Should Christians support Israel? Part 2
May 27, 2011
When I was young, I was taught by the church denomination that we were to support Israel at all costs, because they were God's chosen people. It was not until later that I discovered that there was a difference between Israel and Judah. The term "Jew" is short for Judah. Up to that point, it had never occurred to me that the Israelites might be a different set of people.
A few years after learning of this distinction, I was talking with a seminary graduate with two doctoral degrees. He mentioned Abraham as being "the first Jew." I asked him how Abraham could have been descended from his own grandson (Judah). It was the first time that anyone had ever questioned him on that point.
The distinction between Israel and Judah is one of the most important missing pieces of the puzzle today. Each of those nations had its own distinct calling. Each went into its own captivity. Each is a different set of nations. Each is fulfilling a different set of prophecies.
The state of "Israel" is a Jewish state, not an Israelite state. All of the biblical prophecies of Israel in the last days apply to a different set of people--not to the Jews of so-called Israel. Yet calling itselfIsrael was a brilliant piece of propaganda when the founders made that decision in 1948. Many of the founders wanted the nation to be called Judea, but their honesty was overruled by the more devious among them.
So in studying biblical history, one must first distinguish between Israel and Judah. The story of their separation into two nations is told in 1 Kings 11. See Ahijah's prophecy to Jeroboam, the Ephraimite, who was to become the first king of Israel. In 1 Kings 11:30-31 we read,
(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 God, the God of Israel, Behold, I will tear the kingdom out of the hand of Solomon and give you ten tribes.
Thus, Jeroboam became the king of Israel, while Rehoboam, son of Solomon, remained king of Judah, along with Benjamin and some of the Levites. From then on, the prophets direct their prophecies to either Israel or Judah. For example, Jeremiah 18:1-10 directs the prophecy of restoration to Israel, while the rest of that chapter and the next direct the prophecy to Judah.
In the first, the wet clay is like Israel, which can be remoulded into another vessel fit for the Master's use (Jer. 18:6). In the second, the hardened clay is like Judah and Jerusalem, which will ultimately be cast into gehenna and never be rebuilt again (Jer. 19:11).
Yet when I was young, the preachers and teachers always applied 18:1-10 to the "Israel" that was founded in 1948. Never once do I remember them reading the rest of the chapter, nor did they ever expound on the 19th chapter. It was as if these prophecies never existed. It was not until later that I realized just how blind I had been, in spite of all the Bible study that was done in the church.
The prophet Isaiah lived during the time of Israel's deportation to Assyria. He was in Jerusalem when the Assyrians later came to deport Judah and Jerusalem (2 Kings 19:2). God spared Jerusalem at that time on account of Hezekiah. Isaiah was greatly concerned for the Israelites who had been taken to Assyria. He wrote the story in Isaiah 37-39.
Then Isaiah devoted the rest of his book to the promise of Israel's restoration. Even though it is clear that he was speaking of those "lost" Israelites, it is hard to find an evangelical Christian today who understands this. They have all been caught up in the teaching that Isaiah was prophesying about the Jewish state that was formed in 1948. But nothing could be further from the truth.
Israel had ten tribes, as Ahijah prophesied. Its capital was Samaria.
Judah had two tribes (plus some Levites), as Ahijah prophesied. Its capital was Jerusalem.
Israel was led by the tribes of Joseph known as Ephraim and Manasseh. These were the Birthright holders (1 Chron. 5:2). Judah was led by the descendants of David and Solomon, whose line would eventually bring forth the Messiah-King, who was to rule the world.
The tribe of Judah fulfilled its calling when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea. But the Law prophesied two comings of Christ. (See The Laws of the Second Coming.) He had to come twice in order to come as Joseph to inherit His Birthright. For this reason, it was said that His robe is dipped in blood (Gen. 37:31; Rev. 19:13).
Without understanding the distinct purpose of the two comings of Christ, it is hardly possible to have a correct eschatology. Yet these are things that are not widely known in the denominational churches. And this is why they blindly support the Jewish state, which they think is the biblical Israel.
Tracing the ten "lost" tribes is not difficult. They lost their tribal distinction in the Assyrian captivity, and no longer were they known by the name Israel. In fact, this was how God caused them to disappear from plain sight. But the people themselves multiplied greatly in the land of their captivity, even as Hosea 1:10 had prophesied.
The nation of Israel was not called Israel by their neighbors. We are told by Merrill Unger in his book, Archeology and the Old Testament, page 243,
". . . The initial contact between Israel and Assyria evidently occurred during Omri's day, for from this time on Israel appears in cuneiform records as Bit-Humria ('House of Omri').... Tiglath Pileser III's reference to the land of Israel over a century later by its official name Bit Humria evidences the significance of Omri as a ruler in the history of Israel.
Omri was one of the greatest kings of Israel (from a political viewpoint). He was the father of King Ahab, who ruled in the days of Elijah. Israel's "official name Bit Humria" was derived from the name of this king. So all we have to do is to trace the history of the Bit Humria to find those lost Israelites. One cannot trace them by looking for the name Israel.
But languages change over time, and names are pronounced differently in various languages. Theophilus G. Pinches tells us:
"Omri was likewise pronounced in accordance with the older system, before the ghain became ayin. Humri shows that they said at that time Ghomri." [The Old Testament in the Light of the Historical Records and Legends of Assyria and Babylonia, 3rd ed., 1908]
Also, the Black Obelisk of Shalmanezer, king of Assyria, pictures Israel's King Jehu paying him tribute. The British Museum's trustees published a book in 1922 that described this obelisk, saying, "Israelitish territory was called 'Bit Khumri'." [A Guide to the Babylonian and Assyrian Antiquities of the British Museum, pp. 46-47]
This traces the Israelite name from House of Omri to Bit Humria to Ghomri and finally to Bit Khumri. The Khumri became also Khumree, Ghomri, Gomer, Kimmeroi (Cimmerians), Cymru (Welsh), Cambrians, and many other derivations. After the fall of Assyria in 609 B.C., many of these Israelites began to migrate north from Assyria through the Caucasus mountains and into Europe. For this reason, anthropologists have given them the general name, Caucasians.
The Israelites, then, are not Jews. When Britain took Palestine in 1917, one might say that the genealogical Israelites once again took possession of their historic land. The Jews later took it by force in 1948.
This is the second part of a series titled "Should Christians Support Israel?." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones