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The Christian Counter

   
Segment XI
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Segment XI

After the Second Coming

The following verses describe a wonderful scene that occurs after the Second Coming. John saw a numberless multitude of saints, who came out of the Great Tribulation, standing before the throne of God. Please review the following verses from the KJV (I have inserted some clarifying texts in brackets and italicizes a few words for emphasis):

 

“After this [the sealing of the 144,000] I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindred’s, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; And cried with a loud voice, saying, ‘Salvation [belongs] to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb [for we are unworthy of this great reward].’And the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshiped God, Saying, Amen: [Yes, everything belongs to God and the Lamb] Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honor, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen.”

 

“And one of the [24] elders answered, saying to me, “What are these which are arrayed in white robes? And whence came they?’ And I said unto him, ‘Sir, thou knowest.’ And he said to me, ‘These are they which came out of [the] Great Tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them.’”

 

“[Because these particular saints experienced hunger and thirst during the Great Tribulation,] They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away [their memories of suffering and] all tears from their eyes.” (Revelation 7:9-17, KJV)

 

 Summary

 

In keeping with the distinction between saints and prophets, Revelation 7 describes two groups of people who will live during the Great Tribulation. The prophets are numbered and the saints are numberless. A numberless multitude will be saved out of all nations and cultures during the Great Tribulation. The 144,000 will be sealed first (before the Great Tribulation begins) and the saints that receive their testimony will be sealed during the Great Tribulation.

 

Specification #5

 

This specification is not often discussed, because it is poorly understood. The Bible indicates that the 144,000 will experience and successfully endure the sufferings of Christ. The highest honor that God can bestow on the followers of Jesus is to allow us to experience the sufferings of Christ. This concept may sound strange at first, so please consider the nature and purpose of Christ’s suffering for us. Paul wrote, “In bringing many sons to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the author of their salvation perfect through suffering. Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are [members] of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers.” (Hebrews 2:10,11, insertion and italics mine)

 

The word “fellowship” is defined as two or more people having the same experience or said in the vernacular, tow or more people “in the same boat.” When we suffer for Jesus, we enter into fellowship with Jesus. He becomes our brother in suffering and we become connected to Jesus in an intimate way that words cannot adequately express. There is no stronger bond than brotherhood through suffering. Men and women who have not been on the battlefield find it hard to understand or appreciate the brotherhood that develops among warriors. You have to experience it to understand it. It is a very powerful thing, and I have talked with people who have experienced it.

 

Amazingly, people from different backgrounds and different cultures can be thrown together in an infantry unit during a war, and over the course of time, they become “one” in purpose, plan and action. Of course, they recognize each other’s strengths and weaknesses and they know each other’s faults, but these things do not matter because a powerful bond of love springs up. When men are willing to lay down their life for each other, a union forms that cannot be broken. This is a phenomenon that, if experienced, is never forgotten. Though separated by thousands of miles and decades without communication, comrades never forget the sacrifices made for their brothers. I have seen many veterans reduced to tears when interviewed about their war experiences. This emotion involuntarily rises because through the deepest bonds of love, they are forever connected to their “brothers in battle.” This brotherhood, forged in the heat of battle, partially explains the great love that existed between David and Jonathan. (1 Samuel 18:3)

 

The brotherhood of suffering with Jesus is presented in this last segment because the 144,000 will form a powerful bond of love for Jesus through their suffering for Christ.  We have already learned they will be called on to give up their closest human ties, as necessary, to serve the Lord. As prophets of God, the 144,000 will face the wrath of the devil and his demons, not to mention persecution and torture by wicked people who hate the ways of God. Jesus said, “Anyone who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.” (Matthew 10:37-39)

 

