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#36 Judgment Day, Part I

September 4, 2008

Today we are going to look at the Day of Judgment. Our text is Revelation chapter 14 and we will look at the first 5 verses today. Now I spoke of an overlap in this book, the fact that there are three sections which deal with the end of the world. The first was in chapter 5, the second is here in chapter 14 and the third will be in chapter 19-21. If you take those sections and overlap them together you get a picture of the end in stereo.

 

Specifically, what we are going to see today is a picture of God’s faithful ones in heaven. That means all real Christians. We will be going home one day. The bible says that this world is not our home, that we are stranger and aliens- that we are looking for a new country, a heavenly one; not made with hands.

 

Now when Jesus returns this will be the end of all that we know! And in a sense this is hard seeing that this world is all that we have ever known. We were born here and have lived in this sphere of existence all of our lives. We have no concept of our heavenly home. It is a mystery.

 

Though Christians have the hope, the assurance of heaven, we don’t know what it will be like. Oh sure there are snippets, glimpses of heaven in the scriptures but they are only what we can receive at this time. The reality will be so much greater than the glimpses that the truth of Paul’s statement, found in (1Co 2:9) continually rings truer each day! There we read that “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.”

 

Though it is full of mystery now, that day will be a day of rejoicing like no other for we will finally be set free from all of our sinfulness. And we will be with Him whom our soul loves.

 

The same cannot be said for the wicked. You could equally say that no eye has seen no ear has heard and no mind has conceived of what God has prepared for those who hate Him and continually reject His truth, who are content to ‘live for today’ whose mind-set is to ‘eat drink and be merry for tomorrow we die” not knowing the terror of the Lord.

It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

 

There is a truth that we can’t emphasize too much and that is the truth that this life is very, very short. Someone once said that we only have enough time in this life to get ready for the next.  But God rejecting people continue to plot, plan and scheme, to make plans far into the future, never considering that fact.

 

They walk around like blind men, like ostriches with their heads stuck in the sand and when you try to tell them the truth, when you try to point out the danger they are in they say, “Why all this doom and gloom? Nothing bad can every happen to me!” Bad stuff only happens to other people. Oh! Do they think they are going to live forever?

James, in chapter 4 of his letter, says 14 “What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” The Living Bible states it this way, “The length of your lives is like the morning fog – now you see it; soon it’s gone! And you only have enough time in this life to get ready for the next.

The writer of the book of Hebrews says 7 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of trial in the wilderness ,9where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, And saw My works forty years.10Therefore I was angry with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart, and they have not known My ways.’ 11So I swore in My wrath, ‘They shall not enter My rest.’ ” 12 Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; 13 but exhort one another daily, while it is called “Today,” lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, 15 while it is said: “Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” (Heb 3:7-14)

In (2Co 6:2) Paul tells us of the importance of immediate action “For He says: “In an acceptable time I have heard you, and in the day of salvation I have helped you.” Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” When Jesus returns it will be too late for people to get right with Him. Remember how Esau wept for a blessing but there was none to give. He had squandered away precious moments. He sold his birthright (that is, all the rights of the firstborn son) for a bowl of stew. And then he was surprised to find that he had no blessing (which was also reserved for the firstborn son; the one possessing the birthright).

In the same way, men and women will weep tears of bitter anguish as they cry out for a blessing, for mercy; and seeing none, they will then cry out to the rocks and the mountains to fall upon them and hide them from the face of Jesus Christ. And they will receive their just reward, the wages of sin which is death! I remember a picture depicting hell with all of its torments and someone saying “Okay God, I’m ready to believe in you now!” One of the demons said, ‘It’s too late for that man. We’re here for eternity. There’s no way out!’

 

As we come to our text we see once again, that mysterious group of people known as the 144,000. Look at verse 1 where we read thus ‘The Lamb and the 144,000. John says…Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads. The last time we saw them was in chapter 7.

 

As I said back then, there are many ideas as to who they are. Some, like MacArthur and Hal Lindsay say these people are 144,000 Jews for Jesus who will be ministering during the tribulation period. They will be God’s ministers on earth since all the Christians will have been raptured. Now I will not comment too much on this idea of the ‘rapture’ except to say that I have not found one place in scripture that says, “all Christians get off scot free” that somehow, we who are as lazy and apathetic as the day is long, will be called to heaven to escape the Tribulation when much more faithful people than we have ever been were called upon to suffer for His Name’s sake and did it with joy!  

(Heb.11:36-38) describes some of the hardships they endured. They…were tortured, not accepting deliverance, (which involved a denial of Christ in exchange for their lives) that they might obtain a better resurrection. They did not fear those who could kill the body but after that could do nothing. Instead they feared God who had power to not only kill but to cast into hell!  36 Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment. 37 They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented— 38 of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth. And all this time they had the hope of heaven! This hope caused them to hold fast to their confession of faith to the end! This is a true illustration of the perseverance of the saints. Notice that they were not translated from this life before any thing bad came upon them.

 

Now I’m not saying there won’t be rapture! In fact I can definitely say to you that that there will be one! You see, The Rapture is when God calls everyone home! And that happens at the end.

 

This is spelled out in (1Cor 15:50-53) 50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. This is the true rapture; not the one you hear about in most churches. The popular Rapture is nothing more than an escape. They think of it as a ‘get out of jail free’ card. But the real rapture will divide the true sheep of God’s pasture from the religious goats, the hypocrites (mask wearers) who merely pretend to be Christians!

 

I think Matthew Henry hit it on the head concerning the identity of the 144,000 when he said, “Those who are thus sealed by the Spirit, the seal will be on their foreheads.  It will be there for all to see, both by friends and enemies. And the believer will see this seal as he looks steadfastly in the mirror of God’s word. The number of those who were sealed, represent the faithful remnant of God’s people; the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. In this place, Israel is a picture of the church of God.  

