Rush away, Holy Spirit

Rushing

Then the Spirit of the Lord will rush upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man.  1 Samuel 10: 6

This was promised to King Saul, when Samuel anointed him as king of Israel.  1 Samuel 10:9 goes on to record that when Saul turned his back to leave Samuel, “God gave him another heart.”  I love how the ESV talks about the work of the Holy Spirit as rushing upon the people that God was working in.  In Judges 13:25 it tells that “the Spirit of the Lord began to stir in Samson in Mahaneh-dan.”  Then in Judges 14:6 we see, “Then the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon him (Samson) and although he had nothing in his hand, he tore the lion in pieces as one tears a young goat.”

The Holy Spirit lives inside of believers.  We are told in Ephesians 5:18 to be filled with the Spirit.  This is the same Holy Spirit that rushed on Saul and Samson and the same Holy Spirit that is described in Acts 2:2 as coming from heaven like a mighty rushing wind.  Can you picture the Spirit stirring in you and rushing upon you?

I have prayed for people often that the Holy Spirit would begin to stir in them, giving them an awakening of God in their lives.  I picture them beginning to think thoughts that are alien to their way of thinking and then wondering, “where did that come from?”  I picture them wanting to read the Bible where they never did before.  I also pray for them to have a desire to be about spiritual things and not just fleshly desires.  And then the rushing of the Spirit.  I pray that those who are gripped by a messed up past would be gripped by something other than their dysfunction–the power of the Spirit to overcome the former driving passions to a holy one.

When the Holy Spirit rushes on us, He changes us in the snap of a finger.  It’s a change maybe we had been trying to accomplish on our own for years.  Rush away Holy Spirit.  Shorten the time gap of change.  

I pray that the Holy Spirit would rush on me, turning me into a different person.  When we place our faith in the work of Jesus, calling on God to save us and to make us His child, that’s what happens.  God replaces our sinful, dirty and depraved hearts with His heart of righteousness.  We now have the ability to walk away from a fight, the power to say no to sin and the desire to serve God and others instead of being devoured with selfish ambitions.

It is a process that takes place when we are saved and it keeps taking place as we feed on the words of the Bible, invite the renewing work of the Holy Spirit into our lives, and take steps of obedience as God leads us into this new life.  Rush away Holy Spirit.

 


But God

ButGod1920.pngBut God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

Those are two of my favorite words.  When things are piled up against us for success, for our circumstances, for whatever life brings us and it seems there is no hope–But God.  Joseph said it in Genesis 50:20: “You meant it for evil BUT GOD meant it for good.”  Joseph could have said: “You wrecked my life, you took it on a course where I was a slave and a prisoner.  I had to be separated from my family and live like an orphan for twenty years.  I was a victim.”

My own narrative for Joseph: “But because of God, I’m okay.  I’m not going to have you put to death.  God has been a strong influence in my life, giving me the power to obey and the hope to not give up.  God has also spoken to me that it was His doing, His hand on my life.  It didn’t make sense until now.  He used me to save you all and that’s a big deal.  Things began to get better when I got promoted in Egypt and I started to think that was the reason all of this happened.  But now I see an even bigger picture and it’s about your lives and all of our relatives to come that God sent me here ahead of you.  It’s okay.  I forgive you.”

Let me take you to some other “But God’s” to see if you can grab a hold its significance in our lives.  Ephesians 2:3-4,  “We were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.  But God, who is rich in mercy, saved us because of His great love for us.”  And Romans 5:8, “But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”  We were sinners and objects of God’s wrath, deserving of death and Hell.  But God stepped in and rescued us because of His great love for us.

You can write down the troubling things of your life, maybe your personal history of abuse, trauma and rebellion.  After each circumstance that continues to haunt you, write down “But God” and then write (or say in your mind) what it is that God has done to use those bumps and bruises for your betterment and for His kingdom.  

The script is different for each of us, but we all have “But God’s” if we’ve truly met Him and given Him our lives to take and to make new.  Paul wrote in Philippians 3:13-14, “forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”  Paul could forget his rebellious and prideful past because God showed Paul His purpose for His kingdom and how he was using his past to write a new future.

