Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Revelation 7:1-8

As the earth roared with the sound of the great Flood, Noah and his family huddled inside the ark. God’s plan of salvation for this chosen group was executed perfectly. While the wrath and justice of God washed the entire planet clean, Noah and his family were preserved by the Sovereign power of God. When the night air filled with wails of Egyptian parents, the Israelite parents huddled inside their homes holding on to their own firstborn children thanking God for the salvation He had given them through the bloody doorposts. Here God had preserved those whom he desired, and spoiled the rest with His wrath.
Throughout scripture, in the face of some of the greatest tragedies, we see the preserving hand of God protecting His own. 
While floods of wrath and waves of death sweep around His people, they rest secure in His Sovereign protection, guarded by His faithful promises and limitless power. 
It should come as no surprise that amidst the unbelievable onslaught of the wrath of God, and the terrible annihilation of the earth through the opening of the six seals in Revelation 6, that God preserves a number of His own by super-natural protection.
While persecution claims the lives of some believers, there are many who are protected and safe-guarded from the frightening terror of God. In Revelation 7, John sees a crowd of people called the “servants of God” who are ethnically Jewish. These are people who most likely were converted as a result of the shocking events that transpired in Revelation 6. Having seen the fulfillment of Scripture (both Old Testament and New Testament prophecy) this group of people repented of their sins and turned in faith to Christ. Now, these converts from this great Tribulation period are marked by God as His own.
It seems that much like Noah and his family, and the Israelites in Egypt were preserved, this group of converted Jews endures and survives the carrying out of the end times. Instead of succumbing to the awful tragedies of war and famine and disease, this group remains faithful to God and is spared the devastation of His wrath. We must be clear though that this does not mean that they may not die during this period. Clearly in Revelation 6:10-11, there are some who perish through persecution carried out by wicked people, and perhaps even some might become victims of the cataclysmic splitting of the universe and the down-pouring of meteors and asteroids. But, for these who perish, unlike the non-believers they are not enduring the wrath of God. Rather, they are being brought immediately into the presence of God to worship, praise and enjoy Him.
By comparison, those who reject God and try to run from Him will receive the wrath of God that extends beyond the horrifying deaths that they will face in this time of sorrows. Their exit from the earth in death will be simply the “first death” that they will experience. As objects of God’s wrath, these will not enjoy the presence of God, rather, it will be the most devastating experience these beings could ever endure.
Here, however, we find a group of 144,000 that God spares from both physical death and from His wrath. Represented in this group are 12,000 from each of the tribes of Israel. Here God in his perfect Sovereignty elected the precise number that He saw fit. 
Just as He always has, He secures safety for those Whom He wills, and it is no different for this special group of Jewish believers.

Reflect: Can you think of any other instances in Scripture where God lovingly preserved a group of His own people from death or destruction?