David Jeremiah - The 144,000 Rescued
Everywhere I go people wanna know when they talk about the events that are happening in our world today, they say something like this, "Dr. Jeremiah, where is this all going"? And of course, that's a good question. But if you know the Bible, you know where it's going. It goes to a good place. It ends up with our hands up in the air in victory. You don't have to be afraid of the future if you know the future. And God has given us this book so that we can be confident about what is going to happen. The book of Revelation is a book that is filled with the mercy of God, along with the judgment of God. Almost every place where you see God meting out the judgment upon this earth which is deserved, you don't have to look very far before there's a parenthesis that shows his mercy and his grace.
Did you know that God never ever leaves himself without a witness, no matter how dark things might be. Look at what's happening in our world today and if we're not careful we talk about all the bad things but did you know that in the darkness of this world there are many places where the light is shining very brightly. And you know, the darker the night, the brighter the light, amen? So the book of Revelation is like that and, during the Tribulation period which happens right after the church is taken to heaven, the Antichrist is gonna work to consolidate his power and he's going to do everything he can do to take Israel down. While he is crushing those who refuse to bow before his statute, the greatest spiritual awakening of all time is gonna take place on this earth. And this awakening will come through the ministry of the 144.000 sealed Jewish evangelists. Perhaps if you go to an evangelical church you may have heard your pastor or some visiting teacher say that before Jesus Christ comes back to this earth there's going to be a great revival and people are gonna come back to the Lord.
Now all of us wishes that would happen and perhaps it will in a small way but there is no indication in the Scripture that we should expect such a thing. In fact, the Bible teaches us the exact opposite. The Bible says that before the Lord returns to take us to heaven, there's going to be a falling away from the faith. And if you look at the statistics for mainline churches today it seems like maybe we're in the beginning of that because a lot of people who used to go to church, a lot of people who used to be religious, have pushed away and churches are struggling. Just as discouraging as it is to see what's happening in the world today with the faith, except for some shining lights that God has raised up, after the Rapture the Bible says, during the Tribulation, we are gonna have the greatest revival that's ever happened on planet Earth and it's all going to come because of this group of men, called 144.000 witnesses.
Now the Bible tells us in Revelation 7 and in Revelation 14 that there are going to be 144.000 witnesses selected from the 12 tribes of Israel. Revelation 7:4: "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". Now, the matter of who these witnesses are is not left up for us to wonder. I've heard some of the fantastic ideas that people have had about who these people are, but if you go to the book of Revelation, it actually lists every tribe of Israel and after it, it says, "And 12.000 from this tribe," and then it lists the next one, "And 12.000 from this tribe". All 12 tribes, the Bible says out of those old historic Jewish tribes, 12.000 witnesses will be selected. And they are going to be used of God in a marvelous way in this revival.
Throughout the Scripture, the number 12 is consistently associated with the nation of Israel. The Jewish high priest wore a breastplate bearing 12 precious stones. On the table of showbread in the temple were 12 holy loaves. In the city of Jerusalem there are 12 gates, and Matthew 19:28 tells that one day the 12 apostles will sit on the 12 thrones judging the 12 tribes of Israel. Twelve is a good number for the Jews. It's a great number for Israel. They're selected from the 12 tribes and the Bible says these witnesses are going to be sealed on their foreheads.
Now, I used to try to explain that and nobody understood but now that everybody's got a tattoo, it's pretty easy for people to understand this. In fact, my question is by that time will there be any room left on the human body for the seal to be placed? And I'm joking, of course. But the Bible says these 144.000 witnesses are gonna have a special mark on their forehead. It says in verses 2 and 3, "I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God. And he cried with a loud voice, 'Do not harm the earth, or the sea, or the trees until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.'" And in Revelation 7 it doesn't tell us what that seal says but in chapter 14 in verse 1, we read these words: "His Father's name will be written on their foreheads".
So maybe Adonai or the Father's name will be on their forehead. Everyone who is a special witness during that period of time will be marked. And the seal of the living God won't just be a mark on the outside of their body, but it will be a reminder of the presence of the Spirit of God within these men. They will have an incredible power to communicate the truth. And the Bible says in Joel chapter 2 that "it shall come to pass that I will pour out my Spirit and your sons and your daughters will prophesy, and your old men will dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. And on my menservants I will pour out my Spirit in those days". These witnesses are selected from the 12 tribes of Israel. They're sealed on their foreheads and they're the servants of the living God. And the Bible says they're also separated to God. That means they have a special calling from the Lord. Revelation 14:4 says: "These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins".
