What if I told you the Jews are not all of the Israel of the Bible? Is Israel more than just the Jewish State of today? Does this sound impossible?
Since 1948 the Jewish state of Israel has been the homeland of Jews from around the world. A refuge created out of the Holocaust where Jews could be safe, live and preserve their cultural identity.
But to say they are not all the Israel of the Bible, how would this impact your understanding of the Bible and its prophecies for our world today?
Join us on Beyond Today for a study into the Bible to understand the true identity of Israel and why this matters to you now. You need to understand "The Lost Tribes of Israel: Why They Matter."
On a recent visit to Israel I was sitting at dinner on the Sea of Galilee with two Israeli friends. The discussion turned to the Bible and prophecy. They wanted to know what we on Beyond Today believe about the Jewish State of Israel and its place in world events.
I began by explaining that the Jewish state does have a key role to play not only in world affairs but also in the fulfillment of end-time Bible prophecy. But then I said, "But your Jewish state here is not the entire story. There are other modern nations who are also descended from Abraham and are involved in all the promises made to the man you rightly consider to be your ‘father.'" In fact, I went on to say, "you'd be surprised to learn that this Jewish state is not all there is to what the Bible describes as the Israel of God."
At about that time you could see their eyes glaze over in doubt. They began to tune me out - no longer listen.
And right now you may be thinking, What kind of crack-pot idea is this? Is this religious quackery or biblical extremism?
Far from it. It is really a matter of looking at what your Bible says and putting together key biblical passages to understand what today's leaders and academics and even religious leaders do not understand. Listen carefully and check out your Bible. We have some surprising information that will unlock some of the complex issues of today's world.
How could I make the statement that Israel consists of more than just the Jewish people? Well, let's look at the story from the Bible. After all the Jews are called the "people of the Book," and we should find an answer there.
This is such a vital and important subject for you to understand. If you're really to truly understand Bible prophecy then you must understand this key of who is Israel and where the modern Jews, including the State of Israel, fit into the story. It's one of the most fascinating stories in the Bible and in history. Nothing could be more important for you to understand!
Out of the ashes of the Holocaust of World War II, the Jewish state of Israel was born in 1948. On a day in May that year in Jerusalem, David Ben Gurion declared the existence of the State of Israel and the United States became the first nation to give formal recognition to the newly declared nation. For the first time since 70 A.D. a Jewish state existed in the Middle East.
Now 1948 is seen as a key event by students of Bible prophecy. With a Jewish state in the Middle East certain prophecies could then be fulfilled.
One such prophecy is found in Daniel 9 where we have what is known as the 70 Weeks Prophecy. Key parts of this prophecy speak of the "holy city" - which is Jerusalem - and to restore and to build Jerusalem. There are references in that prophecy to a "sanctuary" and to a "sacrifice and offering" that clearly indicate that Jerusalem, the city is meant. And now a place of formal worship and sacrifices related to the biblical offerings are mentioned as well. This end time prophecy can really only be set in Jerusalem with some form of worship patterned on that described in the first five books of the Bible: Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy.
This prophecy - the 70 Weeks Prophecy - specifically deals with the coming of the Messiah to Jerusalem, in fulfillment of many biblical prophecies. It could only be fulfilled if there was a Jewish state in Jerusalem and Israel. That's why 1948 is seen as such a pivotal year by students of Bible prophecy.
Because of this Jewish presence, American evangelical religions have supported Israel financially and morally for decades. All this support stems from the belief in prophecies about the coming of the Messiah. You can see on television how so many American religions have a presence in the State of Israel. The connection of American religion to Israel, not to speak of churches from many other lands, is , more than just because it is the land of the Bible. They feel that they are helping to fulfill prophecy by supporting the Jewish presence in the land.
But there is more to the story. Just who are the Jewish people within the story of Israel? This prophecy in Daniel 9 - the 70 Weeks Prophecy - is one of many prophecies of the end time. That there is a Jewish presence in the land of the Bible is only one proof of God's enduring faithfulness to all nations.
Now let's understand who Israel is, in the Bible and where the Jewish people fit into the story.
The nation of Israel refers to the 12 tribes who marched out of Egypt under Moses in the story of the Exodus. These 12 groups were descended from the 12 sons of the patriarch Jacob. You remember Jacob - he was the one who had a dream of a ladder stretching up to heaven. Jacob also had 12 sons, called the 12 tribes of Israel.
In the story Jacob's name is eventually changed to Israel by God and his descendants, through his sons, grew into the people called Israel in the Bible.
Now here is what you should understand at this point. One of these sons was named Judah. His descendants were known as Jews. Jews today come from Judah. Judah was however only one of the sons. There were other sons of Jacob: Reuben, Gad, Benjamin and even Joseph, the one who had the amazing technicolor dream coat. These were all sons of Jacob.
These 12 tribes formed the nation of Israel which we read about in the biblical books of Joshua, Judges, Samuel and Kings. King David ruled over this nation from Jerusalem. His son, Solomon built the magnificent temple in Jerusalem.
The tribe of Judah, or the Jewish people were only one part of the larger nation of Israel. You don't have to be Jewish to be an Israelite!
But how did they become so prominent and why do we only remember this tribe, the tribe of Judah - the Jews, today? It's a good question and the Bible gives us the answer.
The Bible tells us that after the death of Solomon the nation went through a crisis under his son Rehoboam resulting in a division of the one nation into two. Ten of the tribes residing north of Jerusalem formed the nation called Israel. The main tribes to the south, Judah and Benjamin formed the nation of Judah with its capital at Jerusalem.
The nation of Israel was never considered Jewish. The word Jew only referred to the southern nation of Judah. Judah then was known as the Jews from this time forward. When we read references in the Bible to Israel, we are talking about either the united nation of Israel or this ten-tribed northern nation after the division. Judah refers to a different Jewish state.
Now here is where we come to an interesting episode in Scripture that illustrates this.
It's in 2 Kings 16:6 where we have the story of a time of conflict between these two nations - they are at war with each other. A king named Ahaz reigns over Judah. To the north over the nation of Israel, a man named Pekah was king. King Pekah of Israel formed an alliance with a neighboring king of Syria named Rezin and they attacked Judah. Verse 6 says, "At that time Rezin, king of Syria recovered Elath to Syria and drove the Jews from Elath."
Here in this scripture is the first place in the Bible where the Jew appears - the word Jew - and we find Israel at war against the Jews. Imagine that, the Jews at war with Israel. They are a different nation. They are individually, children of Israel but they do not have that national title - House of Israel.
So we see in Scripture a distinction between these peoples. Many critical Bible prophecies of the time of the end distinguish between these two nations, calling the northern nation the House of Israel or Ephraim - Ephraim being the name for the leading tribe among the northern nation. Judah is referred to separately. They are often treated separately and this is important to know.
The ancient nation of Israel existed for about 200 years before falling captive to the nation of Assyria. Their people were removed from the land, scattered and lost. They are known in history as the lost ten tribes of Israel. But they are not really lost because we read in Revelation that in the time just prior to the coming of Jesus Christ, God deals with peoples from these nations. God knows their identity today. He knows where they reside among the world's nations.
The nation of Judah to the south, it survived longer than Israel but eventually it too fell this time to the Babylonian empire. Most of the Jewish state was taken to Babylon. Seventy years later, in fulfillment of a prophecy of Jeremiah, a group of Jews returned to Jerusalem, rebuilt the city and the temple. A nation of Jews existed in Jerusalem with their distinctive culture until its collapse in 70 A.D. at the hand of the Romans. Descendants of this Jewish state founded today's State of Israel in modern time in1948.
This modern Jewish state, called Israel, bears an ancient name but only represents a small part of the entire people called Israel who once lived in the land and to whom so many of the biblical prophecies apply. But where are the rest?
The answer to that question is big. It's a large and it's an important story that really takes more than one program to describe. We have put this amazing story into a full color study guide that we'd like to make available to you free of charge.
This booklet, The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy shows why it's important to understand where the State of Israel fits into the flow of prophecy. You'll learn that the so-called lost ten tribes of Israel are not really lost at all. They are an important part of Bible prophecy, a little understood key to unlocking end-time events. Without this key you cannot properly understand prophecy.
Now we are offering this free booklet today to give you a deeper understanding of these vital prophecies. You can get your free copy by calling: 1-888-886-8632 or you can go online to BeyondToday.tv . Again, the number is: 1-888-886-8632.
And, here's something for you who have e-readers like the Kindle. This booklet is available for download via the Amazon website. Just do a search for "The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy" on their site and you can download it for free direct to your e-reader. It's the quickest and most direct way to get the booklet.
And if you have an iPad, this booklet is also available as a free download in the iBookstore.
Now why is this subject important? Because the State of Israel, today's Jewish state, is not all there is to Israel, the Israel of God. And when you understand that the promises God made to Abraham and to his descendants and Bible prophecy is directed specifically to certain modern nations, such as America and Great Britain, then you can begin to really understand prophetic keys that open the Bible to deeper understanding.
