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Jewish Outcomers from the Great Tribulation
Revelation 7:1-8 ; Revelation 14:1-5
There are some people who see but one Rapture. For our part we see several.
1. There is the Rapture of the Body of Christ. This may take place at any time, but of course that time must be God's time. To us it is any time, to God it is at a definite moment, which He, in His omniscience, has already set.
2. There is a Rapture of the outcomers of the Great Tribulation. This will be discussed as we proceed with the sermon.
3. We believe that there will be a Rapture of the one hundred and forty-four thousand.
The Bible speaks of two general statements. Enoch, Elijah, Christ, and the Church, were all taken out, and up. On the other hand Noah was carried through the flood.
We cannot but believe that the rapture of Enoch and of Elijah, typically, set forth the Rapture of the Church, and likewise, the Rapture of other groups, which may go up during the Tribulation period to meet the Lord. The Rapture of Christ, likewise, anticipates the Rapture of the Church.
When we say that there will doubtless be more than one Rapture, we do not mean that in the Rapture of the Church, which is His Body, all of the truly regenerate will not be taken up. We do, however, mean that after the Rapture of the Church, and under the ministry of the two witnesses and of many others, there will be other groups saved.
Neither are we dogmatic that the great multitude who are the outcomers from the Great Tribulation are raptured. We believe they are. Of this we are certain, God will take care of His own.
The Rapture of saints need not stagger our confidence in God. He is able to work all things after the counsel of His will. He who caught Enoch and Elijah up, is able to catch us up. He who went up from the mount of Olives, is able to receive us unto Himself.
I. THE OMNIPOTENT GOD CHECKING THE ELEMENTS (Revelation 7:1-3 )
There was a terrific judgment that befell the earth as the seals of the "book" were broken. We now are carried back by the Spirit to what we may call a parenthesis, which may be placed somewhere in the midst of the opening of the seals. It may come, and we rather think it does come between the opening of the fourth seal, and the fifth seal.
One thing is plain, the judgments of God are then upon the earth. In those judgments the winds of the earth, as well as the earthquakes and other natural forces have their part.
As the winds are about to work their havoc and fulfil their judgments, suddenly four angels make their appearance. They are standing on the four corners of the earth, and are holding the four winds, that they should not blow upon the earth.
Another angel is seen having the seal of the Living God. He cries, "Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads."
In a moment we will be observing the "sealing" of the Lord's servants. Now we wish only to observe one salient thing.
The winds and the elements are subject to God. All things operate under the fiat of God. The God who made laws, can easily cause them, for the time, to be inoperative. The Creator is greater than His creation.
Let not the vagaries of evolution deceive the children of God. God is Creator, and He is back of every law that governs His creation, God did not create, and then desert a marvelous and most intricate, and yet helpless creation.
We come back to our first contention the fact that the angels of God held the winds in their control in this there is nothing beyond the power of our faith to grasp.
II. THE SEALING OF THE ONE HUNDRED AND FORTY-FOUR THOUSAND (Revelation 7:3-4 )
1. Where are the ten lost tribes? We have heard many discussions as to the present-day identity of the ten lost tribes. Much of this, to us, seems speculative. This much we know, the twelve tribes are kept under the eye of an all-powerful God. The Jews may have swallowed up many of the ten tribes. However, we believe that all of Israel is not held in the two and one-half tribes which we commonly know as "the Jews," or the "Hebrews."
James addressed an Epistle to "The Twelve Tribes scattered abroad." Centuries have past since then. Now we are suddenly brought face to face, in our study, with the sealing of one hundred and forty-four thousand, from all the tribes of Israel . After this comprehensive statement, in order that no doubt may becloud us, the Spirit specifies the tribes by name, and speaks of the sealing of twelve thousand from each tribe.
This is no small matter. In it is tied up the fulfilment of more than one Old Testament prophecy pledge. Take, for example, the prophecy of Ezekiel. Under inspiration he wrote: "Behold, I will take the Children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, * * and I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king over them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all."
Here in Revelation 7:1-17 we are brought face to face with the beginning of God's fulfilment of this pledge. After centuries and centuries have past, and after the ten tribes have been lost to human eye; suddenly all twelve tribes are thrown back on the pages of Scripture in the throes of the last anguish, the Day of Jacob's trouble.
