Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Two Houses of Israel, Ephraimites, and Ten Lost Tribes

I am working on getting back to finishing up my series on the antichrist in the Old Testament, but in the meanwhile, a dialogue with a Christian Identity person (I have an article on that in the works too) brought to mind the theology of Ephraimites and I felt led to write on this at the moment.

When the ten northern tribes of Israel were taken into captivity by Assyria, they never came back into the land of Israel. That is why they are known to this day as the ten lost tribes. The Bible refers to these tribes as Ephraim, as in the last days when Yeshua returns He will again join Judah and Ephraim into one nation, the nation of Israel.

Ezekiel 27:16-28 “Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions: And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand. And when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying, Wilt thou not shew us what thou meanest by these? Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand. And the sticks whereon thou writest shall be in thine hand before their eyes. And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all: Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwellingplaces, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God. And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them. And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children's children for ever: and my servant David shall be their prince for ever. Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And the heathen shall know that I the LORD do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore.”

For some reason, several different “Christian” and I use the term very loosely, movements have jumped on the bandwagon of deciding that they are part of these lost tribes. I do not know why they feel the need to brand themselves as this, other than for the reason of having a jealously of Israel being the actual blood descendants of Abraham. For some reason, the idea of being an adopted child of Abraham by faith into the family of God through Christ is not sufficient for their ego and vanity. Even though God made it quite clear that He does not see us as Jew or Greek (Gentile) once we have accepted Christ, and that He makes no distinction between His children in this way, there are some who seem to feel that it is not enough to have Christ.

Romans 10:12 “For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.

Galatians 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”

Colossians 3:11 “Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.”

That God sees us all alike in Christ is not sufficient for all. Some must makes themselves somehow superior by being of the tribe of Ephraim. There are a number of groups that I know of (there may be more) that are doing this : British Israelism, Christian Identity, the Worldwide Church of God (Herbert Armstrong's church), the Mormons, and the Hebraic Roots Movement which has multiple names such as Two House Movement, Ephraimites, Messianic Israel, among them.

In all of the above cases, the common denominator is that the ten lost tribes migrated north into Europe, in particular England, and then over to the Americas. Ephraim being England and Manasseh being America. (Actually if they knew their Bible they would realize that is backwards. Ephraim, the younger brother was to be a greater people and multitude of nations than his older brother Manasseh.) Now, there is some reasonable merit in believing that some of the people from these tribes did move north. Since they were taken captive north of Israel, for them to continue north is not a stretch of the imagination. And in fact, there is one tribe that there is much evidence to show that it did move north. The tribe of Dan (the one tribe that was really cursed for their paganism) seems to have moved into the area around central Europe. Just as today we are still prone to naming things after people, so people did as a rule back then. We find the name Dan in a multitude of places such as cities, rivers, and other geographic features. For instance the Danube, the Dneiper, Denmark, etc. [Just as a side note, it is the tribe of Dan from whom the antichrist is thought to be coming.] There are also Scriptures that say that some will return from the north and west, so it is logical to assume that there will be some of these tribes who have descendants in Europe and America. I also think it quite probable that these tribes migrated in other directions also, as well as some staying put in Assyria. I think they are the world over and we have no idea who these people are.

This idea that the ten tribes found their way to Europe and in particular England seems to have begun with the British Israel movement. It is their contention that England is actually now the House of Israel and when Christ returns He will set up His New Jerusalem, in England. They also contend that the royal family are direct descendants of King David. (Can anyone see the set up for an antichrist here?) Needless to say these ideas about New Jerusalem and the royal family are not Scriptural at all. From there this movement moved to America in the form of Christian Identity. I am presently preparing an article on this movement. To briefly sum up CI takes this idea much further and says that not only are white Europeans the descendants of the ten tribes, but that most of Judah also never came back from the Babylonian captivity, but also migrated into Europe and that the Jews we know today are not from the tribe of Judah at all, but are pretenders. More specifically they are said to be the descendants of Cain who was the spawn of Satan and Eve (not Adam and Eve). This group is Aryan Nation in theology, believing that not only are the Jews the spawn of Satan and that white European descendants are the true Jews, but that those who are not Caucasion are actually the “beasts of the field” which God created and are not truly human in the same way, therefore not eligible for salvation.

