by Philip Layton
‘The great tribulation’
- Can you think of any religious organisation that attaches significance to the number 144,000 (v 4)?
- If someone claims to be one of the 144,000, is it reasonable to presume that they are Jewish (vv 5-8)?
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Going Deeper From 'Words of Life'
Before the opening of the seventh seal, there’s an interlude. A parenthesis.
For God wants to preserve two groups of people. The first group are to receive the mark of God on their foreheads, in order to be spared – even though they endure incredible hardship. These 144,000 people – 12,000 from each of the tribes of Israel – have given themselves completely to God. They are the remnant of Israel.
But there is a second group to be saved. They now stand before the throne of God, clothed in white robes, holding palm branches in their hands. They say, and sing, before the throne:
‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb’ (v 10).
Perhaps this group is the Church, who will be raptured before the Great Tribulation. Or it could be those who remain faithful and are saved during the Tribulation. No one knows for certain. But what we do know is that God will honour and save those who remain true to him. Those whose lives are pure and holy – able to wave palm branches, because victory is theirs. They join with the creatures and elders and angels in worshipping Almighty God.
Finally, the seventh seal is opened. I can imagine everyone gazing at the throne – to see what will happen next. As they wait in silence, an angel comes with a golden censer in which he places incense. The incense represents the prayers from all ages for the redemption of God’s people.
The angel suddenly flings the censer to earth. Prayers are answered. Then thunder, lightning, an earthquake.
This seventh seal will bring on the trumpets and bowls. The destruction of the earth; Christ concluding his redemptive work.
Father God, by your Spirit help me to remain faithful in leading a holy life.
Beverly IvanyTags: Revelation