2. Who kept the Children of Israel intact? We have all read the story of Jonah swallowed, but undigested. That was, indeed, a notable miracle; and its fact, caused Nineveh to repent at the preaching of the "vomited up" Prophet. Here, however, is a miracle that a thousand times outclasses Jonah.
God's chosen race has been swallowed of the nations, but undigested; they have been cast into the furnace of affliction, but not destroyed. They have been cast in the den of lions, where authorities and powers have all conspired against them, and yet they have come forth unscathed. God's election preserves him.
3. What is the destiny of Israel? The same God who has kept Israel during the centuries will not now allow them to be utterly consumed. Israel's greatest sorrow lies just around the next shore line. The antichrist, during the Tribulation, will throw out great floods of antagonism to drown her. He will seek to annihilate her from the earth, however, beyond the Tribulation we will yet see Israel in national power and glory, restored to her land. Her sorrows and tribulations will prove no more than God's method to bring her to repentance. God will not fail His people. He will not cast His unfulfilled promises to the wind. Israel shall yet dwell under one King, as twelve tribes, in their own land. God will surely bring back His own from every nation under Heaven, whither He hath driven them, and they shall inherit their possessions.
III. THE SEALING OF THE ONE HUNDRED AND FORTY-FOUR THOUSAND CONTINUED (Revelation 7:3-4 )
1. The personnel of the one hundred and forty and four thousand. They are Hebrews; of this we are certain. They are Hebrews from twelve, and not from two and one half tribes. They are covenant people, we know. They are a people chosen of God, and precious. They have, however, been a sinful and rebellious people; but are now the servants of their God.
2. The cause and purpose of the sealing. The angel with the seal of God cried with a loud voice, saying. "Hurt not the earth, * * till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads."
There is, in the period of Tribulation, which we are now considering, other groups who are sealed they are sealed by the antichrist. They bear his mark in their foreheads and in their hands. This mark of the antichrist is a sign of their allegiance to the antichrist. They who bear his mark, are they who worship his image, and operate under the number of his name.
Here, then, is another "marked" group. They are marked because they are "servants of God." They are marked of God, because they have refused the mark of the beast. They are marked because they are called of God to special service.
3. The significance of the sealing. It seems to us that some mighty movements of the God of all grace will parallel the wonders and signs wrought by the antichrist during the Tribulation.
When the Church is raptured, and prophecy begins to unfold, many of Israel will awaken to the verity of Scripture. Remember, also, that God's two witnesses will not witness in vain. Are these one hundred and forty-four thousand not traceable to their testimony? Besides, angel warnings will constantly be given from the skies.
It does not, therefore, seem to us a thing incredible that the hundred and forty-four thousand of Israel are called, "the servants of our God."
4. The reason for their name "The servants of God." They are servants, because they serve. We cannot but feel that they will become the heralders of the Gospel of the Kingdom, even as Christ, in speaking of the signs of His Coming, and of the ending of the age, said, "This Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come" (Matthew 24:14 ).
Remember the verse just quoted does not refer to the Church preaching the Gospel of grace, and then shall the Rapture come. This preaching leads up to the end of the Tribulation, not to the end of the Church age.
Perhaps these very one hundred and forty-four thousand will be saved Jews, who will, with the fervor of an Apostle Paul, carry the Gospel to thousands; acclaiming the Advent of the Messiah.
"The Wailing Wall is the only portion of the old Temple to which the Jews have access. They assemble there every Friday afternoon, sometimes in hundreds, and there they kiss the stones and flood them with tears, manifesting the love and zeal expressed by the Psalmist, 'For Thy servants take pleasure in her stones, and favour the dust thereof" (Psalms 102:14 ). While the Jews thus display their religious fervor the Arabs mock and ridicule from the wall above, which is ever calculated to provoke revolt. The Jews thrust their hands into the crevices of the sacred stones, and put in slips of paper on which are written prayers to Jehovah. They also pray with their mouths in the crevices that their prayers might rise from holy ground. At stated times the leaders read from the Prophecy of Isaiah (Isaiah 64:9-12 ): 'Be not wroth very sore. O Lord, neither remember iniquity for ever * * Thy holy cities are a wilderness, Zion is a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation. Our holy and our beautiful House, where our fathers praise Thee, is burned with fire: and all our pleasant things are laid waste. Wilt Thou refrain Thyself for these things, O Lord? wilt Thou hold Thy peace, and afflict us very sore?'
"Then at about four o'clock in the afternoon the Rabbins Litany is said. A Rabbi cries: 'For the place that is destroyed,' and the people wail the response; 'We sit in solitude and mourn,' and so on
"'For the walls that arc overthrown'
"'We sit in solitude and mourn';
"'For the majesty that is departed'
"'We sit in solitude and mourn':
"'May the Kingdom soon return to Zion'
"'Comfort those who mourn over Jerusalem.'"
Thank God the Jews are yet under the eye of God. He will save them in due time.
A Great Multitude of Gentile Outcomers
We believe that the Church be raptured before the Tribulation, and that, therefore, the "great multitude" is another company, composed strictly of those saved after the Rapture of the Body of Christ.
We propose to give our Scriptural reasons for the Rapture of saints prior to the Tribulation,
1. The Rapture of the Church is before the Tribulation because saints are taught to look for Christ's Corning, and not for the Tribulation that shall come to pass upon the earth. It is hardly necessary to dwell upon this proof. We all are familiar with those Scriptures which command us to "watch," and "wait," and "look," and "love," and "pray for," and "wait patiently for" the Lord's Return. We are commanded to live, looking for the Blessed Hope and Glorious Appearing of the great God and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. How can we live looking, if we know that before Christ comes the Tribulation must come?
We know that in Paul's day there were some that said that the "Day of Christ" had already come, and that Paul, in the Spirit, said, "That day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition." However, Paul went on to say, "And the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God, and into the patient waiting for Christ." They were not to wait for the apostasy, or for the revealing of the man of sin which shall mark the coming of the day of Christ, but for the Coming of Christ Himself.
2. The Rapture of the Church is before the Tribulation, because God hath not appointed us unto wrath. A good brother once told us that we proved ourselves unwilling to suffer for Christ's sake when we wanted to escape the Tribulation. We replied that saints should be willing to suffer for Christ any suffering that the world might put upon them, but that the wrath of God could not fall upon those who are saved from wrath.
God will judge His people Israel, and allow Israel to pass into the Tribulation as a nation, because they have spurned His mercy and refused His grace. However, even to disobedient Israel God says, "Come, My people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. For, behold, the Lord cometh out of His place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity" (Isaiah 26:20-21 ).
To Israel God will prepare the way for protection during the Tribulation. "And to the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished for a time, and times, and half a time, from the face of the serpent."
If God shelters certain of Israel during the Tribulation, think you that He will leave the faithful of the Church to pass through?
There is deep meaning in that expression, "Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man."
3. The Rapture of the Church is before the Tribulation because the saints are continually SEEN IN HEAVEN during the Tribulation. We can hardly imagine that the "beast" of Revelation opens his mouth to blaspheme disembodied spirits. Yet Revelation 13:6 tells us that he blasphemed "them that dwell in Heaven."
The Bema, that is the judgment seat of Christ, before which we all must appear, is in Heaven.
The announcement of the rapture of the man-child, "caught up into Heaven," precedes the pouring out of the vials of wrath.
The "marriage of the Lamb," with the wife made ready, precedes the Coming of Christ into the earth.
The King's wife, of Psalm forty-five, comes out of the ivory palaces with her Lord.
The great multitude of today's study is a pre-revelation Rapture. They are seen in Heaven before the throne of God.
The four and twenty elders of Revelation five speak of having been redeemed unto God through the Blood of the Lamb. They, too, are In Heaven.
4. The Rapture of the Church is before the Tribulation because when Christ comes the saints come with Him. The saints come with Christ, because they had already gone to meet Him. He said, "If I go * *, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself." He was not to come down to the Mount of Olives to meet them. They were to go up to meet Him. Christ is now preparing abiding places for His saints.
Paul speaks of the Lord descending from Heaven, and then he says, "The dead in Christ shall rise first: then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air." This is plainly a Rapture before the Return of Christ to the earth.
Paul, likewise, in the Spirit, said, "Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him."
Now, mark carefully, some other Scriptural statements. We have shown that the saints are with Christ. Now observe that Christ brings there back with Him. when He comes.
"When Christ, who is our Life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory." We come with Him because we have gone to Him.
"Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of His saints." It would be impossible to come with Him if we had not gone to Him.
"The Lord my God shall come, and all the saints with Thee." The word "saints" may include "angels," but it certainly includes the redeemed who have been raptured.
