"TELL ME, PLEASE"
British-Israel Identity Foundation Truths
the late Revd D. and Mrs J.N. Seekins, UK
HERE is a question for you:what would you think of a person who professes to know a certain family very well indeed, but nevertheless always calls the two sons of that family by the same name, ie., the same Christian name? And, to add still more confusion, often calls both sons by some other different name altogether! Surely, you would feel like advising that person to sort out his facts! And yet, most amazingly, many Christians do exactly the same thing, when, in the Bible, they read of Israel, the House of Israel, the House of Judah, and the Jews; in their thinking speaking, and writing, they mix them all up together and refer to all of them alike as "Jews".
No wonder there is so much misunderstanding abroad regarding this vital subject. In order to clarify the matter somewhat, let us do a simple basic Bible study, beginning in the first book of the Bible, Genesis. At Genesis 11:26 we read of Abram, (the name means 'Father of height' or 'High father'): Abram was a descendant of Eber (Genesis 10:24, Luke 3:35) and was therefore a 'Hebrew', (Genesis 14:13). In Genesis 11 we read that Abram and his family went forth from Ur of the Chaldees to Haran, and then, after the death of Terah, Abram's father, they moved to Canaan, at God's command, (Genesis 12:5). At around this time, the LORD made a number of specific promises to Abram, as shown in Genesis 12,13,15,17,18,21 and 22, these promises becoming known throughout Scripture as 'the Abrahamic Covenant'.
In this great covenant with His servant Abraham God promised "I will make of you a great nation; in you shall all families of the earth be blessed, unto your descendants I will give this land (from the river Nile to the river Euphrates, Genesis 15:18): I will make your descendants as the dust of the earth and the stars in heaven in numbers (Genesis 13:16;Genesis 15:5); kings shall come out of you (Genesis 17:6);You shall be a father of many nations (Genesis 17:4); and your descendants shall possess the gate of their enemies," (Genesis 22:17). The LORD also changed His servant's name from Abram to Abraham, (Father of a great multitude), (Genesis 17:5), the new name being a prophetic sign to express the planned purpose of God for oncoming ages when His people Israel, descended from Abraham, would be multiplied in the earth. It is vital to note that the promises were EVERLASTING PROMISES made by the initiative of God Alone, and with 'no strings attached', as we might say, in our own day. GOD SAID TO ABRAHAM, "I WILL", NOT "IF YOU WILL".
Further on in our study we will compare the two different types of covenant that are found in the Scriptures, but now let us look again at the family tree of Abraham with particular reference to the subsequent Israel line of descent, this being our major theme. Abraham the Hebrew and his wife Sarah were promised a son by the LORD, the child eventually being born when both parents were well past the age when procreation was humanly possible; but God had promised them a son and as always His Word came to pass at His appointed time, the baby's name (Isaac) being given to them in advance by the LORD. And, of course, Isaac too was a Hebrew. In his turn Isaac grew to mature years, married Rebekah, and they too had a family, two sons named Esau and Jacob; our Bible study in the main now particularly concerns Jacob and his descendants, and of course, does not include all possible material, as simplicity is our aim.
However, it should be mentioned that the promises of the covenant that God had made to Abraham had now, in the will of God, come down to Jacob, as the purposes of the Lord moved forward, step by step, stage after stage. Arising out of conflict between Esau and Jacob, Jacob left home with a view to seeking a wife from amongst his relatives at Padan-aram. Whilst on his journey he had a momentous encounter with God at Luz (Genesis 28), in which the LORD reaffirmed to him the promises of the Abrahamic covenant; it was at Luz (renamed Bethel by Jacob) that Jacob set up the stone that he had used as a pillow, and anointed it.
This stone was to become of immense significance in the future history of the Israel peoples, and indeed became a symbol of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and is so to this day, often being referred to as 'The Stone of Destiny'. Jacob was led by the LORD in his travels and settled down as intended amongst his relatives, eventually marrying four wives, Leah, Rachel, Bilhah, and Zilpah, (Genesis 29 and 30), and by them having twelve sons and one daughter, Dinah. The names of the sons were Reuben, Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, Joseph, Benjamin, Dan, Naphtali, Gad and Asher, (Genesis 35:22-26), and of course, they too were Hebrews.