The Worldwide Church of God and Mormons also believe they are descendants from these ten lost tribes so are truly Israel. Their theologies can be further explored on the internet, so I won't go into them here. Now we come to the Hebraic Roots, Ephraimites, or Two House Movement. They believe the Jews are Judah, but they also believe that the ten tribes migrated north to England and then on to America. As these are Gentile Christians who feel called back to Judaic roots, they insist that this must come from the fact that they are truly Israel in blood, and that is why they are being called back to their roots. They do not merely see it as God speaking to those of His children who have ears to hear to make them see that in these last days He is sifting His children before the antichrist comes on the scene, and wants them to remove the paganism from their practices and hearts. It is the time of judgment of the church when He is allowing us to either purge ourselves by our own volition thereby making us Philadelphians, or He will purge His children through the tribulation, as he wants a pure and refined Bride.

One of the problems that has emerged from this latter movement is that it is returning people to the yoke of the law. While some are more tentative about how far they want to go, many are jumping into the deep end of Judaism, and embracing it with no regard to the teachings of the New Testament, in particular Galatians, and making themselves prisoners of the Law again. They carry this further by insisting that those who will not go this entire route with them are not truly saved. What they fail to acknowledge is that nobody can make any claim to being from the ten tribes. That is why they are called “lost.” Only God knows who they are. There is, in the letters to the churches in Revelation, a warning to two different churches about a group who claim to be Jews, (of Israel descent) but really aren't. They are pretenders. They are called the synagogue of Satan. Now there are several groups that can be considered to fall in this group, as they do not teach salvation as the Bible does, but bring another gospel. Several of them are mentioned above. It is the intention of all of these groups to claim the rights of Israel for themselves. Some seek further to put people under the bondage of the law for their salvation, although they would deny this. They claim that they aren't saying it is for salvation that you must do this, as salvation comes by faith in Yeshua, that it is merely for obtaining blessings, but when you listen more carefully, you find that unless you bow to their rules, they act and treat you as if you are not truly saved, thus giving lie to their lip service that salvation is by faith.

While this group technically does not belong in this group as they do not claim descent from the ten tribes, there is yet another group of posers who most definitely are the synagogue of Satan. The monarchies and financial kingpins of Europe claim to be descendants of Jesus through Mary Magdalene. It is their intention to put their own king upon the throne in Jerusalem. They are otherwise known as the Illuminati and the antichrist.

Returning to the Ephraimites and the Law, what does the Bible say about returning to the Law?

Galatians 1:6-8 “I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.”

As this epistle is addressing this very problem, that Gentiles are being told that they must observe the law or they aren't really saved, we must look very carefully at what Paul says. He is telling us that for us to be placed under the yoke of the law is another gospel. It negates the grace of Christ.

Galatians 4:9-11”But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.

Paul is saying they are making a big deal about having to keep the holy days, fasts, feasts, etc. In other passages we are told we have the freedom to observe these days, but we are not required to keep anything but the Sabbath. To make them a requirement puts one under bondage again. This also includes things such as keeping kosher, which was lifted both in Acts 15:20,29 and in 1 Timothy 4:4-5.

Galatians 2:18-19 “For if I build again the things which I destroyed, I make myself a transgressor. For I through the law am dead to the law, that I might live unto God.”

To build again upon the works of keeping the law is to make us a transgressor. Why would it make us a transgressor?

Galatians 5:1-4 “Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage. Behold, I Paul say unto you, that if ye be circumcised, Christ shall profit you nothing. For I testify again to every man that is circumcised, that he is a debtor to do the whole law. Christ is become of no effect unto you, whosoever of you are justified by the law; ye are fallen from grace.

James 2:10 “For whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all.

The rule is, if you are going to make keeping the law an issue, you have to keep every letter of the law. For if you do not keep every letter of the law, if you offend in just one point, you are guilty of breaking all of it. As it is literally impossible to keep the 135 laws regarding the temple and sacrifices alone, it would seem that keeping the law is a fruitless effort. To view the rest of the 613 laws, I would recommend this site. How many can you keep?

