~ The 12 Tribes of Israel Today ~
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The Twelve Tribes Today
A Guide For God's Children Who Are Trying To Find Themselves,
And Their Places In His Work.
"What's in a Name?"
It is generally known that it has been the practice of some
cultures, both ancient and modern, to assign children a name that
in some way reflects the actual or hoped-for character of the
child. Expectant parents often buy booklets containing lists of
names, with their ancient meanings, hoping to find a name for
their child that describes the character traits or accomplishments
they hope their child to have. When God made man in Gen. 7:2, He
formed him from "dust", evidently clay, and named him "Adam",
literally in Hebrew,"dirt". Not very imaginative, we might think,
but exactly accurate, and applicable to all mankind.
Often, some years into a child's life, a nickname might be
assigned if the given name seems to have been inaccurate, or if
some major event seems to indicate a dominant trait of character.
In this writer's case, my given name is Celtic for "Noble", but
after wrecking my first car my friends thought the term "Crash"
was more appropriate for several years. As the years have gone by
it seems that both names are accurate, more or less.
In the Bible we find several instances where individual's
names have been modified or permanently changed. We read that God
modified the names of Abram, "Exalted Father", and Sarai,
"Dominative", or "Domineering" (!), to Abraham, "Father of a
Multitude", or "...of Nations", and Sarah, "Princess" (still a
dominant position), when they entered into a covenant relationship
with Him in Gen.17:5, 15. In Gen. 32:28 God completely renamed
Jacob, meaning "Supplanter", or "Usurper", dubbing him "Israel",
meaning "A Prince With God", having princely power with God and
men, after he realized his own dependency on God. We read also
that Moses altered the name "Oshea", meaning "to save", to
"Jehoshua" (Joshua), meaning "Jehovah is salvation". Num. 13:2,16;
Jesus Himself also used the custom of nicknaming in reference
to some of His disciples. James and his brother John He called
"Boanerges"--"Sons of Thunder", Mark 3:17. Simon, He permanently
surnamed "Peter"__(Greek,"Petros") literally, "A 'small' stone",
while referring to Himself as "this Stone--(Greek, "Petra")
literally, "A gigantic boulder", and a certain Joses was nicknamed
by the disciples "Barnabas"--"Son of Consolation" when he made a
large monetary gift for the support of the early church (Acts
In the pronunciation of the Alexandrian Jews, the word Jeshua,
or Joshua (Neh. 8:17) was altered into Jesus. Hence 'Jesus' is
read for Joshua in the Greek of the New Testament and retained in
the King James Version in Acts 7:45 and Heb. 4:8, margin.
Joshua, by his work and the meaning of his name, is a type of
Jesus. Literal Israel was led into the land of promise, not by
Moses, whose name means "drawn" (Ex. 2:10, margin), but by Joshua.
Joshua encouraged Israel to possess the land, saying "Jehovah is
with us" (Num. 14:9). So, spiritual Israel is led into the eternal
Canaan by Jesus, "Jehovah Saviour".
Jesus is also referred to by a number of symbolic names used
throughout Scripture. For a few examples, He is the "Seed of the
Woman" (Gen. 3:15), "Shiloh"--"Whose it Belongs" (Gen. 49:10), the
"Branch of David" (Isa. 4:2), "Messiah, the Prince" (Dan. 9:25),
"Michael--'One Like God', your Prince" (Dan.10:21), ["Christ", and
"Messiah", are Greek and Hebrew, respectively, for "Anointed One",
(Mt. 1:16, margin)], the creative "Word" of God (John 1:1), "Son
of Man" (Mt. 8:20), and as the "Stone" (Mt. 21:44), "Cornerstone"
(1 Pet. 2:6), or "Rock" (1 Cor. 10:4).
