The One Hundred Forty-Four Thousand
May 27th, 1962 @ 10:50 AM
THE ONE HUNDRED FORTY-FOUR THOUSAND
Dr. W. A. Criswell
5-27-62 10:50 a.m.
On the radio you are sharing with us the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas. This is the pastor bringing the eleven o’clock morning message entitled The One Hundred Forty-Four Thousand. In our preaching through the Bible, after these many years, we have come to the last book. And in our preaching through the Revelation, the last book, we have come to chapter 7. And the sermon this morning is on the first eight verses of chapter 7. And if you would like to turn to it and follow the message in the Bible, do so. Revelation chapter 7:
After these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree.
And 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 given to hurt the earth and the sea,
Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads.
And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed a hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.
Of the tribe of Judah were sealed twelve thousand, of the tribe of Reuben. . .twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad . . .
Of the tribe of Asher . . . of the tribe of Naphtali . . . of the tribe of Manasseh . . .
Of the tribe of Simeon . . . of the tribe of Levi . . . of the tribe of Issachar
Of the tribe of Zebulun . . . of the tribe of Joseph . . . of the tribe of Benjamin were sealed twelve thousand.
The twelve tribes, twelve thousand in each tribe, one hundred forty-four thousand, “And there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all of the tribes of the children of Israel” [Revelation 7:4]. Now the chapter is divided into two parts. Here in English you have it translated, “And after these things I saw” [Revelation 7:1], and then in verse 9, “After this I beheld” [Revelation 7:9].
But the Greek is just the same; meta tauta eidon, meta tauta eidon, the exact words, “after these things I saw.” There are two visions in chapter 7. The first vision is of the children of Israel [Revelation 7:1-8]. And the second vision, “After this I beheld a great multitude of all kindreds, and peoples, and tongues . . .” the second vision is of the Gentiles [Revelation 7:9-17].
Now the sermon this morning concerns the first vision, which is the vision of the one hundred forty-four thousand of all of the tribes of the children of Israel. “After these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth. And an angel arose from the east, having the seal of God: and cried with a loud voice to the four angels” [Revelation 7:1-2]. Four times there it is referred to, and that word “four” is the number of this world, these four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, at the four quarters of the earth.
In the seventh chapter of the Book of Daniel, the prophet saw four winds striving over the mighty sea, and out of the striving arose the four beasts that represent the four great empires of the world [Daniel 7:2-3]. So the vision has to do with this world, this created world. And the vision here says that I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds; krateō, the word kratos means “power,” “might,” “dominion” [Revelation 7:1] In Revelation 1:8 and in Revelation 4:8, translated there God Almighty, that’s that same Greek word; panto krator, panto, pan refers to everything, and kratos, “power”; so panto krator is the name of an all-powerful, all-mighty God. And you have the word translated here “holding” [Revelation 7:1]. In Revelation 2:25 it is translated “holding fast.”
The picture is, these winds are striving to be turned loose, and they are held in abeyance by the omnipotence of Almighty God [Revelation 7:1]. So these four winds of judgment, by the way, they’re not to blow on the earth. That represents settled government. They’re not to blow on the sea. That represents the restlessness and confusion of mankind [Revelation 7:1]. And not to blow on any tree; the trees represent the majesty, and the dignity, and the culture, and the civilization, and the glory, and the beauty of man. And they are held in abeyance by the Lord God Almighty [Revelation 7:1]. There is a judgment that is ready and restless to fall upon this vile and evil world, but it is held in abeyance by the omnipotence of God.
This passage then, this whole chapter 7 is plainly an interlude, it is plainly a parenthesis [Revelation 7:1-17]. It is placed here between the opening of the sixth seal and the opening of the final seventh seal. The first six seals were opened in chapter 6 [Revelation 6:1-17]. The seventh and final seal is opened here in chapter 8 [Revelation 8:1]. And between the two, between “the beginning of sorrows” and the beginning of “the great and final tribulation,” there is this parenthesis, this interlude [Revelation 7:1-17].
