Few Have Understood --
YEHOVAH God's Prophetic Plan for the Ages!
For there is still a vision for the appointed time; it speaks of the end, and does not lie. If it seems to tarry, wait for it; it will surely come, it will not delay (YHVH to Habakkuk, 6th century B.C.).
by James D. Tabor and John D. Keyser
The ultimate Plan of YEHOVAH God centers on the concept of the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God, spoken of by all the Old Testament prophets. It should be noted that the precise phrase, "Kingdom of God" does not appear in the Old Testament. However, the concept is found throughout. The message of the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God is at the absolute HEART of the authentic, historical message of Yeshua (Christ) and, indeed, runs throughout the New Testament texts as well. Unfortunately, the so-called Christian churches have largely substituted the message OF Yeshua (that is, the message he proclaimed) about the coming Kingdom of YEHOVAH God, for a message ABOUT Yeshua -- that is, his person and supposed Deity. Consider, now, the following representative quotations:
"They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of YEHOVAH [YHVH] as the waters cover the sea" (Isaiah 11:9).
"And YEHOVAH [YHVH] shall be king over all the earth. In that day it will be -- YEHOVAH is One, and His Name One" (Zechariah 14:9).
"Then the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdoms under the whole heaven shall be given to the people, the saints of the Most High. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey Him" (Daniel 7:27).
"For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former things shall not be remembered or come to mind" (Isaiah 65:17).
The Torah says of Cain, son of Adam and Eve and the first liar and murderer, that he "went out of the presence of YEHOVAH (YHVH), and dwelt in the land of Nod, east of Eden" (Genesis 4:16). Cain became a "fugitive and a wanderer" in the world, hidden from the Face of YEHOVAH God. The "land of Nod" means literally, the land of "wandering." Cain represents the way of humankind in the subsequent centuries -- largely cut off from the knowledge of YEHOVAH God and His Way, wandering "east of Eden." Two chapters later we read this chilling diagnosis of the human condition:
"Then YEHOVAH [YHVH] saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And YEHOVAH was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was saddened in His heart...The earth also was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence" (Genesis 6:5, 11).
This is how the Bible begins the human story. Human history is a sad and sorry tale of injustice, suffering, tragedy, waste and evil. Who could possibly sum up the woes of humanity, the bloodshed, the agony, the billions of tragic stories from Adam to our time?
Genesis is a book about how the Eternal Creator God started a great Plan to bring about an ultimate change or transformation of this sorry human condition. In the very first chapter we read that human beings are special, precious, and totally unique creatures on this planet. They are made in the very "image and likeness" of YEHOVAH God Himself and are potentially offered the gift of Eternal Life -- see Genesis 1:27 and 3:22). Human beings are capable of self-conscious reflection and reason, and thus are morally aware, responsible, and creative. In other words, they are "God-like" in their essential capacities. This means they are capable of an extraordinary potential -- true friendship or fellowship with the infinite, Eternal, Creator God. In fact, they have the potential of becoming very God -- members of the God Family and brothers and sisters of Yeshua the Messiah!
Every phrase in these early chapters of Genesis is filled with hints and meanings related to these most profound issues of human life -- the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, the tree of life, and the potential to become as YEHOVAH God. YEHOVAH's purpose for humankind is to create "sons and daughters" in intimate family relationships and stimulating intellectual association with Him as "Father." This involves the most precious commodity in the universe -- the creation of holy, righteous CHARACTER which only comes about through our individual life experiences. The full implications of this are beyond imagination -- only limited by the greatness and goodness of YEHOVAH God Himself. David once wrote, "What is man, that You are mindful of him?" (Psalm 8:4). The answer is that YEHOVAH'S ultimate Plan is to "put all things under his feet," but only after we humans have fully learned our collective and individual lessons from the past six thousand years of human mismanagement, rebellion, and waste.
The question, then, is this: how is that potential, that great Plan, ever to be realized in concrete human history? The one point about which the Scriptures are incontrovertibly and uncompromisingly clear is the following: This great human potential, to actually be part of the God-Family, will be realized here, in human history, not in some realm beyond this world. Salvation for humanity, both individual and collective, must be worked out in the rugged arena of human history. There are no shortcuts. The Kingdom of YEHOVAH God is not an escape to some world beyond, to some heavenly realm, where all is magically made perfect. There is no such escape.
The realities and conditions of this world, of our all-too-human history, will remain until they are worked out in an objective way through the hard lessons of experience. Salvation, in the full Biblical sense, is not instant, it is not magic. Many Christians have confused the notion of grace, which has to do with YEHOVAH's unmerited pardon for our sins, with the concept of the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God. Grace can be experienced in a moment of time, as one turns in heartfelt repentance to YEHOVAH and finds reconciliation. But the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God, which is the ultimate goal, the full Plan for humanity, must be realized in time-space history. In short, the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God means the Will of YEHOVAH done on earth as in heaven.
This is the essential meaning of the Hebrew concept of "resurrection of the dead" in contrast to the Hellenistic notion of immortality of the soul. Resurrection of the dead is an affirmation of the participation of those who have died in the future Kingdom of YEHOVAH God. It is hinted at in Torah, and affirmed in the Prophets -- see Genesis 3:22;, Isaiah 26:19-20; Daniel 12:1-3. The comments of Yeshua, based on Torah, against the party of the Sadducees who denied this idea of the resurrection of the dead, are quite enlightening in this regard. Read Luke 20:27-38, for instance.
This is the crucial difference between the Biblical notion of the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God and the idea of "salvation" as it is commonly understood in all the Hellenistic versions of Christianity. So-called Christianity abandoned its roots in the Torah and Prophets, and turned to Greek dualism. Ironically, most of the other WORLD religious systems such as Buddhism, Hinduism, and Islam, share this essentially dualistic perspective. They devalue this world, the body, and the physical creation, claiming that our ultimate salvation involves some type of escape to the Beyond.
Of course the Biblical view of the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God on earth includes the idea of transformation. The Old Testament Prophets speak of a "new creation," hinting at changes in the present order of things: The wolf and the lamb dwelling together; resurrection of the dead; and eventually, the elimination of the aging/death process itself (Isaiah chapters 11; 25-26; 65-66; Genesis 3:22-24). Still, the Hebraic view is thoroughly NON-DUALISTIC, and in that sense "scientific." The coming world order is here and now, absolutely concrete and real, however transformed. This is the true implication of the idea of "redemption of the world." The creation itself participates in that redemption, reaching its intended potential of harmony and peace.
A Chosen People
There is a sense in which the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God has always existed. The Psalms declare:
"Your Kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and Your Dominion endures throughout all generations" (Psalm 145:13).
"The LORD [YEHOVAH] has established His throne in heaven, And His kingdom rules over all" (Psalm 103:19).
