Sun, May 21, 2000

Tribulation Fruit: Revelation 7:9-17

Ministry of Pastor Joe Guglielmo teachings through the Bible, verse by verse for a better understanding of Gods Word.
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TRIBULATION FRUIT!

REVELATION 7:9-17

From boyhood, one of my favorite stories has been the forty martyrs of Sabaste. These forty soldiers, all Christians, were members of the famed Twelfth Legion of Rome’s imperial army.

One day their captain told them Emperor Licinius had sent out an edict that all soldiers were to offer sacrifice to the pagan gods. These Christians replied, "You can have our armor and even our bodies, but our hearts’ allegiance belongs to Christ."

It was midwinter of AD 320, and the captain had them march onto a nearby frozen lake. He stripped them of their clothes and said they would either die or renounce Christ.

Throughout the night these men huddled together singing their song, "Forty martyrs for Christ." One by one the temperature took its toll and they fell to the ice.

At last there was only one man left. He lost courage and stumbled to the shore, where he renounced Christ. The officer of the guards had been watching all this. Unknown to the others, he had secretly come to believe in Christ. When he saw this last man break rank, he walked out onto the ice, threw off his clothes, and confessed that he also was a Christian.

When the sun rose that next morning, there were forty bodies of soldiers who had fought to the death for Christ.

Good News Is For Sharing, Leighton Ford

1977, David C. Cook Publishing Co., p. 16

It is impossible to extinguish the fires of faith when a person’s faith is real, when he is not only ready to live for what he believes, but he is also ready to die for what he believes. There is no stopping that kind of faith, not even in death!

Some of you know what transpired on March 14 of this year in the Sudan. Twelve bombs were dropped by bombers from the Muslim north, all hitting civilian areas. Because a generator was running, they did not hear the bombers coming and so many of them never had a chance to make it to a foxhole. For Marcello and two other chaplains, they only had to go 10 feet from their barracks to the foxhole, and as it turned out, even that was to far to go.

As the bomb was falling the other two chaplains who were with Marcello hit the ground, but Marcello kept running, and as this bomb exploded, only 20 feet from where he was at, it killed him in minutes as the bomb tore through him.

Wes Bentley, head of Far Reaching Ministries in War-Torn Sudan, said, "When the last bomb was dropped and we got up to help those who were hurt and survey the damage we found several of the chaplains weeping deeply over the loss of Marcello. Joseph, a senior chaplains, who was especially close to Marcello, was very broken over his death. Rick Deam, who is part of our U.S. staff and serves as an operations and training officer for the chaplain’s Corps, walked up to Joseph and said, ‘Joseph, sometimes the cost of following Jesus Christ is very costly. Are you still called to this ministry?’ Joseph turned to him with tears running out of his eyes and said, ‘Brother, I’m still called to this work. I’m still called to my people.’"

Marcello was 28 years old, married and had 3 children. And as heartbreaking a story as this is, I can’t help but thinking of what Paul said in Philippians 1:21, "For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain." We live this life for Christ and in death, we gain it all, for we go to be with our Lord and Savior, just as Marcello has done. He lived for Christ and now he is with the one he loved so dearly that he gave his life for Him.

And in his death it has not halted the work of God, but only intensified it more. They realize they may only have one more day to share Christ before they are called home and it has given them a determination and a desire to reach people for Christ in this war-torn country. Prior to Paul speaking of living for Christ and what we receive in death, Paul said "according to myearnest expectation and hope that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but with all boldness, asalways, so now also Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death."Philippians 1:20. You see, in life and in death, Marcello has and is an encouragement to his brothers and sisters in the Lord and that should be our desire, that Christ is seen in us, both in our life and in our death.

In our study this morning, as we finish up Revelation chapter 7, we see the fruit that is born out of the witnessing of the 144,000 Jews. As these evangelists go forward, as they share their faith in Christ, a tremendous harvest of souls is going to be brought into the kingdom of God. And, as we saw last week, these 144,000 are the firstfruits to God during the tribulation period, and now we are going to see what is born out of their ministry, more fruit!

With those thoughts in mind, let’s look at Revelation chapter 7, and we are going to begin this morning in verse 9. So let’s see what the Lord has for us this morning.

VERSES 9-10

Since the church age began on Pentecost, we have seen God bring forth several big revivals throughout history, but during the tribulation period, their numbers can’t be counted! And again, I believe that this innumerable number of people, from all over the world, is the fruit that is born out of the ministry of the 144,000! You see, the Gospel message is not changed during the tribulation period. Paul tells us in I Corinthians chapter 15, what the Gospel message is all about. He says "For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures." I Corinthians 15:3-4.

These 144,000 Jewish evangelists will be preaching the message of salvation through Jesus Christ. They still will have the Scriptures, the Bible, to show the people the truths of God and the beautiful thing is that many people will be saved during the tribulation period. It is as John said "A great multitude which no one could number."

As you read through the book of Revelation you can come to the conclusion of JUDGMENT, JUDGMENT AND MORE JUDGMENT! But the truth of the mater is, that is not all we see in this book. The heart of God is to save, not to condemn. He desires men to be saved even during this time of great judgment. Peter tells us in II Peter 3:9, "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance." Don’t come to the conclusion that God rejoices in the death of the wicked, for He doesn’t. God rejoices when the wicked turn from their wicked ways and return to the Lord, He rejoices when they get saved. Also, as Psalm 116:15 says, "Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of His saints."

That tells me that these tribulation saints are not the ones who show up for church twice a month, or the ones who don’t gather with the brethren to worship the Lord because they are too tired, too busy, the kids were acting up, or whatever you want to put in there for an excuse. These tribulation saints were willing to die for their faith and when you place that much faith in what you believe, nothing is going to stop you, and nothing was going to stop them, not even the threat of death!

Now John tells us that this group of people have come out of the world wearing the white robes of righteousness. How did they obtain them? Through the blood of Christ which had washed them as white as snow. The Greek word that John uses for "white" is LEUKOS and it speaks of a shining brilliance, a dazzling white, as pure and white as the fresh snow. It is as the Lord said in Isaiah 1:18-20, as He is reasoning with man over his sinful condition, and says "‘Come now, and let us reason together,’ says the LORD, ‘Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; But if you refuse and rebel, you shall be devoured by the sword"; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken."

In fact, in Revelation 7:14 we read of these tribulation saints that, "...‘These are the ones who come out of the great tribulation, and washed their robes and made them white in theblood of the Lamb." The righteousness of Christ has been imputed to them by their faith in Jesus Christ!

Also, they are carrying in their hands palm branches, which speak of victory, celebration. They have become victorious in Christ and the sting of death has been taken away! And out of all this, they worship and praise the Lord, but they are not alone as we are going to see. And even though this group of people have come from many cultures, a variety of backgrounds, the message that saved them was always and is always the same. And as all these people are worshiping the Lord, they have one thing in common, Jesus Christ, and that is what unites them and their message together!

VERSES 11-12

If you really believe what you are signing you are going to sing it out loud and strong, with feeling, with emotion. If you don’t believe what you are singing about, you will just give empty lip service, there is no emotion, no feeling in it, it is just done out of habit or because everyone else is doing it. But that is not what we see here with these tribulation saints, they are singing out loud and strong before the Lord their love for Him. And as we see once again heaven is breaking forth in worship of the Father and of the Lamb. Now why do we see the angels, the church, the cherubim falling on their faces and worshiping God?

Turn to Luke chapter 15, and let’s begin reading in verse 4. And as we look at this parable that Jesus gives, I think you will see why all of heaven is rejoicing and praising the Lord. We read beginning in verse 4 of Luke chapter 15, "What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the onewhich is lost until he finds it? And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders,rejoicing. And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying tothem, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’ I say to you thatlikewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance." Luke 15:4-7.