5. The Rapture of the Church will precede the Tribulation because the resurrection of Revelation 20:4 , that follows the Tribulation, is only of the bodies of saints who receive not the mark of the beast or the number of his name. The Holy Spirit speaks of an out-resurrection. He tells us that the resurrection will be, "Every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at His Coming. Then cometh the end."
The resurrection in Revelation twenty culminates, but does not begin the first resurrection.
We thank God for the assurance that when the storm of God's wrath comes, we will be above the storm. We thank God that we have ever clung to the imminency of Christ's Return, and have in no wise annulled the power of the Blessed Hope by causing the saints to say. "My Lord delayeth His Coming."
I. THE DESIGNATION OF THE PERSONNEL OF THE GREAT MULTITUDE OF OUTCOMERS (Revelation 7:9 ; Revelation 7:13-14 )
1. A multitude saved out of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues. It is most illuminating to see how the grace of God works in the. midst of tribulation darkness. In wrath, mercy is manifest; in judgments, such as the world has never known, great multitudes will turn to the Lord.
The scope of God's grace is just as marvelous as the results of His grace. Not only will an innumerable multitude be saved, but that multitude will come from every nation, from every kindred, and from every tongue.
The Tribulation will be world-wide, and so, also, will the operations of grace be world-wide.
When Satan, and the antichrist, and the false prophet seek to enthrall the world, and capture it for sin, then God arises, and out of every nation He redeems unto Himself an innumerable host.
2. A multitude distinct from the saints of the present age. The elder said unto John, "What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they?" As John, on the Isle of Patmos, saw this vision, he was unable to discern the personnel of the mighty host. He saw none of the Old Testament worthies there. He saw none of the saved who were his own contemporaries the saved of the early apostolic Church. Therefore, John answered, "Sir, thou knowest." And the elder said to John, "These are they which came, out of great tribulation."
3. A multitude which is designated by their particular rewards. Mark the omissions. There is nothing said here of crowns which are to be given to the faithful of this age; there is nothing said of their reigning with Christ as the reward of service. These people are a special group, and they have a special and distinct reward. They have palms in their hands. They stand before the throne of God, they serve Him day and night in His Temple, and He who sitteth on the throne dwells among them.
On the earth, they knew martyrdom: but now they "hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat." The Lamb who is in the midst of the throne feeds them, and leads them to the fountain of Living Water, and God wipes away all tears from their eyes. To us, this is all full of glory.
The darkest period of the world's history will be this culmination of sorrows, known as the Great Tribulation. Out of the throes of its anguish a great multitude will come. They were saved late, but they were saved at. tremendous sacrifice and cost. Their rewards are so matchlessly marvelous, that we cannot but rejoice for them. For the while they felt the keen edge of the sword of the antichrist; for a while they could neither buy nor sell in the marts of men; but now they are filled with joy. They see how their travail, by God's grace, wrought out for them eternal bliss. They are saved and satisfied. They are redeemed and rejoicing. They hunger no more, they thirst no more. All tears are wiped away from their eyes.
II. WILL MANY BE SAVED DURING THE TRIBULATION (Revelation 7:14 )
Our verse says, "They which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb." This Scripture puts an end to all quibble. A great multitude are saved, because they have washed robes. A great multitude are saved out of the Great Tribulation, for the simple reason they came out of it.
1. We have nothing to lead us to think that salvation ends at the Rapture of the Church. The Coming of Christ for His saints is not the end of the world; nor is it the end of saving grace. During the Millennial Reign of Christ the inhabitants of the earth will learn righteousness. The Children of Israel will become God's messengers to the end of the world. If people will be saved during the thousand year reign, and if people are now being saved, why should they not be saved during the Great Tribulation?
We are not saying this in order to give stubborn Christ-rejectors of today the thought that they will find it easy to repent, and to be saved in the days of Tribulation. This is far from the truth. They who have wilfully turned themselves against Christ now, and they who follow after the antichrist then, will no doubt be given strong delusions that they may believe a lie.
There are, however, multitudes of people who are ignorant of the call of the Spirit now, and millions have not ever heard of Christ.
If some one asserts that the Spirit will be taken away, we reply that the Spirit's restraining power, which has held back the manifestation of the man-of-sin, and the reign of lawlessness, will be taken out of the way. The Spirit will no longer block the progress of iniquity. He will step aside and permit Satan, and Satan-driven men, to have full sway. However, in the day of the antichrist's power there will be great and mighty witnessing to the truth, and many will hear and heed. Those who reject the call of the antichrist, and refuse to bear his image, or his mark, will be terribly persecuted, even unto the death. However, thank God, there will be innumerable hosts who will gladly pay the price of martyrdom to heed the call and warning of the Lord, given through angels and God-sent men.
2. We have everything to lead us to believe that many will be saved after the Rapture of the Church. Many unsaved men and women will be startled when they find out that the saved are gone. Some who refuse to hear now will then take heed.
As long as people live in their natural bodies, they have an opportunity of salvation. We should not think of those who are saved in the Tribulation as having a second chance. Their opportunity is not a second chance it is a continued chance. The door of then opportunity of redemption has not been closed and then opened again.
The objective of all God's judgments is to bring men to repentance. Nineveh was warned by Jonah that they might repent. The world was warned by Noah that it might repent. God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to a knowledge of the Truth.
We do not mean that when the iniquity of any person is full God may not give them over to a reprobate mind, for He does this very thing. When people harden their own hearts, God may, as in the case of Pharaoh, harden their hearts. However, of one thing we are sure we have before us an innumerable company of people from every nation, kindred, tongue, and tribe, saved during and out of the Great Tribulation.
III. HOW SALVATION OPERATES DURING THE GREAT TRIBULATION (Revelation 7:14 )
Perhaps there are some who imagine that in one age people are saved by law; and, in another age, by grace. We answer unhesitatingly, that whether it be an age in which man is under law, or under conscience, or under promise, or under grace, or under the personal reign of Christ, salvation is always through the Blood of the Lamb. In Hebrews we read, "Without shedding of Blood is no remission."
The Blood of Christ has been the theme of every age. It has been preached by Prophet, seen by Seer, sung by Psalmists, and proclaimed by preachers ever since the world began.
The Blood of Christ will be the theme of the redemptive message when Israel is saved at the coming of the Lord. We read in the Prophets, "In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the House of David and to the inhabitants of. Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness."
The Blood of Jesus Christ will be the theme of praise around the throne of God, even as it has been the theme of redemptive power here upon earth.
We present a significant Scripture, describing the words of those who gather around the throne. "And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for Thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by Thy Blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation."
The sacrificial death of Christ is the only means by which sinners may be made white. These outcomers of the Great Tribulation are announced as having, "Washed their robes, and made them white in the Blood of the Lamb."
IV. THE JOY OF THE ANGELS BECAUSE OF THE OUTCOMERS (Revelation 7:10-12 )
1. All Heaven broke loose with shouts of praise as the great multitude appeared in Glory clothed with white robes. Since there is joy in Heaven over one sinner that repenteth, what transcendent joy will there be when a great multitude which no man can number stands before the throne of God! The angles and the elders, and the four living ones all say, "Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen."
Observe that the praise is not given to the outcomers who have washed their robes in the Blood of the Lamb. The magnificat is ascribed to God, Here is a vision which magnifies grace, and gives works no place in salvation.
2. Let us break loose with praise as sinners are saved. If there is joy in Heaven, there should be joy on earth. The prodigal's brother had no heart to enter into the festivities that marked the return of the wanderer. He refused to have part in the music and the dancing. The elder son knew nothing of the compassion of the father for the prodigal, and, therefore, he knew nothing of the rejoicings of the father when the boy returned. Let us tune our voices to the key and pitch of Heaven's praise.
One of the greatest thrills imaginable is to stand on a mountain top in the blazing light of the sun, and look far beneath you at a raging storm.
Under your feet the lightnings are flashing, and the thunders are rolling, while the clouds are dense and heavy. But these are all far below.
After a while the winds carry the clouds away and the storm is passed. The raindrops are glistening in the sun which now bursts upon the scene.
There is another storm which will fall upon this sin-cursed earth. It is the storm of Jacob's trouble. It is the time of God's indignation. It is commonly known as the Great Tribulation.
When from the throne of God, the lightnings and the thunders break loose, and the wrath of God falls upon a sin-cursed earth, thank God, we shall be above the storm! We will be with Him mid angels and archangels, gathered around the throne. A sea of glass will stretch out before us, glistening under the glory of the light of God.
Thank God, that He has not appointed us to wrath. We are the children of the light, and not of the darkness. Just now we. hare tribulation because of Satan's wrath, but when God arises to shake terribly the earth, we will be caught up as Enoch was caught up, and dwell with them above the storm.
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Revelation 7". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent