God promised great wealth and abundance to Abraham's seed—but did they ever inherit those fantastic blessings? Just where are these "Lost Ten Tribes," anyway? Did they simply disappear from the face of the earth, or did they go on to become the richest nations in the world? You would be shocked to know how much the answers to these vital questions have to do with your future and the future of Western civilization!
After the death of Jacob and his twelve sons in Egypt, their children grew in about two and a quarter centuries to a population probably between two and three million in that land. But Israel's children became slaves: "And Joseph died, 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. Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph... . And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour: and they made their lives bitter with hard bondage ..." (Ex. 1:6-14). Then God raised up Moses and fitted him in a special way to lead these children of Israel out of the bondage that had come to them in Egypt. When they reached Mt. Sinai, in the peninsula wilderness, God made a covenant with them establishing them as a NATION—His nation—among the kingdoms of the world. Their government was theocratic, with the civil, as well as the spiritual and religious laws, given directly from God. God Himself was their King and He ruled them by a system of judges.
Israel's First King Was God
God was Israel's only King! Israel was both church and state. In Acts 7:38 we are told that the Israelites formed the church in the wilderness. The word "congregation" of Israel used throughout the Old Testament has the same meaning exactly as the word "church" in the New. Israel, consequently, had more than one set of laws. God gave Israel a twofold form of government. The congregation, or church, was given ritualistic laws—animal sacrifices, meat and drink offerings, carnal or fleshly ordinances. But Israel also was a civil government, thus for it God established civil officers and civil laws—statutes and judgments. The one great central code of law, basis for both church and civil government—the overall SPIRITUAL CODE—was the TEN COMMANDMENTS, spoken by God directly to all the congregation, written with the very finger of God in tables of stone. For several generations after leaving Egypt, God was their King! (This history is found through the books of Moses, Joshua and Judges.) Each tribe kept separate by itself, but together they formed one nation in much the same manner as the United States is one nation composed of individual states. Each tribe occupied its own land, or district. The Levites became the priestly tribe, mingling throughout the other tribes, having no inheritance in the land and no separate territory (except for cities) of their own. To offset this, however, the children of Joseph were divided into two tribes—Ephraim and Manasseh—thus leaving twelve distinct and separate tribes, each occupying its own territory or province, in addition to the Levites who were sprinkled among the tribes. All these years the birthright and the sceptre remained within the one nation—the birthright, of course, being handed down through the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, the sceptre with Judah.
Dissatisfied With God
The children of Israel were human, even as you and I. They continually grumbled and complained. Their carnal minds were hostile to God and His laws, even as human minds today (Rom. 8:7). Soon they became dissatisfied with God as their King and demanded that a man should be their king as in the Gentile nations around them. So today, we want to be like the non-Christians around us instead of conforming strictly to the ways of God as we are instructed in His Word! Human nature has ever been thus. When the elders of Israel came to Samuel demanding a man be made their king, it naturally displeased Samuel, their prophet. But the Eternal said: "Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them... . howbeit yet protest solemnly unto them, and show them the manner of the king that shall reign over them" (I Sam. 8:7-9). Saul was their first human king. He refused obedience to God and was finally rejected. He was slain in battle. His sole surviving son, Ishbosheth, was slain after a reign of only two years (II Sam. 2:10). However, Ishbosheth never reigned over Judah. With this short reign over part of Israel, Saul's dynasty ceased. That is how God rejected him. His dynasty was cut off!
David's Dynasty Forever
David succeeded Saul. David sat on the Eternal's throne. David's son Solomon succeeded him, also sitting on the Eternal's throne. "Then Solomon sat on the throne of the Eternal as king instead of David his father" (I Chron. 29:23; see also II Chron. 9:8). I wish here to impress another special point. Before Saul, the Eternal had been King over Israel. These human kings were sitting upon the Eternal's throne. The Eternal—"LORD"—is Jesus Christ who was with the Father before the world was (John 17:5 and 1:1-2,14). Jesus is both the "root" and the "offspring" of David (Rev. 22:16). Since He was the "root," the throne was His before David was born. David merely sat upon the Eternal's throne. Secondly, since Jesus was David's lawful fleshly Son, this same throne shall once more become His right by inheritance, continuing David's dynasty. And so, when Christ returns to earth, David's throne will be doubly His right! Now we come to a seemingly incredible fact—fantastic—almost unbelievable, but true! While David was king, God made with him a perpetual covenant, unconditionally, which God cannot and will not break! This covenant is even more amazing, and less understood, than the unconditional covenant with Abraham! I want you now to plant firmly in mind the specific nature and character of the covenant the Almighty made with David. For it is a vital link in the purpose and mission of Christ—an important KEY to Bible understanding! In II Samuel 23:1, 5, we find: "Now these be the last words of David... . God ... hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure." In other words, a covenant that shall endure forever and cannot fail! Turn back to the seventh chapter of II Samuel for more specific details. God gave David this covenant promise at a time when David was much concerned over the Ark of the Covenant dwelling in a tent. David wanted to build a great temple at Jerusalem. "And it came to pass that night, that the word of the Lord came unto Nathan, saying, Go and tell my servant David, Thus saith the Lord, Shalt thou build me an house for me to dwell in? ... When thy days be fulfilled, and thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, I will set up thy seed after thee, which shall proceed out of thy bowels [Solomon], and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build an house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever. I will be his father, and he shall be my son. If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes of the children of men: But my mercy shall not depart away from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away before thee. And thine house and thy kingdom shall be established for ever before thee: THY THRONE SHALL BE ESTABLISHED FOR EVER" (II Sam. 7:4-5, 12-16).
