3. The Tribe of Gad

By John Thiel, The Characteristics of the Twelve Tribes of the 144,000 Conference, study 3, mp3

To Be Among The 144,000

There is an item that frightens many Seventh-day Adventist believers and prevents them from believing the truth about the 144,000. It is the truth that there will be a people dwelling on earth such as are described in the following words:

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

These 144,000 have been purged and cleansed from all their sins. Here is yet another reference about these people:

Zephaniah 3:12 I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the LORD. 13 The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies; neither shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth: for they shall feed and lie down, and none shall make [them] afraid.

God will leave in the church the 144,000, a people who do no iniquity, nor speak lies, and in whose mouth is no deceitful tongue. This is a frightening prospect for many believers and especially Adventists. They are afraid of such a doctrine that in the last days there will be a people dwelling on earth without fault, without any lies in their mouth. On the other hand, as we realise how realistic this is according to the written word, it makes many people think, Then that leaves me out. But this need not so affect us, because we have a comfort in the mercy and compassion of God.

Micah 7:18 Who [is] a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth [in] mercy. 19 He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea. 20 Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob, [and] the mercy to Abraham, which thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old.

If you will by faith take these words and make them your own, then this fear of not being among the 144,000 because they are perfect will no longer harass you. The remnant, these 144,000, are a people who have sinned greatly; but God is merciful and compassionate, He passeth by the transgression of the remnant. What a different attitude to the mentality of those today who believe that they are standing on the old paths. These people find it very difficult to pass by the transgression of God’s heritage. But He does; He retaineth not His anger for ever, because He delighteth in mercy. And He will turn, He will have compassion, He will subdue our iniquities, and cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. He will perform this truth to Jacob, to Israel.

So let us dismiss our fears and learn the lesson of each tribe and see where our experience fits into one of these tribes, and let us take courage as we see how the forefather of that tribe was blessed by God. It is these studies that make evident, tribe by tribe, God’s purging experience by which He removes the sins of God’s people from them and presents them without fault or guile or sin.

We are now going through tribe by tribe just as they are written in Revelation 7. Even though the sons were born in a different order, this is the line-up we are taking according to what God wants us to know. After Reuben comes Gad.

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

Gad’s Beginning

What influenced the beginnings of Gad’s life? Who was he born to?

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.

Can you ladies identify with that? You want a child so badly. The women of that time were bereft if they had no children.

Genesis 30:2 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.

What a perverted state of understanding these people practised. This is the beginning of some of the tribes of Israel. They came from this strange beginning.

Genesis 30:4 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.

Bilhah first gave birth to Dan, but this is not the one we are after. She then also gave birth to Naphali. And

Genesis 30:9 When Leah saw that she had left bearing, she took Zilpah her maid, and gave her Jacob to wife. 10 And Zilpah Leah’s maid bare Jacob a son. 11 And Leah said, A troop cometh: and she called his name Gad.

Here is real rivalry. There was rivalry in the family. Because Leah had had her sons, Rachel was bereft, so she said, Well, then we will deal with that; I will have a child through Bilhah. And as Leah sees that, she becomes envious and says, Right then, my maid is going to give birth to some of my children too, seeing that my womb has been closed up. And it was Leah’s maid, Zilpah, who gave birth to Gad. And this is the man, the tribe, that we are studying now.


What sort of a beginning then was this child Gad part of? This rivalry between the women; this desire to have children (and at any measure they would have some) – these children were all Jacob’s sons but from different wives. Isn’t that a modern problem today? Can God do anything with those kinds of children? This is a very important study to show God’s mercy from situations that are so polygamist, and so adulterous really, to show that God can benefit these children.

How does the Bible address rivalry of this nature? What these ladies were doing is that they were comparing their experiences of having children, and in that comparing of one another they did these terrible things. And Jacob played along with it. Nothing has changed, has it?

2 Corinthians 10:12 For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.

This rivalry is announced here as a terrible unwise activity; but these children were born to that. And the rivalry between the parents and the children is a consequence which cannot be avoided.

…everyone should realize how cruel is the spirit of envy, rivalry, distrust, faultfinding, and dissension. {4T 221.4}

This is what these children were born under – a spirit of envy.

We call God our Father; we claim to be children of one family, and when there is a disposition to lessen the respect and influence of another to build up ourselves, we please the enemy and grieve Him whom we profess to follow. {4T 222.1}

How God must have been grieved at what was going on in Jacob’s family.