In Rev. 12:7-9, besides Michael, the representative of God's
authority, we find the names used to designate the great fallen
foe, the opposer of God and man, Satan, the "Adversary" , or
"Enemy" (Zech.3:1, margin). Satan's heavenly name, "Lucifer"
(Isaiah 14:12, margin), meant "Day Star", "Light Bearer", or
literally, "Lumens Ferry". Scientists use the term, "lumens" to
describe the strength of a light source, and we all know what a
"ferry"-boat is for. The word "devil", means "Slanderer", or
"Accuser" (Rev, 12:10-12), and the symbolic names, "dragon" and
"lion" (1 Pet. 5:8) suggest his ravenous desire to devour the
saints of God. When designated as the "serpent", his cunning
craftiness and deceptive powers are referred to.
All Hebrew names beginning or ending with "El" have meanings
linking them with God. (Even the word, "God", in the Hebrew,
"Eloim", actually a plural, literally translates as "Gods" in the
same way that several "strands" make one "rope".) For example,
Elimelech, "God is King"; Daniel, "God is my Judge"; Ezekiel, "the
Strength of God"; Immanuel, "With Us is God", and Elijah, "God is
Yahweh (or Jehovah)". Names beginning or ending with "iah",or
"Jah", are also names of God: Isaiah, literally, "Jeshaiah", means
"Jehovah has Saved", and Jeremiah, "Jehovah Shall Arise".
We are expecting someday to enter the New Jerusalem in heaven
as our new and permanent home. The name, Jerusalem, (a plural
word) means "Foundations of Peace". The original name of the city
was "Salem" (Gen. 14:18), like "Shalom", meaning "Peace". In Heb.
7:1-2 Paul makes a play upon the meanings of the names of
Melchisedec and Salem: "For this Melchisedec, king of
Salem...first being by interpretation King of Righteousness, and
after that also King of Salem. which is, King of Peace."
Melchisedec is definitely stated in the Scriptures to be a type of
Jesus, having no beginning or end, (also Ps. 110:4) and Jerusalem,
the city of the "Prince of Peace" (Isa. 9:6), is presented in the
Revelation as the seat of the Messiah's spiritual kingdom,
spiritual Israel--the Church, and also the capital of the eternal
Throughout Scripture, Jerusalem, the city of peace, is
presented as the center of the great controversy between the
forces of good and evil--between the principles which are the
foundation for everlasting peace and the principles which create
strife, death, and destruction. The names written on the twelve
gates of this city are "the names of the twelve tribes of the
children of Israel", Rev. 21:12, and, like Melchisedec, spiritual
Israelites are said to be "kings and priests" (Rev. 1:6; 5:10;
God recorded details associated with the giving of the names
of Jacob's sons, and pointed out why they were called by their
respective names. Because these names are mentioned in the book of
Revelation where the completion of the work of God on earth is
brought to view--the sealing "of all the tribes of the children of
Israel" (Rev, 7:1-8)--these names and their meanings are especially
meaningful to the remnant church.
The order in which the names of the tribes of the children of
Israel are given in Rev. 7 is also significant. They are not given
in the order of their birth. Setting out the names in the order in
which they are given in Rev. 7, we see that in this arrangement of
the names according to their meanings and not according to their
order of birth, we have a sort of acrostic that reveals God's
message of assurance to those who are to be finally and forever
sealed among the tribes of Spiritual Israel.
(Read the meanings down as a connected sentence.)
Rev. 7:5 Judah......"Praise" (All the gates of the New Jerusalem
are primarily named "Praise", Isa. 60:18.)
Reuben....."Behold a son" (John 1:12; Rom. 8:14-17,etc.)
Gad........"A company" (Rev. 7:9; 19:1-6, etc.)
of sons, redeemed and...
v.6 Aser........"Happy" (John 13:17; 16:33, etc.)
Nepthalim..."Wrestling" (Gen. 32:24-30, etc.)
Manasses...."Forgetting" (Phil. 3:13; Isa. 65:17, etc.)
self, and the past...
v.7 Simeon......"Hearing" (1 Sam. 3:10, "Speak, Lord, for
Thy servant heareth".)
God's word, and...
Levi........"Joined" (John 15:1-7; Acts 2:47, etc.)
to God and the Church as...
Issachar...."Hired Servant(s)" (Rom. 6:16-22, etc.)
doing His will, and...
v.7 Zabulon....."Dwelling With" (Ps. 91:1; Isa. 33:14, etc.)