Points to Notice
Notice carefully these points: 1) David's throne was set up and established with Solomon, David's son. 2) The Throne—David's throne (verse 16)—was established FOREVER in Solomon (verse 13). Observe that this nowhere says that when Christ comes, God will establish it in Him forever. It says it was to be established forever in Solomon. 3) What if Solomon, or the children of Israel, disobey? Would that cancel this covenant? Verses 14-15 plainly say that if they commit iniquity, God will chasten them with the rod of men, but will NOT break this covenant. The throne shall go on forever just the same! 4) Notice particularly, in case of disobedience, God will not take the throne away as He took it from Saul. How did He take it from Saul? Saul's dynasty ended! No son of Saul ever sat on the throne. But Solomon's dynasty would not end. The punishment for disobedience would be chastening at the hands of men. 5) Since God did firmly establish this throne with David and with Solomon, if David's throne ceased from existence, even for the length of one generation, could we say it had been established forever as God here promised? Here is the fact as little realized as any in the Bible! Almighty God made an absolutely binding—just how binding we shall see!—covenant with David, unconditionally guaranteeing that there should never be a single generation from that time forward when there would not be a descendant of David in UNBROKEN DYNASTY sitting on David's throne, ruling over children of Israel! It was the promise of a continuous, unbroken dynasty—all generations forever— that was guaranteed. This is hard to believe! Yet God promised and unalterably guaranteed just that! There were no conditions. Nothing that would happen could prevent it. The sins of the people were not to change it. The promise stood immutable!
The End of the Record
But where is that throne today? The history of the Bible records a line of kings, all descendants of David in continuous dynasty, down to King Zedekiah. But in the year 585 B.C. this last recorded king ever to sit on this throne was captured by the armies of King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, his eyes were put out, he was taken to Babylon, and there died in a dungeon! Moreover, all his sons were slain! All the nobles of Judah who were not already imprisoned or enslaved at Babylon at that time were killed, so that none could remain to sit on the throne of David! The Chaldeans destroyed Jerusalem, burned the Temple and the king's houses, took the Jews, a captive, slave people to Babylon. There is certainly no record of any king of the line of David ruling over Judah from that day to this. However, the line of Jehoiakin to Jesus survived in Babylonish captivity—so Jesus was a descendant of David. Some will say, however, that this throne is established today in Christ. But Christ has not yet taken over this throne! He pictured Himself as the nobleman (Luke 19:12) who went to a far country (heaven) to get for Himself a Kingdom, and, who, after receiving the right to the Kingdom, would return. Jesus Christ will not sit upon the throne of David until His second coming to earth, yet in the future! But what of the nearly 600 years between King Zedekiah and the birth of Christ? Who was reigning over the Israelites and sitting on David's throne during those generations? If no one, then we must conclude God broke His Word, or the Scripture has been broken! The answer is a mystery more astounding than any tale of fiction! The Bible reveals it, step by step. But, then again, some will point to the expression "I will establish" (II Sam. 7:13) and conclude that possibly God meant at the second coming of Christ He would establish that throne forever. And still that will not do. From whom would Christ take over David's throne if that throne has ceased these centuries to exist? But God plainly promised He would establish that throne in Solomon: "And I will stablish the throne of his[Solomon's] kingdom FOR EVER." He was not speaking of establishing it many centuries later in Christ—at His second coming. The "he" referred to is Solomon—not Christ, for God said: "If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him" (II Sam. 7:14). But now I give you a scripture that ends all speculation as to when this throne was established: "Hear me, thou Jeroboam, and all Israel; ought ye not to KNOW that the Eternal God of Israel GAVE the kingdom over to Israel to David FOR EVER, even to him and to his sons by a covenant of salt?" (II Chron. 13:4-5.) The margin says "PERPETUAL covenant." This shows the establishing of the throne was then in the past! God gave, did give, this kingdom to David and his sons— not his Son, Christ, but his sons, plural—continuously forever.
Established for All Generations
"I have made a covenant with my chosen, I have sworn unto David my servant, Thy seed [dynasty—Moffatt] will I establish for ever, and build up thy throne to all generations"(Ps. 89:3-4). Note it! This throne, established forever, was built up to all generations. God did establish that throne, beginning with David and Solomon. We have a record of it for a number of generations—as far as King Zedekiah, 585 B.C. It was established to all generations, continuously, perpetually, FOREVER! That term "all generations" certainly must include those generations from Zedekiah to the birth of Christ. Who occupied that throne during those generations? Christ is not sitting on that throne now, but on the throne of Almighty God in heaven (Rev. 3:21). So what about this present generation? Where is there a descendant of David today sitting in unbroken line of kings on the throne of David, ruling over children of Israel? Can one wonder that men like Thomas Paine and Robert Ingersoll lost faith in the Bible? They saw these unconditional promises, but they could not see how they had been kept. Yet, if we have patience, we shall see! But to continue, in the 89th Psalm, with the 28th verse: "My mercy will I keep for him for evermore, and my covenant shall stand fast with him. His seed [dynasty—Moffatt] also will I make to endure for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven." Consider a moment the meaning of the word "seed" in this sense. Moffatt's translation in modern English properly translates it "dynasty." The Revised Standard Version translates it "his [David's] line"— that is, continuous line or succession of sons, generation after generation. This "seed" is not the general population of the children of Israel. This is speaking of David's seed, or David's sons. His sons were to be kings. David was of the tribe of Judah, possessor of the sceptre, not the birthright, promise. His "seed," therefore, was the kingly line. So, literally, it means his dynasty, his line of successive sons. Now while his throne is enduring through all generations, as the days of heaven, consider the next verse: "If his children forsake my law, and walk not in my judgments; if they break my statutes, and keep not my commandments; then will I visit their transgression with the rod, and their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless my lovingkindness will I not utterly take from him, nor suffer my faithfulness to fail. My covenant will I not break, nor alter the thing that is gone out of my lips. Once have I sworn by my holiness that I will not lie unto David. His SEED [dynasty] shall endure FOR EVER, and his throne as the sun before me. It shall be established for ever as the moon, and as a faithful witness in heaven" (Ps. 89:30-37). This is speaking of those generations when his children may disobey and forsake God's law. Some today are excusing their inability to locate this throne by saying the covenant was conditional— that because the children of Israel disobeyed God, the covenant was broken. But what does the Almighty say? If the children disobey and transgress, they shall be punished for their transgression—but not by the breaking of God's unconditional covenant with David! Some say Christ took over the throne. But He didn't. Instead He was crucified, resurrected, and ascended to heaven. He shall come, and soon now, to sit upon that throne as the King of kings and Lord of lords. But how could Jesus Christ, when He returns again to earth, take over and sit upon a throne that long ago ceased to exist?
Will Christ Come to a Nonexistent Throne?
If the throne of David ceased with Zedekiah, then it does not exist today. And if it does not exist, how shall Christ sit upon a nonexistent throne? (See Luke 1:31-32.) And, since it was to continue through all generations, how about those many generations between Zedekiah and the birth of Jesus? The very important fact that the glorified King of kings is coming to sit on an existing throne is further affirmed by the prophet Jeremiah. In the 33rd chapter is a prophecy of events to occur at the time of Christ's coming in supreme power and glory! At the time of writing this prophecy, the prophet was imprisoned in Jerusalem. The armies from Babylon were taking the Jews captive. God said to Jeremiah, "I will ... show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not... . concerning the houses of this city, and concerning the houses of the kings of Judah, which are thrown down ..." (verses 3-4). Jeremiah knew the kings' houses in Jerusalem were being destroyed—the throne of David removed from Jerusalem. He was, as will be shown later, to be God's agent in rooting out that throne from Jerusalem. God was now revealing to him a reassuring fact. The throne of David would, in this end time, be again planted in Jerusalem. God now reassures the prophet that the throne, will rule continuously over Israelites until that time. It will be the same continuous dynasty. The Messiah will sit on an existing throne! Here is the prophecy of what is to happen at Christ's glorious coming to rule: "Behold, the days come, saith the Eternal, that I will perform that good thing which I have promised unto the house of Israel and to the house of Judah" (verse 14). Notice carefully! This promise of David's continuous dynasty is a promise to the house of Israel, as well as to Judah. Since the division into two nations, that throne had not been connected with Israel—only with Judah. But the promise to be fulfilled at Christ's coming connects it with Israel as well as Judah! Continue: "In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness [the Messiah] to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land" (verse 15). This speaks of Christ's rule as King of kings. Jesus, a descendant of David by human birth (Rom. 1:3), was the righteous Branch, or offshoot of David. Continue: "In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely... . For thus saith the Eternal; David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel" (verses 16-17). Note it! It does not say David shall not, finally, after 2,500 years without a man on the throne, want for one. It says David shall NEVER—at any time—through all generations—want for a descendant to remain sitting on his throne! And over whom?
Throne Not Over Jews
Not Judah! Read it in your own Bible! During these more than 2,500 years, David shall not want for a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel— not Judah! The throne was, at the time God revealed this prophecy to Jeremiah, being rooted out of Judah. During these 2,500 years between then and Christ's coming, it was to be the throne of the house of ISRAEL! After the coming of Christ to rule, it is evident that Israel is again to offer sacrifices, burnt offerings and meat offerings. In Ezekiel's prophecy, from the 40th chapter to the end of the book, covering this period after Christ's coming, these sacrifices are mentioned. But, after Christ's return, when they are again to be offered, the tribe of Levi will not have been destroyed—descendants of the priestly tribe will still be living. Notice verse 18 of Jeremiah 33: "Neither shall the priests the Levites want a man before me to offer burnt offerings, and to kindle meat offerings, and to do sacrifice continually." This does not say they shall have, all these years prior to Christ's coming, continually offered sacrifices. Other scriptures show plainly sacrifices should not have been offered by Christians after Christ's own sacrifice, and they were not offered by Jews after the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70. But other prophecies already quoted show just as plainly that David's descendants should be ruling on David's throne through all generations, beginning with Solomon. Since many of the Levites undoubtedly remained among the Ten Tribes—although we know many continued among the Jews—and since those remaining among the Ten Tribes have lost their identity along with all Ten Tribes, it is entirely possible that many, if not most, of the called true ministry of Jesus Christ through the centuries have been of the tribe of Levi. Notice, now, how binding is God's covenant with David. "Thus saith the Eternal; If ye can break my covenant of the day, and my covenant of the night, and that there should not be day and night in their season; then may also my covenant be broken with David my servant, that he should not have a son to reign upon his throne..." (verses 20-21).
What People Say
Continue: "Considerest thou not what this people have spoken, saying, The two families which the Eternal hath chosen, he hath even cast them off? Thus they have despised my people, that they should be no more a nation before them" (verse 24). That is what the people have been saying, as they were prophesied to say! They say the Jews were scattered among many, if not all, nations—scattered individuals— but no longer a nation having its own government! And the Ten Tribes were supposed to have been "lost," or to have gone out of existence, or to be just part of the scattered individual Jews! Yes, so the Jews themselves have said—and so the world has said! But what does GOD say? Continue, next verse: "Thus saith the Eternal; If my covenant be not with day and night, and if I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth; then will I cast away the seed of Jacob, and David my servant, so that I will not take any of his seed [dynasty] to be rulers over the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: for I will cause their captivity to return, and have mercy on them" (verses 25-26).
The Test of Bible Truth
Strong words, those! Unless you can stop this old earth from turning on its axis—unless you can remove the sun and the moon and stars from heaven, says the Almighty, you cannot prevent Him from keeping His covenant to maintain continuously, through all generations, FOREVER, from the time of David and Solomon, a descendant of David in one continuous dynasty on that throne! He would not necessarily rule over all the house of Israel, or the Jews—but at least some of them, and enough to form a nation. This cannot be applied to mean that there would not have been a continuous throne, or that it applies only to the "one seed"—Christ—finally coming to rule. Notice, it says specifically, "... So that I will not take any of his seed to be RULERS [more than one] over" Israelites. It is speaking of continuous, multiple rulers—not one Ruler coming to sit on a throne that 2,500 years before had ceased to exist! The COVENANT PROMISE to David is plain and definite. Either his dynasty has continued and exists today, ruling over the house of ISRAEL (not the Jews), or God's Word fails! Remember again the sceptre promise, which includes this line of kings until it culminates in CHRIST at His second coming: "The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver [margin, ruler's staff] from between his feet, UNTIL SHILOH [Christ] COME; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be" (Gen. 49:10). Has the sceptre departed from Judah? Has the throne ceased? Or does it, as God so bindingly promised, exist today so that Christ can take over and sit upon a functioning, continuous throne when He comes? The infallibility of the Bible is at stake! God's Word is at stake!
Children of Israel Become Two Nations
The house of Israel is not Jewish! Those who constitute it are not Jews, and never were! That fact we shall now see conclusively, beyond refute. After David's death, his son Solomon succeeded him to the throne over Israel. Solomon taxed the people excessively and reigned in a gorgeous splendor probably never equalled before or since. He also married Gentile wives from outside nations. Because of them, he burned incense and sacrificed to Moloch and other idols. As a result of this, "the Eternal said unto Solomon, Forasmuch as this is done of thee, and thou hast not kept my covenant and my statutes, which I have commanded thee, I will surely rend the kingdom from thee, and will give it to thy servant. Notwithstanding in thy days I will not do it for David thy father's sake; but I will rend it out of the hand of thy son. Howbeit I will not rend away ALL the kingdom; but will give one tribe to thy son for David my servant's sake, and for Jerusalem's sake which I have chosen" (I Kings 11:11-13).
