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As we strive to know the divine plan and to align ourselves with it, it is imperative that we understand Bible prophecy. Our view of prophecy will determine not only our beliefs but also our actions. This especially requires us to know the purpose and place God has for the nation of Israel.
The first and foremost difficulty is that the majority of the church has forgotten that Israel and Judah split into two nations after the death of Solomon. We are told in 1 Kings 12:19,
19 So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day.
This began the time of The Divided Kingdom, which lasted more than two centuries until the House of Israel was taken captive by the Assyrians, leaving only Judah in the land. The citizens of the House of Judah, including Judah, Benjamin, and part of Levi, came to be called “Jews,” which is a shortened form of Yehudim, or Judahites.
The Israelites, however, were never known as Jews, because they were never part of the House of Judah. The ten northern tribes referred to themselves as Israel. The Greeks lumped them together with Tyre and Sidon, calling them all Phoenicians. The Assyrians referred to them as the House of Omri, named after the king who first established diplomatic relations with the Assyrians. On page 243 of Merrill Unger’s book, Archeology and the Old Testament, he tells us:
“… The initial contact between Israel and Assyria evidently occurred during Omri’s day, for from that time on Israel appears in cuneiform records as Bit-Humria (‘House of Omri’). This official appellation was applied to Samaria, the capital city. Moreover, the designation of an Israelite King became Mar Humria (‘son,’ i.e., ‘royal successor of Omri’).”
This is confirmed by The Jewish Encyclopedia (1970 edition) in its description of Omri on page 1471,
“According to the Moabite Stone, he [Omri] subdued Moab. The Assyrians called the kingdom of Israel by his name for the rest of its existence.”
The Bit-Humria became Beth-Khumri, Ghomri, and Gimirri. Hence, the book of Hosea speaks of his harlot wife, Gomer, as a prophetic type of Israel. After the fall of Assyria, these Israelites in Assyria began to immigrate north and west into Europe as Celts, along with other Israelites who had taken other names for themselves. Essentially, Europe was populated by the ex-Israelites of the dispersion.
These Israelites were not Jews. The Jews form a separate history, beginning with the Divided Kingdom. Although they were taken to Babylon for seventy years, a remnant returned so that the Messiah could be born in Bethlehem, as Micah 5:2 had prophesied.
This was the nation that rejected Jesus as Messiah and which was then judged, destroyed, and dispersed by the Romans. The Jews today trace their history back to that nation. Nonetheless, when the Jewish nation was established in 1948, they took for themselves the name of Israel, rather than Judah. The founders debated among themselves what to call their new nation before settling upon the name Israel in order to make it appear that they were fulfilling the end-time biblical prophecies of the House of Israel. This strategy has worked in their favor, for it succeeded in tricking the church into thinking that the Jews were Israel and ought to be supported. This turned many Christians into Zionists, as they supported what they believed to be the fulfillment of Bible prophecy.
But what is the real story behind this nation?
First, the name Israel was first given to the sons of Joseph in Genesis 48:16. The name was not given to Judah. It was for this very reason that Judah was unable to call itself Israel during the time of the Divided Kingdom. That legal right was given to the northern tribes, which included Ephraim and Manasseh, the tribes of Joseph. Hence, the southern kingdom took the name of its dominant tribe, calling itself the House of Judah, or the Kingdom of Judah.
By what right, then, did the modern Jewish nation call itself Israel?
Joseph was given the stripped-down version of the birthright (1 Chronicles 5:1, 2). The scepter was given to Judah and the priesthood to Levi, both of which had been part of the birthright in earlier years. Yet with the birthright itself, given to Joseph, came the birthright name Israel.
Because Judah had received the scepter, the kingship was given to King David, who was of that tribe. Jesus too was a direct descendant of David and was the rightful Heir of his throne. But the first-century Jewish leaders rejected Him and usurped His throne and scepter, saying, “This is the heir; come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance” (Matthew 21:38).
Their rejection of Jesus brought about conflicting claims to the throne of David and the scepter of Judah. The Jewish leaders claimed these for themselves, but in the eyes of God, the legitimate King was Jesus. Thus, two distinct groups emerged, each claiming to be the legitimate kingdom of Judah. The majority followed the usurpers, centered in Jerusalem, while the minority came to be known as the Christian Church, who were expelled (Acts 8:1) for acknowledging Jesus as their Messiah and King.
The usurping majority held Jerusalem and its temple under their control, and so it was easy for them to continue claiming to be Judah. Yet they were not really Judah at all, as Paul tells us in Romans 2:28, 29. Likewise, John speaks of these usurpers in Revelation 2:9 and again in Revelation 3:9 that they “say they are Jews and are not.” John did not recognize them as genuine, because they did not follow the true King of Judah.
In 70 A.D. the Romans destroyed Jerusalem, and the nation of Judah ceased to exist. The individual Jews themselves were dispersed. Their religion, however, continued to unify them as a people until modern times. Finally, they formed themselves into a new nation in 1948 and took the name Israel.
Meanwhile, the dispersed ex-Israelites had also developed into the European nations and had begun to spread out into other parts of the world as well. None of them had the right to call themselves Israel, because they were no longer in a covenant relationship with God. The Church was Judah, though its institutions had become corrupt; but yet those who genuinely followed Jesus Christ were citizens of Judah and heirs of Christ.
