Animals, Colors, Metals, Numbers and Signs in Scripture.
Twelve – The Representative Number
1 Kings 10:18 "Moreover the king made a great throne of ivory, and overlaid it with the best gold. 19 The throne had six steps, and the top of the throne was round behind: and there were stays on either side on the place of the seat, and two lions stood beside the stays. 20 And twelve lions stood there on the one side and on the other upon the six steps: there was not the like made in any kingdom."
The lion is frequently used in the scriptures as a symbol of kings and kingdoms:
1. Jer. 2:14 "Is Israel a servant? is he a homeborn slave? why is he spoiled? 15 The young lions roared upon him, and yelled, and they made his land waste: his cities are burned without inhabitant."
2. Jer. 4:7 "The lion is come up from his thicket, and the destroyer of the Gentiles is on his way; he is gone forth from his place to make thy land desolate; and thy cities shall be laid waste, without an inhabitant."
3. Jer 49:19 "Behold, he shall come up like a lion from the swelling of Jordan against the habitation of the strong: but I will suddenly make him run away from her: and who is a chosen man, that I may appoint over her? for who is like me? and who will appoint me the time? and who is that shepherd that will stand before me?"
4. Jer 50:17 "Israel is a scattered sheep; the lions have driven him away: first the king of Assyria hath devoured him; and last this Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon hath broken his bones."
5. Jer 50:44 "Behold, he shall come up like a lion from the swelling of Jordan unto the habitation of the strong: but I will make them suddenly run away from her: and who is a chosen man, that I may appoint over her? for who is like me? and who will appoint me the time? and who is that shepherd that will stand before me?"
6. Ezek 19:2 "And say, What is thy mother? A lioness: she lay down among lions, she nourished her whelps among young lions. 3 And she brought up one of her whelps: it became a young lion, and it learned to catch the prey; it devoured men…5 Now when she saw that she had waited, and her hope was lost, then she took another of her whelps, and made him a young lion. 6 And he went up and down among the lions, he became a young lion, and learned to catch the prey, and devoured men."
7. Ezek 32:2 "Son of man, take up a lamentation for Pharaoh king of Egypt, and say unto him, Thou art like a young lion of the nations, and thou art as a whale in the seas: and thou camest forth with thy rivers, and troubledst the waters with thy feet, and fouledst their rivers."
Since the lion is often used to represent kings, the two lions by the throne and the twelve lions upon the steps would also be representative of lions. According to Rev. 1:5, 6 the elect are made by God to be kings and priests to God: "5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, 6 And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen."
The two lions standing by the throne are similar to the two faithful witnesses that stand by the Lord of all the earth: Rev. 11:3 "And I will give power unto my two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days, clothed in sackcloth. 4 These are the two olive trees, and the two candlesticks standing before the God of the earth. 5 And if any man will hurt them, fire proceedeth out of their mouth, and devoureth their enemies: and if any man will hurt them, he must in this manner be killed. 6 These have power to shut heaven, that it rain not in the days of their prophecy: and have power over waters to turn them to blood, and to smite the earth with all plagues, as often as they will." These two witnesses answer in type to Moses and Elijah, the representatives of the law and the prophets.
The twelve lions on the steps leading up to the throne have two possible antitypes:
1. The elect of God who have been made kings and priests unto God. Since the number twelve is a representative number representing the whole it could represent the fact that we (the elect) live and reign with Christ here in this time world.
2. The twelve apostles who the Lord said in Matthew 19:28, "Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." God has given great judgment through the work of the apostles to all the elect.
The twelve names of the twelve tribes of Israel were graven on the shoulder pieces of the High Priest so that he should bear their names before the LORD upon his two shoulders for a memorial. Typically, the High Priest wasn't just bearing two stones with names, but rather he was bearing what those two stones represented. Those two stones with the twelve names of the twelve tribes of Israel represented the entire population of Israel.
The shoulder in the scriptures is that part of the body used to bear burdens:
1. Gen 21:14 "And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away: and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba."
2. Gen 24:15 "And it came to pass, before he had done speaking, that, behold, Rebekah came out, who was born to Bethuel, son of Milcah, the wife of Nahor, Abraham's brother, with her pitcher upon her shoulder."
3. Gen 24:45 "And before I had done speaking in mine heart, behold, Rebekah came forth with her pitcher on her shoulder; and she went down unto the well, and drew water: and I said unto her, Let me drink, I pray thee."
4. Gen 49:15 "And he saw that rest was good, and the land that it was pleasant; and bowed his shoulder to bear, and became a servant unto tribute."
5. Josh 4:5 "And Joshua said unto them, Pass over before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of Jordan, and take you up every man of you a stone upon his shoulder, according unto the number of the tribes of the children of Israel:"
6. Judg 9:48 "And Abimelech gat him up to mount Zalmon, he and all the people that were with him; and Abimelech took an ax in his hand, and cut down a bough from the trees, and took it, and laid it on his shoulder, and said unto the people that were with him, What ye have seen me do, make haste, and do as I have done."
7. Psa 81:6 "I removed his shoulder from the burden: his hands were delivered from the pots."
Thus, the High Priest was to bear the burdens of the children of Israel upon his shoulders. While his work was ceremonial and he could not possibly bear all the burdens of such a vast group of people, yet we have a High Priest after the order of Melchisedec that has and is bearing the burdens of a far greater group of people and he is doing it by himself. This High Priest, of course, is the Lord Jesus Christ.
Jesus bore the burden of sin-guiltiness of all the elect family of God upon his shoulders: Heb 9:28 "So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation." Furthermore, he bears the government of those same people upon his shoulder: Isa 9:6 "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace."
Jesus also carries our cares: 1 Pet 5:7 "Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you." He also carries the burden of gospel revelation upon his shoulder: Isa 22:22 "And the key of the house of David will I lay upon his shoulder; so he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open."
Furthermore, Jesus carries us throughout our lives: Is. 46:3 "Hearken unto me, O house of Jacob, and all the remnant of the house of Israel, which are borne by me from the belly, which are carried from the womb: 4 And even to your old age I am he; and even to hoar hairs will I carry you: I have made, and I will bear; even I will carry, and will deliver you."
In addition, Jesus carries the burden of executing the covenant of redemption for all his elect children: Is. 46:9 "Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, 10 Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure: 11 Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it." This includes the burden of calling, justifying, and glorifying all that the Father had given him in covenant before the world began.
Thankfully, God has laid these burdens upon the shoulders of the Lord Jesus Christ and not on our shoulders.
When the children of Israel came into the wilderness God appointed twelve princes to be over and representative of the twelve tribes of Israel:
The men that were appointed of God to be princes of the twelve tribes of Israel, were also described as being the "head of the house of his fathers," and the "renowned of the congregation." As the princes of the twelve tribes they were the representatives of all the members of those tribes.
There authority as the chief representative of the tribes of their fathers including the ability to make covenants on behalf of the twelve tribes: Josh. 9:15 "And Joshua made peace with them, and made a league with them, to let them live: and the princes of the congregation sware unto them. 16 And it came to pass at the end of three days after they had made a league with them, that they heard that they were their neighbours, and that they dwelt among them." Because of this, the people murmured against the princes: Josh. 18 "And the children of Israel smote them not, because the princes of the congregation had sworn unto them by the LORD God of Israel. And all the congregation murmured against the princes. 19 But all the princes said unto all the congregation, We have sworn unto them by the LORD God of Israel: now therefore we may not touch them."
The princes also served as the chief representative of their tribe when it came to dividing up the land of Canaan: Num 34:18 "And ye shall take one prince of every tribe, to divide the land by inheritance." In addition, when issues arose within the congregation, the twelve princes were responsible for settling those issues for the whole congregation: when the children of Israel had heard that the children of Reuben, and the children of Gad, and the half tribe of Manasseh had built an altar on the other side of Jordan, they sent "Phinehas the son of Eleazar the priest, and with him ten princes, of each chief house a prince throughout all the tribes of Israel; and each one was an head of the house of their fathers among the thousands of Israel." Through the discussions of the princes they were able to resolve the issue to everyone's satisfaction (Josh. 10:22-34).
The twelve princes offered on behalf of their tribes at the dedication of the altar: Num. 7:1 "And it came to pass on the day that Moses had fully set up the tabernacle, and had anointed it, and sanctified it, and all the instruments thereof, both the altar and all the vessels thereof, and had anointed them, and sanctified them; 2 That the princes of Israel, heads of the house of their fathers, who were the princes of the tribes, and were over them that were numbered, offered: 3 And they brought their offering before the LORD, six covered wagons, and twelve oxen; a wagon for two of the princes, and for each one an ox: and they brought them before the tabernacle."
The twelve princes of the twelve tribes of Israel represented all of the members of those twelve tribes. This principle of representation points us to the great "Prince of Peace" who represented all the elect family of God. Jesus Christ as the representative of the Lord's people offered on behalf of the elect: Heb 10:14 "For by one offering he hath perfected for ever them that are sanctified."
The Lord Jesus Christ made a covenant with God that was binding upon his elect people: Rom. 8:29, 30, "For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified."
The princes of the twelve tribes numbered the twelve tribes. Likewise, the Prince of Peace has chosen and numbered the elect: Eph. 1:4 "According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love."
The princes of the twelve tribes divided up the inheritance of the children of Israel. The Prince of Peace has given an inheritance to all the elect: Eph. 1:11, "In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will." This inheritance is a joint inheritance: Rom. 8:16 "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: 17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ."
The twelve princes of Israel were the twelve chief captains of the armies of the twelve tribes of Israel. The Prince of Peace is the captain of the Lord's host of elect children: Heb 2:10 "For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings."
Like as the twelve princes who resolved issues and controversies among the twelve tribes of Israel, so the Prince of Peace has resolved all our issues and controversies and questions by his word: 2 Tim. 3:16 "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17 That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works."