7. The Tribe of Simeon

By John Thiel, The Characteristics of the Twelve Tribes of the 144,000 Conference, study 7, mp3

Washing Our Robes

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 144,000 are here described as a people who are going through great tribulation. Why is this their experience? So that they would wash their robes and make them white in the blood of the Lamb; so that their robes of character will be made white, purified, through this experience. Now we ask the question, When is this text applicable? It is the period of the three angels’ messages, the third angel being the sealing angel.

It is now that we must keep ourselves and our children unspotted from the world. It is now that we must wash our robes of character and make them white in the blood of the Lamb. {5T 215.4}

This was in Sr. White’s time. Testimonies Vol. 5 was written in the 1880s.

It is now that we must overcome pride, passion, and spiritual slothfulness. It is now that we must awake and make determined effort for symmetry of character. “Today if ye will hear His voice, harden not your hearts.” We are in a most trying position, waiting, watching for our Lord’s appearing. The world is in darkness. “But ye, brethren,” says Paul, “are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.” It is ever God’s purpose to bring light out of darkness, joy out of sorrow, and rest out of weariness for the waiting, longing soul. {5T 215.4}

The sons of Jacob went through terrible and trying experiences through which they were purged and purified; and the sealing of the 144,000 was typified in these sons. In this dark and trying hour, while the world lies in darkness, we are to be intelligent as to what we must be going through at this time. We must overcome pride, passion, and spiritual slothfulness; we must awake and make determined effort for symmetry of character. We are in a most trying position, waiting, watching for our Lord’s appearing.


What are you doing, brethren, in the great work of preparation? Those who are uniting with the world are receiving the worldly mold and preparing for the mark of the beast. Those who are distrustful of self, who are humbling themselves before God and purifying their souls by obeying the truth these are receiving the heavenly mold and preparing for the seal of God in their foreheads. {5T 216.1}

This is what is to be our experience.

When the decree goes forth and the stamp is impressed, their character will remain pure and spotless for eternity. {5T 216.1}

Now is the time to prepare. The seal of God will never be placed upon the forehead of an impure man or woman. {5T 216.2}

Now is the time – that was in Sr. White’s time through to now. And how will God do this work? How will He bring light out of darkness, and a joy and a peace out of the unpleasantries of life?

The day is coming, and it is close upon us, when every phase of character will be revealed by special temptation. Those who remain true to principle, who exercise faith to the end, will be those who have proved true under test and trial during the previous hours of their probation, and have formed characters after the likeness of Christ. It will be those who have cultivated close acquaintance with Christ who, through His wisdom and grace, are partakers of the divine nature. But no human being can give to another, heart devotion and noble qualities of mind, and supply his deficiencies with moral power. {TMK 350.3}

No human being can give it to us. It is our personal, individual attention to these matters. I can’t do it for you; you can’t do it for me. As I share God’s word with you, it is up to you what you do with it. Because after you read this and you study and you see where your character is, it’s up to you to take this on and to do so in this present time, before probation closes. Going through battles and experiences that purify us – this is how God does it. The character is being prepared by the trials and temptations; and then, temptations will come to show what sort of a character we have, so we can keep on dealing with the purification.

One of the things we need to do is to overcome passion. Are we sometimes very passionate people, acting on passion rather than on intellect? We must overcome that. And in our study of Simeon and his tribe, we will understand how passion may be overcome.

An Inheritance of Cruelty

What was the inheritance, the DNA, that Simeon received from his mother? Who was his mother, and what was her agony of spirit that would be passed on through the deoxyribonucleic acid, the genetic chemistry? Leah had given birth to Reuben,

Genesis 29:33 And she conceived again, and bare a son; and said, Because the LORD hath heard that I [was] hated, he hath therefore given me this [son] also: and she called his name Simeon.

So what was his inheritance? His mother felt that she was not being loved, that she was being hated. There was this agony inside of her spirit; she was in the troughs of this awful sensation and she conceived and finally gave birth to a son called Simeon. What sort of an inheritance do you think he received? What sort of a chemistry?