Israel Separated from David's Throne
Note it! It is the kingdom, not part of it, which is to be rent away. It is the part, one tribe, which is to remain. And note—for right here is expressed the great WHY of this whole question—though Solomon himself deserved to have it rent away, God will leave one tribe, not because of leniency toward Solomon, but "FOR DAVID'S SAKE"! God has made a perpetual covenant with David, unconditionally, which He cannot and will not break. David's dynasty cannot be broken! That is the reason the sceptre promise is not destroyed, but the ruler is to be permitted to rule on, without a single generation's gap, over at least a part of the children of Israel. In I Kings 11:26 you read of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, an Ephrathite, or Ephraimite, Solomon's servant. He was made ruler over the "house of Joseph"—or Ephraim and Manasseh. Speaking to Jeroboam through Ahijah the prophet, the Eternal says: "Behold, I will rend the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon, and will give ten tribes to thee... . Howbeit I will not take the whole kingdom out of his hand ... for David my servant's sake, whom I chose, because HE kept my commandments and my statutes. But I will take THE KINGDOM out of his son's hand, and will give it unto thee, even ten tribes. And unto his son will I give one tribe, that David my servant [remember why] may have a light alway before me in Jerusalem, the city which I have chosen me to put my name there. And I will take thee, and thou shalt reign according to all that thy soul desireth, and shalt be king over Israel" (I Kings 11:31-37). These words make plain two facts: The nation Israel is to be taken away from Solomon's son and given to Jeroboam. It is not just a tribe, or a few tribes, but the nation called by the title Israel which this Jeroboam, of the tribe of Ephraim, is to rule. The ten-tribed kingdom was the one to which the national title "Israel" was given. For truly, the name "Israel" was named on the sons of Joseph! (Gen. 48:16.) Wherever they are, the Bible calls them by the national name ISRAEL. To the world, their identity today is lost. But, in biblical prophecy, it is they— not the Jews—who are called ISRAEL! And they were in, and headed, the ten-tribed nation ISRAEL. On the other hand, because of His promise to David, the Eternal left one tribe, Judah, in Jerusalem under the sons of Solomon, so that a son of David might continue to sit on the throne of David over children of Israel. God had promised David, unconditionally, that the time would never come when he would not have a son or descendant sitting on the throne ruling over children of Israel. Now, in later actual history, we see that promise being carried out—that covenant made binding! The children of Judah, though they do not constitute all the children of Israel and though they are not called by that national title, nevertheless are children of Israel, and thus God can keep His promise to David; can avoid abolishing the sceptre promises made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And at the same time God can visit punishment upon Solomon by taking away the NATION Israel and leaving a son of the sceptre promise sitting on the throne over only one tribe. Note the very important point that, though a punishment must be inflicted, God does not break any of His promises.
David's Dynasty Rules Over Judah
God had promised that "the sceptre SHALL NOT DEPART FROM JUDAH." He did not break that promise. Now note carefully that the ten tribes, rent away, are called by the title "Israel," and that the one tribe remaining under Rehoboam, Solomon's son, is merely called "Judah" or the "house of Judah." They go by their tribal name, while the ten-tribed kingdom continues to carry the national name "Israel." Actually, Israel rejected its king and set a new king, Jeroboam, on Israel's throne. The tribe of Judah seceded from the nation Israel in order to retain Rehoboam as their king. But now Rehoboam, David's grandson, became king of a new nation. That new nation was not the kingdom of Israel. It was the kingdom of Judah! Now see how it happened. When Solomon's son, Rehoboam, succeeded to the throne, the people at once demanded that the heavy taxes imposed by Solomon be reduced. They sent their leader, Jeroboam, as spokesman, to Rehoboam. Pleaded Jeroboam: "Thy father made our yoke grievous: now therefore make thou the grievous service of thy father, and his heavy yoke which he put upon us, lighter, and we will serve thee" (I Kings 12:4). The reply was: "My father chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions" (verse 11). Israel rebelled. The command to the people was: "To your tents, O Israel!" The challenge to the royal family was "Now see to thine own house"! (Verse 16.) "So Israel rebelled against the house of David unto this day [the day this was written]. And it came to pass, when all Israel heard that Jeroboam was come again, that they sent and called him unto the congregation, and made him king over ALL ISRAEL: there was none that followed the house of David, but the tribe of JUDAH only" (I Kings 12:19-20). Then "Rehoboam ... assembled all the HOUSE OF JUDAH, with the tribe of Benjamin" (verse 21). Rehoboam commenced to fight to subdue and bring back the house of Israel, but God said, "Ye shall not... fight against your brethren the children of Israel... for this thing is from me" (verse 24).
Israel Divided into Two Nations
Did you notice that it is now the ten-tribed kingdom (headed by the Ephraim-Manasseh tribes with an Ephraimite as their king), the inheritor of the birthright promises, which is called the HOUSE OF ISRAEL? The tribe of Judah left to Rehoboam, along with the Benjamites and later, after Jeroboam kicked them out of office in Israel, the priestly tribe of Levi, is called in Scripture, not Israel, but the house of Judah. They are all actually children of Israel but are no longer called by that national title. This is emphasized so much because the common conception is exactly the opposite. The average conception today seems to be that the tribe of Judah which remained carried the title "Israel." Most people seem to think of the Ten Tribes as merely certain tribes driven out from the nation Israel. But it is ISRAEL which now sets up its kingdom under the Ephraimite Jeroboam, in the land of Samaria, north of Jerusalem. It is not Israel, but Judah— a mere three tribes broken off from Israel—which is left behind in Jerusalem. The Ten Tribes were not broken off from Israel. Israel did not remain in Jerusalem. Instead, Judah was broken off from Israel.
