If we are to understand what is happening in Revelation 7:5-8, there are several things we need to consider about how this group of people is comprised. First of all, Levi is numbered with the tribes that were sealed, and Levi was never numbered with his brethren (Numbers 1:49), because he had no inheritance in the Land. Rather, the Lord was his inheritance. Secondly, Dan isn’t mentioned at all among the tribes that were sealed, and finally, Ephraim isn’t specifically mentioned, although Joseph is, but Joseph includes the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, yet Manasseh is specifically mentioned by itself. Knowing this, it doesn’t seem as though we should look to this group of people in the same sense that we understand the group that Moses took out of Egypt, which we find recorded in the book of Exodus.
The fact that Levi is mentioned with his brethren seems to indicate there is no special status for this tribe over the others. Originally, the Lord intended that the priests would come from all twelve tribes. However, because of rebellion (Exodus 32:7-9), and the fact that only the tribe of Levi stood with Moses in the rebellion, and because they went on to slay all those who led the camp astray (Exodus 32:26-28), the tribe of Levi was chosen to be the priestly tribe among his brethren (Numbers 1:50-53; 3:11-13). Therefore, he wouldn’t receive a portion of the Land, as his brethren would. Instead, the Lord was Levi’s inheritance and great reward (Numbers 18:1-2, 20-23). The elect in Revelation 7:5-8, however, are a nation of priests (1Peter 2:5, 9), all of them, not just Levi.
As far as Dan is concerned, I believe the reason his name isn’t mentioned among his brethren has to do with the meaning of his name. Notice what Rachel said concerning Bilhah, her maidservant, through whom Rachel received Dan:
“And Rachel said, God hath judged me, and hath also heard my voice, and hath given me a son: therefore called she his name Dan” (Genesis 30:6 – emphasis mine).
The name Dan has to do with judgment, not in the sense of passing a sentence upon, as katakrima (G2631) is used in Romans 8:1, but judgment in the sense of vindication, as it is used in Hebrews 10:30 (krino – G2919), which, by the way is the same Greek word used in the Septuagint for what Rachel says in Genesis 30:6. However, there cannot be any vindication for the righteous without separating them from among the unrighteous, hence the sealing of the elect in Revelation 7:5-8, and this seems to be the reason why the name Dan is not among those sealed. If Dan represents vindication, there must come, first, a sealing or a separation of the righteous from the unrighteous before judgment and vindication is able to occur.
In the same sense that seems to explain why Dan isn’t mentioned in the numbering of the elect, I believe is found the reason why Joseph and not Ephraim is mentioned in the numbering of the 144000. Notice what Rachel said when Joseph was born:
And God remembered Rachel, and God hearkened to her, and opened her womb. (23) And she conceived, and bare a son; and said, God hath taken away my reproach: (24) And she called his name Joseph; and said, The LORD shall add to me another son (Genesis 30:22-24 – emphasis mine).
The meaning of the name Joseph is the Lord increases. However, when we examine the name Ephraim we get the meaning double fruit, which is probably why Jacob chose to give him, and not Manasseh, Joseph’s firstborn, the double portion of the inheritance (Genesis 48:13-20). If there are no distinctions among the elect, i.e. one group being more than another etc, then the name Joseph (the Lord shall add) is more fitting to be used than the name Ephraim, which means double fruit. If these conclusions are logical and accurate, we are now able to go on to identify who the 144000 might be, which I hope to do in my next study.