These four angels that have in their hands the four judgments of Almighty God, to wither and to blast and to destroy, in chapter 8, they are turned loose. As they sound the first four trumpets, there is a vast wave and destruction and judgment in the earth [Revelation 8:6-13].
But before that judgment falls and before this visitation comes from an Almighty God, the Lord says, “Wait, wait, stay thy hand; for first, before that judgment falls, we must seal God’s elect” [Revelation 7:2-3]. Care must be taken to protect those who belong to God before that terrible judgment falls. It is thus in all of the story of human history.
God’s elect are precious in His sight and for their sakes judgment doesn’t fall. The reason this world stands, the reason government exists, the reason civilization endures is because of the elect of God. Were it not for them, it would be destroyed like a withering blast from the word, the judgment, and the visitation of the Almighty. Had there been ten righteous men found in Sodom, Sodom would not have been destroyed [Genesis 18:20-23, 31-32]. For the lack of ten, it was wasted and judged. So it is in this earth.
The reason judgment doesn’t fall and the reason condemnation doesn’t come is because of God’s elect in the earth. For their sakes, this wind is stayed and the destruction waits. Now in between these awful visitations from heaven, the veil is pulled aside and the mercy and grace and love of God is revealed to His elect [Revelation 7:1-17].
Now who are they? “I saw an angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried . . . to those four angels of destruction to stay, to stay until we have sealed the servants of our God in their forehead. And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand” [Revelation 7:2-4]. That is one of the famous numbers in the Bible and one of the famous numerical groups of argument and identification. There are many theologians who say it is impossible for man to know who they are; so they don’t try. Just dismiss it. Then those who try to explain it fall into every kind of an explanation that mind can conceive of.
The Seventh Day Adventist say that these one hundred forty-four thousand pertain to their communion, who are found observing the Jewish Sabbath when the Lord comes again, and they are raptured up to glory. The Jehovah Witnesses say that these one hundred forty-four thousand belong to them, that they are the saved at the end time. And they are the great overcomers, and each one of these Jehovah’s Witnesses is striving to be one of that one hundred forty-four thousand. That’s why you’ll see them down there on the street corner. That’s why you’ll see them knocking at the door from house to house. Each one of those Jehovah’s Witnesses is striving to be one of that elect number in order that they might be caught up to heaven and might be saved.
There is a strange esoteric sect called the sect of the “Flying Roll.” And they believe it pertains to them, and they are going to be the one hundred forty-four thousand, and their blood is going to be cleansed, and they’re going to be given immortal life upon this earth.
Then, of course, there are those theologians without number who identify them with Israel. These children of Israel represent the church, the redeemed by the grace of God of all ages and of all time. And “Israel” equals “the church,” Israel represents the church. Well, there are lots of things to be said about that. For one thing, we have just seen the church under the name of the redeemed elders, we have seen the church raptured up to heaven, and there they are crowned and robed and enthroned in glory; God’s church [Revelation 4:4].
Another thing about that; in the fourteenth chapter of the Book of the Revelation, John sees that one hundred forty-four in the presence of those elders who represent His church. Each one is there in his own character, with his own blessing, in his own place. And they’re not the same. John sees them together; one in the presence of the other, the one hundred forty-four thousand in the presence of the elders who are the redeemed church of Christ [Revelation 14:1-5].
Well, what is wrong with taking it as it is? What is wrong with understanding it as it says? “I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed a hundred and forty and four thousand of all of the tribes of the children of Israel” [Revelation 7:4]. What’s wrong with that? That’s what God said. Let’s take it for this moment that that’s what God meant when He said, “The one hundred forty-four thousand were of all of the tribes of the children of Israel” [Revelation 7:4].
Now, where are those tribes of the children of Israel? The Israelite is here. He’s everywhere. You see him in every nation, in every city, but where are these tribes? If you were to ask an Israelite what tribe do you belong to, he’d have great trouble answering. Now, to me, he doesn’t know but God knows.
All through those genealogical tables following the male of the family, those tribes were kept distinct as long as those records were kept. When the records were destroyed, and the nation was disbursed, they became what you call “lost tribes.” But they’re not lost to God. In their genealogies, every Israelite belongs to a certain family, to a certain clan, to a certain group, to a certain tribe.