However, even though YEHOVAH (YHVH) is "Most High over all the earth," humanity as a whole (i.e., "the nations") have lost the knowledge of YEHOVAH God the Father and are in rebellion against His Way. Or, to put it another way, YEHOVAH has largely hidden His face from us because of our sins. People find the very idea of "God" to be vague, remote, and confusing. YEHOVAH seems far away, and removed from the scene, in the daily perceptions of billions of human beings. There is a good reason for this. In the beginning, Man hid from YEHOVAH God, in Eden; subsequently YEHOVAH has hidden Himself from Mankind -- see Genesis 3:8; 4:14. Throughout history, YEHOVAH has essentially allowed humans to go their own way, to "build their own world." The Prophet Isaiah puts it well --
"Behold YEHOVAH'S [YHVH] hand is not shortened, that it cannot save: nor His ear that it cannot hear. But your iniquities have separated you from your God, and your sins have HIDDEN HIS FACE from you, so that He will not hear" (59:1-2).
Obviously, the Will or Way of YEHOVAH God is not presently being done on earth. Human history is essentially a constant, dead-ended, predictable replay of the "days of Noah," and of the "way of Cain." In this sense the book of Genesis is infinitely more than just and ancient chronicle -- it is a profoundly timeless commentary on the human condition. Without a doubt, there is no new thing under the sun. How, then, can it possibly ever be that justice, righteousness, peace, truth, love, and faithfulness will prevail in a world cut of from YEHOVAH God and living in spiritual darkness and decadence? This is THE Biblical question.
YEHOVAH's Plan for implementing His Kingdom in history centers on Abraham. YEHOVAH promises that Abraham's descendants through Isaac and Jacob (Israel) will become a "great nation" and that through them, "all the nations of the earth will be blessed" (Genesis 12:1-3, 18:18 and 22:18). Abraham becomes an intimate in the Plan -- a co-partner with YEHOVAH (YHVH) Himself, if you please. This is the essential meaning of Abraham being called the "friend" of YEHOVAH God. YEHOVAH declares that he has "known him, in order that he may command his children and his household after him to KEEP THE WAY OF YEHOVAH BY DOING RIGHTEOUSNESS AND JUSTICE" (Genesis 18:19).
The Abrahamic Plan, then, reaches a new stage in the book of Exodus -- 400 years after Abraham. At Sinai, when YEHOVAH speaks His Ten Commandments to the entire assembled nation of Israel, He declares:
Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure (segulah) to Me, above all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (Exodus 19:5-6).
Israel becomes YEHOVAH'S chosen people, His segulah, or "treasure" among all peoples of the earth. The Hebrew term segulah is used repeatedly in this same sense, for the elect or chosen people -- see Deuteronomy 7:6; 14:2; 26:18; Psalm 135:4; Malachi 3:17. They are not chosen or treasured for their own merits or goodness. Moses tells them quite bluntly that Israel is chosen wholly by grace, that is, through unmerited favor, on the basis of the unconditional oath sworn to Abraham (Deuteronomy 7:6-8). In other words -- Israel is chosen for a mission or responsibility. They are to be a "kingdom of priests and a holy nation." This clearly means they are to present, and re-present, the Way of YEHOVAH to the rest of humankind. As the prophets put it, Israel is to be a WITNESS to the world, a LIGHT to the nations (Isaiah 42:6 and 43:10). Moses expressed it like this when he spoke to all Israel toward the end of his life:
Today you have proclaimed YEHOVAH to be your God, and that you will walk in His ways and keep His statutes, His commandments, and His judgments, and that you will obey His voice. Also today YEHOVAH has proclaimed you to be His special people (segulah), just as He promised you, that you should keep all His commandments, and that He will set you high above all the nations which He has made, in praise, in name, and in honor, that you may be a holy people to YEHOVAH your God, just as He has spoken (Deuteronomy 26:17-19).
The Prophets (Joshua through Malachi) primarily relate the history of the initial failure of that mission. In 723 B.C. the northern Tribes of Israel are brutally taken away into captivity and exile by the Assyrians. According to the Prophets this happened because of their horrible sins and rebellion:
"Therefore YEHOVAH was very angry with Israel, and removed them from His sight; there was none left but the tribe of Judah only" (2 Kings 17:18)
Just 135 years later, in 588 B.C., the remaining southern Kingdom of Judah is destroyed and exiled by the Babylonians. Jerusalem -- and the very Temple of YEHOVAH God itself -- is utterly destroyed:
"And YEHOVAH God of their fathers, sent warnings to them by His messengers, rising up early and sending them, because He had compassion on His people and on His dwelling place. But they mocked the messengers of God, despised His words and scoffed at His prophets, until the wrath of YEHOVAH arose against His people, until there was no remedy" (2 Chronicles 36:15-16).
Forty years prior to the devastation of Jerusalem and the Temple, Jeremiah offered this commentary --
"'For as the sash clings to the waist of a man, so I have caused the whole household of Israel and the whole household of Judah to cling to Me,' says YEHOVAH, 'that they might be to Me a people, for renown, for praise, and for glory; but they did not hear'" (Jeremiah 13:11).
YEHOVAH says that although Israel was placed at the center of the world, as a witness, she ended up rebelling and thumbing her nose at His Way -- more wickedly than the nations around her (Ezekiel 5:6)!
Most nations brush over their failures and boast about their successes (see Egyptian history) as they record their national epics; but in sharp contrast the Hebrew Prophets relate the 833 year tale of Israel's failure and sins with an almost brutal frankness. There was, however, a brief glimmer of hope in the late 6th century B.C. when some of the Jewish exiles returned from Babylon under the leadership of Ezra and Nehemiah and rebuilt the Temple and the city of Jerusalem.
Yet, for the most part, the history of the Second Temple period -- from the perspective of the realization of the Abrahamic Plan -- was a failure. The northern "lost tribes" never returned to the Land as all the Prophets had predicted. The history of that period is filled with violence, political corruption and intrigue, fratricide and foreign domination. Finally Jerusalem was devastated once again by the Romans, the Temple burnt, and the Jews of Judea were scattered around the Mediterranean world (70-135 A.D.).
Contrary to widespread Christian mythology, this did not result in the demise of Judaism itself. Indeed, by every measure Jews and Judaism flourished in the late Roman Empire, and at various periods and places through the next 1900 years. The Jewish contribution to every facet of Western history and culture is immeasurable, and their spiritual mission was vital to the Plan of YEHOVAH God. Though they were scattered among the nations, unlike the Lost Tribes the House of Judah would keep its identity, preserve the Old Testament, and remain focused on the Torah while the Western so-called Christian world went wholly into paganism.
But what of the global mission of Israel as a whole? What of this Abrahamic Plan to fill the earth with the Knowledge and Way of YEHOVAH God? Clearly, this has not been realized -- even down to our day.
