1 After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth to prevent any wind from blowing on the land or on the sea or on any tree. 2 Then I saw another angel coming up from the east, having the seal of the living God. He called out in a loud voice to the four angels who had been given the power to harm the land and the sea: 3 “Do not harm the land or the sea or the trees until we put a seal on the foreheads of the servants of our God.” 4 Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel. 5 From the tribe of Judah 12,000 were sealed, from the tribe of Reuben 12,000, from the tribe of Gad 12,000, 6 from the tribe of Asher 12,000, from the tribe of Naphtali 12,000, from the tribe of Manasseh 12,000, 7 from the tribe of Simeon 12,000, from the tribe of Levi 12,000, from the tribe of Issachar 12,000, 8 from the tribe of Zebulun 12,000, from the tribe of Joseph 12,000, from the tribe of Benjamin 12,000.
The Great Multitude in White Robes
9 After this I looked, and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands. 10 And they cried out in a loud voice: “Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” 11 All the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living creatures. They fell down on their faces before the throne and worshiped God, 12 saying: “Amen! Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks and honor and power and strength be to our God forever and ever. Amen!” 13 Then one of the elders asked me, “These in white robes—who are they, and where did they come from?” 14 I answered, “Sir, you know.” And he said, “These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 15 Therefore, “they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple, and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. 16 ‘Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat down on them,’ nor any scorching heat. 17 For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; ‘he will lead them to springs of living water. ’‘And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.’ ” [NRSV: Rev 7]
This part of John’s vision, his portent into heaven is a glimpse. It does not answer all our questions, but it is intended to give us assurance and calls for endurance in the faith.
- From the tribe of Judah 12,000 were sealed,
- from the tribe of Reuben 12,000,
- from the tribe of Gad 12,000,
- from the tribe of Asher 12,000,
- from the tribe of Naphtali 12,000,
- from the tribe of Manasseh 12,000,
- from the tribe of Simeon 12,000,
- from the tribe of Levi 12,000,
- from the tribe of Issachar 12,000,
- from the tribe of Zebulun 12,000,
- from the tribe of Joseph 12,000,
- from the tribe of Benjamin 12,000
Exodus 24:4 NIV https://www.biblestudytools.com/exodus/24-4.html Moses then wrote down everything the LORD had said. He got up early the next morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain and set up twelve stone pillars representing the twelve tribes of Israel. [NRSA]
Summary of Numbers 2
1 The LORD said to Moses and Aaron: 2 “The Israelites are to camp around the tent of meeting some distance from it, each of them under their standard and holding the banners of their family.” [NRSA]
- On the east, toward the sunrise, Judah are to encamp under their standard 74,600.
- The tribe of Issachar will camp next to them. 54,400.
- The tribe of Zebulun will be next. 57,400.
- All the men in these three number 186,400. They will set out first.
- On the south will be the divisions of the camp of Reuben under their standard, 46,500.
- The tribe of Simeon will camp next to them, 59,300.
- The tribe of Gad will be next, 45,650.
- All the men in these divisions, number 151,450. They will set out second.
- Then the tent of meeting and the camp of the Levites will set out in the middle of the camps. They will set out in the same order as they encamp, each in their own place under their standard.
- On the west will be the divisions of the camp of Ephraim, 40,500.
- The tribe of Manasseh will be next, 32,200.
- The tribe of Benjamin will be next, 35,400.
- All the men in these divisions number 108,100. They will set out third.
- On the north will be the divisions of the camp of Dan, 62,700.
- The tribe of Asher will camp next to them, 41,500.
- The tribe of Naphtali will be next, 53,400.
- All the men in these divisions number 157,600. They will set out last.
Total Men 20 and older
All the men in the camps, by their divisions, number 603,550. (Plus women, children, and the Levites)
The Activity in Heaven – Praise and Welcoming Home
- Praise — holding palm branches Glory – singing, shouting, praying
- Wisdom – knowing and believing Thanks – accepting, affirming, appreciating
- Honor – respect Power – dependent on God
- Strength be to our God – Trusting God’s will and ways
- for ever and ever – eternity, (always and forever)
The Seal on the Foreheads
- The seal is a mark of authority
- It is the record of story
- It is the transference of authority
- It is being included in the story
- This Seal is the Mark of God, the marks of grace, the living-sacrificial lamb. Jesus the Christ.
There instructions to write the message: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and strength” were specifically instructed to post them on the house, wear them on your forehead, memorize them in you mind, heart, and soul. SO, that we might live our these instructions wherever we are.
Whose That Yonder Dressed in White?
- Those in white robes entering heaven, were more numerous that one could count. There is part of your answer about who goes to heaven. “from every nation, tribe, people, and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb”.
- Heaven is a diverse collection of those who worship God, through Christ, but it is not diversity that is their ticket into heaven. They are entering as those wash and made whole through Christ.
- And Christ’s gift of grace is offered to the whole world. Only those who live the marks of faithfulness, those who wear “Christ’s seal”
- Just as the lamb upon the throne shone of the marks of sacrifice, so are the marks and signs of both those who have suffered the tribulation, persecution, and journey of life and still find Christ as their salvation and hope.
Do you see yourself in Heaven?
- If you and I are not much on praising, singing and worshiping God, we might not feel at home in heaven?
- If you and I are only thinking about God’s power but not trusting God’s power, we might not be at home
- If others don’t see the seal of Christ as plainly as they see our face, then we might not find a robe?
- If we are not daily, giving ourselves to Christ for strength, healing, forgiveness, power, and love, we only see a glimpse through John’s vision but have assurance of heaven includes us.
So what do we do?
- We do on earth what its made whole in heaven. The key is in the Lord’s prayer
- Give us your daily bread for our body and our spirit.
- Forgive us by the same standard we forgive others
- Face temptation and tribulations in Christ’s strength and not our own understanding or work
- Give our heart, soul, and strength to the Lamb, Jesus Christ, to make this day holy, and the next..
- Until Christ returns and offers the white robe and palm branches in the countless multitude.
White Robes are those who have been included in the family
Baptism, swaddling clothes and burial bands, made clean and bright by God who make us whole.
The Rag Man, Walter Wangerin, https://ecdu.dionc.org/dfc/newsdetail_2/2350072
“But then, on Sunday morning, I was awakened by a violence that shook me to the core of my being. Light – pure, hard, insistent light – slammed against my tear-stained face and demanded that I awake. When I was finally able to open my eyes, I blinked against the light and squinted in the direction of the pile of trash where the Ragman’s body had been. As I looked, I saw the last and the first wonder of all. The Ragman was there, yes! But he was no longer dead. He was alive! There he stood, folding the old army blanket carefully and laying it atop the neatly arranged handkerchief and jacket. Besides the scar on his forehead, there was no other evidence of what he had previously taken upon himself. There was no sign of sorrow or age, no evidence of illness or deformity. His body was whole and strong and all the rags that he had gathered shined for cleanliness.”