Paul had to surrender anger, bitterness, shame and rebellion to God’s ways and to be melted by God’s love, We must do the same.  Surrender your past to God and allow Him to work out His providential plan and  redemptive ways in your life.

What are some things that may haunt you that you need to put down and add, “But God” to?  How has God changed those things to make them produce something good?

 


God’s Providence

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.  Genesis 50:20

Joseph is the one who uttered these words to his brothers.  If you haven’t read the story of Joseph, it is a must read!  It is told in Genesis chapters 37-50.  The general plot is this: Joseph was one of twelve sons of Jacob.  Jacob’s tree is the family line that Jesus comes through.  Joseph’s brothers didn’t like him and sold him to slave traders from Egypt. Despite the bad set of circumstances, Joseph had dreams from God that kept him trusting that there was somehow a plan.

He ended up being put in prison unjustly.  While there Joseph interpreted some very important dreams.  When he interpreted the Pharaoh’s dreams about times of plenty followed by times of famine, Joseph was placed as second in command of all Egypt.

When famine struck, his brothers came to Egypt asking for food.  The same guys that wanted to kill Joseph and seemingly wrecked his life were asking for a favor.  Once Joseph revealed who he was, they were no doubt thinking they were in for pay back once their father Jacob died.  In Genesis 50:20 Jacob is dead and they think trouble is ahead.

Then Joseph speaks these profound words of forgiveness and trust in God’s providence: you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.  He used it to save your lives, and our whole family’s lives.  Joseph must have had words from God to lead him to this conclusion and not be bent on revenge.

providenceThere are so many ways this truth of God’s providence applies to our lives.  God does have a plan that He is working out for each of us.  We don’t have to resort to a victim mentality or give up on God when things don’t make sense.  Hold on.  God is good and He loves those He calls and adopts as His children.  That’s us.  That’s you.  Take hope in that today.  Trust God, obey Him and regardless, follow His footsteps in the dark.

 


To sin: “You’re not the boss of me!”

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The Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why has your face fallen?  If you do well, will you not be accepted?  And if you do not do well sin is crouching at the door.  Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.  Genesis 4:6-7

“For sin will have no dominion over you.”  Romans 6:14

The glorious message in the Christian life is that sin no longer is your master.  Because of Jesus’ victory over sin and death, we can live free from enslaving habits and sins.  We can live in victory and freedom. Let freedom ring!

Most Christians would readily agree that sin is crouching at our doors.  If we give that sin a place in our life, sin will take over and be our boss.  Addictions and chronic sin patterns are like that.  But what many miss is the freedom and victory that Jesus offers.  Our new master is Jesus and He has given us His Holy Spirit to empower us to say “no” to sin and “yes” to the life that He wants to give all of us.

Some of the things that we must build into our daily diets to conquer sin are:

  •      Stay away from tempting sins.  If you want to quit eating chocolate, don’t stand in the candy aisle!
  •      Confess and obey immediately. The longer you hang on to a sin, the harder it is to break.
  •      Walk in the Spirit, consciously committing each day to God.  Ask God to empower you with His Spirit, being careful to listen to His promptings.  It is through the Holy Spirit’s power and energy that we are able to live out the Christian life.
  •      Take the time to read and study the Bible.  This is not a magic formula, but it is like eating.  You wouldn’t go a day without eating because it would make you weak.  So don’t go a day without getting your spiritual food.
  •      Flood your life with the opposite good of what you’re trying to flee.  Instead of just focusing on not doing something unproductive or sinful, start filling that time with doing something good, productive and nondestructive.
  •      Find a trusted friend to be honest and vulnerable with to keep each other accountable to the things that are in your lives that need to go.

Victory over sin is possible through Jesus.  Sin does not have to be our boss.  That is today’s good news!

*Image from kyroisity@wordpress.com


What a day that will be!