The tenderness and mercy that Jesus has revealed in His own precious life should be an example to us of the manner in which we should treat our fellow beings and especially those who are our brethren in Christ. {Ibid.}

That spirit of rivalry comes from envy, distrust, faultfinding, and dissension. It is something that is so cruel, so ungodly, and it is happening among people who make a profession of following God.

As we try to comprehend the kind of family life that was taking place in Jacob’s household, we see that with the very man whom God had chosen as the continuation of Abraham’s blessing, multiple children were being born through this strange procedure. God uses very strange circumstances of human failure and brings results out of those. It is so different to what we expect. And being legalistically-minded we cannot accept this; we think, “This can’t be God’s blessing.”

Look at the influence that results upon Gad from this rivalry. See what is described of his experience, having come from such a rivalrous situation:

Deuteronomy 33:20 And of Gad he said, Blessed [be] he that enlargeth Gad; he dwelleth as a lion, and teareth the arm with the crown of the head.

He teareth the arm with the crown of the head – The cruelty of this rivalry affected Gad. What happens wherever such a spirit is displayed?

There should be no rivalry between our publishing houses. If this spirit is indulged, it will grow and strengthen, and will crowd out the missionary spirit. It will grieve the Spirit of God and will banish from the institution the ministering angels sent to be co-workers with those who cherish the grace of God. {7T 173.4}

The seriousness of this kind of spirit, this rivalry, if that is indulged, it grows. Can you identify with that in your experience? Rivalry grows and it finally tears people apart, because the true missionary spirit is eclipsed. It crowds out the missionary spirit. It grieves the Spirit of God. So the church family cannot do well under this spirit, wherever there is this rivalry.

Here is the display of this rivalry when it is engaged in:

Genesis 37:2 These [are] the generations of Jacob. Joseph, [being] seventeen years old, was feeding the flock with his brethren; and the lad [was] with the sons of Bilhah, and with the sons of Zilpah, his father’s wives: and Joseph brought unto his father their evil report.

The Bible doesn’t enlarge very much, but it leaves you with a clear indication that between the sons of Bilhah and Zilpah there was evil going on. Understandable, isn’t it? These were the sons of concubines, and the rivalry of their parental examples was being played out in their own lives, so that Joseph was so upset that he came and told his father about the evils of these sons. And Gad, this forebear of the tribe of Gad that is included among the 144,000, was amongst them.

The restless spirit naturally inclines to mischief; the active mind, if left unoccupied with better things, will give heed to that which Satan may suggest. The children need . . . to be instructed, to be guided in safe paths, to be kept from vice, to be won by kindness, and be confirmed in well-doing. {CG 33.2}

The children of these concubines were in a restless state because this rivalry created restlessness in the home. And the children, as they were out doing their thing, were constantly affected by Satan. Whatever Satan suggested they did. These were the beginnings of Gad – he grew up with a terrible spirit of rivalry.

This is what we see with our own eyes, don’t we? We see families of this very same calibre, even in the ranks of Seventh-day Adventists today. And although one is born on earth with such beginnings, does God have a place for them? For those who have grown up in this kind of rivalry, in this kind of conflict in the home that has left them like so many young people today in a very dead spiritual condition, is there any hope? For those who have been brought up in the ranks of Adventism and who read this kind of perfection story, can they have any hope of being part of the 144,000? Does God have a place for them?

A Place in God’s Plan

God’s plan of life has a place for every human being. {Ed 225.4}

Yes, whatever may have been our beginnings.

Each is to improve his talents to the utmost; and faithfulness in doing this, be the gifts few or many, entitles one to honor. In God’s plan there is no place for selfish rivalry. Those who measure themselves by themselves, and compare themselves among themselves, are not wise. 2 Corinthians 10:12. Whatever we do is to be done “as of the ability which God giveth.” 1 Peter 4:11. It is to be done “heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:23, 24. Precious the service done and the education gained in carrying out these principles. But how widely different is much of the education now given! From the child’s earliest years it is an appeal to emulation and rivalry; it fosters selfishness, the root of all evil. {Ibid.}

Rivalry fosters selfishness, which is the root of all evil. So here were these women in rivalry, selfishly wanting the love of Jacob, and as this was carried out, the children were born into such an atmosphere; but God’s plan of life has a place for every human being. So wherever we may have come from, whatever dysfunctional reality we come from, it doesn’t matter; God has a plan for you. And whenever you feel overwhelmed by your past, which makes you feel like trash, remember, God has a plan for you.

After the blessing pronounced upon Gad, we read:

Deuteronomy 33:21 And he provided the first part for himself, because there, [in] a portion of the lawgiver, [was he] seated; and he came with the heads of the people, he executed the justice of the LORD, and his judgments with Israel.