And as we look at his experience, what character did he reveal in the time of temptation? As we have read, temptations will reveal certain traits of character. What was then the temptation that came upon Simeon in which his particular character was revealed?

Genesis 34:1 And Dinah the daughter of Leah, which she bare unto Jacob, went out to see the daughters of the land. 2 And when Shechem the son of Hamor the Hivite, prince of the country, saw her, he took her, and lay with her, and defiled her. 3 And his soul clave unto Dinah the daughter of Jacob, and he loved the damsel, and spake kindly unto the damsel. 4 And Shechem spake unto his father Hamor, saying, Get me this damsel to wife.

Then the story came through to Jacob and his sons.

Genesis 34:13 And the sons of Jacob answered Shechem and Hamor his father deceitfully, and said, because he had defiled Dinah their sister: 14 And they said unto them, We cannot do this thing, to give our sister to one that is uncircumcised; for that [were] a reproach unto us:

Here was the temptation that was before them. How were they going to react to the fact that their sister had been defiled? Now this heathen prince wanted to marry their sister, so what did they say? Sorry, that can’t happen unless you are circumcised.

Genesis 34:15 But in this will we consent unto you: If ye will be as we [be], that every male of you be circumcised; 16 Then will we give our daughters unto you, and we will take your daughters to us, and we will dwell with you, and we will become one people. 17 But if ye will not hearken unto us, to be circumcised; then will we take our daughter, and we will be gone. 18 And their words pleased Hamor, and Shechem Hamor’s son. 19 And the young man deferred not to do the thing, because he had delight in Jacob’s daughter: and he [was] more honourable than all the house of his father.

So Shechem was a very honourable young man, and he did it very quickly. He did what was required of him.

Genesis 34:20 And Hamor and Shechem his son came unto the gate of their city, and communed with the men of their city, saying, 21 These men [are] peaceable with us; therefore let them dwell in the land, and trade therein; for the land, behold, [it is] large enough for them; let us take their daughters to us for wives, and let us give them our daughters.

So they made a pact with them

Genesis 34:24 And unto Hamor and unto Shechem his son hearkened all that went out of the gate of his city; and every male was circumcised, all that went out of the gate of his city. 25 And it came to pass on the third day, when they were sore, that two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brethren, took each man his sword, and came upon the city boldly, and slew all the males. 26 And they slew Hamor and Shechem his son with the edge of the sword, and took Dinah out of Shechem’s house, and went out. 27 The sons of Jacob came upon the slain, and spoiled the city, because they had defiled their sister.

What a gory story. Did Simeon and Levi feel justified in what they were doing? It was a temptation, wasn’t it? These debased pagans have just defiled our sisters! How are we going to deal with this? This was a very shrewd operation. Falsehood. They dealt with it by suggesting to them, Yes, you can have our sister if you become circumcised; and then they catch them out in the weakest time of their experience. Cruelty. And although they felt justified, Jacob condemned their action.

Genesis 34:30 And Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, Ye have troubled me to make me to stink among the inhabitants of the land, among the Canaanites and the Perizzites: and I [being] few in number, they shall gather themselves together against me, and slay me; and I shall be destroyed, I and my house. 31 And they said, Should he deal with our sister as with an harlot?

Can you see how they felt justified? We’ve done the right thing! Are we going to permit our sister to be treated like a whore? We can justify our cruelty, can’t we? This is what Simeon did. And many times this particular characteristic comes out in God’s people, in Christians. Something is being done that is not right, and they are tempted to react to that in a cruel manner.