When you understand that key prophecies are directed to nations and peoples who have received the physical promises God made to the ancient nation of Israel, you then begin to understand that there is a call to repentance - a call to change the way you live. You have to do something.
God calls all men everywhere to repent and the English-speaking nations like Great Britain, Canada, Australia and the United States have a greater responsibility before God.
Our world is rapidly moving to the close of an age. A different world under the reign of Jesus Christ is about to dawn. This current world scene, this age of man's rule, is going to be replaced with the rule of Jesus Christ on this earth.
But before this world saving event occurs, there is an unparalleled time of trouble through which we must pass. Daniel the prophet spoke of the time just ahead of us.
He said, "At that time Michael shall stand up, the great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation, even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, every one who is found written in the book" (Daniel 12:1).
Here in one verse is the warning about a tribulation and the hope of deliverance.
Let's understand where we are today. We see in the Middle East a changing landscape because of the unrest occurring in so many countries. On Beyond Today we are continually telling you about the threat from a major power like Iran as it develops nuclear weapons. We have kept you abreast of the changing scene in Egypt. The importance of Jerusalem as the centerpiece of end-time prophetic events has repeatedly been covered.
We have traveled to Europe to film programs that talk about the emerging power of the Eurozone countries. Europe is going through dramatic changes as we speak. What will be created in Europe will astound the world. A power is to emerge on the scene that promises peace, security and the continuance of a prosperous and orderly world.
And we see America, Great Britain and the other English-speaking nations working their way through economic challenges in a shifting world order that in the end will create new leaders with a different vision for the world.
The world we have now is soon to change. What we have known as familiar and comfortable will become challenging and different. Are you prepared? Will you understand? Will you heed the warning from God?
This may seem a bit bizarre and off-setting, but you really do need to give yourself the opportunity and the time to wrap your mind around this message from God's Word, the Bible.
When you do, you will begin to understand why the so-called lost tribes of Israel matter. You will understand this is a critical understanding for prophecy and more importantly a reassuring, eye-opening affirmation of the enduring faithfulness of God.
God is bringing all history to a time of transition, to the age of Christ's rule on the earth. God is going to rebuild the tabernacle of David, now in ruins, and set up a restored, united Israel, far different than the State of Israel today. The Jewish state is but one tribe, one part, of the story of Israel. Their importance is that they, and the Jews scattered around the world, have maintained an identity rooted in the law of God. The Sabbath , for instance or Shabbat as the call it, along with the festivals of God and other parts of the law help shape the identity of this people.
The Jews are a visible sign today that Israel exists. Israel, the nation of tribes with whom God made a covenant - and including their modern descendants who are part of that promise and that covenant - those peoples will play a key role in God's plan for the future of all mankind.
In the book of Romans in the New Testament, the apostle Paul tells the story of ancient Israel's rise and fall and hope of restoration. Israel had a deep relationship with God. Their opportunity was to become a nation based on the law of God and His glory. God made special promises to this people and set them apart from all other nations. All of the physical promises were a type of the spiritual promises found in Christ, a direct descendant of King David.
But ancient Israel failed. As we saw earlier, they split apart and through a combination of idolatry and Sabbath-breaking they dishonored and disobeyed God - resulting in their captivity and exile. Most of Israel, with the exception of the Jews, forgot who they were.
But Paul's desire and his prayer for Israel, his people, was that they would be saved. Even though ancient Israel did not obey the gospel, their rejection is not total nor permanent. God has not cast Israel aside. Through Paul, God reveals there is a remnant of Israel among today's nations and by His grace they will be regathered.
But here is the amazing and little understood truth! Israel's rejection of God works to His glory and purpose. All other nations and peoples, what the Bible calls the gentiles, have had an opportunity for this same relationship with God based on His eternal promises. In God's time, all will have opportunity to know Him.
The apostle Paul says that blindness has come upon Israel until the fullness of the gentiles has come in. In a magnificent piece of writing Paul is inspired to show that Israel, all 12 tribes and all the world will have an opportunity for salvation. All nations will have an opportunity to receive the full promises of God, both physical and spiritual.
When Israel is restored, the ruins of the House of David will be rebuilt. All mankind will seek the Lord. All nations who are called by His name will come to Jerusalem and learn of His ways (Zechariah 14:16).
So Israel matters. Not just the Jewish State in the Middle East today. All the tribes, which includes many among today's nations, matter to God and to the world.
In one last burst of inspired enthusiasm Paul exclaims, "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!"(Romans 11:33).
