10. The Tribe of Zebulon

By John Thiel, The Characteristics of the Twelve Tribes of the 144,000 Conference, study 10, mp3

Genesis 30:19 And Leah conceived again, and bare Jacob the sixth son. 20 And Leah said, God hath endued me [with] a good dowry; now will my husband dwell with me, because I have born him six sons: and she called his name Zebulun.

What kind of effect was upon Zebulon as he was born to this family feud conflict? Rachel was Jacob’s favourite wife, and obviously he must have spent more time with her than with Leah. It was Rachel who gave to Leah the right to sleep with her husband as a trade-off, as we saw in the story of Issachar. Then Leah again conceived and bare Jacob the sixth son, and she now thought, Surely Jacob will dwell with me. Obviously he mustn’t have been dwelling with her very much. They were in different tents, and he was there for Leah, but he was there for Rachel more than for Leah; but now that she had given birth to this son, she said, Surely he will now dwell with me.

Settling Down

Here was an influence that was being imbedded into the DNA of this child – the desire to come and dwell somewhere where you have security. People who are in a state of insecurity, travelling about, and they come to a point where they think, I’d like to settle down somewhere, somewhere where I am secure and I have plenty of good support. The condition of dwelling was affecting Zebulon at his birth. How was this imbedded in him in later years?

Genesis 49:13 Zebulun shall dwell at the haven of the sea; and he [shall be] for an haven of ships; and his border [shall be] unto Zidon.

Here you have Zebulon dwelling in a place of haven, a haven of the sea. “Let’s settle down, let’s enter into a city security.”

Deuteronomy 33:18 And of Zebulun he said, Rejoice, Zebulun, in thy going out; and, Issachar, in thy tents. 19 They shall call the people unto the mountain; there they shall offer sacrifices of righteousness: for they shall suck [of] the abundance of the seas, and [of] treasures hid in the sand.

Zebulon would be indeed receiving cosset, support from the abundance of the seas – city living, dwelling along the seashore. This is the impact upon Zebulon so that he ended up fulfilling this concept of “At least now Jacob will dwell with me” – security.

In Contrast with Abraham’s Plan

What are people dwelling in seashore cities most vulnerable to? Is this a good thing that happened to him? Is it a good thing to dwell in cities? The sons of Jacob were to follow the plan of Abraham; and what were Abraham and the children of God meant to be doing?

Hebrews 13:14 For here have we no continuing city, but we seek one to come.

God’s people have no dwelling security on this earth. We have no continuing city here, no place where we can say, Now at last we’re going to dwell here. No; we seek a city to come.

Hebrews 11:8 By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went. 9 By faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as [in] a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: 10 For he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker [is] God.

The heavenly Jerusalem. And that is where the 144,000, the twelve tribes, are going into those pearly gates. This is the city. We have no dwelling place here that is a continuing city. The children of Abraham were looking for a city which has foundation and whose builder and maker is God; but here was an influence that was going to settle Zebulon down in the abiding place of a city of security, to dwell on this planet.

Hebrews 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of [them], and embraced [them], and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. 14 For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country. 15 And truly, if they had been mindful of that [country] from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. 16 But now they desire a better [country], that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.

A dwelling place for eternity. The concept of Zebulon’s blessing was a metaphorical danger, Don’t become settled down. But that is what Leah was looking for, to finally settle down and dwell with her husband, instead of this conflict between her and Rachel. Surely now, she said, Zebulon is given me so that my husband will dwell with me. And this stuck with Zebulon. Why is it a negative thing to settle down and dwell in cities?

Dangers of City Living

Life in the cities is false and artificial. The intense passion for money getting, the whirl of excitement and pleasure seeking, the thirst for display, the luxury and extravagance–all are forces that, with the great masses of mankind, are turning the mind from life’s true purpose. They are opening the door to a thousand evils. Upon the youth they have almost irresistible power. One of the most subtle and dangerous temptations that assails the children and youth in the cities is the love of pleasure. Holidays are numerous; games and horse racing draw thousands, and the whirl of excitement and pleasure attracts them away from the sober duties of life. Money that should have been saved for better uses is frittered away for amusements. {AH 135.1}

Is it safe to be city-dwellers? When you have to live in the country and you have to depend upon the provision of the land, you know the duties and the difficulties that are there, and you will develop characters different to this sort of luxurious living of the cities. And near the ocean, with all the luxuries of the harbour, where the trade comes in, you rely on financial and not on physical work for income, and it has this terrible effect.

The intense passion for money getting, the whirl of excitement and pleasure seeking… {Ibid.}

Plenty of money, plenty of time.