The treacherous cruelty of Simeon and Levi was not unprovoked; yet in their course toward the Shechemites they committed a grievous sin. They had carefully concealed from Jacob their intentions, and the tidings of their revenge filled him with horror. Heartsick at the deceit and violence of his sons, he only said, “Ye have troubled me to make me to stink among the inhabitants of the land: . . . But the grief and abhorrence with which he regarded their bloody deed is shown by the words in which, nearly fifty years later, he referred to it, as he lay upon his deathbed in Egypt: “Simeon and Levi are brethren; instruments of cruelty are in their habitations. O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honor, be not thou united. . . . Cursed be their anger, for it was fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel.” Genesis 49:5-7. {PP 204.3}

And how did this cruelty, which temptation brought to the forefront, and this treacherous falsehood that they practised, come forth later on? Here was the story of Joseph as he came to his brethren, bringing them provision as they were looking after the sheep:

Genesis 37:18 And when they saw him afar off, even before he came near unto them, they conspired against him to slay him.

Remember, they were jealous over him; and the DNA in these boys, the cruelty which was passed on through the genetic makeup, the particular agony of Leah, this trait of character is a passion that was being expressed in them. Joseph was often telling stories about them, and they hated him for that. Now as they saw Joseph coming, their passion against him because of their envy about him and because of what they looked upon as his “shine-holy” attitude, was aroused, and now was the temptation, Here he is!

Genesis 37:19 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. 

The cruel nature came back into function again.

In the cruel treatment of their brother, Simeon had been the instigator and chief actor, {PP 225.4}

What would happen to those of the tribe of Simeon with such characters? This kind of character is one of self-justifying cruelty. “We’ve got to treat these sinners in this way!” Can you identify with this attitude? “I feel perfectly justified. These are corrupt people; I’ll give it to them!” This is the Simeonites and the Levites – cruel brethren. And this is

The Future of Such People

Proverbs 25:28 He that [hath] no rule over his own spirit [is like] a city [that is] broken down, [and] without walls.

A person who cannot control his own spirit, like Simeon or Levi, is like a city that is broken down without walls. In the days of ancient warfare, that left you wide open to the enemy.

Genesis 49:5 Simeon and Levi [are] brethren; instruments of cruelty [are in] their habitations. 6 O my soul, come not thou into their secret; unto their assembly, mine honour, be not thou united: for in their anger they slew a man, and in their selfwill they digged down a wall. 7 Cursed [be] their anger, for [it was] fierce; and their wrath, for it was cruel: I will divide them in Jacob, and scatter them in Israel.

This is their blessing. They would not have a place in Israel which they could call their land. Levi and Simeon were like a city without walls. Can you see the symbol?

Next in age to Reuben were Simeon and Levi. They had been united in their cruelty toward the Shechemites, and they had also been the most guilty in the selling of Joseph. Concerning them it was declared–“I will divide them in Jacob, And scatter them in Israel.” {PP 235.5}

At the numbering of Israel, just before their entrance to Canaan, Simeon was the smallest tribe. Moses, in his last blessing, made no reference to Simeon. In the settlement of Canaan this tribe had only a small portion of Judah’s lot, and such families as afterward became powerful formed different colonies and settled in territory outside the borders of the Holy Land. {PP 235.6}

Simeon was a very small people because of this, and they had no real place of their own. They couldn’t even settle down in the Holy Land perfectly, because they were scattered. Observe their vulnerability when temptation was upon Israel at the hand of Balaam. Because they were the kind of people they were, passionate, when Balaam caused the Hebrews to fall into corruption, what happened?

Numbers 1:23 Those that were numbered of them, [even] of the tribe of Simeon, [were] fifty and nine thousand and three hundred.

This was the number of Simeon after they had left Egypt.

Numbers 25:1 And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab. 2 And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods. 3 And Israel joined himself unto Baalpeor: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel. 4 And the LORD said unto Moses, Take all the heads of the people, and hang them up before the LORD against the sun, that the fierce anger of the LORD may be turned away from Israel. 5 And Moses said unto the judges of Israel, Slay ye every one his men that were joined unto Baalpeor. … 9 And those that died in the plague were twenty and four thousand.

