How Religion Mis-Identifies Israel

Many Bible Prophesies Relate to the Nation of ISRAEL in the End-Time. The True Identity of the WHOLE ‘House of Israel’ factors into Understanding those Prophesies. Is there Something Significant that modern Evangelicals have Overlooked, and Why?

  © Rich Traver,  81520-1411,  8-31-09  [ 154 ] 

A number of key end-time prophesies intrigue the Evangelical Community in the modern era.  In fact, there are specific prophesies that are somewhat enigmatic to that segment of theology that few can adequately explain. 

Passages such as “all Israel shall be saved” (Rom. 11:26 (quoting Isa. 59:20)), such mention as “the time of Jacob’s trouble” and the very graphic multi-generational resurrection to life described in Ezekiel 37 are notable examples.  Many hold expectations of a great revival of Jewish peoples seeking the Lord just before the end of the age and work such an event into their prophetic scenarios.

Though the passage in Ezekiel chapter 37 poses ‘problems’ of its own, in that it describes rather clearly, a restoration to physical life (a resurrection that few can accept at face value or logically explain), the preferred approach then is to ‘explain away’ the obvious questions the chapter poses under their varying scenarios. 

A second ‘problem’ with Ezekiel 37 is the matter of the re-unification of the two ‘Houses’ back into a single nation, something not seen since the reigns of Jereboam and Rehoboam, the first kings of the divided monarchy, after the political split resulting from the arrogance of Solomon’s son Rehoboam. [1] There has never been, in all history, a re-unifying of these two distinct houses: One referred to as the ‘House of Judah’ and the other the ‘House of Israel’.

So we have in this field of mis-perception a multi-layered phenomenon.  First, and foremost, a lack of understanding of WHO the two separate houses of Israel are (and why they are referred to using two different names), and exactly WHEN they are to ‘all be saved’ as Romans 11 specifically promises.

That second area of understanding, the when, involves a resurrection from the dead, in a time and manner which escapes the comprehension of those who adhere to the common evangelical story line.

The House of Israel: Lost?

The general unawareness of a significant segment of Christianity of the fact that the nation of Israel split into two separate nations is profound.  How so many could be generally dismissive of, or ignorant of the history of these peoples, despite whole books in the Bible being devoted to that development, is more than curious.  Of those who are aware of the historical separation, there is still a failure to follow through with the logical quest, to identify who and where these people are in the modern era. 

Most who know that the two nations had separate dynasties of kings, and that each nation was taken captive and deported from the land of Israel in separate centuries, by different conquerors, hold that the Ten-Tribed northern kingdom (the House of Israel) are today ‘lost’ from history, while the southern kingdom (the House of Judah) (comprised of the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin) retained their identity as a result of being restored to their land and their ongoing practice of their religion, referred to today as “Judaism”.  It was their religious culture that helped preserve the identity of the House of Judah into the present age, while the northern kingdom never repented and were never restored to the land as were their southern counterparts.  Thus, their identity became ‘lost’!

Where modern theologians err is to assume that wherever the name Israel is mentioned in the Bible it refers exclusively to the Jews.  That is not the case in every situation.  And, to attempt to explain the fulfillment of end-time Bible prophesies with that fundamental premise in mind, much is blurred.

The Religious Heritage

It is logical that the Jews (descendants of the southern kingdom) today are identified as being Israel, as they are descended from the ancient nation.  What people fail to understand is that the Jews are only a segment of the whole nation.  There are some 85% of the greater nation in the world unidentified, and who long ago abandoned the religion that helps us identify their Jewish brothers throughout history.  The obstacle in many peoples’ minds is the fact that the descendants of the northern kingdom are not regarded as ‘Jewish’, nor were they ever such! Judah (the southern kingdom) and Israel (the northern kingdom) are two separate peoples, and are long established under different religious heritages.  A knowledgeable person wouldn’t expect the House of Israel, since the late 700’s BC, to be religiously Jewish.  Quite the contrary, their tendency was to worship Baal, that being the primary reason for their being conquered and deported into regions controlled by their conqueror, Assyria, an exile from which they never returned.  It was their religious apostasy from which they never repented that accounted for the loss of national identity of the House of Israel.

The House of Judah, on the other hand, were similarly conquered and deported by the Babylonians, a century-and-a-quarter later, but were returned to their land 70 years afterward.  Repentance and a serious resolve on their part to restore religious practices of their forefathers marked their post-exilic period and forever set them apart in history.

Thus we have two distinct and separate peoples, with distinctly different religious preferences.  Yet, both peoples are descendants of Jacob, (whose name was changed to Israel).  It is these two houses that await reunification to the present day.  That is a major theme of Ezekiel chapter 37.

(It’s a curious fact that in the first place the word ‘Jew’ appears in the Bible, they are at war with Israel!)

Do They WANT to Know?

Not everyone is pleased to explore the facts of history as they relate to the separate identities of the two Houses of Israel.  There is a reason for that.  It has to do with the attitude toward the Laws of God.  Much of Christianity is averse to any suggestion that believers today are in any way obligated to ‘keep the Law’.  They’ll readily admit that the Jews remain obligated, but not New Covenant Christians. (Despite what Hebrews 8:10 says).  Where the uncomfortable question factors-in is as it regards the other peoples: the House of Israel.  If the southern kingdom (Judah) is admittedly obligated, why wouldn’t the descendants of the northern kingdom (Israel) be similarly obligated?  It’s under the shadow of that question that religious people become rather uncomfortable!  Thus, they’d rather we not know who the descendants of the Ten-Tribes were throughout history, or are today.

Could it include our nationalities?

Another chasm in theological understanding is the refusal to accept the doctrine of the resurrections from the dead, and to accommodate one of them as being a restoration to a physical existence.  Despite the clarity of Ezekiel 37, such a possibility remains well off their radar screens.  How could that be?  When and why would such a situation be part of God’s Plan?   Romans chapters 9 thru 11 help explain much of this.  Paul addresses the obvious question of when Israel would all be saved.  But we need to realize that the vast majority went to their graves un-saved, partly as a result of having been ‘blinded’ purposefully by God! (Romans 11:8)

How ‘LOST’ is Lost?

While first century historians, such as Josephus, [2] knew where the Ten Tribes were living in his day, too few choose to follow up on their history and migrations.  Many good resources exist written by those who have researched the matter, and are obtainable to those who care to know. [3]

In the footnote above, Josephus identifies the great nation that existed in his day as being to the north of the Euphrates River.  That region was never conquered by Rome, though great campaigns by the Empire was made attempting to do so!  That area of the world is the region of the Caucasus Mountains from which we today identify the racial characteristics of “Caucasian”.  The region of the Black and Caspian Seas and to the north was the very region where the Assyrian Empire resettled their deported captives from the northern Ten Tribes after 721 BC.  In the days of the Roman Empire, six centuries later, the region had become home to the Parthian and Scythian nations, formidable opponents to Roman expansion into the territory.

Ethnic Blending

But, due to the fact that these peoples never returned to the land of Israel, but rather were, over time, pushed further north by military powers to their south, there was no reason for history to identify them with their ancient ethnic origins.  The ‘whole House of Israel’ includes a greater ethnicity than just modern day Jews.  In fact, the southern kingdom was itself relatively weak militarily after their return from exile in Babylon, and was ‘blended’ ethnically with other races in the area, not the least being other conquered peoples that Assyria had transplanted into Israel’s northern territory when they deported the Ten Tribes to other lands!

If we are not taking these important historical developments into consideration when identifying the specific peoples meant by “Israel” in Bible Prophecies, we risk having our explanations of end-time events be mistaken and irrelevant.

Is Judah Alone Israel?

An unfortunate stumbling block is the re-naming of the modern Jewish state as the Nation of Israel.  This only bolsters the evangelical mis-conceptions regarding who God means when He speaks of ‘Jacob’ or the whole House of Israel.  Modern Israel is a political entity, not the full ethnicity.  Not the full spectrum of the descendants of Jacob, son of Isaac, son of Abraham.  We need to remain cognizant of that when identifying to whom certain end-time prophecies apply.

Israel Identified His Sons’ Futures

Those who care to pursue the matter further should review the specific ancient prophecies found in Genesis 48 and 49.  A noteworthy prophecy is the blessing of the sons of Joseph, Israel’s eleventh son, found in Genesis 48.  Joseph’s two sons, born of an Egyptian wife, were first blessed with a specific future heritage, one of world domination, with his elder son developing into a single great nation, and his younger son a great ‘company of nations’. These two were promised a greater portion of the physical blessings of the Abrahamic Promise with Joseph’s other eleven brothers identified in chapter 49 with their separate national characteristics and the marks they would leave on the world scene in later generations.  These others are not a part of these two ‘nations and company of nations’ assigned as Joseph’s sons’ heritage!  Nor did the reigns of kings David and Solomon fulfill these prophecies.  They were of a future beyond the period of the unified monarchy.  This indicates that we should expect a number of separate nations to have developed later in history.  Judah is but one!

In fact, Judah was excluded from being a separate nation for almost nineteen centuries, after the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD.  Their peoples were largely dispersed among other nations prior to 1948.  The peoples of Judah (who are today the modern state called ‘Israel’) could not be the many nations of Jacob’s promises.

We can easily see from just these few indicators that the evangelical world is woefully under-informed as to the identities of modern day Israel.  More could be known, but following this trail of prophetic information stirs up ‘too many very uncomfortable’ questions.

The reader is urged to not be content with not knowing what could be known.  God did not intend we be ignorant of such matters.  The applicability of the Law and the necessity of the resurrections are a major theme of the New Testament, despite organized religions aversion to these essential truths.   


Article Footnotes:

[1]  Read 2nd Chronicles 10.

[2] Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book IV, Chapter V, Paragraph 2:  “…but then the entire body of the people of Israel remained in that country ; wherefore there are but two tribes in Asia and Europe subject to the Romans, while the ten tribes are beyond Euphrates till now, and are an immense multitude, and not to be estimated by numbers.”

[3]   “The Lost Ten Tribes”, by Stephen Collins, (out of print?) followed by a four book series by the same author, available from Bible Blessings, P.O.Box 1778,  Royal Oak, MI 48068. 

   Yair Davidy has authored two excellent books regarding the Ten Tribes titled:  “Ephraim and Joseph” and “Joseph”.  They’re available from the author: Yair Davidy, P.O.Box 595, Jerusalem 91004  Israel