The Restoration of ALL Israel
Christians have been taught for centuries that the Church has replaced Israel as the Chosen nation, taking over her mission to the world. In a related way, the dozens of Prophetic texts which promise the full and complete restoration of all Twelve Tribes of Israel to the Land have been allegorized and applied to either the Church, or salvation in heaven. The sad tale of Christian history (particularly the Christian slander and slaughter of the Jews) certainly belies any such transfer of the Plan to the Church as we see it today. The New Testament certainly does not support such displacement interpretations, and the idea of "salvation in Heaven," despite very widespread popular opinion, is nowhere taught in the New Testament writings. These texts consistently speak of the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God on earth, and the return of YEHOVAH (YHVH) GOD THE FATHER to the new earth. However, it is beyond doubt that the Hebrew Prophets knew of no such shift in the Abrahamic Plan. Accordingly, those who take the Biblical revelation seriously must thoroughly reject all forms of replacement theology.
According to both Torah and Prophets -- and pious Jews have understood this through the centuries -- the House of Israel (the northern 10 tribes), and subsequently the House of Judah (the Jews) went into Exile because of their sins, and YEHOVAH actually hid His face from her:
Then My anger shall be aroused against them in that day, and I will forsake them and I will hide My face from them, and they shall be devoured. And many evils and troubles shall befall them, so that they will say in that day, "Have not these evils come upon us because our God is not among us? And I will surely hide My face in that day because of all the evil which they have done, in that they have turned to other gods (Deuteronomy 31:17-18).
"Then He said, I will hide My face from them, I will see what their end will be" (Deuteronomy 32:20).
"Then they will cry to YEHOVAH, but He will not hear them. But He will even hide His face from them at that time, because they have been evil in their deeds" (Micah 3:4).
However, this "hiding of the face" is neither rejection nor replacement! On the contrary, the very purpose of the Exile is to prepare for the FULL restoration of all Israel. Exile is always understood as a temporary measure of discipline, for a set period of time. Notice, when Moses first mentions the Exile, he includes the promise of restoration:
When you are in distress and all these things have come upon you in the latter days, when you turn to YEHOVAH your God and obey His voice, for YEHOVAH your God is a merciful God, He will not forsake you nor destroy you nor forget the covenant of yourfathers which He swore to them (Deuteronomy 4:30-31).
YEHOVAH your God will bring you back from captivity, and have compassion on you, and will gather you again from all the nations where YEHOVAH your God has scattered you. If any of you are driven out to the farthest part under heaven, from there YEHOVAH your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you...And YEHOVAH your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love YEHOVAH your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live (Deuteronomy 30:3-6).
The Lost Tribes of Israel
These promises of restoration are addressed to BOTH the House of Israel (the Lost Tribes) and the House of Judah (the Jews). One of the most neglected points in the Hebrew Prophets, even among Jews, but virtually unacknowledged among Gentiles/Christians, is their constant emphasis on the total restoration of ALL Israel -- meaning, of course, all twelve tribes. Ephraim/Joseph, who has seemingly been lost among the Gentiles, will make himself known to his brother Judah. The results of this reunion will astound the world and alter world history. This is even hinted at mystically in the Joseph story (Genesis 45), but is emphasized in no uncertain terms throughout the Prophets. The average Bible student seldom notes the careful distinction which the Prophets consistently make between the House of Israel (Ephraim/Joseph), which refers to the Lost Tribes, and the House of Judah, whom we have known since the Babylonian Exile as the Jewish people.
In II Kings chapter 17 we find the stark story of how the Assyrian king Sargon II took the Ten Tribes into captivity in 723 B.C. and settles them northwest of Palestine -- in the area of the Habor River near Lakes Van and Urmia. The writer makes it clear that "none was left except the tribe of Judah" (17:18). Josephus tells us that in his day many of them were still living in these areas, "beyond the Euphrates" (Antiquities 11. 133). However, there is a persistent tradition that significant portions of these tribes began to migrate elsewhere. The question of just where they went has been a subject of controversy down through the centuries and has given rise to many legends and attempts to locate them. II Esdras reports that after crossing the Euphrates they journeyed a year and a half and came to a distant country called "Arzareth" which was sparsely populated. Here (according to Esdras) they are to remain until the last days (13:43-47). Unfortunately this name simply means "another land" and tells us only that they left their original area and went a considerable distance.
The rabbinic sources explain that they migrated beyond the river Sambatyon, across which they will someday return -- see b. Sanhedrin 65b; j. Sanhedrin 10:6; Lamentations Rabba 2:9; Genesis Rabba 11:5 and Targum Pseudo-Jonathan to Exodus 34:10. This mysterious river is said to flow six days a week, but rest on the Sabbath. Most scholars have taken this reference to the Sambatyon River as purely legendary and fantastic. However, recent research in Jerusalem has identified the river as none other than the Bosphorus strait, where the waters of the Black Sea flow past Istanbul toward the Aegean Sea. There the current does actually slow down drastically, and at times even stop or reverse -- on the average of about once a week -- giving rise to these accounts. Isaiah also indicates that these tribes were located to the west in his time (Isaiah 66:18-21).
Based on this and much additional recent research, it can definitely be shown that significant portions of the Lost Tribes migrated northwest, toward Europe and are to be found today among the Anglo-Saxon-Celtic and associated peoples. In other words the tribes are largely located today in the United States, Great Britain, northwestern Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and other scattered areas. They are primarily Protestant, tied to their Biblical heritage, and have by and large provided a hospitable climate for Jews and even supported Zionism.
Unfortunately, most researchers have tended to look to the East, and have only found scattered pockets of peoples who might be associated with the tribes -- the Bene Israel of India, the Krimelaks of Crimea, the Ebraeli of Georgia, the Pathans on the Afghan-Pakistani border, the Kashmiris, the Chiang-Min on the Chinese-Tibetan border, and even many tribes of Africa of whom the Ethiopians have been the most prominent example. These attempts at locating the tribes miss the fact that the most significant group went northwest into Europe, and did finally fulfill the promises that were made to the two sons of Joseph -- Ephraim and Manasseh, about unprecedented national greatness (see Genesis 48:4-20). They were to become a great company of nations leading the world in wealth and influence (Genesis 49:22-26; Deuteronomy 33:13-17). This fits in well with what the Prophets predict for the last days -- when the Lost Tribes return. They are pictured "without number, as the sand of the sea" not as tiny insignificant pockets of tribal groups. The official rabbinic ruling (halacha) is that the Lost Tribes WILL return.
The Hebrew prophets consistently and carefully distinguish between these two "Houses." This is not some minor, inconsequential theme, but is actually THE dominant emphasis that runs throughout these texts in the Old Testament. This restoration of all Israel rests upon the absolute promise of YEHOVAH. Although Israel (i.e. the Ten Tribes) is scattered among the nations, numbering as the sands of the sea, and they even come to think of themselves as Gentiles, YEHOVAH declares that not the "least grain" will be lost. His eyes are on all their ways, and they will surely RETURN -- to YEHOVAH their God, to Judah (the Jews), and to the Holy Land!
