The Laodicean Message
by E.H. ‘Jack’ Sequeira

Laodicea is Sealed

Revelation 7:1-8:

After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree.  Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God.  He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea:  “Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.”  Then I heard the number of those who were sealed:  144,000 from all the tribes of Israel.  From the tribe of Judah 12,000 were sealed, from the tribe of Reuben 12,000, from the tribe of Gad 12,000, from the tribe of Asher 12,000, from the tribe of Naphtali 12,000, from the tribe of Manasseh 12,000, from the tribe of Simeon 12,000, from the tribe of Levi 12,000, from the tribe of Issachar 12,000, from the tribe of Zebulun 12,000, from the tribe of Joseph 12,000, from the tribe of Benjamin 12,000.

Please turn your Bibles, this time, to Revelation 7.  We’re going to deal this study and next study on the 144,000.  Many have been looking forward to this, to see what kind of solution this bush preacher will come up with.  It’s been a subject that has caused much controversy in our history.

I want to first of all link this message and our next study to our study of the Laodicean message.  I want to remind you of our last study, that, unlike the other six churches, Christ does not only want Laodicea to overcome, but He wants her to overcome “even as He overcame.”

Now since we follow the Historicist approach to the book of Revelation and Daniel, then the Laodicean people represent the last generation of Christians.  As such, they will face the final showdown in the great controversy between Christ and Satan.  There has to be a final showdown.  The book of Revelation defines this final showdown as the war of Armageddon.

That is another subject that is very confusing.  We won’t have time to go into the war of Armageddon but I would like to just look at it.  Turn to Revelation 16.  I would like to recommend a book to you; it’s called Chariots of Salvation, the Biblical Drama of Armageddon.  It’s the finest book on the subject that I’ve ever read.  Even Evangelical scholars are admitting that this is one of the finest interpretations on the war of Armageddon.  In fact, Longman, who’s a professor at the Westminster Theological Seminary, says that “This is a much needed corrective to the popular views of the end time as regards the war of Armageddon.”

But I want you to notice something which he brings out in very clear detail concerning what the book of Revelation has to say about the war Armageddon.  Reading from Revelation 16:13-16.  Verse 13:

Then I saw three evil spirits that looked like frogs; they came out of the mouth of the dragon, out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet.

These three unclean spirits are, you might say, the opposite of the Three Angels’ Message.  The Three Angels’ Message brings God’s message and prepares a people for the end time.  Here the three unclean spirits prepare the world for the time of trouble, for this great showdown, this final conflict between Christ and Satan.  And, of course, these are false prophets.  Now look at verse 14:

They are spirits of demons performing miraculous signs, and they go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them for the battle on the great day of God Almighty.

Please notice, it is “the battle of that great day of God Almighty.”  It is not a Middle East crisis, it has nothing to do with the Middle East.  It is the final showdown between God and Satan, and of course, between God’s people and Satan’s people, the world.  And God will prepare His people through the three angels’ message; Satan is preparing his people through the three unclean Spirits.  And look now at the next verse, verse 15.  Please notice, this will take place just prior to the second coming of Christ.

“Behold, I come like a thief!  Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed.”

Now please link this with the Laodicean message.  What did Jesus offer Laodicea in Revelation 3:18?

I counsel you to buy from me ... white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness....

And here in Revelation 16 we are to “keep” that garment, hold on to the righteousness of Christ by faith up to the very end.  And, of course, verse 16 says:

Then they gathered the kings together to the place that in Hebrew is called Armageddon.

That’s where the word, “Armageddon” comes from.  This is the final showdown.  Okay now, this battle, when we look at it from the Christian point of view, is known as the “Great Tribulation,” where God’s people will be tried in a way that has never been experienced by any generation in the past.  I would like to look at two passages in the Old Testament that describe this great tribulation.  One is in Daniel 12:1:

At that time [i.e., when the ministry of Christ is finished in heaven] Michael, the great prince who protects your people, will arise.  There will be a time of distress such as has not happened from the beginning of nations until then.  But at that time your people — everyone whose name is found written in the book [i.e., the book of life] — will be delivered.

In other words, those who hold on, those who endure unto the end, God will deliver them.  Okay, turn backwards to Jeremiah 30:7 which says basically the same thing as Daniel 12:1.  Both prophets tell us that it’s the time of trouble that has never been experienced by any previous generation.

How awful that day will be!  None will be like it.  It will be a time of trouble for Jacob, but he will be saved out of it.