You might say that God is throwing a party as a sinner gets saved, and all of heaven rejoices over it! Can you imagine the sounds from heaven as this innumerable number of people come to know the Lord! And for that matter, we should learn this song, for we will be singing it in heaven with the host of angels and cherubim!

VERSES 13-14

If this spoke of the church, John would have recognized them, but he didn’t. Because he didn’t know who all these people were, he is told by the elder that these innumerable number of people were those who have come out of the Great Tribulation. In fact, verse 14 can be translated from the Greek in this manner. "These are those who came out of the tribulation, the great one." It is just as Jesus said about this time in Matthew 24:21, "For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall."

And so, these tribulation saints are saved like you and me - through Christ! As the earth is filled with the judgment of God, we also see the God of mercy come shining through as He extends His arms of forgiveness to all who will receive it. It is as Habakkuk 3:2 says as Habakkuk is praying to the Lord and says, "O LORD, I have heard your speech and was afraid; O LORD, revive Your work in the midst of the years! In the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy."

Now let me ask you this. Why are you going to heaven? Because you go to church? No! Because you are a good person? No! Because you help others? No! Because you do this or do that? No! You only get to heaven by the blood of Christ. Paul, in Romans 5:8-9 put it this way when he said "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were stillsinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, weshall be saved from wrath through Him." Like today, people will be saved during the tribulation period the same way, by grace through faith in Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!

VERSE 15

In this verse John speaks of those who come out of this Great Tribulation period, that God will dwell among them. The word "dwell" is the Greek word SKENOUN which we read of in John 1:14, which says, "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth."

God dwelt among us, He became flesh and we saw Him face-to-face, is what John is saying. Interestingly enough, the Jews connected the word SKENOUN (dwell) to the word SHEKINAH, which spoke of the glory of God being present. They of course were not the same word and yet the Jews used it that way.

As Solomon dedicated the temple and prayed in II Chronicles chapter 7, we read beginning in verse 1, "When Solomon had finished praying, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the LORD filled the temple. And the priests could not enter the house of the LORD, because the glory of the LORD had filled the LORD'S house. When all the children of Israel saw how the fire came down, and the glory of the LORD on the temple, they bowed their faces to the ground on the pavement, and worshiped and praised the LORD, saying: ‘For He is good, for His mercy endures forever." II Chronicles 7:1-3.

The glory of the Lord, the Shekinah glory spoke of His presence. When the Lord filled the tabernacle it was seen by a fire at night and a cloud by day as they traveled in the wilderness. (See Exodus 24:16-18 and 40:34-38). When God dwelt among them they saw His glory - and His presence was among us when He became flesh and dwelt with us. And it is out of this we read in verses 16 and 17 of Revelation chapter 7...

VERSES 16-17

What a beautiful way to express God’s comfort to these people who have come out of a period of time that no man has experienced before or will ever experience again. The famine, the cataclysmic events, the devastating earthquakes, the wars and yet God tells them, the Great Shepherd, that they will no longer hunger or thirst anymore. Their tears will be wiped away as their persecution is over, for they are now with the Lord. It is as Isaiah 49:10 says "They shallneither hunger nor thirst, neither heat nor sun shall strike them; for He who has mercy onthem will lead them, even by the springs of water He will guide them." That is the God we serve!

Now keep in mind that these things they experienced were real and they were devastating. The famine is spoken of in Revelation 6:5-6, which says "When He opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature say, ‘Come and see.’ So I looked, and behold, a black horse, and he who sat on it had a pair of scales in his hand. And I heard a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, ‘A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not harm the oil and the wine." Also, in Revelation 13:16-17 we read, "He causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name." But no longer will they hunger for they will have the bread of life with them always!

During the Great Tribulation the fresh water supply will be affected. Revelation 8:10-11 tells us"Then the third angel sounded: And a great star fell from heaven, burning like a torch, and it fell on a third of the rivers and on the springs of water. The name of the star isWormwood. A third of the waters became wormwood, and many men died from the water,because it was made bitter." But again, they will drink from the Lord now, from the fountain of living water and they will never thirst again!

