The Twelve Days of Christmas – Day Twelve

On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me, twelve drummers drumming…
The number twelve plays a prominent role in scripture. In the Old Testament, we can understand the twelve drummers drumming to represent the twelve tribes of Israel (Genesis 49:1-27):
  • Reuben
  • Simeon
  • Levi
(the priestly tribe of Moses, Aaron, Miriam and John the Baptist)
  • Judah
(the tribe of kings David and Solomon, and of Jesus)
  • Zebulun
  • Issachar
  • Dan
  • Gad
  • Asher
  • Naphtali
  • Joseph
(which was divided between his sons Manasseh and Ephraim)
  • Benjamin
(the tribe of Saul of Tarsus, who became Paul)
In the New Testament, the number twelve signifies the twelve original apostles:
The names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus; Simon the Zealot, and Judas Iscariot, who betrayed him (Matthew 10:2-4).
 
  • Simon, renamed Peter by Jesus
  • Andrew
  • James
  • John
  • Philip
  • Bartholomew
  • Thomas
  • Matthew
  • James, son of Alphaeus
  • Thaddaeus
  • Simon
  • Judas Iscariot, who was replaced after the Resurrection by Matthias (Acts 1:15-26)
Let’s look at how the number twelve demonstrates God’s plan for restoration…
Ephesians chapter two tells us how Jesus reconciled Jews and Gentiles into one body:
Don’t forget that you Gentiles used to be outsiders. You were called “uncircumcised heathens” by the Jews, who were proud of their circumcision, even though it affected only their bodies and not their hearts. In those days you were living apart from Christ. You were excluded from citizenship among the people of Israel, and you did not know the covenant promises God had made to them. You lived in this world without God and without hope. But now you have been united with Christ Jesus. Once you were far away from God, but now you have been brought near to him through the blood of Christ.
 For Christ himself has brought peace to us. He united Jews and Gentiles into one people when, in his own body on the cross, he broke down the wall of hostility that separated us. He did this by ending the system of law with its commandments and regulations. He made peace between Jews and Gentiles by creating in himself one new people from the two groups. Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death on the cross, and our hostility toward each other was put to death.
 He brought this Good News of peace to you Gentiles who were far away from him, and peace to the Jews who were near. Now all of us can come to the Father through the same Holy Spirit because of what Christ has done for us (2:11-18 NLT).
 Revelation chapter four describes the apostle John’s vision of the throne room of God:
Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads (4:4 ESV).
Twelve of the thrones are occupied by each of the members of the tribes of Israel and twelve by the twelve apostles, each wearing a golden crown.
Notice that John the Revelator describes these not as two groups of twelve, but as one group of twenty-four elders, representing Israel and the Church, seated together, as described by Paul in his epistle to the church at Ephesus above.
Ephesians 2:5-6 tells us, that even though we were dead because of our sins, he gave us life when he raised Christ from the dead. (It is only by God’s grace that you have been saved!) For he raised us from the dead along with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ Jesus (NLT).
Through the presence of the Holy Spirit within us, we are united with Christ and seated together with him in heavenly places. This being ‘seated together’ is a sign of Jesus’ finished work at the cross. The vision of the twenty-four elders seated together in the throne room of God signifies that the separation between Jew and Gentile is also finished, and they (and we) are combined to form one body in Christ Jesus. We are reconciled to each other and to God. This also signifies the fulfillment of the covenants in the Old and New Testaments, which is manifested in the appearance of the New Jerusalem in Revelation chapter 21. (Can you find more occurrences of the number twelve there?)
In conclusion, let’s go back to where we began this series, with our partridge in a pear tree…
Remember that in the beginning, in Eden, there were two trees:
Then the Lord God planted a garden in Eden in the east, and there he placed the man he had made. The Lord God made all sorts of trees grow up from the ground—trees that were beautiful and that produced delicious fruit. In the middle of the garden he placed the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil (Genesis 2:8-9 NLT).
God provided Adam and Eve with a choice between the fruit of the two trees. From the one, life; from the other, certain death.
On earth after the fall, man and woman kind were enslaved to the consequences of Adam’s choice, until Jesus came, to hang upon another tree:
“Away with him,” they yelled. “Away with him! Crucify him!”
 “What? Crucify your king?” Pilate asked.
 “We have no king but Caesar,” the leading priests shouted back.
 Then Pilate turned Jesus over to them to be crucified
 So they took Jesus away. Carrying the cross by himself, he went to the place called Place of the Skull (in Hebrew, Golgotha) (John 19:15-17 NLT).
Because Jesus was willing to suffer and die on the cross, we who receive him may partake of the Tree of Life – with its twelve crops of fruit - in the New Heaven and the New Earth, in God’s eternal kingdom:
Then the angel showed me a river with the water of life, clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb. It flowed down the center of the main street. On each side of the river grew a tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, with a fresh crop each month. The leaves were used for medicine to heal the nations.
 No longer will there be a curse upon anything. For the throne of God and of the Lamb will be there, and his servants will worship him (Revelation 22:1-3 NLT).
 And behold I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give to every man according as his work shall be (Revelation 22:12 KJV).
 And the Spirit and the Bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely (Revelation 22:16).
 Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!
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