Robert Jeffress - The Greatest Revival The Church Has Ever Seen
Hi I'm Robert Jeffress welcome again to Pathway to Victory. Throughout history there have been many great movements of God, such as the day of Pentecost, the reformation and the great awakenings, but the greatest spiritual revival the world will ever experience, will occur during the final seven years of earth's history immediately after God pours out his judgment during the tribulation. My message is titled The Greatest Revival the Church Has Ever Seen on today's edition of Pathway to Victory.
Two days after Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany in 1933, a 26-year-old pastor and theologian went on the radio to denounce Adolf Hitler and his policies. That pastor theologian was named Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Bonhoeffer was troubled by a number of things he saw happening, the marginalization of the Jewish people long before they were taking to the crematorium. He saw how the German church began to surrender to the Natzis even becoming known now as the National Reich Church. The church began to obey godless edicts from the Natzis, such as, "On the altars there must be nothing but a copy of 'Mein Kampf', Hitler's book the Bible of Natzi-ism, there shall be nothing but 'Mein Kampf' and to the left of the altar a sword", or another one of the rules, "The Christian church and the Christian cross must be removed from all churches, Cathedrals, and chapels".
Can you imagine such a thing? The cross must be removed from all churches, Cathedrals and chapels, and it must be superseded by the only unconquerable symbol the swastika. Dietrich Bonhoeffer couldn't stand to see Bible's being replaced with "Mein Kampf" for crosses with swastikas. And so he left the German church and established his own church, the confessing church built on the principles of scripture and obeying God unconditionally, a group of seminarians and pastors followed Bonhoeffer and the establishment of the confessing church. But soon when the government saw that it was a threat to Nazi-ism Adolf Hitler ordered pastors of the confessing church to be denied chaplaincies and instead be placed on the front lines of battle in World War II, starved of pastoral leadership the confessing church faded away.
By this time, Dietrich Bonhoeffer decided that he had to do something radical to stand up against evil. And so he joined the German intelligence agency as a spy, but actually he was working as a double agent to undermine the commands of the Third Reich, and he even bobbed himself in an assassination plot to remove Adolf Hitler from office. Many people were critical of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Many Christians were critical of him. They said, why are you so concerned with politics and who is leading our nation? Just resign yourself to preaching the Gospel that's what Christians are to do, preach the Gospel and everything else will take care of itself. Sound familiar to you?
Bonhoeffer understood that leaders determine policies and policies determine the moral and spiritual direction of a nation. Ten years later after Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany on the 10th anniversary of his assuming that position in 1943, Bonhoeffer explained why he took such radical actions in an essay titled, "After 10 years," listen to his words, "Who stands fast, only the man whose final standard is not as reason, his principles, his conscience, his freedom, or his virtue, but the man who is ready to sacrifice all of this when he is called to obedient and responsible action in faith and in exclusive allegiance to God. The responsible man who tries to make his whole life an answer to the question and the call of God, where are these responsible people"?
I thought of those words who stands fast. I thought of those words as I prepared the message today and remembered how similar those words are to the kings and commanders of the earth during the Great Tribulation who after experiencing these horrific judgements, remember what we saw last time? They cry out to the rocks and the mountains and they say, "Fall on us and hide us from the presence of the one who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the lamb for the day of God's wrath has come and who is able to stand," who is it that stands fast during times of persecution like Dietrich Bonhoeffer did. Who is it that would will be able to withstand the wrath of the lamb in the Judgment Day of God?
We're gonna answer that question today in Revelation 7, if you have your Bibles turn there as we look at the greatest revival in human history, Revelation 7, John is gonna answer the question who will be able to stand through the Great Tribulation? Now remember where we are in our study of Revelation, the church has already been raptured it's in heaven, the 24 elders with God worshiping. And now we see the beginning of the final seven years of earth's history when God pours out his wrath on mankind in order to save the elect and condemn the unbelievers. And this is the final seven years that begins with the rise of the antichrist, not by force, but on a promise of peace and safety. And we see in Revelation 6, six of those seven sealed judgments.
Remember there are three series of judgments, the seal judgments, Revelation 6, the trumpet judgments, Revelation 8 and 9, and the bowl judgments in Revelation 16. When we go through Revelation 6 we see six of those seals broken, but then there is a pause before the seventh seal and the beginning of the trumpet judgments, that this is so key to understand the Book of Revelation. I never really understood the book till I understood this. The Book of Revelation is not chronological all of the time. For example, we're moving toward the tribulation through the tribulation until the second coming of Christ, but occasionally in Revelation, John puts on the brakes he says, "No wait a moment, we're gonna back up a little bit in time, and there's another aspect I want to talk to you about it and explain to you," that's what happens in Revelation 7.
We've almost gotten through the seal judgments, but then John says, I want to explain to you something else, we're gonna back up to the beginning of the tribulation. Before Revelation 6, something that happens here, and it's 144.000 Israelites who will stand on earth during the tribulation. This is one group John wants to talk about who will stand firm on earth during the tribulation. Now look at verse 1, the vision of the restraining and sealing angels. Verse 1, "After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth so that no wind would blow on the earth, or on the sea, or on any tree".
Now critics at the Bible immediately seize on this phrase, "The four corners of the earth," those writers of the Bible were so stupid they thought the earth was flat and had four corners to it. That's why you can't trust the Bible on anything. Have you ever heard that before? The earth is flat the Bible says four corners of the earth. Don't do it now but sometime go on your iPhone, type in sunset and he'll tell you the time the sun is gonna set today. It'll tell you the time of the sunrise tomorrow morning, how ignorant, how stupid the sun doesn't rise, the sun doesn't set, it just appears that way to us. This is the language of appearance, it's the earth's rotation that makes the sun appear to rise and set. It's the same thing here this is just a language of appearance.
And John says he saw four angels who have been sent to restrain the judgment that's about to come upon the earth. In verse 2, "And I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun," that's from the east it's always an indication of salvation that's about to come. I saw another angel rising from the east, having the seal of the living God. And I want you to underline that, the seal of the living God. And he cried out 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, or the sea, or the trees until we have sealed the bond-servants of our God on their foreheads". Before the judgments could come at the very beginning of the tribulation, the angel says, before you unleash your judgments angels, we need to seal the bond-servants of God.
Now what does that mean? A seal and by the way this is extra, you can write it down on your outlines in biblical times a seal signified three things. It first of all, it signified authority, it was an official command. Now we're gonna see in a moment that these bond-servants of God are going to be sealed with a Mark of Almighty God himself, the seal marked first of all authority. Secondly, it marked possession many times if you want to show that something belongs to you, you write your name on it, it was the same thing with a seal, a seal kind of like a sticker sometimes you put on things was a sign that it belonged to you. And thirdly, the seal was a sign of protection. It meant protection.
Remember after Jesus was crucified and they put him in the tomb of Joseph of Arimathea remember Pontius Pilatus ordered that a Roman guard unit be placed around the tomb and not only that, the tomb was sealed. That seal meant it was really a piece of string strung across the boulder that was held on either side by a piece of wax that had the Roman insignia on it, signifying that this tomb was being protected by the power of Rome itself. That was the meaning of a seal authority, ownership, protection. By the way, did you know if you're a Christian today? God has put his seal on you. A sign that you belong to him, a sign that he owns you, a sign that he is going to protect you, anybody want to know what God's seal is?
Ephesians 1 tells us it is the Holy Spirit of God in you. In Ephesians 1:13-14, Paul says, "In him," Christ, "You also after listening to the message of truth, the Gospel of your salvation, having also believed, you were sealed in him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who has given us a pledge of our inheritance with a view of the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of his glory". If you're a Christian you have the Holy Spirit of God in you to guide you, to protect you, to remind you that you belong to him. And the Holy Spirit is the promise that God will fulfill his promise to you. Even though God has already purchased your pardon from sin and your power from sin, one day we are going to be delivered from the presence of sin when God takes us to live with him forever. And the Bible says that Holy Spirit of God in you is God's down payment, that he is going to fulfill his ultimate promise to you. That's the seal for a Christian. But this was a different seal for 144.000 people. This is the seal of the living God. Who are these 144.000 who are sealed? They are people who are going to survive the tribulation.
Remember I said last time, one fourth of the world will be killed during the tribulation. That could be upwards to two billion people using the day's population statistics. Many people will be killed, but these 144.000 that God seals with his seal and protects will not suffer death. You know one way we know that, when we turn to Revelation 14 at the end of the seven year tribulation, there is a picture in Revelation 14:1.3, and 4, of the 144.000 who are standing with Jesus Christ on mount Zion in Jerusalem. How many are there at the end of the tribulation? Not 139.999 but 144.000. Not one has been lost. Now the natural question is, well who are these 144.000? Verse 4, "And I heard the number of those who were sealed, they were 144.000". You can read and read and hear all kinds of ideas of who these 144.000 are.