Now, a lot of people have tried to spiritualize that and talk about the fact that they had not committed spiritual adultery but that's reading way too much into the text. I believe these men will be celibates who just run around the earth preaching the gospel and, frankly, when you learn about what goes on in the Tribulation there won't be any time for family for these guys. They'll be on a journey and on a mission and it will be a full-time task. When we understand the pressures of the Tribulation period, it's easy to comprehend why these preachers would have a difficult married life. And the Bible says they're strong in their faith. Revelation 14 says: "These are the ones who follow the Lamb. And in their mouth was found no deceit, for they are without fault before the throne of God". You know, the Bible tells us that "the effective fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much".
In other words, it accomplishes a lot. These men will be fervent, they will be righteous, and they will preach with a kind of zeal that we seldom see in our world anymore today. Most of you are old enough to remember with me some of the earlier days in our faith when we would have evangelists come to our church and some of them weren't quiet. They came with a zeal and excitement and I used as a little boy, my daddy was a preacher, I'd go and sit on the front row and watch these guys. Some of them took props into the pulpit to illustrate their messages. And some of them were really frightening to me. I remember hearing a story about a little boy who went to one of these evangelistic crusades that was held in an old, very formal church where the pulpit was surrounded by a little white fence. It was up at the top. And this little boy watched this preacher going crazy up there, preaching, and he turned to his mom and he said, "Mommy, what are we gonna do if he gets out of there"? And that's the way it was for me growing up.
A lot of these preachers were pretty vibrant. Listen to me, you haven't seen anything until you see 144.000 men who are righteous, without fault, preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ to men and women who will be so desperate to hear them because of what's happened on the earth during that time. They are also spared from the coming judgment. Notice, it says: "Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads". In other words, these men will not be able to be taken out. There will certainly an anger against them because of their preaching but the Bible says nobody will be able to touch them because Almighty God is gonna have his arms wrapped around them.
You know, it's an interesting thing that even today we can practice that, can we not? I'm gonna tell you a little secret. When I first started to travel as a young pastor, my kids were little, I used to get on airplanes flying out of Fort Wayne, Indiana, and have a little pang of fear that would come into my heart. Now, I don't think it was I wasn't afraid to die. I wasn't anxious to die but I wasn't afraid to. But I had a great fear for my kids, for my wife and my little children. And one day an older pastor came to me and he gave me this little saying and I wrote it in my Bible. Here's what it says: "God's man in the center of God's will is immortal until God is done with him". And I never forgot that. That doesn't mean you should be presumptuous.
Listen, you know, a lot of people hear that and they'll say, "Oh, I can just do whatever I want". There's an old preacher friend of mine that's in heaven now, J. Vernon McGee. He used to tell a story about a guy in his church who came up to him one day and said to him, "You know what? I'm so confident in God's sovereign provision for me that if my time had not come I could walk right out in the middle to this intersection down here in L.A. right in front of this busy corner and if my time had not come I'd be okay. And old McGee said to the boy, "If you walk down into the middle of that intersection at noon tomorrow I promise you, your time has come".
We need to understand that, don't we 'cause there's a fine line between being confident in God's provision and then being over-confident and being foolish. I'm not jumping out of airplanes these days but I'm trusting God to take care of me and these witnesses are gonna have that kind of protection from Almighty God. He's gonna care for them until their work is done. In the midst of the Tribulation, while everything else is happening around them, listen to verse 1: "And I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him 144.000," listen to this. Very interesting. At the beginning of the story of these witnesses we are told there are 144.000. When you get all the way to the end you see these witnesses in heaven. Their job is done, they're finished with their work on this earth. And you know what the Bible says? There's not 143.999 of them. There's 144.000 of them. All of them go through the Tribulation and not one of them is lost.