In the Book of Matthew, the thirteenth [chapter] is told the parable of the treasure hidden in a field [Matthew 13:44]. And in the one hundred thirty-fifth Psalm, Israel is called God’s “peculiar treasure” [Psalm 135:4]. And though that treasure of God, His people, His chosen family, the descendants of Abraham are buried and hid in their families in the graves of the nations of the world, yet they are known to God; twelve thousand from each one of the tribes of the children of Israel [Revelation 7:1-8].
Now wherever you’ll meet that word twelve in the Bible with reference to the people of the Lord, it always refers to Israel. Twelve is their number. There were twelve tribes [Revelation 7:4-8].
In the nineteenth chapter of Matthew and the twenty-eighth verse, our Lord says that the twelve apostles will sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel [Matthew 19:28]. The high priest had a breastplate on which were twelve precious stones, representing the twelve tribes [Exodus 28:15-21]. On the table of showbread were twelve holy consecrated loaves, representing the twelve tribes of Israel [Leviticus 24:5-6]. And in the great city, the New Jerusalem, there are twelve gates, and on each one of those gates is written the name of one of the tribes of Israel [Revelation 21:12]. There are twelve gates in the city of God representing the twelve tribes. All through the Bible, from its inception until its ending, there will you find that word twelve referring to the children of Israel.
So when I find it here, I find no different thing than I read in the rest of the Bible. Here are twelve thousand sealed, elect, called from the twelve different tribes of the children of Israel [Revelation 7:2-8]. Therefore, you have a confirmation again of the thing we have met time and again in the preaching through the Word of God, that the Lord is not done with the Jew. The Lord is not through with Israel.
And the emphasis to that can be found on every page of history and in the daily newspapers that we follow each day. There is something of God’s promise to Israel that that genus, that “kind,” that “generation” will be here until the Lord comes again [Matthew 24:34]. And inside of the Jewish universal heart, there is that presentiment that God has some greater and better thing for them. And all of the ravages of the centuries, and all of the adversaries of the generations, and all of the waste and persecutions of time, have never yet been able to destroy that out of the Jewish heart, nor to destroy that Jewish race.
The only reason that I know to deny to Israel the blessings, and to arrogate to a literal Israel the curses, is Jewish prejudice on the part of the interpreters of the Bible and on the part of the people of God. And that I do not understand!
I had a woman come up to me in this church a few weeks ago, and wanting to insult me, called me half a dozen times, Rabbi Criswell. I do not object to that, though she thought that it was a great insult to me. “Rabbi” is God’s word for “teacher,” like the Latin word for teacher is “doctor”; doctor so and so, “teacher.” The Hebrew would say rabbi so and so, “teacher.” We would use the word “professor” doubtless. I do not object to it though she thought she was insulting me. And she was asking to get out of the church and wanted her letter, and believe me, I took advantage of the opportunity and bid her a goodbye and forever!
We must never forget, though many people do, we who are in this congregation must never forget that the prophets were all Jews. Our Lord was a Jew. The apostles, all of them were Jews. It was the apostle Paul who said in the ninth chapter of the Book of Romans, “I could wish myself accursed”—damned from Christ—“for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh” [Romans 9:3]. He began the tenth chapter of the Book of Romans with this word, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved” [Romans 10:1] And he concluded the eleventh chapter with the discussion, “Hath God cast away His people? God forbid [Romans 11:1] . . . for blindness in part is happened unto Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in” [Romans 11:25].
They are blinded in part, and that only, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. Then shall the scales drop from Israel’s eyes [Acts 9:18; Romans 11:25-27], and then shall God send them the Redeemer who shall turn sin and unbelief and blasphemy away from Jacob [Isaiah 59:20; Romans 11:26], and God shall keep His covenant that He made with the patriarchs [Romans 11:27]. All of that is in the Book and is an integral part of the revelation and message and ministry of Jesus Christ. And it is inexplicable to me why people spurn things Jewish, even to the denying of their place in the providence and elective purpose of God.