…the thirst for display, the luxury and extravagance–all are forces that, with the great masses of mankind, are turning the mind from life’s true purpose. … One of the most subtle and dangerous temptations that assails the children and youth in the cities is the love of pleasure. {Ibid.}

And it attracts them away from the sober duties of life. We want to believe that. People argue, No, no, it’s not really true. But it is true; the word of God says so. And I know it to be true. After you trust God’s word, you realise how true this is, and you begin to discover that it actually robs you of the communion with God. Everything is so fast; everything goes on and on from one thing to the other; and people are dwelling and being contented with this life, not with the eternal one.

Walking in Darkness

Did Zebulon and Naphtali fall for that danger? I mention Naphtali because both of these were actually affected by this.

Isaiah 9:1 Nevertheless the dimness [shall] not [be] such as [was] in her vexation, when at the first he lightly afflicted the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, and afterward did more grievously afflict [her by] the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, in Galilee of the nations.

So what happens to the people in the city, in the land of Zebulon, the city dwellers on the seashore? People are walking in darkness. There was a dimness that vexed the people of Zebulon and Naphtali, and God was really working hard to break them out of it. Zebulon fell for it. They ended up in darkness because with the riches of city living on the seashore, where trade was taking place, they were so preoccupied that they became darkened in their spiritual life. They fell for it.

The intelligent, the refined, are altogether too much passed by. The hook is not baited to catch this class, …  Most generally the fashionable, the wealthy, the proud, understand by experience that happiness is not to be secured by the amount of money that they possess, or by costly edifices, and ornamental furniture and pictures. They want something they have not. But this class are attracted toward each other, and it is hard to find access to them; and because of this many are perishing in their sins who long for something that will give them rest and peace and quietude of mind. They need Jesus, the light of righteousness. {Ev 556.3}

This is what happens: the darkness covers them and they are looking for something that they have not; because they have everything else, but they do not have that joy and peace and true internal, spiritual strength. They need the light of righteousness, because they are in darkness. They don’t even know it most of the time, but they are looking for something; and you can’t even reach them because they’re so happy where they are; but they’re not. You know this as you meet these kinds of people; there is something missing. And as you touch on it, they say, Yes, I want that. But they quickly go back to where their security comes from, the dwelling security that they have. Yet they acknowledge that “happiness is not to be secured by the amount of money that they possess, or by costly edifices, and ornamental furniture and pictures.”

Light in the Darkness

Although in such darkness and spiritual death, is there a privilege extended to these kinds of people, to this tribe of people? Do they have a possibility of being saved out of that? They were walking in darkness in their city life in Zebulon, but

Isaiah 9:2 The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light: they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined.

God knows that these city people of Zebulon are in darkness, but He is going to make sure that the light will shine upon them as well as upon the people who are of the Abrahamic kind and are happy to not settle down and dwell in cities. So although this darkness is upon them God is going to make sure to shine the light upon them.

Matthew 4:13 And leaving Nazareth, he came and dwelt in Capernaum, which is upon the sea coast, in the borders of Zabulon and Nephthalim:

We just read that Zebulon and Naphtali were vexed in their dimness of vision, and that God was trying to help them. Here is the occasion.

Matthew 4:14 That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, 15 The land of Zabulon, and the land of Nephthalim, [by] the way of the sea, beyond Jordan, Galilee of the Gentiles; 16 The people which sat in darkness saw great light; and to them which sat in the region and shadow of death light is sprung up. 17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Where did Jesus stay? In Capernaum. For what purpose? So that those people that were living in that darkness would be illuminated. What a God we have. What a Saviour. He comes to us where we are, even in the darkness. And there in Capernaum Jesus dwelt and stayed to help the people to find the light.

Capernaum itself was well adapted to be the center of the Saviour’s work. Being on the highway from Damascus to Jerusalem and Egypt, and to the Mediterranean Sea, it was a great thoroughfare of travel. People from many lands passed through the city, or tarried for rest in their journeyings to and fro. Here Jesus could meet all nations and all ranks, the rich and great as well as the poor and lowly, and His lessons would be carried to other countries and into many households. Investigation of the prophecies would thus be excited, attention would be directed to the Saviour, and His mission would be brought before the world. {DA 252.3}

This was a hub of economy and exchange among nations, a city where Zebulon dwelt, where darkness existed. Jesus would give these people an opportunity by letting the darkness be illuminated with a great light.

Into the busy world, filled with the din of commerce and the altercation of trade, where men were trying selfishly to get all they could for self, Christ came; and above the confusion, His voice, like the trump of God, was heard: “What shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” {Ev 559.3}

Christ points men to the nobler world, which they have lost out of their reckoning, and declares that the only city that will endure is the city whose builder and maker is God. {Ev 559.4}

Don’t settle down in security of city living, tribe of Zebulon, I am here to give you something better. So among these darkened people the light will shine. And are there good qualities among these people? What good qualities can be found among such darkened dwellers?

