Why is the tribe of Dan not among the 144,000 in Revelation 7:4-8?
The tribe of Dan is listed among the descendants of Jacob in the Old Testament on repeated occasions, but it is not listed in Revelation 7:4-8. The table below shows that Dan is listed as a son of Jacob in Genesis 35:22-26; Exodus 1:1-5 and 1 Chronicles 2:1-2. But in Revelation 7:4-8 the tribe of Dan is missing. The question is why did this occur?
The question becomes more important when we realize that the tribe of Dan will be present in both the tribulation and the millennial kingdom.
Tribe of Dan Is Missing Because It Turned Idolatrous
The answer to the question why is the tribe missing in Revelation 7:4-8 is that the tribe of Dan became unfaithful to God and turned to idol worship. A brief history of the tribe is essential at this point. The descendants of the patriarch Dan are referred to as the tribe of Dan or Danites. Dan was one of the twelve sons of Jacob along with Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Benjamin, Naphtali, Gad and Asher (Exodus 1:2-4).
The reader is encouraged to read What does the Bible say about the tribe of Dan? because it provides important historical information about the tribe of Dan. For example, Judges 18:1-31 tells us that the tribe of Dan turned idolatrous and abandoned God after they entered the Promised Land and moved north. The Q&A “Did the tribe of Dan move? Does Judges 18:1 contradict Joshua 19:48?” describes why the tribe of Dan moved north. In the process of moving north, the tribe became unfaithful and and remained apostate until “the Assyrian Empire took them captive in 722 B.C. (1 Kings 12:28-30; 2 Kings 10:29).”
Since Scripture does not give us a reason why the tribe of Dan is not listed in Revelation 7:4-8, the best explanation is that Dan turned to idolatrous worship and is continuing in that condition and will continue until the end of the tribulation. Therefore, God could not use them as witnesses in the tribulation period. Robert L. Thomas makes the following comment,
The other tribes were guilty of the same sin, but Dan was the leader in idolatrous practices.
At the end of the tribulation, Zechariah 12:10-14 tells us that the Holy Spirit will be poured out on Israel, will see Christ at His second coming and become Christians. Romans 11:25-26 tells us that all Israel will be saved. That will include the Danites. Matthew 25:31-46 describes the sheep and goat judgment. This judgment is the removal of non-Christians from the earth. All that will remain are Christians and they will enter the millennial kingdom. Therefore, it is not surprising that Ezekiel 48:1-2, 32 refer to the tribe of Dan.
In conclusion, the tribe of Manasseh took the place of the tribe of Dan in Revelation 7:4-8. Manasseh was the oldest son of Joseph (Genesis 41:51). He was half-Jew and half-Gentile since his mother was an Egyptian (Genesis 46:20). It is important to notice that two of Manasseh’s descendants are listed among the heroes in the chapter of faith, which is Hebrews 11. Hebrews 11:32 lists four men who were judges in the book of Judges: Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah. Scripture reveals that Gideon and Jephthah were descendants of Manasseh.
Manasseh was the father of a godly line and his tribe will replace the tribe of Dan in the tribulation (Revelation 7:4-8). Now notice that God will include the tribe of a godly, half-Gentile man called Manasseh among the 144,000 who will witness for Him. This reveals that 1) our God does not play favorites in salvation (Galatians 3:28), and 2) He does seek righteous individuals to minister for Him. God is not partial. His standards are unchanging. This should motivate anyone who desires to serve God to be righteous.
1. Robert L. Thomas. Revelation 1-7. An Exegetical Commentary. Moody Press. 1992. vol. 1, p. 481.
2. Scripture reveals that Gideon was a son of Joash who was a son of Abiezer, a descendant of Manasseh (Judges 6:11; Joshua 17:2). Jephthah was a son of Gideon.
Reference Links:What does the Bible say about the tribe of Dan?
Did the tribe of Dan move? Does Judges 18:1 contradict Joshua 19:48?
Prepare for Christ’s Return
When and where does the Goat and Sheep judgment occur?
Is God impartial? He treats people differently.
Characteristics of Biblical Faith
Love In The Darkness! - includes the 144,000 witnesses
The King Reigns!
The 144,000 Witnesses - sermon