As time went on, the LORD instructed Jacob to now return to Canaan (Genesis 31:11-18, etc) and at Jabbok changed Jacob's name to Israel, meaning 'A prince of God', or 'Ruling with God', (Genesis 32:28): from henceforth the children of Jacob were 'the children of Israel', although, naturally, still Hebrews, as were in turn their own future descendants. Some time after the family had settled in Canaan, God sent them to dwell at Bethel (Genesis 35), where Jacob/lsrael had some years previously anointed the pillar/stone, and here at Bethel the LORD reaffirmed the change of name to Israel and again confirmed the Abrahamic covenant. Of particular importance is the statement at Genesis 35: 11; ''And God said unto him, 'I AM God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations ('a group of nations'; Moffatt; 'a nation and an assembly of nations'; Ferrar Fenton) shall be of thee, and kings shall spring from you" (R.S.V.).
Please note, in passing, that this Scripture has never found its fulfilment in the people commonly known as 'Jews'. This is not surprising, for God never intended that it should; however, it has been perfectly fulfilled in the British Commonwealth of Nations, the Anglo-Saxon-Celtic peoples being the lineal descendants of the vast majority of the original Israelites. At Genesis 37 we read of the dreams of Joseph, one of Jacob's children by Rachel, indeed her firstborn; Rachel was Jacob's bestloved wife, and Joseph was his favourite son, (Genesis 29:30 & Genesis 37:3).
In the overall plan of the LORD, many of the covenant promises were destined to be fulfilled in the ultimate descendants of Joseph, and it is significant that in Genesis 37 we read of Jacob/Israel giving to his son Joseph a special coat, the famous so-called 'coat of many colours'. In actual fact, here we have an old Eastern custom. The Bedouin sheikh or chief wears a long Kamise, a shirt with long sleeves, and the heir is also distinguished by a similar garment. It was this shirt, not a coloured coat, that Jacob gave to Joseph, hence the jealousy of his brethren. They knew that the birthright promises were to be continued through Joseph, all, that is, except the promise of 'kings', which particular promise would be fulfilled through Judah, see 1 Chronicles 5:1-2.
As we know, Joseph was sold by his brothers to Midianite traders, and in turn they sold him in Egypt to Potiphar, an officer in the court of Pharoah. In Egypt he went through many troubles, having been unjustly accused, but in the providence and will of God he was eventually raised to great prominence, becoming second only to Pharoah. He married Asenath and had two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh (Genesis 41:45-52), after which came the famine that God had earlier revealed to him when he was called to interpret the dreams of Pharaoh (Genesis 41). This famine was so widespread that it caused Joseph's brothers to go down into Egypt to buy corn (Genesis 42), and ultimately resulted in the move of the family to that country, where they and Joseph became now reunited. (Genesis 46).
Seventeen years later, knowing that his time had almost come to die, (Genesis 47:28-31), Jacob/Israel told Joseph of God's promises to himself, at the same time prophesying by the Holy Spirit that the descendants of Joseph's two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, would have great but separate distinct destinies, (Genesis 48). Manasseh was to become a great people, but Ephraim even greater, indeed a multitude (fullness) of nations, as per Genesis 35:11, "a nation and a company of nations".
At the time of prophesying, Jacob also 'promoted' Ephraim and Manasseh from their position as his grandsons to a higher status, that of sons, equal to e.g. Reuben and Simeon, (Genesis 48:5), Jacob's first two children, by his marriage to Leah. Soon afterwards, Jacob called together all his sons (Genesis 49) and again prophesied, this time regarding the future of their separate tribes down the 'corridors of time', and especially regarding the last days, i.e. the period of this Christian dispensation.
We particularly note the prophecies regarding Judah (vv 8-12) and Joseph (22-26). The future royal house (sceptre) was to be of Judah, whose 'family tree' would rule 'until Shiloh come', Shiloh being a symbolic term for the Lord Jesus Christ, Who will take the Throne of David when He returns soon to govern the nations upon Earth. As for Joseph, his branches (Bible margin, 'daughters') would 'run over the wall', a word-picture of the future expansion and development of Joseph's sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, into the great people (The United States of America) and nation and company of nations (The British Empire), that God had promised. And so, Jacob/Israel died, as did also of course in due time "Joseph, and all his brethren, and all that generation. And the children of Israel were fruitful,and increased abundantly, and multiplied, and waxed exceeding mighty,and the land was filled with them". (Exodus 1:6-7).