Because of their steadfast devotion to Jesus, the 144,000 will lose everything they own – their family, their possessions, their respect in their community, and like the apostle Paul, their self-worth, to glorify Jesus. In the heat of battle, they will become “one” with Jesus in purpose, plan and action. This is why the 144,000 will serve as “priests” throughout ages to come. They will fearlessly go to their death for the cause of Christ when necessary. Because of their devotion and fidelity to Jesus, the 144,000 will be honored above the rest of the redeemed. No one else, not even the twelve apostles, will be able to sing their song. “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.” (Revelation 14:3) Because they will share in the sufferings of Jesus, the 144,000 will be closest to Jesus. They will literally wear the names of the Father and the Lamb in their foreheads (signifying their exalted position) and they will attend Jesus wherever He goes. (Revelation 14:4)

 

Two levels of Suffering

 

Jesus suffered on two levels for our salvation. First, in the physical dimension, Jesus was treated with contempt; He was mocked, denied justice, flogged and crucified. Ironically, Jesus died on the cross because of man’s hatred and God’s love. Men hated Jesus because they could not tolerate the truth about God, so the “attempted” to murder Jesus on the cross. On the other hand, God loved the world so much that He was willing to give us Jesus as an atonement for sin. Jesus did not die at the hands of men, even though that was their intent. The Father took the life of the Son after Jesus gave it to Him. (Luke 23:46) Never in the Bible is Jesus called the “Lamb of man.” Jesus was the sacrificial Lamb of God.  The Father provided the Lamb for our salvation and the Father took the life that the Lamb willingly gave up. The Son of God died at the hands of the Father. This truth was powerfully demonstrated when Abraham was required to offer the love of his life, Isaac, on Mount Moriah. (Genesis 22:2)

 

Deeper Level

 

The second level of Jesus suffering is more difficult to explain. Jesus suffered within His soul to the point that He would have died in the Garden of Gethsemane if an angel had not strengthened Him. The Bible says His perspiration was like great drops of blood. (Luke 22:43, 44) Of course, the prospect of death on a cross was part of Jesus anguish in the garden, but Roman history tells us that thousands of people hung on crosses in that era. Therefore, Christ’s anguish concerning the cross was similar to the anguish that the two thieves must have felt. Jesus broke into a sweat like blood and would have died in the garden because He was made deathly ill by the presence and power of sin. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) Please consider this text: “During the days of Jesus ‘ life on Earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Although he was a son, he learned obedience from what he suffered and, once made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation for all who obey him.” (Hebrews 5:7-9) Twice in the book of Hebrews, Paul indicates that Jesus was “made perfect” through suffering! The Greek word for perfect, teleioo, means mature, completed or finished. Of course, Jesus was perfect having no sin or rebellion from birth. He never sinned! (Hebrews 4:15) So, how could Jesus be “made perfect” through suffering?

Suffering is a powerful force that drives a human being into rebellion or submission. I would venture that many of the people in prison today are there because of suffering that began in childhood. The carnal nature hates suffering. Suffering produces anger and anger predisposes people to rebel against authority in general and humanity in particular. On the other hand, pain has been used for centuries to force people into submission. Since wicked people are not interested in a system of justice, torture is their best tool because it is a powerful force that drives a human being toward submission. A sinless Jesus was born into “a world of suffering” so He could demonstrate the importance of being perfected through patient suffering.  We cannot totally appreciate the sufferings of Christ at the deeper level because our carnal nature has not been removed, but this will change.

 

Sin was grossly offensive to Christ’s sinless nature. Patiently living among sinners and dealing with the selfishness, blindness and arrogance of the human heart was very hard – even for Jesus. However, Jesus was made perfect in patience through suffering. He faced the tenacious power and degenerate influence of sin every day. Jesus learned how to receive grace from God as it was needed each day, and this is how suffering perfected His patience. Patience is how Abraham and Sarah failed when they decided Abraham should have a son by Hagar. Patience is how Moses failed when he killed the Egyptian. He had to spend forty years herding sheep in the wilderness before God could use him. Patience is how Moses failed when he struck the rock twice and God refused to let Moses enter the Promised Land. Patience is the hardest thing on Earth to perfect! Through faith in God and patience in suffering, Jesus overcame the world. The plan of salvation was perfectly “worked out” because Jesus patiently submitted to the Father’s will each day.