The understanding of who is Israel is the key to understanding today's world and the march of history toward the Kingdom of God. The understanding of Israel shows us the enduring promises of God's salvation for all the nations. Because He is faithful with Israel, He will be faithful in His promise through Christ to all peoples - including to you and to me. That is the good news of the gospel!
Now there's more to discuss. Fellow Beyond Today hosts, Steve Myers and Gary Petty will join me for a discussion about these lost tribes.
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I'm joined today by my fellow Beyond Today hosts, Steve Myers and Gary Petty to continue this discussion of the lost tribes of Israel and why they matter. Why is it important Gary, to know the identity of these lost tribes?
[Gary] You know, part of the theme of the entire Bible is the promises God made to Abraham. And that's not just to his, the spiritual descendants of Abraham that Paul talks about in the New Testament, but also the physical descendants. So to truly understand prophecy and how God's working through the timeline of history, it's important to know who they are.
[Steve] Yeah I think it's interesting if you think about it, just in a family sense. I know there's a lot of people that enjoy tracing their ancestry. And when - I know many people that have done this - and they seem to have a sense of being, a sense of who they are because they know where they came from. And in a way, that's kind of a biblical thing, when you know who you are, when you know the tribes of Israel and where they fit in prophecy then you can have a better understanding of where things are headed. Especially in understanding prophecy, I think it is such a helpful thing when you begin to see what God's intent was and what is prophesied about the various tribes.
[Darris] Can we know where these descendants are? These descendants of Israel today? Can we really know where they are?
[Gary] Well if you take the promises that are recorded in the book of Genesis, that God made to the descendants of Abraham…
[Gary] And then you look through history, you can search and find where are those promises fulfilled and you look for those threads all through history to see what God is doing. So you can build a substantial case of knowing who those peoples are.
[Darris] And you have to recall that in that scripture in Genesis 49, it does talk about what would be, come upon those tribes, those sons of Jacob in the last days.
[Gary] In the last days, that's right.
[Darris] That's a critical statement in that chapter way back in Genesis.
[Steve] Yeah and it points through that historic period of time to point to where these peoples are in some of the nations; especially, you can those characteristics that are prophesied about. And different nations have certain tendencies you might say that they kind of fit with what was prophesied about them. And then of course then when you fast forward to the end times then it does become more critical on why that identity becomes so important.
[Darris] We talk a lot on this program about prophecy being a motivator to change and to repentance. This particular subject that we're talking about here today, when you do understand it and grasp it, forces a change. You have to react to it. One way or the other and biblically you should effect a change in your life. And it's in that change that repentance to obedience to God and the change of a life that brings us actually back to the real crux issue of salvation which begins with repentance. Repentance from sin and draws us closer to God. So, in that way it does bring us back in line with the most important and critical issue of our whole spiritual life and that is salvation.
What lifts this subject then into the critical area of Bible knowledge?
[Gary] Well like all prophecy, what it helps us do is see God's sovereignty. God is the God of history. He's making sure certain events come about. He's also predicting events that you can be sure are going to happen. So like all other aspects of prophecy, when we study this, we see what God's doing. We see His plan. We see promises made to Abraham, that have been carried out now for 4000 years through his physical descendants. Also the promises made to the whole world. The whole world is blessed from Abraham through Christ, also through the other things that God's doing through those peoples. What you end up with is an increase of faith cause we see what God's doing.
[Steve] I think it moves the whole story beyond just something that's trivial. Well this is Bible trivia. But is the United States mentioned in the Bible? When you begin to understand this whole concept, then you can see yes, it is! But you've got to understand the whole basis for where those tribes are and what has happened and what is predicted for them. And so God does map it out but you've got to unlock that key. And so you can see God's hand throughout history and what His purpose is overall for the nations and for all mankind.
[Darris] In fact you really cannot understand today's world without understanding the modern identity of Israel, the ancient nation that's described in the pages of the Bible. You cannot fully appreciate the spiritual promise of eternal life that God makes for all people without understanding the promises made to Israel.
God's enduring promises will come to pass. Because He has been faithful to the physical side of these promises, you can be sure He will be faithful to the spiritual side. All nations and people who are called by God's name will seek Him and eventually have the opportunity to come to know Him.
All Israel and all nations matter.
I'll be right back with a final comment right after this.
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[Darris] Sign up to attend our informative Bible seminars today and thanks for joining us. And don't forget our free offers and be sure to tell your family and friends about us. Tune in again next week for another edition of Beyond Today and join us in praying, "Thy Kingdom come." For Beyond Today, I'm Darris McNeely. Thanks for watching.