The Book of Revelation (part 17)
June 24, 2020
The Book of Revelation (part 17)
Breaking the Seals (Cont’d)
The 144,000 and the Multitude
The Rapture of the Church
We are going through the book of Revelation verse by verse on Wednesday nights. Our world is changing. Jesus’ return is soon! I want you to be informed as to what the scriptures have to say about His Second coming and what we should be doing to prepare for that day!
The book of Revelation is God coming to repossess the earth that rightfully belongs to Him by judging nations, men, and the demonic hosts of hell that work with Lucifer to hold the earth in bondage to darkness and rebellion. The book of Revelation is God cleansing the earth of all contamination resulting from the fall of man and bringing it back to its pristine condition enjoyed before Adam’s sin.
Revelation 4 shows God as the creator, owner, and sustainer of all things. The Sovereign. The Almighty. He alone is worthy to bring fair judgments and justice into a fallen world.
Revelation 5 shows God with a scroll in His right hand, the hand of authority. The scroll is God’s title deed to the earth, He is the earth’s rightful owner and is preparing to take it back from His enemy Satan, who took the authority over it from Adam and Eve when they sinned.
In Revelation 6, we looked at the opening of 6 of the 7 seals on the scroll on God’s right hand.
(Rev. 6: 2) This first seal being opened begins the reign of the AntiChrist, the rider on the white horse.
(Rev 6: 3) The 2nd seal being opened reveals a rider on a red horse, which depicts war coming to the earth.
(Rev. 6:5) The 3rd seal being opened reveals a rider on a black horse. This depicts famine and inflation due to scarcity of food.
(Rev. 6: 7) The 4th seal being opened reveals a rider on a pale green horse, which depicts disease and death spread due to war and the sepsis coming from dead bodies.
(Rev. 6: 9) The 5th seal being opened reveals martyrs who died for their faithfulness to Jesus and to His word. The 5th seal is the time when the antiChrist breaks His covenant with Israel and shows who he really is.
(Rev. 6:12) The 6th seal reveals cosmic disturbances that occur and reveal the beginning of the day of the Lord, or the wrath of God being poured out on His enemies.
This occurs during the “great tribulation” that Jesus spoke of in Matthew 24. The cosmic disturbances occur and actually cut short the terrible things that occur under antiChrist and his rule.
This is after the signing of the 7-year treaty with Israel and its neighbors, and is after the antiChrist turns against Israel.
The cosmic disturbances tell us that the rapture will occur very soon.
Here is a popular belief that is NOT true: that we will not know when the season of the rapture will be. It could happen any time.
Very clearly in scripture from Jesus and John, we are told that cosmic disturbances will precede the rapture.
The cosmic disturbances will tell us that the rapture of the church is coming soon. The church will be removed from the earth before the wrath of God is poured out during what the Bible terms The Day of the Lord.
And, the Day of the Lord will not begin until the 7th seal is opened and the 1st trumpet judgment begins in Revelation 8.
Revelation 7: A parenthesis between the 6th and 7th seals, showing God’s protection of Jews and the raptured saints in heaven.
With the 6th seal, the cosmic disturbances signal the rapture is now.
With the 7th seal in Revelation 8, the Day of the Lord wrath of God begins.
Revelation 7:1-3 (NKJV)
After these things I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, on the sea, or on any tree.
Here we are in the eye in the middle of a huge storm.
At the end of Revelation 6 is the 6th seal with the huge earthquake and cosmic disturbances signaling the rapture of the church.
In Revelation 8, the angels pause before the Day of the Lord, and destruction begins.
Here in 7:1, the wind is kept from blowing to bring a calm while the 144,000 Jews are sealed by God before His wrath is poured out.
(2) Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God. And he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, (3) saying, “Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.”
The earth, sea, and trees are harmed once the Day of the Lord begins in Revelation 8.
Revelation 8:7-8 (NKJV)
The first angel sounded: And hail and fire followed, mingled with blood, and they were thrown to the earth. And a third of the trees were burned up, and all green grass was burned up.
(8) Then the second angel sounded: And something like a great mountain burning with fire was thrown into the sea, and a third of the sea became blood.
Seals in the New Testament are a sign of ownership, and protection. Before the 7th seal is opened, which begins intense destruction, these servants of God are sealed.
It is interesting to note that the antiChrist places his seal on those who follow him.
Revelation 13:16-17 (NKJV)
He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, (17) and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.
They will not be harmed during the intense judgments of the trumpet judgments and the bowl judgments in Revelation 16.
Revelation 7:4-8 (NKJV) And I heard the number of those who were sealed. One hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed:
(5) of the tribe of Judah twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Gad twelve thousand were sealed;
(6) of the tribe of Asher twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand were sealed;
(7) of the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Levi twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand were sealed;
()8 of the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Benjamin twelve thousand were sealed.
Who are these 144,000?
The Jehovah’s Witnesses say these are the only people saved. Obviously not true.
Some say the seals represent Christians who are sealed and protected by God during this time period, referring to the book of Ephesians which mentions believers being sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.
The most probable interpretation is that the 144,000 represent the Jews who will be converted during the Day of the Lord and are a representation of them from each of the 12 tribes.
Since Jesus was born from the tribe of Judah, it is mentioned first.
Reuben is next since he was Jacob’s firstborn.
The tribes of Dan and Ephraim are replaced by Joseph and Levi, most likely because they fell into gross idolatry.
Revelation 7:9-17 (NKJV)
After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands, (10) and crying out with a loud voice, saying, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” (11) All the angels stood around the throne and the elders and the four living creatures, and fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, (12) saying: “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom, Thanksgiving and honor and power and might,Be to our God forever and ever. Amen.” (13) Then one of the elders answered, saying to me, “Who are these arrayed in white robes, and where did they come from?” (14) And I said to him, “Sir, you know.” So he said to me, “These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. (15) Therefore they are before the throne of God, and serve Him day and night in His temple. And He who sits on the throne will dwell among them. (16) They shall neither hunger anymore nor thirst anymore; the sun shall not strike them, nor any heat; (17) for the Lamb who is in the midst of the throne will shepherd them and lead them to living fountains of waters. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
This is more than likely a scene in heaven just after the rapture of the church, since it was the largest group of people that John had ever seen from every race and nation.
Here are New Testament references to what we call the Rapture.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (TPT)
Beloved brothers and sisters, we want you to be quite certain about the truth concerning those who have passed away, so that you won’t be overwhelmed with grief like many others who have no hope. (14) For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, we also believe that God will bring with Jesus those who died while believing in him. (15) This is the word of the Lord: we who are alive in him and remain on earth when the Lord appears will by no means have an advantage over those who have already died, for both will rise together.
(16) For the Lord himself will appear with the declaration of victory, the shout of an archangel, and the trumpet blast of God. He will descend from the heavenly realm and command those who are dead in Christ to rise first. (17) Then we who are alive will join them, transported together in clouds to have an encounter with the Lord in the air, and we will be forever joined with the Lord. (18) So encourage one another with these truths.
1 Corinthians 15:50-53 (NLT)
What I am saying, dear brothers and sisters, is that our physical bodies cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. These dying bodies cannot inherit what will last forever. (51) But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! (52) It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. (53) For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.
John 14:1-3 (NLT)
Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. (2) There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? (3) When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am.
1 Thessalonians 5:1-9 (NKJV)
The Day of the Lord
But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. (2)For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. (3)For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. (4)But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. (5) You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. (6) Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. (7) For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. (8) But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. (9) For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 (NLT)
Now concerning how and when all this will happen, dear brothers and sisters, we don’t really need to write you. (2) For you know quite well that the day of the Lord’s return will come unexpectedly, like a thief in the night. (3) When people are saying, “Everything is peaceful and secure,” then disaster will fall on them as suddenly as a pregnant woman’s labor pains begin. And there will be no escape.
(4) But you aren’t in the dark about these things, dear brothers and sisters, and you won’t be surprised when the day of the Lord comes like a thief. (5) For you are all children of the light and of the day; we don’t belong to darkness and night. (6) So be on your guard, not asleep like the others. Stay alert and be clear headed. (7) Night is the time when people sleep and drinkers get drunk. (8) But let us who live in the light be clear headed, protected by the armor of faith and love, and wearing as our helmet the confidence of our salvation.
(9) For God chose to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ, not to pour out his anger on us. (10) Christ died for us so that, whether we are dead or alive when he returns, we can live with him forever. (11) So encourage each other and build each other up, just as you are already doing.
Supplement to Today’s lesson: Information about the Rapture of the Church
God showed Daniel, in Chapter 9, 490 years of Israel’s future…
70 weeks of 7 years each
69 are fulfilled.
The time of Daniel’s 70th week, or the last seven years of the 490 years that God showed Daniel, is typically called The Tribulation Period.
But, you will not find this anywhere in scripture!
This was a BIG shock to me.
Jesus refers to great tribulation in Matthew 24 after the antiChrist desecrates the rebuilt Jewish temple mid-way through Daniel’s 70th week, or three and a half years into that period.
The timing of the rapture
The other BIG issue is that I can find NO scripture that clearly says that the rapture will occur before the tribulation, or Daniel’s 70th week, begins.
(I preached for years that Jesus is coming twice; first for the saints in the rapture of the church; then 7 years later with His saints at the Second Coming. But you cannot find anywhere in scripture where it says that Jesus is coming twice! Or that the rapture is seven years before the Second Coming.)
And, when the scriptures refer to Jesus’ Second Coming, it is never plural, but singular.
It is one coming that has several stages to it. (see End Notes)
On the other hand, I clearly see now that the church will be here during the first part of the reign of the anti-Christ, and after the great tribulation will be raptured to heaven.
Another issue is that the rapture is NOT imminent.
That is, it could happen at any time with no signs leading up to it. But, there are clear signs in scripture of the season of the rapture, but not of the very day and hour.
SO, let me show you a chart of what I have taught in the past, and of what many believers in the U.S. still believe.
Some very godly and wonderful people believe the following:
Chart of The Tribulation Period
(Taken From The Prewrath Rapture of the Church by Marvin Rosenthall: Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, p. 108) Used by Permission.
Many teach that the entire tribulation period is a time of God’s wrath, and because it is a time of God’s wrath, we are immune from the entire period, and so the rapture must occur before this time period.
Historically, the pre-tribulation rapture is a fairly new teaching in the body of Christ that started in the 1830’s. It’s mostly an American belief, and is held by a relatively few number of believers worldwide. It is NOT popular in Europe, in Africa, in South America, or even in Canada!
Many godly, wonderful, and smart theologians have encompassed this view in America, primarily in the 20th century.
But, for the majority of the church age, believers have held the view that the church will be here during the reign of the anti-Christ, and will be raptured after his appearing on the scene.*
Chart of Pre-tribulation Rapture
(Taken From The Prewrath Rapture of the Church by Marvin Rosenthall: Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, p. 56) Used by Permission.
I have spent dozens and dozens of hours reading and researching this subject. I have re-read what I have learned and believed in the light of new insight, and have changed my views.
When this process started in 2010, it shook me deeply. I wept as I saw new truth. I wept as God dealt with me about what will come in the future. And it sobered me up!
How my views of the Rapture and the 7 years we call the Tribulation have changed.
As I read through Revelation, I began to see a pattern, a concise series of events that were sequential, that is, one that followed another in a clear sequence of one event followed by another.
At the same time, I still have a very strong conviction that the church of the Lord Jesus will not be here to receive the wrath of God, because Jesus took God’s wrath on the cross for us.
I believe in the scriptures that there are clear indications that the Day of the Lord is a concise period of time that occurs just after the rapture of the church and is a time of the wrath of God being displayed on Satan and those being willfully used by Him. You will see this as we go chapter by chapter through Revelation.
I now believe that the seven years of Daniel’s seventieth week are divided up into three specific periods that are shown in scripture.
(Taken From The Prewrath Rapture of the Church by Marvin Rosenthall: Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, p. 149) Used by Permission.
The first period is called by Jesus the beginning of sorrows (Matthew 24:8) and is spoken of in Matthew 24:4-8 and Revelation 6:1-8.
The second period is called The Great Tribulation. This is the period when the antiChrist breaks his covenant of peace with Israel, desecrates the rebuilt Jewish temple, and then begins to kill Jews and Christians in the Middle East on a wide scale. This great tribulation is mentioned in Matthew 24: 9-28, and in Revelation 6:9-11.
The third period is called the Day of the Lord, and is the beginning of the wrath of God being poured out on the enemies of the kingdom of God. This period is mentioned clearly in Revelation 6:17, and in Revelation 8 with the breaking of the seventh seal and the blowing of the seven trumpets that start the Day of the Lord judgements.
Before this time, there will be cosmic disturbances that will precede the rapture of the church and will signal the beginning of the Day of the Lord. This is clearly seen in Revelation 6:12-17 and in Matthew 24:29-31.
Chart of the Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church
(Taken From The Prewrath Rapture of the Church by Marvin Rosenthall: Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers, p. 61) Used by Permission.
Additional Information about the Parousia and the rapture of the church being included in it:
Jesus’ coming is a singular event.
It contains a number of phases as He returns.
Jesus’ coming is a parousia.
parousia is used 29 times in 9 NT books.
From – para – with
and – ousia – being.
Conveys the idea of an arrival, and a continued presence with…
When we speak of Jesus first coming, we think of the announcement of His birth to Mary, the incarnation in Bethlehem, His temple teaching at age 12, His growing up, His baptism by John, His public ministry, His crucifixion, His resurrection, and His ascension.
His second coming will include the rise of the antiChrist, the birth pangs spoken of by Jesus in Matthew 24, the resurrection of those who have died in Christ, the rapture of the church, the Day of the Lord, Judgment on the wicked, His physical return to Jerusalem in glory and power, and His establishing His millennial kingdom. (p.4)
Of the 17 times the word coming is used in connection with the return of Christ, it is used only in the singular and always with a definite article or personal pronoun (i.e., thy coming, the coming, or His coming). (p. 10).
Matthew 24:3 NKJV
Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”
Matthew 24:27 NKJV
For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.
1 Corinthians 15:23 (NKJV)
But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ’s at His coming.
1 Thessalonians 3:13 (NKJV)
so that He may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints.
1 Thessalonians 4:15 (NKJV)
For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep.
1 Thessalonians 5:23 (NKJV)
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Thessalonians 2:1 (NKJV)
Now, brethren, concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our gathering together to Him, we ask you,
2 Thessalonians 2:8 (NKJV)
And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming.
James 5:7 (NKJV)
Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain.
James 5:8 (NKJV)
You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.
2 Peter 1:16 (NKJV)
For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.
2 Peter 3:4 (NKJV)
and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.”
2 Peter 3:12 (NKJV)
looking for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be dissolved, being on fire, and the elements will melt with fervent heat?
1 John 2:28 (NKJV)
And now, little children, abide in Him, that when He appears, we may have confidence and not be ashamed before Him at His coming.
Not a single Ante-Nicene Church Father supports a signless, any-moment Rapture. By contrast, they uniformly teach that the Antichrist must appear before Christ’s coming for the church and that the church should be watching lest they be caught off guard: (p.11)
The man of apostacy [Antichrist] …shall venture to do unlawful deeds on earth against Christians…( Dialogue with Trypho the Jew, 110)
And they [the ten kings] shall…give their kingdom to the beast and put the church to flight …(Against Heresies V, 26,1)
Be he [John] indicates the number of the name [Antichrist 666] now, that when this man comes we may avoid him, being aware of who he is…(Against Heresies V, 30,4).
Now concerning the tribulation of the persecution which is to fall upon the church from the adversary [he has been speaking of the Antichrist’s persecution of believers]…That refers to 1260 days [the last half of Daniel’s 70th week] during which the tyrant is to reign and persecute the church (Treatise on Christ and Antichrist 60,61).
Now the privilege of this favor [to go without dying at the rapture] awaits those who shall at the coming of the Lord be found in the flesh [those who are still alive] and who shall, owing to the oppression of the time of Antichrist, deserve by an instantaneous death [Tertullian’s way of describing the rapture], which is accompanied by a sudden change, to be qualified to join the rising saints [those who has already died in Christ] as he writes to Thessalonians (On the Resurrection of the Flesh xli).
(Taken from What Does God Say about The Coming and The End? Zion’s Fire newsletter by Marvin Rosenthall, November/December 2008 edition (2009: Winter Garden, FL: Zion’s Hope.org; Zion’s Hope, Inc). pgs, 4,10,11.
Some of the Christian Leaders who never embraced pre-Tribulational rapturism, or who initially embraced it only to renounce it include:
Henry Alford, Oswald T. Allis, Matthew Arnold, David Baron, J. Sidlow Baxter, Louis Berdhof, Rowland V Bingham, Horatius Bonar, William Booth, F.F. Bruce, John Bunyan
John Calvin, William Carey, Edward J Carnell, Thomas Chalmers, Adam Clarke, Charles T. Cooke, Samuel Cooper, Jon Cotton, Alexander Cruden.
Alfred Edersheim, Jonathan Edwards, Charles R. Erdman, W. J. Erdman, Charles Finney, John Foxe, Alexander Fraser, John Gill, A, J. Gordon.
Robert H. Gundry, William Hendriksen, Carl F. H. Henry, Matthew Henry, Herschel H. Hobbs, Charles Hodge, Frank Houghton, Thomas Houghton, John Huss, John Knox.
Martin Luther, Norman S. Macpherson, Cotton Mather, Campbell Morgan, George Mueller, Isaac Newton, Thomas Newton, A. W. Pink, A. B. Simpson, Oswald J. Smith, Charles H. Spurgeon, A. H. Strong, William Tyndale, B.B. Warfield, Charles Wesley, John Wesley, George Whitefield, John Wycliffe.
If some of these names are not familiar to the reader, let it be known that among them are the men who gave us the Bible in the English language, some of the foremost Puritan personalities, the leading reformers, missionaries who with the gospel pierced the darkness of heathen lands, theologians of the first rank, some of history’s greatest preachers and authors whose books have stood the test of time to become classics within Bible-believing Christendom…. None of these men were pretribulational.
From The Pre-Wrath Rapture of the Church by Marvin Rosenthall, Zion’s Fire Newsletter, January-February 2005. (2011: Winter Garden, FL: Zion’s Hope.org; Zion’s Hope, Inc). p. 5