My Scripture Studies
Seek God. Engage with His voice in the Bible and start in the beginning.

January 15, 2009

The Four Ensigns

In my Scripture studies I found I had a question: Who are the four noted in Revelation 4:7 seen surrounding the throne of God?

Here is a quote from one of the greatest minds ever. It is from the Scripture student Sir Issac Newton. This time his writing about the Lion, the Man, the Ox and the Eagle found in the Bible:

"And in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, were four Beasts full of eyes before and behind: that is, one Beast before the throne and one behind it, appeared to John as in the midst of the throne, and one on either side in the circle about it, to represent by the multitude of their eyes the people standing in the four sides of the peoples court. 
And the first Beast was like a lion, and the second was like a calf, and the third had the face of a man, and the fourth was like a flying eagle. The People of Israel in the wilderness encamped round about the Tabernacle, and on the east side were three tribes under the standard of Judah, on the west were three tribes under the standard of Ephraim, on the south were three tribes under the standard of Reuben, and on the north were three tribes under the standard of Dan."

And the standard of Judah was a Lion, that of Ephraim an Ox, that of Reuben a Man, and that of Dan an Eagle. Whence were framed the hieroglyphics, of Cherubims and Seraphims, whose wings and many eyes represent the people of Israel. A Cherubim had one body with four faces, the faces of a Lion, an Ox, a Man, and an Eagle, looking to the four winds of heaven, without turning about, as in Ezekiel’s vision, chap. i. And four Seraphims had the same four faces with four bodies, one face to every body."
There is no direct Biblical witness to tell us much about these graphic images, the symbols or ensigns on the banners of Judah, Ephraim, Reuben and Dan. They are described in Numbers 2, They represented the whole camp of Israel as a lion, a calf, a man and a flying eagle, the four cherubic symbols.

Newton picked up his reference from the Talmud. He likely referenced Talmudic commentary from Abraham ben Meir Ibn Ezra aka Aben-Ezra who wrote 600 years earlier that the ensign or standard of Dan was the picture of an eagle. In 1878, Joseph Barclay, an Anglican Bishop in Jerusalem published his translation of the Talmud's primary text of the Mishna, it included a commentary on the Tabernacle stating:

"Aben Ezra and Ramban, repeating the old tradition, say, there were figures on every standard. On the standard of Reuben was the picture of a man. On the standard of Judah the picture of a lion. On the standard of Ephraim the picture of an ox. And on the standard of Dan the picture of an eagle. So that they were like the Cherubim which the prophet Ezekiel saw."

Unger's Bible Dictionary from Moody Press, 1966 picked up on the same imagery musing Ahiezer, the head of Dan's family during the first exodus included an eagle with a serpent in its mouth as the ensign. 

Jacob prophesied over his sone Dan that he would be The eagle does not always provide a glorious symbol in scripture. Check our Ezekiel 17:1-10, there one eagle is exalted, another planted a cedar of Lebanon that withered and The Lord told Ezekiel:

"Say now to the rebellious house, Know you not know what these things mean?"

Newton, the great mathematician goes on to explain his perspective on the significance of the ensigns...
"The four Beasts are therefore four Seraphims standing in the four sides of the peoples court; the first in the eastern side with the head of a Lion, the second in the western side with the head of an Ox, the third in the southern side with the head of a Man, the fourth in the northern side with the head of an Eagle: and all four signify together the twelve tribes of Israel, out of whom the hundred forty and four thousand were sealed, And the four Beasts had each of them six wings, two to a tribe, in all twenty and four wings, answering to the twenty and four stations of the people. And they were full of eyes within, or under their wings. And they rest not day and night, or at the morning and evening-sacrifices, saying, holy, holy, holy Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.

These animals are therefore the Seraphims, which appeared to Isaiah in a vision like this of the Apocalypse [Isa. vi.]. For there also the Lord sat upon a throne in the temple; and the Seraphims each with six wings cried, Holy, holy, holy Lord God of hosts. And when those animals give glory and honour and thanks to him that sitteth upon the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, the four and twenty Elders go into the Temple, and there fall down before him that sitteth on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.

At the morning and evening-sacrifices, so soon as the sacrifice was laid upon the Altar, and the drink-offering began to be poured out, the trumpets sounded, and the Levites sang by course three times; and every time when the trumpets sounded, the people fell down and worshiped. Three times therefore did the people worship: to express which number, the Beasts cry Holy, holy, holy; and the song being ended, the people prayed standing, till the solemnity was finished. In the mean time the Priests went into the Temple, and there fell down before him that sat upon the throne, and worshiped."
Newton, perhaps one of the finest scientific minds of all time is best known today as the man that "discovered gravity." I m not sure if that story is true or not. Perhaps, he is better known for his experiment for the fracture of visible light into the seven color spectrum, but the truth is he spent most of his time studying and writing about the Scriptures.

Newton's book, Observations upon the Prophecies of Daniel, and the Apocalypse of St. John (1733) was only published after his death by Newton's nephew, Benjamin Smith. I think it's possible that Newton found it to much easier to work on the infinite numerations of calculus than he did in completing his own study of these two small prophetic books.

Newton is well known for his scientific discoveries on motion and matter as well as mathematics, but his genuine focus was on Scripture study and recording his thoughts on a literal Biblical interpretation. He had an intense desire to understand God's word. You can find all his writing on the Bible, math and science at The Newton Project.

Because of his intense desire to read the Scriptures, Newton became fluent in Hebrew, the reason is that Sir Isaac wanted to study the Bible without the influence of a translator's pen.

In his work, Observations upon the Prophecies of Daniel, and the Apocalypse of St. John, Newton explained his view of the timelines of Messiah shown in Daniel that speak of two comings of The Anointed Messiah. I think he understood the ensigns as the character of Messiah.

Newton writes:
"Know also and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to cause to return and to build Jerusalem, unto the Anointed the Prince, shall be seven weeks. The former part of the Prophecy related to the first coming of Christ, being dated to his coming as a Prophet ; this being dated to his coming to be Prince or King, seems to relate to his second coming. There, the Prophet, was consummate, and the most holy anointed : here, he that was anointed comes to be Prince and to reign. For Daniel's prophecies reach to the end of the world ; and there is scarce a prophecy in the Old Testament concerning Christ, which doth not in something or other relate to his second coming."
There's much more to learn from Sir Isaac Newton than an apple falling from a tree.

He may have missed the mark on his understanding of historic events since we now know he did not live at the time of the end as he thought, or perhaps he did.

After all in Bible time, he is not far removed from today. Newton wrote his studies just 300 years ago, so you may want to read his book Observations upon the Prophecies of Daniel, and the Apocalypse of St. John.

I encourage you to study pages 128-143. They describe Newton's view. Newton wrote that the return of Messiah will tie to a Jubilee Year with a connection to a restoration of the sanctuary of God at The Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem.

I believe he got this right and who knows he may have used calculus to verify his position. Newton states that if one applies the words of Daniel only to the first coming, it does violence to the words of Daniel:
"so the interpretation here given is more full and complete and adequate to the design, than if we should restrain it to his first coming only, as Interpreters usually do. We avoid also the doing violence to the language of DANIEL, by taking the seven weeks and sixty two weeks for one number. Had that been DANIEL'S meaning, he would have said sixty and nine weeks, and not seven weeks and sixty two weeks, a way of numbering used by no nation."
Newton's reflections included the living creatures of Ezekiel 1:10; Ezekiel 10:14 and Revelation 4:7 and his focus on them has helped peak my own interest to study the prophets of old.

I have begun to learn that the ensigns of the four living creatures on each side of the Tabernacle show us the attributes of our Savior and Messiah:

There's the face of a suffering servant, the Messiah.
The face of a lion of His leadership and power.
The ox, His strength and determination, and finally...
 The eagle in the swift execution of heavenly judgment.

In this way, we can see that not only the ensigns around it but the heavenly design of the Tabernacle not only served as God's dwelling place on earth among His children, but we can see a crucial visual aid to give us a clearer understanding of Messiah's redemptive work on earth.

The Tabernacle gives us many precious insights about our privilege and honor as believers and followers of Messiah.

My goal in this study is to help believers learn more about this so you can share or teach it to others as well. It all started when God told Moses to count the twelve tribes of Israel.

Moses counted 603,550 men of a warrior's age and the tribe of Levi, numbering 22,300 was counted separately because the Levites replaced the firstborn to serve the Sanctuary and camp around it after the firstborn were disqualified when they sinned in the sinful celebration of the golden calf.

Beyond the Levite camp, the twelve tribes camped outside of them in four groups marked by four ensigns. The Torah portion Bemidbar במדבר "In the wilderness" describes the census of Israel's warriors and the arrangement of the 12 camps of the families encamped around the Tabernacle of God:
To the 'east' stood the ensign of the lion and the tribe of Judah (74,600), Issachar (54,400) and Zebulun (57,400); to the 'south' was the ensign of the man Reuben (46,500), Simeon (59,300) and Gad (45,650); to the 'west' stood the ensign of the ox before the camp of Ephraim (40,500), Manasseh (32,200) and Benjamin (35,400); and to the 'north' stood the eagle ensign and the tents of Dan (62,700), Asher (41,500) and Naphtali (53,400).
This formation was kept while following YHVH's pillar of fire through the desert for 40 years.

The ensigns of the four camps of Israel show us attributes of the Messiah's two trips including suffering, strength, determination and judgment. In a similar way, the four gospel writers, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are unique as all four Gospel accounts tie together to give a clearer picture of attributes of Messiah Yeshua.

These are seen in the astronomy of creation too. The mazzaroth described in Job 38:31-32 or the so-called zodiac as we have renamed it today give us the same imagery of these four ensigns.

Four is an important number.

First, we have four corners of the earth: north, south, east and west of which paint a picture of the King of all, the Messiah. Not only that, but God's creation there are four classic themes: earth, wind, fire and water.

There are also four major lunar phases each month as the moon encircles the four corners of globe. 

We have four seasons too, all governed by our planet's daily spin on its axis and its annual rotation around the Sun: spring, summer, fall and winter. These show us we cannot omit any key in our study of the Word of God. They are like the four measurements of creation that The Father spoke into existence: height, length, breadth and depth.

There are at least four levels, or depth of meaning in every storyline in Scripture. 

These are called Pardes, meaning peshat, remez, derash and sod. They too tie to the attributes of Messiah. In the historic manner of Jewish teaching and Biblical study the gospels give the lessons of Messiah in the form of peshat or direct (Luke), remez or allegory (Matthew), derash or seek (Mark) and sod or hidden (John).

Luke was a historian. He plainly describes the life of the man Yeshua in a diary-like format. Matthew hints at His Kingship as the theme of the Kingdom of God repeats over and again while Mark seeks meaning in understanding His birth, death and resurrection. Finally, John portrays the hidden or mystery of Messiah beginning in his narratives including the book of John, his letters in 1 John, 2 John 3 John as well as the graphic vision pictures in Revelation. Just check out these words:
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it." John 1:1-5
Looking at how the prophets and vision of John describe the Lion, the Man, the Ox and the flying Eagle, we know there's much to learn about the attributes of Messiah.

Back to the Tabernacle, the four ensigns of the encampments around it were: Judah - Lion, Reuben - Man , Ephraim - Ox, Dan - Eagle.

These attributes also match the prophetic descriptions of the "branch." In Hebrew, this is "tsemach."

The branch is the 'shoot' of Messiah from the Jewish root of the Davidic tree described by Jeremiah and Zechariah and...
Lion = a King
Jeremiah 23:5 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous BRANCH, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth.

Eagle = A Judge
Jeremiah 33:15 In those days, and at that time, will I cause the BRANCH of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land.

Servant = A Man
Zechariah 3:8 Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, thou, and thy fellows that sit before thee: for they are men wondered at: for, behold, I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH.

Determination = An Ox
Zechariah 6:12 And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD.
It takes determinations to build a Kingdom people. 

King Yeshua is described in Jeremiah 23:5 telling us He will one day reign in Jerusalem in the area allotted to Judah. He is the King who will return for all nations to restore to life and re-unite the Kingdom of God.

Why restore and re-unite?

Because the dividing wall of partition is cracking and it will crumble and fall. Consider the message of Ephesians 2:11-22.
"For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us."
This is the mystery of Messiah described to the Ephesians.

Today, many Christians on the four corners of the globe are returning to the Sabbath and the Feasts of the LORD that have long been a critical part of the Torah observant Jewish culture and life that has never been extinguished no matter how hard antisemitism or replacement theology has tried.

If you are still wandering and have not returned, do what Jesus did.

Almighty God's festivals have been ordained at times appointed by our Creator as the for ever Feasts of The LORD.

During Yeshua’s walk as a humble man as Messiah ben Joseph, He was fully present at every Feast, after all He fulfilled the Spring Feasts on celebrated on every Jewish calendar since the Exodus and He will fulfill the Falls Feasts at His return as King Messiah ben David.

This chart shows all the Kings including those of "Judah" in the South and of "Israel" in the North.

The chart includes the name Ishbosheth, yet the tribe of Judah rejected Ishbosheth, his name means "man of shame." His prophetic story is given in 2Samuel 2-4. Samuel even points us to the 12 disciples of King Messiah Yeshua that were also rejected by religious men:
Then there arose and went over by number twelve of Benjamin, which pertained to Ishbosheth the son of Saul, and twelve of the servants of David. 2Samuel 2:15
If we look closely, the four creatures depicted as the four ensigns connect to the 24 thrones before God described in Revelation:
And when he had taken it, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp and they were holding golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of God's people. Revelation 5:8

And the twenty-four elders, who were seated on their thrones before God, fell on their faces and worshiped God Revelation 11:16
From a unique study titled: "The Gospel of Matthew" by Chuck Missler, we can learn more about the possible design volume of the encampment from an aerial view of the census given in Scripture depicted above.

Assuming the camps were aligned east, west, north and south and in shape and census volume to the Tabernacle's dimensions, a graphic interpretation of the census in the four camps is shown in Missler's graphic based on the authorized census count of Moses.

It's worth considering.

The Lamb is the ensign of the Savior as our sacrifice for sin. The ensign of Dan was an eagle, the hunter of snakes that do not see their end.

Dan's ensign was an eagle but Jacob's blessing on Dan was to call him a snake. Yeshua came first to suffer on the stake lifted above the earth but he was despised by many. He will return like lightning from the east in a cloud of glory like a high flying eagle lifted up by the wind bringing judgment on a serpent slithering along the ground.

Perhaps, Jacob's words real the reason we do not find Dan listed in the book of Revelation among the 12 tribes of the 144,000.

Messiah's arrival is described like lightning. The thing about lightning, it always returns to its source. What comes from the east goes west yet like Messiah it returns.

Ephraim camped to the west and Ephraim was scattered like lost sheep to the west among the nations with the lost tribes, yet the Lion of the Tribe of Judah will regather Ephraim back to the east, to Jerusalem the place of God's name. Remember: "I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel." Matthew 15:24... 
"And the LORD their God shall save them in that day as the flock of his people: for they [shall be as] the stones of a crown, lifted up as an ensign upon his land." Zechariah 9:16  
Quoting the words of Messiah Yeshua:
"And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life..." John 3:14-18 
The four ensigns give us a reflection of our Savior in the midst of His people.

So, a unique perspective of the wilderness exodus camp is repeated and revealed in Revelation. The Mercy Seat is the throne is there in the middle, The four ensigns, the lion, calf, man and eagle are all there in plain sight. Even the eyes of all the Israelites and two elders of each of the 12 tribes of Israel are pictured in John's vision as they peer and look toward the Holy of Holies while worshipping and singing to The Lord. We even hear the Song of Moses and the song of the Lamb:
"And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous [are] thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true [are] thy ways, thou King of saints." Revelation 15:3
Why did John see all those eyes?

The eyes of God's children people can be seen looking for Messiah within the imagery of the camps of the ensigns surrounding and praising the eternal "one." Perhaps John heard a verse of the Song of the Lamb that points us back to creation.
And before the throne [there was] a sea of glass like unto crystal: and in the midst of the throne, and round about the throne, [were] four beasts full of eyes before and behind. And the first beast [was] like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast [was] like a flying eagle. 
And the four beasts had each of them six wings about [him]; and [they were] full of eyes within: and they rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come. And when those beasts give glory and honor and thanks to him that sat on the throne, who liveth for ever and ever, The four and twenty elders fall down before him that sat on the throne, and worship him that liveth for ever and ever, and cast their crowns before the throne, saying, Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created. Revelation 4:6

And Moses spake in the ears of all the congregation of Israel the words of this song, until they were ended. Deuteronomy 31:30

And I heard the number of them which were sealed: [and there were] sealed an hundred [and] forty [and] four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel. Of the tribe of Judah [were] sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Reuben [were] sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Gad [were] sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Asher [were] sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Nepthali [were] sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Manassah [were] sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Simeon [were] sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Levi [were] sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Issachar [were] sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Zebulon [were] sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Joseph [were] sealed twelve thousand. Of the tribe of Benjamin [were] sealed twelve thousand. 
After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. And all the angels stood round about the throne, and [about] the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshiped God, Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, [be] unto our God for ever and ever. Amen. 
And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. 
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. Revelation 7:4-17

Just like the first exodus when Israel and the sojourners with them were saved by the blood of the lamb and came out into the wilderness thirsty and hungry, they were protected by God, so it will be in the final greater exodus.

It's not just the visionary book of Revelation that harkens back to the exodus and the wilderness Tabernacle scene.

John is joined by the witness of three prophets Ezekiel, Isaiah and Zechariah. They all provide the same vision of the four ensigns on the banners of Israel.

No doubt the first century Jewish believers that recorded Messiah Yeshua's first all ministry understood Pardes and they all understood the symbol of the lion - the king is clearly represented in the Gospel of Matthew, and in Mark we see the ox - the servant, and in Luke the man - the kinsman redeemer and finally in John the eagle - the savior God that is to return from above in swift judgment like the pillar of fire.

Exodus 19:4 tells us what Almighty God has said: "I bore you on eagles' wings."

This give us a poetic and picturesque description of deliverance from sin depicted as slavery in Egypt. It also vividly portrays God's miraculous future provision.

Israel and others were delivered from the Egyptian Pharaoh's bondage, an enslavement after Jacob's family sojourn to Egypt during the days of famine when Joseph provided provision for life for everyone.

What can we conclude?

The ensigns point us toward the Messiah. He is the anointed one and the Priest King. He came first as a suffering servant and in His humanity He is our kinsman redeemer. He will return as our the Priest King from above - judging in righteousness.

The gospel writers, each with their four perspectives on the life and times of Messiah Yeshua combine to form a view of Yeshua (Jesus' Hebrew name). His salvation mission is hidden in the ensigns of the camp described in Exodus:

He is King, Servant, Man, and in the form of a man He seeks that we will live in God's Kingdom as it was in Eden.

The Revelation account describes the "Greater Exodus" promise described by Isaiah, Ezekiel and Jeremiah:
"And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth." Isaiah 11:12

"When I bring them back from the peoples and gather them from the lands of their enemies, then I shall be sanctified through them in the sight of the many nations. Then they will know that I am the Lord their God because I made them go into exile among the nations, and then gathered them again to their own land; and I will leave none of them there any longer." Ezekiel 39:27-28

"Therefore behold, the days are coming," declares the Lord, "when they will no longer say, ‘As the Lord lives, who brought up the sons of Israel from the land of Egypt,’ but, ‘As the Lord lives, who brought up and led back the descendants of the household of Israel from the north land and from all the countries where I had driven them.’ Then they will live on their own soil." Jeremiah 23:7-8
The disciple John, like the priestly prophet Ezekiel, saw the same vision of the "One" that looked like a lion, man, ox and eagle in his record of the Revelation of Yeshua.

Incredibly, Messiah Yeshua is the "One" that is described in Exodus 14:9 before the pillar of fire. He was seen as the messenger (angel) going before the camp of Israel and the whirlwind of God.

He is the "One" that like Moses will lead the Greater Exodus with a lightning bolt from the east to the west at the last trump.
The word of the LORD came expressly unto Ezekiel the priest, the son of Buzi, in the land of the Chaldeans by the river Chebar; and the hand of the LORD was there upon him. And I looked, and, behold, a whirlwind came out of the north, a great cloud, and a fire infolding itself, and a brightness [was] about it, and out of the midst thereof as the color of amber, out of the midst of the fire. 
Also out of the midst thereof [came] the likeness of four living creatures. 
And this [was] their appearance; they had the likeness of a man. And every one had four faces, and every one had four wings. And their feet [were] straight feet; and the sole of their feet [was] like the sole of a calf's foot: and they sparkled like the color of burnished brass. And [they had] the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they four had their faces and their wings. Their wings [were] joined one to another; they turned not when they went; they went every one straight forward. 
As for the likeness of their faces, the four had the face of a man, and the face of a lion, on the right side: and the four had the face of an ox on the left side; the four also had the face of an eagle. Ezekiel 1:3-10
And the first beast [was] like a lion, and the second beast like a calf, and the third beast had a face as a man, and the fourth beast [was] like a flying eagle. Revelation 4:7
The Cloud of Glory Fire

Did you also notice that Ezekiel saw the manifest presence of the glory of God, the "shechinah'?

This is the same fire that appeared as a whirlwind cloud of fire that led Israel up from Egypt through the wilderness when the Lord went before them "in a pillar of a cloud." This fire cloud was God's presence. The same God spoke to Moses through the "shechinah" fire in the burning bush.

The "shechinah" is the same whirlwind that took Elijah (2Kings 2:1-11); the same whirlwind that answered as described in Job 38; it is the same whirlwind that Paul said will raise up the dead before they go the Promised Land to meet their King:
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 1Corinthians 15:52
Ezekiel incredibly describes the fire of the amber color for us. Let's look at some references about the fiery cloud during Israel's wilderness wanderings:
And it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel; and it was a cloud and darkness [to them], but it gave light by night [to these]: so that the one came not near the other all the night. Exodus 14:20
Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter into the tent of the congregation, because the cloud abode thereon, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And when the cloud was taken up from over the tabernacle, the children of Israel went onward in all their journeys: But if the cloud were not taken up, then they journeyed not till the day that it was taken up. For the cloud of the LORD [was] upon the tabernacle by day, and fire was on it by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel, throughout all their journeys. Exodus 40:34-38
And Moses and Aaron went into the tabernacle of the congregation, and came out, and blessed the people: and the glory of the LORD appeared unto all the people. And there came a fire out from before the LORD, and consumed upon the altar the burnt offering and the fat: [which] when all the people saw, they shouted, and fell on their faces. Leviticus 9:23-24

And it came to pass, when the congregation was gathered against Moses and against Aaron, that they looked toward the tabernacle of the congregation: and, behold, the cloud covered it, and the glory of the LORD appeared. Numbers 16:42.
We also see a description of His glory, this "cloud of fire" on the Mountain of Sinai:
And the glory of the LORD abode upon mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days: and the seventh day he called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud. And the sight of the glory of the LORD [was] like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel. And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into the mount: and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights. Exodus 24:16
The Four Faces

The four faces of the beast John saw, the lion, man, ox and eagle represent the ensigns, the same banners on the standards of the tribes of Israel that are to be seen by the nations at the great regathering.

Let's look back at Moses' description:
Every man of the children of Israel shall pitch by his own standard, with the ensign of their father's house: far off about the tabernacle of the congregation shall they pitch. Numbers 2:2
Isaiah tells us that the four ensigns seen in the wilderness journey represent a future event, a regathering of all nations of peoples from all over the earth following the last blowing of the trumpet. In keeping with the requirement of two or three witnesses, the prophet Zechariah and Matthew also confirm the words of our Messiah about this amazing event.
And he shall send his angels with a great sound of His trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Matthew 23:31
Matthew 24:31 And he will lift up an ensign to the nations from far, and will hiss unto them from the end of the earth: and, behold, they shall come with speed swiftly: None shall be weary nor stumble among them; none shall slumber nor sleep; neither shall the girdle of their loins be loosed, nor the latchet of their shoes be broken: Whose arrows [are] sharp, and all their bows bent, their horses' hoofs shall be counted like flint, and their wheels like a whirlwind: Their roaring [shall be] like a lion, they shall roar like young lions: yea, they shall roar, and lay hold of the prey, and shall carry [it] away safe, and none shall deliver [it]. 
And in that day they shall roar against them like the roaring of the sea: and if [one] look unto the land, behold darkness [and] sorrow, and the light is darkened in the heavens thereof.
Isaiah 5:26-30 And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious. Isaiah 11:10 And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.

Isaiah 18:3 All ye inhabitants of the world, and dwellers on the earth, see ye, when he lifteth up an ensign on the mountains; and when he bloweth a trumpet, hear ye.
Zechariah 9:9-16 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he [is] just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off: and he shall speak peace unto the heathen: and his dominion [shall be] from sea [even] to sea, and from the river [even] to the ends of the earth. 
As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein [is] no water. Turn you to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope: even to day do I declare [that] I will render double unto thee; When I have bent Judah for me, filled the bow with Ephraim, and raised up thy sons, O Zion, against thy sons, O Greece, and made thee as the sword of a mighty man. 
And the LORD shall be seen over them, and his arrow shall go forth as the lightning: and the Lord GOD shall blow the trumpet, and shall go with whirlwinds of the south. The LORD of hosts shall defend them; and they shall devour, and subdue with sling stones; and they shall drink, [and] make a noise as through wine; and they shall be filled like bowls, [and] as the corners of the altar. And the LORD their God shall save them in that day as the flock of his people: for they [shall be as] the stones of a crown, lifted up as an ensign upon his land.  
Moses was instructed how to arrange the encampment of Israel for good reason.

