The 144,000

Article by Kevin DeYoung, senior pastor of University Reformed Church (PCA) in East Lansing, Michigan. (original source here)

The 144,000 are not an ethnic Jewish remnant, and certainly not an Anointed Class of saints who became Jehovah’s Witnesses before 1935. The 144,000 “sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel” (Rev. 7:4) represent the entire community of the redeemed. Let me give you several reasons for making this claim.

First, in chapter 13 we read that Satan seals all of his followers, so it makes sense that God would seal all of his people, not just the Jewish ones.

Second, the image of sealing comes from Ezekiel 9, where the seal on the forehead marks out two groups of people: idolaters and non-idolaters. It would seem that the sealing of the 144,000 makes a similar distinction based on who worships God, not who among the Jewish remnant worships God.

Third, the 144,000 are called the servants of our God (Rev. 7:3). There is no reason to make the 144,000 any more restricted than that. If you are a servant of the living God, you are one of the 144,000 mentioned here. In Revelation, the phrase “servants of God” always refers to all of God’s redeemed people, not just an ethnic Jewish remnant (see 1:1; 2:20; 19:2; 19:5; 22:3).

Fourth, the 144,000 mentioned later in chapter 14 are those who have been “redeemed from the earth” and those who were “purchased from among men.” This is generic, everybody kind of language. The 144,000 is a symbolic number of redeemed drawn from all peoples, not simply the Jews. Besides, if the number is not symbolic, then what do we do with Revelation 14:4, which describes the 144,000 as those “who have not defiled themselves with women”? Are we to think that the 144,000 refers to a chosen group of celibate Jewish men? It makes more sense to realize that 144,000 is a symbolic number that is described as celibate men to highlight the group’s moral purity and set-apartness for spiritual battle.

Fifth, the last reason for thinking that the 144,000 is the entire community of the redeemed is because of the highly stylized list of tribes in verses 5-8. The number itself is stylized. It’s not to be taken literally. It’s 12 x 12 x 1,000: 12 being the number of completion for God’s people (representing the 12 tribes of Israel and the 12 apostles of the Lamb) and 1,000 being a generic number suggesting a great multitude. So 144,000 is a way of saying all of God’s people under the old and new covenant.

And then look at the list of the tribes. There are more than a dozen different arrangements of the 12 tribes in the Bible. This one is unique among all of those. Judah is listed first, because Jesus was from there as a lion of the tribe of Judah. All 12 of Jacob’s sons are listed—including Levi, who usually wasn’t because he didn’t inherit any land—except for one. Manasseh, Joseph’s son (Jacob’s grandson), is listed in place of Dan. So why not Dan? Dan was probably left out in order to point to the purity of the redeemed church. From early in Israel’s history, Dan was the center of idolatry for the kingdom (Judges 18:30-31). During the days of the divided kingdom, Dan was one of two centers for idolatry (1 Kings 12:28-30). And there is recorded in some non-biblical Jewish writings that the Jews thought the anti-Christ would come out of Dan based on Genesis 49:17.

The bottom line is that the number and the list and the order of the tribes are all stylized to depict the totality of God’s pure and perfectly redeemed servants from all time over all the earth. That’s what Revelation means by the 144,000.

Is Jesus Knocking at the Heart of the Unbeliever?

sproul877Article by R.C. Sproul (original source I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me” (Rev. 3:20). Usually the evangelist applies this text as an appeal to the unconverted, saying: “Jesus is knocking at the door of your heart. If you open the door, then He will come in.” In the original saying, however, Jesus directed His remarks to the church. It was not an evangelistic appeal.

So what? The point is that seeking is something that unbelievers do not do on their own. The unbeliever will not seek. The unbeliever will not knock. Seeking is the business of believers. Jonathan Edwards said, “The seeking of the Kingdom of God is the chief business of the Christian life.” Seeking is the result of faith, not the cause of it.

When we are converted to Christ, we use language of discovery to express our conversion. We speak of finding Christ. We may have bumper stickers that read, “I Found It.” These statements are indeed true. The irony is this: Once we have found Christ it is not the end of our seeking but the beginning. Usually, when we find what we are looking for, it signals the end of our searching. But when we “find” Christ, it is the beginning of our search.

The Christian life begins at conversion; it does not end where it begins. It grows; it moves from faith to faith, from grace to grace, from life to life. This movement of growth is prodded by continual seeking after God.

In your spiritual walk, are you moving from faith to faith, from grace to grace, from life to life? Are you continually seeking after God?

Amillenialism & Revelation

lion08by Benjamin L. Merkle, associate professor of New Testament & Greek at Southeastern Seminary.

Original source here.

Interpreting the book of Revelation from an amillennial perspective has a long history in the Church and, discount in fact, has been the predominant eschatological position of Christianity since the time of Augustine (though it was not called “amillennialism” until more recent times).

It is also a position many Baptists have embraced, including Hershey Davis, W. T. Conner, Herschel Hobbs, Edward McDowell, H. E. Dana, Ray Summers and James Leo Garrett. Indeed, some have claimed it was the dominant view of Southwestern Seminary from the 1930s–1990s. Even John Walvoord (a dispensational premillennialist) admits, “The weight of organized Christianity has largely been on the side of amillennialism” (Millennial Kingdom, 61).

