Jack Graham - Survivors
Chapter 7, if you're taking notes in your Bible, you just may want to write the words "mercy chapter", because this is an interlude, if you will, from the judgment. We push the pause button. God pushes the pause button just a bit and there is a lull in this storm. It's like a timeout from the action. You know, you go to your football game or basketball game, you see it a lot in basketball games when things are getting out of control and the other team's on a run, and the coach stands up and gives it one of these, timeout, timeout, timeout! And there is some redirection, maybe some correction that goes on. Maybe a game plan is reiterated. Maybe substitutions are made. But you get back in the game and back on the plan.
So in a sense that's what you have here. In the midst of all of this wrath and judgment, God says timeout, timeout! And He introduces us to His mercy and grace even in the midst of wrath. The purpose of chapter 7, this interlude, is for the purpose of showing God's mercy in the midst of judgment. 2 Peter 3:9, "God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance". And in this passage we are going to see incredible missionary activity on the earth. Evangelistic activity during the Tribulation, and a massive revival! We're praying for revival in the church across America for awakening! Around the world we pray for spiritual revival! That revival is coming. Surprisingly it will happen during the Great Tribulation. I pray it happens before the Tribulation, but we know there's going to be this incredible outpouring of God's Spirit during the days of the Tribulation when God suspends judgment.
And He starts with three angels, or four angels, rather in verse 1 of chapter 7: "After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth (that is, north, south, east and west), holding back the four winds of the earth, that no wind might blow on earth or sea or against any tree. Then I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, with the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm earth and sea, saying, 'Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.' And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000 sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel".
So here we see four angels, four mighty angels holding back the storm. And then we're introduced to the first survivors. I'm going to call the first survivors the sealed witnesses. They're mentioned in verse 4. This 144,000 messengers or witnesses from every tribe of the sons of Israel, and then all the twelve tribes of Israel are mentioned. They are sealed and a seal represents ownership, possession, security. We are sealed by the Holy Spirit. But clearly the 144,000 are representatives of every tribe of Israel. We don't need to spiritualize this text and make the 144,000 something else. Cults have tried to do that. Some have said the 144,000 is just the church. No, when you read the Bible take it as it says, as it is. "I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel".
These 144,000 are Israelites! They are Jews because God keeps His promises, and that includes His promises to Israel. You know, there are 30,000 promises in God's Word, plus, 30,000 plus. And God has never lied. God keeps every promise. Amen? He is faithful and true. In fact the scripture says every one of His promises are yes and amen. We say amen to all the promises of God. Jesus said, Matthew 5:18, "I assure you not even the smallest letter or a stroke of a letter will pass away from My word until all things are accomplished". And that includes God's purpose with the nation of Israel. Through the centuries God has protected and preserved, sealed, secured His people Israel! God made a promise to Abraham. We find that promise in Genesis chapter 12, and I'd like for you to turn to it and see it for yourself. The first three verses. Abram who became Abraham was the original Hebrew. He was the Hebrew of the Hebrews.
And God said to him in verse 1: "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing". Every blessing we receive is in order that we might bless others. And that was the purpose and the plan of God for Israel. Verse 3: "I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in all the families of the earth, in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed". God created a people, the Hebrew nation, the Israelites. And not only has He created them, but He has sustained them throughout all the generations.
You can read of tribes and people groups and nations in the Old Testament. Amorites and Jebusites and Hittites, and, I don't know, termites! All kinds of "ites" that are there, and I dare say you've never met an Amorite! You've never said hello to a Hittite! But you've met Jewish people all over the world. Why? Because God who created this people for His own purposes and plan has kept them through the years. They are God's chosen people! And I love Israel and I love the people of Israel. They gave us God's Word. This book was given to us by the sons of Abraham! They gave us the Messiah, Jesus, Yeshua whom we have received as our Lord and our Savior, came from the Jewish people, the Jewish nation. They gave us the Gospel. The original disciples, those apostles took the Gospel from Jerusalem in Judea to the uttermost parts of the world! How thankful we are that God has used Israel to our benefit. And God will bring to pass His purposes with the nation of Israel, not only then, but now and in the days ahead!
And therefore, this is why it is vital that our country, that America continue to support Israel. And never back down! Our government must never back down because God said, "I will bless those who bless Israel and curse those who don't". In great part the blessing of this country is due to our alliance with Israel. They are our only ally in the Middle East, and we should pray as the Scripture says for the peace of Jerusalem. God made a promise to Israel. Don't think that God has set aside or reneged on His promise to Israel. If God denies His promise to Israel than how do you know He wouldn't deny His promises to you? God keeps His promises and that includes His people.
Now in the Last Days the Bible tells us that Israel and Jerusalem will be a catalyst for the end of days and we'll be reading about Jerusalem and Israel in the Last Days scenarios that we read in the Revelation. You say, why? Zechariah chapter 12, verses 2 and 3. The prophet said this: "Behold, I'm about to make Jerusalem a cup of staggering to all the surrounding peoples. The siege of Jerusalem will also be against Judah. And on that day I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples". Nations will view Israel as a problem, as a heavy stone. "And all who lift it will surely hurt themselves. And all the nations of the earth will gather against it".
That's exactly what will happen in the Tribulation period and the storm is already gathering! The Bible tells us in Ezekiel 37 that the Jews would be re-gathered in their homeland in the final days. This has happened! After centuries, millenniums of being scattered throughout the earth, on May 14, 1948 Israel miraculously became a nation again, and they are settled in their homeland, and they are secured there. And they are ready and quite able to defend themselves against all attackers. But in Ezekiel, chapter 38 we're told that there will be an attack upon Israel when nations coalesce together to rise up against them.
Ezekiel 38, verses 8 and 11: "A long time from now you will be called into action; in the distant future you will swoop down on the land of Israel which will be enjoying peace". There's a measure of peace in Jerusalem right now. After recovering from war and after it's people have returned from many lands to the mountain of Israel, you and all your allies, a vast and awesome army will roll down on them "like a storm and cover the land like a cloud"! That will happen! We're going to read about it in the book of Revelation. But I'm here to remind you that God has a purpose in Israel! He will persevere Jerusalem in His own way and one day make all things new, with a new heavens and a new earth.
Now who are these 144,000? They are in effect Jewish missionaries, evangelists, saved by the grace and mercy of God during the Tribulation period, who will proclaim the Gospel to the ends of the earth to all the nations! Now, can you imagine 144,000 Jewish evangelists, apostle Paul-like evangelists unleashed on the earth? The Gospel's going to be preached! This will be the final opportunity for those left behind, the earth-dwellers to come to Christ! But here's the point. Even in midst of judgment and wrath and holocaust and hell on earth, God in His wrath remembers mercy. God says, Ezekiel 33:11, "I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked". He loves you and will give you every opportunity to respond to His love and His grace! This is the Tribulation period.
Now last week we reminded you, if you're thinking that you can wait or should wait to the Tribulation period to see if all of this is real and all of this is true, that's a really bad plan! First of all, you're not promised another day, another breath, as far as that goes! 2 Corinthians 6:2, "Today is the day of salvation"! Plus, the antichrist will be in power and those who have heard and heard and heard and heard the Gospel, have hardened their hearts; the devil will send strong delusion; they will believe the lies of the antichrist! So whoever these Jews and others who will be saved during the Great Tribulation period, this won't be some kind of a second chance for people who have rejected Christ over and over again. So come to Jesus today! Jesus put it this way regarding evangelism and missions in the final hours of human history.
Matthew 24, verse 14: "And the Gospel of the kingdom will be preached to the whole world and a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come". One hundred and forty-four thousand, and millions and millions of others coming to faith in Christ that we'll meet in just a moment. When I read this, this fires me up! Because we are called to evangelize! In our generation this huge opportunity that we have to spread the good news of Jesus around the world! We through technology can preach the Gospel and tell the story of Jesus with our fingertips! But more than that, we have the Holy Spirit of God to empower us, enable us when we proclaim the good news of Christ! It's sad to me, it's sickening to me when I see so many churches with little or no focus on missions and evangelism when that is what God has called us to do! As someone said, the church exists for missions and evangelism as surely as fire exists for burning!
So these 144,000 during the Tribulation period, they prompt us and should propel us in this day of privilege and opportunity to tell the world about Jesus before the Rapture, before it's too late for most of our family and our friends who don't know Him. The first survivors are the sealed witnesses. The second group of survivors, what I'm going to call the saved worshippers, they show up in chapter 7 and verse 9. You see it there? Revelation 7 and verse 9: "After this", that is, after these evangelists and missionaries move and the massive movement of the Gospel takes place, "After this I looked, I beheld a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb".
You want to know who's standing, who can stand? Who can survive? There is an uncounted, innumerable multitude standing before the throne of God and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes with palm branches in their hands signifying victory, signifying joy and celebration. Just as they raised palm branches when Jesus came into the city of Jerusalem on His way to the cross in that triumphful entry into the city on the way to the cross. Just as there were palm branches in that parade that day, there's going to be a parade this day, not for the cross but for the crown as Jesus is worshipped! "And crying out", verse 10, "with a loud voice, 'Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!' And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures", remember these represent the saved, both Old Testament and New Testament. The saved of the ages. "Who are these clothed in white robes? And from where have they come? And I said to him, 'Sir, you know.'" John said, "I just got here. You know. Who are they"? "And he said to me, 'These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.'"
I've already told you that martyrdom will increase during the Tribulation period, persecution, and it will. The hands of the antichrist and his henchmen and demon powers on the earth. Many will die. Others will survive and come out of the Tribulation alive in the kingdom of God. But here we see through the work of these evangelists, through the proclamation of the Gospel, God at work saving millions of people. So many, these aren't the saved of all ages, of all times. They're already there. They're around the throne of God. But this uncounted multitude, this innumerable blood-washed multitude, these are the ones who have come out of the Tribulation! Millions of them! The terrors of the Last Days will prompt many to seek God, and many will believe! What I see in this passage that so encourages me is that around the throne of God there will be people from every tongue and every nation and every language and every ethnicity and every people group around the world. There are 2.18 billion Christians in the world today. 2.18 billion Christians around the world. That's nearly one-third of the population of the planet.
There's 7 billion people on the earth. So nearly a third are Christians. Christians are everywhere. There's more of us than you can imagine. And if you travel the world, even some of the parts of the world that you would lest likely expect Christians to live and work and serve, you find that there are Christians everywhere. I was in China a couple of years ago. China, there are more born-again evangelical Christians almost in China, there will be, but almost already more born-again believers in China than in any other country, nation in the world. China! We were just in south Asia a couple of weeks ago and I was thrilled to see, in spite of all the Hinduism and false religions and idolatry and demonization and darkness that you see in those countries, in south Asia we met so many Christians. There are millions of Christians, from every nation, every tongue, every language, this vast throng. And who can stand and why do they stand?
One reason alone that anyone can stand before a holy God! They are blood-washed! They are washed white, the Scripture says in the blood of the Lamb. Not white-washed with religion, but washed white by the blood of Jesus Christ! Dressed in the robes of His righteousness. "Dressed in His righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne"! The only reason than anyone can survive, the only way that any of us can stand before the throne of a holy God, our Savior Jesus, is to be washed clean, pure by the blood of Jesus who died on the cross for our sins and rose again on the third day! And it is the blood of Jesus! This is our DNA in the family of God. We celebrate ethnicities and diversities and the color or every skin like the rainbow, but the most important color in the presence of God is red! The red royal blood of Jesus that brings us together, that binds us together, that makes us family! That's why around the throne of God, and I pray in the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, I hope we start looking more and more like heaven with every nation and every tongue and every language worshiping the Lord Jesus Christ! Amen? Because every one is welcome.
Look, Christianity is not a westernized American religion! Jesus is for the whole world, and the whole world will come to Jesus! Israel will be saved. And people from all over the world will trust in Christ and Christ alone. Those who don't will be left to the final judgment and without Christ forever. John must have been so encouraged. John the revelator must have been so encouraged to see this. He was alone, alienated on the isle of Patmos. No doubt, wondering, "Is this really going to work? All my buddies, my disciple friends are dead; they're martyred. I'm estranged here on this island. I'm going to die an old man's death". And then he sees this heavenly throng, this uncountable, innumerable multitude of people around the throne of God worshiping Jesus! Then he knows Jesus is Lord! The gates of hell will not prevail against His church!
You know the book of Revelation really shouldn't frighten us as Christians. We know the end of story. Spoiler alert! Jesus wins and we win with Him! Alright? We know the end of the story. So we're really not afraid, but we should be prepared. We should prepare ourselves and our families and our children for the coming days of sorrow and suffering that are certainly arriving soon. So you need to know Jesus. Trust in Jesus. Believe in the One and the only One. You say, "How can I go to heaven? I've tried to do my best. I've tried to live a good life". Don't dare try to stand before a holy God with robes of your own self-righteousness or the rags of your own sin. You can be cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. "What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. What can make me whole again? Nothing but the blood of Jesus".