The Lion of Judah on the East Side:
And on the east side toward the rising of the sun shall they of the standard of the camp of Judah pitch throughout their armies: and Nahshon the son of Amminadab [shall be] captain of the children of Judah. And his host, and those that were numbered of them, [were] threescore and fourteen thousand and six hundred. And those that do pitch next unto him [shall be] the tribe of Issachar: and Nethaneel the son of Zuar [shall be] captain of the children of Issachar. And his host, and those that were numbered thereof, [were] fifty and four thousand and four hundred. [Then] the tribe of Zebulun: and Eliab the son of Helon [shall be] captain of the children of Zebulun. And his host, and those that were numbered thereof, [were] fifty and seven thousand and four hundred. All that were numbered in the camp of Judah [were] an hundred thousand and fourscore thousand and six thousand and four hundred, throughout their armies. These shall first set forth. Numbers 2:3-9
The Man Reuben "the firstborn" on the South side:
On the south side [shall be] the standard of the camp of Reuben according to their armies: and the captain of the children of Reuben [shall be] Elizur the son of Shedeur. And his host, and those that were numbered thereof, [were] forty and six thousand and five hundred. And those which pitch by him [shall be] the tribe of Simeon: and the captain of the children of Simeon [shall be] Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai. And his host, and those that were numbered of them, [were] fifty and nine thousand and three hundred. Then the tribe of Gad: and the captain of the sons of Gad [shall be] Eliasaph the son of Reuel. And his host, and those that were numbered of them, [were] forty and five thousand and six hundred and fifty. All that were numbered in the camp of Reuben [were] an hundred thousand and fifty and one thousand and four hundred and fifty, throughout their armies. And they shall set forth in the second rank. Then the tabernacle of the congregation shall set forward with the camp of the Levites in the midst of the camp: as they encamp, so shall they set forward, every man in his place by their standards. Numbers 2:10-17
The Ox Ephraim on the West Side:
On the west side [shall be] the standard of the camp of Ephraim according to their armies: and the captain of the sons of Ephraim [shall be] Elishama the son of Ammihud. And his host, and those that were numbered of them, [were] forty thousand and five hundred. And by him [shall be] the tribe of Manasseh: and the captain of the children of Manasseh [shall be] Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur. And his host, and those that were numbered of them, [were] thirty and two thousand and two hundred. Then the tribe of Benjamin: and the captain of the sons of Benjamin [shall be] Abidan the son of Gideoni. And his host, and those that were numbered of them, [were] thirty and five thousand and four hundred. All that were numbered of the camp of Ephraim [were] an hundred thousand and eight thousand and an hundred, throughout their armies. And they shall go forward in the third rank. Numbers 2:18-24
The Eagle Dan on the North Side:
The standard of the camp of Dan [shall be] on the north side by their armies: and the captain of the children of Dan [shall be] Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai. And his host, and those that were numbered of them, [were] threescore and two thousand and seven hundred. And those that encamp by him [shall be] the tribe of Asher: and the captain of the children of Asher [shall be] Pagiel the son of Ocran. And his host, and those that were numbered of them, [were] forty and one thousand and five hundred. Then the tribe of Naphtali: and the captain of the children of Naphtali [shall be] Ahira the son of Enan. And his host, and those that were numbered of them, [were] fifty and three thousand and four hundred. All they that were numbered in the camp of Dan [were] an hundred thousand and fifty and seven thousand and six hundred. They shall go hindmost with their standards. Numbers 2:25-31
These [are] those which were numbered of the children of Israel by the house of their fathers: all those that were numbered of the camps throughout their hosts [were] six hundred thousand and three thousand and five hundred and fifty. But the Levites were not numbered among the children of Israel; as the LORD commanded Moses. And the children of Israel did according to all that the LORD commanded Moses: so they pitched by their standards, and so they set forward, every one after their families, according to the house of their fathers. Numbers 2:32-34
When we read these word we may ask ourselves why the numbering, why is that important?

Where can we find another systematic numbering of the tribes of Israel? In Revelation, John describes the four beasts and the hundred forty [and] four thousand singing the song of Moses, the song of The Lamb. It's not a new song:
And I looked, and, lo, a Lamb stood on the mount Zion, and with him an hundred forty [and] four thousand, having his Father's name written in their foreheads. And I heard a voice from heaven, as the voice of many waters, and as the voice of a great thunder: and I heard the voice of harpers harping with their harps: And they sung as it were a new song before the throne, and before the four beasts, and the elders: and no man could learn that song but the hundred [and] forty [and] four thousand, which were redeemed from the earth. Revelation 14:1-3

And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints. Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thy judgments are made manifest. Revelation 15:3-4
God's People will be Re-gathered.