The following texts provide a brief overview of the prophetic picture. The details and consistency one finds in the Prophets on this subject is quite impressive. Anyone who will bother to carefully study these passages will come away with a transformed understanding of what lies ahead on the horizon with regard to the prophetic times in which we live:
Isaiah 11:11-12: "It shall come to pass in that day that the LORD (YEHOVAH) shall set His hand again the second time to recover the remnant of His people who are left, from Assyria and Egypt, from Pathros and Cush, from Elam and Shinar, from Hamath and the islands of the sea.
"He will set up a banner for the nations, and will assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth."
Here the Davidic ruler (Yeshua the Messiah), acting for his Father, gathers both the House of Israel and the House of Judah -- and peace comes between the two. This full gathering seems to come with the appearance of the Davidic Messiah (Revelation 14:14), however, many texts indicate that the first stages of the reunion begin earlier and in less dramatic ways.
Jeremiah 3:6-18: "YEHOVAH (YHVH) said also to me in the days of Josiah the king: 'Have you seen what backsliding Israel has done? She has gone up on every high mountain and under every green tree, and there played the harlot.
"And I said, after she had done all these things, "Return to Me." But she did not return. And her treacherous sister Judah saw it.
"Then I saw that for all the causes for which backsliding Israel had committed adultery, I had put her away and given her a certificate of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but went and played the harlot also.
"So it came to pass, through her casual harlotry, that she defiled the land and committed adultery with stones and trees.
"'And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah has not turned to Me with her whole heart, but in pretense,' says YEHOVAH.
"Then YEHOVAH said to me, 'Backsliding Israel has shown herself more righteous than treacherous Judah.
"Go and proclaim these words TOWARD THE NORTH, and say:
Return, backsliding Israel, says YEHOVAH,
And I will not cause My anger to fall on you;
For I am merciful, says YEHOVAH,
And I will not remain angry forever.
Only acknowledge your iniquity,
That you have transgressed against YEHOVAH your God,
And have scattered your charms
To alien deities (gods) under every green tree,
And you have not obeyed My voice, says YEHOVAH.
"'Return, O backsliding children,' says the Lord; 'for I am married to you. I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion.
"And I will give you shepherds according to My heart, who will feed you with knowledge and understanding.
"Then it shall come to pass, when you are multiplied and increased in the land in those days,' says YEHOVAH, 'that they will say no more, "The ark of the covenant of YEHOVAH." It shall not come to mind, nor shall they remember it, nor shall they visit it, nor shall it be made anymore.
"At that time Jerusalem shall be called The Throne of YEHOVAH, and all the nations shall be gathered to it, to the name of YEHOVAH, to Jerusalem; they shall walk no more after the stubbornness of their evil heart.
"In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north to the land that I have given as an inheritance to your fathers."
The northern tribes of Israel return and join Judah, "one from a city, two from a family" prior to the complete union when the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God comes to this earth. This appears to be what has begun to happen in our day.
Jeremiah 16:14-19: "'Therefore behold, the days are coming,' says YEHOVAH, 'that it shall no more be said, "YEHOVAH lives who brought up the children of Israel from the land of Egypt," but, "YEHOVAH lives who brought up the children of Israel FROM THE LAND OF THE NORTH and from all the lands where He had driven them." For I will bring them back into the land which I gave to their fathers.
"'Behold, I will send for many fishermen,' says YEHOVAH, 'and they shall fish them; and afterward I will send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain and every hill, and out of the holes of the rocks.
"For My eyes are on all their ways; they are not hidden from My face, nor is their iniquity hidden from My eyes.
"And first I will repay double for their iniquity and their sin, because they have defiled My land; they have filled My inheritance with the carcasses of their detestable and abominable idols.'
"O YEHOVAH, my strength and my fortress,
My refuge in the day of affliction,
The Gentiles shall come to You from the ends of the earth and say,
'Surely our fathers have inherited lies
Worthlessness and unprofitable things.'"
These verses are often applied to Judah and to the Jews returning to the Land in our century but, in context, they apply in particular to the House of Israel (Lost Tribes), who have become like the "nations," whose fathers have inherited lies. Note the images: the first stage is fishing; the second is hunting. Judah already went through this stage, particularly after 1880, when the Zionists were able to "fish" or draw a number of Jews BACK to the Land (Palestine). However, it took the "hunters" (Nazis, Arabs, Soviets) to really get them to leave "Egypt and Babylon," following World War II. It is highly likely that we may see a similar pattern with the return of the 10 Lost Tribes.
Jeremiah 23:1-6: "'Woe to the shepherds (ministers) who destroy and scatter the sheep of My pasture!' says YEHOVAH.
"Therefore thus says YEHOVAH God of Israel against the shepherds who feed My people: 'You have scattered My flock, driven them away, and not attended to them. Behold, I will attend to you for the evil of your doings,' says YEHOVAH.
"'But I will gather the remnant of My flock out of all countries where I have driven them, and bring them back to their folds; and they shall be fruitful and increase.
"I will set up shepherds over them who will feed them; and they shall fear no more, nor be dismayed, nor shall they be lacking,' says YEHOVAH.
"'Behold, the days are coming,' says YEHOVAH,
That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness (Yeshua, Christ);
A King (YEHOVAH, YHVH) shall reign and prosper,
And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth.
"In His days Judah will be saved,
And Israel will dwell safely;
Now this is His name by which He will be called:
YEHOVAH OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS."
This passage makes it absolutely clear that BOTH HOUSES will eventually return -- and again their return is associated with the Davidic Messiah or Yeshua. This GREAT RETURN is to rival the Exodus from Egypt in the time of Moses!
Jeremiah, chapters 30 and 31: These keys chapters are too long to reproduce here but are particularly full and vivid regarding the sequence of events to come about in the "latter days," and the establishment of the much expected new covenant with the restored Twelve Tribes of Israel.
Hosea, chapters 1 through 3: In these chapters the Lost Tribes become "not My people," losing their identity and their knowledge of YEHOVAH and turning to paganism ("days of the Baalim"), though they number as the sands of the sea (1:10-11; 2:13). They remain in this state for "many days" but return to Judah and to their God in the "latter days." Once again their return is associated with the appearance (Revelation 14:14) of the Messiah (1:11; 3:4-5).
Hosea 5:6-6:3: Here they are "revived on the third day" -- possibly meaning after 2,500 years of exile.
Amos 8:11-12; 9:8-10: "'Behold the days are coming,' says YEHOVAH, 'that I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of HEARING THE WORDS OF YEHOVAH.
"They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of YEHOVAH, but shall not find it.'"
"'Behold, the eyes of YEHOVAH God are on the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from the face of the earth; yet I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob (Israel),' says YEHOVAH.
