Bits and pieces are coming together. And that gives this clue gathering lover of the puzzle a thrill.
Two weeks ago I was studying Revelation 7 and I wondered why the tribes of Dan and Ephraim were not included among those whose foreheads were marked for preservation.
The list of tribes in Revelation 7 resembled a military census. If that’s what it was, why aren’t representatives from Dan and Ephraim being enlisted in the Lord’s army?
First I made us a table so we can all keep it straight:
(Yes, I do know I’m a nerd.)
Then I did a little looking and found out some stuff:
As soon as the Danites captured their first city, they set up for themselves an idol, and Jonathan son of Gershom, the son of Moses (or Manasseh, depending on the manuscript) and his sons were priests for the tribe of Dan. (Judges 18 if you want to see for yourself.)
Two violations there:
- “Do not make for yourselves an idol.”
- God designated Aaron’s descendants, the Levites, as priests, not Moses’s. You can’t just willy-nilly ignore God and choose your own priests.
And then there is 1 Kings 12. Two golden calves were made. One was set up in Bethel and one was set up in Dan. People came from far and wide to worship them. And if you know anything about God and Exodus and the Ten Commandments, you know how He feels about the worshiping of golden calves.
Okay now Ephraim. The reason Ephraim’s name is missing from the third column is pretty clear:
Ephraim will be laid waste
on the day of reckoning.
Among the tribes of Israel
I proclaim what is certain.
Judah’s leaders are like those
who move boundary stones.
I will pour out my wrath on them
like a flood of water.
Ephraim is oppressed,
trampled in judgment,
intent on pursuing idols. Hosea 5:9-11 [italics added]
But [Ephraim] continued to sin against him,
rebelling in the wilderness against the Most High. Psalm 78:9-17 [italics added]
Then the Lord awoke as from sleep,
as a warrior wakes from the stupor of wine.
He beat back his enemies;
he put them to everlasting shame.
Then he rejected the tents of Joseph,
he did not choose the tribe of Ephraim. Psalm 78:65-67 [italics added]
It looks like it was due to severe, persistent idol worship.
If you know anything about the history of Israel, you know that lots of tribes got into trouble at one time (or two or three or ten+) for worshiping idols, but Dan and Ephraim seemed intent upon it.
So then last week I moved on to study chapters 8 and 9.
Chapter 8 described the frightful events at the opening of the seventh seal and the sounding of the first four trumpets.
And then in chapter 9 the fifth trumpet was sounded and some truly terrifying locusts prepare for battle. Seriously, read their description. I’m thinking I’ll forget all the contemporary means of evangelizing. All the youthtastic stuff, the climbing walls (a church near me has one) and the sporting event outreaches and replace my small talk – things like, “What about those Tigers,” – with, “What about those LOCUSTS?”
The sixth trumpet was sounded and a third of mankind was killed.
And then there it was, at the very end of chapter 9, the piece of the puzzle that joined it together, more evidence of the reason the descendants from the tribes of Dan and Ephraim are not listed among those marked for preservation:
“The rest of mankind who were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood—idols that cannot see or hear or walk. Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts.” [italics added].
I read ahead: A giant earthquake is coming. The terrified survivors of it will FINALLY give glory to God.
When this BSF study of Revelation began in September, many of the women expressed trepidation over looking into this book. They feared God’s wrath against people.
But having studied the first nine chapters and read two more, I don’t see it as God’s wrath against people. I see it as His wrath against His enemy, the devil. Against the sin and evil that destroy people. (God hates the sin, loves the sinner.)
It’s like He’s rooting out the cancer of sin/evil. He cuts it out and then He uses radiation and then, on whatever is left, He uses chemo.
After He levels all his weapons against it, He succeeds in eradicating it.
Chapter 11 ends with earth in remission and then chapter 12 (okay, I read ahead three chapters ‘cuz it’s a page turner) shifts the battle from earth to the heavenly realm. To the woman and the dragon.
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” Ephesians 6:12
Now comes the really BIG battle…