The 1,000 year period between the return of Messiah at the first resurrection (Matthew 24:30, Zechariah 14:4, 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17), and the second resurrection with the time (Revelation 20:5,11-15) called the Millennium, from the Latin word "mille" meaning "thousand years" will be a very different world than has run its course from the fall in the beginning until now.

In the words of Moses it is:
When all Israel is come to appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose, thou shalt read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger that [is] within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the LORD your God, and observe to do all the words of this law: Deuteronomy 31:11
Isaiah confirms:
He will raise an ensign for the nations, and will assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. The jealousy of Ephraim shall depart, and those who harass Judah shall be cut off; Ephraim shall not be jealous of Judah, and Judah shall not harass Ephraim. Isaiah 11:12-13
And Ezekiel says:
For I will take you from the nations, and gather you from all the countries, and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. A new heart I will give you, and a new Spirit I will put within you; and I will take out of your flesh the heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes and be careful to observe my ordinances. You shall dwell in the land which I gave to your fathers; and you shall be My people, and I will be your God. Ezekiel 36:24-28
We have not seen “all Israel” restored to Torah or into the land just yet, but we are seeing Judah’s camp re-enter under an awesome banner: the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.

Today, as in the past, Judah leads. Judah’s camp was the first to cross through the Red Sea and the first to set out in the wilderness journey; he is and always was the first into battle.

This assignment remains although many confuse Judah’s banner with that of Israel’s camp despite what the prophets tell us. When we do this we can’t see the whole prophetic picture just as we can’t see the Hebrew words unless we look for them.

We know Reuben lost his firstborn right, so Reuben and his divisions must set out second from the south. Perhaps we are seeing a part of this today with the great return from Africa that began in 1991 with Operation Solomon as Ethiopia's Falash Mura tribes began their aliyah.

In the wilderness camp, Reuben, the son of Leah was followed from the west by Joseph’s son Ephraim and his divisions will set out third, they have the right of the firstborn that were given to Joseph because he was the firstborn of Rachel, Jacob’s first true love.
Genesis 28:1-4: “And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him, and said unto him, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan. Arise, go to Padan-aram, to the house of Bethuel thy mother's father; and take thee a wife from thence of the daughters of Laban thy mother's brother. And God Almighty bless thee, and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a multitude of people; And give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee, and to thy seed with thee; that thou mayest inherit the land wherein thou art a stranger, which God gave unto Abraham.”
Jacob’s marriage to both daughters of his Laban reveals many great and mysterious things that God is going to accomplish in His restoration.

When we look closely we see that Jacob and his two wives reveal God's plan of redemption for the whole world, as both Judah and Ephraim will live out the end from the beginning.

We are about to see Yeshua and his marriage to both and to those that sojourn with them.

Rachel's life and her children tell us where we have been in the past and where we are going in the future.

She was the wife of promise for Jacob. Laban promised her to Jacob but it wasn't so until after Laban made sure that Leah was being taken care of first. Rachel's life and her children is an amazing allegory about Israel. It's about their separation, about being ruled by judges, then Kings and the terrible struggle they would have. Rachel finally bore the children she always desired and this tells us even more about their future.

Her story confirms many prophecies in the Bible. She was barren as her promised children were not yet seen. Like her children Israel, she too had a problem with idols.

She is a shadow picture of the peoples that constantly had problems with worshiping the One Echad God.

This brought many problems to Israel and delayed God's promise for her and Israel. On the other hand, Leah began having children immediately, her 4th son was Judah. Yes, Judah was the fourth.

The story of Leah and Rachel is a shadow picture of the restoration of Judah and Israel. Today, the two wives of Jacob show us a vital element for understanding Bible prophecy in that while Jews are Israelites, not all Israelites are Jews.

Ephraim’s divisions were followed by the families of Dan from the north. This the order God commanded “all Israel.” He does not change - and it is how they will enter again.

But first when God must execute His judgment. Just how might that look? Perhaps all we need do is read His Word and remember - all tribes designated east of the tabernacle will have to be located east of it. All instructed to be in the south will be south, west will be west and all in the north will be seen camped in the north.

When we take the number of the tribes and apply it to their direction, we can then easily assign the proper dimensions. By putting the census numbers into alignment in the ancient camp of the tribes that surrounded the Tabernacle what we actually see from above is none else but the ancient Hebrew Tav - The Sign of the Covenant Cross - not just those of Leah’s son Judah’s but also the sons of the beloved Rachel to include all Israel.

In addition, when we look at the census of Israel and put the numbers in a modern radar graph, we can see the volume numbers in another way as they surrounded the Tabernacle.

Notice too that the numbers put Reuben on top, he is the firstborn and below him we see Ephraim, the adopted of Jacob, the one that received the double portion inheritance. Finally, we can see Judah is in the lead once again.

So what can we learn from the camps, their ensigns and their numbers?

It is not easy, but despite what we may think we “know” from other’s interpretation and teaching - Judah "alone" does not equal "all" Israel. We can’t interchange those words today or in our past – if we do, we may not know what is recorded by the prophets.

The key to understanding is to know God gives us His teaching and instruction for living because He loves us and He never changes His mind. He teaches us some very simple guidelines about how we are to live life.

