we examine Jesus’ words elsewhere, when he is not speaking directly to his apostles, do we find evidence of a greater number who sit on thrones? According to Revelation 14:1 and Re 20:6, the final number of those who “will rule as kings with him [Jesus Christ] for the thousand years” is far more than twelve, namely, 144,000. Are the 143,988, aside from the twelve apostles of the Lamb, also to sit on thrones? Do not kings have thrones, and are not all the 144,000 kings? Yes, and Jesus promises to each of the faithful 144,000 the right of throneship: “To the one that conquers I will grant to sit down with me on my throne.” (Rev. 3:21) So Luke 22:28-30 must be viewed in a larger sense, in the light of other scriptures, which lead to this conclusion: Those who sit on thrones to judge the “twelve tribes of Israel” include not just the twelve apostles but also all those taken into the covenant for the Kingdom that Jesus spoke of in Luke 22:28-30. Since all the 144,000 anointed Christians are taken into the covenant for the Kingdom, all of them are to sit on thrones to judge the “twelve tribes of Israel.”
Then who are represented by the “twelve tribes of Israel” over whom Jesus Christ and his associate kings rule and whom they judge? Certainly it would not be limited to the literal twelve tribes of Israel who by now have lost all their tribal distinctions. According to the apostle Paul, the judging by those who receive the heavenly kingdom embraces a world of mankind: “Do you not know that the holy ones will judge the world?” (1 Cor. 6:2) Thus it is reasonable to conclude that the “twelve tribes of Israel,” mentioned at Luke 22:30, refer to the world of mankind that will be judged by Jesus Christ and the members of his congregational body who will serve as kings and priests and judges with him. In harmony with this view, the book You May Survive Armageddon into God’s New World pointed out, on page 39, that the twelve non-Levitic tribes of Israel on the annual day of atonement typified all the obedient ones of mankind who will gain everlasting life on earth. On the day of atonement two sacrifices were offered, one for Aaron and his tribe, picturing spiritual Israel, and the other for the twelve non-Levitic tribes of Israel, picturing all mankind who benefit from the ransom sacrifice of Jesus Christ with everlasting life on earth. This distinction, noted at Leviticus chapter 16, is also seen from the words of the apostle John regarding Jesus Christ: “He is a propitiatory sacrifice for our sins, yet not for ours only but also for the whole world’s.”—1 John 2:2.
Those of the world of mankind who benefit from Christ’s sacrifice include the “great crowd” of “other sheep” who will be survivors of God’s war of Har–Magedon. But the “twelve tribes of Israel” of Luke 22:30 who are to be judged by those sitting on heavenly thrones will be made up of all those on earth in the post-Armageddon new system of things. The “twelve tribes of Israel,” then, include not just the “great crowd” of today who will survive the war of Har–Magedon into God’s righteous new order of things but also all resurrected mankind.
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“WATCHTOWER” STUDIES FOR THE WEEKS
May 24: What Will “God’s Kingdom Come” Mean to You?, ¶1-30. Page 229.
May 31: What Will “God’s Kingdom Come” Mean to You?, ¶31-62. Page 236.