5. The Twelve Tribes – Dan and Naphtali

By John Thiel

The 144,000 are a people with conditions which are far from holy.

Revelation 7:13 And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? 14 And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

The question is asked, where do these people come from? These words are significant. They come from circumstances that weren’t favourable. Jacob became Israel because he wrestled with God and prevailed. But he made some bad mistakes. He lost all after he deceived his father. But the Lord drew near to Jacob with the ladder.  The time of Jacobs’s trouble is in harmony with our experience. The twelve sons of the tribes of Israel are as we are.

The Dark Beginnings

The sin of Jacob, and the train of events to which it led, had not failed to exert an influence for evil–an influence that revealed its bitter fruit in the character and life of his sons. As these sons arrived at manhood they developed serious faults. The results of polygamy were manifest in the household.  This terrible evil tends to dry up the very springs of love, and its influence weakens the most sacred ties.  The jealousy of the several mothers had embittered the family relation, the children had grown up contentious and impatient of control, and the father’s life was darkened with anxiety and grief. Patriarchs & Prophets page 208-209.

From what circumstances were Dan & Naphtali born into?

Jealously and Judging

Genesis 30:1 And when Rachel saw that she bare Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister; and said unto Jacob, Give me children, or else I die. 2 And Jacob’s anger was kindled against Rachel: and he said, [Am] I in God’s stead, who hath withheld from thee the fruit of the womb? 3 And she said, Behold my maid Bilhah, go in unto her; and she shall bear upon my knees, that I may also have children by her. 4 And she gave him Bilhah her handmaid to wife: and Jacob went in unto her. 5 And Bilhah conceived, and bare Jacob a son. 6 And Rachel said, God hath judged me, and hath also heard my voice, and hath given me a son: therefore called she his name Dan. 7 And Bilhah Rachel’s maid conceived again, and bare Jacob a second son. 8 And Rachel said, With great wrestlings have I wrestled with my sister, and I have prevailed: and she called his name Naphtali.

There is no reason why anyone should say, I am too bad. Here is this terrible situation from which they are born. Rachel exercised a selfish streak. There was a relationship tangle over having babies. The first one born Dan, had to do with judging and Naphtali was wrestling.  But why were those of Dan not part of the 144,000? Why did Naphtali make it?

Jealousy and stubbornness are the natural fruits of selfishness. 2T page 545.

What effect did this jealousy have?

Genesis 30:6 And Rachel said, God hath judged me, and hath also heard my voice, and hath given me a son: therefore called she his name Dan.

Dan means judging, or judged me. The environment of jealously affected Dan.

Genesis 30:8 And Rachel said, With great wrestlings have I wrestled with my sister, and I have prevailed: and she called his name Naphtali.

Naphtali means wrestling of God. Not the type Jacob had. Leah saw she left bearing and took Zilpah.

Envy, jealousy, evil surmising, and evil speaking are of Satan, and they effectually bar the way against the Holy Spirit’s working. Nothing else in this world is so dear to God as His church. Nothing is guarded by Him with such jealous care. Nothing so offends God as an act that injures the influence of those who are doing His service. He will call to account all who aid Satan in his work of criticising and discouraging. Those who are destitute of sympathy, tenderness, and love cannot do Christ’s work. Before the prophecy can be fulfilled, The weak shall be as David, and the house of David as the angel of the Lord (Zechariah 12:8), the children of God must put away every thought of suspicion in regard to their brethren. Heart must beat in unison with heart. Christian benevolence and brotherly love must be far more abundantly shown. The words are ringing in my ears: Draw together, draw together. The solemn, sacred truth for this time is to unify the people of God. The desire for pre-eminence must die. One subject of emulation must swallow up all others–who will most nearly resemble Christ in character? who will most entirely hide self in Jesus? 6T 42

Dan had a great talent, the ability to spiritually discern character and situations. If used for good, we can be a great blessing in the church. If we have these characteristics, and they are not sanctified, we bar the Holy Spirit from our lives. Notice Dans legacy.

Genesis 49:16 Dan shall judge his people, as one of the tribes of Israel.

Jacob recognised Dan had a capability to be a judge. Is that something bad? No. To discern is a gift.

Matthew 10:16 Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.

A serpent is a very discerning character.  He was like a serpent.

1 Corinthians 12:7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. 8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit.

The spirit to judge and be wise comes from the Holy Spirit.

It is impossible for any one to foresee to what he may be called. He may be placed in situations where he will need quick discernment and well balanced arguments, and therefore it is for the honor of Christ that well educated workers should be multiplied among us; they will be better able to communicate the truth in a clear, intelligent way, and the truth should be presented in a way that will be as free as possible from defects. FE 257

Tact and good judgment increase the usefulness of the labourer a hundred-fold. If he will speak the right words at the right time, and show the right spirit, this will exert a melting power on the heart of the one he is trying to help. GW 119

It is good to have judgement, discernment and wisdom. When you have the capability of discerning things when you’re growing up, there is a danger to tip the balance. By this gift of judging, like Lucifer, there was discernment but also a balance problem.

Genesis 49:17 Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the path, that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall backward.