Israel at War with the Jews
Notice it carefully! The house of Judah, now including the tribe of Benjamin under King Rehoboam of David's dynasty, was about to fight against the nation Israel—with its ten tribes headed by Ephraim and Manasseh. Now let us have scriptural proof that the ten-tribed people called Israel, often prophetically spoken of as Ephraim, are not Jews and never were Jews! Remember that the term "Jew" is merely a nickname for "Judah." Hence, it applies to the one nation, or house of Judah only— never to the house of Israel. From any exhaustive concordance you can learn that the first time in all the Bible that the word "Jew" occurs is in II Kings 16:6. Nowhere in all the Bible before this does the name "Jew" appear. Notice it! Ahaz began to reign as king of Judah (verse 1). He sat on David's throne (verse 2). At this time, a man named Pekah was king of Israel. King Pekah of Israel formed an alliance with Rezin, king of Syria, against Judah, and together the armies of Israel and Syria, allied, came up against Jerusalem. They besieged King Ahaz of Judah, but could not overcome him (verse 5). "At that time," says verse 6, "Rezin king of Syria [the ally of Israel, fighting with Israel against Judah] recovered Elath to Syria, and drove the JEWS from Elath" (verse 6). The first place in the Bible where the word "Jew" is used, we find Israel at war against the Jews! Who drove the Jews out of Elath? The ally of King Pekah of Israel! The army fighting with Israel against Judah. And the children of Judah who resided in the town of Elath are called Jews in a manner which distinguished them from the house of Israel, with whom these Jews were at war! Observe the significance of that! The first place in Scripture where the name Jew appears, the Jews were at WAR against ISRAEL! They are of a different nation altogether. They are, individually, children of Israel. But they do not have that national title—house of Israel. It is wrong to call the Jews of today "Israel." They are not the nation Israel—they are Judah! And wherever Israel is today, remember that Israel as a national name does not mean JEW! Whoever the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel are today, they are not the Jews! Wherever you see the name "Israel," or "house of Israel," or "Samaria," or "Ephraim" used in prophecy, remember this: IT NEVER REFERS TO THE JEWS, but to Israel, which was at war against the Jews!
House of Israel Not Jews
No place in all the Bible does the term "Israel" refer to the Jews exclusively. When the sense is not national but individual, the term "Israel" alone, or "children of Israel," or "men of Israel." may, and sometimes does, refer to or include the Jews. Such an expression, for instance, as "ye men of Israel," which frequently occurs in the New Testament, refers to Israelites as individuals in a collective sense, not a national sense. It usually refers to Jews as individual descendants of the patriarch Israel (Jacob). Moses may not, scripturally, be called a Jew. He was a Levite. Abraham was not a Jew. Neither was Isaac nor Jacob—nor Adam or Noah for that matter. The descendants of the patriarch Judah are racially Jews and also all who joined themselves nationally to the tribe of Judah—those of the tribes of Benjamin and Levi. Jews are Israelites, just as Californians are Americans. But most Israelites are not Jews, just as most Americans are not Californians. The Jews are the house of Judah only, A PART of the Israelites. But when these people are spoken of as nations, rather than as collective individuals, the term "Israel" never refers to the Jews. "House of Israel" never means "Jews." The three tribes at Jerusalem under the Davidic king are called, merely, the house of Judah. But of Ephraim and Manasseh, sons of Joseph, the dying Israel had said, "Let my name be named on them" (Gen. 48:16). And truly they now bear the name of Israel. From here on, the tribe of Judah, with Benjamin and the tribe of Levi, is called "JUDAH"—not ISRAEL. The ten tribes, headed by Ephraim and Manasseh, from this time on are called "Israel." They are not Jews and never were called Jews! From this time on, the children of Israel, twelve tribes in all, are divided into two nations! And now, for the first time, the birthright goes into one nation, Israel, headed by Ephraim-Manasseh, while the sceptre remains in another nation, called the "house of Judah." The two phases of the promises to Abraham now are divided between two entirely separate nations! For many generations Israel and Judah remained as separate nations, in adjoining territories, having their own separate kings. Why should ministers and professed Bible students be in ignorance of this, when four whole books of the Bible, I and II Kings and I and II Chronicles, are devoted to explaining it and recording the history of these separate, rival kingdoms? Look at the maps in the back of your Bible. There you will see the territory of each nation plainly shown. Judah retained the city of Jerusalem, its capital, and the territory known as Judea. Israel occupied the territory north of Judea. Samaria became its capital city, and the house of Israel often is called "Samaria" in prophecy. This, too, is a vital "key" to understanding prophecy. "Samaria" never refers to the Jews in prophecy—but always the ten tribes, the house of Israel. We want to impress, here, that Israel and Judah are not two names for the same nation. They were, and still are, and shall be till the second coming of Christ, TWO SEPARATE NATIONS. The "house of Judah" always means "Jew." This distinction is vital, if we are to understand prophecy. Because most so-called Bible students are in ignorance of this basic distinction, they are unable to rightly understand prophecy! The next place where the term "Jew" is mentioned in the Bible, the house of Israel had been driven out into captivity, lost from view, and the term applies only to those of the house of Judah.
