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Revelation 7: The 144,000

Revelation 7

Snug Gospel Chapel: April 24th, 2016

Good morning!

Were continuing this morning our series in the book of Revelation, and were going to be looking today at yet another
contentious topic in this incredible book. We have a lot to look at today, but before we open our Bibles, lets come
before the Lord in prayer.

Father, we thank you and praise you that you are in control of all things. We know that in your Son, Jesus Christ, we
live and move and have our being. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. By Him all things
were created; things in heaven, and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or
powers. He is the head of this body, His church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from among the dead, that in all
things He might have the preeminence.

Lord, that is my prayer this morning: that Jesus Christ might receive the glory and honour that is due to His name. That
we might see in Your Word the revelation of Your King, the Mighty God, the Prince of Peace, who establishes His throne
with judgment and justice forevermore, and that He might receive the power and riches and wisdom and strength and
honour and glory and blessing that is His.

Glorify yourself this morning, Lord through your Word, through your church, through your people through the work
of your Son and the ministry of your Holy Spirit and may our time here be a blessing to you.

In Jesus Name.

Amen.

Well, weve come now, after what may very well seem like an eternity, to Revelation chapter 7; and with that, another
passage that has caused a lot of contention among scholars. Were going to pull this passage apart this morning as we
seek to understand it, and well see, as in every chapter weve studied so far, that best approach is to allow Scripture
to speak for itself, and take it at its word.

Lets start then by reading the passage.


Were going to read the chapter 7 in its entirety today, though well be looking almost exclusively at the first half.
The context helps, however, so well read the whole passage.
Revelation 7, verse 1.

After these things I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that
the wind should not blow on the earth, on the sea, or on any tree. 2 Then 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 granted to harm the
earth and the sea, 3 saying, Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on
their foreheads. 4 And I heard the number of those who were sealed. One hundred and forty-four thousand of all the
tribes of the children of Israel were sealed:

of the tribe of Judah twelve thousand were sealed;[a]

of the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand were sealed;


of the tribe of Gad twelve thousand were sealed;
6

of the tribe of Asher twelve thousand were sealed;

of the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand were sealed;


of the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand were sealed;
7

of the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand were sealed;

of the tribe of Levi twelve thousand were sealed;


of the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand were sealed;
8

of the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand were sealed;

of the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand were sealed;


of the tribe of Benjamin twelve thousand were sealed.

After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples,

and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their
hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, saying,

Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!11

All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the
throne and worshiped God, 12 saying:

Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom,


Thanksgiving and honor and power and might,
Be to our God forever and ever.
Amen.

13

Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come

from?

14

And I said to him, Sir,[b] you know.

So he said to me, These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and 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 dwell among them. 16 They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore;
the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; 17 for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and
lead them to living fountains of waters.[c] And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.

Were going to look at three elements of this passage today: well see the context; how this fits in the overall timeline
of the tribulation, well see the chosen; the 144,000, and well see the choice that lies before each of us. The context,
the chosen, and the church.

First, the context.

When we studied the Lords letter to the angel of the church at Ephesus, I pointed out to you that there is a distinctive
phrase that appears throughout the book of Revelation, which is used to mark either progression or distinction in the
timeline of the book. That phrase, in Greek, is meta tauta, and its translated in our Bibles as after this, or after
these things.

Now, when we studied Revelation 1 and 4, I suggested to you that this phrase was used to mark out the various
sections of the book of Revelation: that is, the things you have seen, the things that are, and the things that will
take place after this. Thats certainly true but we see this phrase again in Revelation 7 and verse 1.

After these things, I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth.

So, why is it being used here?


Well, at this point in the book its being used as a distinctive marker; that is, it is indicating to us a shift in perspective
from one point to another. Well see this on several occasions between here and the end of the book, that the Holy
Spirit causes a pause in the action to take the time to explain something in greater depth. Thats precisely whats
happening here.

Youll remember that the last passage we studied, with the sixth seal, ended with the words: For the great day of His
wrath has come, and who is able to stand?.

In chapter 7, the Holy Spirit takes the time to answer precisely that question: Who is able to stand?
He does that by, in effect, zooming us out of the action, and zeroing in on a topic or event that he wishes to draw extra
attention to. In this sense, the use of the words meta tauta indicates that process, wherein the Holy Spirit takes a
pause from the action of the seal judgments to draw our attention to something else.

So lets investigate that; lets see what the Holy Spirit would have us see.
Look at Revelation 7 verse 1.

After these things, I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth,
that the wind should not blow on the earth, on the sea, or on any tree.

First things first, lets put this into context. Or rather, lets allow the Holy Spirit to define His own context.
Weve just seen that the Apostle John has signaled a change in perspective and I suggested to you that weve zoomed
out out from the six seals, primarily but its important that we understand what time period our attention is being
drawn to, also. The Holy Spirit has left markers in this text that allow us to identify the time period were looking at
but theyre hidden here in verse 1, and can be easy to gloss over. After these things, I saw four angels standing at
the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth.

Now, theres a couple of things that we should immediately understand. First, there is a repetition here. The number
four appears three times in this single verse. Ive no doubt at this point that youre aware of the significance of
numbers in Scripture; theyre used as a literary device all through this book, and many of the others weve studied in
the time Ive been here at this church. In this book alone, weve seen seven angels, seven spirits, seven lampstands,
seven stars, seven eyes, seven seals, seven horns, and so on. This number, were quite familiar with: it represents
perfection and completeness. The number four, were possibly a little less familiar with, but if we think about it a little
bit, the conclusion becomes quite clear.

We have four cardinal points on a compass;


We have four seasons;
We have four classical elements: earth, air, fire and water;
We have four divisions in the day: morning, noon, evening and midnight; and
We have four phases of the moon.

All of these things relate back to a single point: they are all geocentric. They all relate to the earth.

Its the same here, of course: four angels, standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the
earth.

So, thats the physical context of this passage; the place. Were dealing with events that are taking place on the earth.
That was already pretty evident, though, and it doesnt explain the time frame that were looking at.

so lets dig deeper. What we see next is that these angels are given the explicit command to hold back the four
winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, on the sea, or on any tree. They are being called to
restrain a judgment. Now, thats significant for multiple reasons, but primarily because it shows us that the events

that are in focus here (and well define that timing in a moment) are judgments, and that they are judgments from
God. Ive harped on this point quite a bit since we reached the Tribulation in this series, but it must be stressed. All
of the events from the breaking of the seals onward are the righteous judgment of God and though they may be
restrained, by the hand of God, or by the angels of God, in this case, they are nonetheless His judgments. but lets
look at what they are restraining. These angels are holding back the four winds.

Now, Ive suggested to you throughout this series that its important that we take Gods Word literally, save where
context demand otherwise. With that in mind, Im going to argue this morning that this first verse of Revelation 1
potentially has both a literal and a figurative meaning, and that both are true, and will find their fulfillment at this time.
Let me explain that.

First, the literal.

Id like to first define what the four winds are, so that you can understand the angle Im taking. If we look at an
image of our earth, as a globe, we could draw loosely around it lines that represent the four major jet streams that
drive wind upon the earth. Each of the hemispheres has two of these streams: the polar jet at the uppermost
extremity, and the weaker subtropical jet about halfway between the poles and the equator. These four jet streams,
particularly those closest to the equator, are said to follow the sun in its circuit, and flux north and south in waves
depending upon the seasons.

What we see here in Revelation 7 is that these winds are, at a future point, given the power to harm the earth, sea,
and the trees. Some scholars understandably align this passage with Revelation 8, where the earth and the trees are
struck in the first trumpet judgment, and the sea in the second. Theres a problem with that, though: the judgments
of Revelation 8 are not caused by winds, but by cosmic events unleashed by angels at the sounding of each trumpet.

There is a place in Revelation where holding back the winds would lessen a judgment, however. When we looked at
the sixth seal, we saw a series of cosmic events that caused great disturbances both upon the earth and more broadly
to the earths stability and orbit. Isaiah described the earth as wobbling to and fro like a drunkard, while Revelation
6 described an earthquake where every mountain and island was moved out of its place. Now, these facts provide
us with a number of avenues to understand what is occurring here with the wind. If the polar and subtropical jets
follow the sun, you can imagine the impact that a wobbling earth would have upon their flow. They would become
unpredictable and unstable; affecting the seasons themselves, not to mention local issues like tornadoes, cyclones and
the like increasing exponentially. ...but thats not the end of the impact. We know too that the speed of the wind
within these jet streams is directly proportional to their temperature. Essentially, the colder the air mass, the faster
it travels. This is known as the thermal wind relation, and is why we tend to see higher wind velocities at higher
altitudes, and the further you travel toward the poles. Now let me remind you again of what we saw in Revelation 6,
and in the parallel passages in Isaiah and Joel. The earth is split open. Volcanic activity explodes across the globe,
spewing tons and tons of ash into the atmosphere. The sun becomes veiled, and the moon is tinged a deep red.

Now, this is a little bit of a divergence, but I have to admit that I have genuine love for scientific answers to absurd
questions, so I spent some time this week asking the internet what would happen if every volcano on earth erupted
all at once. The answer I found comes from a geologist in the United States, who noted that, and I quote, even if only
those volcanoes that are located on land blasted all in sync, the effects would trigger an environmental domino chain
many, many times more powerful than nuclear winter. Things would become so bad that I wouldnt even want to
survive to live on an earth like this.1

You know, thats exactly the picture weve seen here. In a world frozen by effects worse than a nuclear winter, with
winds thrown into chaos by a wobbling earth, the speed and power of these jet streams could potentially be utterly
devastating. If so, the command given by God in Revelation 7 to hold back the winds and restrain them is indeed a
great mercy at a time of incredible judgment.

Now, I think its absolutely possible, and even likely, that this verse is quite literal. That God should restrain the power
of the winds, in order that His judgment might be terrifying, yet not total, makes great sense in the context of the
tribulation, where a righteous Kings most horrific judgments are poured out in the latter days of that period;
judgments such as have never been seen before, nor will ever be again.

This literal view places these events in some kind of context they would have to occur prior to the sixth seal in order
to have any effect at all but its still not particularly specific. I think there is a more precise answer here, however,
and its hidden within the text.

If we dig here, then, I believe that we can come to a better understanding of how this passage fits in the tribulation
timeline. So lets dig. The word used here in the Greek to refer to the four winds is anemos. I considered talking
to you about the implications of this word, and its use elsewhere in Scripture, but Im going to take a different approach
instead. Im going to read to you one of the few verses in the Septuagint where this word appears, and allow you to
see the connection for yourselves.

Zechariah 6:

1 And I turned, and lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, four chariots coming out from between two
mountains; and the mountains were brazen mountains.
2 In the first chariot red horses; and in the second chariot black horses;
3 and in the third chariot white horses; and in the fourth chariot piebald ash-coloured horses.
4 And I answered and said to the angel that talked with me, What are these, my Lord?

Parv Sethi, quoted from: http://principia-scientific.org/what-if-every-volcano-on-earth-erupted-at-once/

5 And the angel that talked with me answered and said, These are the four winds of heaven, going forth to stand
before the Lord of all the earth.

Now, weve spent quite a bit of time in the book of Zechariah during this series, so hopefully the implication here isnt
lost on you. The word translated spirits in our own Bibles, ruach in the Hebrew, has been recognized by the
authors of the Septuagint for what it is. These four spirits, the same four spirits weve just seen and studied in
Revelation 6 as the avenging angels of the first four seals, are described by historys foremost Hebrew scholars as the
four winds of heaven. What does this mean for us?

The implication is that the sealing of the 144,000 that we witness here in Revelation 7 occurs immediately prior to the
commencement of the ministries of the four horsemen; before the earth, the sea and the trees are harmed. The
angels described as holding back the four winds are the four living creatures before the throne, which we studied in
chapters 4 and 5, and it is they who hold back on the command to come forth while the Lord, through His angel,
seals the 144,000. This gives us the exact timing and placement of the events of this passage. Revelation 7 verse 1
commences immediately prior to the breaking of the first seal, and details the entire redemptive thread of Gods mercy
throughout the Tribulation period, from beginning to end.

So now that we know where we stand, lets continue and look at the detail here in this passage, and investigate the
identity of the 144,000 themselves. This brings us to my second point. The Chosen.

The Chosen.

Weve seen already in our reading that the Lord has his angel, in the verses that follow, seal 144,000 from the 12 tribes
of Israel. Its important, though, that we understand what that seal is, and who those 144,000 are.

Look at verse 2.

Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God.

There are a couple of things to note here. First, the angel rises from the East. Now, we know that Scripture is
remarkably consistent in the way that it uses images like this. Weve seen it before today, with the repetition of the
numbers seven and four and its the same here. For the sake of time, Ill give you just one example: we know from
Matthew 24:27 that the Lord Himself will arrive in Israel from the east (for as the lightning comes from the East and
flashes to the West, so too shall the coming of the Son of Man be), for the purpose of gathering His people. So too in
this passage, we can understand the implication of the angel arising from the East is that he, too, has a mandate to
gather in and assemble the people of God in this case, the 144,000.

The second thing to note is that this angel is carrying the seal of God. This is important, because it reveals to us what
this seal is. There are scholars who have argued that the 144,000 are indicative of the church, and that the seal is the
Holy Spirit Himself. This is clearly not the case angels neither have, nor have command over, the Holy Spirit. Well
see what the seal is in a moment; but for now, lets read on.

and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying Do
not harm the earth and the sea till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.

You can see here precisely what I demonstrated to you from the book of Zechariah. Where Verse 1 of chapter 7 talks
about the winds as being the destructive force, here in verse 2, John conflates the winds and the spirits together,
referring to those with the power to destroy as being angels themselves. This too reinforces the fact that it is the four
horsemen that are in picture here.

We also have some additional detail about the seal. The angel reveals to us that the seal is to be placed upon the
forehead of each of the members of the 144,000. That strikes us as being unusual in a sense, and I think thats why
these verses are so often interpreted figuratively rather than literally but it isnt without precedent. Listen to these
verses. This is Ezekiel chapter 9, verses 3 and 4.

Now the glory of the God of Israel had gone up from the cherub, where it had been, to the threshold of the temple.
And He called to the man clothed with linen, who had the writers inkhorn at his side; 4 and the Lord said to him, Go
through the midst of the city, through the midst of Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh
and cry over all the abominations that are done within it.

This provides some illumination on what were seeing in Revelation 7, but there are really two points I want you to
take note of here. The first is that this is indeed a literal seal. Those marked by the seal in Ezekiel 9 were specifically
excluded from the judgment that was to come upon Jerusalem.

I believe the seal of the 144,000 is likewise literal. Now, dont misunderstand me, I think its abundantly clear from
this passage that these men are receiving a seal that is also more than just a literal stamp as we saw in verse 1, the
reason that the seal occurs prior to the earth and the sea and the trees being harmed is to provide an exemption from
judgment, and a promise of security, to those who are marked by the Lord. This is evident in Revelation 9, too, where
those who are sealed are safe from the power of the locusts that come upon the earth. There are obvious Biblical
precedents for this, too, of course the one that will no doubt leap to mind is the seal of blood on the doorposts of
the Hebrews in Egypt, where the Angel of the Lord passed over those houses that had obeyed the Lords command
and sacrificed a lamb on the night that we now know as Passover. The Revelation seal serves a similar function.

The question here, then, is why is this seal necessary, if these people are already saved, and those who are in Christ
are not appointed to wrath?

First, lets look at the way Scripture uses the term seal in terms of our own salvation. Ill quote just three verses to
you, but theyll give you a picture of what Gods Word presents.

2 Corinthians 1:22: God has also sealed us, and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee.;
Ephesians 1:13 : In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also,
having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise;
Ephesians 4:30: and do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

In this day and age, in the Age of Grace, the sign and seal of our salvation is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. His
presence in our lives, as the mark of our salvation, is the only criteria that declares that we are not appointed to the
wrath of God, and ensures that we will be raptured when the Lord descends from heaven with a shout, with the voice
of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. There are those who would argue that more is required. Dont
you believe it. The sign and seal of your salvation is the Holy Spirit. He is the criteria, the measure, the mark of your
salvation, and He is the guarantee that you belong to Jesus Christ, and will meet Him in the air at the Last Trumpet.

This is an important distinction to make, however: the fact that the 144,000 are sealed with a very visible, very different
type of seal indicates to us a change in the ministry of the Holy Spirit during the Tribulation. I believe that the primary
reason that the 144,000 are sealed in this way is because the Holy Spirit is no longer operating upon the earth in the
same way, nor does He dwell in men under the same covenant that God the Father has made with the church of Jesus
Christ.

So, while the 144,000 will have ministries marked by the power of the Holy Spirit, the covenant is different, and so too
is the seal. Let me justify that. Turn with me to 2nd Thessalonians chapter 2.

Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you, 2 not to
be soon shaken in mind or troubled, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as if from us, as though the day of
Christ[a] had come. 3 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away [The
Departure] comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition, 4 who opposes and exalts himself above all
that is called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of God, showing himself that he is God.

Do you not remember that when I was still with you I told you these things? 6 And now you know what is restraining,

that he may be revealed in his own time. 7 For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now
restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way.8 And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will
consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.

The key here for us is the identity of The Restrainer within this passage. We could do a whole study on this, but for
the sake of time Ill simplify it.

It is the Holy Spirit who now restrains the mystery of lawlessness.

The day will come that the Holy Spirit no longer restrains, for He has been taken out of the way.

When that day comes, the Son of Perdition, commonly known as the Antichrist, will rise.

When the Holy Spirit is removed, we will see the emergence, or perhaps re-emergence, of a different type of
covenant to that which the church currently lives under.

What I would suggest to you is that the seal that the 144,000 receive is similar to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit that
we see in the Old Testament. There, the Holy Spirit did not dwell in all believers, but only in a select few that He had
chosen to empower for a specific purpose; and even then, often only for a specific time. A good example of this can
be found in 1 Kings 18, where Elijah, having seen the defeat of the prophets of Baal at the hand of God, told king Ahab
that the drought that Israel had endured for so long was about to end. Six times, he sent his servant to the top of
Mount Carmel to look for rain, and each time, the servant reported that there was nothing on the horizon. On the
seventh time, however, the servant saw a cloud no bigger than a mans hand, rising out of the sea. At that point, Elijah
sent his servant to tell Ahab to mount his chariot and ride back to his palace before the rain prevented him. The sky
became black, the clouds and wind grew fierce, and the Holy Spirit came upon Elijah and empowered him to run before
Ahabs chariot, all the way back to the city of Jezreel. Now, that might not sound horribly impressive until you look at
the geography. Elijahs sprint from Mount Carmel to Jezreel was over 27 kilometers!

Now, that might seem like a fairly flippant example of the relationship between the Holy Spirit and the Lords chosen
from the Old Testament after all, Elijah did many things, and running before a chariot is possibly one of the less
impressive examples, but it nonetheless demonstrates the point. In a similar way, these 144,000 are sealed and
empowered to complete their own ministries here on earth, and are under the Lords protection until such time as
that ministry is complete. They are empowered by the Holy Spirit for that purpose, and that purpose only, and are
sealed against the effects of the wrath of the Lamb. They are under His divine protection, from that time, until the
Lord Himself stands with them on Mount Zion at his return.

So, we understand now what this seal is, and what the process is that were seeing here in Revelation 7, but that
doesnt really explicitly answer the question: who are these 144,000?

Well, I think Scripture puts it as plainly as it is, but there is more detail if we take the time to study.

Turn back to Revelation 7, and look at verse 4.

And I heard the number of those who were sealed. One hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the
children of Israel were sealed

So, these 144,000 are children of Israel; 12,000 from each of the 12 tribes. I do not believe that there is any justification
in the text here to view this as anything other than literal. In fact, the apostle John goes out of his way to hammer this
point home by reiterating the numbers across each of the 12 tribes listed. Its actually quite mundane and not pleasant
to read through, wouldnt you agree? This passage is not allegorical nor metaphorical, and there are no textual devices
here to suggest that would be the case. These are 144,000 literal people, literal Jews, sealed by the hand of God and
set aside for Tribulation ministry.

Theres more information than that in Scripture, but well need to jump ahead a little to see the rest. Turn with me to
Revelation 14. Revelation 14, beginning at verse 1.

Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand,
having His Fathers name written on their foreheads. 2 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 harpists playing their harps. 3 They sang as it were a new
song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no one could learn that song except the
hundred and forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth. 4 These are the ones who were not defiled with
women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from
among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb. 5 And in their mouth was found no deceit, for they are without
fault before the throne of God.

A quick note here: this passage is actually another interlude; another point at which John is caught up out of the
sequence of the Tribulation in order to focus on something else so dont be distracted by the fact that the Lord Jesus
has returned, despite the fact that were only in the middle of the book. Take note, though, of what this passage has
to say about the identity of the 144,000. Weve seen that theyre Jewish, but now Scripture gets more specific.

Verse 4.

These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb
wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, being firstfruits to God and to the Lamb.

The real key is in the last sentence here. These Hebrew men are another type of firstfruits to God; that is, they are
the first harvest of believers that come out of the Tribulation period. This confirms the timing I suggested earlier: that
these men precede the tribulation saints that are martyred at the fifth seal, and thus must be sealed themselves prior
to the commencement of the judgment of the Lamb. Rather, what Revelation 7 reveals to us is that it is the ministry
of the 144,000 that leads to the existence of these believers in the first place, who swell into a great multitude that
come out of the Tribulation, as we see in the latter half of chapter 7. Well learn more about this group next time I
preach, but for now, understand why the 144,000 are set apart. They are sealed for their protection, but also because
they have a special covenant with the Lord, and an explicit ministry in preaching the gospel during the Tribulation.

There is something to be said here, I think, about the nature of Gods judgment, and it is important that we understand
what were seeing, both in this chapter, and throughout the book of Revelation.

I preached a few weeks ago a sermon that Id entitled Grace: Even in Tribulation and I suggested to you at that
point that there is a sense in which the breaking of the seals, despite being a time of horrific judgment, is nonetheless
tinged with grace because God, the maker of heaven and earth, through those judgments, systematically removes
every impediment to man acknowledging the reality of His Kingship, and mans need for Gods salvation through Jesus
Christ. and while thats absolutely true in judgment, its equally true here in the great grace we see in chapter 7. Its
also, I think, why this passage is at this point in the book, and why our attention is likewise drawn back to the four
horsemen and the seal judgments at the outset. This entire passage is about grace. Its about Gods restraint at a time
of great wrath, about the hand of God being held back for the sake of the gospel of Christ, that if possible, some might
be saved. You see, what we need to understand is that, just as Scripture says, God is not willing that any should
perish, but that all should come to repentance; and so even here, amidst the great judgment of the Lamb, when His
wrath is poured out upon the world, God has reserved for Himself a remnant to preach the gospel.

and that brings us to my final point the choice.

The choice.

In many respects, this has been a more factual examination of the text than most of my recent sermons, but Id like
you to take a moment to consider what God has done in this passage. Everything we read here is a declaration of the
love, the mercy and the grace of God. It amazes me that even here, at time at which His righteous anger against the
sin and rebellion of man is revealed in wrath that splits the earth open, turns seas to blood and results in the deaths
of billions upon the earth, there is still mercy and in that mercy he still extends grace and salvation to those who
have lived in open rebellion against Him.

and look at the reaction of that multitude, saved out of tribulation. Verse 9.

After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples,
and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their
hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, saying, Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the
Lamb!11 All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces
before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying:

Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom,


Thanksgiving and honor and power and might,
Be to our God forever and ever.

Amen.

I mentioned at the beginning of this sermon that this entire passage is an answer of sorts to the question posed by the
people on earth in chapter 6: The great day of His wrath has come and who is able to stand?.

Well, heres your answer.


When all distraction is taken away when the veil is torn aside, when every excuse is wiped from the face of the earth
and the Lamb that was slain stands with heaven open, in righteous judgment upon a sinful world extending grace
even amidst great wrath, there is a recognition here that is available freely to all, here, now not in wrath, but in
peace through Jesus Christ.

Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!.

In Israel, at this very moment, the children of Jacob are celebrating Passover. They remember the flight from Egypt,
and the Exodus the night spent hurriedly cooking unleavened bread, and preparing a lamb; smearing its blood as a
seal upon their doorposts that the Angel of the Lord might pass over their houses, sparing them from the wrath of
God. That Angel passed by those houses because he saw the blood and turned aside.

and so it was, 2,000 years ago, that Jesus Christ, the perfect, spotless Lamb of God, the Lamb that was slain before
the foundation of the world, shed His blood that God might pass over those who are sealed in His blood, and marked
with the Holy Spirit; a perfect, eternal inheritance who declares that we are not appointed to wrath.

Do you know Him?

because in life, or in death in peace or in judgment, the truth remains upheld in the gospel of Jesus Christ: salvation
belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb. There is no other name.

Lets pray.