It's the original message of the deceiver to fall for the idea that God does not mean what He says or that He changes His mind. Don't listen to that message any longer.

What does this all mean? 

It's time for you to repent and return to God's voice, return to hear and do His word and walk in the faith of His Kingdom path so that you can ready your lamp for your coming assignment. 

It means we need to know "Who is the One Called Jesus.

Consider a prayer: Please, God guide me by your Spirit as to what I should hear and do.

It's time to repent and return to God's voice, return to hear and do His words and walk in the faith of His Kingdom path so that you can ready your lamp for your assignment. 

Stretch out your hand, and take from the tree of life, and live forever.

Open a Bible, read it, listen to God's voice and do Yeshua's teaching about the forever jots and tittles. 

You can learn how the things which are written in the Torah, the Prophets, and the Psalms are concerning Messiah and you can teach others to live life like Jesus, it's love in God's way:
"For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. 

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved." John 3:16-17
Today is the time, open your eyes if you're dead in your own valley of dry bones.

Look up and you'll recognize Messiah from Abraham's promise passed on to Isaac and Jacob as written by Moses in the Torah. You can see Him too in the Prophets and the Writings.

Repent and walk your Emmaus Road with Messiah. Study the Scriptures He taught every Sabbath that are filled with doing life God's way in the Kingdom, and tell others about Him. Be a gatekeeper until the house is complete.



Michelle Tabor said...

Sir, thank you for this post. I love to read Revelation but this four faces was a mystery to me until now. I'm quite sure of the rupture in the midtribulation and the nations that would come against Israel unless I read from you otherwise. I had been reading John Ecob's writings to say much. With the Grace message so strong today, I'm loving the messages of Ptr. Prince, always pointing to the person JESUS.
Do please keep posting. GOD bless you. :D

Anonymous said...


There are fourteen tribal flags [Strong’s # H1714, Degel.] including those of the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh

Since the Exodus the use of the term armies [Tsaba, Strong’s # 6635,] signifies a permanent Israelite army (Exodus 6: 26, 7: 4, 12: 17, 12: 51.) In the organization of tribes in the wilderness, each tribe was assigned a specific location in respect to the tabernacle, three tribes assigned to each side with the tabernacle at the center. Each of the four groupings [east/south/west/north] had a “leader tribe” that led that grouping, with each group of three tribes having a army unit flag. Judah emblem of a Lion face to the east, Reuben emblem of a Young Man face to the south, Ephraim emblem of a Bullock face to the west, and Dan emblem of a Eagle face to the north, were the four “lead tribes” designated with the four square army unit flags. The Jewish study Bible’s commentary on Numbers 2: 3-31 states the following: “The twelve tribes are arranged to form a square camp around the Tabernacle of four army with three tribes in each army.”

In Ezekiel 1: 5-10, the prophet has a vision in which four-faced cherubim echo the four emblems traditionally understood to represent these four square army units flags of Israel. They are seen in that vision in Ezekiel as surrounding the celestial tabernacle [Mishkan]. Ezekiel 42:16-20 and 45:2 describes the well-known scriptural maxim of the symmetrical square temple [Mishkan,] the symmetrical square shape as well characterize all of YHWH’s flags.

An additional scriptural flag/banner was called the Nes [Strong’s # H5251]. In Exodus 17 the Hebrew words "YHWH Nissi” mean YHWH’s flag/banner or YHWH is my Flag/Banner, depending on how the idiom is interpreted. While the Hebrew word {Nissi} literally means “my Nes,” (YHWH’s Nes), the related word Nasas [Strong’s # 5264] means {Nes} bearers, or {Nes} flag/banner-bearers, signifying those who bore the flag of YHWH, Israel’s God and King.

In the ancient times rulers were considered demigods, part human/part deity god-kings, and their flags represented them and bore related symbols. For example, the flag of King Cyrus III bore the image of a golden eagle deity, illustrating Cyrus’ legitimacy in relationship to that national god and identifying him as both king and demigod over his people. Ancient kings were perceived and worshipped as deities in conjunction with existing “gods.” Likewise, the god-Pharaohs had flags on high flagpoles in the entrances to their royal palaces, temples, and roadside shrines. Their culture shared a religious practice of setting up a flag as the icon for a god, this custom was so prevailing that the Egyptian hieroglyphic symbol for the word “god” [neter also pronounce ne’t] is identified as a flag on a flagpole. Bearing in mind that it is believe that the Hebrew term {Nes} has a different root, it is just as plausible that Moses may had used the term {Nes} in the Pentateuch as a play on the Egyptian word for the {ne’t} because the Hebraic {Nes} had a similar meaning as "YHWH Nissi,” in the role of YHWH’s iconic flag/banner.

Each tribal flag in Hebrew is {degel.} Each army unit flag is {tsaba degel,} and the royal flag of Israel’s God YHWH is the {Nes.} There are 14 individual tribal flags plus the 4 army flags, and the additional {Nes} flag brings the total count of biblical flags to 19.


Brigitte said...

I thought the symbol for Dan is a snake. Can you provide a source for the eagle? Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Well researched.

Anonymous said...

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