In Exodus 1 we read of the gradual enslavement of the twelve tribes of Israel by the Egyptians, exactly as God had foretold many years previously to Abraham, (Genesis 15:13-14). However, the time for their deliverance ultimately came, and the LORD sent Moses and Aaron to Pharaoh and all the Egyptians with a ministry of miracles, signs and wonders, to confirm His Word, "Let My people go!" As we know, at first Pharaoh refused, and the LORD multiplied His judgments, increasing the pressure on the Egyptians until the final two judgments, namely the deaths of all the Egyptian first-born, followed by the destruction of their army in the Red Sea. And so Israel, having left Egypt in great haste, were now on their way to inherit the land that God had promised to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, i.e. themselves. This 'Exodus' is very, briefly summed up at Exodus 12:40-41:
"Now the sojourning of the children of Israel, who dwelt in Egypt, was 430 years. And it came to pass, at the end of the 430 years, even the self same day it came to pass, that all the hosts of the LORD went out from the land of Egypt".
In passing, we note that repeatedly, throughout Scripture the LORD makes mention of His basic reason for delivering His people Israel and causing them to experience His blessings, despite their oft-repeated sins and backslidings. One such typical Scripture is at Exodus 6:5, with its surrounding context, the dominant feature being these words of our Ever-Faithful God:
"AND I HAVE REMEMBERED MY COVENANT".
Indeed, He has always done so, and He always will.
And so, around 1480 B.C., Israel left Egypt and began their journey towards the promised land of Canaan, reaching Sinai in "the third month", as we read at Exodus19:1. It was here, at Sinai, that another covenant was initiated, this one to be known ever afterwards as the 'Mosaic Covenant', by, virtue of Moses being the 'go-between' between God and Israel. Note particularly, Exodus 19:5-8, and we quote,
"Now therefore, IF YOU WILL OBEY MY VOICE INDEED, (said God to Israel) AND KEEP MY COVENANT, (the covenant being now instituted at Sinai), then you shall be a peculiar (special) treasure unto Me above all people, for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation... And all the people answered together and said, 'All that the LORD has spoken WE WILL do'. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the LORD".
Now, please take especial note of our next major point, which is most relevant to our Bible study. We saw very early in our study that when God made His covenant with Abraham, as we stated, there were 'no strings attached'. God said to Abraham, 'I WILL.:... (not, If YOU will, I will'). There are a number of covenants throughout the Scriptures, but only two categories, Conditional and Unconditional. The CONDITIONAL covenants between God and mankind were dependent for their continuity and fulfilment upon the obedience and faithfulness of the persons with whom God made them, for it naturally follows that God Himself would never ever break His Own promises, i.e. His 'side of the bargain'. Disobedience and unfaithfulness meant a loss of all the blessings contained in the particular covenant in question, also (as in the covenant at Deuteronomy 28, made as Israel were about to enter the land of Canaan) that the penalties of the broken covenant/agreement would be incurred. Compare Deuteronomy 28:1-2 (the blessings of the covenant) with Deuteronomy 28:15 onwards (the curses/penalties of the covenant). Numerous Scriptures could be used to amplify and illustrate the issue, but for purposes of simplicity just one will suffice, Exodus 19:3-8; God says to Israel
"If YE will keep My covenant, (I will bless you, etc), and all the people answered together... 'All that the LORD has spoken WE WILL DO'.
History records, sadly, that they repeatedly failed to keep their side of the covenant, generation after generation, and therefore came under its penalties.
What, now, of the UNCONDITIONAL covenants of Scripture? Thankfully, all such covenants were and are always dependent for their fulfilment and continuity upon the faithfulness and Character of God Alone, those same covenants expressing His declared will, His intention, His purpose, regardless of human fickleness, disobedience, unfaithfulness and sin. All UNCONDITIONAL covenants are notable for just two words, "I WILL." .Not, "lf YE will, then I will". And, again, history records that the LORD has always kept His promises and watched over His Word to bring it to pass. Examples of God's unconditional covenants, e.g. are at Genesis 9: 8-17 (The Noahic), also Genesis 12: 2-3; Genesis 13:16-17; Genesis 17: 6-8; 16-19; 2 Samuel 7:11- 16; Psalm 89: 3-4, 28-37, namely the Abrahamic and Davidic covenants, the latter instance having its fulfilment in our day in our own British throne. For, as has been well proven, our own queen's ancestry is traceable back through the centuries to King David; this, of course, will not in any way surprise Christians who believe that when the LORD makes a promise, (and His covenant with David was a promise, of course) He keeps His Word. Our God is faithful.