To become an Israelite (from a legal point of view) involved accepting Christ in His role as Joseph, the birthright holder. He came the first time to claim the throne of David that had been given to Judah. But He comes the second time with His robe dipped in blood (Revelation 19:13) in order to claim His birthright, for Joseph’s robe, too, had been dipped in blood (Genesis 37:31). In coming twice, He is able to reunite all parts of the birthright back under one head. Those who accept Christ in His role as the heir of Joseph are equipped to support His claim to the birthright name, Israel.
Not content with the scepter, the Jewish nation has now usurped the name Israel in its attempt to lay claim to the entire birthright. The birthright of Joseph is the main conflict today, even as the first-century conflict centered on the scepter of Judah.
Of course, it is not enough to support Jesus’ claim to the birthright. To join Him in this new nation-building plan and become an Israelite, one must manifest the character of Christ. At the present time, there are many ex-Israelites of the dispersion, but there is no genuine nation of Israel yet. The nation cannot be formed as Israel until it has a King. This requires Christ’s second coming. Meanwhile, the Holy Spirit is working in the hearts of men to gain supporters of that coming Kingdom. At the same time, He is also raising up rulers in that Kingdom—overcomers who will be the manifested sons of God.
Those who continue to support the Jewish state can hardly qualify as rulers of the true Kingdom that is coming. This situation is comparable to those Jews who supported the original usurpers of the scepter in the first century. The line is drawn. You cannot support the usurpers and the real Messiah at the same time. Repentance is the only way for these to qualify, and one must understand the nature of the conflict in order to repent.
It is also helpful to understand the prophetic principle of Cursed Time, as I explained in my book, Secrets of Time. These are 414-year cycles (grace periods) from the time of the righteous sentence of the law until the time of its execution. The interim is a grace period, whereby God gives men time to repent. If they do not repent, judgment is executed.
The Jewish state was founded on Cursed Time in 1948, linking it to Babylon, rather than to Israel. It began 8 x 414 years earlier with Israel’s first captivity to the king of Babylon, which was called Mesopotamia in those early days. The story is told in Judges 3:8,
8 Then the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, so that He sold them into the hands of Cushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia; and the sons of Israel served Cushan-rishathaim eight years.
By the Law of First Mention, which even Seminaries acknowledge today, the first time a word or event occurs establishes the Scriptural definition or prophetic pattern. In this case, it was Israel’s first captivity in the land of Canaan. God “sold them” into the hands of the king of Mesopotamia, “the land between two rivers,” for eight years. The two rivers were the Tigris and Euphrates, and the land was later known as Babylon.
This eight-year captivity was relatively short, but it also began a much longer pattern of captivity for 8 x 414 years, ending in 1948. This long grace period required repentance from the sin described in Judges 3:7,
7 And the sons of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and forgot the Lord [Yahweh] their God, and served the Baals and the Asheroth.
In other words, the people were following after false gods and forgot Yahweh their God. The Bible tells us that Yahweh became Yeshua (Jesus), for we read in Isaiah 12:2, 3,
2 Behold, God is my salvation [Yeshua], I will trust and not be afraid; for the Lord God [Yah Yahweh] is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation [Yeshua]. 3 Therefore you will joyously draw water from the springs of salvation [Yeshua].
Jesus’ Hebrew name, Yeshua (or Joshua), means “salvation.” Wherever it appears in the Hebrew text of the Old Testament, it prophesies of Jesus Christ. Hence, when the old man, Simeon, saw Jesus as a baby, he rejoiced at seeing the Messiah, saying in Luke 2:30, “my eyes have seen Your salvation,” i.e., Yeshua. Jesus also refers to Isaiah’s prophecy in John 7:37, 38, when He instructs the people to come to Him for drink. Jesus was the Source of “the springs of salvation” in Isaiah 12:3, which, if anyone partook of those waters, out from his innermost being would flow “rivers of living water.”
The problem was that most of the Jews did not come to Him for such a drink in His first appearance, nor have their descendants repented to this day. The year 1948 was a critical year for repentance, since it came at the end of the long grace period. Instead of repenting, they usurped the birthright that belongs to Jesus Christ, the Heir of Joseph. Instead of placing their faith in the true source of living water, they partook of the two rivers of Babylon and continued to follow after a false god—their own carnal messiah.
For this reason, it is inevitable that the Jewish state will be destroyed. Their grace period ended in 1948. It is significant also that most of their Christian supporters at the time believed that the Jews would repent before “returning to their land.” This was based on the prophecy in Jeremiah 31:8-12. They taught this openly until 1948, and then when it did not happen, they said the mass Jewish repentance would occur within 3½ years. When 1952 arrived, they extended this to seven years. When there was still no repentance in 1955, they quietly dropped this requirement.
If these Christian teachers had understood that the Jews were not Israel, they might have avoided this blunder. If they had known the difference between the scepter and the birthright, and if they had seen how the two comings of Christ were being opposed by usurpers, they might have foreseen the outcome. But most of them did not understand.
Jeremiah’s prophecy of the return of Israel came in the context of the New Covenant prophecy in Jeremiah 31:31-34. Teachers should have known that the “return” (i.e., repentance) could not take place apart from people accepting Jesus Christ, for only in this manner can one come under the New Covenant that He mediated. For a Jew to leave one nation and move to another has little or no relevance to genuine repentance as God requires. A Jew does not come under the New Covenant by moving to the old land.
And so, with the Jewish nation doomed for destruction, it behooves us to give them warning, so that individuals might move out of harm’s way before it is too late. Instead, sadly, we find many Christians donating money to help more Jews move into the land that will soon be destroyed. How will they feel when they see that they may have condemned those Jews to death?