Twelve Tribes of Israel

Rev 7 5-8

Q. Why is the list of the twelve tribes of Israel in Rev 7:5-8 (Judah, Reuben, Gad, Asher, Naphtali, Manasseh, Simeon, Levi, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, Benjamin) different from other places in the Bible? Where is Dan? What about Ephraim?

A. The list in birth order includes Levi, Dan and Joseph. However, Israel loved Joseph more than all his sons (Gen 37:3), and gave him a double portion for his inheritance by adopting Joseph’s sons as his own:
Gen 48:5 Now your two sons, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are mine; Ephraim and Manasseh shall be mine, as Reuben and Simeon are.

By replacing Joseph with Ephraim and Manasseh, the list becomes 13. But God chose the sons of Levi to serve in the tabernacle and they have no inheritance among the sons of Israel:
Num 18:23-24 Only the Levites shall perform the service of the tent of meeting, and they shall bear their iniquity; it shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations, and among the sons of Israel they shall have no inheritance. For the tithe of the sons of Israel, which they offer as an offering to the LORD, I have given to the Levites for an inheritance; therefore I have said concerning them, ‘They shall have no inheritance among the sons of Israel.’
So Levi received no land and the list becomes 12 again.

In Rev 7, both Dan and Ephraim were dropped because of idolatry:
Judg 18:30 The sons of Dan set up for themselves the graven image; and Jonathan, the son of Gershom, the son of Manasseh, he and his sons were priests to the tribe of the Danites until the day of the captivity of the land.
• 1 Kgs 12:28-29 So the king consulted, and made two golden calves, and he said to them, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem; behold your gods, O Israel, that brought you up from the land of Egypt.” He set one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan.
• 2 Kgs 10:29 However, as for the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel sin, from these Jehu did not depart, even the golden calves that were at Bethel and that were at Dan.
• Hosea 4:17 Ephraim is joined to idols; Let him alone.

Bethel was allotted to Ephraim:
Josh 16:1 Then the lot for the sons of Joseph went from the Jordan at Jericho to the waters of Jericho on the east into the wilderness, going up from Jericho through the hill country to Bethel.
So Dan housed the graven image and together with Ephraim the golden calves which led Israel into idolatry and were disqualified. Joseph therefore replaced Ephraim to retain the double portion. Dan was replaced by Levi, possibly because land inheritance is no longer the issue and the Levites will share in eternal blessings.
Heb 7:11 Now if perfection was through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the people received the Law), what further need was there for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be designated according to the order of Aaron?

God rewards everyone according to what he has done, both good and bad:
2 Co 5:10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.
• Rev 22:12 “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done.

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Does Prayer Change Things? (1 of 3)

Hezekiah healing 1

Q. Hezekiah became ill and God told him that he will die. He prayed and wept and God healed him, adding 15 years to his life (2 Kings 20:6). Manasseh, one of Judah’s most wicked kings, succeeded Hezekiah when he was 12 years old (2 Kings 21:1), which means he would not have been born had God not healed Hezekiah. Did Hezekiah change God’s will and the course of history by his prayer?

A. The account of Hezekiah’s healing is in 2 Kings 20:1-7, and Isaiah 38:1-6. The subject is on the immutability of God, and there are opposing views. Some believe “God does not change His mind” because He knows everything and makes the best decisions, and there is no need to change His mind. Furthermore, if God changes His will in response to prayer, His action is contingent upon man’s petition, then how can God be sovereign? Supporting verses include:

1 Sam 15:29 Also the Glory of Israel will not lie or change His mind; for He is not a man that He should change His mind.”
• Ps 110:4 The LORD has sworn and will not change His mind, “You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.”
• Jer 4:28 “For this the earth shall mourn And the heavens above be dark, Because I have spoken, I have purposed, And I will not change My mind, nor will I turn from it.”
• Heb 7:21 … but He with an oath through the One who said to Him, “THE LORD HAS SWORN AND WILL NOT CHANGE HIS MIND, ‘YOU ARE A PRIEST FOREVER’”);

Others, however, believe “God changes His mind” because that’s what this passage plainly implies. If God does not answer prayer requests, why did Jesus ask us to pray? He said, “If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” (Jn 14:14) If He didn’t mean it, why say it? Other supporting verses include:

Ex 32:12, 14 Why should the Egyptians speak, saying, ‘With evil intent He brought them out to kill them in the mountains and to destroy them from the face of the earth’? Turn from Your burning anger and change Your mind about doing harm to Your people. … So the LORD changed His mind about the harm which He said He would do to His people.
• Jer 26:13, 19 Now therefore amend your ways and your deeds and obey the voice of the LORD your God; and the LORD will change His mind about the misfortune which He has pronounced against you. … Did Hezekiah king of Judah and all Judah put him to death? Did he not fear the LORD and entreat the favor of the LORD, and the LORD changed His mind about the misfortune which He had pronounced against them?
• Amos 7:3,6 The LORD changed His mind about this. “It shall not be,” said the LORD. … The LORD changed His mind about this. “This too shall not be,” said the Lord GOD.

So which is it? Does God change His mind in answer to prayer or not? Does prayer change anything?

(To be continued)