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The 144,000 Tribes of Israel

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Explain why the 144, 000 "of all the tribes of Israel is symbolic and not literal.

The book of Revelation tells us of another Special Forces unit, a vast "army" of 144,000. They have a special relationship with the Lamb, and they are sealed with a special name. They also sing a special song. They have a critical mission to prepare the world for Jesus' second coming. God specifically name the 12 tribes when listing the 144,000, because there is some compelling clues that there is some hidden spiritual meaning to the tribes listed in Revelation chapter seven (7). The order in which these names appear the order makes no sense unless we allow the names to speak for themselves; perhaps, we will see that God is trying to communicate a special message to us through these names.

The names of the tribes listed for the 144,000, in the order in which Revelation chapter seven (7) lists them, and their corresponding Hebrew meanings as found in Scripture are:

1. Judah "I will praise the Lord"

2. Reuben "He has looked on me"

3. Gad "Granted good fortune"

4. Asher "Happy am I"

5. Naphtali "My wrestling"

6. Manasseh "Making me to forget"

7. Simeon "God hears me"

8. Levi "Joined to me"

9. Issachar "Purchased Me"

10. Zebulun "Dwelling"

11. Joseph "God will add to me"

12. Benjamin "Son of His right hand"

When you put the meanings of these names in according to how they are appear listed in Revelation chapter seven (7), it forms a very remarkable statement declaring how God saves the church as His bride! "I will praise the Lord for he has looked on me and granted good fortune. I am happy because my wrestling, God is making me to forget. God hears me and is joined to me. He has purchased me a dwelling and will add to me, the Son of His right hand." These names presented in this order describe a brief story summarizing the church's struggle, redemption, victory, and ultimate marriage to the Lamb. It seems evident that this is a special message of encouragement for those who are in the Church.

There are several reasons why the tribes mentioned in Revelation chapter 7 can't possibly be literal Israelite tribes because the Old Testament reveals that 10 of the 12 tribes were carried away by the Assyrians in 722 B.C. History also records that long before the time of Jesus, some of the 10 tribes returned to Samaria after intermarrying with the Assyrians. Their descendants, known as Samaritans, were hated by the Jews because they were no longer "pure" Israelites in blood or religion. In fact, because the 10 tribes have been so thoroughly scattered around the world and absorbed by their host nations, today a person would be hard pressed to find even one pure descendant from the tribe of Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Manasseh, or Simeon-much less 12,000 of them! Another strong clue that Revelation is not speaking of the literal Israelite tribes is that in the Old Testament, the 12 tribes were very unequal in population numbers. Judah was very large, while Benjamin was very small. God divided the Promised Land in proportion to each tribe's needs but the 144,000 is composed of 12,000 per tribe, right across the board.

Explain the historical fulfillment of Revelation 10, where John was told to take the book that was in the angel's hand and to eat it, "and it shall make your belly bitter but shall be as sweet as honey



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