Israel Rejects God's Rule
Immediately on becoming king over the house of Israel, Jeroboam (tribe of Ephraim) set up two golden calves, introducing idol worship in the kingdom (I Kings 12:28-33). Jeroboam was afraid lest his subjects, in going once a year to Jerusalem to keep the Feast of Tabernacles, should return to Rehoboam and he should lose his new throne. The introduction of idolatry was to prevent this and to keep the people home. This idolatry with Sabbath-breaking (Ezek. 20:10-24) was the great national sin which became such a curse to Israel. Generation after generation God pleaded with the house of Israel to turn from tradition—from their fathers' ways—and to return to keeping God's commandments. But through nine different dynasties under 19 kings, Israel continued these national sins—sins so great in God's sight that finally God caused them to become a conquered, captive nation. Now let us note a passage which has been consistently misinterpreted. In I Kings 14:15-16 we find, "The Eternal shall smite Israel [not Judah], as a reed is shaken in the water, and he shall root up Israel out of this good land, which he gave to their fathers, and shall scatter them [not Judah] beyond the river, because they have made their groves, provoking the Eternal to anger. And he shall give Israel [not Judah] up because of the sins of Jeroboam, who did sin, and who made Israel to sin." This is dealing specifically with the result of Jeroboam's idol worship in Israel— in the northern ten-tribed kingdom which possessed the birthright promises. It is these people who were to be rooted up and scattered beyond the river. Not the Jews. Yet this passage is quoted by nearly all students of prophecy as pertaining to the scattered condition of the Jews today—the very people to whom it does not apply. This is one example of the fact that what we are here covering is a veritable KEY to an understanding of many long-hidden prophecies. Unless this is kept firmly in mind, prophecy can never be correctly understood. The people which this passage says shall be rooted up and scattered beyond the river never were called Jews. They were the people headed by Ephraim and Manasseh, possessors of the unconditional promises of becoming a great nation and a company of nations—becoming so numerous they would number into the hundreds of millions, possessing the gates of enemy nations, becoming a colonizing people, spreading out till their colonies spread around the globe. Yet many who come to see this distinction between Israel and Judah—between Jews and the other tribes—after having seen it as a great new light, will, by force of years of habit, fall right back into the old rut and apply texts referring to Israel to the Jews! The terms "house of Israel" or "all Israel," when the meaning is national, or the terms "Jacob," or "Rachel," or "Ephraim," or "house of Joseph," or "Samaria," often used in the Bible in prophecy, RELATE TO THE TEN-TRIBED BIRTHRIGHT PEOPLE, NOT TO THE JEWS. This is a KEY, and a master key, to Bible understanding!
Israel Driven Out and Lost
In the years 721-718 B.C., the house of Israel was conquered and its people were soon driven out of their own land—out of their homes and cities—and carried captives to Assyria, on the southern shores of the Caspian Sea! And then ... LOST FROM VIEW! "Therefore the Eternal was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of his sight: there was none left but the tribe of Judah only" (II Kings 17:18). The Eternal removed whom? Israel! It is Israel which was removed and driven from the Eternal's sight until they became lost from view. Who was left? Judah ONLY—only the Jews! Israel was now gone! They became known as the LOST Ten Tribes and are so designated today.
Gentiles Replace the House of Israel
Now notice II Kings 17:22-23: "For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they departed not from them; until the Lord removed Israel out of his sight, as he had said by all his servants the prophets. So was Israel [not Judah—not the Jews] carried away out of their own land to ASSYRIA unto this day [written about 620 B.C.]." Observe that the people who had the national title "Israel" and the birthright promises, who were not the Jews, were carried away out of their own land— Samaria. They left that land—never yet to return! Now note the following verse of this same passage: "And the king of Assyria brought men from Babylon, and from Cuthah, and from Ava, and from Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed THEM in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel: and they possessed Samaria, and dwelt in the cities thereof (II Kings 17:24). It is these foreigners who were living in the land of Samaria in the time of Christ and who were called Samaritans in the Gospel records. It is well to keep that in mind. For the Samaritans of the New Testament were not in any sense a racial mixture with the Israelites. Only one individual—a priest—returned from among the captive Israelites to teach the newly planted Gentiles the corrupted religion of Israel (II Kings 17:27-28). These people from the land of Babylon, however, did not follow God, nor God's ways, nor His religion. The very next verse shows this: But "every nation [still] made gods of their own ..." (II Kings 17:29). The general state religion of the Assyrians and Babylonians was the Chaldean mystery religion. This was the religion of Simon the sorcerer (Acts 8) who believed Philip's miracles, appropriated the name "Christian," and started a new counterfeit "Christianity" after the apostle Peter rejected him as being bound in "iniquity"—i.e., "lawlessness." He took the name of Christ, rejected God's law, and added licentious false "grace" to the Babylonian mystery religion, calling it "Christianity." This false "Christianity" has deceived millions, down to this present evil generation! A more detailed account of the captivity of Israel is found in II Kings 18:9-12 and 17:5-18. The house of Israel began to "abide many days without a king" (Hosea 3:4). Since they were the people who carried the title "Israel," it is they, not Judah, who must become lost in identity!
