out him and his dogs. And it wasn't very long before it stopped, the noise settled, it moved down and passed away, and he finally got the courage to open the door, and this is a picture of what he saw when he stepped outside. The house was gone, he walked out of the closet and he saw blue sky, everything was gone except the closet and some of the stairs. And he said it wasn't long after he walked outside and the closet fell over and then hail began to fall and he felt like he was getting beaten up by a baseball bat. And he found a container that held vacuum cleaning supplies he put it on his head, he said, or he would have died from the hail. And his wife always teases him about walking around with a vacuum cleaner accessory box on his head to save his life. But he was trying to hold back the storm.

Well, humans aren't very good at that, angels do a good job. Revelation pictures this happening. Let's start with the 144,000 in chapter 7 of Revelation and you can begin with verse 1, chapter 7, verse 1, "After these things, I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth..." Now what do the four angels represent? The divisions of the compass. It's talking about simply North, South, East, and West, it's a universal problem. It's a universal sealing that's going to take place. "Holding the four winds of the Earth, that the wind should not blow on the Earth, or the sea, or any tree." That's talking about everything on the planet, the Earth, the sea, the trees until something happens, it's going to blow eventually. Those winds of strife are really... They're kind of summarized in the seven last plagues. "Then I saw another angel ascending from the East, having the seal of the living God. And he cried with a loud voice... Saying, 'Do not harm the earth, or the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.'" And it goes on to say, "I heard the number of those that were sealed and it was 144,000, 12,000 from each of the 12 tribes of Israel." And it's an interesting list that is given.

Then you'll also read in chapter 14 of Revelation, you find the second reference to the 144,000, and it gives us a little more information about them. "I looked, and behold, a Lamb," this is verse 1 of chapter 14 Revelation, "a lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 having His Father's name written on their foreheads." Well, 7 said it was the seal of God, here it says His Father's name. They must be similar. "And I heard a voice from heaven, like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of loud thunder. And I heard the sound of harps and harpists playing their harps. And they sang as it were a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and before the elders, and no one could learn that song except the 144,000 who were redeemed from the Earth. These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins."

What does that mean? "These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. They were redeemed from among men being the firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no deceit for they are without fault before the throne of God." And then it goes on to another passage that is related, but we'll pause right there.

So you've got the 144,000 are obviously a very important group. You've got chapter 7 addresses them, chapter 14 addresses them. They're very close to the Lord. They receive a special seal. Now, typically, if you talk to somebody about Revelation and something in the forehead, what do you think about? Everybody automatically thinks about, "Oh, you don't want anything in your forehead in the last days." someone tries to put anything in your forehead, run the other way. But if you study the Bible, you'll find out, in Revelation, everybody's got something in their foreheads in the last days. You've either got the mark of the beast or you have the seal of God. You just want to make sure you've got the right mark. Amen. And, sort of, with that as an introduction, let's go through some of our questions now that talk about the 144,000 and the seal of God.

First question, what clues does Revelation provide to help us identify who are the 144,000? Well, there's several things, first of all, it says there's 12,000 from the 12 tribes of Israel. Now the list of tribes that are given in Revelation is different from any other list in the Bible. The twelve tribes are listed many times in the Bible. They usually start with the firstborn who was Judah... I’m sorry, Reuben. But, in Revelation, it starts with Judah. It's different. It's a different list. You'll find that it talks about joseph, but Ephraim is left out. And so it's a unique list and you need to just say, "what's going on here? Are these real, literal Jews it's talking about?" in the last days, he's going to get 12,000 from each of the tribes. If you know your Jewish history, you'll know that some of the tribes had very few people, and Judah had lots of people, hundreds of thousands. And so the idea of getting an even number from each of the tribes, that would be interesting, but I believe they're actually talking about spiritual Jews. That means it can include literal Jews and it can include people who have been adopted into the seed of Abraham by accepting Christ.

Let me tell you why. You read in the Bible in the Old Testament, for instance, go to 2 Kings 17, verse 6. Ten of the tribes were conquered by the Assyrians way back hundreds of years before Jesus was born. You read there, "In the ninth year of King Hoshea, the king of Assyria took Samaria" - that's the capital of Israel, the northern kingdom. "and carried Israel," those are the ten tribes, "away to Assyria." Now, later, the southern kingdom of Judah, they were carried to Babylon, but they came back. Those carried off to Assyria largely intermarried and disappeared as a distinct people.

And so when Revelation says 12,000 from the tribe of Manasseh, can you please show me somebody from the tribe of Manasseh today? Or Issachar or Zebulun? When you talk about Jews, you're typically talking about people who are from Levi, Judah, and Benjamin. You read the Bible, long before Jesus was born, it tells exactly what happened to the tribes. Some of them came back down and joined Judah. They intermarried with the tribe of Judah. You're not going to find people who are purebred people from Zebulun, Manasseh, Issachar, and so forth. So what does it mean when it says that? Galatians 3:29, "And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."

All the promises God made to the Jews in the Bible, New and Old Testament, you can claim through Christ, amen? That's a wonderful promise, Paul said that, this is New Testament. Paul said, in Romans 2:28 and 29, "For he is not a Jew which is one outwardly, neither is that circumcision, that is outward in the flesh, but he is a Jew, which is one inwardly, and circumcision is that of the heart..." This was the message of Jesus and John the Baptist, they said to their Jewish brethren, "Do not think to say within yourself 'God must save us, we are children of Abraham.' God is able to raise up from the stones children unto Abraham." And Jesus said, "Many will come from the East and the West and sit down in the kingdom with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob," meaning the Gentiles coming from the East and the West, and the natural children, some of them who don't believe, will be in outer darkness.

And so the New Testament is really clear that now the gospel goes to everybody whosoever will. God is no respecter of persons. So the idea that to be 1 of the 144,000 you must have a DNA test is not taught in the Bible. God does not discriminate that way. If you are Abraham's seed, you are heirs according to the promise, okay?

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So why does it give this list and why is the list unique in Revelation chapter 7? I’m going to read something to you. You know, in Hebrew, when they name someone, every name had a meaning. You read the story about when, you know, Jacob ended up with four wives, he only wanted Rachel. He ended up with Rachel and Leah and Bilhah and Zilpah, their handmaids, and every time they're all fighting over his attention, every time they got pregnant, they had a child, the mothers would name the child and make a statement because the names all mean something in Hebrew. The name Judah means "I will praise the Lord." and we're putting this up for you on the screen. Reuben means "He has looked on me," Gad "Given good fortune," Asher means "Happy am I," Naphtali means "My wrestling," Manasseh means "Making me to forget." It says, Simeon means "God hears me," Levi "Attached to me," Issachar, "Purchased me," "Dwelling" is Zebulun, Joseph, "God will add to me," Benjamin, "Son of His right hand."

Now what's fascinating is, if you take these twelve names, line their meanings up the way they're given there in Revelation, this is what it says, look at this paragraph, "I will praise the Lord for He has looked on me and granted good fortune, I am happy because my wrestling, God is making me to forget. God hears me and is attached or joined to me." It's like a marriage, "He has purchased me a dwelling" I've gone to prepare a place for you "and He will add to me the Son of His right hand," meaning Christ.

The whole story of salvation is told in the names, the way they're arranged there in Revelation. It's the story of redemption, isn't that beautiful? That's why the Bible is such an incredible book. It tells us the 144,000 have special robes. The Bible tells us they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb, symbolizing they are covered with the righteousness of Christ. It tells us they sing a unique song. That doesn't mean that you can't read off their music because it's their song, it means they've gone through an experience. It's like when the Children of Israel went through Egypt, they sang this song of deliverance led by Miriam. And, at the end of their 40 years, Moses wrote a song that talked about those who had survived their wanderings and how God would be first.

Sometimes a song, you have to have the experience to know how to sing the song. It's like sometimes you'll hear a choir, you might hear a choir in Ireland singing a Negro spiritual. They may not know how to sing it the way it was written because they have not had the experience that gave birth to the song. Does that make sense? And so those who are the 144,000, they're singing a song nobody else can sing. Why? Because it says there in Revelation, these are those who... They've come out of a great tribulation. They followed the Lamb in a close way, unlike anyone else. It says they sang, as it were, a new song.

