The One Year® Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), December 28
God promised Abraham that He would make him a great nation and that through his seed He would bless all the families of the earth (Gen. 12:3). The story of the Bible tracks Abraham’s descendants, with special emphasis on his great- grandson Judah, through whom Shiloh would come. Israel becomes a great nation in captivity under the service to the Egyptians. God brings them back to the land promised to the patriarchs. He blesses them as long as they obey and withdraws His blessing when they disobey. Eventually ten tribes are taken captive by the Assyrians and are dispersed. Later the tribes of Judah and Benjamin are taken captive by the Babylonians. They are allowed to return 70 years later to rebuild their temple and the city of Jerusalem. Most Jews, however, remain in Babylon.
Four hundred years later, Jesus enters Jewish life in Bethlehem, is dedicated in Jerusalem (where He is recognized and welcomed by Anna of the tribe of Asher), and begins His public ministry in Cana. Jesus’ disciples are Jews from various tribes, and, later, the church in Jerusalem consists of Jewish believers. Persecution diminishes Jewish conversion, and the church becomes mostly Gentile. A small trickle of Jews, however, have confessed and followed Jesus Christ over the past two millennia.
The Book of the Revelation assures us that God has not forgotten Israel—all twelve tribes: “And I heard the number of those who were sealed. One hundred and forty-four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel were sealed” (Rev. 7:4). They are to remain unharmed. The names of the twelve tribes will appear on the twelve gates of the great city, the holy city of Jerusalem: “Also she had a great and high wall with twelve gates, and twelve angels at the gates, and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Israel” (21:12).
The Apostle John sees the answer to Paul’s prayer regarding Israel, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved” (Rom. 10:1). Paul was certain that God had not cast away Israel: “I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew” (Rom.11:1-2). Paul understood that Israel’s rejection of their Messiah wasn’t final, so he prayed for them. And John saw the answer to that prayer!
This sealing of the twelve tribes and the preservation of their names offers a number of truths:
- God faithfully keeps every promise that He makes.
- Those who pray according to God’s promises may not see God’s answer in their lifetime. Their focus isn’t on the fulfillment, but on the promise and Promise-maker.
Questions from today’s chronological Bible reading (Rev. 7:1-10:11):
What interrupts the activity of heaven and causes thirty minutes of silence?
Describe how God dismantles the earth through the plagues announced by the trumpets.
Why does the angel not allow John to record the things which the seven thunders utter?