God had a place for Gad. What was it? “In a portion of the lawgiver was he seated.” “He came with the heads of the people, he executed the justice of the Lord, and his judgments with Israel.” God obviously had a purpose for Gad in his position. He became a leader, and the men of his tribe held high positions in judgment and justice. God had a place for them. In God’s plan of life, people have a position, wherever they may come from. And we are to honour people, no matter what their background has been.

1 Chronicles 12:8 And of the Gadites there separated themselves unto David into the hold to the wilderness men of might, [and] men of war [fit] for the battle, that could handle shield and buckler, whose faces [were like] the faces of lions, and [were] as swift as the roes upon the mountains;

Here were the Gadites in strong positions, and mentioned especially in David’s army. God has a plan of life for you, wherever you may have come from.

“First Me”

But while there was such a characteristic in Gad that God could use to make him prominent among the people, there is also this characteristic that came from rivalry:

Deuteronomy 33:21 And he provided the first part for himself,

What does that say? That rivalrous and envious mentality that he grew up with affected him in such a way that he wanted the first things for himself – “First me.” Totally selfish. Although God can use and work with people no matter where they have come from, they are nonetheless affected by the negativities of their family background. And this was the negativity. This is a man who was affected by a rivalry mentality – “Me first”, just like happened in the family.

The tribes of Reuben and Gad wanted to have their place, and chose their place first, before they even went over the river Jordan.

Numbers 32:2 The children of Gad and the children of Reuben came and spake unto Moses, and to Eleazar the priest, and unto the princes of the congregation,

And what did they ask for?

Numbers 32:5 Wherefore, said they, if we have found grace in thy sight, let this land be given unto thy servants for a possession, [and] bring us not over Jordan.

To go over Jordan they had to fight; so they decided to stay on the other side. “We want this place first for us.” This is the mentality of Gad. Me first! The children have that problem too. “I want it! Me first!” This is Gad, and God is not pleased with that. Rivalry is identified in this tribe by this attitude that they manifested. But there is a consequence to such an attitude of “me first”:

Genesis 49:19 Gad, a troop shall overcome him:

When people are full of self and “me first”, do they win all the time? A troop shall overcome him. It won’t be good in their experience. This is what happens; it happened to the tribe of Gad:

Jeremiah 49:1 Concerning the Ammonites, thus saith the LORD; Hath Israel no sons? hath he no heir? why [then] doth their king inherit Gad, and his people dwell in his cities? 

What happened to the tribe of Gad? The Ammonites came and inherited the area that was the land of the tribe of Gad. They inherited it, conquered them, and dwelt in Gad’s cities. A troop overcame them. They made their choice to be on the other side of Jordan. It was Gilead. And because they wanted their land first they became vulnerable. A troop overcame him. But what is the secret that we are to learn from this to be part of the 144,000? Although they were overcome because of their “me first” attitude, because of this rivalrous spirit, yet there was something else in the blessing pronounced upon Gad:

But He Shall Overcome At the Last

Genesis 49:19 Gad, a troop shall overcome him: but he shall overcome at the last.

This is a beautiful story. Although that rivalrous spirit had its consequences, yet, as the people of this tribe in the last days are of this character, although they are beaten because of their rivalrous spirit, even though they may be shot down in flames as it were and overcome by the enemy, yet they are not totally bereft, because it says, But he shall overcome at the last. Here is a tremendous comfort for us. If we become overwhelmed by the enemy, overwhelmed because of our own mistakes and our own wrong attitudes and we discover that, and we are bleeding under the terrible consequences of our state of bereavement, we don’t need to give up. Gad does not give up, even though his mistakes have led him to being overcome by a troop.

In seeking to save your life by concealing your wrongs, you are losing it. If you now humble yourself before God, confess your wrongs, and return to Him with full purpose of heart, yours can yet be a happy family. If you will not do this, but choose your own way, your happiness is at an end. {2T 303.3}

The hope that is ours to have is that we can be in a dreadful state, but we can overcome. Sr. White writes here to a person who is distressed, and whose condition is deplorable. “Your influence,” she says, “will destroy others besides yourself.” But then there is hope if we humble ourselves and fight on.

If you now humble yourself before God, confess your wrongs, and return to Him with full purpose of heart, yours can yet be a happy family. {Ibid.}

We have therefore here a picture of someone who can be among the 144,000, a people who, like Gad, are “me first”, but who humble themselves and can conquer like Gad ultimately does.

