Handbook of the Israelite - Part one
As we read the text above, we must ask ourselves, “Why did the Apostle Paul feel compelled to give a warning to a group of people living 1900 years after his time?” Wouldn't you think that Paul had enough on his mind nurturing new believers as he traveled throughout the Roman Empire? But it seems that this tireless Apostle had a great concern for the church in the days ahead! And since he went so far out of his way to express such a warning, shouldn't we engage our curiosity and seek to understand what exactly he was trying to convey to the “end times” people.
By looking closely at Paul’s letter (1 Corinthians 10:1-11) we find that he was observing the events of Israel’s 40 year Exodus in hopes that his words would prevent a terrible crisis among the people living at the close of time. But how much of the Exodus story is applicable to the last days? Simply said; I have observed many striking similarities! In fact, the Exodus story provides a perfect template that runs parallel to the Revelation story. So if you have struggled to understand the Revelation, begin enlightening yourself with the Exodus story. Another critical point to ponder; just prior to the outpouring of the 7 last plagues, the Song of Moses and the Lamb will be sung. (See Revelation 15:3-4) You might have thought the song of Moses and the Lamb referred to God's destruction of Pharaoh's armies at the Red Sea but this is not the case. The song of Moses and the Lamb recounts the tragic loss of the Israelites throughout the 40 year wilderness wanderings. This song expresses the utter disappointment over Israel's rebellion towards the very One who had so wonderfully delivered them from the terrible bondage of Egypt. (See Deuteronomy 31 & 32)
A brief review of the Exodus story:
For years the children of Israel had been oppressed in Egypt. God miraculously delivered Israel from their bondage as God had promised Abraham hundreds of years before. After 10 plagues fell upon the land, the Pharaoh reluctantly let Israel go, but later, he sought to take out his revenge upon the Israelites and pursued them in the wilderness. The proud Pharaoh dared to follow Israel into the Red Sea, but the Israelites were miraculously delivered from defeat as the waters collapsed upon Pharaoh and his army. Later, after Israel received God’s Law, they were led to the borders of the Promised Land. But all of the adults refused to go into the land. So God told the adults that they must remain in the wilderness 40 years until all of them had perished except for two adults named Caleb and Joshua. After 40 years had passed, Caleb and Joshua led the remainder (or remnant) of Israel into the Promised Land. (See Deuteronomy 1:19-40)
If one is observant, it can be seen that both the Exodus story and the “Revelation” story have three things in common. (1) Both stories contain a wilderness experience. “The woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that there they may nourish her a thousand two hundred and threescore days. (Revelation 12:14-17) (2) Both have large numbers of believers who go through times of trouble. Multitudes perish, while another group called “the Elect” do not perish. “There will be great distress, unequaled from the beginning of the world until now—and never to be equaled again. If those days had not been cut short, no one would survive, but for the sake of the “elect” those days will be shortened.” (Matthew 24:21-22)(3) In both scenarios there is a “great final conflict” between a fully dedicated group of people who fully keep all of God’s commandments and a wicked generation who utterly oppose the Kingdom of God. “They will make war against the Lamb, but the Lamb will overcome them because he is Lord of lords and King of kings--and with him will be His called, chosen, and faithful followers." (Revelation 17:14)
The Bible goes so far as to reveal the exact number and the characteristics of those who stand firm to the very end. (See Revelation 14:1-5) John, the writer of the Revelation,“Saw another angel…He (the angel) 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. (Revelation 7:1- 4) As you can see, the book of Revelation clearly indicates that only 144,000 chosen ones will be fit enough to endure the perils of the last days. This is not to say that these are the only ones who will enter into the gates of heaven. The Bible is merely specifying that these 144,000 have the ability to stand firm to the very end. Only these are to witness the return of their Creator without experiencing the stroke of death.