Please notice, Jacob’s trouble was a wrestling.  And remember, even though Jacob was injured — his hip was very painfully dislocated — he held on, he held on to the angel and said, “I will not let you go until you bless me.”

With this in mind, the question is, “What will be the real issue in the time of trouble?  What is it that we have to overcome?”  I believe, folks, that in this great tribulation, the victory of the cross must be reproduced, the victory of the cross of Jesus Christ must be reproduced.  Now what do I mean by the victory of the cross?  In Luke 23:35-39, three times — once through the soldiers, once through the priests, and once through the thief on the left hand side — three times the devil tempted Jesus Christ to come down from the cross and save Himself.  Now, could He do it?  The answer is yes; He was God.  He could come down, independent of the Father, and save Himself.  Did He come down?  No.  Well, I want you to listen to how Ellen G. White describes those last moments as He hung on the cross and He faced this terrible temptation.  You need to read the whole chapter, it’s the chapter on calvary, but I want to read the conclusion of this chapter, page 756, of Desire of Ages:

Amid the awful darkness, apparently forsaken of God, Christ had drained the last dregs in the cup of human woe.  [This was the final test.]  In those dreadful hours he had relied upon the evidence of His Father’s acceptance hitherto given Him.  He was acquainted with the character of His Father.  He understood His justice, [but He had to go through this] His mercy and His great love.  By faith [please notice, not by feeling, but by faith] He rested in Him Whom it had ever been His joy to obey.  And as in submission He submitted Himself to God, the sense of the loss of His Father’s favour was withdrawn....  By faith Christ was victor.  [It is by faith He overcame.]

His feelings told Him that God had forsaken Him.  His faith told Him that God will not forsake Him.  By faith, He was victorious.  And in the time of trouble, folks, our faith will be tested to its bitter end.  Of course, those whose faith will endure the great tribulation are called in the Bible the 144,000.  These represent Laodicea who has overcome, even as Christ has overcome.

Now I want to give you another text that reveals the issue in the great tribulation.  I’ve given you two that simply tell you that there will be a time of trouble that has never been experienced by any previous generation.  But turn to Isaiah 54 and notice how Isaiah describes this terrible event.  I’ll read verse 5-7, you may want to read the whole chapter.  The subtitle in my Bible says, “The church comforted with gracious promises.”  And that is true.

“For your Maker [we know this refers to Christ, He’s the Creator] is your husband — the Lord Almighty is his name — the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth.  The Lord will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit — a wife who married young, only to be rejected,” says your God.  “For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back.”

So for a small moment God will forsake us, or if I may use the words of Ellen G. White, “We will feel apparently forsaken of God” during the great tribulation.  In the final showdown, God will say, “Here are My people who have the faith of Jesus Christ.”  And the devil will say, “Okay, give them into my hands.”  And God will say, “Okay, you can touch them, you can do anything you like with them, but you cannot kill them.”

And we will be, folks, at the mercy of the world which is now controlled by the devil.  And Jesus, while looking at this while He was on this earth, looking ahead, He made this statement in Luke 18.  In Luke 18 Jesus tells us a parable, I want you to notice why He told this parable.  Because verse 1 of chapter 18 tells us why. We will not go into the parable itself, you can read it at home, it’s the parable of the unjust judge.  But listen to the introduction, Luke 18:1:

Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up.

I want you to notice His conclusion about this parable, verse 8:

I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly.  [Notice He’s talking about the unjust judge, but now He applies this to the last days.] However, when the Son of Man comes [that’s the second coming of Christ], will he find faith on the earth?

Will there be a people whose faith will endure to the end?  Well, I have good news, folks, the answer is yes.  And the answer is found in Revelation 7.  So now we can turn to Revelation 7.  There are only two passages in the whole of the New Testament that discuss the 144,000.  One is chapter 7 which we’ll do in this study and the other is chapter 14.  One is in the context of the sixth seal, the other one is in the context of the Three Angels’ Message.  And today we will deal with chapter 7, and I want you to look at it purely Biblically; forget your preconceived ideas.  We will look at this Biblically.  Now chapter 7 of Revelation is answering a question.  The question is found in Revelation 6:17:

For the great day of their wrath has come...

Four times Paul says that the “wrath of God” is revealed from heaven when God withdraws, He gives them up.  In that context, He has given them up to their own views but here is when God will withdraw His protection from God’s people and at the second coming of Christ He will withdraw His protection from the unbelievers.  But now look at Revelation 6:17:

For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?