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And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man.  He will dwell with them, and they will be His people, and God Himself will be their God.  He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.  Revelation 21:3-4

Our last devotion was about Jesus defeating Satan in an epic battle, as described in Revelation 19 and 20.  The beast and the false prophet were thrown in the lake of fire that burns with sulfur.  Satan is bound in a sealed pit for a thousand years.  Jesus will set up His kingdom during this time, which is the ‘kingdom of God,’ that He taught about so often in the Gospels.

At the end of the thousand years, as Revelation 20 describes, Satan will be released from his prison and there will be yet another epic battle.  Satan will rally the nations, specifically naming Gog and Magog, to march against the saints and Jerusalem, the beloved city.  Satan is defeated and is thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and false prophet are.  Death and Hades are also thrown there.

Then there is an event called “The Great White Throne.”  This is where all of the dead who did not call upon Jesus are brought back to life to stand and to be judged, “according to what they had done,” vs. 12.  Those whose names are not found written in the book of life are also cast into the lake of fire.

Finally, there is once again a new heaven and new earth.  Remember that 2 Peter 3:10 describes what happens to earth when Jesus returns, “the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.”  A new earth is given by God at this time for the 1000 reign of Christ.  

This time, the new Jerusalem comes down from Heaven, adorned as a bride, from Rev. 21:2.  This is where God will come and dwell with man.  He will wipe away our tears because sin and death have been defeated.  The Holy City is described in Rev. 21 as having the glory of God, radiating like a most rare jewel and filled with every jewel imaginable.  There is no temple now, as 21:22 reports, “for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.”  

Take to heart Revelation 22:12, “Behold, I am coming soon, bringing My recompense with Me, to repay everyone for what he has done.”   You must call upon Jesus to save you from your sins and follow Him.  What you do with your time and energy matters.  2 Corinthians 5:10 echos this: “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.”  

For all of the pain that you have endured, rejoice because all of our tears will be wiped away and pain and death will forever be defeated.  “For this light and momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison.”  2 Corinthians 4:17

What a day that will be!  Will you be there?


Jesus Wins!

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Then I saw Heaven opened, and behold, a white horse!  The One sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness He judges and makes war.  His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on His head are many diadems, and He has a name written that no one knows but Himself.  He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which He is called is The Word of God.  Revelation 19:11-13

This is a future battle scene that will take place at the end of Daniel’s seventieth week.  In Matthew 24, Jesus’ first appearance is in the clouds.  Once He appears, the intensity of events builds, with God’s wrath unleashed: “Hide us from the face of Him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come,” Revelation 6:16-17.  There is a pouring out of a series of judgments via seven trumpets.  When each trumpet blows, things are unleashed like hail and fire, the sea turns to blood, and the rivers and water are poisoned by a star named Wormwood.  At one point, locusts are released that heads with crowns, faces like humans, hair like women’s hair, teeth like lions and stings like scorpions.  They torture people for five months.  

There are seven bowls that follow, which include more plagues and destruction.  The Euphrates River is dried up to prepare the way for the kings to come from the east, according to Revelation 16:12.  Demonic spirits are released to assemble the kings of the whole world for battle on the great day of God the Almighty.”   They assemble at the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon, according to Revelation 16:13,16.  This is Megiddo, which is a city in Israel, in the Valley of Jezreel.  This is where the battle will take place.

In Revelation 17 John saw that the leaders from ten countries will hand over their power and authority over to the beast to make war on the Lamb.  ‘The beast’ is described in Rev. 13 as having ten horns and seven heads.  This beast is described more in Rev. 17:7-14.  It seems to be a body of nations and rulers who line up against Jesus.  As you read further in Rev. 13 there is a second beast, which appears to be the Antichrist.  He is the one who will perform great signs to deceive those who dwell on earth, telling them to make an image of the first beast that everyone must worship.  He will also then cause everyone to take a mark to be able to buy or to sell.