Noble Qualities

Judges 5:14 …out of Machir came down governors, and out of Zebulun they that handle the pen of the writer.

The marginal reading says, The staff of the scribe. Scribes were used to write the Bible and pass it on to others. They were really honourable people. Out of Zebulon would come they that are scribes; honourable people. They have a good quality.

Judges 5:18 Zebulun and Naphtali [were] a people [that] jeoparded their lives unto the death in the high places of the field. 19 The kings came [and] fought, then fought the kings of Canaan in Taanach by the waters of Megiddo; they took no gain of money.

These were noble people; they had good qualities. And never forget that. As you meet the heathen, as you meet those people who claim to be godly but are settling down in this world, don’t diminish the reality that they have good qualities, and reach out for those good qualities. Here were people who were noble and capable.

1 Chronicles 12:23 And these [are] the numbers of the bands [that were] ready armed to the war, [and] came to David to Hebron, to turn the kingdom of Saul to him, according to the word of the LORD. … 33 Of Zebulun, such as went forth to battle, expert in war, with all instruments of war, fifty thousand, which could keep rank: [they were] not of double heart. 

That rings a bell, doesn’t it? These people, this tribe, had a good quality; they were not double-minded. They went all the way for one thing; and then if they were shown a better way, when the light shone in the darkness, they would go all the other way. This is a good quality. We are not to be double-minded. With such qualities under such darkness, it is revealed that twelve thousands of these kinds of people will be sealed out of the 144,000. They can make it. They can be among that number.

Judgments Mingled with Mercy

The Lord will not suddenly cast off all transgressors or destroy entire nations; but He will punish cities and places where men have given themselves up to the possession of Satanic agencies. Strictly will the cities of the nations be dealt with, {Ev 27.4}

The wicked seashore cities will be dealt with,

…and yet they will not be visited in the extreme of God’s indignation, because some souls will yet break away from the delusions of the enemy, and will repent and be converted, while the mass will be treasuring up wrath against the day of wrath.  {Ibid.}

You can see this, the cities are being decimated, but in some of those cities there are still some people that He protects. We are seeing this at the moment in Syria. A good part of that great city of Aleppo was really destroyed, badly messed up; but a certain part of Aleppo was not. Why? Because there may still be people there upon whom the light can shine. He gives the warnings of what will happen at the very end, but He still saves some people there because of this, “because some souls will yet break away from the delusions of the enemy.” Remember, it says, One of a city, and two of a family. There might be one in a city that God has to protect, because they will yet turn. Those among them who are awakened to the seriousness have some good traits that will respond to the light.

Don’t Be Double-minded

1 Chronicles 12:33 …[they were] not of double heart.

Zebulon’s people were not of a double heart. They had the ability to be all for one thing, or all for the other; not half and half.

James 1:8 A double minded man [is] unstable in all his ways.

These people who dwell in cities become very stable. They’re not double-minded. They are giving themselves entirely to this, even though they may be yearning for something else. You can see them: they are single-minded. And that single-mindedness is a good quality if it can be turned in the right direction by the light.

Those who begin their Christian life by being half and half, will at last be found enlisted on the enemy’s side, whatever may have been their first intentions. And to be an apostate, a traitor to the cause of God, is more serious than death; for it means the loss of eternal life. {5BC 1086.4} 

Double-minded men and women are Satan’s best allies. Whatever favorable opinion they may have of themselves, they are dissemblers. All who are loyal to God and the truth must stand firmly for the right because it is right. To yoke up with those who are unconsecrated, and yet be loyal to the truth, is simply impossible. {5BC 1086.5}

You can’t be half and half. It’s impossible to yoke up with those who are unconsecrated and yet be loyal to the truth.

We cannot unite with those who are serving themselves, who are working on worldly plans, and not lose our connection with the heavenly Counselor. {Ibid.}

It’s impossible.

We may recover ourselves from the snare of the enemy, but we are bruised and wounded, and our experience is dwarfed. {Ibid.}

That is serious. So with this ability to be single-minded, and not double-minded, there is much in the life of these city dwellers that can be tapped into if the mind is turned in the right direction, as Jesus was doing in Capernaum.

If our brethren will now consecrate themselves unreservedly to God, He will accept them. He will give them a transformation of mind, that they may be savors of life unto life. Wake up, brethren and sisters, that you may attain to your high calling through Christ Jesus our Lord. {1SM 166.5}

Those people who are double-minded are to wake up and consecrate themselves without reserve. This is the call to the Zebulonites. You are a people who are not double-minded, He says, so if you are minded to dwell in the cities of darkness, like Capernaum, look where you’re going; you’re missing out on something. Come on; consecrate yourselves entirely and unreservedly to God. If you will consecrate yourselves, then you can be among the 144,000.