Now to understand that question we need to look at the context.  Revelation 6 is dealing with the six seals.  So we are looking at this chapter in the context of the seals.  Now if you read chapter 6 you will notice that John spends an average of two verses for each seal.  Seal number one is Revelation 6:1 and 2.  Seal number 2 is verses 3 and 4, seal number 3 is 5 and 6, seal number 4 is 7 and 8, and seal number 5 is 9, 10, and 11.  And seal number 6 begins with Revelation 6:12 and where does it end?  With Revelation 7:17.  Because Revelation 8:1 is the seventh seal.

So you notice that he is spending much of his time on the sixth seal.  Now what is the sixth seal about?  What’s the context of the sixth seal?  Well very clearly, it is the second coming of Christ and events preceding that.  Look at Revelation 6:12-14:

I watched as he opened the sixth seal.  There was a great earthquake.  The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as late figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind.  The sky receded like a scroll, rolling up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.

Now look at verse 15 and 16; here are the events preceding the second coming of Christ, and the second coming of Christ itself.  What do the unbelievers do at the second coming of Christ?  Revelation 6:15-17:

Then the kings of the earth, the princes, the generals, the rich, the mighty, and every slave and every free man hid in caves and among the rocks of the mountains.  They called to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who sits on the throne and from the wrath of the Lamb!  For the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?”

Now if you look at verse 15, it seems to us that John is including everybody — the rich, the noble, the poor.  Everybody will not be able to stand the second coming of Christ, which is, of course, bringing the war of Armageddon to a stop.  I did not say to an end, but to a stop.  I am convinced that the war of Armageddon will not end at the second coming of Christ.  It will stop for a while.  It will continue at the end of the millennium, when Satan’s people will be raised.  And it will end with the destruction of the wicked and the reinstating of the kingdom of God on this earth.

But in verse 17 John is asking the question, “Will there be anybody who will be able to stand this tremendous time of trouble and the second coming of Christ and the wrath of the Lamb?”  In other words, Revelation 6:17 is a similar question that Jesus told in Luke 18:8b:

However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?

Will God find a people whose faith has endured when He comes in the end?  Will God produce a people who have reproduced the victory of the cross?  Because the cross was a similar situation where God abandoned Christ and left Him in the hands of the world.

Okay, now look at Revelation 7:1.  The answer to Revelation 6:17 is found in chapter 7, and the answer is, “Yes, God will have a people.”

After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree.

Now, we know from Jeremiah 25:31-34 (and also 51:1-2) that winds symbolized war.  Jeremiah 25:31-34:

“The tumult will resound to the ends of the earth, for the Lord will bring charges against the nations; he will bring judgment on all mankind and put the wicked to the sword,” declares the Lord.
This is what the Lord Almighty says:  “Look!  Disaster is spreading from nation to nation; a mighty storm is rising from the ends of the earth.”
At that time those slain by the Lord will be everywhere — from one end of the earth to the other.  They will not be mourned or gathered up or buried, but will be like refuse lying on the ground.
Weep and wail, you shepherds; roll in the dust, you leaders of the flock.  For your time to be slaughtered has come; you will fall and be shattered like fine pottery.

Jeremiah 51:1-2:

This is what the Lord says:  “See, I will stir up the spirit of a destroyer against Babylon and the people of Leb Kamai.  I will send foreigners to Babylon to winnow her and to devastate her land; they will oppose her on every side in the day of her disaster.

Okay, remember, God says to Satan, “Here are my people,” and Satan says, “Give them into my hands.”  And God says, “Not yet, until I will protect My people, I will hold the strife, the great tribulation, I will hold it until...” what?  Revelation 7:2-4:

Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God.  He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to harm the land and the sea:  “Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.”  Then I heard the number of those who were sealed:  144,000 from all the tribes of Israel.

The word “sealed,” what does it mean?  I want to give you an example of what it means.  Turn to Romans 4.  Remember, Paul taught that circumcision does not contribute at all towards our salvation.  So one of the questions that the Jews were coming up with is, “If circumcision does not contribute towards salvation, why did God give it to Abraham, and through him to the Jews?  Why?”  And Paul tells us why, it was a seal.  Look at Romans 4:11:

And he received the sign of circumcision, a seal of the righteousness that he had by faith while he was still uncircumcised....

When did he have righteousness by faith?  Before he was circumcised.  So please remember, circumcision did not give him righteousness by faith, it did something else; it sealed what he already had.

...So then, he is the father of all who believe but have not been circumcised, in order that righteousness might be credited to them.

