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The 144,00 Tribulation Saints

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Revelation 14:1–5 ESV
1 Then I looked, and behold, on Mount Zion stood the Lamb, and with him 144,000 who had his name and his Father’s name written on their foreheads. 2 And I heard a voice from heaven like the roar of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder. The voice I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps, 3 and they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth. 4 It is these who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins. It is these who follow the Lamb wherever he goes. These have been redeemed from mankind as firstfruits for God and the Lamb, 5 and in their mouth no lie was found, for they are blameless.
Studying the book of Revelation is a sneak peak into the future, and being prepared is the Christian’s duty in this world which is declining so rapidly. What I want us to do tonight is to cover important info about these tribulation saints identified as The 144,000. But I want us also to take some pragmatic interpretation of this passage and apply it to our lives.
Scripture has some marvelous descriptions for Christians. It calls us children of God (1 John 3:2), new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17), the elect (1 Peter 1:1), kings and priests unto God (1 Peter 2:9), saints also some special nuances of richness (Colossians 2:10, Ephesians 3:8). They all indicate an elevated identity. But Scripture also speaks of the triumphant nature of the Christian. We are called overcomers (John 16:33, Revelation 2:26; 3:21; 21:7), victors (1 John 5:4), super conquerors (Romans 8:31-39). Scripture even says that we are always triumphant in Christ (2 Corinthians 2:14-17). There’s a certain level of invincibility to us because of God’s grace and power in Christ (John 10:28).
In spite of this identity as overcomers and winners and conquerors and super conquerors, we still lose the battle to the world, the flesh, and the devil. We don’t have to, but sadly we do. The question really, then, is how can we live up to our identity? How can we be triumphant? What are the components that produce triumphant Christians?
I really think in a wonderful way that question is answered right here in this text. Here we meet an amazing group of men that demonstrate to us the components of triumphant Christianity. They uncompromising, unflinching, undaunted, and undefeated. If there is ever a time in history when the Church needs to be obsessively triumphant in Christ and overcoming the world, it is today. It seems that we’re losing the battle, not winning it. And so, we must ask the question, “What made them so uniquely triumphant and what can we learn from them?” I have 12 characteristics that I want to show you, but first let’s look at who they were in Revelation 14.

Who Were These Saints

Verse 1 reminds us again that John is seeing these things with his own eyes, as the Lord is revealing to him so he can understand it. John sees a Lamb sitting on Mount Zion – and this is Jesus Christ. There are some interesting contrasts between chapters 13 and 14.
13 is viewed from earth (Satan’s Persepecitve); 14 is viewed from heaven (God’s perspecitve)
13 focuses on the beast, 14 focuses on the lamb
13 focuses on false teaching, 14 focuses on the everlasting Gospel of truth
13 focuses on the mark of the beast, 14 focuses on the mark of God
13 focuses on a false prophet, 14 focuses on the witnesses of God
There has been tremendous speculation on who these 144,000 witnesses are in Revelation 14. Even groups like the Seventh Day Adventists, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and Mormons have tries to claim they are this group of people. The 144,000 are also described as those “who had been redeemed from the earth” (Rev. 14:3). The Lamb is not standing with a spiritual elite from among believers or a future gathering of ethnic Jewish believers, but with all who have been redeemed from sin by the coin of his blood (Phillips).
However, God’s Word has already revealed to us their identity and tells us everything we need to know bout them. Revelation 7 tells us these 144,000 are the ones who were rescued from this Earth due to the testimony of the 2 Witnesses. They represent 12,000 from each of the twelve tribes of Judah. So they are Jews, meaning that we must comprehend the pinnacle role Israel does and will play in the prophetic work of God’s eternal plan. They are a small remnant of the earth - there are currently an estimated 53,000 Christian missionaries.
They are not the church, nor a church, nor the only saints saved during the tribulation. This is a group of Jewish men set apart for God’s work during the tribulation. Revelation 7:3-4 “3 saying, “Do not harm the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.” 4 And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel” They are protected by God and cannot be harmed.
Now that we have a brief understanding of who they are, I want to look at 1o characteristics that we can emulate in our own lives in this pre-rapture world.

1. They Were a Small Remnant Apart from the Rest of the World

These men were not the only Jews and/or believers on the earth during the tribulation. However, they were a faithful remnant that we distinct and separated from those believers. Many Jews and Christians today are marginal at best or apostate at least.
Paul wrote, 2 Thess 2:3-4 “3 Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first”
We must be intentionally and actively distinctive from the rest of the world and guard against lukewarmness. We cannot depend on failed and shallow movements like the seeker sensitive churches or continued efforts that attempt to capitalize on entertainment instead of a message of repentance and forgiveness. The signs are all coming together right now. Keep your eyes on Jesus.
It is obvious that Bible prophecy impacts the political realm with forthtelling and foretelling. The ancient prophets often directed their charge to the king in power. Samuel called out and then rejected Saul, Nathan called out David, Jonah preached to Nineveh and the king was led to repent. In the New Testament, John the Baptist called out Herod the Tetrarch, speaking truth to power despite the risk to his own life.

2. They Stood Alone with Jesus

Verse 1 shows their location on Mt Zion. Notice that John specifically tells us that they were standing with Jesus. I don’t think this by accident. This must be the view of the church. It is the Church (the Bride of Christ), who should be viewed standing beside the Lord.
Churches today must be brave to stand with Christ. Unfortunately we often water down the message of the gospel in an effort not to offend. If the goal of church leadership is a building full of people, the true saints will rarely receive teaching by which they can grow to maturity in Christ. If the object of the pastor is not to touch any controversial topic of Scripture lest it offend someone, believers will not hear the full counsel of God that they need in order to mature in Christ. Triumphant Christianity is not mixed with the world.
Today, Christians who hold conservative, biblical values are being deemed enemies of our country. They use labels like Christian Nationalists. We must understand that what is right and true is never merely right and true for some, but right and true for all and what is deemed by god to be sin is sin for all.

3. They Belonged to God

First, the remnant were victorious because they were marked (sealed) by God. That also means that they didn’t take the mark of the beast. Because of that, in the midst of God’s wrath, they are protected from God’s judgements.
Here’s the word for the church today. Our security is in God and we can put our strength in that security. If these 144,000 can go through the Tribulation with evangelistic boldness, can the church do the same today? This means we refuse to be subject to this world and its systems. In fact, we must stand opposed to these things.
You remember the beast put his mark on the forehead or on the hand, right? And the mark of the 144,000 is on their foreheads. It is the stamp of God, “This is Mine; you can’t touch this.” Believing, saved, redeemed Jewish men instrumental in the salvation of people from all the nations, they preach, along with the two witnesses, along with an angel flying in the heavens, proclaiming the gospel

4. They Were People of Praise

Revelation 14:2–3 ESV
2 And I heard a voice from heaven like the roar of many waters and like the sound of loud thunder. The voice I heard was like the sound of harpists playing on their harps, 3 and they were singing a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and before the elders. No one could learn that song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth.
Harps are mentioned 40 times in the Old Testament and they are always associated with praise and joy. The praise coming out of heaven is the thunderous praise of God’s redemption. We know that heaven rejoices when a person is redeemed (Luke 15:7).
Psalm 40:3 “3 He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.”
Psalm 96:1 ESV
1 Oh sing to the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord, all the earth!
Here is heaven overflowing again, not over one sinner who repents, but over the fact that the whole redemptive work, up until the return of Christ, is accomplished. Church is certainly leading out in the song of redemption. The elders are playing their harps. The tribulation saints are singing their new song of redemption, as chapter 7, verses 9 and 10. All of the redeemed can sing the song of redemption firsthand.

5. No One Could Understand

Revelation 14:3 “No one could learn that song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth.”
I don’t think the intention here is to say that only the 144,000 could learn the song and not any other believer, but rather any other unbeliever. The point is heaven is singing about God’s redemption. It’s literally gibberish to the unbeliever.
It is no different today and we should be surprised when the unbelieving world mocks us, questions us, or doesn’t understand. 1 Corinthians 1:25 “25 For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”
We are given the Holy Spirit to illuminate God’s Word and we must continually use the discernment from the Holy Spirit to understand the events of this world prophetically.

