1. The Sealing of the 144,000 Tribe By Tribe – The Tribe of Judah

By John Thiel, The Characteristics of the Twelve Tribes of the 144,000 Conference, study 1, mp3

Scripture reading: 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.

These words are key to this whole conference. We want to explore the people who make up the 144,000. The tribal forefathers that are recorded in Revelation 7 will comprise the experience of those who are being sealed among the 144,000. This first message is both an introduction and the study of the first tribe which is mentioned in the words of Revelation 7. We see here the names of the tribes out of which one hundred and forty four thousand persons are to be sealed:

Revelation 7:4 And I heard the number of them which were sealed: [and there were] sealed an hundred [and] forty [and] four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel. 5 Of the tribe of Juda [were] sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben [were] sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad [were] sealed twelve thousand. 6 Of the tribe of Aser [were] sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nephthalim [were] sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manasses [were] sealed twelve thousand. 7 Of the tribe of Simeon [were] sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi [were] sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar [were] sealed twelve thousand. 8 Of the tribe of Zabulon [were] sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph [were] sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin [were] sealed twelve thousand.

We may be puzzled by reading this, because, are we, Christians, of the tribes of Israel? The book of James was addressed to the Christian church, and this is how he expressed himself to them:

James 1:1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting. 

Then he continues:

James 1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; 3 Knowing [this], that the trying of your faith worketh patience. 4 But let patience have [her] perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.

These words are very relevant to the subject we are now pursuing. Who is James addressing? The Christian church. And what does he call them? The twelve tribes which are scattered abroad. We see then that the Christian church is included in the twelve tribes of Israel.

As we come to the subject of the sealing of the 144,000 we notice that this sealing work takes place just prior to the final destruction of this present life on our planet.

Revelation 7:1 And after these things I saw four angels standing on the four corners of the earth, holding the four winds of the earth, that the wind should not blow on the earth, nor on the sea, nor on any tree. 2 And I saw another angel ascending from the east, having the seal of the living God: and he cried with a loud voice to the four angels, to whom it was given to hurt the earth and the sea, 3 Saying, Hurt not the earth, neither the sea, nor the trees, till we have sealed the servants of our God in their foreheads. 4 And I heard the number of them which were sealed: [and there were] sealed an hundred [and] forty [and] four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel.

Remembering the words of James chapter 1, we understand that it is a 144,000 that are sealed from the Christian church, from the twelve tribes that James addressed. This conference is not a study into the sealing message as such. We already have on record studies on the sealing message (See The Sealing), and from those past studies we know that the three angels’ messages are the messages that seal the people of God; that it is the Holy Spirit that is the agent who communicates the sealing through His angels; and also that to be among the 144,000, to be sealed, is to be our earnest deliberation. The Spirit of Prophecy tells us:

Let us strive with all the power that God has given us to be among the hundred and forty-four thousand. {7BC 970.10}

The beginning of this sealing work has taken place in 1844, and from that time onwards these people are being sealed. In 1798 was the beginning of the time of the end; 1844 was the beginning of the judgment, and from that period of time God’s people were to be preparing for the coming of Jesus and were to be sealed by the three angels’ messages. Our quest at this conference, taking all this into consideration, is to look at the actual experiences of each tribe.

The Apostle John saw in vision a 144,000 standing on mount Zion with the Lamb,

Revelation 14:5 And in their mouth was found no guile: for they are without fault before the throne of God.

When it comes to the study of the 144,000 and you see what these people are to be, without fault, without any guile in their mouth, have you ever felt disheartened? When you look at yourself, have you ever thought, Can I measure up with these people? The 144,000 appear here to be such pure people. And many times in my experience within Adventism, I felt, This is too hard; I can’t really measure up to these people. Maybe you have felt that way too. But these studies are going to encourage each one of us, because we are going to see that these people, before they are like that, initially come from a very sinful life. When we speak of the 144,000 being without fault, we must understand that they are not naturally like that to start with. They are a company who have gone through great tribulation

Revelation 7:14 …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 144,000 were not white to start with; they were sinful. And as we look at each tribe, at the forefather of that respective tribe, and see how corrupt they were and how purified they became, we can receive a message of comfort. As we in all honesty discover ourselves as to where we stand and where we have come from in our experience, we can actually learn from these forefathers of the tribes and realise that, If they can make it, so can I.