In other words, circumcision did not give righteousness by faith, but it sealed something that he already had.  In other words, it confirmed, or it authenticated, what he already had.  Now, please keep this mind, because I believe, folks, in the last days, the seal will be the Sabbath.  The Sabbath doesn’t give us righteousness by faith, it only seals something that is already there.  The meaning of circumcision and the meaning of Sabbath are synonymous.  Circumcision simply means that we remove unbelief and totally rest in Christ.  And if you want a good definition of circumcision, look at Philippians 3:3, where Paul says:

For it is we who are the circumcision, we who worship by the Spirit of God, who glory in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh....

What does “seal” mean?  It means our faith becomes unshakeable, we have settled into the truth of Jesus Christ our righteousness, we have bought the white raiment from Christ and have made this our only hope, and we are no longer changeable.  Because Abraham’s faith fluctuated before the sealing.  But now our faith is confirmed.  If we are so settled in the truth, we have so clearly understood God, His character, His love, His mercy, that our faith now is completely resting in Him, then we are sealed.  The Sabbath will only be a sign of that seal.  If you want to look at the Sabbath as a sign of the seal, please look at Exodus 31, because the Sabbath was given as a sign.  Exodus 31:13, and also verse 16:

Say to the Israelites, “You must observe my Sabbaths.  This will be a sign between me and you [please notice, to Paul “sign” and “seal” are the same thing] for the generations to come, so you may know that I am the Lord, who makes you holy.”

“The Israelites are to observe the Sabbath, celebrating it for the generations to come as a lasting covenant.”

And by the way, Hebrews 10:14 tells us that by one sacrifice we were sanctified, we were made perfect:

...Because by one sacrifice he has made perfect forever those who are being made holy.

The Sabbath is only the sign, so please keep this in mind.  So what does Revelation 7 say?  God says, “Before I let go of my protection, My people must be sealed.”  Sealed where?  In the forehead.  Which to me means, they must have the mind of Christ.  And if you want to know what the mind of Christ is, let me give you a couple of texts.  Philippians 2:5:

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: ...

What kind of mind or attitude?  Philippians 2:6-8 explains the mind of Christ:

...Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death — even death on a cross!

It was a mind that was totally emptied of self.  But the other text is 1 Peter 4:1, which is a very interesting statement:

Therefore, since Christ suffered in his body, arm yourselves also with the same attitude, because he who has suffered in his body is done with sin.

(When you have the mind of Christ, by the way, your flesh, your human nature, will suffer.)  When we have the mind of Christ, folks, we will cease from sin.  Okay, now back to Revelation 7.  God is going to seal His servants.  Where is He going to seal them?  In the forehead, which means that our minds will have been settled into the truth of Christ our righteousness.  No more wavering.  And it is in this context that Christ will say [Revelation 22:11]:

He that is unjust, let him be unjust still; and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still; and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still; and he that is holy, let him be holy still.

Why?  Because he’s sealed.  Both camps have made up their mind.  God’s people have made up their mind, “This is where I will stand.”  And by the way, Jesus made up His mind in Gethsemane.  You remember?  He struggled in Gethsemane.  It was in Gethsemane that He was sealed:  “Not My will, but Thine.”  Matthew 26:39:

Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me.  Yet not as I will, but as you will.”

And He carried out the effects of that sealing.

Abraham was sealed at circumcision.  Seventeen years later he was tested.  We will be sealed before the time of great tribulation.  Now comes the big question, “How many are sealed?”  The answer is, “The 144,000.”  Is this literal or is this figurative?  Well, I can only give you my position.  Look at Revelation 7:4.  I want you to notice that John does not see how many are sealed, he only heard.  Keep that in mind.

Then I heard the number of those who were sealed:  144,000 from all the tribes of Israel.

There are two ways that we can interpret the word, “Israel.”  If we insist that the 144,000 are literal, then “Israel” must also be literal.  Which means that there’s no hope for us, folks; it’s only Jews.  If 144,000 is symbolic, then Israel must also be symbolic.  Symbolic of what?  Well, keep your finger here, and I’ll tell you how the New Testament interprets the symbol of Israel.  Romans 9:6-8.  Let me quickly give you the context.

