"And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. And I saw another angel descending 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 given to hurt the earth, and the sea, saying, hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees till we have sealed the servants of God in their foreheads. And I heard the number of them which were sealed; and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel." Rev. vii, 1-4.
To what state of the church do these scriptures apply? Evidently to the present. But as some doubt this position, we wish briefly to give some reasons for believing that the 144,000 are those who are alive, and are changed at the second advent.
I. The 144,000 are introduced in Prophecy among the preparatory scenes of the second advent. Reader, please take your Bible, and mark carefully the connection between the thirteenth and fourteenth chapters of Revelation. The thirteenth chapter, and the first five verses of the fourteenth, are a connected chain showing the sad history of the church during 1260 years of Papal rule, which reached to within fifty years of this present time; also, her last struggle with the image beast, and the saints' final and glorious deliverance. They stand on Mount Zion with the Lamb. The division of chapters should be between the fifth and sixth verses of the fourteenth chapter. This any one may see: for the sixth verse introduces another chain of events, which is not at all connected with the preceding chain. How very natural to suppose that John, after viewing the saints persecuted by the beast, and his image, would follow them but a step farther to Mount Zion with the Lamb.
"And I saw as it were a sea of glass mingled with fire: and them that had gotten the victory over the beast, and over his image, and over his mark, and over the number of his name, stand on the sea of glass, having the harps of God." Rev. xv.2.
Rev. vii, 1-3, has been and is still, held by Adventists, with very few exceptions, to apply to the preparatory scenes of the second advent. In facta it seems impossible to apply it anywhere else.
Mark this: John was shown, not things that were in the past, no, but 'THINGS WHICH MUST SHORTLY COME TO PASS.' It is true that some allusions were made to the past, but it was only to explain the 'things which must shortly come to pass,' as in the case of the 'woman,' the 'dragon,' and the 'man child' of Chap. xii. This fact seems quite destructive of the view, that the 144,000 were raised at the time of the first advent. If the prophecy relative to the 144,000 was fulfilled at the time of the first advent, then the faithful Witness, instead of doing what he said he would do, viz: 'shew unto his servant things which must shortly come to pass,' showed John things that were all past, at least sixty years before he had his revelation in the Isle of Patmos. The twelve tribes, of which the 144,000 are sealed, are the same that the Apostle James addressed, A.D. 60.
"James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the TWELVE TRIBES which are scattered abroad, greeting,' James i, 1. This epistle is evidently addressed to the present state of the church; to that state when the people of God are waiting for the Lord, and in their disappointed, waiting, trying state need much patience. 'Be patient, therefore brethren, unto the coming of the Lord.' Chap. v, 7. 'Be ye also patient; stablish your hears; for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh,' verse 8. From these scattered 'tribes' who are exhorted to wait patiently for the Lord, the 144,000 are to be sealed.
II. The histoiry and description of the 144,000 apply to those who are to be changed at the coming of the Lord, and to no other class.
The Song of Moses was the history and deliverance of Israel. The new song of the 144,000 will also be of their experience and their deliverance. The reason why none but the 144,000 can learn or sing this song, will be because the history and deliverance of no other class will be like those who pass through the time of trouble, and are changed 'at the twinkling of an eye' at the coming of the Lord.
'Of his own will begat he us with the word of truth, that we should be a KIND OF FIRST FRUITS of his creatures. James i, 18. It will yet be more clearly seen that the living saints will be delivered by the voice of God, and have power over the nations before the second Advent. Their captivity will be turned, and the yoke broken from off their neck, and 'destroyed, BECAUSE OF THE ANOINTING.' See Isa. x, 27. The latter rain-- the outpouring of the Spirit-- prior to the Advent, will ripen the 144,000 for the harvest, while the other saints will be still sleeping in the grave.
In this sense they will be 'the first fruits unto God and the lamb. Then they will be 'without fault before the throne.' They will confess all their faults while Jesus is in the Sanctuary ready to blot them out, and they will be borne away by the scape-goat, just before our High Priest comes out to bless his waiting people.
The Seal. God has ever had a test truth, with which to seal his people. See Eph. ii, 13; Rev. ix,4. 'And I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having A SEAL of the living God.' Rev. vii, 1, Whiting's translation. But the last sealing truth is the immutable law of Jehovah, of which the Sabbath is the crowning testimony. See Isa. viii, 16; Rev. xii, 17; xiv, 12; xxii, 14.
But do you believe there is salvation in the Sabbath? Answer. We do not believe there is salvation in the Sabbath, any more than in the other nine commandments. Salvation comes through Jesus Christ our Lord. Let me, reader, ask you a question. Do you believe that we can have salvation through Jesus, while violating all or either of the other nine commandments? You answer no. Neither can you have salvation through Jesus, if you reject the clear light of the Holy Sabbath. The Sabbath is the seal, and the Holy Spirit is the sealer. 'After ye believed ye were sealed with the Holy Spirit.' Eph. ii, 13. 'And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.' Eph. iv. 30.
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