Why are Dan and Ephraim not listed in the 144,000 of Revelation 7:4-8?
In Revelation 7:4-8, in the list of the 144,000 who are to have God's seal placed on their foreheads, it is interesting that the tribe of Dan has been omitted. Also the half-tribe of Manasseh (one of Joseph's sons) has been added. Where did Dan go, and why is Manasseh there?
Firstly, some believe that this group of 144,000 is symbolic, rather than literal, and that its members are representative of the Church or of some other segment of Gentile believers (such as a special, "anointed" class of Jehovah's Witnesses, for example). I disagree completely. The text reads that these are "144,000 from all the tribes of Israel" (Revelation 7:4). I believe that the 144,000 "servants of God" of Revelation 7:4-8 and 14:1-5 are literal descendents of the tribes of Jacob/Israel (Genesis 29:31Ė30:24, 35:16-18).
Secondly, I tend to believe that, during the 70th Week, these 144,000 Israelites will revere God and will keep His lawful commands in the Torah, yet not (initially) acknowledge that Jesus is their Messiah because they do not recognize Him as being so. Once the global Rapture event has taken place (following the opening of the Sixth Seal), these Israelites from twelve tribes, who will have seen "the face of him who sits on the throne" (Revelation 6:16), will understand that Jesus is the true Messiah (Christ). They will receive the seal of God on their foreheads (7:3,4) to be servants of the Almighty and, evidently, will glorify and be representatives of His until, as a group, they are caught up collectively to heaven at some point near the end of the 70th Week (14:1-3ósee 144,000 caught up).
Now, in answer to your questions, Dan seems to have been replaced in the list by Manasseh. I do not know if we can be certain why Dan was left out, but I can think of some possibilities. Maybe it was because of any or all of these things that the people of the tribe of Dan did or failed to do:
As for Ephraim, he was Joseph's son. Jacob blessed Ephraim and put him ahead of his brother Manasseh (Genesis 48:17-20), meaning that Ephraim received Joseph's birthright (see birthrights). For all intents and purposes, then, Ephraim is "hidden" in the list by simply being part of the tribe of Joseph.
Perhaps another explanation why Ephraim is not in the list can be found in Psalms:
The men of Ephraim, though armed with bows, turned back on the day of battle; they did not keep God's covenant and refused to live by his law. They forgot what he had done, the wonders he had shown them. He did miracles in the sight of their fathers in the land of Egypt, in the region of Zoan. He divided the sea and led them through; he made the water stand firm like a wall. He guided them with the cloud by day and with light from the fire all night. He split the rocks in the desert and gave them water as abundant as the seas; he brought streams out of a rocky crag and made water flow down like rivers. But they continued to sin against him, rebelling in the desert against the Most High. ... Then the Lord awoke as from sleep, as a man 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 78:9-17,65-67).Hosea wrote this:
Ephraim will be laid waste on the day of reckoning. Among the tribes of Israel I proclaim what is certain. ... Ephraim is oppressed, trampled in judgment, intent on pursuing idols (Hosea 5:9,11).Turning one's back on the Lord God always has negative consequences. Maybe this is what happened to Dan and Ephraim.
It should be noted that Judges 18 describes how five warriors from the tribe of Dan entered the hill country of Ephraim (18:2,13). The remainder of that chapter appears to have taken place within the territory of Ephraim, and it would seem that Danites inhabited part of Ephraim.
Thus, in the list of the 144,000 (Revelation 7:4-8), maybe Dan indirectly is part of Ephraim, which is "hidden" within Joseph. If so, perhaps the 12,000 sealed from the tribe of Joseph will include mostly Ephraimites and some Danites.
In any case, during the Millennium, Dan will be alotted a territory (Ezekiel 48:1). Furthermore, Joseph will receive a double-portion because both Manasseh and Ephraim will receive their own territories (48:4,5). God is merciful and will not break His everlasting promises; ultimately, land will be given to all the tribes of Israel.
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