I lived through the most vicious, as you did, of all of the Jewish persecutions of the earth. Adolf Hitler wrote out a mandate to be read in all of the state churches of Germany. And that pastoral mandate read like this–now in order to see it, you look at one of those state churches with the aisles down to the chancel, and the altar, and the great stained-glass window beyond, and the pulpit high over here to the right. So the pastor mounts the pulpit and he reads the edict of Adolf Hitler. And it went like this. “Will all of the men in this church who are Jewish, will they stand up? Now will they turn and leave the church. Now, will all of the women in this church who are Jewish, will they stand up?” Here and there and there. “Now will you leave the church? Now, will all of those in this congregation who had a grandparent on the mother’s maternal side Jewish, will you stand up?” And some stood up. “Now will you leave. Now, will all of those who have a Jewish parent on the paternal side, will you stand up?” And here and there they stood up. “Now will you leave? Now will all of those of Jewish blood anywhere in the family on the father’s side, will you stand up?” And here and there they stood up. “Now will you leave? Will all of those who have any Jewish blood anywhere in the family line on the maternal side, will you stand up? And when here and there one stood up, “Now you are ordered to leave.” And when they were ordered to leave, the Lord God Christ came out of that stained-glassed window, down from the cross, walked the length of the aisle, and left.
You cannot disassociate, you cannot take out of the Holy Scriptures of God His elective purpose in His people and have anything left. And the more I study the Book, and the more I read of its sacred page, and the more I see this thing in human history, and the more I read a daily newspaper, the more I am confirmed that God lives and that the great prophecies of the Lord regarding His people shall be fulfilled. To this very day, their land in Palestine has never been, has never been a refuge, a security, a peace for any Gentile who has ever overrun it. And it never will be, according to the Word of God, until it is given back to those to whom God sware it in Abraham, in Isaac, and in Jacob [Psalm 105:8-11].
So when I read here in the Book “. . . there was sealed a hundred and forty and four thousand of all of the tribes of the children of Israel . . .” [Revelation 7:4]. I read a plain simple sentence from the Word of God. There is a program. There is a destiny. There is a choice. There is an elective purpose. There is a will of heaven that shall be wrought out for those people, and in God’s time it will come to pass.
Now, we have the revelation here of what it is that shall come to pass. Let’s look at it. “I saw from the anatole heliou, from the dawning of the sun, I saw from the sunrising”; I think that’s far more beautiful than to say I saw it “from the east.” This beautiful Greek language; “I saw from the dawning of the sun, or I saw from the sunrising, I saw an angel descend having the seal of the living God. And he sealed these who are numbered out of the elect of Israel” [Revelation 7:2-4].
Now that’s not a peculiar thing. All through the Book, all through the Word of God, you will find the Lord putting a mark, sealing these that belong to Him. In the days of Abraham, the mark was in the flesh. He gave the gift of circumcision: these belong to God [Genesis 17:10]. In the days of the judgment of Egypt, the mark was in the form of a cross, on the lintel, above the door, and on the doorpost on either side, and the angel looked for the mark, looked for the seal, and passed over those who possessed it [Exodus 12:7, 13, 23].
In the days of Rahab, it was a scarlet line hanging in the window [Joshua 2:18-21, 6:17]. She was to be preserved from the awful wanton destruction that wasted the city. In the ninth chapter of the Book of Ezekiel, the prophet saw a man clothed in linen with an inkhorn at his side, and the man was commanded to go through Jerusalem and mark on the foreheads those who sighed and cried because of the abominations and the wickedness of the people [Ezekiel 9:2-4]. In the thirteenth chapter of the Book of the Revelation, this Antichrist, who mimics Christ, has a mark that he puts on the right hand and on the forehead of those, without which mark you cannot buy or trade or sell [Revelation 13:16-17]. Now, this thing of the marking of God is a thing that we find in the Book.
Now why these one hundred forty-four thousand? Why were they marked? Why were they sealed? [Revelation 7:2-8]. Well, you might get the idea that just because a man was a Jew, therefore he was sealed. Oh, not at all! This is an election. This is morally conditioned. God never does anything advantageously, summarily, just doing it. There are great spiritual reasons why God does as He does. And there are great spiritual reasons why God seals these twelve thousand out of each one of the tribes of Israel.
