The path I took
Apr 24, 2014
I was raised in a Christian Zionist denomination that taught me to believe that there was a chosen Jewish race. I believed that this Jewish race was the purest race in the world. I believed that only those who could claim ancestry from that race were God’s chosen people. The rest of humanity had been given about 2,000 years in which to be saved, so that they could serve the Jews during the Millennium. The Rapture signals the deadline for salvation, the buzzer sounds, the Holy Spirit is removed from the earth, and 144,000 Jewish Billy Grahams remain on earth to evangelize the world.
In those days I never questioned how these 144,000 surviving Jews could convert anyone without the Holy Spirit. Secondly, it never occurred to me that this eschatology meant that about 50 million Jews would be killed by the Antichrist forces, leaving only a tiny percentage to preach the gospel without success.
Much of this theology has been quietly dropped in recent years. But Jews remember, and this makes them suspicious of Christians. They see that such eschatology motivates Christian Zionists to support and fund the most radical Jewish groups, trying to hasten Christ’s return by causing Armageddon.
I remember the days (in high school) when I was determined to live in Israel, because I thought it was the safest place on earth! I had fully imbibed the usual books on prophecy, and this was the result.
Then in 1971 I stumbled across the idea that Israel and Judah were two different nations. I tried to refute it for the first few pages of the book, but finally gave up. It was all there in the Bible. The prophets prophesied to “the house of Judah and to the house of Israel,” and up to that time, I had thought the prophets were stuttering. I had thought both terms referred to the Jewish race-nation. (I had not yet discovered the distinction between a race and a nation.) I also learned that the term “Jew” was just an abbreviation for Judah.
I showed this to my father, and he too was shocked. Though he had learned Bible history in seminary, somehow this simple truth had escaped his attention. This single truth changed our entire perspective of prophecy.
I learned that the house of Israel consisted of the ten tribes which were conquered and deported to Assyria more than a century before Judah was taken to Babylon. I studied the names by which the Assyrians, Greeks, Persians, and Romans referred to those Israelites in captivity. I learned how the Israelites were lost on account of these name changes.
I learned also that when the Assyrian Empire fell, huge numbers of those ex-Israelites began to migrate north and west into Europe. Many passed through the Caucasus Mountains, located between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea. They came in such great numbers that the anthropologists later classified them by the racial term, Caucasian. This term was not particularly accurate, however, because most of the people of the Mideast at that time were of the same race.
In reading of these migrations, I came to understand that these were my own ethnic roots. It was my own ancestors who had migrated into Europe. In fact, my forefathers had been Israelites at one time, but were now known by more modern names. So my previous view about the Jews being God’s chosen was altered, and I came to believe that the Caucasians were now God’s chosen race. Everything that I had believed about the Jews in my earlier life was suddenly transferred to me and my race. The historical knowledge of my racial or ethnic roots was easily proven by archeology, but how I used those facts still needed some improvement.
During the 1970’s, I was part of the Israel Identity Movement, whose name was soon changed to the Christian Identity Movement to make it appear more “Christian.” (The pastor I worked for was the one who came up with this idea. I was there.) I also recall on another occasion the same pastor came into my work area to blow off some steam. He was disgusted with some of the more radical racially-minded groups who were speaking of “the Israel race”—as if Israel were a race. He insisted that Israel was a nation, not a race, and he fumed that virtually all of the Mideast nations at the time were of the same race. Jacob did not start a new race when the angel gave him the name Israel.
That conversation made me focus on that particular problem of terminology and the implications that it held. In studying archeology and history, I saw immediately that the Moabites and Ammonites, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, etc. were all of the same general racial group, today called Caucasian.
I had already read some books that denounced inter-racial marriage by appealing to certain passages in the law, which forbade Israelites to marry Moabites or Ammonites. I realized that these books were based on the assumption that Israel was of a different racial group from the Moabites and Ammonites. I saw that the laws in question were not addressing inter-racial marriage, but rather international marriage, and that these laws were designed to prevent believers from marrying unbelievers. The law assumes that the Israelites would be believers in the God of Israel, while the Moabites worshiped Molech. But if a Moabite had faith in the God of Israel and wished to become a citizen of Israel, that marriage prohibition no longer applied. Note the book of Ruth.
Do I promote inter-racial marriage? Not necessarily. I simply note that the laws which many have applied to inter-racial marriage have been misapplied. And so years later, when I was called back into the ministry, I determined to be silent where the Bible was silent. I would teach the law but not try to go beyond it. In other words, I would let everyone decide for themselves and not try to get into marriage counseling.
In 1978 I was led to start a serious study of biblical law. A few years later, after being expelled from the Israel Identity Movement (in 1981), God led me on a new path with the Net of Prayer to learn intercession and spiritual warfare. It was not long before I realized that a large part of my training was in the application of God’s law to the spiritual realm. We were conducting warfare in the second heavens, and I kept discovering new applications of the law on a spiritual level. Then I stumbled across Romans 7:14, “the law is spiritual.”
The legal approach was a new way of looking at everything, and I found that it was the key to genuine spirituality. While most people tend to think of the law and the spirit in opposing terms, I came to see that lawful spirituality balanced the two. It prevented legalism as well as lawless spirituality. It was not long before this revolutionary concept became the foundation of my walk with God and was reflected in all my teachings.