God had promised Abraham, God had promised Israel, that ALL the seed of Abraham will be saved.  Okay?  ALL, no exception.  All the seed of Abraham will be saved.  That was a promise made by God.  Now comes the Apostles telling the Jews that you are lost.  And the Jews retorted, “Okay, if we are lost, then God has failed to keep His promise.”  And Paul says, “No, God will keep His promise.”  And this is what he says in Romans 9:6-8:

It is not as though God’s word had failed.  [“God will keep His promise, but the problem is your interpretation of ‘Israel.’”] For not all who are descended from Israel are Israel.  [So God doesn’t consider all Jews to be part of Israel.  Then who is Israel?] Nor because they are his descendants are they all Abraham’s children.  On the contrary, “It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned.”  In other words, it is not the natural children who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring.

God gave Israel three fathers:  Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  If you look at those three fathers, they represent the qualities of God’s people.  Abraham stands for faith, which Romans 4 brings out.  Isaac stands for the new birth, “born from above.”  And remember what Jesus said to Nicodemus?  John 3:3,5:

In reply Jesus declared, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.”

Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit.”

Unless you’re born from above, you can’t enter the kingdom of God.  In other words, you can’t belong to Israel, unless you’re a child, symbolic of Israel, of Isaac.  Not blood child, but symbolic child.  And, of course, Jacob represents those who endure unto the end.  And that’s why the time of trouble, the great tribulation is called, “the time of Jacob’s trouble” because he endured.

What Paul is saying here is that Israel is those who do not have the blood of Abraham, or the blood of Isaac, but those who are, like Isaac, born from above.  Look at Romans 9:8:

In other words, it is not the natural children who are God’s children, but it is the children of the promise who are regarded as Abraham’s offspring.

And who are the children of the promise?  Those who have the faith in Christ and who are born again, and have put on Christ, they are Abraham’s seed and heirs according to the promise.  Galatians 3:27-29:

...For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ.  There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

I believe that the 144,000 are symbolic, and that the word “Israel” does not refer to the Jews, but to the Christians, Jews and Gentiles, who have the experience of the 12 tribes, because each tribe stands for an experience.  Therefore, to me, the 144,000 are symbolic.  But that’s not the only answer I have for you, I want to go further.

God seals them, but please remember the context.  Before God removes His protection and allows Satan to initiate the great war of Armageddon, God’s people are sealed.  How many are sealed?  12,000 from each tribe, which makes, of course, 12 times 12,000 is 144,000.  I want to say something here that you may not be aware of:  some of the manuscripts (not all, but quite a few of the reliable manuscripts) when it comes to this verse 4, and the others also, they do not write, “144,000” like you see in your Bible, in words.  The 144 is in words and the thousand is in numbers.

So we have 144, and then one, zero, zero, zero; three zeros, that’s a 1,000.  It’s a very strange way of writing, which means that John was kind of making a distinction between 144 and thousand.  And I have wrestled with this.  I can only give you an opinion.  It may not be right.  The 144 represents the church, 12 from each tribe, 12 times 12 is 144.  The thousand to me represents the Most Holy Place, because the dimensions of the Most Holy Place were 10 cubits by 10 cubits by 10 cubits, and so the space, the volume of that space was 1,000, and a thousand represents the ministry of Christ in the Most Holy Place where He will prepare people who will able to stand.  Now that’s only my opinion for what it’s worth.  But now let’s go back to Revelation 7.  Look at verse 9:

After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.  They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.

I’ll tell you why I believe John doesn’t see the people who are sealed but hears the number.  I think it’s because the 144,000 were not in one place, they were scattered over the world.  They are not located in one place, they are scattered.  They are not in the Middle East, they are all over the world, therefore he can’t see them in one place.  But after they have gone through the great tribulation, and after they have withstood the second coming of Christ, now John doesn’t hear but he sees:

After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb.  They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.

Now many feel that verse 9 refers to the great multitude that were saved.  Others say that this is the great multitude that the 144,000 converted.  Well, we have no Biblical evidence for these interpretations.  I believe verse 9 is referring to the 144,000, and I’ll give you my reasons:

  1. The context of Revelation 7 is only the 144,000.  Those who will be able to stand.  That’s argument number one.

  2. The second argument is that these people were clothed with white robes and palms in their hands and when I turn to Revelation 19:7-8, I discover that the white robes is the imparted righteousness of Christ, which this last generation of Christians will experience:

    “Let us rejoice and be glad and give him glory!  For the wedding of the Lamb has come, and his bride has made herself ready.  Fine linen, bright and clean, was given her to wear.”  (Fine linen stands for the righteous acts of the saints.)