Can I share with you a simple rule for interpreting the Bible? It's so simple, when the plain sense makes good sense seek no other sense, when the plain sense makes good sense seek no other sense. Read the Bible as it's written and when you do that, it's very clear who these hundred and 44.000 are. These are 144.000, verse 4, "Sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel, from the tribe of Judah 12.000, from the tribe of Reuben 12.000, from the tribe of gad 12.000," and on and on. These are Jews who have been selected and sealed and saved by God at the beginning of the tribulation. Now today it's hard to know if you're a Jewish person what your tribe is. The records were lost with the destruction of the temple but just because we've lost the records, it doesn't mean God has lost the records. He knows who these tribes are. People say, well wait a minute, all Christians are raptured and in heaven, you've just got a world of unbelievers.
How can they ever be saved? Same way you're saved and I'm saved. The power of the Spirit of God using the Word of God to bring us to a knowledge of God through Christ. Yes, we'll be raptured but though big Bibles that are left behind, Christian books left behind, perhaps old episodes of Pathway to Victory left behind, plus people who remember our words which by the way will be left behind. The witness, the words we've spoken for Christ will be left behind, they will have knowledge of the Word of God. And although people won't be in dwelt by the Holy Spirit during the tribulation, doesn't mean the Holy Spirit doesn't come upon people and convict people like he did in the Old Testament time. These are the 144.000. What is their ministry? Their ministry is to share the Gospel.
J. Dwight Pentecost wrote, "They like Saul will be set apart to be God's witnesses to the gentiles". Remember, God hasn't finished his plan with Israel yet. God has temporarily stopped his dealings with Israel but he isn't finished with them, he's going to fulfill his purpose for Israel. Now in Romans 11:1, has God rejected his people Israel? No, may it never be. And part of God's plan for Israel is that they be used to bring a worldwide knowledge of God through Christ Jesus. That's the reason God set Israel apart. He chose Israel to be a witness to the world of him. I remember when about a year and a half ago when I was invited to give the opening prayer for the opening of our embassy in Jerusalem, in that prayer Netanyahu and all the Jewish officials were seated before me, and I thank God for Jewish choosing the Jewish people saying that it is from the Jewish people that we received the knowledge of the one true God, it is through Israel that we received the profits, it's from Israel that came the Word of God, and it is through Israel the Messiah of the world has come, God's plan was for Israel to deliver to the world the knowledge of the one true God, and they will ultimately fulfill that promise during the Great Tribulation.
Matthew 24:14 says before the second coming Jesus said, the Gospel must be preached to all nations. And remember that's before the second coming. There's no condition for the rapture the rapture could happen at any moment at any time, but before the final return of Jesus Christ to earth the whole world is going to hear the Gospel, and one way they're going to hear is through this witness of the 144.000 Jewish evangelists, who will stand in the Great Tribulation, the 144.000 will stand on earth during the tribulation. But there's a second group that will stand in the tribulation and we see them beginning in verse 9, the tribulation saints will stand in heaven during the tribulation.
Now there is no verse that says this, but it is very obvious. Beginning in verse 9 we see the result of the witness of the 144.000 evangelist. Remember at the beginning of the tribulation, there are no Christians on earth. The 144.000 are sealed and saved and selected to be a witness down. Notice what John sees in verse 9, his vision shifts from looking at earth. And now he's looking into heaven. After these things, after the 144.000 I looked and behold a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the lamb clothed in white robes and palm branches in their hands. Suddenly he sees a whole mass of people that can't be counted, Jews and gentiles alike, who are standing before the throne of God meaning they are saved, and not only that they're in white robes meaning they've been forgiven, and palm branches a sign of victory.
"And they cry out with a loud voice saying, salvation to our God who sits on the throne and to the lamb. And all the angels were standing around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God saying, 'amen, blessing and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might be to our God forever and ever, amen'". Who are these multitudes that come from every tribe, every nation under earth. This is part of the greatest revival the world will have ever seen. These are those who are saved during the tribulation, through the witness of the 144.000. It's going to be something like the world has never experienced before.