Saturday, March 17, 2018

eschatology, Sealing of the 144,000 (Rev.7:1-8)

After the sixth seal, it's like God hits the pause button, and four angels hold back the winds.  I don't know about you, but I find a hot day without a breeze really stifling.  As well, a commanding angel orders the four "angel-horsemen" who were executing the judgments on the earth to momentarily stop what they were doing...

(Revelation 7:1-3)  After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, so that no wind would blow on the earth or on the sea or on any tree. And I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the seal of the living God; and he cried out with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees until we have sealed the bond-servants of our God on their foreheads.”

God seals 144,000 Jews who have become believers during the Tribulation, who will represent all twelve tribes of Israel!  These will be protected somehow in order to stay alive through the entire 7 years of the Tribulation, which are the last 7 years of the Jewish Age. 

In the Abrahamic covenant, God promised the Israelites their land, seed, and blessings!  For God to completely fulfill the covenants, there needs to be Israelites from every tribe represented - believers in Christ - who remain alive - in order to enter the Millennium and see their kingdom established. 

These are not the only believers who will make it through the Tribulation, but these are the ones set apart for special distinction and service (these will be mentioned again at another time)...

(Revelation 7:4-8)  And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred and forty-four thousand sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel:
from the tribe of Judah, twelve thousand were sealed, from the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand, from the tribe of Gad twelve thousand,from the tribe of Asher twelve thousand, from the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand, from the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand, from the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand, from the tribe of Levi twelve thousand, from the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand, from the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand, from the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand, from the tribe of Benjamin, twelve thousand were sealed.

Today's takeaway:  God is faithful and keeps His promises!  But we should never take God for granted and think that we can just do what we want - and expect God to clean up all our messes.  It is when we make an attempt at being faithful - trusting and doing the things according to His will - that we are rewarded and protected. 

That is not to say that bad things won't happen to us even when we are being obedient, but as it says below, God "will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able..."  It says "to be tempted" and not "to suffer" or "to be persecuted" - but if we were suffering or persecuted to such an extent that we might be tempted to go against God's will - then I believe this promise includes all things. 

Our greatest example is Jesus, who knew what was to happen when He went to the cross, and so - just hours before this - He prayed...

(Mark 14:36)  And He was saying, “Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.”

We are not God.  And we will certainly not have to go through what Jesus went through (going to hell to pay for all sins of all times).  But we will face tests and trials.  And there will be temptations.  Being tempted is not a sin, but acting on the temptation is.  We have a choice in that moment - sin - or do the right thing and trust God...

(1 Corinthians 10:1-13)  For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness.
Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved. Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink, and stood up to play.” Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents. 10 Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.

Friday, March 16, 2018

eschatology, Sixth Seal: Physical Disturbances (Rev.6:12-17)

Jesus breaks the sixth seal, which causes physical disturbances on the earth.  Except for the great flood, this will be like NOTHING we have seen on earth! 

Notice in verses 15-17, all people are terrorized about what is happening all around them and are behaving as they KNOW the end of the world is at hand, not just simply speculating and making worrisome comments about it as some people sometimes do now, in the Church Age... 

(Revelation 6:12-17)  I looked when He broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake; and the sun became black as sackcloth made of hair, and the whole moon became like blood; 13 and the stars of the sky fell to the earth, as a fig tree casts its unripe figs when shaken by a great wind. 14 The sky was split apart like a scroll when it is rolled up, and every mountain and island were moved out of their places. 15 Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; 16 and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; 17 for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?”

Today's takeaway:  also notice that all these people (above) are acknowledging that there is a God, and that the disasters which are happening at the moment are being caused by God.  But they do not choose to turn to Him to be saved.  Instead - they run and try to hide from Him - and they ask (they pray to) the rocks to do them a favor.

Right now, if anyone makes a comment that a natural disaster is God's punishment upon a specific nation or group of people because of "x"... many people become angry, insulted or annoyed, commenting that no one should make such stupid comments.