 

And so we see in verse 1 The Lamb and the 144,000. John says…Then I looked, and behold, a Lamb standing on Mount Zion, and with Him one hundred and forty-four thousand, having His Father’s name written on their foreheads. This is a picture of heaven! Turn with me to (Heb 12:22-24) and see a wonderful picture of the finished redemption of men.

 

The writer is contrasting Mount Sinai and Mount Zion. And we remember that Mount Sinai is where Moses received the Law, where the mountain burned with fire and the smoke of a furnace; where Moses himself said, “I am trembling with fear!” It is well to fear the Lord for that is the beginning of knowledge according to (Proverbs 1:7). The presence of the Lord was awesome and terrifying.

And the Law is terrifying to those who have broken it. For unrepentant sinners who die in their unrepentant state, there is only one sentence; Jesus will say “Depart from Me into everlasting Fire…! But contrast that fearful scene with Jesus calling to sinners, extending the mercy of God to them and saying “Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened (with your sin) and I will give you rest. (I will set you free and whom the Son sets free is free indeed.) Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matt 11:28-30)

 

To those who have come to Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins God’s word says, “But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the Living God. (What else could this be but heaven!) You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all men, to the spirit of righteous men made perfect, to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.  What a wonderful picture of our final resting place in heaven! It is a picture of perfect joy and peace as we worship before the Throne of Grace! And what would you expect to hear in heaven but the Voice of God. 2 And I heard a voice from heaven, like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of loud thunder.

 

Turn with me to the book of (Eze 43:1-2) where we have this description of the LORD. We read “Afterward he brought me to the gate, the gate that faces toward the east. 2 And behold, the glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east. His voice was like the sound of many waters; and the earth shone with His glory. (Ex 15:11)  Who is like unto Thee, O LORD, among the (so called) gods? Who is like Thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?

 

Turn also to (Ps 29) where we read 1 Give unto the Lord, O you mighty ones, Give unto the Lord glory and strength. 2 Give unto the Lord the glory due to His name; Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness. 3 The voice of the Lord is over the waters; The God of glory thunders; The Lord is over many waters. 4 The voice of the Lord is powerful; The voice of the Lord is full of majesty. 5 The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars, Yes, the Lord splinters the cedars of Lebanon. 6 He makes them also skip like a calf, Lebanon and Sirion like a young wild ox. 7The voice of the Lord divides the flames of fire. 8 The voice of the Lord shakes the wilderness; The Lord shakes the Wilderness of Kadesh. 9 The voice of the Lord makes the deer give birth, and strips the forests bare; And in His temple everyone says, “Glory!” 10 The Lord sat enthroned at  the Flood, and the Lord sits as King forever. 11The Lord will give strength to His people; The Lord will bless His people with peace.

 

There is glorious music in heaven such as would bring glory to God. We read “And I heard the sound of harpists playing their harps. 3 They sang as it were a new song before the throne, before the four living creatures, and the elders; and no one could learn that song except the hundred and forty-four thousand who were redeemed from the earth.

This of course is the song of rejoicing before the Throne as believers worship, praise and glorify our great God and Savior Jesus Christ who has delivered us from the power of Satan and translated us into the kingdom of God.

 

Verse 4 says that These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. This means that they did not become unfaithful to the Lord… they did nor recant their confession of faith but remained steadfast till the end. This thought is always a symbol of purity of life; of refusing sinful intercourse with the world. Spiritual adultery or fornication is being wedded to the world and partaking of its sins.

 

These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes. These were redeemed from among men, purchased away from men, from the slave market of sin…being first-fruits to God and to the Lamb. (Ex 23:19) “You shall bring the first of the first-fruits of your land into the house of the LORD your God.” The first-fruits were holy to the Lord, a special offering to Him. And so are we! In (1Pe 2:9) Peter tells us this…“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light…

 

Back in Revelation 14 and verse 5 we read And in their mouth was found no deceit, for they are without fault before the throne of God.” Here is the end of our salvation, the final cleansing as we are translated from this world of sin into the kingdom of our Holy God who will purge away every evil from our lives and make us holy and pure.

 

This is the day we are longing for. The scripture speaks of God wiping away every tear from our eyes. I ask you, what brings you the most sadness but that remaining sin which causes us to cry out “OH WRETCHED MAN THAT I AM!”

 

In this world we weep and mourn over remaining sin but on that day, when we enter into the joy of our Lord we will enter in as a pure and spotless bride. We will enter in to paradise having been fitted for heaven, made fit subjects of that holy place! In closing, I would ask you to look with me at a few passages in which we see the blessed work of God in purifying His bride, the Church.

 

(Ps 32:1-2) 1 Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit.

 

(So 4:7) You are all fair, my love, and there is no spot in you.

 

(Eph 5:25-27) Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.

 

(Col 1:19-23) For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, 20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. 21 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled 22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight— 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.

 

(Eph 1:4)Long ago, even before He made the world, God chose us to be His very own through what Christ would do for us. He decided then, to make us holy in his eyes, without a single fault- we who would stand before Him covered with his love. “

 

(Heb 9:13-14)For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of  a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit, offered Himself without blemish to God, cleans your conscience from dead works to serve the living God!

 

(1Pe 1:17-21) 17 And if you call on the Father, who without partiality judges according to each one’s work, conduct yourselves throughout the time of your stay here in fear; 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. 20 He indeed was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you 21 who through Him believe in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.

 

(2Pe 3:14) “14 Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless.”

 

(Jude 1:24) Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, 25 to God our Savior, Who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever. Amen.

 

(Re 21:27) 27 But there shall by no means enter it anything that defiles, or causes an abomination or a lie, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s Book of Life.

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