The amillennial view of Revelation affirms that the 1,000-year binding of Satan refers to the period between the two advents of Christ. Two items should be noted about this interpretation. First, it recognizes that Revelation contains figurative or symbolic imagery typical of prophetic or apocalyptic literature. This means that the images are not to be taken literally, although they point to literal events and realities (e.g., the dragon John sees is not to be taken literally, but the dragon represents Satan who is real).

So, although the angel coming down from Heaven in Revelation 20 is pictured as having a literal chain to bind Satan and a literal key to lock him up, these symbols relate to us God’s intention to limit Satan’s influence on the world. This binding is said to last 1,000 years. If the chain, key and prison are symbolic pictures, then it is likely that the 1,000 years is also symbolic and represents a certain period of time. Second, John tells us that Satan is bound “so that he might not deceive the nations any longer” (Rev. 20:3). Thus, Satan’s influence is not completely removed, but is specifically tied to his ability to deceive the nations. In contrast to the Old Testament era, when nations were living in darkness oblivious to God’s special revelation, now the Gospel is being taken to all the nations. This will result in people from every tribe, language, people and nation being represented before the throne of God (Rev. 5:9).

One of the strengths of the amillennial approach is that it is Gospel-centered. That is, it views the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Christ as the center of redemptive history. Because of His work on the cross and subsequent resurrection, Jesus has conquered death, defeated Satan and now reigns in Heaven waiting until all His enemies will be put under His feet. Thus, at His first coming Jesus defeated Satan by binding “the strong man” in order to “plunder his house” (Matt. 12:29).

During His ministry, Jesus said He “saw Satan fall like lightning from Heaven,” which was symbolic of his fall from power (Luke 10:18). The author of Hebrews informs us that the incarnation of the Son was necessary so that “through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil” (Heb. 2:14). Similarly, the apostle John states, “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). Jesus was able to commission His disciples by stating that “all authority in heaven and on Earth” had been given to Him (Matt. 28:18). Thus, the decisive battle took place at the cross and resurrection where Satan’s ultimate defeat was sealed. Indeed, he is still a roaring lion (1 Peter 5:8), but he is a lion on a leash (2 Peter 2:4; Jude 6).

The book of Revelation offers the believer in Christ amazing confidence and hope. It is not simply a book about the future, but about how knowing the future affects us today. The apostle John was given this incredible vision to give comfort and hope to persecuted Christians in Asia Minor by letting them know the outcome of history—that Satan’s final doom is certain, and that God will vindicate His people. The message of Revelation is that Christ is the reigning and returning King who rules over all creation—including Satan and his forces. Difficult times are sure to come, but in the end, Christ and His people are given the victory.

A missionary once asked some persecuted believers in a third world country which book of the Bible was their favorite. They responded, “Revelation!” Somewhat surprised by their response, the missionary asked them why they cherished this book above the others. They quickly added, “Because God wins in the end.” The book of Revelation offers encouragement for the believer, especially in times of hardship and trial. Even though life may be difficult now, the result is assured—God wins in the end. Christ is the One Who will come triumphantly to once and for all defeat His enemies and reign with His people. The victory belongs to the Lord!

Recommended Books:
1) Summers, Ray. Worthy Is the Lamb: Interpreting the Book of Revelation in Its Historical Context. Nashville: B&H, 1951 (reprint 1999).
2) Johnson, Dennis E. Triumph of the Lamb: A Commentary on Revelation. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2001.
3) Hoekema, Anthony A. The Bible and the Future. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979.
4) Riddlebarger, Kim. A Case for Amillennialism: Understanding the End Times. Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2003.

Revelation 19-22

Evangelical Movement of Wales – Aber Conference 2016

Joel Beeke – Revelation 19 – The Great Marriage and the Great King’s Return

Joel Beeke – Revelation 20 – The Great Millennium and the Great White Throne

Joel Beeke – Revelation 21 – The Great Life in the New Jerusalem

Joel Beeke – Revelation 22 – The Great Saviour’s Imminent Coming and His Great Invitation

Here also is another exposition of Dr. Beeke on Revelation 20:1-10:

1 The binding of Satan (vv. 1-3)
2 The reign of the saints (vv. 4-6)
3 The loosing of Satan (vv.7-10)

These Are They; No More Night

Revelation 7: 9 After this I looked, and behold, a great multitude that no one could number, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, with palm branches in their hands, 10 and crying out with a loud voice, “Salvation belongs to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb!” 11 And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures, and they fell on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying, “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”

13 Then one of the elders addressed me, saying, “Who are these, clothed in white robes, and from where have they come?” 14 I said to him, “Sir, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones coming out of the great tribulation. They have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

These are they:

Revelation 22:1 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 3 No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever.

6 And he said to me, “These words are trustworthy and true. And the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, has sent his angel to show his servants what must soon take place.”

7 “And behold, I am coming soon. Blessed is the one who keeps the words of the prophecy of this book.”

No More Night: