After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree. Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He 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.”
Revelation 7:1-3 (NIV)
We will never know when the rapture will happen. However, when the rapture happens, will we become part of the raptured? Revelation chapter 7 tells about the time of the anti-Christ, the time when those who’re left behind must experience 7 years of the reign of the anti-Christ and about the number of Israelites who repented.
There are actually many things that God has put on hold for the sake of the believers who are still alive in the world, just like the Angels who got the task to hold back the work of the devil so that believers could escape the work of satan. Thus, as believers, we must have strong faith because God ensures that His children do not experience trials that exceed their strength. Do not live in fear. Be wise, but not be scared. Choose which one we should think about; think about the things that have eternal effects.
God never forgets or leaves His chosen nation, the Israelites, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. However, because they rejected Jesus, those who were supposed to be the first become the last. The time will come for God to give them the last chance.
Now is the time of grace for the Gentiles. The time for us to live, defending our faith. If we don’t live for Christ now, then later after the rapture, we need to die for Christ to defend our faith. Therefore, this is the time for us to accept God and be baptized. It is the time to live earnestly for Christ, to serve, to evangelize to our parents and loved ones. If we waste grace and the present, after the Gentiles are raptured, those left behind will be the last.
After the rapture, God will deal with His chosen nation again, the Israelites. There are some interesting things related to the explanation of the list of tribes of the Israelites sealed by God:
1. Reuben was the firstborn, yet why was Judah mentioned first?
In God, there is upgrading and downgrading. Judah was upgraded to “firstborn” because he was the one who defended Benjamin, his younger brother. He was willing to be arrested so that Benjamin was freed. God respects those who are willing to sacrifice and stand up for their younger siblings.
2. Efraim was removed from the sealed list because they were a rebellious tribe (in the days of Gideon and Jephthah).
God judges the evil and righteous, but there will also be a trial for all the righteous. Everyone will be rewarded according to their efforts and attitude.
3. The tribe of Dan was also abolished because the tribe worshiped idols.
Despite all the grace, God accepts us as who we are, but our actions and attitudes of our heart are judged/accounted for before God.
Extracted from Philip Mantofa’s Sermon, 15 March 2020, Sunday Service, GMS Surabaya Barat