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The dispute over that thin strip of land called Palestine and Israel has been the single issue in the past fifty years that is dragging the world into disaster. Many Christians have foreseen this great conflict by reading the Bible, but very few really understand how God views it. This book traces the history of that conflict from the beginning.
Category - History and Prophecy
Reuben was the first-born son of Jacob, but he did not receive the birthright because he "defiled his father's bed" (1 Chron. 5:1). This is a reference to the incident recorded in Gen. 35:22,
22 And it came about while Israel was dwelling in that land, that Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father's concubine; and Israel heard of it.
This disqualified Reuben from receiving the birthright-both the dominion mandate and the Sonship blessing. In Gen. 49:4 Jacob tells Reuben that he was "uncontrolled as water" because he had not had the self-control to refrain from this sexual relationship with Bilhah. Reuben's name means "Behold a son," but he lost the Sonship because of his actions. The Sonship was instead given to his brother Joseph, and the dominion mandate was given to his brother Judah.
Judah was the fourth son of Jacob-Israel. He did not receive the birthright itself, but Jacob did give him the dominion mandate portion. We read of this in 1 Chron. 5:1, 2,
1 Now the sons of Reuben the first-born of Israel (for he was the first-born, but because he defiled his father's bed, his birthright was given to the sons of Joseph the son of Israel; so that he [Reuben] is not enrolled in the genealogy according to the birthright. 2 Though Judah prevailed over his brothers, and from him came the leader, yet the birthright belonged to Joseph.
The manner in which Jacob divided the dominion mandate from the fruitfulness mandate is told in the book of Genesis. In Gen. 37:3 we find the first hint that the birthright was given to Joseph, when Jacob gave him the sign of the birthright holder-a special robe:
3 Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his sons, because he was the son of his old age; and he made him a varicolored tunic.
The actual transfer of the birthright, however, was later given to Joseph's sons, particularly Ephraim, whose name means "fruitfulness." His name was therefore prophetic of the fulfillment of the fruitfulness mandate, dating back to Gen. 1:28. When Jacob was old and about to die, he called for Joseph and his sons and gave them a blessing recorded in Genesis 48. Joseph expected that Jacob would give the blessing to Manasseh, his oldest son, so he positioned Manasseh to be near Jacob's right hand. Ephraim was positioned at Jacob's left hand.
But Jacob then crossed his arms, placing his right hand upon the head of Ephraim and his left hand upon the head of Manasseh. Gen. 48:15, 16 says,
15 And he blessed Joseph and said, "The God before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day, 16 the angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and may my name live on in them, and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and may they grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth."
The angel who had redeemed Jacob was the angel that Jacob wrestled at Penuel in Gen. 32:24-32. This was the angel that had given Jacob the name " Israel." So in this blessing, Jacob-Israel was passing that name ISRAEL to the sons of Joseph. At the same time he blessed them with a "multitude" of descendants-that is, with the fruitfulness mandate of the birthright.
And so for this reason 1 Chron. 5:1, 2 (above) tells us that Joseph received the birthright. And yet we learn also that the birthright given to Joseph was not the entire birthright as it had existed up to that time. Jacob separated the dominion mandate from the rest of the birthright and gave this portion to Judah.
Judah 's blessing is given in Gen. 49:8-12, where we read,
8 Judah, your brothers shall praise you [ Judah means "praise"]; your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father's sons shall bow down to you. 9 Judah is a lion's whelp; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He couches [Heb. rabats, "to crouch or recline"], he lies down as a lion, and as a lion, who dares rouse him up? 10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes, and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples. 11 He ties his foal to the vine, and his donkey's colt to the choice vine; he washes his garments in wine, and his robes in the blood of grapes. 12 His eyes are dull [Heb., chakleel, "dark, or blood-shot"] from wine, and his teeth white from milk.
We see here that Judah was given the "scepter." He is also compared to a lion, which became Judah 's national symbol on its banners. Hence also we read of Christ in Rev. 5:5 pictured as "the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah." We also see that the lion would crouch or lie down. This pictures prophetically the death of Jesus Christ. The only One "who dares to rouse him up" is the Spirit of Him that raised Jesus from the dead (Rom. 8:11).
This same theme of the dead lion being raised from the dead is set forth in the riddle of Samson in Judges 14. Samson killed a lion with his bare hands by the power of God (Judges 14:5, 6), and later some bees made a hive in the lion's dead carcass. Samson took honey from that hive, ate some and gave some to his parents. Soon afterward, he went to Timnah to his seven-day wedding feast, because he intended to marry a Philistine woman who lived in Timnah. At the beginning of the feast, he proposed a riddle to the Philistines. If they could solve it, he would give each of his thirty friends a new garment. But if they could not solve the riddle, they each were to give Samson a new garment.