Back to the battle, it will culminate in the Valley of Jezreel where Megiddo is, otherwise known as Armageddon.  In Revelation 19:11-21 there is a marvelous description of Jesus coming out of Heaven on a white horse, followed by the armies of Heaven who are arrayed in white  linen and riding on white horses.  The kings of the earth with armies will gather to make war and are then defeated.  The beast is captured along with the Antichrist and are thrown into the lake of fire.  The rest are slain in that valley.

As you continue to read, Revelation 20:1-3 tells how Satan the dragon is bound and thrown into a pit for a thousand years so that he might not deceive the nations any longer.  Jesus then sets up His kingdom where He sits on a throne in Jerusalem to rule and to reign for a thousand years.

1 Corinthians 15:25-26 tells us that Jesus “must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet.  The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”  So the good news is that evil does not win out, but Jesus does.  God has a plan that He has been working out and will work out.  That plan includes good things for the those who call upon Jesus to save them from their sins, admitting that they are a sinners, confessing with their mouths that Jesus is Lord and believing in their hearts that God raised Him from the dead, according to Romans 10:9-13.  “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

Daniel 7:22-23 prophesies, “Then the sovereignty, power and greatness of the kingdoms under the whole Heaven will be handed over to the saints, the people of the Most High.  His kingdom will be an everlasting kingdom, and all rulers will worship and obey Him.”


The Great Tribulation

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Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.”  Revelation 12:17

For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be.  And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved.  But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short.”   Matthew 24: 21-22

The Bible is telling us a story, God’s story.  Some people can read the Bible for years and never really grasp what this story is.  Part of it is because we want to make it our story, and latch onto verses that encourage us, just reading random verses and missing the big picture.  The big story is that God made us, we sinned, He sent Jesus to die for our sin, and we must come to Jesus by faith to receive forgiveness and eternal life.  One day Jesus is coming back to judge the world and to set up a real kingdom.

25-30% of the Bible contains prophecy about this time when Jesus comes back, but yet people skip over it.  They say it will all pan out in the end, or that it’s not an essential and focus on other things.  If God spent so much time talking about it, He must want us to know how things will end.  Many Christians hold to a view of the end times that includes us getting ‘raptured’ out of the seven years of prophetic events.  I struggle to find that as I take a look at the prophetic passages and match them up with each other.  

Others say that the events written about in Revelation have already taken place in history.  They use a symbolic interpretation to determine who the beast, or oppressive world leader, has been and what the mark of the beast would stand for.  There are a couple of things that I would point to in sticking to the face value interpretive principal.  

One is that the events written about in Revelation coincide with Old Testament prophetic writings, as well as Matthew 24 and 2 Thessalonians 2, to name two New Testament passages.  They point to the ‘end of the age,’ or the end of ‘this generation.’  Matthew 24 culminates with Jesus’ return in the clouds, which hasn’t happened yet. The other is that there are many near/far prophecies in the Old Testament that had a fulfillment in the people of that time’s near future, but also a secondary fulfillment related either to Jesus’ life, death and resurrection or to the time when He will return.

Getting back to the great tribulation and Satan’s fury poured out on Christians, according to Matthew 24:21, the great tribulation starts just after the Abomination of Desolation. And in Matthew 24:29-30 we find that it ends with Jesus’ return: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened…and then will appear in Heaven the sign of the Son of Man…and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of Heaven with great power and great glory.”  

As mentioned in previous devotions, this tribulation is a product of Satan’s wrath.  Revelation 12:12 states, “For the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”  When the sixth seal is opened, God’s wrath comes to the earth, as Rev. 6:16-17 states, “…calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide from the face of Him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”  We don’t know the length of time of this great tribulation, but Matt. 24:22 indicates that the time is cut short for the sake of the elect.  

What will happen in the short period of intense tribulation?  ‘The Beast,’ or the Antichrist will exercise power, according to Revelation 13:5-7, “The beast…was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months (3 ½ years).  It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming His name and His dwelling, that is, those who dwell in Heaven.  Also it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them.”  

It is during this time period that the beast will demand for everyone to worship him and to slay those who don’t.  A mark will be required on the right hand or the forehead, “So that no one can buy or sell unless he has the mark, that is, the name of the beast or the number of its name.”  Rev. 13:17.

There will be false christs and false prophets that can perform great signs and wonders, so much so that even the elect may be deceived, according to Matthew 24:24.  Don’t be deceived by them.  Stick to the Bible and its enduring message.  Remember that Israel will be hidden away ‘in the wilderness’ by God.  Revelation 12:6 says, “and the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1260 days.”  With the Jewish calendar having 360 days, 1260 days is equal to 3 ½ years.

Why do we need to know about this time of great tribulation?  Because the Christians that are on the earth at this time will experience the fury of Satan.  He will make war on the Christians and slay those who don’t comply with his demands.  Revelation 13:10 says it well, “Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints.”  We need to know about the possibility of this happening so that we will stand, even if it means death for the sake of Jesus.

Just like you would prepare your children if they were to go to the doctor to get shots, God prepares us.  In John 16:4 Jesus said, “I have said these things to you, that when their hour comes you may remember that I told them to you.”   Along with needing to stand strong, we also need to understand that if we are on the earth during this time that God has a purpose for us.  Rather than hiding out or cowering in fear, we need to be ready to stand in faith and do what it is that God has for us.

 


Daniel’s 70th week and the Abomination of Desolation

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Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to Him, we ask you, brothers…Let no one deceive you in any way.  For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.  2 Thessalonians 2:1-4

In order to understand the events of the time before Jesus returns, we need to know some key events that are mentioned in the book of Revelation, as well as 2 Thessalonians 2, and Matthew 24.  Two of those events that I mention today will be seven years of prophetic significance called “Daniel’s Seventieth Week,” and “The Abomination of Desolation.”

There is a period of time that is referred to related to the end times.  It is known as “Daniel’s Seventieth Week,” or “The Seven Years of Tribulation.”  In Daniel 9:24-27, Daniel was getting a prophetic lesson from the angel Gabriel about things to come.  He started by explaining that 70 weeks were decreed about the Jews and Jerusalem to “finish the transgression, to put an end to sin, and to atone for iniquity, to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal both vision and prophet, and to anoint a most holy place (vs. 24).”

That’s a mouthful.  The idea is that 69 weeks are completed, but there is one more week yet to be fulfilled to finish everything listed in verse 24. A ‘seven’ represents a seven-year period, so seventy ‘7 year periods’ is equal to a total of 490 years.  That period of time is to finish the things mentioned in Daniel 9:24.  It’s more complicated than that, but for now, let’s just say that most people believe that there is one week, or seven years left,  where the rest of the prophetic events will take place surrounding Jesus’ return.

Those seven years begin with an agreement, which is mentioned in Daniel 9:27, “And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering.  And on the wing of abominations shall come who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.”

An covenant of some sort will be forged with the antichrist figure, the man of lawlessness as 2 Thessalonians 2:3 calls him, with the Jews in Israel.  Daniel 9:26 calls him ‘the prince.’  That will begin the seven years.  It could be a peace treaty, or a pact that enables the Jews to take control of the Temple Mount in Jerusalem where there are now two Muslim shrines.  Perhaps a quickly built Jewish temple will be built so that sacrifices would be resumed.  A temple of some sort will have to be rebuilt in order for it to be desecrated.  

In the middle of the seven years, there will an abrupt end to the Jewish sacrifices.  The antichrist, or man of lawlessness, will offer a sacrifice that is an abomination to Jews.  He will take his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.  According to Matthew 24:15-16, this is when everything busts loose: “So when you see the abomination of desolation spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place (let the reader understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.”

According to Daniel 9:27, this happens in the middle of the seven, or week: “And he (the man of lawlessness or the prince) shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering.”  That means that this abomination of desolation will take place three and a half years into the seven years, the midway point of this seventieth week.

We may or may not know when this covenant is made between this man and the Jews.  We may know it if we hear that the Temple is being rebuilt.  There are a large number of Jews in Israel who have all of the articles for the Temple, as well as a governing body of Rabbis, waiting for this day.  We will know that something is up if the Temple Mount is no longer controlled by Muslims.  Some people interpret the ‘temple of God,’ referred to in 2 Thessalonians 2:4 to mean something else symbolically.  But if you stick to the face value understanding of Scripture, comparing one passage with another, then when Paul refers to ‘the temple,’ it means the temple.

Jesus said in Matthew 24:32-33, “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near.  So also, when you see all these things, you know that He is near, at the very gates.”  Many quote Matthew 24:36, “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of Heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.”  

Jesus went on to say that it would be like the days of Noah when people were swept away unwittingly. But Noah knew that the flood was coming and once his ark was finished, he most likely knew that the rain would come at any time.  Although we can’t know when this seven year period is going to begin, we can read the signs of Matthew 24:15-28 to know that Jesus is near, at our very gates.

This is a lot to wrap your mind around if you have never sorted through any of the events of Revelation or other prophetic passages.  But hopefully you will have some explanations that make sense to you.  As we go on, maybe you can eventually piece together a framework that will help you to understand end time events.  

“But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”  Luke 21:36

*Picture from Google images

 


The 144,000

After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, 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.  Revelation 7:1-4

In walking through the book of Revelation, we encounter things like seals, trumpets, a group of people called “the 144,000,” two witnesses, and time periods of days that mean something.  If you understand these basic events, time periods, and groups of people, it may help you to understand what we can from the book of Revelation.  There is a certain mystery to prophecy that leaves the knowledge of what will really happen to the people that are alive at that time.  Maybe it will be us, maybe not.

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The 144,000 is an interesting group of people that will play a part in things just after the sixth seal.  Who are they?  Chapter 7 tells us that there are 12,000 from each of the twelve tribes of the sons of Israel (Jacob).  Between Revelation 7:1-8 and 14:1-5 we find these details:

  • They have Jesus and God’s name written on their foreheads as a seal
  • They will be redeemed (or purchased) from the earth
  • They are virgins and no lie was found in their mouth, they are blameless
  • They will follow the Lamb wherever He goes
  • The Day of the Lord doesn’t begin until they are sealed for protection
  • They are redeemed as firstfruits for God and the Lamb

Again, I am using a non symbolic, face value interpretation of the Bible.  To be redeemed or purchased from the earth indicates to me that they were dead and are brought back to life.  The next deduction that can be made is that in order to get 12,000 pure Israelites from each tribe, they would have to be brought back to life from before the time that the northern kingdom fell to Assyria in 722 B.C.  That was when the Israelites (northern kingdom) intermingled with the Assyrians and the tribal lines wouldn’t be pure after that.  

Ezekiel 37 tells the account about Ezekiel seeing a vision with a valley of dry bones and God tells him to prophesy so that they would come to life.  In verse 9-14 it says, Prophesy to the breath; prophesy, son of man, and say to the breath, ‘Thus says the Lord God:  Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe on these slain, that they may live.’

So I prophesied as He commanded me, and the breath came into them, and they lived and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army…Thus says the Lord God: ‘Behold, I will open your graves and raise you from your graves, O My people.  And I will put My Spirit within you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land.  Then you shall know that I am the Lord.’

We have the same words used as Rev. 7 uses, with four angels holding back the four winds  so that the 144,000 can be sealed for protection.  Add to that Daniel 12:1-2, “And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time…And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.”  

My view is this: God is going to bring back to life the Jewish people who lived before Jesus.  They never had a chance to accept or reject Him.  He will protect them in the wilderness to deal with them.  Isaiah 26:20 states, “Come, My people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until the fury has passed by.”  Zechariah 12:10-14 describes how God is going to deal with them “when they look on Me, on Him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only child (vs. 10).”  Rev. 12:6 adds, “And the woman (Israel) fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, in which she is to be nourished for 1260 days.”

To summarize, the 6th seal will be opened some length of time after the event of the Abomination of Desolation.  That will be a topic for another day.  There will be a flurry of intense persecution by Satan where, according to Rev. 12:13-17,  he will go after Israel and won’t be able to get to them because God is hiding them away.  He will then go after Christians.  We will get to Revelation 12 as well.  

Before the 7th seal, I believe that the 144,000 will be brought to life.  Also, an exceedingly great army of Jews will be brought back to life as well so God can deal with them and then bring a remnant of them into the restored land of Israel, as Zechariah 13 describes.  The events that take place once the seventh seal is opened will be a series of events that pours out God’s wrath on those who rejected Him.  It will culminate in a battle between Jesus and Satan, with Jesus winning.

That’s the good news for today!  Jesus wins and He will reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet.  The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”  1 Corinthians 15:25-26

 


The Sixth Seal

When He opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale.  The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.  The the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountain, calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of Him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?  Revelation 6:12-17

I always thought that the book of Revelation was something that no one could really make sense of.  I had been taught from a certain end times’ perspective growing up, but there were verses that I’d read that didn’t fit.  When I would ask why they didn’t fit, it was like I needed a decoder ring to get all of the special explanations.

Then I made it my goal to study Revelation all of one summer.  That turned into a study of all of the prophetic verses, especially in the Old Testament, and that lasted for at least two years.  One of the things that helped was using a “face value” approach to Scripture.  That means that you take a look at what is written and take it in its plain sense.  You don’t dig to find some hidden spiritual meaning of words and phrases.

That puts you, or the person that says, “This stands for…”  in the place the authority of the Biblical authors.  If another spot in the Bible tells you that’s what it means, then it’s okay.  As  you compare one passage against another, eventually a timeline will begin to emerge that makes sense.

The next few devotions will include passages, key events and details that might help you begin to piece together a timeline of things that are yet to come, whenever they are.  I recently was a part of a group where everyone at the table had a different view of the end times.  I joked that maybe the ones who are right will get preferential seating in Heaven.  I understand that others have different positions, but I am laying out mine, using a face value approach to Scripture.

red blood moonThe sixth seal has some parallel passages that will help you to understand when it will occur.  I talked about this day in my post, “The Day of the Lord,”  (from 2 Peter 3) and abbreviated it the DOTL.  The DOTL and the breaking open of the sixth seal are the same event.  We’ll take a look at two passages that describe this day.  The first passage is Matthew 24:3-31.  Here are verses 29-31:

Immediately after the tribulation of those days, ( after the Abomination of Desolation) of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from Heaven, and the powers of the Heavens will be shaken.  Then will appear in Heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of Heaven with power and great glory.  And He will send out His angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather His elect from the four winds, from one end of Heaven to the other.

If you look at the “cosmic disturbances” of the sun, moon, stars and sky it matches up with Revelation 6 and the sixth seal.  The event that Matthew 24 includes the appearing of the Son of Man–Jesus.  Matt. 24 also tells us about our being gathered together to meet Jesus in the air.  This is before all of the bad things break loose.  

This is the point where God’s wrath is poured out on those who have rejected Him.  By the way, nothing before this point is called ‘God’s Wrath.’  There is a period of time where Satan will attack with a vengeance and in Revelation 12:12, referring to this time it says, “But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!”  

When people quote 1 Thessalonians 5:9, “For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,” they are right.  We will not be around when His wrath is poured out on the earth.  But we could be around for the time just before this, when Satan fights with a vengeance because he knows his time is short.  We’ll see more about that when we get to Revelation 12.

To summarize, when you compare Rev. 6, Matthew 24, (and also Joel 2:30-31), you will see that they are speaking of the same event.  Matthew 24 tells us this is when believers will be gathered up to meet the Lord in the air.  Then the wrath of God, “the great and terrible day of the Lord,” occurs.  It will include signs that no one can miss and everyone will see.

“Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and God our Father, who loved us and gave us eternal comfort and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts and establish them in every good work and word.”  2 Thessalonians 2:17-17

*Image from Thomas Taylor Ministries