Here are some items for my Church Write-Up about last Wednesday’s LCMS Bible study.
A. One of our texts was Revelation 7:9-17. The pastor talked about how the constellations were believed to tell stories, and he said that the Book of Revelation draws from that. For example, there is a constellation in which a throne is next to a lamb, and Revelation draws from that.
B. Revelation 7:9-17 discusses the 144,000. The pastor speculated that they were the church militant, the church on earth, which is different from the church triumphant, which is in heaven. In the Old Testament, he said, the army of Israel went out in companies of 1,000-1,200. He proposed that the 144,000 could be the church militant, going out to war. I thought of Revelation 12:10: “And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death” (KJV).
C. The pastor relayed the view that Dan and Ephraim are excluded from the 144,000 because of their association with idolatry in the Old Testament. Jeroboam, who instituted idolatry in Northern Israel, was from Ephraim, and Ephraim was the main tribe of the Northern Kingdom. Jeroboam also set up a golden calf in Dan. In Jesus’ day, in Caesarea Philippi, which is in Dan, there was a pagan center to the god Pan. Those were the “gates of hell” (Matthew 16:18).
D. In Revelation 7:9, a multitude is before the throne of God with palm branches in their hands. There is only one other place in the New Testament that refers to palm branches, the pastor said, and that is John 12:13. The pastor, of course, believes that John wrote the Gospel of John and Revelation.
E. Revelation 7:15-17 states: “Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes.”
The pastor shared how this reflects the Old Testament:
Psalm 23:2: “He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.”
Psalm 121:6: “The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor the moon by night.”
Isaiah 25:8: “He will swallow up death in victory; and the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from off all faces; and the rebuke of his people shall he take away from off all the earth: for the LORD hath spoken it.”