Who's In, Who's Out?
Today's reflection has been written by Daniel D. Maurer.
In today's Narrative Lectionary Daily Reading, we read where 144,000 will be "sealed" with a "mark" upon their foreheads.
In my humble estimation, this is nothing more than metaphorical language which was common in that day for writers to use with apocalyptic literature. The number 144,000 is a 12x12 of a thousand, which in the numerology that is so important within this genre of biblical literature means "lots and lots of a perfect number (12) of people."
What's more interesting (and more relevant to us) within this reading is that those who will be saved from the wrath that is yet to come will be "set aside." For someone who just lost their best friend to be dipped in a vat of boiling oil (yes, this and much worse happened)
I should mention, though, that new scholarship doesn't view the Book of Revelation in this way at all!! A new theory is that it was written against Christian communities who wanted to make accommodations with the popular culture at the time! Intriguing for sure. More to come.
Whatever it meant at that time, what we have is now. What does it mean for us now? Well, God is in control and their is hope! (And, also, there's lots of fascinating and sometimes beautiful imagery and poetry.)
Narrative Lectionary Text
The 144,000 of Israel Sealed
After this I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds of the earth so that no wind could blow on earth or sea or against any tree. I saw another angel ascending from the rising of the sun, having the seal of the living God, and he called with a loud voice to the four angels who had been given power to damage earth and sea, saying, ‘Do not damage the earth or the sea or the trees, until we have marked the servants of our God with a seal on their foreheads.’
And I heard the number of those who were sealed, one hundred and forty-four thousand, sealed out of every tribe of the people of Israel: From the tribe of Judah twelve thousand sealed, from the tribe of Reuben twelve thousand, from the tribe of Gad twelve thousand, from the tribe of Asher twelve thousand,from the tribe of Naphtali twelve thousand,from the tribe of Manasseh twelve thousand, from the tribe of Simeon twelve thousand, from the tribe of Levi twelve thousand, from the tribe of Issachar twelve thousand, from the tribe of Zebulun twelve thousand, from the tribe of Joseph twelve thousand, from the tribe of Benjamin twelve thousand sealed.