Who were some of these most passionate people, and what number was left in Simeon’s tribe?

Numbers 26:14 These [are] the families of the Simeonites, twenty and two thousand and two hundred.

Of the 59,300 who originally left Egypt, only 22,200 Simeonites were left after the parents had died in the forty years of wandering in the wilderness and some more had been slain because of the Baalpeor dilemma. They could not control themselves, and so they lost a lot of men.

At the numbering of Israel, just before their entrance to Canaan, Simeon was the smallest tribe. {PP 235.6}

The curse of the blessing was upon that tribe. What were Simeon and the Simeonites an example of? For those of this tribe who respond to God’s method of help, what encouragement is there? When you examine the tribes of the 144,000, is Simeon there? and what is his case? They have to be purged if they are going to be saved. The way by which God purifies a people is through these temptations and through these horrible experiences. Here you can see that Simeon was treated in a very special way for him to be brought to acceptance with God and with his brethren; here is the example of the purging, purifying experience that these kinds of people will go through:

Purged Through the Fire

Genesis 42:6 And Joseph [was] the governor over the land, [and] he [it was] that sold to all the people of the land: and Joseph’s brethren came, and bowed down themselves before him [with] their faces to the earth. 7 And Joseph saw his brethren, and he knew them, but made himself strange unto them, and spake roughly unto them; and he said unto them, Whence come ye? And they said, From the land of Canaan to buy food.

Joseph kept himself hidden behind that Egyptian façade. And as they went through this interrogation by Joseph, he then did something. He treated them as spies. He took them through some hard times

Genesis 42:17 And he put them all together into ward three days. … 24 And he turned himself about from them, and wept; and returned to them again, and communed with them, and took from them Simeon, and bound him before their eyes.

What did he pick Simeon out for? They had already been in prison, but he wanted to send them home for them to give their father the food, so he took Simeon and bound him. Why? Because Simeon was the instigator of all his cruel treatment, and Joseph knew that. So here Simeon was being treated very severely. Now the brothers returned to Canaan,

Genesis 42:36 And Jacob their father said unto them, Me have ye bereaved [of my children]: Joseph [is] not, and Simeon [is] not, and ye will take Benjamin [away]: all these things are against me.

Can you imagine the agony of those brothers as they were going through this torturous experience? First in prison, secondly Simeon having to stay there in prison while they left, and then to hear the agony of the father – terrible circumstances, trials and tribulation. This is how it works. This is how the example is given in them of how God’s people with their cruel traits of character have to be purged through difficult times. They can finally arrive in victory, but this is how it happens.

The three days in the Egyptian prison were days of bitter sorrow as the brothers reflected upon their past sins. {PP 225.4}

Can you see the purging experience? The Lord brings circumstances about so that their past sins come up before them.

Unless Benjamin could be produced their conviction as spies appeared certain, and they had little hope of gaining their father’s consent to Benjamin’s absence. {PP 225.4}

Can you see the torment?

On the third day Joseph caused the brothers to be brought before him. He dared not detain them longer. Already his father and the families with him might be suffering for food. “This do, and live,” he said; “for I fear God; if ye be true men, let one of your brethren be bound in the house of your prison: go ye, carry corn for the famine of your houses: but bring your youngest brother unto me; so shall your words be verified, and ye shall not die.” {PP 225.4}

So he kept one hostage.

This proposition they agreed to accept, though expressing little hope that their father would let Benjamin return with them. Joseph had communicated with them through an interpreter, and having no thought that the governor understood them, they conversed freely with one another in his presence. They accused themselves in regard to their treatment of Joseph: “We are verily guilty concerning our brother, in that we saw the anguish of his soul, when he besought us, and we would not hear; therefore is this distress come upon us.” {PP 225.4}

Can you see the purifying exercise which God’s people have to go through? To agonise over their past sins. “And look what has happened because of those sins! because of this and that thing that I have done.” “Look at what is happening to us now!” They recount their sins.