Now, I would agree that those are stupid comments.  We cannot speak for God and assume that we know He is punishing someone at the moment for one reason or another.  Reading the book of Job explains all that!  We should be wary of making such pronouncements because it is judgmental, and using fear with a critical spirit is no way to share the gospel...

(Luke 6:37-38)  “Do not judge, and you will not be judged; and do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; pardon, and you will be pardoned. 38 Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure—pressed down, shaken together, and running over. For by your standard of measure it will be measured to you in return.”

Thursday, March 15, 2018

eschatology, Fifth Seal: Martyrdom (Rev.6:9-11)

Jesus breaks the fifth seal, which will be a time of extensive martyrdom.

Not far into the Tribulation, there will be people becoming believers!  I'm sure right after the rapture, some people will notice that all their Christian friends are missing and say - "Oops, wait a minute.  I was told something about...  WHY didn't I listen?..."  and then become believers at that very moment of realization.

It will not be easy to be a Christian during these seven years;  but as soon as these believers die, they are kept safe "underneath the altar" for the rest of the Tribulation. 

They are given white robes, which maybe includes or means that they will receive their heavenly bodies, and their rewards at the "Bema Seat" - although that may happen near the end of the Tribulation, as it says below "until the number"... will "be completed"...

(Revelation 6:9-11)  When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; 10 and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11 And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also.

Today's takeaway:  God also tells the martyred saints "to rest a little while longer".  Because of what other scriptures say (and we will get to that), I believe this means that they are to keep praying and trusting God as He takes care of justice.

It is difficult to watch someone "get away with murder", especially if they get to keep on living a life of luxury.  We do not know what those people are actually going through.  And we do not know God's plans for them.  But we should know that God knows everything, and God will do the right thing!

We need to focus on what we should be doing!...

(Romans 12:14-21)  Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15 Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16 Be of the same mind toward one another; do not be haughty in mind, but associate with the lowly. Do not be wise in your own estimation. 17 Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all men. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. 19 Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

(Ephesians 4:26-32)   Be angry, and yet do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, 27 and do not give the devil an opportunity.  28 He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need. 29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear. 30 Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. 31 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. 32 Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

eschatology, Fourth Seal: Death (Rev.6:7-8)

Jesus breaks the fourth seal, which releases the Ashen Horse.  This means worldwide death, by every sort of method, including diseases.  One fourth of the population will die.  (Except for the great flood) this is catastrophic and has never been seen on earth before.

The one who sits on this horse is named "Death" - and Hades will follow with him.  This is dark.  We can only imagine that there will not be any "peaceful passing away" in this scenario...

(Revelation 6:7-8)  When the Lamb broke the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature saying, “Come.” I looked, and behold, an ashen horse; and he who sat on it had the name Death; and Hades was following with him. Authority was given to them over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword and with famine and with pestilence and by the wild beasts of the earth.

Today's takeaway: I'm thinking of these verses...
 (Ecclesiastes 7:1-4)  )  A good name is better than a good ointment, and the day of one’s death is better than the day of one’s birth.
It is better to go to a house of mourning than to go to a house of feasting, because that is the end of every man, and the living takes it to heart.
Sorrow is better than laughter, for when a face is sad a heart may be happy.
The mind of the wise is in the house of mourning, while the mind of fools is in the house of pleasure.

The day of our death is only better than the day of our birth - IF - we are believers and know that we are going to heaven to be with our Lord and Savior!

When babies are born, we are encouraged as we see that new life can come into our lives.  Birthdays are celebrated as we see the evidence of growth.  But when someone dies - it makes us stop and think!  REALLY think!  It reminds us that at any time, any one of us could pass away, no matter our age.

Funerals of fellow believers SHOULD BE a time of celebration, because they will suffer no longer, and we will see them again in heaven for all eternity!  Although, yes, we will still mourn because we will miss them for a short time while here on earth.

Let's remember though that life continues on.  There are other people around us - still alive - still wanting and needing our attention.  The length or amount of our mourning does not equate to how much we loved that person.  And we have to know that that person would have wanted us to continue on living and experiencing joy!

Now, funerals of unbelievers are sad and devoid of hope, as we see a lost soul gone, without any more chances.  Although we do not know what happened in the very last few seconds of that person's life.  MAYBE they had a change of heart.  We will not know that until we reach heaven.  But "the house of mourning" should pique our desire to share the good news with anyone, as God gives us the opportunity.

This should be our ultimate comfort and encouragement:  that God is fair, and God is love...

(2 Peter 3:9)  The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.

(John 3:16)  For God so loved the world, that He gave His [e]only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

eschatology, Third Seal: Famine (Rev.6:5-6)

Jesus breaks the third seal, which releases the black horse.  This will be worldwide famine.  We're not told how this will come about.  There can be many causes for food shortages, besides drought or pestilences.  I remember a pastor from Ethiopia explaining that because the religious leaders in their area deemed that it was wrong to eat fish - entire villages experienced famine - even though right beside them there was a river loaded with fish!  And because of the corruption in the government, any food sent to them from other nations - never made it to them - but was sold on the black market.

Whatever the cause, in the Tribulation, food will become very expensive.

A denarius (back when this was written) typically bought 10 quarts of wheat, which would have fed a soldier for ten days.  So with this in mind, the denarius will only buy one quart of wheat which will have to be rationed over ten days (probably shared by several people).  Same with the barley.  A denarius back then bought 30 quarts, but in the Tribulation, it will only buy 3 quarts. 

Just imagine taking what you typically eat in one day - and having to stretch that out for over ten days...

(Revelation 6:5-6)  When He broke the third seal, I heard the third living creature saying, “Come.” I looked, and behold, a black horse; and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine.”

Today's takeaway:  I feel "starved" in between meals, so I can't imagine!  I'm just always so thankful for how God provides.

Recently, I heard a sermon on how God provided for the Israelites in the wilderness.  Now granted, because of the their disobedience, they were made to wander around in circles for forty years.  But God put them in a position where they had no choice but to rely on Him.  They had no choice but to see how marvelous and generous He is.

Keep in mind:  a wilderness is devoid of all resources, especially for over two million people!!!  But over all those years,God provided a pillar of cloud for shade in the day and a pillar of fire for warmth at night, their clothes never wore out, and God provided health, safety, water, meat and daily (heavenly) bread... 

Most important is how God provides salvation, even though we don't deserve it.  Jesus is the Bread of Life, who came form heaven!  It is the only thing that will feed and satisfy our starving souls!  And it is free!...

(John 6:35)  Jesus said to them, I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. 

(John 6:45-51)  It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught of God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me. 46 Not that anyone has seen the Father, except the One who is from God; He has seen the Father. 47 Truly, truly, I say to you, he who believes has eternal life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. 50 This is the bread which comes down out of heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.”

(Deuteronomy 8:1-18)  “All the commandments that I am commanding you today you shall be careful to do, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the Lord swore to give to your forefathers. You shall remember all the way which the Lord your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LordYour clothing did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years. Thus you are to know in your heart that the Lord your God was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son. Therefore, you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing forth in valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; a land where you will eat food without scarcity, in which you will not lack anything; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. 10 When you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you.
11 “Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments and His ordinances and His statutes which I am commanding you today; 12 otherwise, when you have eaten and are satisfied, and have built good houses and lived in them, 13 and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and gold multiply, and all that you have multiplies, 14 then your heart will become proud and you will forget the Lord your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 15 He led you through the great and terrible wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water; He brought water for you out of the rock of flint. 16 In the wilderness He fed you manna which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do good for you in the end. 17 Otherwise, you may say in your heart, ‘My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.’ 18 But you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day..."