Something else it tells us, they follow the Lamb wherever he goes. By the way, if you want to follow the Lamb there, then, you must first follow the Lamb here now. Wow. Amen. And you can't say, "Well, I can't wait to get to Heaven and start following the Lamb." You won't be in Heaven unless you start following Him now. A Christian is a follower of Christ. And it says they are virgins, and this has always thrown people. Does that mean all the 144,000 are women? Because the term there, in Greek, it does seem to imply the feminine side. Keep in mind, in Revelation, it talks about Babylon has daughters that are harlots, unfaithful. The 144,000, it's saying they are virgins for they are not defiled. It's talking about they are a part of the truth, they've not been defiled by the wine of Babylon. It's simply saying, they're not talking about sex at all, it's talking about they are a pure group because they believed the teachings of Jesus. They are undefiled by the false teachings.

Everything that we've been telling you about the 144,000, you know what the key is to understanding it? They represent modern-day apostles. See, in the Old Testament, I’m sorry, in the New Testament, rather, Jesus picked twelve apostles and He said, "I want you to be My advocates to take this message to the world." but they were not the only ones saved, they were a special group of leaders. Before the Holy Spirit is poured out in Acts chapter 2, Judas has killed himself, Peter said, "There's only 11 of us now, we need to replace Judas and get back to the number 12." When they replaced Judas, the Holy Spirit falls out in the next verse. But there's not just 12 that receive the Holy Spirit, there's a 120 in the upper room, and then 3,000 are converted as a result of what they do which leads to the next question. Are the 144,000 the only ones saved when Jesus comes?

Well, if you do the math, that would be pretty sad because there are about 7 billion people in the world today, there's more than 7 billion. And if only 144,000 are going to be saved, that means your chance is about 1 out of 50,000. It's still better than the lottery in Florida, did you know that? But it's not good. No, they're not the only ones saved, they are a special group of leaders. In the same way, let me make the 144,000 really easy for you in the same way that Jesus had 12 apostles that followed Him wherever He went, that had a special relationship with Him that sang... You know, the Bible says that Jesus, the only time He sang, He sang with the 12, He sang other times, but the only time recorded, in the Bible, when Jesus sang, He sang with the 12 apostles just before He went to the cross. They sang with the Lord a special song. And so, all the things about the 144,000, by the way, this was written by an apostle, isn't it? He's talking about their relationship with Jesus during the first coming. There's going to be an army of apostles getting the world ready for the second coming. Amen. Does that make sense? That's the 144,000.

But now we've learned a little bit about them, what's the special name in their foreheads? It talks about a name, a seal. Keep in mind, it's not talking about a tattoo. You're going to find out all through the Bible in the Old Testament, it talks about in the hand and in the forehead, that means in your actions and in your thoughts. In Deuteronomy 5, Moses repeats the ten commandments, in Deuteronomy 6, he says, "You'll bind them as a sign on your hand, and they'll be as frontlets between your eyes," what's that? Forehead, that the Lord's law might be in your heart, another symbol. In the hand means in the actions, in the forehead means in the worship, in the thoughts.

I'll make something really clear. In the last days, if you've got the law of the Lord in your heart and your actions and your mind, you will not have the mark of the beast. If you don't have the law of God in your heart and your hand and your head, you will have the mark of the beast. It's just one way or the other. Now, you notice in Ezekiel 9, we always think the mark is the bad thing, if you read Ezekiel 9, there's another vision there. By the way, Revelation is referring back to Ezekiel, that everybody in Jerusalem was to be destroyed except those that had this mark placed on them by the angel. Everybody in Ezekiel 9 who gets the mark is saved because they are sighing and crying for the abominations that are done in Israel because there was false worship that was happening among the people of Israel. And you read that chapter and you'll understand that.