Reuben, who had formed the plan for delivering him at Dothan, added, “Spake I not unto you, saying, Do not sin against the child; and ye would not hear? therefore, behold, also his blood is required.” Joseph, listening, could not control his emotions, and he went out and wept. On his return he commanded that Simeon be bound before them and again committed to prison. In the cruel treatment of their brother, Simeon had been the instigator and chief actor, and it was for this reason that the choice fell upon him. {PP 225.4}

And he was left there in prison until they came next time. This is the purification exercise.  It is by this method that God works to purify and bring people to their senses.

To Be Among the Purified 144,000

Was Simeon’s tribe able to abide among the 144,000? If we can identify with Simeon’s cruel nature – judgmental, self-justifying, and cruel in dealing with the wrongs of those that are sinful people around us – is there a possibility for people like that to be among the 144,000, after the purging experience?

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

So no matter how cruel and passionate we might identify ourselves as being, it doesn’t mean you can’t be among the 144,000. You can, like Simeon, be in a prison and go through horrifying trials, and be purified by going through it, by thinking over it and repenting.

What must be the exercise of such people?

So long as we are in the world, we shall meet with adverse influences. There will be provocations to test the temper; and it is by meeting these in a right spirit that the Christian graces are developed. {MH 487.2}

So the temptation comes provoking us, and as we discover our characteristics, such as cruelty and harshness of judgment, this is the way by which we are to exercise our Christian graces – by meeting these provocations in a right spirit.

If Christ dwells in us, we shall be patient, kind, and forbearing, cheerful amid frets and irritations.{MH 487.2}

Simeon and Levi weren’t forbearing, were they? They came hard on those people.

Day by day and year by year we shall conquer self, and grow into a noble heroism.{MH 487.2}

This is our experience if we are going to be among the 144,000.

This is our allotted task; but it cannot be accomplished without help from Jesus, resolute decision, unwavering purpose, continual watchfulness, and unceasing prayer. Each one has a personal battle to fight. Not even God can make our characters noble or our lives useful, unless we become co-workers with Him. Those who decline the struggle lose the strength and joy of victory. {MH 487.2}

What must be our exercise if we have these sinful characteristics to conquer? To be patient, kind, forbearing, and cheerful amid frets and irritations. But how can you do this? How can you conquer self and grow into that noble heroism? This task cannot be accomplished without help from Jesus. We need help from Jesus! We can pray to Him, but is that all we need to do? He does help us, but what else is needed? Resolute decision, unwavering purpose, continual watchfulness, and unceasing prayer. Each one has that battle to fight, and God can’t help us unless we become co-workers with Him by doing these things. And if we won’t be among the 144,000 it is because we decline that struggle and therefore lose the strength and joy of victory. What a beautiful illumination as to what we must do to be among the 144,000. What an object lesson in Simeon. God permits circumstances to take us where we will go through our experience of purification.

As I was sharing this, it struck me. There are some of God’s people that will end up in prison during the time of Jacob’s trouble, after the close of probation. Some will be in prison, but others won’t; they will be out in the wild. I wonder whether it is the Simeonites that will be in prison…

This is yet another tribe that illuminates to us the understanding of who these people are – they come out of great tribulation. What are they doing? They are dealing with their past sins; they are remembering why they are meeting this experience – because of their past actions. And as we meet our experiences because of our past actions, like the sons of Jacob in their interaction with Joseph, may God grant us to really tune in to this work and not forget what we have studied here, because we want to be among the 144,000. This is what the Spirit of Prophecy says: we should strive to be among them. Here is the instruction. May God help us. What is the exercise? Our allotted task is:

…help from Jesus, resolute decision, unwavering purpose, continual watchfulness, and unceasing prayer. {MH 487.2}

Let us take hold of this so that we can be among the 144,000.


Posted on 07/01/2018, in The Twelve Tribes of the 144,000 (2017 Conference) and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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