Joseph......"Added", or "Accumulating" (2 Pet. 1:2,5-7)
sanctification, and fruitfulness in
Benjamin...."Son(s) of the right hand" into fellowship
to make up the number of the 144,000.
(no longer "sons of sorrow", without hope
and without God in the world, Eph. 2:12).
All Christians are, in a sense, 'junior behavioral scientists'
in that we are constantly seeking to present the truths of God
and His Word in such a way as to have the greatest influence upon
the minds of others so as to lead them into the path leading to
eternal life. As we consider the characteristics of each of the
twelve tribes, it is likely that we may find our own selves
portrayed therein. This can be valuable knowledge to us now in
this preparation time, because as we become more and more able to
clearly identify our strengths and weaknesses we will be more able
to discern the devil approaching us through those weak points and
guard them. We will also be able to emphasize our strong points
most aggressively and efficiently for the glory of the Lord. There
is very great personal satisfaction and joy in the knowledge that
we are being useful to our Lord, the King, in a concrete way.
As it turns out, the very names of the twelve tribes say something
about the character of those people and of the God they serve.
Scripture also often indicates that these character traits
manifest themselves differently depending on one's converted or
Most of what is commonly known among laymen these days about
personality and temperament comes from the writings of medieval
Greek and Latin physiologists who believed that the conditions of
the body and mind, described as sanguine, phlegmatic, choleric (or
bilious), and melancholic, were produced by an excess of one of
the four corresponding bodily humors; blood, phlegm, bile, and
lymph. These body fluids were formerly considered responsible for
one's health and disposition. Surely you have heard of someone
being described as being in good or bad humor lately, and we say
that a witty or cheerful person is humorous. An excess of blood
(Latin-'sangre') made sanguines red-faced and jolly
(notwithstanding the possible effects of indulgence in alcohol).
An excess of phlegm certainly must have been the reason
phlegmatics were so slow, and in the King James Version in Dan.
8:7 the he-goat "was moved with choler (anger) against" the ram.
Evidently he had an excess of bile, or was "bilious". And of
course, melancholics had an excess of clear lymph fluid, which
caused them to shed so many tears all the time. Whether they were
happy or sad, they were always crying.
As of late, some would-be Christian (even SDA) behavioural
scientist-therapists have tacked some new names onto these old
medieval theories. Instead of being characterized as sanguine, one
might be described as a "spring", or "bright colors" person, or as
an "otter" personality. Instead of phlegmatic, you might be a
"summer", or "soft colors" person, or a "Golden Retriever"
personality. Rather than choleric, you would be characterized as
an "autumn", or "earth colors" person, or as a "lion" personality,
and instead of a melancholy attitude, one is described as (of
course) a "winter" person (naturally, its the only other season
left), or "contrast colors" person, or as a "beaver" personality.
(Personally, I have to strain to make that last connection!)
It seems that the intent of these modern-day teachers is at least
to inspire us to celebrate our own individuality instead of
feeling sorry for our shortcomings, while avoiding conflict with
those of other emotional make-ups. This is a worthy motive, but
the more useful of these teachers will point out that Jesus
manifested all of the four temperaments in an appropriate manner,
at the appropriate times. This shows a higher conception of our
purpose and responsibility to reflect the image of Jesus fully
during our time on this earth, but these conceptions, as useful as
they may be, still fall far short of the breadth of diversity that
God has ordained should exist among humankind. "...we are made a
spectacle to the world, and to angels, and to men" ( 1 Cor. 4:9).
It takes more than only four temperaments, or personalities, among
humans, to reveal the true and complete character of God to the
To worldly observers, and those who are under their limiting
influence, it appears that the four types of temperament, as they
are traditionally understood, are sufficient to explain all the
ins-and-outs of human nature and behavior, and an attempt to use a
more complex line of reasoning to stratify and classify behavior
might seem redundant and pedantic, and involve a considerable
amount of overlapping behavioural characteristics. However, God
sees not as man sees, and upon investigation of the Eternal Word,
man can be enabled to understand God's perspective on mankind and
begin to think His thoughts after Him.