6. They Were Sexually Pure

Revelation 14:4 (ESV)
4 It is these who have not defiled themselves with women, for they are virgins.
When it says they were virgins, I believe it means they were virgins. Some have tried to say they were doctrinally pure or spiritually pure, but that has already been identified. I believe it means exactly what it means. I believe in Antichrist’s world sexual sin will run rampant. Certainly with the restraints off, with the judgment of God, and God abandoning society to its sins, it will be a gross and immoral and evil time. If you think it’s bad now, you can’t even conceive of what the onslaught of deviation sexually might be like in that period of time.
In today’s world, everything is sensual and sexual. It permeates every facet of our life. You can’t even watch a commercial on potato chips without them bringing some sort of sensuality into it; much less two guys kissings or something.
And the Church is succumbing to it in ways that I never thought we’d see. We have completely abandoned Scripture when it comes to what it teaches about sexual purity. Instead the church should be leading the way by celebrating what is holy and pure.
On Tuesday, it was reported that Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., might force a vote on the redefinition of marriage by attaching the so-called Respect for Marriage Act to a funding bill that must be passed if the government is to avoid a shutdown. If the Respect for Marriage Act, which passed the House in July, becomes law, it would cement same-sex marriage as federal policy, threaten religious liberty, and almost inevitably expand the definition of marriage beyond what was handed down in the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision (David Closson).

7. They Are Obedient

Revelation 14:4 (ESV)
4 It is these who follow the Lamb wherever he goes.
They’re partisans to the party of the Lamb. They’re the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. The Oxford dictionary defines “partisan” this way, “An adherent, a supporter, one who supports his cause through thick and thin; a blind, unreasoning, prejudicial, and fanatical adherent.”
I believe the church today needs to be political: political in support of Scripture and doctrine. Detriech Bonhoeffer said, “The Church is the conscious of the State and must call it to account, that it must loudly object if the state was wrong.” What happened in Germany was that the State controlled the media narrative and ultimately it controlled many of the pulpits.
This is happening today in alarming ways. In the 1940s, the CIA intitiated ‘Operation Mocking Bird.’ The intent was to help guide the media to provide talking points that would combat communism. Today it is being used to control any narrative in the media. Watch:
The question is, will the church of today be courageous enough to be obedient and uncompromising to the Lamb?
Matthew 16:24 ESV
24 Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

8. They Are Chosen

Revelation 14:4 (ESV)
4 These have been redeemed from mankind as firstfruits for God and the Lamb,
John 15:16 ESV
16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.
1 Corinthians 6:20 ESV
20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
Some would suggest this, and I’ll give it to you because you may want to think it through, that the idea of first fruits is not so much just the offering, but the idea of representation. Representation in this sense: the first fruits given to God were indication that there was more to follow.

9. They Were Men

I think this stands in contrast to the feminist movements of today. I believe that one of the greatest destructive forces happening in our country is the assault on the family. in August 2014, atheist Lawrence Krauss stated: Change is always one generation away . . . So if we can plant the seeds of doubt in our children, religion will go away in a generation, or at least largely go away—and that’s what I think we have an obligation to do. In 1935, Nazi Germany’s dictator, Hitler, was reported as stating: He alone, who owns the youth, gains the Future!
The Church today must champion men and teach young boys how to men. God chose men to be the spiritual leaders of the household and the church. Sadly, we are now in a situation where generations of kids have been taught through the education system, media, internet, and movies that the Bible is a book of mythology, man is just an animal, and morality is relative.
Proverbs 29:18 ESV
18 Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law.

10. They Were Blameless

Revelation 14:5 ESV
5 and in their mouth no lie was found, for they are blameless.
The Seventh Day Adventists have suggested that means they’ll be sinless people. Nobody can be sinless. If they’re people, they’re not sinless. But they are sanctified. In other words, they will have such impeccable reputations that there is nothing in their lives of a sin for which they could be held culpable and responsible publically. Not sinless, but sanctified, living holy lives, godly lives.
What I think and what the Scriptures elude to is that they are passionate pursuers of the truth. This should be the mantra of the church.
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