Monday, June 23, 2014

Pastoral Pings ~ The Shepherd of Our Eternal Joy

          The book of Revelation says there are “four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth, that no wind might blow on earth or sea or against any tree” until the 144,000 are sealed.[1]
          Jesus had already told us that, at his return, he would send out his angels to “the four winds”, to “gather his elect”, and this would be so complete as to encompass “one end of heaven to the other”.[2]
          This is a beautiful picture of God giving us a perfect number, 122 x 103, to tell us that he has his elect covered. Remember, child of God, this perfect, beautiful number of completeness, that the elect are sealed unto God, and not even the red dragon can do anything to stop God’s work of making a people in his own image and likeness.[3]
          The sealing of the 144,000 is an easy to remember picture of this truth: But God's firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: ‘The Lord knows those who are his’”.[4] Revelation shows that, not only does he know those who are his, but he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.”[5]
          The Lord Jesus Christ has known who are his from before the foundation of the world.[6] He will not fail to gather those who are his to be with him forever, fully restored to his own image and likeness.[7] While we may not understand all the nuances of the prophetic timetable,[8] we can live by faith in this promise of God that his beloved are sealed before the great day of their wrath has come,”[9] so we are never to interpret world events or life-experiences in a contrary way.
          God’s word says that every believer in Jesus Christ has been “sealed for the day of redemption” by the Holy Spirit.[10] The number, 144,000 is one more way for God to remind his children that Jesus is preparing a home for those who are his,[11] and nothing in this world will keep him from bringing us home.
          The more we meditate on God’s word, storing up the words of God in our hearts,[12] living “by every word that comes from the mouth of God”,[13] the more we see layer-upon-layer of divine revelation assuring us of this, that the same Good Shepherd who took David safely through the Valley of the Shadow of Death,[14] and went out looking for that one lost sheep that had strayed from the other ninety-nine,[15] will shepherd us all the way home to his eternal presence. He cannot fail to do what he has chosen to do.[16]
          One reason for all these pictures of God gathering to himself all those who belong to him is that the world is constantly confronting us with discouraging circumstances. Life is hard. Satan will try to use our distressing life-experiences to dissuade us from enduring until the end. If he cannot stop Jesus from claiming us as his own, he will do everything he can to destroy our witness in this world, all to minimize the glory that Jesus Christ receives.
          What we must keep in mind is the contrast between this world and the next. Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world”.[17]When do we see this with our eyes? When Jesus returns. We have seen it in the cross; we know it by faith; and we will one day see it fulfilled.
          God’s word also says that, in his “presence there is fullness of joy;” and at his “right hand are pleasures forevermore”.[18] The two together, along with many other Scriptures, assure the believer that “the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us”.[19]
          In such a simple and symbolic number as 144,000, God had given his church on earth the most easy to remember emblem of hope: “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand.”[20]
          “Sealed unto the day of redemption”! As the song-writer declared, “What a day, glorious day, that will be!”[21]

© 2014 Monte Vigh ~ Box 517, Merritt, BC, V1K 1B8 ~
Unless otherwise noted, Scriptures are from the English Standard Version (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.)

[1] Revelation 7:1-8
[2] Matthew 24:31
[3] Revelation 12 brings this out in more of this book’s beautiful pictures. The plan of God to make a people in his own image and likeness is revealed in the first book of the Bible (Genesis 1:26-27). The last book of the Bible assures us that he will do what he set out to do.
[4] II Timothy 2:19
[5] Hebrews 7:25
[6] Ephesians 1:3-4
[7] I John 3:1-2; Jude 1:24-25
[8] Acts 1:7 ~ Only the Father knows the times and seasons he has set by his own authority.
[9] Revelation 6:17
[10] Ephesians 4:30
[11] John 14:1-3
[12] Psalm 119:11
[13] Matthew 4:4
[14] Psalm 23
[15] Luke 15:4
[16] Joshua 21:45, 23:14; I Kings 8:56; Hebrews 10:23, 11:11
[17] John 16:33
[18] Psalm 16:11
[19] Romans 8:18
[20] John 10:28-29
[21] “What a Day That Will Be” © 1955. Renewed 1983 Ben Speer Music (Admin. by ClearBox Rights, LLC)/Jim Hill composer

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