So although they have no guile in their mouth and they are without fault before the throne of God, that was not their beginning; that is their end, when they have washed their robes and made them white. This pure character that they are described as having is beautifully portrayed in the New Jerusalem.

Revelation 21:2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

What is the New Jerusalem adorned with?

Revelation 19:7 Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. 8 And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.

The wife that is to be married to the Lamb is the holy city, which we see prepared as a bride for her husband. She is clothed in white, fine linen, which is the righteousness of the saints. And as we look at this city we see around her wall twelve gates. And what do we see in those gates? what is written in reference to them?

Revelation 21:12 And [it] had a wall great and high, [and] had twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are [the names] of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel:

So the gates have the names of the twelve tribes – each gate having on it the name of one of the tribes. The children of God will go in through the gates.

Revelation 21:21 And the twelve gates [were] twelve pearls: every several gate was of one pearl: and the street of the city [was] pure gold, as it were transparent glass.

Each gate is a pearl, a beautiful glistening pearl. The city is adorned as a bride for her husband; she is clothed with the righteousness of the saints; and the gates are pearls. How does a pearl come into existence? This symbol of the pearl is to teach us something. A pearl is formed in an oyster shell by a grit of sand disturbing the oyster; and to shield itself from the pain of this grit it produces a slimy material to cover over the top of this grain of dirt to make it smooth. Then it gets bigger and bigger as the oyster puts this fluid around the grit, and it becomes this beautiful pearl. The offending matter of sin that every member of the tribes of Israel (and especially the forefathers) commenced with, is what produces this pearl-like result. The twelve sons of Jacob commenced with sin; we all commenced with sin, an offending matter in our life. And that offending matter of sin was to be covered and engulfed and rendered as a transformed beauty. This is what is written in Isaiah. This is a puzzling statement, but it becomes evident in meaning when you understand the formation of a pearl.

Sins Made White

Isaiah 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow;

They, the sins, shall be as white as snow.

Isaiah 1:18 …though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

Can you comprehend this? How can sins that are so objectionable become as white as snow? There is much to think about here. All the way through this conference we want to think what it is that happens to a sinner, which such an objectionable beginning that he has, that makes that sinner (as he reasons and walks together with God) become a beautiful pearl, like with the grit that is an annoying substance inside of the oyster. We want to understand what this means.

Christ developed a life of righteousness in His atonement for sin; He suffered an irritable suffering of sin; He was made to be at one with us, to be sin; and as He was made to be sin and sin was imparted to Him like that grit inside of the oyster shell, He dealt with that sin similarly as the oyster does with the grit of sand. So He became the Pearl of great price. He suffered; and we, as believers in Him, receive the fluids flowing full and free from Christ to cover every grit of blemish in our character, so that our sins may become as white as snow. Our sin may become a pearl! This is so hard to comprehend, isn’t it? How can sin become a pearl? This is what we will see.

In the Laodicean period, the period out of which the 144,000 are to be developed, they are addressed in the following words:

Revelation 3:21 To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne.

The 144,000 are those who overcome as Christ overcame; therefore they will enter through the gates into the city. And these gates have the twelve names written on them; each tribe, from their different experiences, will enter into that pearly gate that belongs to them, an experience that was theirs together with Christ, an experience of tribulation that Christ went through and by which they learned, like He did, to develop that beautiful pearl of character. Each tribe comes from a different approach; it is a perfection of different traits of character. We will examine the different traits of character that each one of those tribes developed.

Twelve Different Gates

The body of Jesus, His church, is made up of different parts.

1 Corinthians 12:12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also [is] Christ. 13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, … 14 For the body is not one member, but many. 

The foot, the hand, the ear, the eye – each one is needed in the body, the apostle says.

1 Corinthians 12:20 But now [are they] many members, yet but one body.

So there is the one city, the one bride, with twelve different gates. Just like a body has many parts, there are many gates into that city. And each person with a particular character development has a name that goes through one of those named gates – a character. Which gate will we enter into? This we will look into. And we may identify our experience. If you follow very carefully you may identify your experience with one of these tribes.