Israel, Not Judah, Lost
The Scriptures plainly tell us that Israel was to lose its identity, its language, its religion, its land, and its name. In Deuteronomy 32:26, God had warned them through Moses: "I said, I would scatter them into corners, I would MAKE THE REMEMBRANCE OF THEM TO CEASE FROM AMONG MEN." That warning cannot be applied to the Jew! The remembrance of the Jews has not ceased. The remembrance of them could not cease unless their identity and name were lost. This applies to the LOST tribes, not to the Jews. Now notice Isaiah 8:17: "And I will wait upon the Lord, THAT HIDETH HIS FACE FROM THE HOUSE OF JACOB." Jacob's name was changed to Israel. In other words, this applies to the house of Israel—the ten-tribed kingdom—who were cut off from the presence of God. They consequently lost the knowledge of the true God, and the true religion. The Eternal would cease speaking to them in their own Hebrew tongue, but with "another tongue will he speak to this people" (Isa. 28:11). This cannot apply to the Jews, who still read their Bibles in the Hebrew tongue. Isaiah 62:2: "And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory [after Christ returns]: and thou shalt be called by a NEW NAME, which the mouth of the Lord shall name." While this prophecy refers directly to the future, after Christ's return, it has also been fulfilled, typically, foreshadowing that time, by the fact that Israel is known by a different name today. That cannot apply to the Jews. They were known then, and today, as Jews.
Israel Never Returned
The house of Israel did not return to Palestine with the Jews in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah, as some erroneously believe. Those who returned to rebuild the Temple and restore worship in Jerusalem at that time, 70 years after Judah's captivity, were only those of the house of Judah whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried to Babylon. Note well these facts. 1) In 721-718 B.C. ISRAEL began to be "carried away out of their own land to Assyria" (II Kings 17:23). They were soon all removed—completely. "There was none left but the tribe of Judah only" (II Kings 17:18). JUDAH. only, remained. 2) More than 130 years later, Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon carried the Jews—Judah—who only remained in Palestine away to Babylon. So none of the house of Israel dwelt in Palestine at the time of this captivity of Judah. 3) Those who returned to Palestine to rebuild the Temple and restore worship 70 years after Judah's captivity were ALL of the house of Judah—all JEWS—all of those whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away. They returned again "unto Jerusalem and Judah, every one unto his city" (Ezra 2:1). Only those of the tribe of Judah, together with remnants of Benjamin and Levi, who constituted the house of Judah, returned at that time. "Then rose up the chief of the fathers of Judah and Benjamin, and the priests, and the Levites" (Ezra 1:5). There are, of course, those who reject this truth God has seen fit now, in our time, to reveal—and who falsely represent that ALL Israelites, including the ten-tribed house of Israel, returned to Jerusalem at the time of Ezra and Nehemiah. They will sift out instances where the word "Israel" is used in connection with individuals or people of the HOUSE OF JUDAH and misrepresent that they are the HOUSE OF ISRAEL. Let it be repeated for emphasis: Jews are Israelites—but only part of the Israelites are Jews. The term "Jew" is a nickname for the national name JUDAH. Jews are, truly, men of Israel—or people of Israel— but they are not of the NATION called the HOUSE OF ISRAEL, or KINGDOM OF ISRAEL. Those who refuse this truth turn to such a passage as this: "And the residue of Israel, of the priests, and the Levites, were in all the cities of Judah, every one in his inheritance" (Neh. 11:20). Because the word "Israel" is used, they will claim these are all twelve tribes. But it is specifically speaking of priests and Levites—and they are of the house of Judah, but not of the ten-tribed house of Israel. They were truly the "residue of Israel"—the "residue" of the twelve tribes; they were Israelites, but they were not of the nation called the house of Israel. They returned to their inheritance in the land of Judah. Nehemiah says plainly: "These are the children of the province, that went up out of the captivity [the captivity to Babylon—captivity of JUDAH, not the house of Israel], of those that had been carried away, whom Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon had carried away ..." (Neh. 7:6). And none of the Ten Tribes had been left in Palestine after the Assyrian captivity more than 100 years before (II Kings 17:18). Ezra says: "And the children of Israel, the priests, and the Levites, and the rest of the children of the captivity, kept the dedication ..." (Ezra 6:16). These were people of the kingdom of Judah—not the kingdom of Israel—but they were "children of Israel." Names and genealogies are given in Ezra and Nehemiah of those who went back to Palestine from Babylon—and there was none from any of the Ten Tribes! Consequently those in Jerusalem at the time of Christ were of these three tribes, not of the house of Israel. And most, if not all, of those converted were of the tribe of Benjamin, as Paul said he was. The house of Israel became known as the LOST Ten Tribes! Now known by another name, speaking a different language! By what name are they known today? Whoever they are, wherever they are, it is they, and not the Jews, who are the birthright possessors. It is they, not the Jews, who, after the ending of their punishment in A.D. 1800-1803, must inherit the UNbreakable promises to Abraham of national greatness, resources, wealth and power. It is Manasseh who was to become the world's greatest single nation; Ephraim a great commonwealth of nations! Who can they be today?