The sun will strike them, the intense heat will beat down upon them during this time, as Revelation 16:8-9 says "Then the fourth angel poured out his bowl on the sun, and powerwas given to him to scorch men with fire. And men were scorched with great heat, andthey blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did notrepent and give Him glory." But before the Lord they will rest under the shadow of His wings!

And finally, all their tears of pain and sorrow will be wiped away, to be remembered no more, as Isaiah 25:8 tells us "He will swallow up death forever, and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces; the rebuke of His people he will take away from all the earth; for the LORD has spoken." Also, in Revelation 21:4 we read "And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away." Precious promises to those who love the Lord!

Now let me try to put this in perspective regarding the time frame here. The two witnesses, which we will get to in Revelation chapter 11, minister roughly through the first 3½ years of the tribulation period. It is out of their ministry we see the 144,000 Jewish witnesses come forth and in the midst of the tribulation period we see God seal these 144,000 Jewish witnesses, 12,000 taken from each of the 12 tribes of Israel, before the Antichrist unleashes his wrath and all Hell breaks out!

During the Great Tribulation, the last 3½ years, many will come to know Jesus and will be martyred for their faith, both Jew and gentile. And that should remind us of what we saw as the fifth seal was opened up in Revelation chapter 6, where we read beginning in verse 9,

"When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held. And they cried with a loud voice, saying, ‘How long, O Lord, holy and true, until You judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell on the earth?’ Then a white robe was given to each of them; and it was said to them that they should rest a little while longer, until both the number of their fellow servants and their brethren, who would be killed as they were, was completed."Revelation 6:9-11.

That fifth seal speaks of the souls under the altar that have been saved by the blood of Christ being applied to their lives. We see in Revelation chapter 6 those souls who have been martyred for their faith during the tribulation period waiting for the fulness of their brethren to come in and here in chapter 7 we see them around the throne of God serving Him night and day. They were not sealed during this time, but even in death, they will be with the Lord.

Now as you look and study the church, the bride of Christ, and compare it with those that are saved during the tribulation period, the tribulation saints, there are some striking differences that I believe is important for us to see and understand.

THE CHURCHMARTYRS FROM TRIBULATION

1. REV. 3:10 "KEPT OUT"1. REV. 7:14 "COME OUT"

2. REV. 3:18, REV 4:4 "WHITE RAIMENT"2. REV. 7:14 "WHITE ROBES"

3. REV. 4:4 "SIT ON THRONES"3. REV. 7:15 "STAND BEFORE THE THRONE"

4. REV. 4:4 "CROWNS OF GOLD"4. NO COVERING

5. REV. 5:9-10 "SINGS A NEW SONG"5. REV. 7:10 "CRY OUT SAYING"

6. REV. 1:6, REV. 5:10 "REIGN AS KINGS6. REV. 7:15 "SERVE HIM NIGHT

AND PRIESTS" DAY"

Now to just serve the Lord night and day would be great but God is going to allow us to rule and reign with Him as kings and priests in the millennial kingdom. How much better it is to accept Christ today than to wait and take a chance of accepting Him during the tribulation period, a chance you might not get. No one knows how long they will live, so as Paul tells us,

"...‘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.II Corinthians 6:2. Don’t put off the calling of God in your life, answer His call and give Him your life today.

Here in Revelation we see a beautiful harvest in the midst of God’s wrath being poured out. But understand this, as today, during the tribulation period, everyone has to make a decision either for or against Christ and how you answer it will determine your destiny! If you don’t know Christ, ask Him to be your Lord and Savior, and He will forgive you of your sins. If you know Christ, then live for Him! Live each day like this is your last to share Christ. Imagine if you knew this was your last day on this earth, what would you do? I pray that you would share Christ with as many as you could. And if that is your response, and it should be, then live every day that way! Let God work in you and through you so that He may bear much fruit in your life!

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