Let us examine each tribe and trace their experiences from the sinful beginning to the fully developed traits of character gained by Christ’s intervention. Which tribe did Jesus come from? The tribe of Judah. Phenomenally this is precisely the first of the twelve tribes. Judah is identified as the firstborn, even though he was not the firstborn. The first tribe listed in Revelation, which we want to delve into, is the tribe from which Jesus came.

Revelation 7:5 Of the tribe of Juda [were] sealed twelve thousand.

Judah’s Beginning

Who was Judah born to, and what were the circumstances of the family to which he was born? There is a murky beginning. As we launch into the tribe of Judah we are looking to Judah himself who was the father of the tribe. Jacob had just been married to Rachel,

Genesis 29:30 And he went in also unto Rachel, and he loved also Rachel more than Leah,

Jacob loved Rachel more than her sister Leah. We remember how Laban tricked Jacob into marrying Leah, and Jacob was terribly disappointed. So he said, I will work another seven years, and I will get Rachel as well. Here was the beginning of a polygamous situation in Jacob and his offspring. Here was Leah; she was not loved like Rachel. And Jacob served with Laban seven other years for Rachel.

Genesis 29:31 And when the LORD saw that Leah [was] hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel [was] barren.

Here is the beginning of the experience of the twelve tribes. They were going to be born from a polygamous situation and from the heart-breaking feeling of Leah. Leah was not being loved as much as Rachel. How does a woman feel in that situation? What sort of a genetical chemistry is going to be passed on to her children? This is the frame of mind of Leah.

Genesis 29:32 And Leah conceived, and bare a son, and she called his name Reuben: for she said, Surely the LORD hath looked upon my affliction; now therefore my husband will love me.

Leah kept on receiving children, while Rachel did not, and she kept on feeling miserable because Jacob did not love her as much as Rachel, and therefore she was continually looking to have another child to make sure that Jacob would love her. What an amazing story. The agony of soul that was in her being would be the chemistry passed on to her children.

Genesis 29:35 And she conceived again, and bare a son: and she said, Now will I praise the LORD: therefore she called his name Judah; and left bearing.

Judah was the last child that Leah had. This was the beginning of Judah. She was now praising God that He was helping her, so that maybe Jacob could love her as much as he loved Rachel.

Leah called her son Judah because she was praising the Lord. In the midst of that heart-agonising experience of conflict between Rachel and her, because of the love they both had for their husband, she now offered praise.

Psalm 50:23 Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth [his] conversation [aright] will I show the salvation of God.

Salvation is the word used for being saved from sin. Here was a negative experience that Leah had; and after several sons she finally gave birth to Judah, and praised God. So you have here a God-given mentality of praise through which He will show salvation to those who order their conversation aright.

The following words of inspiration give us an understanding of the way that parents pass their emotional and faulty life onto their children. Ham’s children and offspring were affected by his sin against his father; and Noah prophesied against him. But

The prophecy of Noah was no arbitrary denunciation of wrath or declaration of favor. It did not fix the character and destiny of his sons. But it showed what would be the result of the course of life they had severally chosen and the character they had developed. {PP 118.2}

The life that Jacob had chosen was such that he found himself with two wives, and there was conflict between the two. This affects the character.

It was an expression of God’s purpose toward them and their posterity in view of their own character and conduct. As a rule, children inherit the dispositions and tendencies of their parents, and imitate their example; so that the sins of the parents are practiced by the children from generation to generation. {Ibid.}

Although Jacob was someone who revered God and wanted to follow Him, yet he became a polygamist; and with all the sufferings of polygamy, with the tug of war in the affections of Leah and Rachel taking place, children were born to this kind of genetical soup. There is a chemistry that is passed on from parents to children.

As Leah gave birth to Judah, she was beginning to rejoice and praise God that He had given her these children, and so there was an impact, not only of the agony of the conflict between Leah and Rachel, but a rejoicing as well. And God said, Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me: and to him that ordereth his conversation aright will I show the salvation of God.

Him That Ordereth His Conversation Aright

Observe now how Judah, by ordering his conversation aright, does come through successfully as one of the tribes, and as the one who has the birthright.

Joseph had finally been born to Rachel, as well as Benjamin, at whose birth Rachel passed away. And Joseph having now been born to Rachel, there was a conflict of envy in the family. The sons of Jacob mistreated the young Joseph; they were envious of Joseph, just like there had been envy in the hearts of Leah and Rachel. Now, when Joseph came to bring something to his brothers, what did they do? As they were there looking after the sheep, Joseph was sent by his father to bring them some provisions, and what did they do? In their envy they took Joseph and thought, Now we’ve got him.