It may be quite surprising to discover that the characters of the
twelve tribes really don't overlap very much at all! It is the
earnest hope of this writer that the simple analysis presented
here will aid many of God's people to accurately identify the
gifts, or "tools for ministry" that God has given them so that
they will be able to feel confident and assured in the possession
of precious and valuable talents which they may use to trade with
for the Master's glory.
Consider how these various characters, personalities, or
temperaments might manifest themselves in your local church
1. Reuben: "See, a son". Should have been a manly example of
self-control and leadership. When unconverted, Reubenites are
wishy-washy, lacking in firmness and resolution and easily
influenced to act contrary to their own conscience. Often make
promises that aren't carried out. Takes the path of least
resistance. Indecisive, lukewarm, and complacent. But on the
positive side: is kindly, accommodating, and has many good
intentions. Tends to soften whoever they contact with, like water
usually does, which could be good or bad depending on
circumstances. These people need the external pressure of a
serious crisis to lead them to examine themselves, and clearly
understand their sinful self-complacency and weakness. If they
turn to God in their distress, He will give them a new character;
firm resolution and strength of decision, especially to be able to
refuse temptations to evil that they used to fall for so easily.
They are "watery" until a "fire" is turned on under them, which
converts them into powerful "steam engines" for doing good. E.G.
White uses more negative terms to describe this tribe than any
other, but when (or if) the turnaround occurs, it is also the most
dramatic of any other tribe. Judges 5:16 describes such an
2. Simeon: "hearing". When unconverted, Simeonites have
strong passions and are fearless, but also are sensual and
self-indulgent. The greatest single identifying characteristic of
this tribe seems to be their great physical energy which could be
bad or good, once again, depending on circumstances. Though the
name means "hearing" they seem to have a hard time listening to
anybody. Have you ever met someone like that? Whatever it is, they
want to do it now, immediately-if-not-sooner! These "irresistible
force" people, though unstoppable, however, can be rather easily
"deflected" or "steered." But if not governed in some way, they
can get into big trouble! Jacob's son was guilty of mass-murder at
Shechem, and the tribe was guilty of lust and sensuality at
Baal-Peor. Jacob's "blessing" of the tribe in Genesis 49 was
certainly nothing to covet after, and Moses in Deuteronomy 33
omitted mention of them at all. The blessing was given to one of
Joseph's sons instead. With all this negative against them one
wonders how any of them could ever be accepted in through the
gates of the Holy City of God. Nothing positive is said about the
tribe as such in all of Scripture.
This problem of the Simeonite's getting into the Kingdom was a
real "stumper" until it was discovered that the Greek term for
"hearing" is pronounced "Simon" or "Simeon" (Acts 15:14, KJV).
Perhaps the connection between the impetuous, self-assertive Simon
Peter and the tribe of Simeon can be seen. He was quick with both
his mouth and his sword before he was converted. But after his
conversion experience, Peter was able to control his strong
passions and be humble, and was called to strengthen his brethren
and feed the lambs. Proper feeding strengthens the young.
In the Apocrypha, Judith, a Simeonite, fearlessly delivered
Israel. The aged Simeon in the temple fearlessly interrupted the
"astonished" priest (The Desire of Ages, 55) to prophesy
concerning Christ, mentioning a sword, and humbly accepted God's
will for his own death, as did Peter himself many years later.
3. Levi: "joining". When joined with Simeon manifested evil
cruelty and a callous disregard for life while thinking it was his
duty. (Judges 19). But when the tribe saw their duty to join with
Moses on God's side they did some good (Ex. 32), not being afraid
to do callousing and unpleasant work if it was a duty for God. As
teachers, the Levites were to join Israel to their God. Their duty
was to assist the priests and act as missionary-teachers.