"For surely I will command, and will sift the house of Israel among all nations, as grain is sifted in a sieve; yet not the smallest grain shall fall to the ground.
"All the sinners of My people shall die by the sword, who say, "The calamity shall not overtake us nor confront us."'"
In 8:11-12 the northern Ten Tribes loose contact with YEHOVAH. They are to be sifted through the nations -- nonetheless they are kept intact. Their restoration is once again connected to the Davidic Messiah (Yeshua).
Obadiah 15-21: "'For the day of YEHOVAH upon all the nations is near; as you have done, it shall be done to you; your reprisal shall return upon your own head. For as you drank on my holy mountain, so shall all the nations drink continually; yes, they shall drink, and swallow, and they shall be as though they had never been.
"But on Mount Zion there shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions. The house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame; but the house of Esau shall be stubble; they shall kindle them and devour them, and no survivor shall remain of the house of Esau,' for YEHOVAH has spoken.
"The inhabitants of the South [the Negev] shall possess the mountains of Esau, and the inhabitants of the Philistine lowland. They shall possess the fields of Ephraim and the fields of Samaria. Benjamin shall possess Gilead. And the captives of this host of the children of Israel shall possess the land of the Canaanites as far as Zarephath. The captives of Jerusalem who are in Sepharad shall possess the cities of the South. Then DELIVERERS [plural -- the Messiah and YEHOVAH] shall come to Mount Zion to judge the mountains of Esau, and the kingdom shall be YEHOVAH'S."
In this passage a restored "Joseph/Ephraim" (Lost Tribes) is instrumental in finally punishing the Islamic nations who have rejoiced at Judah's (the Jews in Palestine) troubles and distress (the Holocaust, the Wars of 1947-73, the Gulf War).
Micah 2:12-13: "I will surely assemble all of you, O Jacob [Israel], I will surely gather the remnant of Israel; I will put them together like sheep of the fold, like a flock in the midst of their pasture; they shall make a loud noise because of so many men.
"The one who breaks open will come up before them; they will break out, pass through the gate, and go out by it; their king will pass before them, with YEHOVAH at their head."
Great multitudes of the remnant of Israel return, until there is no room for them -- even spilling over into Gilead (the east Bank, see 7:14).
Micah 5:3-15: In these verses the Israelites are given up until the Davidic restoration, "then the remnant of the Messiah's brethren return unto the children of Israel!"
Zechariah 8:13; chapters 9 and 10: All the tribes of Israel eventually come together -- Judah and Ephraim are joined. Judah seems to be saved first (12:7), and have great military success (10:3-5), but Joseph (the Lost Tribes) is afterward associated with them (10:6-10). They are so numerous that they spill over into Lebanon and Gilead. Of particular interest is the language of Zechariah 10:9: "And I will sow them among the peoples; and they shall remember me in far countries, and they shall live with their children, and turn again."
Ezekiel chapter 34-37: These chapters clearly show that YEHOVAH Himself will search out His "lost sheep" which have been scattered among the nations (34:11-13). The "two sticks" of the House of Judah (the Jews) and the House of Israel (the Lost Tribes of Joseph and his brethren) are absolutely destined to become ONE -- leading the Messianic era into peace and prosperity (37:15-28).
Almost all interpreters of prophecy -- whether Jewish or Christian -- tend to loosely read these texts and apply them in a blanket way "to the Jews." Surely, to those with any understanding at all, the return to Zion in the last century, with the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, is of the GREATEST prophetic significance. However, these passages from the Old Testament prophets clearly and unequivocally speak of a further GREAT RETURN of ALL Israel. This vital distinction between the House of Judah and the House of Israel must be carefully noted if one wants to understand the detailed prophetic picture presented in these texts.
These promises to national Israel are ABSOLUTE AND UNCONDITIONAL. There are over forty separate sections of the Hebrew prophets which deal specifically -- and in the greatest of detail -- with this theme of the full and unqualified RESTORATION of ALL TWELVE OF THE TRIBES OF ISRAEL. The cumulative impact of these passages is overwhelming to say the least. Here are just a few of them --
Isaiah 8:17-18: "And I will wait on the LORD [YEHOVAH], who hides His face from the House of Jacob; and I will hope in Him. Here am I and the children whom the LORD [YEHOVAH] has given me! We are for signs and wonders in Israel from the LORD of hosts, who dwells in Mount Zion."
Isaiah 27:12-13: "And it shall come to pass IN THAT DAY that the LORD [YEHOVAH] will thresh, from the channel of the River to the Brook of Egypt; and you will be gathered one by one, O you children of Israel."
So it shall be in that day that the great trumpet will be blown; they will come, who are about to perish in the land of Assyria, and they who are outcasts in the land of Egypt, and shall worship the LORD [YEHOVAH] IN THE HOLY MOUNT AT JERUSALEM.
Jeremiah 16:14-18: "Therefore behold, the days are coming," says the LORD [YEHOVAH], "that it shall no more be said, 'The LORD lives who brought up the children of Israel from the land of Egypt,' but, 'The LORD lives who brought up the children of Israel from the LAND OF THE NORTH and from ALL THE LANDS where He had driven them.' For I will bring them back into their land [Palestine] which I gave to their fathers....
"For My eyes are on their ways; they are not hidden from My face, NOR IS THEIR INIQUITY HIDDEN FROM MY EYES. And first I will repay DOUBLE for their iniquity and their sin, because they have defiled My land; they have filled My inheritance with the carcasses of their detestable and abominable idols."
Here are some more verses for you to look up: Isaiah 11:12-13; Isaiah 14:1-2; Isaiah 43:5-7; Isaiah 49:5-6; Isaiah 54:1-8; Isaiah chapter 60; Isaiah 66:19-21; Jeremiah 3:12-18; Jeremiah 23:1-8; Jeremiah 29:10-14; Jeremiah chapters 30, 31, 33; Jeremiah 50:4-7; Ezekiel 11:14-21; Ezekiel 16:60-63; Ezekiel 20:33-44; Ezekiel 34:11; Ezekiel chapters 36, 37; Hosea 1:10-11; Hosea 2:14-23; Hosea 3:4-5; Joel 2:30-3:21; Amos 9:8-15; Obadiah 17: 21; Micah 2:12-13; Micah 4:1-6; Micah 5:1-15; Micah 7:15-20; Zephaniah 3:19-20; Zechariah 2:10-13; Zechariah 8:1-13; and Zechariah 10:3-12.
All these verses cannot be ignored or spiritualized away if one wishes to understand the Bible with any historical seriousness. Yet they have never been fulfilled in past history -- not in the 6th century B.C. when a few thousand Jews returned to the Palestine, nor yet in our day. The establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 is a bare beginning, a kind of "first fruits" sign of what is yet to come. The Old Testament prophets speak of Judah returning FIRST to the Land. Their return in our day is a concrete demonstration that YEHOVAH God has not -- and will not -- cast off or reject His people Israel -- including the Ten Lost Tribes:
"Thus says YEHOVAH, who gives the sun for light by day, the ordinances of the moon and the stars for a light by night, who disturbs the sea so that its waves roar; YEHOVAH of Hosts is His name: 'If those ordinances depart from before Me, declares YEHOVAH, then the offspring of Israel shall also cease from being a nation before Me forever.'
"Thus says YEHOVAH, 'If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel for all that they have done,' declares YEHOVAH" (Jeremiah 31:35-37).
The extreme folly of trying to apply these promises to any other than national Israel is made particularly plain in this section of the book of Jeremiah -- note specifically 31:31 and 31:38-40. The literal references to the Northern and Southern Kingdoms and to the city of Jerusalem are simply BEYOND DISPUTE.Notice again --
"For this is like the waters of Noah to Me; for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah would no longer cover the earth, so have I sworn that I would not be angry with you, nor rebuke you. For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but My kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall my covenant of peace be removed," says YEHOVAH who has mercy on you (Isaiah 54:9-10).
Surely language could be no plainer. The FULL restoration of ALL Israel is as sure and certain as the laws of Nature and as the sworn testimony of YEHOVAH God Himself! The Prophets speak about a specific period of time when this restoration will come --
"For the children of Israel shall abide many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar, without ephod or teraphim. Afterward the children of Israel will return and seek YEHOVAH their God and David their king. They will fear YEHOVAH and His goodness in the last days" (Hosea 3:4-5).
Compare this passage with Micah 5:3 -- noting the word "until." It should be observed that Hosea is speaking SPECIFICALLY about the NORTHERN KINGDOM -- the Ten Tribes -- which were scattered among the nations, not the Judeans or Jews. All the Old Testament prophets say that BOTH Israel and Judah are to be RESTORED TOGETHER in the last days.
Though scattered to all nations -- sifted like wheat -- YEHOVAH declares "my eyes are on all their ways," and "not the least grain will fall to the ground" (Jeremiah 16:17; Amos 9:9). Both Israel AND Judah (ALL Twelve Tribes) will be brought back to the land of Israel and reunited in a GREAT RETURN that will rival the Exodus from Egypt (Ezekiel 37:15-23; Jeremiah 16:14-15). This return is for spiritual purposes which leads to the arrival of the Messianic age and the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God.
Therefore thus says the Lord YEHOVAH, "Now I will bring back the captivity of Jacob, and have mercy on the whole house of Israel; and I will be jealous for My Holy Name....When I have brought them back from the peoples and gathered them out of their enemies' lands, and I am sanctified in them in the sight of many nations, then they shall know that I am YEHOVAH their God who sent them into captivity among the nations, but also brought them back to their land, and left none of them captive any longer. And I will not hide my face from them anymore; for I shall have poured out My Spirit on the house of Israel" (Ezekiel 39:25-29).
The Prophets consistently speak of this "conversion" of Israel to YEHOVAH and to the Bible as a SUDDEN AND DRAMATIC event -- following their return to the Middle East. Note further Zechariah 3:9; 13:1-2; Jeremiah 50:20 and Ezekiel 36:22-33.
"But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days," says YEHOVAH: "I will put my Torah in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people" (Jeremiah 31:33).
"For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all the countries, and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean...I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you..." (Ezekiel 36:25:26).
This is all part of the Plan: that through the nation Israel, and her Messiah (Yeshua), all the world will come to experience the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God under the rulership of YEHOVAH God the Father Himself on this earth. Israel suffers Exile, receiving "double for all her sins," but according to Isaiah 40-53 she is also the "servant of YEHOVAH" (like the Messiah) whose suffering leads to redemption for all nations. Jeremiah puts this most succinctly:
"I will cause the captives of Judah and the captives of Israel to return, and will rebuild those places as at the first. I will cleanse them from all their iniquity...then it shall be to Me a name of joy, a praise, and an honor before all the nations of the earth" (Jeremiah 33:7-9).
The conversion of Israel leads to the turning of all nations to the knowledge of YEHOVAH and His Torah Way for all humankind. The Davidic Messiah (Yeshua) comes first to re-gather all Israel and, at the same time, the nations seek YEHOVAH his Father (Isaiah 11:10-12). It is at that time the "earth becomes full of the knowledge of YEHOVAH as the waters cover the seas" (Isaiah 11:9). YEHOVAH God now returns to this earth (Revelation 19) and His Torah goes forth from Jerusalem to all the nations; and the nations stream up to the Land to learn the Way of YEHOVAH (Isaiah 2:2-4). Consistently and unequivocally the Old Testament prophets associate these three related phenomena: the return of the House of Judah, the joining of Judah with the Lost Tribes, and the subsequent conversion of all the nations to YEHOVAH and His Way -- see Isaiah 14:1-2; 56:7; 60:3; Zechariah 2:10-13 and Psalm 67. Notice these clear examples --
"Sing for joy and be glad, O daughter of Zion; for behold I am coming and I will dwell [shakan] in your midst, declares YEHOVAH. And many nations will join themselves to YEHOVAH in that day and will become My people" (Zechariah 2:10-11).
"...For I will bring them back into their land which I gave to their fathers...The Gentiles shall come to You from the ends of the earth and say, surely our fathers have inherited lies, worthless and unprofitable things" (Jeremiah 16:15-19).
"At that time Jerusalem shall be called The Throne of YEHOVAH, and all the nations shall be gathered to it, to the name of YEHOVAH, to Jerusalem. No more shall they follow the dictates of their evil hearts. In those days Judah will walk with the house of Israel, and they will come together out of the land of the north to the land that I have given as an inheritance to your fathers" (Jeremiah 3:17-18).
"Yes, many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek YEHOVAH of Hosts in Jerusalem and to pray before YEHOVAH...Thus says YEHOVAH of Hosts, "In those days ten men from every language of the nations will grasp the corner of the garment [the tzizit; Numbers 15:38-40] of a Jewish man saying, 'Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you'" (Zechariah 8:22-23).
The prophet Jeremiah says, "Israel was holy to YEHOVAH, the first fruits of His harvest" (2:3). This image of the first fruits relates to the symbolic meaning of Israel's Holy Days and the harvest seasons, as set forth in Leviticus 23. The Way of YEHOVAH will first be realized through the "great nation," as promised to Abraham. The full harvest will follow. This is the prime task of the Messiah (Yeshua) according to all the prophets. UNLESS AND UNTIL ALL ISRAEL IS RESTORED TO THE LAND BY THE MESSIAH -- WITH JUDAH AND JOSEPH JOINED AS ONE -- THERE IS NO MESSIANIC FULFILLMENT AND YEHOVAH GOD CANNOT RETURN TO THIS EARTH TO USHER IN THE KINGDOM OF YEHOVAH GOD!