We want to consider a few points which show the evil of envy, and yet Judah making his way out of all that misery.

Genesis 37:18 And when they saw him [Joseph] afar off, even before he came near unto them, they conspired against him to slay him. 19 And they said one to another, Behold, this dreamer cometh. 20 Come now therefore, and let us slay him, and cast him into some pit, and we will say, Some evil beast hath devoured him: and we shall see what will become of his dreams. 21 And Reuben heard [it], and he delivered him out of their hands; and said, Let us not kill him.

And finally they threw him into that pit.

Genesis 37:24 And they took him, and cast him into a pit: and the pit [was] empty, [there was] no water in it. 25 And they sat down to eat bread: and they lifted up their eyes and looked, and, behold, a company of Ishmeelites came from Gilead with their camels bearing spicery and balm and myrrh, going to carry [it] down to Egypt.

Notice now what Judah says.

Genesis 37:26 And Judah said unto his brethren, What profit [is it] if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood? 27 Come, and let us sell him to the Ishmeelites, and let not our hand be upon him; for he [is] our brother [and] our flesh. And his brethren were content.

Judah comes to the rescue. They were going to kill Joseph, but Judah says, No; let’s not do this. With this chemistry of envy that caused them all to hate Joseph, there was yet something in Judah that was left over to him at the end of Leah’s birthing that was beneficial, and which showed why his name was praise.

As Judah thought of Joseph lying in the pit, suffering a lingering death by starvation, he was troubled. For a short time, he, with others of his brethren, seemed to possess a satanic frenzy. {1SP 129.1}

As we are studying this tribe, and all throughout the study of all the other tribes, notice the ingredients of ugly sinfulness. It was there in Judah as well. But there was something else there. He had possessed a satanic frenzy,

But after they had begun to accomplish their wicked purposes to the helpless, innocent Joseph, some of them were ill at ease. They did not feel that satisfaction they thought they should have to see Joseph perish. Judah was the first to express his feelings. He “said unto his brethren, What profit is it if we slay our brother, and conceal his blood? {Ibid.}

So under Judah’s influence to save his brother from being slain, Joseph was sold to the Ishmaelites. As we saw written in the Psalms, to those who will order their conduct aright the Lord will show His salvation. By the selling of Joseph to the Ishmaelites, under Judah’s desire to save his life, salvation came to the house of Jacob. It’s wonderful how God orchestrate things. But it was because of Judah’s wanting to save the life of his brother that this actually happened.

The outstanding character of Judah was again shown in his following words to Jacob. Jacob’s sons had already gone once to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph (not knowing who he was), and Joseph said to them, Have you got another brother? They said, Yes, Benjamin. So he said, You bring him also next time. But of course, the father didn’t want to let him go. And this is where Judah comes in and talks with his father:

Genesis 43:8 …Send the lad with me, and we will arise and go; that we may live, and not die, both we, and thou, [and] also our little ones. 9 I will be surety for him; of my hand shalt thou require him: if I bring him not unto thee, and set him before thee, then let me bear the blame for ever:

Judah was saying, Father, we can’t buy anything unless we bring Benjamin along; the governor told us to bring him. But I am going to stand as surety for him. Can you see a change here? An honesty and faithfulness developed in Judah’s heart.

But when they finally came to Egypt with Benjamin, as they were returning to their land, Benjamin got in trouble, because the cup of Joseph was found in his sack. So now Benjamin had to go back to Egypt, and they all had to go back; but notice now what Judah does. Judah was here speaking to Joseph, only knowing him as the governor of Egypt:

Genesis 44:30 Now therefore when I come to thy servant my father, and the lad [be] not with us; seeing that his life is bound up in the lad’s life; 31 It shall come to pass, when he seeth that the lad [is] not [with us], that he will die: and thy servants shall bring down the gray hairs of thy servant our father with sorrow to the grave. 32 For thy servant became surety for the lad unto my father, saying, If I bring him not unto thee, then I shall bear the blame to my father for ever. 33 Now therefore, I pray thee, let thy servant abide instead of the lad a bondman to my lord; and let the lad go up with his brethren. 34 For how shall I go up to my father, and the lad [be] not with me? lest peradventure I see the evil that shall come on my father.