His capability became serpent like but not harmless as a dove! He was going to use it for his own ends. Jealousy, evil surmising and evil speaking. Notice where he bit, he came from behind. It made the horse veer up. This was the characteristic of Dan. But how did this beautiful quality become corrupt?

James 3:13 Who [is] a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him show out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. 14 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. 15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but [is] earthly, sensual, devilish. 16 For where envying and strife [is], there [is] confusion and every evil work.

Was there not confusion in the household of Jacob?  As time went on he continued in this trait. It is evil surmising, discrimination in detecting guilt and fathoming evil motives in others. It is pride to say I have discernment. We conclude certain guilt’s.

He who opens his heart to the suggestions of the enemy in evil surmisings and jealousy frequently misconstrues this evil-mindedness to be special foresight, discrimination or discernment to detect guilt and wrong motives in others; he regards it as a precious gift vouchsafed to him, and he draws apart from his brethren, with whom he should be in harmony. He climbs upon the judgment seat and shuts his heart against the one he supposes has erred, as though he himself were above temptation. Jesus separates from him, and leaves him to walk in the sparks of his own kindling. {15MR 180.2}

As you do that you forget there are circumstances in peoples lives that you are not aware of. This spirit of dealing with people in wrong doing is deceptive and harmful. It is the fruit of an unregenerate heart. Observe now the shrewd mindedness of Dan.

Judges 18:1 In those days [there was] no king in Israel: and in those days the tribe of the Danites sought them an inheritance to dwell in; for unto that day [all their] inheritance had not fallen unto them among the tribes of Israel. 2 And the children of Dan sent of their family five men from their coasts, men of valour, from Zorah, and from Eshtaol, to spy out the land, and to search it; and they said unto them, Go, search the land: who when they came to mount Ephraim, to the house of Micah, they lodged there.

Judges 18:26 And the children of Dan went their way: and when Micah saw that they [were] too strong for him, he turned and went back unto his house. 27 And they took [the things] which Micah had made, and the priest which he had, and came unto Laish, unto a people [that were] at quiet and secure: and they smote them with the edge of the sword, and burnt the city with fire. 28 And [there was] no deliverer, because it [was] far from Zidon, and they had no business with [any] man; and it was in the valley that [lieth] by Bethrehob. And they built a city, and dwelt therein. 29 And they called the name of the city Dan, after the name of Dan their father, who was born unto Israel: howbeit the name of the city [was] Laish at the first. 30 And the children of Dan set up the graven image: and Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Manasseh, he and his sons were priests to the tribe of Dan until the day of the captivity of the land.

They didn’t care about the quietude of others. They were judges like the Levites were priests, therefore they didn’t have land but they wanted a city. Here is another aspect of their smartness, they were skilful.

2 Chronicles 1:1 And Solomon the son of David was strengthened in his kingdom, and the LORD his God [was] with him, and magnified him exceedingly. 2 Then Solomon spake unto all Israel, to the captains of thousands and of hundreds, and to the judges, and to every governor in all Israel, the chief of the fathers. 11 And God said to Solomon, Because this was in thine heart, and thou hast not asked riches, wealth, or honour, nor the life of thine enemies, neither yet hast asked long life; but hast asked wisdom and knowledge for thyself, that thou mayest judge my people, over whom I have made thee king: 12 Wisdom and knowledge [is] granted unto thee; and I will give thee riches, and wealth, and honour, such as none of the kings have had that [have been] before thee, neither shall there any after thee have the like. 13 Then Solomon came [from his journey] to the high place that [was] at Gibeon to Jerusalem, from before the tabernacle of the congregation, and reigned over Israel. 14 And Solomon gathered chariots and horsemen: and he had a thousand and four hundred chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen, which he placed in the chariot cities, and with the king at Jerusalem.

In the tribes of Judah and of Dan there were men who were regarded as especially cunning in the finer arts. For a time these men remained humble and unselfish; but gradually, almost imperceptibly, they lost their hold upon God and His truth. They began to ask for higher wages because of their superior skill. In some instances their request was granted, but more often those asking higher wages found employment in the surrounding nations. In place of the noble spirit of self-sacrifice that had filled the hearts of their illustrious ancestors, they cherished a spirit of covetousness, of grasping for more and more. They served heathen kings with their God-given skill, and dishonoured their Maker. 2SM 174-175

Here we can see the decline of this people. How does God judge this?

Romans 2:1 Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. 2 But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. 3 And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?

Those that judge others, are guilty of the very same act. If we judge others, we are also guilty of their sin.

James 4:11 Speak not evil one of another, brethren. He that speaketh evil of [his] brother, and judgeth his brother, speaketh evil of the law, and judgeth the law: but if thou judge the law, thou art not a doer of the law, but a judge. 12 There is one lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy: who art thou that judgest another?

What will God do with people like Dan?

Psalms 101:5 Whoso privily slandereth his neighbour, him will I cut off: him that hath an high look and a proud heart will not I suffer.

Privily = secrecy of tongue being slanderous.  The pride of judging results in being cut off from God.

