2 Then I saw a second angel coming up from the east (the rising of the sun) and carrying the seal of the living God. And with a loud voice he called out to the four angels who had been given authority and power to injure earth and sea,
3 Saying, Harm neither the earth nor the sea nor the trees, until we have sealed the bond servants of our God upon their foreheads. [Ezekiel 9:4.]
4 And [then] I heard how many were sealed (marked) out of every tribe of the sons of Israel: there were 144,000.
5 Twelve thousand were sealed (marked) out of the tribe of Judah, 12,000 of the tribe of Reuben, 12,000 of the tribe of Gad,
6 Twelve thousand of the tribe of Asher, 12,000 of the tribe of Naphtali, 12,000 of the tribe of Manasseh,
7 Twelve thousand of the tribe of Simeon, 12,000 of the tribe of Levi, 12,000 of the tribe of Issachar,
8 Twelve thousand of the tribe of Zebulun, 12,000 of the tribe of Joseph, 12,000 of the tribe of Benjamin.
9 After this I looked and a vast host appeared which no one could count, [gathered out] of every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages. These stood before the throne and before the Lamb; they were attired in white robes, with palm branches in their hands.
10 In loud voice they cried, saying, [Our] salvation is due to our God, Who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb [to Them we owe our deliverance]!
11 And all the angels were standing round the throne and round the elders [of the heavenly Sanhedrin] and the four living creatures, and they fell prostrate before the throne and worshiped God.
12 Amen! (So be it!) they cried. Blessing and glory and majesty and splendor and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and might [be ascribed] to our God to the ages and ages (forever and ever, throughout the eternities of the eternities)! Amen! (So be it!)
13 Then, addressing me, one of the elders [of the heavenly Sanhedrin] said, Who are these [people] clothed in the long white robes? And from where have they come?
14 I replied, Sir, you know. And he said to me, These are they who have come out of the great tribulation (persecution), and have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. [Genesis 49:11; Daniel 12:1.]
15 For this reason they are [now] before the [very] throne of God and serve Him day and night in His sanctuary (temple); and He Who is sitting upon the throne will protect and spread His tabernacle over and shelter them with His presence.
16 They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun smite them, nor any scorching heat. [Isaiah 49:10; Psalms 121:6.]
17 For the Lamb Who is in the midst of the throne will be their Shepherd, and He will guide them to the springs of the waters of life; and God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. [Psalms 23:2; Isaiah 25:8; Ezekiel 34:23.] AMP
In Sardis, and in other dead churches, there are usually a few believers who walk with Jesus, dressed in white. God calls them "worthy" — not for any works of righteousness they have done, but because they are covered by the righteousness of Jesus.
These, then, are the models for those in the church who wish to be "overcomers," as mentioned in verse 5. And to these believers, the Lord promises three things:
1. They will be dressed in white, the righteousness of Jesus.
2. Their names will not be blotted out of the Book of Life.
3. Jesus will acknowledge them before His Father and the angels.
Here, the Lord calms the fears of the redeemed. To anyone who worries that he might lose his salvation and the grace of God, Jesus says, in effect, "Those who place their trust in me rather than in their own efforts, those who are covered by my righteousness, can never be blotted out of the Book of Life. Their names are written in indelible ink and sealed with the seal of my own promise."
I recall, as a young pastor, visiting a much beloved and respected Presbyterian pastor in the San Francisco Bay area of California. He was a godly man in his 90 s. When I sat down to visit with him, I found he was deeply troubled by the fact that he was nearing the end of his life. He wondered if he was really a Christian after all. Older people are often troubled by such doubts. Our Lord knows that, so He gives us these reassuring words in Revelation, "I will never blot out his [your] name from the book of life."
That word never in the original text is the strongest negative possible in the Greek language. To convey the true force of this word the passage should actually be rendered, "I will never, ever, under any circumstances, blot out your name from the Book of Life!" Added to that, these words should be underlined, italicized and set in headline-size type! That's how total and all-encompassing this wonderful reassurance truly is.
And when, in eternity, the book of our lives is opened, and everything we have done in our earthly lives comes spilling out — the good, the bad, and the ugly — Jesus will be there to acknowledge us before the Father and the angels. "None of that matters," He will say. "This one is covered by my blood, my righteousness. This one wears white garments. This one is mine." That is what Jesus promised in Matthew 10, and that is what He promises to those who remain faithful in Sardis — and to those who remain faithful today.
10:1 AND JESUS summoned to Him His twelve disciples and gave them power and authority over unclean spirits, to drive them out, and to cure all kinds of disease and all kinds of weakness and infirmity.
2 Now these are the names of the twelve apostles (special messengers): first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James son of Zebedee, and John his brother;
3 Philip and Bartholomew [Nathaniel]; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus [Judas, not Iscariot];
4 Simon the Cananaean, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed Him.
5 Jesus sent out these twelve, charging them, Go nowhere among the Gentiles and do not go into any town of the Samaritans;
6 But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
7 And as you go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand!
8 Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, drive out demons. Freely (without pay) you have received, freely (without charge) give.
9 Take no gold nor silver nor [even] copper money in your purses (belts);
10 And do not take a provision bag or a wallet for a collection bag for your journey, nor two undergarments, nor sandals, nor a staff; for the workman deserves his support (his living, his food).
11 And into whatever town or village you go, inquire who in it is deserving, and stay there [at his house] until you leave [that vicinity].
12 As you go into the house, give your greetings and wish it well.
13 Then if indeed that house is deserving, let come upon it your peace [that is, freedom from all the distresses that are experienced as the result of sin]. But if it is not deserving, let your peace return to you.
14 And whoever will not receive and accept and welcome you nor listen to your message, as you leave that house or town, shake the dust [of it] from your feet.
15 Truly I tell you, it shall be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.
16 Behold, I am sending you out like sheep in the midst of wolves; be wary and wise as serpents, and be innocent (harmless, guileless, and without falsity) as doves. [Genesis 3:1.]
17 Be on guard against men [whose way or nature is to act in opposition to God]; for they will deliver you up to councils and flog you in their synagogues,
18 And you will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a witness to bear testimony before them and to the Gentiles (the nations).
19 But when they deliver you up, do not be anxious about how or what you are to speak; for what you are to say will be given you in that very hour and moment,
20 For it is not you who are speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you.
21 Brother will deliver up brother to death, and the father his child; and children will take a stand against their parents and will have them put to death.
22 And you will be hated by all for My name's sake, but he who perseveres and endures to the end will be saved [from spiritual disease and death in the world to come].