Hello! So glad you are joining me for our study in the book of The Revelation. We have been journeying through this marvelous book for almost 8 months. Want to read past posts? Go to THIS PAGE where I have linked to every post in this series in dated order.

Did you download and print Lisa’s drawing of Revelation 7? If not, go HERE to get that.

Let’s get started.

As we rustle the pages of Revelation and find our place in chapter 7, we meet 144,000 folks who take center stage in verses 4-8. Let’s listen in with John.

 

 

4 And I heard the number of the sealed, 144,000, sealed from every tribe of the sons of Israel: 

5 12,000 from the tribe of Judah were sealed,

12,000 from the tribe of Reuben,

12,000 from the tribe of Gad,

6 12,000 from the tribe of Asher,

12,000 from the tribe of Naphtali,

12,000 from the tribe of Manasseh,

7 12,000 from the tribe of Simeon,

12,000 from the tribe of Levi,

12,000 from the tribe of Issachar,

8 12,000 from the tribe of Zebulun,

12,000 from the tribe of Joseph,

12,000 from the tribe of Benjamin were sealed.

 

The 144,000 Witnesses

 

 

While this seems, on the surface, to be a straight-forward passage, I would be doing you a disservice to gloss over these verses. Today I want to give you a glimpse into two of the questions that float to the surface about the 144,000 witnesses.

Question #1 ~ Who are these witnesses?

Question #2 ~ Where are Ephraim and Dan?

 

Let’s begin with the ‘who’ question. For those who believe that Revelation is a symbolic book, these 144,000 represent the church in her completed state…believers in Christ from across the age.

But wait. Houston, we have a problem! The Scripture clearly states that these believers are from the tribes of Israel, so it is difficult, if not down-right impossible, for me to square what the Word says with the idea that these 144,000 represent the completed church. Nope! Can’t do it. The Scripture says that these are 144,000 ISRAELITES who are sealed, which means they have come to faith in Christ and He is placing His seal upon them for all eternity. He has work for them to do in these last days…witnessing work. The church is not mentioned at all here.

Questions have arisen regarding the ‘144,000’ number itself. Do we understand this to be, literally, one hundred forty-four thousand, or is it instead representing a completed number of saved Jewish people? The number 12 is the number of completeness in Scripture and 144,000 is a multiple of 12. I tend to lean toward the idea of the 144,000 being the correct, or right, number of Jewish Christians for the job and time on the Kingdom calendar. I also believe it is a literal 144,000.

Now for the where question?

The listing of the tribes in these verses is curious. If one returns to the Old Testament listing of the 12 tribes (Genesis 29:32 – 35:18), you will find that the names are:

Reuben

Simeon

Levi

Judah

Dan

Naphtali

Gad

Asher

Issachar

Zebulun

Joseph

Benjamin

 

In our focal passage today, the tribes are listed in an interesting way:

Judah

Reuben

Gad

Asher

Naphtali

Manasseh

Simeon

Levi

Issachar

Zebulun

Joseph

Benjamin

 

Do you see anything odd? Other than when the 12 tribes of Israel are listed in their birth order, other listings of the tribes that inherited the Promised Land usually consisted of the following (in no specific order):

Judah

Reuben

Gad

Asher

Ephraim – son of Joseph

Naphtali

Manasseh – son of Joseph

Simeon

Issachar

Zebulun

Benjamin

Dan

 

So, it is interesting that Levi is included in the Revelation list, while Ephraim and Dan are not. The tribe of Levi was not allotted a portion of the Promised Land, by God’s own direction. They were the priestly tribe, and their inheritance was the Lord, Himself. There is much conjecture among scholars (of which I am NOT) concerning the curiosity of the listing of the tribes in Revelation. The bottom line is that we must raise our eyes to heaven, and in humility say to God, “You know, Lord.” Holy Writ does not tell us the reason and we must be satisfied that this is one of those things that we have no need to understand.

This looks like a good place to take a break. I am eager to hear your thoughts on this passage. I’ll see you in the comments!!

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