To unite with the fault finding element, to be accusers of the brethren, to take up the reproach they lay at your door is seconding the work of the enemy by playing yourself into his hands to make his work a success.  TM page 266-267

The Lord is testing and proving His people. You may be just as severe and critical with your own defective character as you please; but be kind, pitiful, and courteous toward others. 5T 97

All pride must perish, all jealousy be overcome, all ambition for supremacy be given up, and the meekness and trust of the child be encouraged. 5T 130

If Dan had done that he would have been one of the 144,000. His name is not among them in Revelation 7:1-5. He did not wash his robe.

Psalms 15:1 A Psalm of David. LORD, who shall abide in thy tabernacle? who shall dwell in thy holy hill? 2 He that walketh uprightly, and worketh righteousness, and speaketh the truth in his heart. 3 [He that] backbiteth not with his tongue, nor doeth evil to his neighbour, nor taketh up a reproach against his neighbour.


We will now observe Naphtali.

Revelation 7:6 Of the tribe of Aser [were] sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nepthalim [were] sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses [were] sealed twelve thousand.

Genesis 49:21 Naphtali [is] a hind let loose: he giveth goodly words.

What was his condition? He was like a hind [a deer]. A deer is timid. What is the root of timidity? Selfishness. It comes from a feeling of being hurt easily. Don’t let your humility turn into timidity A characteristic that came from the same source. But look at how it was over come.

What a thought that God chooses a man and brings him into close connection with Himself, and gives him a mission to undertake, a work to do, for Him. A weak man is made strong, a timid man is made brave, the irresolute becomes a man of firm and quick decision. 2SM 167.

If he would overcome timidity and possess more confidence that God would be with him and strengthen him he would be much more happy and a greater blessing to others. 2T 630

Did Naphtali over come?

Deuteronomy 33:23 And of Naphtali he said, O Naphtali, satisfied with favour, and full with the blessing of the LORD: possess thou the west and the south.

There was a special blessing given him:

Judges 4:4 And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time. 6 And she sent and called Barak the son of Abinoam out of Kedeshnaphtali, and said unto him, Hath not the LORD God of Israel commanded, [saying], Go and draw toward mount Tabor, and take with thee ten thousand men of the children of Naphtali and of the children of Zebulun? 7 And I will draw unto thee to the river Kishon Sisera, the captain of Jabin’s army, with his chariots and his multitude; and I will deliver him into thine hand. 8 And Barak said unto her, If thou wilt go with me, then I will go: but if thou wilt not go with me, [then] I will not go.

Barak came from the tribe of Naphtali but he wanted a woman to accompany him as he was timid. But he overcame:

Judges 4:14 And Deborah said unto Barak, Up; for this [is] the day in which the LORD hath delivered Sisera into thine hand: is not the LORD gone out before thee? 15 So Barak went down from mount Tabor, and ten thousand men after him. And the LORD discomfited Sisera, and all [his] chariots, and all [his] host, with the edge of the sword before Barak; so that Sisera lighted down off [his] chariot, and fled away on his feet.

Judges 5:18 Zebulun and Naphtali [were] a people [that] jeoparded their lives unto the death in the high places of the field.

Hebrews 11:32 And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and [of] Barak, and [of] Samson, and [of] Jephthae; [of] David also, and Samuel, and [of] the prophets: 33 Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, 34 Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.

Naphtali rejected the slant of his older brother and turned it to humility.

Genesis 49:21 Naphtali [is] a hind let loose: he giveth goodly words.

He was a different person because he overcame.

True Christians will not exult in exposing the faults and deficiencies of others. They will turn away from vileness and deformity, to fix the mind upon that which is attractive and lovely. To the Christian every act of fault finding, every word of censure or condemnation, is painful. 5T 96

Those who have tasted that the Lord is gracious cannot partake of the dish of nonsense, and folly, and backbiting. They will say decidedly, Take this dish away. I do not want to eat such food. It is not the bread from heaven. It is eating and drinking the very spirit of the devil; for it is his business to be an accuser of the brethren. FE 458

The church that will heed the comparison of Dan and Naphtali will go through. Those who are shrewd and capable, pursuing a relentless course, bringing people to censure, they will be dealt with as was Dan, they will be cut off.

It pains me to say that there are unruly tongues among church members. There are false tongues that feed on mischief. There are sly, whispering tongues. There is tattling, impertinent meddling, adroit quizzing. Among the lovers of gossip some are actuated by curiosity, others by jealousy, many by hatred against those through whom God has spoken to reprove them. All these discordant elements are at work. Some conceal their real sentiments, while others are eager to publish all they know, or even suspect, of evil against another. 5T 94

Those who criticize and condemn one another are breaking God’s commandments, and are an offense to Him. They neither love God nor their fellow beings. Brethren and sisters, let us clear away the rubbish of criticism and suspicion and complaint, and do not wear your nerves on the outside. Some are so sensitive that they cannot be reasoned with. Be very sensitive in regard to what it means to keep the law of God, and in regard to whether you are keeping or breaking the law. It is this that God wants us to be sensitive about (GCB April 1, 1903).

To be among the 144,000 you can see that this characteristic must go or we will not have a part.


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Posted on 05/09/2009, in The Twelve Tribes of the 144,000 (2002 Conference) and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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