Barnabas, a Levite, (Acts 4:36), sold his earthly property to
become a missionary. His sense of duty made him stand firm in a
crisis situation (against the apostle Paul) about teaching young
John Mark how to be a missionary. As Levite leaders, Moses was
God's firm administrator faithful to his duty (Hebrews 3:5), and
Aaron, after failing to understand one duty, later firmly
restrained his grief at the loss of his two sons in order to help
teach God's lesson to Israel. Miriam was also a teacher-leader in
singing God's praises. Faithfulness to perceived duty seems to be
a hallmark here. (How necessary for our young people to be taught
about faithfulness to duty for God now!)
4. Judah: "Praise." This son of Jacob, and his tribe in
general valued honesty, fidelity, strict integrity, righteousness,
and loyalty to God. In the home life he could be counted on and
trusted in with confidence during times of perplexity. God dealt
with unrighteousness in two of Judah's sons with severity, and
when outwitted by his daughter-in-law, Tamar, he noted the
superior quality of her righteousness (Genesis 38:26).
Interestingly, this story of Judah's lapse is placed in the midst
of the story of Joseph, just before he successfully resists
Potiphar's wife. A strong rebuke to Judah. Judites known for their
righteousness are Caleb, David and other faithful kings, Daniel
and his three friends, and of course, Jesus "the lion of the tribe
of Judah." The term, "Jew", came into use during the period of the
captivity in Babylon as a shortened form of "Judah", meaning the
southern kingdom of the divided Israel as a whole.
5. Naphtali: "wrestling". Jacob's blessing of this tribe
compared them to a loosed female deer (Genesis 49:21). These
people seem to be continually wrestling between self-preservation
and self-sacrifice, reflecting the contention and competition
between the two motives. These ones are naturally somewhat timid,
nervous, sensitive, retiring, fearful and wary of danger (which is
not all bad). But on the positive side, the Naphtalite's wary
nature helps them to discern spirits readily (1 Cor. 12:10). They
are generous, able to give a "goodly word," to be a comforter, a
counselor, and a loyal friend and helper. Their carefree,
happy-go-lucky, sometimes even comical attitude lightens the
burdens of those of whom they associate with, but they don't
usually bear heavy responsibilities well themselves. No one would
attempt to strap a donkey's burden on a deer!
However, they are willing to do dirty work if duty (especially to
God) requires it, and to be persevering, determined, and
self-sacrificing. Moses, in Deuteronomy 33, observed that these
seek for, and are content with, favor and approval from God (and
man) rather than fame (Judges 4:9), or riches (Judges 5:19). They
also love nature and nature's God, and love music and the praises
Barak, the only prominent leader of this tribe, seemed to be a
rather dependent sort himself, not being too proud to let a woman
lead, recognizing and honoring Deborah's office as God's chosen
spokeswoman (a position quite similar to that of Mrs. Ellen G.
Gad: "a troop". The character of the tribe was throughout fierce
and warlike. Fearless, steadfast, firm, unwavering, each one was
as courageous as a "troop" collectively, all by himself!
Distinguished Gadites were Barzillai, a friend of king David, who
was a warrior-king, and Jepthah, the leader of a marauding band,
who, when called to God's service showed an intimate knowledge of
God's dealings with Israel and the surrounding nations, and he had
great zeal for God's glory, and firmness about keeping his word.
Elijah, probably the best known Gadite, was ready and unafraid at
God's command to walk in on and confront the apostate wicked king
Ahab, oppose the whole nation alone, and slay by his own hand
eight hundred and fifty prophets and priests of Baal. He also
rebuked King Ahaziah, (2 Kings 1) prophesying his death.
Chosen as God's unflinching spokesman to pronounce judgment upon
kings, and to singehandedly manage the worst national crisis up to
that time, it is indeed profound to consider that Elijah's spirit
and power will be manifested by the entire last generation of the
faithful who are to carry God's last-day, judgment-hour message to
the whole world!
7. Asher: "happy". Here is a tribe of people of a
considerably more amiable disposition. Not very aggressive, but
firmly founded in trust in God and strength from God. These are
able to appear to easily step over, or pass smoothly through,
rough difficulties. Possessing divine fortitude and inner
strength, they are able to bear heavy trials without complaining.
They are also able to encourage others in trials and manifest more
than ordinary humility and reverence for God.