Now you’ll see that here in the book. Let’s start off with it. First of all, they don’t have any predecessors, and they don’t have any successors. In the fourteenth chapter of the Book of Revelation, they are called “virgins” [Revelation 14:4]. Now there is no virgin that ever has a child. So they were not born of virgins, nor, being virgins, bachelors, would they have any progeny, any succession. So these are men who are chosen for a separate and elect purpose. And they don’t have any predecessors, and they don’t have any successors [Matthew 19:12]. That is, they don’t multiply themselves. They are chosen for a very definite reason, an elective purpose of God.
Another thing about their election; they are called here, “the servants of our God” [Revelation 7:3], in contradistinction to those who were not servants of the Most High God. These are they who have given themselves to the ministry of Christ, when the whole world around them is blaspheming and cursing and wallowing in seas of mire, and filth, and dirt, and sin, and unbelief. These are men of an unusual spiritual stature, and that’s why I had you read the fourteenth chapter of the Book of the Revelation. They are undefiled in the midst of a defiled world [Revelation 14:4-5]. They live in purity in the midst of an impure world. They are fearless and brave in their testimony to God, in the midst of a world that blasphemes Christ and damns the name of heaven. These are men of great spiritual stature.
Another thing about them; they are called, “the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb,” these one hundred forty-four thousand [Revelation 14:4]. Now that’s an amazing thing! They’re called “the firstfruits unto God and to the Lamb,” and while He is calling them that, there are the elders representing the church [Revelation 14:3].
They couldn’t be the firstfruits in time or the firstfruits of all God had done because these are called the firstfruits in 1 Corinthians, these that God saved out of His church are called the firstfruits [1 Corinthians 15:20-23]. And they are raised from the dead, and they are glorified in heaven, yet these also are called “the firstfruits unto God and unto the Lamb” [Revelation 14:4]. Well, what could it mean? It means very simply this, and here is that Jewish thing again you find in the Word of God. They are the firstfruits unto God in another order and in another calling.
For the eleventh chapter of the Book of Romans, Paul disclosed unto us this great mystery, that there is a time coming when the scales, when the blindness, when the veil over the heart shall be taken away from Israel and when God shall reveal to them their great Messiah [Romans 11:25-27]; and a nation shall be born in a day [Isaiah 66:8]; and they will turn to God and accept their Messiah in atoning grace, in the forgiveness of sin; in love, their elder Brother [Romans 11:25-29; 2 Corinthians 3:15-16].
Now the firstfruits of that are the one hundred forty-four thousand [Revelation 7:4, 14:1-4]. And the ultimate of it, in the day of the harvest of God, is when Jesus comes again and appears to His own [Revelation 19:11-16]. These are the firstfruits [Revelation 14:4], the same kind of a thing as Paul referred to in the fifteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians when he said, “And the Lord appeared unto me, as to one born out of due time” [1 Corinthians 15:8], an abortion, before the time. “Before the Lord appears to His people, He appeared unto me before that time” [1 Corinthians 15:8].
That’s the same thing here. These are the firstfruits unto God [Revelation 14:4]. And the great harvest will come when the whole nation shall either be saved in turning faith to Jesus or be judged and cast out forever. The great harvest comes when the Lord appears. And that’s in the nineteenth chapter of the Revelation [Revelation 19:11-16].
Now what do you mean by they’re being sealed? [Revelation 7:4]. Now listen, this is one of the great and mighty revelations in the Book. What do you mean by being sealed? What is a seal of God? In the fourteenth chapter, in the first verse it says it is their Father’s name written in their foreheads [Revelation 14:1]. What would that be? What is the seal of God? You have much of that in the Bible. I just referred to it and you can see.
In the first chapter of Ephesians and in the thirteenth verse: “Ye were sealed after that you trusted in Christ, and received the gospel, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise” [Ephesians 1:13]; and in Ephesians 4:30: “Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” You find the same thing in 2 Corinthians 1:22. You’ll find the same thing when Jesus, in the sixth chapter of John and the [twenty-seventh] verse, says that He was sealed by the Holy Father in heaven [John 6:27]. The Holy Spirit is the seal of God.
If a man has the seal of God upon him, he has the power, and unction, and presence, and baptism of the Holy Spirit in his heart and in his life [1 Corinthians 12:13; Ephesians 1:13]. And when it speaks of Jesus as being sealed by the Father [John 6:27], that is the gift of the Holy Spirit descended upon Him and enabled Him mightily to do the work that God had set Him in the earth and sent Him in the earth to do [Matthew 3:16-17]. Now that same thing is here. In the sealing of the one hundred forty-four thousand [Revelation 7:2-8], they were baptized with Pentecostal power; and the Holy Spirit of God, in unction and in glory, came upon them! And fearlessly and in bravery, they gave witness to the Word and salvation of Christ in that dark and evil day [Revelation 7:17].
Now how would that kind of a seal appear? If you were to meet one of those men and he had been sealed of God, how would it appear? I would think it would be the same kind of a thing as when they saw Moses coming down from the mount after he communed with God forty days and forty nights. There was a glory about him. There was an unction about him. There was a fearlessness about him, and his face shone like the sun [Exodus 34:29-30]. The Holy Spirit lived and moved in his heart in unction and power, and it shined in his face [Exodus 34:33-35].
I would say it would be the same kind of a thing as Stephen as he stood in the Sanhedrin amidst his murderers. They were not able to withstand the power and the wisdom by which he spake! [Acts 6:8-10]. That same thing upon these one hundred forty-four thousand; they are endued and endowed and glorified of God [Revelation 7:3-4]. And their eloquence, and their witness, and their testimony to the truth of Christ is beyond compare! And just to see them and just to hear them is to be moved by the unction, and the presence, and glory, and the moving of God in their lives. That is the seal of the Holy Spirit of God. And there were sealed one hundred forty-four thousand, twelve thousand from each of the tribes of Israel [Revelation 7:2-8]. And you think what a day that is going to be!
I have never seen one honest to good, devout converted Jew that wasn’t worth about one hundred Gentiles. They are an amazing people! They are an amazing people. When they turn, they turn beyond anything you have ever seen. We have a marvelous Christian in this church by the name of Lilli Wolff. I want you to get that pamphlet that tells the story of her conversion. And when you see her here in our congregation, it will mean a thousand times to you. Read that pamphlet. Read that pamphlet.
And a Jewish preacher, wherever he is, there is a certain something about him beyond anything that a Gentile could ever possess. Those twelve apostles, the eleven along with Matthias [Acts 1:26], they were baptized with the Holy Ghost of God at Pentecost, and the whole world shook under the impact of their testimony to Christ [Acts 2:4, 17:6]. You are going to have the same thing again. You are going to have that Pentecostal baptism of unction and power fall upon these twelve thousand from each of the select, elect tribes of Israel, and they are going to witness to the grace of God in such power as the world has never known [Acts 17:6].
These judgments that are falling, they will interpret them as being the interpositions of God, and they herald the great day of the Lord. And how do I know they are going to do it with such power? In the ninth verse, and we’ll pick this up next Sunday morning, in the ninth verse it says: and when these got through, after I heard their sealing and saw who they were, “After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number” [Revelation 7:9], these Jewish elect, these Jewish evangelists and preachers upon whom the baptism of the Holy Ghost is fallen, they are a definite number [Revelation 7:4-8], but that multitude which no man could number of all the nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, saying, “salvation to our God who washed us in the blood of the Lamb,” these are their converts [Revelation 7:9-14].
There’s going to be a revival like this earth never saw, even in those dark and tragic days of the visitation of God. The Lord never withdraws His hand. Sometimes it falls in judgment, and a nation is destroyed. Sometimes it falls in terrible visitation, and the whole world is convulsed. But you look up through the fire, and the blood, and furor, and the flame, and the smoke, and there you’ll see God, watching over His own, saving the lost, writing names in the Book of Life, electing these and these and these to do His will in the earth. O bless His name forever! Our Pantokrator, our Almighty God!
