Battle of Thrones
Are you in the middle of a battle? Hmm, you may think to yourself. No, I’m sitting on the couch or hanging out with my friends (or whatever else you like to do) – it doesn’t feel like a battlefield. However, the middle of Revelation tells us we are in a war, and God does not lie. This war has been raging for a very long time and it’s not over yet.
Here’s the battle breakdown: There was war in heaven between Michael and his angels and the dragon (aka Satan) and his angels. Satan and his angels got kicked out of heaven. The dragon got angry with the woman (the church) and made war with her descendants who follow God’s commandments. The dragon (Satan) makes war with the saints (God’s people). The kings of the earth and the beast make war with the Lamb (Jesus), but Jesus is the victor! (Rev. 12, 13, 17) Sounds like there’s a serious battle of thrones going on.
We’re not going to discuss this whole war and all the players today, but you get the idea. There is a war going on. It even includes angels and demons. The Bible says, “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places” (Eph. 6:12).
This brings us to a curious group of people in Revelation chapter 7. The servants of God have just been sealed with the seal of the living God to protect them from some impending judgment. Then John hears the number of them which were sealed: 144,000, 12,000 from each of the tribes of Israel.
Remember the language in Revelation is often symbolic. What could this number 144,000 mean? Here are some major clues. In times of war, ancient Israel’s army was divided into units of 1,000 (Num. 31:4-5, 1 Chron. 15:25). Even the tribes were organized into thousands based on the men who were able to go war for Israel (Num. 1:3,16). 12,000 from each tribe (12,000 x 12 tribes = 144,000). Now that’s a well equipped army!
Do you want to enlist with this army of God? Paul tells us to “Put on the full armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.” Then he says again, “Take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.” (Eph. 6:11,13) Revelation chapter 6 ended with the question, “Who is able to stand?” Those who have put on the whole armor of God and are in the Lord’s army – the 144,000 sealed with the seal of the living God. You may want to read the rest of Ephesians chapter 6 to get your battle armor ready!
The Tribes of Israel
Now wait a minute, isn’t this army only from the tribes of Israel. What if I’m not from the modern nation of Israel or a Jew? That is a very good question! There are many “theories” floating around these days. To find the answer, we must let the Bible tell us who Israel is, not the latest apocalyptic novel. But first, some curious things about the list of tribes in Revelation chapter 7. This list is different from any other list of the tribes of Israel in the Old Testament. Also, Judah is never listed first in any other Old Testament list. It makes sense that Judah is first here when we remember that the Lamb, Jesus, is from the tribe of Judah (Rev. 5:5-6) and is the captain of this army!
Okay, back to our important question. Who is Israel in Revelation? The New Testament says there are two Israels – sort of. The Israel of the flesh (born a Jew) and the Israel of the promise (Jews and Gentiles who have faith in Jesus) (Rom. 9:6-8). It is the Israel of the promise (Jesus) that is the true Israel of God (Gal. 6:15-16). The good news from the Bible is that we can be “grafted in”, joined to the Israel of God by believing in the Messiah, Jesus Christ (see Romans chapter 11). Paul said, “There is neither Jew nor Greek…. for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28). Jews and Gentiles had become one through Jesus and Paul called this body of believers “the Israel of God” (Gal. 6:16). By faith in Jesus we can be part of the sons and daughters of Abraham (Gal. 3:7-9).
God is calling all people to belong to Him and to join his army. Will you answer His call?
Sign me up! I want to be part of the Lord’s Army!
Note to parents: There are many interpretations about who the 144,000 are and what their role is in the last days. The goal of this author is to let the Bible explain the Bible and give a simple but firm foundation of the principles of the text. There is clearly more to learn and study about these passages as a person grows and matures.