The Faithful Remnant
Although the full implementation of YEHOVAH's Plan awaits the coming of the Messiah (Yeshua) and the complete Restoration of Israel, throughout history YEHOVAH has had His elect or chosen ones, from whom His face has never been hidden. On a national level, Abraham and his descendants through Isaac and Jacob are the "chosen people." They are given the Torah, the Covenant, the Promises -- and have been destined for a special relationship with YEHOVAH in history:
"Behold! A people dwelling alone, not reckoning itself among the nations" (Numbers 23:9).
"You only have I known among all the families of the earth" (Amos 3:2).
"He declares His word to Jacob, His statutes and His judgments to Israel. He has not dealt thus with any other nation, and as for His judgments, they have not known them" (Psalm 147:20).
"For YEHOVAH has chosen Jacob for Himself, Israel for His special treasure (segulah)" (Psalm 135:4).
However, the scriptures also speak of a minority -- a remnant -- who know and follow YEHOVAH despite the failures of the nation of Israel as a whole. Actually, this idea of the "faithful remnant" goes back even before the creation of Israel as a nation. Before Abraham we know a few names of those who "walked with God": Abel, Enoch. Noah, Shem, Job, and so on; while humankind as a whole has wholly departed from YEHOVAH God into idolatry. This was also the case during the history of Israel in the Holy Land, as well as during the long Exile. YEHOVAH has hidden His face from humankind on the whole -- and even from his chosen nation Israel -- but He has always had his faithful ones, usually a scattered and unacknowledged minority, but fully known to Him. These are those who keep the true Faith and walk in the ancient Paths. They truly know, fear, and love YEHOVAH and walk in all His Ways.
In Elijah's day, when the entire nation of Northern Israel had departed completely from the Torah during the reign of wicked King Ahab, Elijah is told by YEHOVAH that there were "seven thousand" who had not "bowed the knee to Baal" (I Kings 19:9-18). At the lowest point in point in Judah's history, when the prophets are told not even to pray for the people, nonetheless, Ezekiel is told to go through the city of Jerusalem and put a mark on those who "sigh and cry over all the abominations" done in the Land (Ezekiel 9:4).
Dozens of the Psalms are addressed directly to these "zadiqim" or righteous ones. They are characterized by a deep fear of YEHOVAH God, a reverence for His awesome Name, they have the Torah and laws of YEHOVAH God in their hearts and are always spoken of as suffering opposition, but waiting on YEHOVAH. These are those who cry out for the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God -- who sigh over the wickedness of their society. This elect group is addressed directly in a number of key scriptures:
"Bind up the Testimony, seal the Torah among my disciples. And I will wait for YEHOVAH who hides His face from the house of Jacob; I will hope in Him" (Isaiah 8:16).
"Listen to Me, you who know righteousness (zedeq), you people in whose heart is My Torah; do not fear the reproach of men, nor be afraid of their insults" (Isaiah 51:7).
"Hear the word of YEHOVAH, you who tremble (heredim) at His Word: your brethren who hate you, who cast you out for My Name's sake...they will be put to shame" (Isaiah 66:5).
"Then those who feared YEHOVAH spoke to one another, and YEHOVAH listened and heard them. So a book of remembrance was written before Him for those who fear YEHOVAH and who meditate on His name. "They shall be mine," says YEHOVAH of Hosts, "on the day that I make them My treasure (segulah), and I will spare them as a man spares his own son who serves him" (Malachi 3:16-17).
"Seek YEHOVAH, all you humble of the land, who do his commands; seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you may be hidden on the day of the wrath of YEHOVAH" (Zephaniah 2:3).
Each of these important texts has a context related to the last days. This remnant group of true followers of YEHOVAH and His Messiah make up the segulah, the treasured chosen ones, while Israel and Judah as a whole have rejected YEHOVAH and His Way. Although they are primarily Israelites, the prophets make clear that the way is open for Gentiles to associate with them in this prophetic mission of the last days. The scriptures emphasize that such Gentiles, or "strangers," will come and join themselves to YEHOVAH, observing the Covenant, particularly in the latter days --
"Keep justice, and do righteousness, for My salvation is about to come and My righteousness to be revealed. Blessed is the man [Gentile] who does this, and the son of man who lays hold on it; who keeps from PROFANING THE SABBATH, and keeps his hand from doing any evil...let not the son of the foreigner, who has joined himself to YEHOVAH say, YEHOVAH has utterly separated me from His people...[those] who join themselves to YEHOVAH, to serve Him, and to love the name of YEHOVAH, to be His servants -- everyone who keeps from defiling the Sabbath, and holds fast My covenant...For My house shall be called a house of prayer for all nations. The Lord YEHOVAH who gathers the outcasts of Israel says, "Yet I will gather to him others besides those who are gathered to him" (Isaiah 56:1-3, 6-8).
What does it mean to hold fast to the "Covenant"? The "words of the Covenant," or the Testimony, are the Ten Commandments or "words" (Deuteronomy 4:13; 9:9-10). The Sabbath is singled out in this crucial passage because it is the "sign" or mark of those who have taken on the Covenant (Exodus 31:16-18). Abrahamic Faith, from the very beginning, has had all the nations of the earth as its scope. The basic promises made to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3 conclude with the phrase: "And through your seed all the nations (Gentiles) of the world will be blessed." The verb here -- nivreku -- can be translated either "be blessed," or "bless themselves." The grammatical form of this verb is rare -- it is what is called a Niphal Perfect. The rabbis say it can also mean "to be grafted in" when it occurs in this form.
The idea is clear. It is through the nation of Israel, that is, the descendants of Abraham through Isaac and Jacob, that all the nations will come to know YEHOVAH God and His way -- and His servant the Messiah! The very reason for the "chosen nation" in the first place is that Israel would bear witness to the nations. The purpose of such a witness was never that all human beings should become Israelites or Jews, but that they should partake of the blessings which come from YEHOVAH through Abraham's descendants.
This concept of Covenant is a dynamic one -- it involves a relationship with YEHOVAH the Father. Even the Covenant with the nation of Israel at Sinai is not a static concept, it is an ongoing relationship. The covenant is periodically renewed throughout history. Moses makes an initial covenant the year of the Exodus, but it is renewed 40 years later (Exodus 24:7-8; Deuteronomy 29:1). There is a further covenant made at the end of Joshua's career (Joshua 24:14-25). Covenants are also made under Josiah and Nehemiah -- see II Kings 23:1-3 and Nehemiah 9:38. There will be a renewed covenant when Israel is restored to Palestine (Jeremiah 31:31-34).