Can you see the development? There was such a development of character that Judah, who at one stage had harboured a satanic frenzy and had evil envy, was now changed. He developed a character that would be honest and strong to defend right.

In his deep distress Judah now drew near to the ruler and exclaimed, “O my lord, let thy servant, I pray thee, speak a word in my lord’s ears, and let not thine anger burn against thy servant: for thou art even as Pharaoh.” In words of touching eloquence he described his father’s grief at the loss of Joseph and his reluctance to let Benjamin come with them to Egypt, as he was the only son left of his mother, Rachel, whom Jacob so dearly loved. {PP 230.2}

Envy was going out the door entirely. At first there was envy, but now it was gone. And there is this strength of character coming through.

“Now therefore,” he said, “when I come to thy servant my father, and the lad be not with us; seeing that his life is bound up in the lad’s life; it shall come to pass, when he seeth that the lad is not with us, that he will die: …” {Ibid.}

So he prays that he would be taken as a servant, and that Benjamin might go back home. This broke the heart of Joseph. He then sent away all his servants and revealed who he was. Joseph could now see that his brothers had changed; and Judah was the spokesperson for the change. He was therefore the one who received the birthright, because he was the one who stood forth.

If you love Jesus you will love the souls for whom He died. A man may not bear the most pleasant exterior, he may be deficient in many respects [as was Judah in the beginning]; but if he has a reputation for straightforward honesty, he will gain the confidence of others. The love of truth, the dependence and confidence which men can place in him, will remove or overbear objectionable features in his character. Trustworthiness in your place and calling, a willingness to deny self for the purpose of benefiting others, will bring peace of mind and the favor of God. {4T 353.3}

Isn’t this what Judah is representing? He had an objectionable character. But no matter how unpleasant the exterior may be in the beginning, and however deficient one may be in many respects, yet because honesty, because of love of truth, and a willingness to deny self for the purpose of benefiting others, it will bring peace of mind and the favour of God; it will overbear the objectionable features in the character.

Strong and True

Here is Judah, the father of one of those twelve tribes, and here we have an interesting genetic communication through the experience of Judah and his posterity, that firmness of character that was described when Jacob blessed Judah:

Genesis 49:8 Judah, thou [art he] whom thy brethren shall praise: thy hand [shall be] in the neck of thine enemies; thy father’s children shall bow down before thee. 9 Judah [is] a lion’s whelp: from the prey, my son, thou art gone up: he stooped down, he couched as a lion, and as an old lion; who shall rouse him up? 10 The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him [shall] the gathering of the people [be].

A lion’s character, firmness of character – this was his development. And all the children of this tribe who take hold of this, who, from a sinful, unpleasant character, develop this, will be the ones who are sealed in the tribe of Judah.

The crowning blessings of the birthright were transferred to Judah. The significance of the name–which denotes praise,–is unfolded in the prophetic history of this tribe… {PP 236.1}

Praise. Why? Because they conducted their life aright, and the Lord brought salvation through that. So whatever the character was in the past, whatever the imperfections, the traits of character that he pursued and decided to carry on through, right through to the end when he was there prepared to remain as a slave to Egypt, resulted in a strength of character that denoted the sealing of the people who are in that tribe.

You can observe that strength of character in others of his tribe, such as Caleb. Caleb was one of those spies who said the people, We can go ahead to take the Promised Land! He came from the tribe of Judah. Daniel also, who stood firm in his diet, in bondage, and who was prepared to go into the Lion’s den to stand faithful to God, came from the tribe of Judah.

Therefore, for those who, although failing and sinful, become resolved, firm, and trustworthy, this trait of character will equate them with the tribe of Judah. We will next go through the other tribes and see where we can fit in. But in the tribe of Judah we learn that, whatever our past may have been, if we can be like that, we may be among those who are sealed of the tribe of Judah.

May God bless us as we go through each tribe and keep on examining the process of tribulation by which the pure character is revealed and overbears the impure characteristics in us, as it was with Judah.

Amen.

Posted on December 21, 2017, in Characteristics of the Twelve Tribes of the 144,000, Divine Service Sermons and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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