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The Christian Counter

     
THE FAITH OF JESUS
Lesson 20
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Review and introduction

Revelation 12 introduced us to Satan and his final war on the remnant.  The first part of chapter 13 explains the rise of Babylon – a global confederation of seven religious and ten political systems.  The lamb-like beast of chapter 13 explains the work and deception of Satan during the time of the trumpets.  God has revealed Satan’s coming masquerade so that everyone can avoid being deceived!

Revelation 14 is made up of three parts.  The first part contains information about the 144,000; the second part of the chapter contains the message that the 144,000 will deliver to the world and the last part of the chapter explains how probation closes.  We will look at the close of probation in our next lesson.

144,000 apostles

From lesson 16 we learned that the 144,000 are specially chosen people (like the first apostles) to whom the responsibility is given to proclaim the everlasting gospel.  These people are extraordinary in many ways.  They are God’s representatives upon earth.  Notice: “Then I looked, and there before me was the Lamb, standing on Mount Zion, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads.

And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders.  No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth.  These are those who did not defile themselves with women, for they kept themselves pure.  They follow the Lamb wherever he goes.  They were purchased from among men and offered as first fruits to God and the Lamb.  No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless.”  Revelation 14:1-5

Two points about the 144,000

First, these have a unique experience.  No one else can sing their song of experience, for upon these people Jesus placed the great responsibility of teaching the everlasting gospel.  They speak truth – no lie was found in their mouth.  They are pure in heart; they are not defiled with immoral behavior.

These suffer for the cause of Jesus in ways most people don’t understand!  For comparison, consider the difference between parents and children of World War II.  Children suffered for the moment while parents suffered from a larger knowledge.  Parents worried about the outcome of the war, about their children and the future.  Parents having greater knowledge suffered in proportion to that knowledge.  They simply had more to worry about!

In a similar way, the call to be an apostle, prophet, teacher or evangelist of the everlasting gospel is the most encompassing responsibility ever put upon a human being.  The accountability that goes with the calling and selection is beyond the scope of most people’s understanding.  Jesus understood this responsibility.  He said, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of the sight for the blind.”  Luke 4:18 In a similar way, the apostle Paul said, “Yet when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach.  Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!” I Corinthians 9:16

The 144,000, like Jesus, have the Spirit of the Lord upon them and like Paul, are compelled to preach the everlasting gospel contained in the Scriptures.  They are pure in heart and truthful in their speech.  The power of the Two Witnesses (the Bible and Holy Spirit) resting upon the 144,000 demonstrates their calling!

The second point is that the 144,000 are first fruits of the harvest at the end of the world.  Remember, the Feast of Tabernacles? At this joyful feast, the first fruits of the harvest were given to the high priest.  In the same fashion, the 144,000 are God’s finest people at the time of the harvest.  This does not imply he loves others less; rather, like a proud father at graduation, He beams to see 12,000 people from each tribe who reached the same spiritual maturity that He had when upon earth.  These overcame sin just as He overcame sin!

The redeemed will not feel that Jesus is unfairly partial to this group of people.  In fact, those living at the time of the great tribulation will recognize their indebtedness to one or more of the 144,000, for they heard or learned of the gospel through their efforts!  Everyone will rejoice that the terrible struggle is over.  Everyone will cry for joy unspeakable.  The reward Jesus gives each person far exceeds any suffering endured for Christ’s sake.  John saw the 144,000 sing a new song that caused heaven’s arches to ring with happiness inexpressible.

Three messages

When the trumpets begin, the people of earth will be awakened to the sinfulness of their course.  Into this bedlam, God sends 144,000 people especially endowed with the knowledge of Scripture and the power of the Holy Spirit.  They have a message from God.  The giving of this message was represented to John as an angel flying above the earth in midair.  John says, “Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth – to every nation, tribe, language and people.  He said in a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give him glory, because the hour of his judgment has come.  Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea and the springs of water.’”  Revelation 14:6,7 We learn five important things from these verses:

  1. The Greek word for angel also means messenger.  In other words, John saw the everlasting gospel go to everyone that lives upon the earth.
  2. The everlasting gospel was represented to John, as being “loud” for every person on earth must hear it!
  3. People will be told to fear God because His judgment-hour has come.  (This message will go throughout the earth when the trumpets begin and people are fearful.  The point here is that they are to fear Jesus and not Babylon!)
  4. People are told to worship the Creator of heaven, earth, sea and the springs of water.  (This message is directly opposed to the laws of men mandating false worship to appease God.)
  5. The first four trumpets affect the earth, the sea, the fountain of waters and the heavens – the very items mentioned in this message.  The people of earth will be told to worship God, the Creator, for He has brought these events to pass that all may know who Jesus really is.  The call to worship God will be in direct opposition to the laws of Babylon that demands false worship.

The John saw another message for earth.  He says, “A second angel followed and said, ‘Fallen!’ ‘Fallen is Babylon the Great, which made all the nations drink the maddening wine of her adulteries’” Revelation 14:8 The 144,000 tell the world that Babylon the Great is fallen or brought down.  The term fallen doesn’t mean broken down or impotent.  It means exposed as false.  The confederation between religion and politics is inspired by Satan and does not appease God.  In fact, it is called “adultery” in Revelation 17 because spiritual things belong to God and civil things belong to governments.  The second angel’s message warns that even though Babylon’s influence is popular, imposing and all powerful, the premise behind the development of a global church/state is false and exposed for what it really is:  The handiwork of Satan.

As you already know, the eternal gospel goes throughout the earth during the seven trumpets.  People will be stirred and aroused to hear what the judgments are about.  The eternal gospel will be presented so loudly that everyone, far and near will hear.  With the trumpets in one ear and the everlasting gospel in the other, how can any miss the meaning of the moment?

People will be told that the great Day of Judgment has come, for Jesus is concluding His work in the heavenly sanctuary and mercy is about to end.  Great multitudes will be told that the trumpets are designed to warn the world of Christ’s return and if they wish to receive salvation, they must now worship the Creator of heaven, earth, the sea and the springs of water.  The word worship means to submit or render obedience.

The irony of the matter is that people will be told that they must worship the Creator at the time when Babylon is saying almost the same thing.  Remember, clerics of all faiths in different lands will be saying that God has sent these judgments and He must be appeased before they can stop.  Babylon will legislate a number of ways to render obedience to God.  The Moslem will look to the Koran for information on worship.  The Jews will review the Talmud, the Mishna and the Torah.  Catholics will inquire of the Pope for instruction on worship.  But what authority will Protestants appeal for information on worship?  Tradition or the Bible?

A great mystery

Jesus has clearly expressed in the Bible how His subjects are to worship Him.  This is not a matter left to human design.  The problem that Babylon faces is that each religious system will be enacting laws to worship the same God in different ways!  For example, Moslems regard Friday as a holy day, the Jews regard Saturday and Christians regard Sunday!  Remember, Revelation 13:8 says, “All inhabitants of the earth will worship the beast (Babylon, which has seven heads and ten horns) – all whose names have not been written in the book of life belonging to the Lamb that was slain.”  Are there a right way and a wrong way to worship God?  Yes.

Cain and Abel demonstrate the difference.  Both worshiped.  Abel worshiped God by bringing a lamb to the alter and sacrificing it according to God’s instruction.  Cain, on the other hand, worshiped God but on his own terms.  He didn’t follow God’s instruction.  Cain didn’t raise sheep.  He didn’t like the idea of killing animals.  So he brought fruit from his garden.  God was displeased with Cain and refused his worship but Abel offering was received.  See Genesis 4:1-16.  Cain became angry and slew his brother.  Why?  John warns, “Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother.  And why did he murder his brother?  Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous.  Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you.”  I John 3:12,13 John says Cain’s act of worship was evil!  Indeed, it was blasphemous. Cain took the prerogative of God.  He decided how he would worship God!

The crux of the matter is this.  God accepts our worship if we worship him in spirit and truth; that is, if we worship God according to all that we know to be true.  The eternal gospel that goes to every nation, kindred, tongue and people contains information about the worship of the true God that will be new to most people.  The first angel’s message of Revelation 14:7 says loudly, “Fear God, Worship the Creator.”  The reason the first message begins in this manner is that most of the world does neither correctly!  God knows about our darkness.  This is why the light of the everlasting gospel will remove the darkness that Satan has placed around the subject of worship.  Those honest in heart, who worship God according to all the truth they have, will rejoice to learn the full truth about worship!

Worship the Creator

How are we to worship the Creator?  As said earlier, the worship of God has not been left to human invention.  Jesus clearly explains in the Ten Commandments, How He is to be worshiped.  Carefully review the first four commandments.  They are found in Exodus 20:3-11:

1.      “You shall have no other gods before (other than) me.”

2.      “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water below.  You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to thousands who love me and keep my commandments.”

3.      “You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.”

4.      “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath to the Lord your God.  On it you shall you shall not do any work, neither you, nor you’re son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates.  For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day.  Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”

The first four commandments are the basis of true worship.  They clearly explain the reverence and respect due our Creator, Jesus.  We are not to worship any other god.  We are not to create an idol and bow down before it.  We are not to use the name of God in a careless way.  And we are to keep the seventh day holy as a memorial to our creator and His creation.

The Ten Commandments are divided into two groups.  The first four commandments deal with man’s relationship to God and the last six commandments deal with man’s relationship to his neighbor.  Actually, the Ten Commandments define the two basic laws of life.  Jesus said, “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.  This is the first and greatest commandment.  And the second is like it:  Love your neighbor as yourself.  All the Law and the Prophets (the scriptures) hang on these two commandments.”  Matthew 22:37-40

Love is the basis of salvation.  The two commandments Jesus spoke of in Matthew 22 are clearly spelled out in the Ten Commandments. The meaning of love is not left to human definition.  In fact, the word “love” today commonly means sex, lust or passion.  What a perversion!  Jesus came to earth to correct human misunderstanding on this point.  According to Jesus, true love produces obedience!  “Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me.  My Father will love him who loves me, and I too will love him and show myself to him.  If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.  He who does not love me will not obey my teaching.  John 14:21-24

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