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Today's Devotion: The Labyrinth of Life

The Krubera Cave in the Arabika Massif is one of the world’s largest caves. It’s so deep, so beautiful, and so complex that only skilled cavers can descend to its subterranean depths. It contains rivers, lakes, springs, and pits descending deep into the earth—a labyrinth of wonder, filled with deadly charms.

The same God who created the intricate interiors of earth also designed the mysterious blueprint of our life. Sometimes the mysteries appear deep and dark. But when we give our life to Christ, it’s as though a switch is flipped on, flooding the way with light. The Lord knows every twist and turn, every rock and river. When we don’t know the way, we needn’t worry. He does, and He will lead us. Even the darkness will become light around us.

This is the theme of Psalm 139—the Lord knows the way through the labyrinth of life. Our finite minds will never fully grasp God’s complex blueprints, but as we seek His will, He will lead us.

How precious also are thy thoughts, O gracious God, to me! And in their sum how passing great and numberless they be!
The Scottish Metrical Psalter (Psalm 139:17)

Mystery surrounds the 144,000 people described in Revelation 7 and 14. Who are they? What will be their objective? How will they impact the lost people of the last days? Let's examine what the Bible says about the 144,000. If twelve disciples transformed the world in the first century, imagine the revival that will take place during the Tribulation!

What Happens Before the Lord Returns?

What Happens Before the Lord Returns?

"The Bible says that before the Lord returns to take us to heaven there is going to be a falling away from the faith…"

Perhaps, if you go to an evangelical church you may have heard your pastor, or some visiting teacher, say that before Jesus Christ comes back to this earth there is going to be a great revival and people are going to come back to the Lord. Now all of us would like to see that happen, and perhaps it will in a small way. But there is no indication in the Scripture that we should expect such an event.

In fact, the Bible teaches the opposite. It says that before the Lord returns to take us to heaven, people will fall away from the faith. The statistics for mainline churches already show signs of fulfilling that prophecy because a lot of people who used to go church, a lot of people who used to be religious, have pushed away, and churches are shrinking.

The Separated Servants of God

The Separated Servants of God

"…they are also separated to God—that means they have a special calling from the Lord."

Joel 2 says, "It shall come to pass afterward that I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions. And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days" (Joel 2:28–29).

These 144,000 witnesses are selected from the twelve tribes of Israel—they are Jews. They are marked with seals on their foreheads that identify them as servants of the living God. The Bible says they are also separated to God—that means they have a special calling from the Lord. Revelation 14:4 says, "these are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins."

Now a lot of people have tried to spiritualize that and talk about the fact that they had not committed spiritual adultery, but that's reading too much into the text. I believe these men will be celibates who devote themselves to preaching the Gospel. And frankly, when you read about what goes on in the Tribulation, there won't be any time for these men to have families. They'll be on a journey and on a mission, and it will be a full–time task. When we understand the pressures of the Tribulation period, it's easy to comprehend why these preachers would have a difficult married life.

The 144,000 Are Spared From Judgment

The 144,000 Are Spared From Judgment

"…the Bible says no one is going to be able to touch them because Almighty God is going to have His arms wrapped around them."

They are also spared from the coming judgment. Notice it says, "do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads" (Revelation 7:3). In other words, these men will not be able to be taken out. People will be angry with them because of their preaching, but the Bible says no one is going to be able to touch them because Almighty God is going to have His arms wrapped around them.

You know it's an interesting thing that even today we can practice that kind of boldness. I'm going to tell you a little secret. When I first started to travel as a young pastor, my kids were young. Each time I boarded an airplane flying out of Fort Wayne, Indiana, I'd have a little pang of fear that would come into my heart. Now I wasn't afraid to die—I wasn't anxious to die, but I wasn't afraid to. But I had a great fear for my wife and my little children. One day an older pastor came to me and gave me this little saying, and I wrote it in my Bible. Here's what it says, "God's man, in the center of God's will, is immortal until God is done with Him."

Hope for Our Nation

Hope for Our Nation

"I hear people say, 'Do you think God has given up on America?' I don't think that's the right question. I think the question is, 'Has America given up on God?'"

As devastating as the Tribulation will be, we can find comfort in knowing that God never removes His hand from this earth. People ask, "Do you think God has given up on America?" That's not the right question. The question is, "Has America given up on God?" The first question can be answered with assurance. Almighty God has not given up on our nation. It is very possible that before the Lord returns to take those who have put their trust in Him to heaven, He will pour out His spirit once again on this nation.

Maybe we will have a fourth great awakening in America. God could do that—it could happen. But one of these days, the world as we know it is going to come to an end. The Tribulation will begin. And during that Tribulation, when there is so much evil, God will still be reaching and begging people to come to Him and receive His grace.

The Spiritual Revival During the Darkest Time

The Spiritual Revival During the Darkest Time

"The Bible says so many people are going to come to Christ during that time that you don't even have any way to number them."

Here are John's words in the seventh chapter of Revelation: "After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could number, of all nations, tribes, peoples, and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, with palm branches in their hands" (Revelation 7:9). What a wonderful picture that is!