Asherites bore mocking and insult from friends in order to
reconsecrate themselves to God (2 Chronicles 30:10-11), and Anna,
the prophetess, served God devotedly in the temple with fastings
and prayers (Luke 2:36-38).
8. Issachar: "hire". These people are great burden bearers.
Their meek and quiet spirits enjoy patient, self-sacrificing toil
in the service of others. They are willing to work hard now to
enjoy a more complete rest later, especially if the rest provided
is more for the benefit of others. These ones are very hardy and
laborious, enjoying to do the "dirty work", and delighting to bear
what others consider heavy responsibilities. Issacharites are able
to discern what kind of work needs to be done in order to
accomplish a certain goal, and they are very good at planning and
executing that work. They are persistent toward the goal, and will
be determined to move steadily forward in the face of opposition
or difficulties. They may not move things along quickly, but they
are unstoppable and undeflectable, keeping the goal, and the rest
for others that lies beyond it clearly in focus.
The "great woman of Shunem" (2 Kings 4:8) worked hard in order to
provide rest to God's servants. Tola (Judges 10:1), gave Israel
rest under his rule. Issacharites are in fact so willing to serve
others that they can easily be made to serve the cause of evil!
But when converted, they will begin to serve God immediately, even
though some things still need to be worked out.
9. Zebulun: "Dwelling". Literally, "Being with," or "united,"
but not quite in the same sense as Levi's "joined." These people
seem to be blessed with above average intelligence and may be good
at business, arts, or literature. They are the quiet thinker
type; hospitable, cordial, maybe a little formal, but able to meet
strangers easily and build friendships. They have a love of
system, order, and uniformity while allowing for "artistically
systematized" variety. They are loyal, dutiful, and pay careful
attention to detail, and are generally retiring and keep a low
profile, unless a crisis arises, then they are willing to risk
all, even overkill preparations (1 Chronicles 12:33), in order to
insure the victory beyond all possibility of defeat, and to
restore harmony and unity. Similar to Naphtali, they prefer to be
part of a group and have a determined "victory or death" attitude
in an emergency (Judges 5:18).
10. Joseph: "Adding". He has the well-earned privilege of
having the name of one of his sons added above a gate on the New
Jerusalem in addition to his own. Similar to his brother Judah,
Joseph valued strict integrity, honesty, and sincerity. Being
raised as his father's "pet" though, he was in danger of becoming
prideful and arrogant, but humility came as an acquired attribute
as he became able to discern God's hand in his trials and adverse
situations. Then he exhibited a noble self-discipline based on
zeal for God's honor. Joseph harbored no resentment toward his
brothers for the evil treatment he received from them, and other
members of this tribe will also, by means of Godly faith and trust
(more than by rigorous Levitical self-discipline), be able to keep
cool when opposed or oppressed.
11. Benjamin: "Son of the right hand," was originally named
Ben-o-ni by his mother which means "Son of my sorrow", which aptly
describes the unconverted Benjamite nature. The tribe was famous
for being ambidextrous and left-handed, and had notable eye-hand
coordination. (Judges 20:16). When unconverted, the tribe was
compared to a ravening wolf, a fierce predator that is most
efficient at causing sorrow when it runs in a "pack." Right or
wrong (usually), the Benjamites stuck together. Similar to Gad and
Dan, they were self-willed, arrogant, proud, rapacious, warlike,
revengeful, sullen, petulant, quick-tempered, and deceptive. They
were almost exterminated in a civil war that they themselves
caused (Judges 20), and probably the most outstanding example of
wolflike behavior was that of king Saul in his relentless pursuit
and cruelty toward David.
All this looks pretty bad for Benjamites today, but when
converted, the same forcefulness of character is used to benefit,
help, aid, and particularly, to shield and protect others. The
"pack attack" attitude is also replaced by an independent
humility. Examples: Ehud (Judges 3), delivered and judged Israel.
Mordecai (in the book of Esther), became the king's "man of my
right-hand", as he shielded and protected Esther, the king, and
all the Jewish nation from a universal death decree.
Benjamin's relationship to Jesus as a type of Christ's human
experience is marked. Both were born in Bethlehem (Gen. 35:16-19),
originally as "a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief" (Isa.
53:3), and afterward to sit "on the right hand of the throne of
the Majesty in the heavens" (Heb.8:1). Thus both names given to
Benjamin--the "son of sorrow", and the "son of the right hand"--
apply to Jesus.
The apostle Paul, undeniably God's "right-hand-man" during the
first century of the Christian Church, turned from fierce
persecutor to ambassador for Christ to the Gentile world, ready
and willing to endure all manner of persecutions and privations
that others may hear of the good news of God's shielding and
protecting power against eternal death. Incidentally, he caught
some of his converts with "craft" and "guile." (2 Corinthians
12. Manasseh: "Forgetting", in the sense of the troubles of
the past. Usually meek, mild-mannered, flexible, humble,
conciliatory, and unobtrusive, Manassites do not seem very
intellectual, calculating, or far-sighted regarding cause/effect
relationships. Perhaps this is the reason they do not generally
seek leadership roles, however, they are quite zealous for God's
cause and if the needs of the cause clearly require it they will
readily come out of the shadows of their traditional supporting
roles and aggressively prosecute the work. The most notable
character in Scripture from this tribe was Gideon (Judges 6), who
although seemed to need quite a bit of coaxing in order to get him
going, once convinced that God was right there with him to hold
him up, plunged boldly ahead to fulfill God's will.
The Lost Tribes
Both tribes were powerful and numerous, but though they were living
in the same environment as the other tribes, failed to perfect a Christian
Ephraim: "fruitful". This tribe bore plenty of fruit, but
unfortunately, it wasn't good. They had a great desire for fame,
wealth, and pleasure, and were lacking in faith that God's cause
would be victorious. They were sensitive, suspicious, envious, and
jealous when others seemed to be given preferential treatment, or
had more blessings or possessions. They often felt slighted,
ignored, unrecognized, and unhonored. They were haughty, arrogant,
covetous, and idolatrous (same thing, Eph. 5:5). They did not
really appreciate the things of God or the companionship of God's
people, and they allowed themselves to become mixed with worldly
people and interests, diluted in their religious experience, and
finally were characterized as "a cake not turned" (Hosea 7:8), or
"half-baked", so to speak.
As a tribe, the name of Ephraim will not appear above one of the
gates of the Holy City, the New Jerusalem, but fortunately we are
not saved in groups and there are recorded in the Scripture
records some Ephraimites who were a blessing to others, namely
Joshua, Samuel, and a certain unnamed benevolent Ephraimite in
Dan: "judging". This lost tribe was articulate, artistic,
intellectual, and discerning, which fitted them for their calling
as God's judges for the nation, but sadly, they were also
attracted toward wealth, self-indulgence, and idolatry (Judges
18:31). They used their discerning powers for faultfinding rather
than looking for the good in others. They were sly, backbiting,
and cruel (Judges 17 & 18). Wise as a serpent, and just as deadly,
they were characterized as a young lion leaping out from an unseen
hiding place upon his victim. (Genesis 49:16-17; Deuteronomy
The only noted (or notorious) Danite in the Scriptures is Samson.
Chosen as God's judge and deliverer of his nation, his violent,
uncontrolled passions and lusts only got him in a lot of trouble,
and eventually cost him his life (Judges 13-16).
The name which God will give to each of the redeemed will convey
to each person God's knowledge of his character, "...a new name
written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it" (Rev.
2:17). Also, the redeemed will bear names which will designate
them as belonging exclusively to God. "Him that overcometh...I
will write upon him the name of My God, and the name of the city
of My God, which is New Jerusalem...and I will write upon him My
new name." (Rev. 3:12).
These character names were "written in the book of life from the
foundation of the world." (Rev. 17:8). Each one must permit God
to fit him to obtain the character expressed in the meaning of the
"new name." God does not predestinate persons, but He does
predestinate Character. The privilege that each of us has is to
co-operate with God in obtaining the character which He has
predestinated to measure up to the meaning of the name written for
us in the book of life from the beginning of the world. Amen!