When Yeshua told us to keep His commandments, He made it quite simple. Not only did He only leave us with the Ten Commandments as being the only Laws we had to observe, He reduced them to two. Matthew 22:37-40 “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”

So we see from Scripture that 1) There is no Jew nor Greek in Yeshua, for we are all the same in Him, so we should not seek to be “special” or “superior” or “more righteous” by laying claim to being of the House of Israel through the ten tribes. In fact, due to their turning from God in their extreme paganism, to the point where God divorced them so that they were not even allowed to return to the land, as Judah was, it is not something to be proud of to lay claim to this lineage. After all, the sins of the fathers are visited on the sons for many generations. Quite honestly I think I'd rather not be from that lot. 2) To return to the Law and be under bondage to it is not Scriptural. If someone is telling you that you must observe the Law, they should be avoided, as they are preaching another gospel. One that is not of grace, no matter what they say. Paul has already dealt with people like this before. 3) Beware the synagogue of Satan. Do not get caught up in it thinking that you are merely embracing your spiritual roots. These groups can be very dangerous to your spiritual life. 4) If you are loving God and loving your neighbor you are keeping the Law according to Yeshua.

Now, that said, do I believe that Christianity is fine the way it is being observed in Christendom? Absolutely not. It is pagan to its core these days. Any Christian who seeks a closer relationship with the Lord is obliged to walk away from sin and paganism. There is simply no choice in that. Apostasy is not good for any Christian and the Church (in all denominations) reeks of it.

Should we return to a Judaic form of worship of the Lord by freely enjoying (not being obliged to observe as some would make us) the Feasts of God rather than the pagan Christian holidays? I certainly would recommend it, as there is much to be gained in spiritual blessings and satisfaction from doing so. I say this from experience. Do I feel it is mandatory? No. It cannot be mandatory, for by law these feasts were to be observed in Jerusalem and at the temple. So to observe them any place else is breaking the very Law these people insist must be observed. This is exactly the sin of which the ten tribes were guilty. They were not going to Jerusalem to worship at the temple, but set up their own temples and high places, etc. in their own land. I think if in grace we freely wish to observe a feast as best we can, knowing that we cannot fulfill it according to the Law, the Lord is fine with that, as it comes from the intent of our heart to enjoy the Lord and His feasts. If however we make it a matter of obligation, then we have put ourselves under the Law and by not observing it according to the Law, we are transgressors of that very Law that we are seeking to observe.

Is the Sabbath mandatory? Yes. There are ten commandments, not nine. The Ten Commandments are not the same as all the other laws. Yeshua said if we love Him we will keep the commandments, which again He reduced to two, love God and love your neighbor as yourself. The Sabbath falls under the first commandment, love God. Should we keep kosher? If it does it for you, go for it, but do not ever say that it is required for anybody else, or that they are not as good a Christian (or not a Christian at all) for not doing so. Their freedom in Christ allows them to not have to observe it. Do not condemn their freedom. That is against Scripture.

Should a person look for a Messianic congregation? It would all depend on the congregation. If they are seeking to renounce the apostasy of the Church, but are not looking to put people under the yoke of the Law, I would say it would be a great thing to have such fellowship. If however the group is one of the Ephraimite groups which demand the keeping of the Law, I would be very wary about joining them. It is merely the flip side of the coin of apostasy. Legalism is as bad as apostasy. As I continually say in my blog, the middle of the road most often tends to be the right path. Extremes in any direction (other than saying that Yeshua is the only way of salvation) tend to lead people away from truth. We must base our beliefs and our actions on Scripture alone. Sola Scriptura. Examine everything, sift everything, be a Berean in all things. Only then can you be sure of not falling into one of the millions of traps that Satan has set for us.

One last added note, do not think that celebrating Judaism the way it celebrates things is perfectly fine. Satan put as much paganism (Kabbalah) into Judaism and their traditions as he did with the Church. Filter everything through the lens of Scripture before taking it on as a new lifestyle. Understand that much of Judaism takes as its leadership, not the Bible or Tanakh, but the Midrash, the Talmud, and other writings by rabbis. Rabbis who were most likely participating in Kabbalah. It is essential that you not jump from the frying pan into the fire when leaving pagan Christianity for a better way. Do not be deceived.

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