Friday, 11 December 2020
of the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand were sealed;
of the tribe of Benjamin twelve thousand were sealed. Revelation 7:8
The list of the servants of God who are of the children of Israel that are sealed in the future tribulation period is completed with this verse. To finish the list, John begins by saying, “of the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand were sealed.” Zebulun was the youngest son of Leah and his name means “Glorious Dwelling Place.”
John next states, “of the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand were sealed.” Joseph is the first son of Jacob’s wife, Rachel. He became Pharaoh’s right-hand man in leading all of Egypt. His name means “He Will Add.”
John finishes the list saying, “of the tribe of Benjamin twelve thousand were sealed.” Benjamin is the second son of Rachel, and the last recorded of Jacob’s natural sons. His name means “Son of My Right Hand.”
Of note is that Joseph’s youngest son, Ephraim, isn’t mentioned in this sealing of the twelve tribes, but he was given the greater blessing by his grandfather Israel and therefore is certainly represented by Joseph. In other words, where Joseph is mentioned, we can infer that these 12,000 sealed include the tribe of Ephraim. Thus, all of the tribes, with the exception of Dan are mentioned and sealed.
As previously noted, many have tried to insert the church into these verses and claim that what is seen here is the church spiritually representing Israel. Other aberrant cults have claimed that they are the spiritual fulfillment of these sealed Israelites. Such claims are nonsense. Only an extremely poor interpretation, one biased against a literal reading of the Bible, or one that is possibly anti-Semitic, could hold this view.
Here are the blessings given by Israel to these three sons –
“Zebulun shall dwell by the haven of the sea;
He shall become a haven for ships,
And his border shall adjoin Sidon.” Genesis 49:13
“Joseph is a fruitful bough,
A fruitful bough by a well;
His branches run over the wall.
23 The archers have bitterly grieved him,
Shot at him and hated him.
24 But his bow remained in strength,
And the arms of his hands were made strong
By the hands of the Mighty God of Jacob
(From there is the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel),
25 By the God of your father who will help you,
And by the Almighty who will bless you
With blessings of heaven above,
Blessings of the deep that lies beneath,
Blessings of the breasts and of the womb.
26 The blessings of your father
Have excelled the blessings of my ancestors,
Up to the utmost bound of the everlasting hills.
They shall be on the head of Joseph,
And on the crown of the head of him who was separate from his brothers.” Genesis 49:22-26
“Benjamin is a ravenous wolf;
In the morning he shall devour the prey,
And at night he shall divide the spoil.” Genesis 49:27
Life application: It is obvious that there are literary tools used in the book of Revelation such as allegory, idiomatic expressions, and so on. These need to be interpreted as best as one can from the context of other such uses in Scripture. There are also things that are clearly not merely literary tools, but they are rather to be taken literally. At times, it may be hard to determine every instance of such things. However, there are some things that are presented that are obvious on the surface.
For example, when the Bible speaks of Israel, it is referring to Israel – not the church. What happened to Israel in the past can be used as examples for the church and its dealings with God through Christ (see 1 Corinthians 10:11), but this does not mean that Israel suddenly becomes the church.
Keeping the theological categories straight, and not mixing what is in those separate boxes, will keep us from great error. The only way to really be sure of such things is to read the word constantly, growing in understanding as what has been read is pondered and stored away for future reference.
Such an attitude should be a self-imposed obligation on each person who claims to follow Christ. The only way to know God personally is to know Jesus Christ. The only way to know Jesus Christ is to know the word of God. Read the word, cherish the word, and meditate on the word at all times. In it you will find peace and soundness of mind. In it you will find proper theology. And, in it you will find JESUS.
Heavenly Father, thank You for Your faithfulness to the sons of Israel, even in the midst of their unfaithfulness. Likewise, for those who have called to You through Jesus, You keep every promise and You are ever-faithful in Your dealings with your redeemed. We know that, despite ourselves, You will also keep us in Your grasp, and You will bring us to Your everlasting home. Great and faithful are you, O God. Hallelujah and Amen!