How many of you love the Book of Revelation? Can be studied from many different angles. Filled with controversies galore! I remember as a student at the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, my pastor had a very definite opinion on every tiny detail in this book. He had it all figured out, possibly the only one in all of church history! When he discovered that I had deviated from some ‘itsy-bitsy’ interpretation, he wrote to the president of the school, reporting me as an up-and-coming, dangerous heretic! Bless his heart, Dr. William Culbertson, distinguished president, never said ‘boo’ to me about this issue or anything else! My home pastor-friend never spoke to me again.
I can surely say(and don’t call me Shirley!) that people get a bit hot-under-the-collar about the book of Revelation. I’m looking today at Revelation 7. Here’s the first of two references to the 144,ooo. Let the debate begin! No, let it end! I’m not going to be drawn into all the theories about who are these 144,000. You decide for yourself. No help here. Well, maybe a little!
This number is a multiple of important round numbers in the Bible. 12 times 12 times 1000=144,000! 12 tribes of Israel(Old Testament saints). 12 Apostles of Jesus(New Testament saints). 1000(all the rest of us) as in millenium. An all-inclusive gathering of God’s people.
Quite the motley crew! Africans, Arab believers(though so few), Hispanics, Northern Europeans(though so few), Australians, Asians…and you and me! See that list of tribes in Revelation 7? Tribes of Israel? Sort of. Not the list of Jacob’s sons, for Dan is left out completely and Manasseh included(he was Joseph’s son). Nor the list of those who inherited Canaan’s land, again Dan is left out. Levi is included but they were to be landless priests. Joseph is listed instead of his son Ephraim. Reuben, the first-born, is ousted by Judah for first place. Then the sons of Jacob’s concubines, Bilhah and Zilpah, are listed before the sons of his wives, Rachel and Leah.
What’s going on here? Well, why was Dan excluded? Don’t know for sure, but Dan was where Jeroboam set up a golden calf for idolatrous worship( 1 Kings 12: 29). Could be why he’s not listed. Whatever the reason, one’s genealogical heritage is no guarantee of heaven. Those of the two concubines are no longer considered 2nd class citizens from the ‘other side of the tracks’. No more Greek, no more Jew. No male, no female. Slave nor free. Old barriers have collapsed. Walls come ‘a tumbling down!
When we welcome Jesus into our lives, we become one in Him. May not look or act alike, but the blood of Jesus covers all…equally! Forget the theories and hobby-horses in Revelation. Enjoy the delicate variety of God’s people! The marvelous Church of Jesus Christ!
Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for the varied folk in heaven. So many, all born-again through your Son on the cross. In His name. Amen.