  3. But my third argument is a very powerful one, and that is in verse 13.  One of the elders — remember that there are 24 elders, and these elders are human beings saved — so here is one of the elders (who represent all of the saved) who asks a question, and the question is in connection with verse 9.  Look at verse 13:

    Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes — who are they, and where did they come from?”

    So to whom is the elder referring?  To verse 9, the great multitude which were dressed in white robes.  “Who are these special people, and where did they come from?”  Now please remember, it could not, therefore, refer to all the saved because the elders belong to all the saved.  But now look at the answer [Revelation 7:14-17]:

    I answered, “Sir, you know.”
    And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation [which you can’t apply to the whole saved multitude]; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.  [They have experienced the total victory, they have overcome as Christ overcame.]  Therefore, they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple [which will be a privilege only for the 144,000]; and he who sits on the throne will spread his tent over them.  Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst.  The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat.  For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water.  And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”

    In other words, they will never ever go through that great tribulation again.  They have been delivered out of it.  So, folks, I believe that God will seal a great multitude of people.  I believe that the gospel is the power of God.

Now I’ll tell you, this was a big issue in our church, but you need to know the context of the issue.  The reason why it was an issue in our church during the time of Ellen G. White was because our membership was approaching 144,000.  And the members began to say, “What will happen when we reach 144,000?”  Some of them were saying, “The end will come.”  We don’t have that problem today because our membership is more than five million.  The argument that it is literal came primarily because of our membership.

The other came from a statement which is not fair to use, because if you are going to find out what is the answer from Ellen G. White you can’t just take one statement where she says, “I saw the 144,000...” and she says, “in number.”  And they say, “There!  She says it’s a number.”  But when Ellen G. White was asked personally, “Is it literal or is figurative?”  She said, “Don’t be bothered about this issue.  Try and be among them.”

So Sister White never gave a clear answer as to whether they were literal or whether they were figurative.  And the reason for that was the church was being split over this issue — Is it figurative or is it literal? — because of our membership.  And some of us are projecting this problem today.  But the thing is this:  chapter 7 of Revelation is answering the question, “Who will be able to stand?”  Will God have a people whose faith can endure the great tribulation?  And the answer is yes!  Is it just a handful, a 144,000?  No, it is a great multitude, but they have to be sealed first.  They are a great multitude from every nation, kindred, tongue, and people.  So they are scattered.  But when Christ comes they will be joined together.  They will be before His temple.  They will be dressed in white raiment and they’ll have palms, the victory sign.  And God will give them a special privilege.

God wants to vindicate the power of the gospel.  Are you willing to be one of those?

The great time of tribulation is terrible.  I can’t explain how terrible it is.  All I can say is what Sister White says, that even our imagination cannot describe it.  She says normally when we imagine problems, our imagination magnifies the problem.  But in this case, no.

The only way I can describe the issue in the great time of tribulation is what Christ experienced on the cross.  We will actually feel forsaken of God.  We will feel forsaken of God.  And the Devil will take advantage of those feelings.  He will say, “You know why God has forsaken you?  Because you are lost.  He has abandoned you because there is no hope of salvation for you.”

And your feelings will say there is no hope for you.  But your faith will say, “I will never forsake you,” that your righteousness is not in you, but in His son.

It will be the issue of righteousness by faith.  Are you willing to rest in Christ, the Lord of the Sabbath, even though you feel forsaken, and you feel that you don’t deserve heaven?  And when, because your faith is sealed, you endure this great tribulation, and the devil will try and do his best, and he fails, then and then only will he pass the decree to kill them, which means that he is going beyond the bargain.  And God will say, “No, you can’t kill them.”  And that’s when the earthquake will take place.  And we who at that time will be hiding in the caves, will come out, and say, “This is the God that we have been waiting for.  He has blessed us. We have endured the time of Jacob’s trouble.”

And those who have been hounding us will take our place in the caves, and they will say to the mountains and the rocks, “Fall on us.  We can’t bear the sight of this coming of Christ.”

So God will have a people.  And we, folks, we need to overcome.  We need to overcome unbelief.  We need to be circumcised, we need to remove all unbelief.  We need to rest in Christ.  We need to buy the white raiment, the righteousness of Christ.  So stop looking at yourself for your assurance.  Stop looking at your experience.  Our part from beginning to end is faith.  It is God’s part to overcome sin.  And faith is always a struggle, because by nature we are self-dependent.

May God bless us, that we may remain faithful.  Our faith will become so strong that we will have the faith not only in Jesus Christ, but the faith of Jesus Christ.  And that, of course, will be our next study.

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