“If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous.” How careful is the Lord Jesus to give no occasion for a soul to despair. How He fences about the soul from Satan’s fierce attacks. If through manifold temptations we are surprised or deceived into sin, He does not turn from us and leave us to perish. No, no, that is not our Saviour. Christ prayed for us. He was tempted in all points like as we are; and having been tempted, He knows how to succor those who are tempted. {7BC 948.2}

Having been brought up in such negative circumstances, with the surprising experiences of Satan’s temptations, by which he surprises people who are so faulty, who want to follow the right way but who have had such a bad beginning; this is the hope: Humble yourself, fight on in the positive blessings of Christ, so that when you feel overwhelmed by manifold temptations and you feel that you can’t make it, that God can’t accept this, you may find succor in Jesus. You know, people who are legalistically-minded are the ones who will finally become destroyed if they don’t change their way; they will become overwhelmed because in their legalistic ways they will be judged as they judge. This is where a humbling is required by which Gad could conquer. Observe the conquering element in the tribe of Gad:

1 Chronicles 5:18 The sons of Reuben, and the Gadites, and half the tribe of Manasseh, of valiant men, men able to bear buckler and sword, and to shoot with bow, and skilful in war, [were] four and forty thousand seven hundred and threescore, that went out to the war. … 20 And they were helped against them, and the Hagarites were delivered into their hand, and all that [were] with them: for they cried to God in the battle, and he was entreated of them; because they put their trust in him.

In our battle against the enemy, in our battle in conquering temptations, in all the things that surround us because of our own mistakes and our own bad background, we can learn a lesson from the tribe of Gad. What did the Gadites do? They cried to God in the battle, and He was entreated of them; because they put their trust in Him. This is the conquering element. Whatever my past has been, just as with Gad and his terrible beginning, I am to entreat God and fight in the battle, no matter what.

Judges 11:1 Now Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty man of valour, and he [was] the son of an harlot: and Gilead begat Jephthah.

This was a Gileadite. Where did the Gadites settle when they asked to settle on this side of Jordan? They received that very land, Gilead. It was their territory. The Gadites were from that time the Gileadites. And Jephtah was one of those Gadites. Interestingly enough, Jephthah is mentioned in Hebrews among those who by faith conquered. By studying this experience of the Gadites we can also take courage if we are in that kind of position of having been a rivalrous people. If we have fallen into rivalry and we fall into all the consequences of that, then let us look at the story of Jephthah, and of Elijah.

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,

Jephthah was of that tribe, and he was given as an example of faith to conquer.

A deliverer was raised up in the person of Jephthah, a Gileadite, who made war upon the Ammonites and effectually destroyed their power. {PP 558.3}

Oh, the long-suffering mercy of our God! When His people put away the sins that had shut out His presence, He heard their prayers and at once began to work for them. {PP 558.2}

So the Gadites, with all their background, with their rivalry and their “me first” attitude which was so contrary to God, while they suffered under the consequences and the troops got them, yet they cried unto God, and God, in His longsuffering, heard their prayers and helped them. Is not this the God who is sealing His people? If you, in your background, find yourself in the place of the Gadites, then be assured that you can be among the 144,000. Of great significance is the story of Elijah. Do you know where he came from? He came from Gilead as well. He was a Gadite. You know the story of Elijah. He called upon the people of Israel, If God be God, then worship Him; but if Baal, worship him. And he was the person that was to come in the person of the prophet of the last days – the people who give the Elijah message are the 144,000. So Gad was amongst them.

Elijah, amid the general apostasy, did not seek to hide the fact that he served the God of heaven. Baal’s prophets numbered four hundred and fifty, his priests, four hundred, and his worshipers were thousands; yet Elijah did not try to make it appear that he was on the popular side. He grandly stood alone. {5T 526.3}

Here is a wonderful victory that we can have in these last days even if we are of the tribe of Gad, even if we are Gileadites, because Elijah was a Gileadite (1 Ki. 17:1). In this history of Elijah we have a precursor of the 144,000 who are to be proclaiming the three angels’ messages, or the Elijah message for the last days. In the midst of the surrounding apostasy there will be those faithful ones that have had a bad beginning but are faithful, crying unto God, and gaining the victory.

Let us take courage once again from this story, and pursue these studies closely as we examine how God hates these sins but is longsuffering and compassionate to the sinner in spite of those sins. And whenever you feel overwhelmed and the enemy comes in like a flood and wants to tell you, “Look at you! You’re as bad as Gad;” then God’s Spirit comes and says, You can conquer like Gad too.


Posted on 11/01/2018, in The Twelve Tribes of the 144,000 (2017 Conference) and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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