So many people are going to come to Christ during that time, there won't be any way to number them: "A great multitude which no one could number." They represent all the nations and tribes and the peoples and the tongues from all over the earth. They will be the harvest from the great revival of the 144,000 witnesses. And we will be able to observe everything from heaven. This is, I believe, the fulfillment of this promise of Jesus given in His Olivet Discourse. Jesus said the Gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.

One of these days, there is going to be this massive spiritual return to God during one of the darkest times on planet earth.

Complete audio message as heard at Shadow Mountain Community Church

The 144,000

Complete audio message as heard at Shadow Mountain Community Church

The world has never seen a massive league of Christians--especially Jewish Christians--wholly set apart to God, in purity and practice, to represent Him as preachers of the Gospel. But during the coming Tribulation, it will. Millions will turn to Christ as 144,000 Jews evangelize the world.

Though His Spirit will not be holding back evil on the earth, God will preserve a remnant of His people to proclaim His Name during the Tribulation.

Jews Will Come to Christ in the Tribulation

In Revelation 7:2–4 John writes, "Then I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God. And he cried with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea, saying, 'Do not harm the earth, the sea, or the trees till we have sealed the servants of our God on their foreheads.' And I heard the number of those who were sealed. One hundred and forty–four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed" (emphasis added).

In the verses that follow, details are shared. From each of the twelve tribes, 12,000 will be sealed with God's protection during the seven years of Tribulation. These men, along with the two evangelists, are the only ones that will not be harmed during the judgment on earth.

Though these 144,000 Jews would have rejected Christ as Messiah, their eyes will be opened after the Tribulation, and they will spend the next seven years spreading the Gospel and stirring up the greatest revival man has ever seen (Revelation 7:12–15).

They Will Lead a Massive Revival

The Old Testament prophet Joel foresaw the result of the ministry of the 144,00 servants of God and described how they will be agents of the Holy Spirit's power in the Tribulation period:

It shall come to pass afterward
That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your old men shall dream dreams,
Your young men shall see visions.
And also on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days.

And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth:
Blood and fire and pillars of smoke.
The sun shall be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.
And it shall come to pass
That whoever calls on the name of the Lord
Shall be saved.
For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance,
As the Lord has said,
Among the remnant whom the Lord calls. (Joel 2:28—32)

They Will Be Virgins

These men will be sealed with the Holy Spirit who will empower them to fulfill their mission and create a revival across the nations. They will be devoted worshipers of God, beacons of light during the rule of darkness.

John tell us, "These are the ones who were not defiled with women, for they are virgins. These are the ones who follow the Lamb wherever He goes…. And in their mouth was found no deceit, for they are without fault before the throne of God" (Revelation 14:4).

The 144,000 Jewish men will be virgins, serving God without the distraction of relational ties. Their heart and soul will be poured into their ministry, just as Paul wrote to the Corinthians, "He who is unmarried cares for the things of the Lord—how he may please the Lord…. And this I say for your own profit, not that I may put a leash on you, but … that you may serve the Lord without distraction" (1 Corinthians 7:32, 35).

They Will Stand for Christ in the World of the Antichrist

Not only are they sealed with the Holy Spirit as every believer is promised, the witnesses are sealed with the Name of the Lord on their foreheads. This physical mark will protect them from the judgment that will be released when Jesus begins to open the seals (Revelation 7:3; 14:1). The mark of the Lord will stand in stark contrast to the Mark of the Beast. They will be servants of the Lord who will never bow to the Antichrist and his power. They will not be passive believers, hiding and running from the Antichrist's law. They will be bold and defiant, unashamedly preaching the Gospel. And God will protect them.

Even today and throughout history, when you are God's child, in God's will, you are immortal until God is finished with you. That doesn't mean that you should live life recklessly. But it does mean that God's plan prevails. He preserves His people for the ministry He has set before them.

They Will Be Preserved for All Seven Years of Preaching,

We don't know how it will happen exactly. But all 144,000 will survive the Tribulation by God's divine protection. Despite not taking the mark needed for buying food and necessities, and the war and bloodshed against those who do not follow the Antichrist, each of these men will live and proclaim the Gospel until the seven years is done.

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. And I heard a voice from heaven, like the voice of many waters, and like the voice of loud thunder. And I heard the sound of harpists playing their harps. 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. (Revelation 14:1–3)

All 144,000 will stand with the Lord when their work is done. They will see the fruit of their labor in the number of souls in heaven and sing praises to God that only they will know.

What Does This Mean for Us Today?

God always fulfills His promises. He always preserves a remnant of His people. Even in the Tribulation, God will set apart His people to proclaim His Name and preserve His light in the world. We don't want to lean on the hope of tomorrow as an excuse to put off our salvation, because tomorrow is never guaranteed. But we can have hope that God is always in control of this world, that He is faithful to fulfill His promises. And from history to eternity, He will preserve a remnant of His people to glorify His Name until the earth is finally purified and evil is forever eradicated.

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