Continuing our Bible study, as is well known, the children of Israel had to wander in the wilderness of the Sinai Peninsula for some forty years because of their unbelief and disobedience, and we will not dwell on the many happenings of those times. Because of his own act of disobedience in striking the rock instead of speaking to it that it give forth life-giving water, (Numbers 20), Moses died in the land of Moab (Deuteronomy 34), and Joshua was then appointed by God to lead the nation into the land of Canaan. Apart from one or two individuals who had been faithful to God, this was now a new generation that had grown up in the wilderness. And so the twelve tribes of Israel entered the Promised Land, the LORD giving to them victory after victory as they obeyed Him, and chastising them when necessary. Incidentally, careful Bible students will have noted that the nation was at all times named either 'Israel' or 'Hebrews'; it is truly amazing how many times we read in Christian literature etc of "the 'JEWS' entering Canaan after their Exodus from Egypt". There were, of course, no such people as the 'Jews' until many centuries later, in the days of the Babylonian captivity, circa 600 B.C., and even then, they were only a small fraction of the original 'all-Israel', being a section of the tribe of Judah only. In Canaan, the land was divided amongst the twelve tribes (Joshua 13 onwards), each distinct tribe occupying its own area, although in actual fact Israel did not completely obey the LORD in driving out and destroying all the previous idolatrous inhabitants, hence there were many problems, as is recorded in Judges chapter one. Following the death of Joshua, the LORD raised up judges to judge and deliver the twelve tribes, until the time of Samuel, the last of the judges, at which time Israel demanded a king from amongst themselves, wishing to be like all the other nations around them. Until that time, God Himself had been their KING (1 Samuel 12:12), but now, in the permissive will of the LORD, first Saul and then David were anointed/appointed to rule, (1 Samuel 10 and 16), and after David, Solomon. It is significant that the throne upon which they ruled over Israel is described as being 'the Throne of the LORD' (1 Chronicles 29:23); men and women were to be merely 'stewards' as it were, filling in the time until the Lord Jesus Christ takes that Throne at His Second Advent, as the Scriptures repeatedly promise, (Isaiah 9:6-7; Luke 1: 31-33).
Towards the latter part of the reign of Solomon there was some considerable unrest within the twelve tribes of Israel, and at this time the LORD sent His servant Ahijah the prophet to a man named Jeroboam to tell him that He was about to divide the nation into two separate parts: he (Jeroboam) would rule as king over ten of the tribes, and Solomon's son (Rehoboam) would rule as king over the remaining two tribes, (I Kings 11:26-43). Rehoboam, after Solomon's death, attempted to have his own way and continue ruling over all twelve tribes, but the LORD intended otherwise as He had already shown, and once again God spoke through one of His servants, Shemaiah by name (I Kings 12:22-24).
God now told Rehoboam and the two tribes over which he ruled, (Judah and Benjamin), that the division of the tribes into two separate units was His Doing, ("For this thing is from Me");
"They hearkened therefore to the Word of the LORD, and returned to depart, according to the Word of the LORD."
This item in our Bible study must not be missed. From this time (circa 975 B.C.) onwards, there were now TWO NATIONS in the promised land instead of the original ONE; ten tribes occupying the north, with their capital at Samaria, THESE TEN TRIBES BEING NOW NAMED "THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL", and the remaining two tribes (Judah and Benjamin) occupying the south, and having for their capital Jerusalem, these two tribes now known as "THE HOUSE OF JUDAH". The tribe of Levi, the priestly tribe, was divided between the two Houses. This 'new thing' of two separate Houses or Kingdoms in the land continued for about a further two hundred and fifty years, with rulers (some of them good and many of them bad) over both kingdoms until around 721 B.C., when, because of repeated wicked conduct and defiance of God, the Northern Kingdom (the House of Israel) was overthrown as a result of several invasions by the Assyrian power, and the people were driven into exile in northem Assyria, (2 Kings 17:6-23).
FROM THIS CAPTIVITY AND EXILE THE TEN-TRIBED HOUSE OF ISRAEL NEVER RETURNED, apart from a few individuals, and Bible history is silent regarding their further movements. Bible prophecy, however, has a great deal to say about them and their subsequent place in the plan of God for the nations of the world, developing as they eventually did throughout many centuries until they became the (British) "nation and company of nations" as promised by, God to Jacob, (Genesis 35:11).
Returning now to the other House, the House of Judah. They too continued as a nation in Canaan for some one hundred and twenty years after the deportation of the House of Israel, but because of similar sins to Israel, they too were overcome by another nation, first, by Assyria (2 Kings18:13),and then later by the Babylonians, who were by then the dominating power in that part of the world, and they likewise went into captivity, but to Babylon, (2 Kings 24 and 25). IT IS VERY IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND THAT THE WORD/NAME 'JEW(S)' BEGINS TO APPEAR IN SCRIPTURE AT AROUND THIS TIME: indeed the very first time that the word is used in Scripture is at 2 Kings 16: 6, in the days of Isaiah the prophet, and of course even then it only refers to some members of the House of Judah, i.e. the southern two-tribed nation. There were no 'Jews' at all prior to that time: the word 'Jew' actually being an abbreviation of 'Judahite' and therefore of course applying only to some members of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, the latter tribes being joined to Judah from the time of the division of the twelve tribes in 975 B.C.