To illustrate the challenge ahead for this group, imagine yourself living in a large town with the population of about 45 thousand people. Over a period of months, the entire town is pounded by one disaster after another. While fear and anxiousness weighs upon the faces of every citizen, you stand unmoved, just as Jesus stood unmoved against the fierce storm on the Galilee. When the dust settles, you find yourself to be the only person left alive. And miraculously, throughout that entire period, you alone have been left unharmed! The same faith that sustained Jesus in His times of trouble will be the same faith maintained by this courageous group of people. For them, the promise shall be fulfilled; “A thousand may fall at your side and ten thousand at your right, but it (plague and disaster) will not come near you”. (Psalms 91:7)
Those called to endure such an experience will be qualified by their willingness to receive special instruction, knowledge, and discipline. This fact is certain; the “last days” cannot commence, nor can they conclude until the 144,000 are “sealed”. Unfortunately for many; the Bible predicts that only 1 in every 50,000 people living today will possess the courage to volunteer themselves to be part of this number of people. All others will elect to perish. How did I arrive at this conclusion? Well 144,000 X 50,000 = approximately 7 billion. This number is close to our current world population today. Simply said; 144,000 righteous souls will survive the tribulation while the other 7 billion people will perish unexpectedly.
This idea should not be a surprise to a Bible believing person since it is well known that only 8 people chose to enter Noah’s ark, and thus survived the great flood. Since much of the successes and failures of our lives are the direct result of the choices we make, it would be better to consider the 144,000 “choosing ones” rather than “chosen ones”. With this thought in mind, those who have seriously considered themselves enduring to the very end of time should now be asking themselves the following question. “Where will we gain the knowledge and wisdom to endure to the very end?” For those who have ears to hear, the answer is given. All of the knowledge essential to your success in the last days can be found within the Exodus story!
Mystery of the White Robes:
As much as I would love to delve deeper into the mysteries of the 144,000, I must briefly turn your attention to another group of people who, like the 144,000, are to perform many courageous and righteous acts in the last days. But unlike the 144,000, the lives of these people will be cut short along with the wicked prior to the second coming of Christ. The book of Revelation bears this out at the time when John first heard about the 144,000. He looked toward the throne of God and saw a diverse multitude, wearing white robes. This crowd was so immense that John found it impossible to count them all! The scripture says,“They (the white robed multitude) come out of the tribulation.” (Revelation 7:9-15) Now we must ask ourselves, “What does it mean to “come out” of tribulation?”
The mystery of the white robed saints who come out of tribulation can be solved by observing the details of Revelation’s fifth seal, “When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of God and the testimony they had maintained…Then each of them was given a “white robe”, and they were told to wait a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and brothers who were to be killed as they had been was completed.” (Revelation 6:9-10) The Bible is telling us that the “white robed ones” escape the tribulation period not by the way of the “rapture”. No! These unfortunate souls escape the tribulation through the portal of death.
But wait! Why must these people die when they are clearly set apart as the generation that is not supposed to pass away? (See Luke 21:31-33) The following verse will give us part of the answer to that question; “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on." "Yes," says the Spirit, "they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them." (Revelation 14:13) Now the deeds of these fallen martyrs seem to be very important to the angel speaking to John. But could the sincerity of some of these fallen heroes be questionable? Just because a man dies by the hands of a group of wicked people does not prove that the man has earned the right to be raised up to eternal life. The scripture plainly says; “If I…surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:3) So outwardly, the actions of the white robed ones are truly inspirational, but there still remains something questionable about their lives. And these questions can only be settled by conducting a full examination of their past thoughts and deeds.
So these “white robed” ones, like every other human born into this world, shall exit it bearing a unique mark. This mark (or seal) is not something that is visible. It includes all of the events of their life story. The record of their actions and attitudes contain all the necessary information in order to determine their fate. This means that the destiny of all who have ever lived and died continues to hang in the balance until a time when an impartial investigation can be conducted. It must be determined whether or not the “person in question” is truly capable of living in harmony with the Kingdom of Heaven. And it must be proven beyond a shadow of a doubt that the “person in question” is able to live happily on heavens terms. “This is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not burdensome.” (1 John 5:3)
The Coming Judgement
The destiny of every man born into this world has been questionable from the moment of his first breath. It has been alleged by Man’s Designer that some of our race possesses the ability to overcome their rebellious ways and are indeed capable of offering wholehearted allegiance to Heaven’s government. But God would have to wait to restore these fallen beings into the full communion of heaven. He patiently waits until the day that it becomes entirely clear to every citizen under Heaven that mankind is truly safe to save. He has long respected the concerns of all the citizens. In order to gain His objective, God implemented a process by which each man’s true thoughts, feelings, and actions could be reviewed. It was determined that each member of our race be allowed to live for a period of time, allowing every man to freely express his desires for both good and evil.