Should you become alarmed for your own souls, should you seek God diligently, He will be found of you; but He will accept no halfhearted repentance. If you will forsake your sins, He is ever ready to forgive. Will you just now surrender to Him? Will you look to Calvary and inquire: “Did Jesus make this sacrifice for me? Did He endure humiliation, shame, and reproach, and suffer the cruel death of the cross because He desired to save me from the sufferings of guilt and the horror of despair, and make me unspeakably happy in His kingdom?” Look upon Him whom your sins have pierced, and resolve: “The Lord shall have the service of my life. I will no longer unite with His enemies; I will no longer lend my influence to the rebels against His government. All I have and am is too little to devote to Him who so loved me that He gave His life for me–His whole divine self for one so sinful and erring.” Separate from the world, be wholly on the Lord’s side, press the battle to the gates, and you will win glorious victories. {5T 438.2}

Don’t be half-hearted; go for it. If you want to be amongst the 144,000, which we need to be amongst in these last days, here is the call for the Zebulon people. We are living in a city style of living, and we must be single-minded, not bound by the comforts and attractions of this world that surround us. We are called upon to come away from it and be single-minded, to sacrifice everything for Him.

Blessed is he who heeds the words of eternal life. Guided by “the Spirit of truth,” he will be led into all truth. {5T 439.1}

You see the city Christians today, and they say, You can’t get to know all the truth. But here we are told that we can “be led into all truth.”

He will not be loved, honored, and praised by the world; but he will be precious in the sight of heaven. “Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew Him not.” {Ibid.}

He came to Capernaum to save the people out of that city. He comes to us, to Zebulon, to the people who are living in cities, and He says, You have good qualities, you have a sharp mind for this and that; but have a sharp mind for Me, and come out; don’t touch. So we should be alarmed for our own souls in this darkness.

A Parallel with Seventh-day Adventists

Matthew 11:23 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.

Capernaum, the people of Zebulon, where the darkness was, was where Christ’s light shone. God reached out for them, but how did they respond to Him? Notice how this city of Zebulon equates with Adventism today.

The Jews did not go into darkness all at once. It was a gradual work, until they could not discern the gift of God in sending His Son. The church at Battle Creek have had superior advantages, and they will be judged by the light and privileges they have had. Their deficiencies, their unbelief, their hardness of heart, and their neglect to cherish and follow the light are not less than those of the favored Jews, who refused the blessings they might have accepted, and crucified the Son of God. The Jews are now an astonishment and reproach to the world. {3T 200.2} 

The church at Battle Creek are like Capernaum, which Christ represents as being exalted unto heaven by the light and privileges that had been given them. {3T 200.3}

Battle Creek was where the General Conference was.

If the light and privileges with which they had been blessed had been given to Sodom and Gomorrah, they might have stood unto this day. If the light and knowledge which the church in Battle Creek have received had been given the nations who sit in darkness, they might have been far in advance of that church. {Ibid.}

The Laodicean church really believed, and enjoyed the blessings of the gospel, and thought they were rich in the favor of God, when the True Witness called them poor, naked, blind, and miserable. This is the case with the church at Battle Creek and with a large share of those who profess to be God’s commandment-keeping people. The Lord seeth not as man seeth. His thoughts and ways are not as our ways. {3T 201.1}

Zebulon is probably a good description of the Seventh-day Adventist people. And the true Seventh-day Adventists who realise and wake up to the fact that they are double-minded, or that they have the quality of being single-minded because they are so concentrated on the treasures and wealth of their dwelling, can wake up and become all for God, unreservedly. This is the privilege for Seventh-day Adventists. So out of the Zebulon people twelve thousand may be included among the 144,000. To be among the 144,000 is to be dwellers in the city of God, not in Babylon. They must arouse and come out of Babylon, out of the cities.

May God help us to appreciate this privilege. This is a message for us, because many of us are city dwellers. Others are in the country, which is good; but some are in the city. As we see that, indeed, city dwelling makes us single-minded to have luxury, and to look for the security of dwelling on this earth, and we realise, Help! I’m becoming settled down here; let us turn our single-mindedness to God fully and unreservedly. We have little time left. All the signs are telling us that it’s nearly over. We must be, by diligent effort, single-minded to get ready to have our characters perfectly cleaned from all these things that are not right in our life.

Let us go forward and put these things into practice. And as we continue to follow through the last tribes, we will come to understand how those twelve sons of Jacob, the ones that stand as representatives of those who will be among the 144,000, got there, and how out of the morass of human depravity they were able to be purified. Let us make our decisions accordingly.


Posted on 04/01/2018, in The Twelve Tribes of the 144,000 (2017 Conference) and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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