By the end of my wilderness training period, as I was called back into full-time ministry, I had begun to pull together all that I had learned from the past into a cohesive package of teaching. This included my view of Israel. I already understood from the 1970’s that Israel was a nation, not a race. But by the 1990’s I had begun to see Israel in legal terms as well. After all, a nation is a legal entity or organization, not a racial one.
In tracing Israel’s roots as a nation, I had to take it back to Adam. The patriarchs before and after the flood were the acknowledged kings of the earth. It was not until the time of Nimrod (or Peleg) that men divided into separate nations. The Bible completely ignores racial issues during this time, so we do not know if men divided according to race, or if it was purely national (or ethnic).
Nimrod is credited with being the first to assert his right to rule the earth in open opposition to Noah and Shem, who held the birthright. Historical sources tell us that Shem then left Mesopotamia and built Salem, or Jeru-Salem, where he could exercise his calling as a King-Priest (Melchizedek) far from the reach of Nimrod. Abraham soon followed him, taking with him those who remained loyal to the God of Abraham.
So we read in Genesis 14:14,
14 And when Abram heard that his relative had been taken captive, he led out his trained men, born in his house, three hundred and eighteen, and went in pursuit as far as Dan.
Who were these 318 men? We know very little, other than that they were not of Abraham’s descent. Abraham had no children at that time, yet they were “born in his house.” He was the patriarchal leader of a whole village or tribe. The Bible says nothing of their race, and for this reason I too remain silent on that issue. We may assume that at least most of them were white, for they came from a white majority area. But history also shows that they had black slaves. The Bible ignores the racial makeup of Abraham’s 318 men, and so I refuse to speculate on their racial identity.
The promise to Abraham was that God would make of him “a great nation” (Genesis 12:2), not a great race. In other words, God was building a nation, and in fact that “nation” was already seeded with believers who were in submission to the rightful king of the earth. I believe that Paul later understood this and so he applied the same principle to other believers in the first century, calling them “the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10).
Abraham’s village was passed down to Isaac and later to Jacob. Jacob’s name became Israel, and so this became the ethnic name associated with this extended family. From the beginning of time, there were always true believers beyond the patriarchs themselves. The main question was if they would be citizens of Babylon, with loyalties to Nimrod, or if they would join with the ones who held the birthright, including the dominion mandate.
It is obvious from Scripture that a few thousand came with Abraham to the land of Canaan. Others had gone with Shem and lived in Jerusalem. When Abraham paid tithes to Shem-Melchizedek, he showed that they were in union or “communion” as one body, even though they had established different villages.
Genesis 10 speaks of seventy nations that were founded by the sons of Noah. Again, the Bible speaks nationally, not racially. I leave it to others to argue about whether the flood was local or universal, and how the various races were preserved alive. If the flood was local, then other races may not have been affected. If the flood was universal, then obviously, Noah took some with him in the ark. It is doubtful if all races sprang from Shem, Ham, and Japheth, as was taught in the Middle Ages.
The nation of Israel included people from other nations. Exodus 12:38 says that “a mixed multitude also went up with them.” It is likely that the majority of these were Egyptians, since Israel was coming out of the land of Egypt. At the time, the Egyptians were a light-skinned race, but there were other races living in Egypt as well. Again, the Bible says nothing about the racial makeup of this “mixed multitude.” It is only clear that they had not been Israelites up to that point in time. Yet it was clear that these had become new believers in the God of Israel and wanted to change their citizenship and join the nation of Israel.
When the land of Canaan was divided among the tribes, there was no special territory for the mixed multitude. They all had to submit to the princes of one of the tribes and in essence, “join a tribe.” They were given land on which to establish “towns,” even as each of the other families were given their own territory. All were responsible to keep the law of the land, and all received equal protection from injustice.
They all had the same spiritual problem, following after other gods. They all went into captivity equally, both to Assyria and to Babylon. In captivity most of them lost their family records and were fully integrated in time. Having lost their nationhood, they became ex-Israelites of the dispersion. We know from history that many of them later migrated into Europe and formed various nations. While there are many ex-Israelites among them, there is no legal nation of Israel on earth today. Not by God’s law. The nation that men call Israel today, located in the Mideast, is a usurper nation, recognized by men but not by God. It too is a legal entity. Only a very small percentage of its citizens are from the so-called “lost tribes of Israel.”
The Israeli state is mostly composed of Jews, not Israelites. Their original stock was the nation of Judah, to which were later added the Edomites and the Khazars and all others who converted to Judaism. There are millions of black Jews (“Falashas”) and tens of thousands of Chinese and Japanese Jews. As long as they all remain under the Old Covenant, they are Jews and are part of the Jewish nation.
Whereas I used to think that the Jews were the purest race in the world, I now see them as a religious group comprised of people of every race who have the Old Covenant in common. Likewise, there are people of the New Covenant, who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ, who all have a common union (communion). It is a new nation of Israel that God is restoring, comprised of genealogies from every corner of the earth, but led by the Chosen One, Jesus Christ.
Meanwhile, the gospel of Christ was preached to them and to all who would hear. People of every nation have always had opportunity to believe in Christ. By faith anyone may become a citizen of heaven (Philippians 3:20). The dominion mandate was given to Him, and because He rose from the dead and is now immortal, that dominion mandate will never be passed to another. In His second coming, He will claim the birthright as well. The path of citizenship is Jesus Christ Himself. The way to become Sons of God is by a spiritual process whereby Christ is begotten in you. This is the New Covenant way.
This is the third part of a series titled "Lessons from the Past." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones