Sealed and Delivered

Revelation 7:1-17

Lots of misconceptions – what’s up with Israel? Is nation of Israel part of God’s plan; if so, how? Is God finished dealing with them as separate people? Are they on hold for now, waiting until God decides to take up their cause again? And just exactly who will experience tribulation? Is that only for those left behind when the Lord Jesus returns? Or was Peter just joking when he said “Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you;” (1 Pet. 4:12)

Keep in mind that God has always had more in mind for his plan of redemption than one people group:

Isa. 49:5-6“And now the LORD says, Who formed Me from the womb to be His Servant, To bring Jacob back to Him, So that Israel is gathered to Him (For I shall be glorious in the eyes of the LORD, And My God shall be My strength),Indeed He says, ‘It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant To raise up the tribes of Jacob, And to restore the preserved ones of Israel; I will also give You as a light to the Gentiles, That You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth.'”

Hard as it may be to grasp, all of this book of Revelation focused on God’s unfolding plan of redemption, not destruction. Revelation not mostly about how he’s gonna get all the bad guys who persist in fighting against God. Is about how God pursues his purpose to redeem men and women, boys and girls from every part of human race in spite of Satan’s efforts to prevent that. Satan doesn’t give up territory or allies without huge fight; yet, “greater is he that is in you than he that is in the world”. The battle is raging around us, never a truce, is all out war for eternal souls of mankind.

We know who wins – the One who has already conquered sin and death will ultimately prevail over all his enemies… including Satan. But what about the meantime? How can people of God live soberly, righteously, godly in this present age? Be encouraged by three things – God has marked his own, God has a massive family, God has a message of hope. Some technical details in our text, don’t get so wrapped up in them you lose sight of what is of greatest importance.

A. God has marked his own v.1-3

read Eze. 9:3-6 (pg. 961)

notice who receives God’s mark: not those who self-identify as Christians, “the men who sigh and cry over all the abominations”

are those who are like Christ: “Now as He drew near, He saw the city and wept over it,” (Luke 19:41); on another occasion:

“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing!” Matt. 23:37

not those who claim to belong to Christ, hanging on till he comes to take them out of here; are those who grieve over sinfulness displayed wherever you look

Jesus not content to grieve only, went on to give his life so that those who are willing might be saved from destruction

he calls us to follow him – must be no less determined and tenacious than Satan: our priority must be to take and hold territory for Christ

if we have mark / uniform of Christ, as ambassadors, soldiers in his army, are called to live honestly – bearing mark well, displaying to everyone what God has seen in us… it’s not for His eyes only!

read 2 Cor. 1:21-22 (pg. 1327)

both a seal and a guarantee… of the Holy Spirit indwelling – do you have internal witness of Holy Spirit that you are child of God? is evidence and guarantee not only of conversion but of present and future condition

God takes care of his kids, will not be frustrated in his purpose to bring every child safely home – God established “no child left behind” long ago

Paul’s wording significant also: “fruit of the Spirit should be love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.”

no, not suggestion, not list of options, is list of fruit/evidence that ispresent whenever Holy Spirit is present in believer

if those fruits / evidences are present in some measure, is indication you have bear seal of living God and under his watchful care

point? God knows who are his… precisely, and he has from the beginning – not making it up as he goes along, reacting to situations

God is one on the throne governing all his creation – his people are primary focus of his attention: redemption is at center of God’s purpose, bringing all things together to focal point in Christ

B. God has a massive family v.4-8, 9-12

144,000

first… the number – 12 shows up a lot in Bible… and in life – 12 months in year, 12 gates into city, 12 loaves in Holy Place, 12 tribes, 12 apostles

like 7: conveys fullness, completeness, in similar sense as 7 (also shows up frequently in Revelation!) – lampstands, churches, Spirits of God, seals, trumpets, bowls (12 = reliegious completeness, 10 = human, 7 = divine)

since Revelation is pictures and words, understand that 7 has greater significance than for counting, treat 12 the same

so if you take the big numbers (12 x (12 x 10) x 10 x 10) are ones that communicates religious and human completeness – iow, not a single individual is missing from the group

who? not exactly sons of Israel (Jacob) – Manasseh but not Dan

remember, Jacob’s name changed to Israel at end of wrestling match – strictly literal rendering “sons (not children) of Israel” – were Israel/Jacob’s sons first, 400 years later made a nation by God when brought out of Egypt

discrepancy with the list: one of sons is missing and a grandson in his place – Dan/Manasseh; can’t say it is physical descendants of Jacob, the Jews, in view here when entire tribe is absent

who? not exactly the nation of Israel either – Levi and Joseph but not Ephraim

nation as identified by specific allotments of land during time of Joshua had two departures from what you’d expect – Levi received no land at all (depended on church for support) and Joseph’s portion granted to his two sons Ephraim and Manasseh

list doesn’t match what defined geopolitical Israel either, so really can’t say it is national Israel that is identified here

so who’s left? – Rom 9:6-8John 8:39-40

significant who is first… Judah; only “list” where he is at beginning – One opening seals, One who has preeminence: Lion of Tribe of Judah sealing those who are His

a precise multitude of people, identified as those who share the same faith as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, who are “children of the promise”, and marked with seal of God

a great multitude

“an enormous crowd” from all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues – includes Jewish people, more than can be counted

no people group is overlooked in God’s marvelous plan of redemption – Christ too great a Savior to be reserved only for Jews…must be Savior of Gentiles as well

in keeping with Gal. 3:28 (cf. 1 Cor. 12:13; Col. 3:11)

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”

no place for racism in God’s family – only one race, two kinds of people: saved and lost, those in Adam and those in Christ

v.9-10 picture for us the goal of missions – taking Gospel of Christ to every corner of globe so will be full complement of worshipers “before the throne and before the Lamb”

C. God has a message of hope v.13-17

notice who they are: “an enormous crowd that no one could count…who have come out of the great tribulation”

not “who have come out before the great tribulation” – people of God do not escape trials and tribulation, they are refined by them, preserved through them

washed (14-15a)

notice how v15 starts: “because of this they are before the throne” – not their own righteousness, detergent, good works

only because have been cleansed by “blood of the Lamb” have credentials to stand there – yes, Christian Gospel is exclusive, thank God for the Gospel

aww, so you don’t get to come to God and into his house on your terms – thank God he gave you terms… and makes you fit to meet them

trials and tribulations does not mean God is at wits end, has not given up; he is still redeeming people from their sins daily

sheltered (15b)

He who sits on the throne will tabernacle (pitch his tent) over them” – God rarely takes us out of the storm; instead shelters us through the storm… but we need to stay in the tent, his tent!

one who trusts in Christ alone to be righteous before God can rest secure under God’s sheltering presence regardless of circumstances

sustained and shepherded (16-17)

don’t have to wait for heaven for God to begin meeting our needs – he will and does supply all our souls need, guarantees no harm will come to them

he also provides for physical needs now, even more richly then – the Good Shepherd is a good shepherd and cares tenderly for his sheep, knowing their individual needs

for as long as God has purpose for us in this world, he will perfectly supply all we need in every respect to live pleasing and useful to him

reality of human experience is that Christ’s kingdom advances most when circumstances are least friendly

can count on Lamb who is Shepherd to bring all his sheep safely home, to take away all cause for sorrow

see John 15:20

should not be surprised by suffering: “Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you.”

is arrogant and presumptuous to think we can or should try to escape what Jesus endured for our sake

is absolutely right and proper to trust him, expect him to supply all our need in time of persecution so we can live pleasing to him

So what about you? Are You Washed in the Blood?

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s