These various "covenants" are essentially ONE -- they all refer to a special partnership with YEHOVAH, which involves commitment to His Torah (word, Bible) and dedication to the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God. The heart and core of this relationship is this: "I will be their God, and they shall be My people." This key phrase is repeated often in the Old Testament. This intimate relationship is compared to marriage (Jeremiah 31:31-33). It is not primarily a legal, constitutional, or dispensational idea. As we have said, there is essentially only one covenant, and Abraham himself participates in this same covenental relationship 400 years before Sinai.
Note the language of Genesis 17:1-2: "I am El Shaddai, walk before Me and be blameless, and I will establish my covenant between Me and you." Laying hold of the "covenant" essentially means becoming the "friend of God," "walking with God," intimately participating in the Plan of bringing justice and righteousness to the world. This is the true and original notion of Abrahamic Faith.
Therefore, this idea of taking up the Covenant is not restricted to the national promises to Israel -- which YEHOVAH will fulfill regardless "for His own Name's sake." It can be a wholly individual choice. As we saw above, Isaiah 56 addresses "the son of man," that is, anyone, who turns to YEHOVAH in this way, taking up the Covenant, observing the correct Sabbath (lunar), and becoming part of the people of YEHOVAH God in this wider sense of the term. This is the essential meaning of the concept of the "House of Prayer for all nations." Psalm 25 brings all this together for us --
"Indeed, let no one who waits on You be ashamed...All the paths of YEHOVAH are steadfast love and truth, to those who keep His covenant and His testimonies...Who is the man who fears YEHOVAH, He will instruct him in the Way he should choose...The friendship (lit. "secret") of YEHOVAH is for those who fear him, and He will show them His Covenant" (vs. 3, 10, 14).
This is a matter of the deepest and most intimate level of spiritual conversion. This way is open to anyone -- certainly to Jews, and obviously to those scattered Israelites from the Lost Tribes, but also to Gentiles, who are willing to repent of sins and turn to YEHOVAH. Truly, "YEHOVAH is near to all those who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in faithfulness" (Psalm 145:18). YEHOVAH is no respecter of persons. He looks upon the heart rather than on external appearances (I Samuel 16:7). His love is extended toward every human being who fears Him.
David had this deeply personal, intimate, relationship with YEHOVAH God, as reflected in Psalm 51. Indeed, this Psalm, perhaps more than any other scripture, is the model for individual spirituality in the Bible. It involves "getting a new heart," having the Torah implanted deep within, and receiving YEHOVAH's holy spirit. Read it now.
Such a personal conversion does not require joining any religious organization or denomination. It cuts across all such cultic labels -- which are usually more sociological than genuinely religious. YEHOVAH looks on the heart. For Gentiles, or for those from the Lost Tribes of Israel, it does not necessitate formal conversion to one of the branches or schools of "Judaism" -- rather, it involves a relationship DIRECTLY with YEHOVAH, regulated only from the inner heart of each individual. This is not to say that such people of the Covenant are devoid of all community. Certainly the Gentiles who turn to the God of Israel in this way, as well as those from the Lost Tribes of Israel, will live their lives in a new solidarity with the fortunes of the Jewish people.
They learn to love YEHOVAH, to revere the Bible -- all of the Bible -- and to share the hope for the Second Coming of the Messiah and the return of YEHOVAH God to this earth and to Jerusalem. They also share the hope for Redemption alongside the Jewish people. And surely those Jews who are deeply converted to YEHOVAH only serve to enrich their own communities -- helping to vindicate the plans and purposes of God for Israel. But most important, these "fearers of YEHOVAH" as Malachi calls them, have a deep solidarity with one another.
The bond that comes from knowing the ONE God, living the Way of Torah, and longing for the Kingdom of YEHOVAH God and YEHOVAH'S presence in Jerusalem, runs deep and tends to obliterate the boundaries of religious "affiliation" or national, ethnic, or social background. As they "speak to one another" there is a strength of fellowship that comes only through the spirit of YEHOVAH (Malachi 3:16-18).
What Lies Ahead?
There is no doubt that we have entered the time when YEHOVAH is calling back to His Way many Christians who are in truth descendants of the Lost Tribes of Israel. They think of themselves as Gentiles, and have only known their God through the watered down, paganized, version of the "faith" they have in the churches of today. But they feel irresistibly pulled back to the Hebraic origins of their faith. The prophets seem to indicate that as the Lost Tribes return -- in these preliminary stages -- there are righteous Gentiles who come with them, a kind of "mixed multitude" as in the former Exodus from Egypt (Jeremiah 16:19; Isaiah 56:8).
Ironically, it is the very paganized faith of Christianity which is functioning as the instrument through which they are having their eyes opened to the One True God, to the Torah, and to their long-lost Jewish brothers and sisters. It is happening before our very eyes. Many are waking up, having their eyes opened, and turning toward the Old Testament writings (not forsaking the New Testament), the Jewish people, and the Land of Israel.
This phase of the return is a preliminary one, where scattered ones, "one from the city, two from a family" come back to Zion and to the Jewish people (Jeremiah 3:14-15). It clearly comes before the tribulations and climactic events of the End -- and it precedes the final gathering of all the Tribes worldwide, which only the Messiah (Yeshua) will accomplish at his return -- pictured in Revelation 10. This sets the stage for the climactic, awe-inspiring, dramatic return of the Shekinah Glory of YEHOVAH God to Jerusalem and the Holy of Holies in the rebuilt Temple.
Yeshua said some cryptic things which might be interpreted in this light. He spoke of having "other sheep not of this fold (meaning Judah)" whom he must bring into the fold, so that there will be one flock (John 10:16). This language directly echoes that of Ezekiel 34-37. He spoke of being sent only to "the lost sheep of the House of Israel" -- and not to the Gentiles (Matthew 10:6; 15:24). The parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:11-32 can be understood in this light.
The House of Judah (the Jews) -- represented by the older brother -- remain with the Father (YEHOVAH), while the House of Israel (the Lost Tribes), represented by the prodigal son, loose sight of the Father and replace Him with a paganized Messiah. After wandering wastefully through the nations they return home in repentance at the end.
The famous Parable of the Sower in Mark 4:3-20 might bear a similar interpretation. The "seed" of Yeshua's message has spread throughout the entire world with varying results, but the "good ground" upon which it falls and ultimately produces abundant fruit represents the Lost Tribes. They finally wake up to their true identity through a paganized version of that very message. In other words, from strictly an historical point of view, the mission of Yeshua to "the lost sheep of the House of Israel" is being paradoxically fulfilled, through the very "watered-down" version of Biblical Christianity which the so-called Christians spread around the world.
In the final analysis it is the Bible itself, which includes the Hebrew scriptures (the Old Testament), which the Protestant Christians have translated, suffered, and died for, which functions as the catalyst for the awakening of the Lost Tribes. We are surely witnessing a fulfillment of such an awakening in our day.
Hope of Israel Ministries -- Preparing the Way for the Return of YEHOVAH God and His Messiah!
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