So what is the seal of God? All right, we talked about the 144,000, we're going to spend the rest of our time talking about this very important subject, and you pray for me as I proceed because I really want you to get this, friends, it is very important. All right, first of all, seal of God is the Holy Spirit. You already sort of knew that. Those that have the mark of the beast, whose spirit do they have? Satan. The devil. Those that have seal of God, whose spirit do they have? It says there in Ephesians 4:30, "Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, wherewith you are sealed for the day of redemption." There's a seal of the Holy Spirit that happens inside. But there's something that is more tangible than that that can be seen in the life, and you'll find that in this verse, Isaiah 8:16, "Bind up the testimony, seal the law among My disciples." Can the law be sealed in the heart? So the law of God, in a sense, is the seal. What's the new covenant? "I'll take My law and write it in their hearts." But we're going to go a step deeper to find out what is that seal in the law. I could...

Now, typically, a seal, in Bible times, you know, when you would make a document official, they'd pour wax on the seal like you do with an envelope, they'd stamp it with the government seal and the seal always contained three characteristics. It would have the name of the official, the title, and the territory. For example, I've got a copy here of Queen Elizabeth and in Canada, it says, "Queen of Canada, Elizabeth" and that's the name, Queen the office, Elizabeth, Canada. And so you would have three characteristics. When Pontius Pilate put a seal on the tomb of Jesus, what did it say? Pontius Pilate, his name, governor, his office, Judea, his territory. When King Darius put a seal, the Bible says he put a seal on the stone placed on the lion's den, what did it say? "Darius, king, Medo-Persia," you've got those three things were always in a seal. You ever see the presidential seal? It's going to say the president's name, president, United States of America. And so you're going to have those three characteristics.

Do you find the seal of God in the law of God? You do. It's in the middle of God's law, in the longest of the Ten Commandments, and here's what it reads and you read in Exodus chapter 20, verse 8, "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall not do any work, you or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant. Nor your cattle, or your stranger who is within your gates." Now here, watch carefully, "for in six days the Lord" Jehovah, His name, created "made", His office - He's the creator and sustainer "the heavens and the Earth, and the sea..." There you have the name of God, the title of God, the territory of God, in the middle of the law of God is this seal.

And what we're going to be talking about now is the Sabbath commandment and why it is an important issue in the last days because it talks about resting in the Lord. It talks about having a relationship. It talks about having the Father's name. Is the Father's name in that commandment? Jehovah, "The Lord made heavens and the Earth, the sea and all this is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and He hallowed it." That means He made it holy. So here you've got those three characteristics, you've got His title, you've got His territory, you've got His name, all in the middle of the law.

Now I want you to just see, from the perspective of the Bible and Heaven, why this would be so important. Is there a place in the world today if I was going to say, "I’m going to the Holy Land. I’m going on a Holy Land tour," where am I going? Israel. Israel. Not too many people dispute that. And, if I’m in Israel, I’m going to say, "I’m going to the Holy city," where am I going? Jerusalem. Jerusalem. And then, if I say, I’m in Jerusalem, I’m going to go visit the Holy Mount, Mount Moriah, sometimes called Mount Zion, it's where the temple was. And, in ancient times, if you went to the temple, you'd go to the Holy temple. And, in the Holy Temple, they had a place called the Holy Place, but the Holy Place had an inner sanctum called the Holy of Holies, and there was only one thing in the Holy of Holies. What was it? The ark. An ark, golden box, we've all heard about this sacred golden box that's still missing today. What made the golden box such a national treasure? What did it have in there? Ten commandments. And, in the Ten Commandments, do you find the word holy? Yes. How many times? One time. Where is it? It's in the Sabbath commandment. Because God wants to make us holy. And life is composed of time.

God is love. You with me? You cannot love without time. Wives usually get that better than husbands. They say, "Oh you never do anything with me." "I've been home all day." "But, yeah, you've been on your computer." Now this conversation never happened in our home. But I said, "I was here." "That's not quality time." So we live all week long, but do we have quality time? Because love is nourished in quality time. God, when He created the world, He created and sanctified a quality time to nurture our relationship with Him. And, if you love God, if you know God you'll love Him, if you love Him, you'll obey Him. The devil is trying to destroy the quality time and the love relationship between people and God, and he is especially attacking the Sabbath.

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