The riddle is given in Judges 14:14,
14 Out of the eater came something to eat, and out of the strong came something sweet.
The Philistines could not figure out the meaning of the riddle, because they had not seen the dead lion, out of whose death came honey. Nor did they know its meaning-that the secret of the Promised Land flowing with milk and honey was by seeing the dead Lion of Judah, "who was delivered up because of our transgressions, and was raised because of our justification" (Rom. 4:25). The revelation of the riddle would bring the reward of new garments, the "garments of salvation" (Isaiah 61:10). Paul speaks of these garments as a "tabernacle" with which we desire to be clothed, so that we might obtain immortality (2 Cor. 5:1-4).
This story, then, is another prophecy of how to be saved and to be granted immortality, clothed with a new and glorified body. This is actually the purpose of the Feast of Tabernacles, which we described in Chapter Seven of our book, The Laws of the Second Coming.
Samson's riddle tells us how to interpret Jacob's blessing upon Judah. Judah was to bring forth the King-Messiah, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah, who would die and be raised from the dead. That was Judah 's calling, and Jesus was indeed born of the tribe of Judah. Hence, Judah fulfilled its calling. But we cannot expect Judah to bring forth the message of Sonship, for that is reserved for Joseph.
Nor did Judah have the right to use the birthright name of ISRAEL that had been given to the sons of Joseph.
The separation of the dominion mandate from the fruitfulness mandate sowed the seeds of the breach that was to come upon the nation of Israel after the death of Solomon. Solomon may have been the wisest man that ever lived, but he was not mature enough in his character to use his wisdom wisely. For this reason he became very corrupt, and with this came utter foolishness. He loved to build, but he overtaxed the people to support his building projects.
After Solomon died, the people came to his son, Rehoboam, and asked that he reduce the tax burden upon the people. Rehoboam inquired of his advisors. The wise ones advised him to reduce the tax load; the young advisors, however, advised him to increase the taxes and not allow the people to dictate his policies. This caused a breach in the Kingdom, where ten tribes revolted against Rehoboam and set up their own nation with their own king, an Ephraimite named Jeroboam.
This had been prophesied in 1 Kings 11:28-39 by the prophet Ahijah,
30 Then Ahijah took hold of the new cloak which was on him, and tore it into twelve pieces. 31 And he said to Jeroboam, Take for yourself ten pieces; for thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, Behold, I will tear THE KINGDOM out of the hand of Solomon and give you ten tribes.... 34 Nevertheless, I will not take THE WHOLE KINGDOM out of his hand, but I will make him ruler all the days of his life, for the sake of My servant David whom I chose, who observed My commandments and My statutes; 35 But I will take THE KINGDOM from his son's hand and give it to you, even ten tribes.
Take note especially that it was "the Kingdom" that God removed from the king of Judah. This constituted a separation of the King from the Kingdom. This was the great breach in the land. Because the ten tribes included the tribes of Joseph (Ephraim and Manasseh), who were the custodians of the name ISRAEL, the ten-tribed nation of the north were the ones who were legally allowed to use this birthright name. Hence, they were called "The House of Israel," while the southern two tribes (Judah and Benjamin) could only be called "The House of Judah."
This is very important. From this point on, the prophets speak of these distinct nations by their official names. When they speak of the northern tribes, they refer to them as "The House of Israel." When they speak of the southern two tribes, they refer to them as "The House of Judah." The prophets never confuse the two when prophesying of the separate destinies of these two nations.
Historically speaking, the other foreign nations also considered Israel and Judah to be distinct nations and also referred to them under different names. Most nations knew the northern House of Israel, NOT by the name of Israel, but by the name of the builder of Samaria, King Omri. In those days, this king's name was actually pronounced "Gomer" or "Ghomri." The Assyrians, who later deported Israel, called them officially Beth-Ghomri, or Beth-Khumri, "house of Omri." This is the name as it appears on the Black Obelisk of Shalmanezer, the Assyrian king who conquered Samaria (2 Kings 18:9). These Khumri later migrated into the largely uninhabited forests of Europe, where they were known as the Celts, Saxons, and by other names as well. They formed the bulk of the European population.
For a more complete study of the names of Israel in their captivity, and how they migrated under those names into Europe, see William Bennett's book, The Story of Celto-Saxon Israel. The Black Obelisk of Shalmanezer is discussed, complete with pictures and text, in Appendix Two of that book.
Israel went into an Assyrian captivity and never returned to the old land; Judah was to go into a Babylonian captivity for just 70 years and then return so that the Messiah could be born at the appointed place in Bethlehem of Judea (Micah 5:2).
The destiny of the House of Israel was to fulfill the birthright. The destiny of the southern House of Judah was to bring forth the King-Messiah. In Christ's first coming, He came of the tribe of Judah, born in Bethlehem, the city of David, in order to fulfill Judah 's calling as the Messiah. But in His second coming, He must come in a different manner to fulfill the birthright calling of the House of Israel and bring many sons into glory. We have already discussed this in full in chapters ten and eleven of our book, The Laws of the Second Coming, so we will not pursue this further.
