Thursday, December 13, 2018

The Numbers 12, 24 and 144 in Revelation

John loves numbers. He uses many numbers in the book of Revelation. The number 7 is most popular not just representing entities like churches but also as a structural device like the series of 7 seals 7 trumpets and 7 bowls. But other numbers are important too and we will look at how John uses the number 12 as multiplication of the said number. In his famous last vision of the new Jerusalem John sees a city with 12 walls on 12 foundations. At the walls are 12 gates. The dimensions of the city are also all in 12 for it is a cube with the same height, width, breadth and length.
It is 12,000 stadia each way, making it 144,000,000 stadia square (Rev 21:16). The size of its walls is 144,000 cubits (Rev 21:17). The city is God’s dwelling where God dwells among His people. Previously at Rev 7, John uses the number 12 to depict God’s chosen people. There are 12,000 from each of the 12 tribes of Israel making a total of 144,000. This number matches the size of the new Jerusalem as if John is saying God’s city consists of God’s people and the focus of the city is God’s people and not external beauty as much as it is thus described. In heaven we have 24 elders probably representing God’s people in both the OT and NT eras just as the names of 12 tribes of Israel are on the gates of the new city and the names of the 12 apostles are written on the foundations, making 24 names representing God’s people throughout the ages. Interestingly, Paul says in Ephesians that the church is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets (Eph 2:20).

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