Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Revelation Chapter Seven, Part 2 of 4

7:2-3 And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.
This ascending angel was given charge to conduct this seal of God to those who were going to be protected from further judgments so they might preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to the world, and especially the Jews, who must be adequately prepared for their Lord’s triumphant return. This seal may be the name of Jesus Christ, Revelation 22:4.

The angels were called on to hold further judgment until the chosen number of those who will bear the mark of the living God on their foreheads are sealed. This is, I believe, an empowering of the Holy Spirit that comes upon this select number, but also a physical seal placed on their foreheads to be seen. Cain was marked with a seal when he complained to God about the hardness of his judgment, Genesis 4:15. In the latter case it was an indication that God reserved Cain’s judgment for Himself; in the former it displays the fact that those sealed are purchased property, and if you harm them you offend their Owner. As the verse also indicates, those sealed appear to be exempt from future judgments poured out by God, such as the demonic locust swarm, Revelation 9:4.

7:4 And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.
Here is literal language. When John deems to give us a number we know that he is speaking about a definite body of individuals that comprises 144,000 sealed Jews. These Jewish men are later seen in chapter fourteen following the Lamb, where it is said they have the Father’s name written on their foreheads, verse 1. Now to anyone who espouses replacement theology: please read Romans chapters 9-11 and pray to God to give you an open mind and heart to receive His word divorced of your bias. Many of the Reformers, including Martin Luther, believed the Jews’ place in the divine plan was finished; with all due respect, Martin Luther and many others are simply wrong. Read on:

I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew…Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded…I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them. For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead? Romans 11:1-2, 5, 11-15.

For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob, Romans 11:25-26.

Verse 25 is especially critical to this text. To paraphrase it may read, “The nation of Israel has been set aside (not cast away) until the Gentile era—the church age or pause between Daniel’s 69th and 70th weeks—is complete.” While the church began in Jerusalem and was comprised entirely of Jews, that condition rapidly changed as the church fanned out beyond Israel. Since then it has been primarily Gentiles with Israel by and large stubbornly rejecting the claims of Jesus Christ as Messiah and Lord. The fact that blindness has occurred to the nation only “in part” seems to me a determinant that Christ is not finished with this people; otherwise blindness in whole would simply engulf them. The key word of this verse is “until.” This partial blindness occurs “until” a specific event happens: the fullness of the Gentiles comes in. Could this refer to the Rapture of the saints, and God’s returned focus to His errant and rebellious earthly people, the Jews? See Acts 15:14-17.

Rome, the Reformers, and many cults claim Israel is lost and is no more. No one knows any longer who belongs to which tribe, or if all of the tribes still exist today. If all of the tribes do not exist today then God’s word is found in error, God is found to be a liar, and Satan has won a great victory. The argument regarding the fact that there are “ten lost tribes” is superfluous. Do you think God does not know who among the Jews belongs to each individual tribe? Those who claim to have taken Israel’s place mock God’s word, which has much to say regarding Jesus’ brethren in the flesh, Romans 9:4-5. Massive error crept into much of the Reformation theology on account of this glaring oversight. I have seen it at work in volumes such as Matthew Henry’s Bible Commentary. There Mr. Henry confuses Israel with the church, and his exposition on Revelation is hopelessly in error every time Israel is mentioned.

Here is an awful implication to replacement theology. If, after God promised to Abraham such unconditional promises, He recanted and withdrew them, casting Israel off forever; what stops Him from doing the same with the church? If He is found to be capable of change; if God can retract His word when it pleases Him after going into a covenant, then the church stands daily in jeopardy of suffering the same fate as Israel. We must understand that the saints in the Tribulation are not part of the church. The church concludes with the Rapture, when the body of Christ is caught away in the air to be with her Lord. Jesus promised regarding the church that the gates of Hell would never overcome it, Matthew 16:18. Yet we read of those that live during the Tribulation that the Antichrist is given authority to overcome and kill the saints of that time, Revelation 13:7. This discrepancy dissolves when we realize and acknowledge that Christians will be gone; the church will be absent, when the Antichrist takes power and reigns. The Tribulation saints will be violently persecuted for their faith and many will enter Heaven through the blood of martyrdom. This I believe is a consequence of their lethargy about spiritual matters. Delaying until the hour of trial will make their salvation a genuine tribulation for them; they will not have it as “easy” as you and I when they believe the gospel. Persecution unto death will abound.

All Israel shall be saved, but first they must be prepared for their Messiah. As John the Baptist preceded Jesus Christ, so too will the two witnesses and the 144,000 virgin Israelites precede their Lord, preaching the gospel and converting the lost so that a veritable soul harvest occurs during this dismal time.

1 comment:

  1. Daniel 9:24-27 makes it very clear that the Tribulation is especially for the Jews. The Gentiles will go through it, but the focus is on Israel.

    Great post.


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