So after a man has lived out the days allotted to him and he dies, his fate is sealed (settled). For him, there are no second chances to add to or take away from the deeds he has done. All of his sentiments about right and wrong have been manifested. His actions (the good and the bad) have been meticulously collected and carefully compiled into a record book. At the moment of the man’s last breath, his life story is “sealed” and no one can examine his story until the judgment. Then, at the appointed time, his story is brought forward to be reviewed. The dead man’s life story has been carefully arranged so that the Judge can sort through the various categories that are of eternal importance to the man in question.
I want you to imagine for a moment that the next book for review in the courts of heaven is the book that tells your life story. Imagine that the Judge has just called for the book titled with your name. The book has been sealed since the time of your death and is now opened for public view. Thankfully, the Judge does not begin the examination by fast forwarding to the darkest moment of your life. On the contrary, His nature is such that He instinctively looks for the good in you. So when he opens a page that reveals one of the many questionable acts, he searches over the record to see if you had experienced regret for your inappropriate conduct. He methodically scans the record to see if you continued in the dark deeds you knew to be hurtful to yourself and to others. He is ever hopeful that he will see an upward trend in your life. At times, a smile appears upon his face as he saw how you influenced others to listen to wise instruction and how you enthusiastically directed them to follow the right paths. And as he beholds this, the Judge begins to form an affectionate bond with you. He hopes your story will have a good ending.
But as He observes the final chapters of your life, the eyes of the courtroom witnesses a look of wonder upon his face; He is struck with utter disbelief! Somewhere along the way, you had become independent and proud. You refused to hear the truth from humble believers who attempted to keep you on the right path. You ridiculed anyone who opposed you and as a consequence, you influenced those around you to rebel. These unfortunate souls followed in your footsteps. For years you stubbornly held fast to your rebellious ways until the day you drew your last breath.
Outrage is now seen upon the face of that Heavenly Judge. The bond between you and the Him is now broken beyond repair. You are no longer counted as his friend. You are to be numbered with those who must experience the execution of His final Judgment. You see, it was your own story that told the Judge the real truth about yourself. It is impossible to add another word to the evidence that is set before Him since you are rendered speechless at the time of your death! The details of your story has proved to all in the courtroom that your rebellion would continue without end. Who would feel safety or contentment if they were to be in your presence? So now, with this knowledge completely understood by all, the Judge raises his hands upward and declares, “Let this rebel's name be forever struck from the Book of Life”. (See Exodus 32:33) And those assembled in the heavenly courtroom sadly bow their heads in agreement and say, “Amen”!
Friends; we are now entering the time when God's people will be tested. He will cause each believer to declare whether or not they are willing to enter the Promised Land alive or perish in the wilderness. If you elect to perish along the way, will your life’s record show that you have desired everything heaven has to offer? The days ahead will not be easy. Understand this; eye witness accounts of God’s signs and wonders have never been entirely successful in turning grumbling souls from their stubborn ways. Remember, over a million Israelites who had seen the wonders in Egypt, were later cursed by the very one who led them to the borders of the Promised Land. And not even Moses, the man who had performed so many great deeds, the man who parted the Red Sea, was allowed to cross over to the good land alive. So will you have what it takes to stand before your maker without seeing death? If so, you must be willing perform a close examination of yourself and learn from the history of Israel’s triumphs and their failures.
“My brothers, be all the more eager to make your calling and election sure. For if you do these things, you will never fall”. (2 Peter 1:10)
Second Exodus coming:
“Now all these things happened to them for examples: and they are written for our warning, upon whom the ends of the world have come.” (1 Corinthians 10:11)