This is an amazing story about how God is gonna provide the message of hope and salvation during a very dark time on this earth. And do you know how successful they're gonna be? Listen to this report filed by John in the 7th chapter of Revelation: "After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes and palm branches in their hands". What a wonderful picture that is. Listen, the Bible says so many people are gonna come to Christ during that time that you don't even have any way to number them. Great multitude which no one can number and they represent all of the nations and the tribes and the peoples and the tongues from all over the earth. The harvest from the great revival of the 144.000 witnesses. And that is going to be something, you know, that we'll be able to observe in heaven.
This is, I believe, the fulfillment of this promise of Jesus given in his Olivet Discourse. Jesus said: "The gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come". Ladies and gentlemen, one of these days there's gonna be this massive spiritual return to God during one of the darkest times on planet Earth. And the Bible tells us that when they are finally finished with their task, they're going to be taken to heaven, and the Bible gives us a picture that every musician I've ever shared this with seems to get excited about. They're singing a new song when they get to heaven. Listen to this: "And I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him 144.000, having His Father's name written on their foreheads. And I heard the sound of harpists playing their harps. And they sang as it were a song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no one could learn that song except the 144.000 who were redeemed from the earth".
John says he looks and he sees in heaven, prophetic this picture, all of these 144.000 witnesses who have been preserved and have spent their whole life preaching the gospel during the Tribulation period. They're now all in heaven. And the Bible says they're gathered around the throne and they're singing. This choir has 144.000 men in it. It's the biggest Glee club I have ever read about any place in the world. And they're gonna sing together and the Bible says no one else can sing this song except them because they're the only ones who have experienced what they've experienced. And the song is the result of the joy in their hearts, having gone through this terrible period, watching God's hand of mercy snatch people out and bring them to heaven. They're gonna be so excited. And men and women, as devastating as this period will be, the thing that I carry away from this is that God never removes his hand from this earth.
Listen, I'm sure that throughout the whole world today, there's more than 144.000 people who are preaching the gospel. We've got our own 144.000 witnesses, don't we? The problem is we don't have as much Tribulation as they have then and so we're not as prone to listen as they will be prone to listen then. Here's the deal, you guys. If you don't know Jesus Christ, more than likely Almighty God has sent somebody into your life to tell you about him. God has sent some witness into your life, somebody for you to know, somebody for you to watch, somebody for you to listen to. And that witness is a gift from God to you so that you can receive God's grace in your life. And don't think about ever pushing that witness away. That's God's grace to you. I believe that you are here tonight because God wants you to hear the gospel once more, that Christ died on the cross for you to pay the penalty for all of your sin and he just asks you to receive him as your Savior.
That's the message of the gospel. I know for sure I won't be a part of the 144.000 witnesses in the future. I just wanna be one of God's witnesses in the present. I'm asking God to give me a sense of urgency about the years that still lie before me that will help me tell people about Jesus as I've never told them before. The message of the gospel is the best good news there ever was. In this world which is going to hell in a hand basket, there is a wonderful truth that God loves us and he's able to save us and even in the midst of the stress of this world we can live a positive, Christ-honoring, productive life that will bring joy to our hearts and glory to his name.
So let me ask you this question tonight. Are you a Christian? Have you received the witness of the gospel that's been shared with you either tonight or perhaps even before tonight? If you were to die tonight and stand before God and he would look you in the eyes and say to you, "Why should I let you into my heaven"? what would you say? Don't give any silliness about how good of a person you've been. That won't matter 'cause you don't get into heaven by how good you are. If that were the case, none of us would ever be good enough. Here's some news everybody should write down. Almighty God doesn't grade on the curve. Are you okay with that? He grades on a straight percentage basis. You've gotta get 100% on the test or you don't get in. You say, "Well, nobody can do that". You've got it. And that's why Jesus came and died on the cross and I like to say he took the test for all of us, didn't he? He took the test for all of us.
And all he asks you to do, my friend, tonight is to accept what he did on the cross as your only hope of heaven and ask Jesus Christ to forgive you and he will do it. He's never, ever turned anyone away in all of history. And you aren't gonna be the first. No matter what you've done or how far you may feel you are away from God tonight, I'm here to tell you that God loves you and that Christ died for you and if you will open your heart to receive him, he will come and set up his throne in the throne room of your heart and give you guidance and direction for the rest of your life. The most important decision you will ever make is to make Jesus Christ your Savior and Lord.