Now while we sing our song of appeal, somebody you give your heart to Jesus. Somebody you put your life in the fellowship of the church. A family you or one, as God shall say the word and lead the way, make it now. Make it this morning. Come on the first note of the first stanza, while we stand and sing.
THE ONE HUNDRED FORTY-FOUR THOUSAND
Dr. W. A. Criswell
A. Chapter divided into two parts – there are two visions
1. First vision of the children of Israel (Revelation 7:1-7)
2. Second vision of the Gentiles (Revelation 7:9-17)
B. Four angels(Revelation 7:1-2)
1. Number “four” the number of this world – four times referred to (Daniel 7:2-3)
a. The vision has to do with this created world
2. They are holding fast the four winds (Revelation 1:8, 2:25, 4:8, 7:1)
a. These winds of judgment are striving to be turned loose, and are held in abeyance by the Lord GodII. Chapter 7 plainly an interlude
A. Placed between opening of sixth seal and seventh seal
B. These four angels have the four judgments of God, and in chapter 8 they are turned loose (Revelation 8:6-13)
1. Before that judgment falls, care must be taken to protect those who belong to God – sealing of God’s elect (Revelation 7:2-3)
2. The reason civilization endures is the elect of God (Genesis 18:32)III. Who are these sealed ones?(Revelation 7:2-4)
A. Many different explanations
1. Some say it is impossible for man to know
2. Seventh Day Adventists say they pertain to their communion
3. Jehovah Witnesses say they belong to them, and each strives to be one of that number
4. Sect of the “Flying Roll” say it pertains to them and they will be given immortal life on earth
5. Some say it is Israel, but also identify Israel with the church
a. We have just seen the church under the name of the redeemed elders (Revelation 4:4)
b. John sees the 144,000 in the presence of those elders (Revelation 14:1-5)
B. Take it as it is – these are out of all the tribes of Israel (Revelation 7:4)
1. Where are these tribes?
a. Tribes kept distinct as long as records of genealogical tables were kept
b. When records destroyed, nation disbursed, became “lost tribes” – but not lost to God(Matthew 13:44, Psalm 135:4)
2. Number twelve in the Bible refers to Israel
3. These are twelve thousand sealed, elect, called from the twelve different tribes of children of Israel
C. God is not done with the Jew
D. The deep prejudice against anything Jewish
1. All the curses left to be borne by a literal Israel, all the promises arrogated to the church, a so-called spiritual Israel
2. We must never forget the prophets were Jews, the apostles were Jews, and our Lord was a Jew(Romans 9:3, 11:1, 25-27)
a. Woman who called me “Rabbi Criswell” thinking it an insult
b. Edict of Hitler read in state churches of Germany
3. Cannot take out of Scriptures God’s elective purpose in His people and have anything leftIV. The sealing of the 144,000
A. Marked with the seal of God – done by the angel from the “sun-rising”
1. A common thing in God’s administration to put a mark, a seal on those who belong to Him (Genesis 17:10, Exodus 12:7, 13, 23, Joshua 2:18, Ezekiel 9:2-4, Revelation 13:16-17)
B. This sealing no mere arbitrary, external thing – it is morally conditioned
1. No predecessors, no successors – men chosen for a definite reason and purpose
2. Called “the servants of our God” in contradistinction to those who were not – men of unusual spiritual stature, undefiled (Revelation 7:3)
3. Firstfruits unto God in another order and calling (Revelation 14:3-4, 1 Corinthians 15:20-23, Romans 11:25-29, 2 Corinthians 3:15-16)
a. They are the firstfruits of when Israel turns to God, the ultimate of which is the day of the harvest of God(Revelation 7:4, 14:1, 19:11-16, 1 Corinthians 15:8)
4. The seal of God is the Holy Spirit of God – the gift of His presence and unction (Ephesians 4:30, 2 Corinthians 1:22, John 6:27)
5. The outward manifestation of this mark (Exodus 34:33-35, Acts 6:10-15)
a. Pentecostal baptism of unction and power (Acts 2:4)
b. The evidence of their power and message – the Gentile converts (Revelation 7:9)