The tribe of Judah consisted of two types of Judahites: good and bad. The good side of Judah was to receive the dominion mandate, while the bad side was to be rejected by God. This picture fully emerges in the prophecies of Jeremiah. The main portrait of these two "trees" is found in Jeremiah 24, which speaks of the nation of Judah being like two baskets of figs. One basket contained very good figs; the other contained very rotten figs that could not be eaten. Jeremiah tells us of these in the first verses of Jeremiah 24,
1 After Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon had carried away captive Jeconiah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, and the officials of Judah with the craftsmen and smiths from Jerusalem and had brought them to Babylon, the Lord showed me: behold, two baskets of figs set before the temple of the Lord! 2 One basket had very good figs, like first-ripe figs; and the other basket had very bad figs, which could not be eaten due to rottenness.
God then told the prophet the explanation of this revelation. The basket of good figs were those men of Judah who submitted to the judgment of God and who went to Babylon into captivity. God said that He would bring them back to the land and " give them a heart to know Me " (24:7).
The basket of bad figs, however, represented those men of Judah who refused to submit to the king of Babylon -that is, they refused to submit to the judgment of God. God said of these figs,
8 But like the bad figs which cannot be eaten due to rottenness-indeed, thus says the Lord-so I will abandon Zedekiah king of Judah and his officials, and the remnant of Jerusalem who remain in this land, and the ones who dwell in the land of Egypt. 9 And I will make them a terror and an evil for all the kingdoms of the earth, as a reproach and a proverb, a taunt and a curse in all places where I shall scatter them. 10 And I will send the sword, the famine, and the pestilence upon them until they are destroyed from the land which I gave to them and to their forefathers.
What a contrast! The fig tree was, of course, the symbol of the nation of Judah. But it is apparent that the two baskets of figs came from two different fig trees. Jesus clearly saw both types of Judahites in His day, for He said in Matt. 7:17-20,
17 Even so, every good tree bears good fruit; but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So then, you will know them by their fruits.
The good tree brought forth good fruit; the bad tree bore bad fruit. Both are of Judah, but there was a clear division between the people represented by these trees. The good figs were those who accepted Him as the Messiah; the bad figs rejected Him. Jeremiah said that the good figs submitted to the judgment of God against the nation by willingly going to Babylon for 70 years. The bad figs disagreed with God's judgment for their sin and decided to fight the army of King Nebuchadnezzar. This is clear from a simple reading of Jeremiah 24-30.
The divine law said in Deut. 17:9-12 that the people were to obey the verdict of the priests when they stood to judge the people according to God's law. Verse 12 says,
12 And the man who acts presumptuously by not listening to the priest who stands there to serve the LORD your God, nor to the judge, that man shall die [for unrepentance and contempt of court]; thus you shall purge the evil from Israel.
Jeremiah was one of the priests of Anathoth (Jer. 1:1). God used him to pronounce judgment upon the nation of Judah in 7:9-15, with these words:
9 Will you steal, murder, and commit adultery, and swear falsely, and offer sacrifices to Baal, and walk after other gods that you have not known, 10 then come and stand before Me in this house, which is called by My name, and say, We are delivered!-that you may do all these abominations? 11 Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of robbers in your sight? Behold, I, even I, have seen it, declares the LORD.
12 But go now to My place which was in Shiloh, where I made My name dwell at the first, and see what I did to it because of the wickedness of My people Israel. 13 And now, because you have done all these things... 14 therefore, I will do to the house which is called by My name, in which you trust, and to the place which I gave you and your fathers, as I did to Shiloh. 15 And I will cast you out of My sight, as I have cast out all your brothers, all the offspring of Ephraim.
In this lawful sentence against Judah, God says that He was to cast Judah and Jerusalem out of His sight-even as He did Shiloh and Ephraim. Shiloh was the place where God put His name at the beginning, after Joshua conquered Canaan (Josh. 18:1; Ps. 78:60). Because of Eli's sons, God removed His presence (ark) from Shiloh and placed it in Jerusalem.
God never returned to Shiloh but permanently forsook that place and ultimately cast Ephraim out of His sight into the Assyrian captivity. Even so, God said He was about to do the same with Judah and Jerusalem, because they were as corrupt as the Eli priesthood and the people of Ephraim. There were some Judahites who had sense enough to submit to God's judgment, but the majority did not. They chose to fight it, and so God pronounced the death penalty upon the bad fig tree in accordance with Deut. 17:12.
In order to understand more fully the judgment that God was pronouncing upon Judah and Jerusalem, we must first pause to study the divine law of tribulation. This will give us a better understanding of the "yoke" of captivity that God brought upon Judah. We must also trace the history of where God has placed His name, in light of the reference to Shiloh quoted in the passage above.