The number twelve is mentioned in scripture about 187 times. The first indication of twelve was back in Genesis chapter 28:10 in the story of Jacob's dream. Twelve sons, twelve tribes, the women bleeding for 12 years, and the twelve Apostles are all other uses of the number 12. What does it signify?
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Number 12 in the Bible represents leadership of the church. There were 12 patriarchs from Seth to Noah, then 12 from Shem to Jacob. Twelve spies led the way to the promised land, and there were 12 judges from Othniel to Samuel. Jesus healed a woman who had been bleeding for 12 years and then went immediately to resurrect a girl who was 12 years old (Mark 5:25-42). The first woman represents the OT church with a continual flow of sacrificial blood. The young girl represents the NT church that came to life after Christ's resurrection. They both were made whole in one day. God's church is pictured in Revelation 12:1 as a woman clothed with the sun, and the moon under her feet, and upon her head a crown of 12 stars – the stars symbolizes the church leadership (1 Cor 11:10). Exodus 39:14 tells that there were 12 precious stones on Aaron's breastplate, representing the children of Israel, according to the 12 tribes. These stones appear to be identical to the foundation stones of the New Jerusalem (Rev 21:19, 20). The wall of the city had 12 foundations, on them the names of the 12 apostles (Rev 21:10, 12, 14). King David appointed 24 groups of 12 (a total of 288) to lead music of praise in the temple (1 Chronicles 25). Similarly, Revelation 4:4 describes two groups of 12 (a total of 24) elders who sit around the throne of God. This represents the 12 tribes of the OT and the 12 apostles of the NT. Jesus promised His disciples that will sit on 12 thrones, judging the 12 tribes of Israel (Matt 19:28; also Rev 3:21). The New Jerusalem has 12 foundations, 12 gates 12 thousand furlongs, a tree with 12 kinds of fruit 12 times a year eaten by 12 times 12,000 or the 144,000. (Rev 21.) In heaven, it seems there will be square formation around God's throne. First there is God Himself on His throne. Then the four creatures, then the 24 elders in a square around them with six on each side, then the 144,000 in a perfect square with 36,000 on each side, then the great multitude all around them. God’s perfect order and harmony!
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