You will understand therefore that to refer to any previous and/or other members of the tribes of Israel as 'Jews' is to show a very definite lack of knowledge of basic Bible history. And yet, to return to our original thoughts regarding the "mixing-up of the family", how often one hears and reads statements such as 'Moses led the Jews out of Egypt', and 'Joshua led the Jews into the promised land', or 'The Jews are God's chosen people', etc. etc. The writer possesses many such statements from a variety of Christian literature, magazines and books alike. Sadly, one has to record, quite often such incorrect and un-Biblical statements are made by very well known Christians! It is a great pity that they do not know their Bibles better; the truths/ facts are in God's Word for all to read, quite plainly.
At the close of the Babylonian captivity, which lasted some seventy years, (in the days of Daniel), a remnant of the people now known as 'Jews', approximately fifty thousand in all, were permitted to return to Jerusalem and the land of Judah (i.e. Judea) and establish themselves therein, (see Ezra and Nehemiah). The descendants of these people were the Jews of the days of the Lord Jesus Christ's earthly ministry, and by that time they had become racially intermingled with many people from non-Israel nations, i.e. Gentiles. See, for example, Ezra 9 and 10, Nehemiah 13, and Esther 8:17. The nation of the Idumeans, too, was absorbed by the Jews in the time of John Hyrcanus (one of the Maccabees), circa 125 B.C. Not Iong after the crucifixion and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Jews rebelled against their Roman overlords, and in A.D.70 were destroyed as a nation in the land, exactly as Jesus had foretold, (Luke 21:24).
Back now to the House of Israel, the ten tribes removed to captivity in Assyria, 2 Kings chapters 15, 17 and 18. Into their homeland (Samaria) the king of Assyria then brought Gentiles of various nationalities (2 Kings 17: 24) to occupy the land and settle down there; their descendants became the Samaritans of the days of Christ's ministry. Bearing these facts in mind, we can therefore understand the customary animosity etc. between the two peoples, Jews and Samaritans, as revealed sometimes in the gospel accounts; for as the woman at the well of Sychar remarked to Jesus (John 4: 9),
"the Jews have no dealings with the Samaritans".
But what happened to the House of Israel when eventually their years of captivity in Assyria ended, as they did of course when the Assyrian empire was succeeded by the Babylonian? When we realise that the House of Judah, the far smaller section of the original twelve tribes, was preserved throughout their particular captivity, how much more certain it is that the far larger House of Israel, comprising five-sixths of the whole of God's covenant people, would survive. Indeed, not merely survive, but after their chastisement in Assyria was over, God would continue to watch over them and over His promises to make a blessing to all the families of the earth. For, as the psalmist tells us, (Psalm 94:14),
"the LORD will not cast off His people, neither will He forsake His inheritance".
Israel would be disciplined by God, but never abandoned, despite their oftimes recurring sinfulness. One very telling Scripture (Amos 9:8-9) reminds us of the LORD's faithfulness to His word and His people.
"Behold, the eyes of the LORD GOD are upon the sinful kingdom (the House of IsraeI), and I will cut it off from the land (literal translation, i.e. by the captivity in Assyria), saving that I will not utterly destroy the House of Jacob, saith the LORD. For, lo, I will command, AND I WILL SIFT (Bible margin 'CAUSE TO MOVE') THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL AMONG ALL NATIONS, LIKE AS CORN IS SIFTED IN A SIEVE, YET SHALL NOT THE LEAST GRAIN FALL UPON THE EARTH".
So then, the House of Israel would be on the move again, after its Assyrian captivity; but as we know, the Ten Tribes did not return to Canaan. To quote the Bible footnote at 2 Kings 17 in the Scofield Reference Bible;
"From this (Assyrian) captivity the Ten Tribes have never been restored to Palestine. A remnant of Judah returned under Zerubbabel, Ezra and Nehemiah, and individuals out of the Ten Tribes (called, after the division of Solomon's kingdom, 'Israel' in the historical books and Prophets, also 'Ephraim' by the latter) went back, but the NATIONAL restoration is yet to be fulfilled".
Now: if the House of Israel did not return to Palestine (Canaan), WHERE DID THEY GO?
TO BE CONTINUED
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