 

James wrote, “Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete [perfect], not lacking anything.” (James 1:2-4, insertion mine) The 144,000 will suffer physically, emotionally and spiritually because of the presence and power of sin. They will suffer most because (a) they will be the first to be sealed, and (b) they will have an overwhelming task to accomplish. Because they have sinless natures, it will be painful for them to deal with the power and presence of sin. The irony is that God’s prophets will love sinners, but they will hate the bondage of sin that controls their listeners! The challenge of the 144,000 during the Great Tribulation will be to lead people to suffer Babylon’s wrath for Christ’s sake, so that the carnal nature can be removed!  Their burden for souls, their frustration with the power of sin and their love for Jesus and sinners will cause deep anguish within the 144,000. They will agonize, as Jesus did in Gethsemane, for strength to fulfill God’s will. Like the shepherd looking for that one lost sheep, the 144,000 will exhaust every physical and emotional fiber in their being to find one last soul so that person can be saved from the jaws of sin.

Summary

John indicates that many, if not all, of the 144,000 will be killed “because of the Word of God and the testimony they maintained.” We also know that millions of saints will be killed during the Great Tribulation because of their faithfulness to Jesus. This is why Jesus said, “If anyone is to go into captivity, into captivity he will go. If anyone is to be killed with the sword, with the sword he will be killed. This calls for patient endurance and faithfulness on the part of the saints.” (Revelation 13:10) This text epitomizes Jesus’ experience: patience and faithfulness. Because the 144,000 will faithfully endure the sufferings of Jesus with success, no other person will be able to sing their song. “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” (Revelation 14:12, KJV)

Specification #6

The sixth specification concerning the 144,000 is that no lie or falsehood will be found in their mouths. (Revelation 14:5) Again, the topic of the 144,000 is like an iceberg - one third of this topic is above the water line and two-thirds are below. This particular specification goes far below the water line. Consider the text: “But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers, the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars – their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8) This verse indicates that no liar will enter the kingdom of Heaven. In this sense, the 144,000 will be no different from anyone else going to Heaven! So, how does Revelation 14:5 exalt the accomplishments of the 144,000 when it says, “No lie was found in their mouths; they are blameless.”

After the 144,000 are sealed, the Great Tribulation will begin with a global earthquake. God’s prophets will be empowered to speak and they will present the demands of the sovereign Jesus to the people of Earth. Now, it is one thing to get angry and to “let loose” in the heat of the moment, but it is quite another to have to stand before hostile groups of people and tell them things they do not want to hear – day after day! The 144,000 will polarize the people of Earth with their speech. People who love truth will follow their lead. People who hate truth will produce every reason why the 144,000 should be silenced. The 144,000 will fearlessly declare the Word of God regardless of personal consequences. Because they will not take up arms to fight and because they will not run from their post, their brazen actions will be stunning and relentless.

When the Pharisees and Sadducees went out in the desert to see John the Baptist, pretending to be interested in his revival message, John quickly detected their hypocrisy and deceit. They were not interested in his message, they were spies sent from the temple. The Bible says, “But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: ‘You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.’” (Matthew 3:7,8) No doubt, those Pharisees and Sadducees were embarrassed, but they could not do anything about his remarks because they were outnumbered. John the Baptist was to the first advent what the 144,000 will be to the second advent. The 144,000 will not blunt the double-edged sword of truth by compromising their message. The Great Tribulation will not be a time for soft peddling the gospel. That day will be a valley of decision for multitudes. The 144,000 will cry out, “… Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” (Matthew 3:3)

Hopefully, a picture is forming in your mind and heart. The Bible exalts the integrity and honesty of the 144,000 saying, “No lie was found in their mouth; they are blameless,” because they will be faithful spokespersons. They will proclaim the terms and conditions of salvation and their message will not be compromised or varnished. They will openly call sin by its right name and the Holy Spirit will work signs and wonders through them, confirming their message. Looking forward to their fiery assignment, these words in Revelation 22 will be particularly potent because there will be many who will reject or attempt to deflect their testimony. “I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds anything adds anything to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book. And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.” (Revelation 22:18,19)

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