I have been reading through the Revelation series, because I am ready to continue blogging about it. I stopped for a time because I ran out of insight, LOL. I had some questions with the historicist interpretation, which I couldn’t answer to myself, so I couldn’t continue just repeating what they said. But the Lord has been graciously answering my questions. And now, I see a mistake that I made, or that the historicists have made, which needs to be corrected.
Second, John sees who are sealed: 12 thousand from each of the twelve tribes of Israel, or 144,000 Jews. I think this is very straightforward. Paul teaches us concerning the Israelites: “So too at the present time there is a remnant, chosen by grace,” and “a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.” In other words, the Gospel Age, when Jesus Christ, the Door to the Father, is standing open in Heaven, is primarily an age of the Gentiles, when the Gentiles will come to Christ. But last of all, after the Gentiles have come in, the Jews too will come to Christ (Romans 11). Now here in Revelation, we see God sealing a remnant of the Israelites with His seal, sealing them for conversion.
What about the number, 144,000? Is it literally how many Jews will be saved, or is it figurative in some way? I don’t know the answer to that.
John does see those who are sealed: 12 thousand from each of the twelve tribes of Israel, or 144,000. But they are not 144,000 Jews, that is the mistake! Today’s Jews are descended primarily from the tribe of JUDAH, which is why they are called “Jews” (short for “those of Judah.”) Okay, here we need a brief history of Israel under the kings:
As you might remember, the grandson of David alienated ten of the twelve tribes of Israel. The kingdom was split into the Northern Kingdom, of ten tribes who did not submit to the kingship of the house of David; and the Southern Kingdom, of Judah and Benjamin, who did. The Northern Kingdom, called the Kingdom of Israel, consisted of Reuben, Gad, Manasseh, Ephraim, Zebulun, Naphtali, Asher, Issachar, and Dan. That is only nine tribes. What happened to Simeon? He is the tenth. He was dispersed in Israel. However, he is included among the ten tribes of the Northern Kingdom. (And there are some of Simeon included among the two tribes of the Southern Kingdom as well.) Levi, of course, became the priesthood, and they were also dispersed in Israel, because they did not receive an inheritance of land. However, the Lord knows who is of Simeon, who is of Issacar, who is of Judah, even if we do not.
Now the Northern Kingdom, or the Kingdom of Israel, immediately went and served other gods. I don’t think they repented at all for the duration of that kingdom. Finally, after prophets and warnings had been sent to it without result, the Assyrians came and took them captive (in 722 bc). They never returned to the Land. They are known as the Ten Lost Tribes today. What happened to them? That is a mystery. The descendants of Ephraim, at least, became “a fullness of Gentiles”, or dispersed among the Gentiles, as Jacob foretold.
The Southern Kingdom, the Kingdom of Judah, served God and fell, then repented and served God, then fell, and so on for the duration of their kingdom. However, because they also broke the covenant which Moses had given them, they were also taken captive from their land, by the Babylonians (in 586 bc). But, because they repented, God returned a remnant of them to the Land. That is, a remnant of Judah, Benjamin, some of Simeon, and some of Levi, returned to the Land to become the Jews of Jesus’ day, and the Jews of today.
So when I said that the sealing was of 144,000 Jews, that is not what the Scripture says. It says, 12 thousand from each tribe. They cannot all be Jews, because the Jews are primarily Judah and Benjamin. Now here is a further complication. Many peoples have, throughout the ages, joined themselves with Judah. For example, in Persia when Esther was queen, and Haman’s plot to exterminate the Jews failed, many converted to Judaism, and by Jesus’ time (I assume) they were indistinguishable from the rest of the Jews.
So who are the 144,000? To be continued …
Update: continued in Revelation: who are the 144,000?