The Unity Factor
Nov 03, 2011
The name Israel was given to the sons of Joseph, but all those who were in UNITY with them were able to call themselves by that name. The same is true with the term Judah, or "Jew." This is true whether people convert to a religion, join a denomination or club, or change their citizenship.
This principle goes back at least as far as the time of Abraham when he left Haran to go to Canaan. Gen. 12:5 says,
(5) And Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his nephew, and all their possessions which they had accumulated, and the persons which they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan...
We are not told how many people came to Canaan with Abram, but in Gen. 14:14 we read,
(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.
To have 318 men of war "born in his house" implies that he had arrived in Canaan with close to 2,000 people in all, including wives, children, and the parents of these 318 warriors. These were all in UNITY with Abram, and they are perhaps the original types of the extended "seed of Abraham." Keep in mind that at that time, Abram had no sons at all.
Abraham lived another century, and then Isaac lived for 180 years, while Abraham's village grew in population. So how many people actually went with Jacob to Egypt? We are only told of the 70 "who came from the loins of Jacob" (Ex. 1:5). What about all the others?
The Israelite captivity in Egypt seems to have united all of them into one body as everyone became associated with one of the tribes of Israel. This explains also how the Israelites were able to increase to about 6 million just 210 years later when they departed from Egypt. (It had been 400 years from the birth of Isaac, Abraham's "seed," to the Exodus from Egypt.)
It is likely that many thousands of Jacob's household came to Egypt, along with the 70 who were of Jacob's immediate family.
The point is that the vast majority of the Israelites were not actually direct descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Yet they were part of Israel by the Unity Factor. And then when Israel came out of Egypt under Moses, "a mixed multitude also went up with them, along with flocks and herds, a very large number of livestock" (Ex. 12:38).
When Israel finally arrived in Canaan, Joshua divided up the land into 12 pieces according to the 12 tribes of Israel. There was no Tribe of Egypt. Where did they all go? We know that at first they were quite carnal and did not have enough faith to keep from grumbling over the lack of food and water. Nonetheless, the rest of the Israelites did not have sufficient faith to enter the Promised Land either. Yet over time, they were absorbed into the rest of the tribes and became citizens of Israel by the Unity Factor.
Centuries later, the Israelites were deported to Assyria near the Caspian Sea, where they were called Gimirra, or the House of Omri (Ghomri/Khumri/Humria). God stripped them of the birthright name, because they had ceased to bear witness to the meaning of the name. They were no longer Israelites from God's perspective.
Prophecy is clear, however, that God would regather them, save them, and reunite them with Judah under one Head, Jesus Christ. Once again, there is no salvation apart from unity with Jesus Christ. None of those ex-Israelites of the dispersion can legally claim to be "Israelites" apart from Jesus Christ.
In other words, there is a lawful way to regain Israelite citizenship. Claiming physical descent is not one of the test questions on the application. This is about citizenship, not race. In fact, Isaiah 56:8 says,
(8) The Lord God, who gathers the dispersed of Israel, declares, "Yet others I will gather to them, to those already gathered."
This prophecy comes in the context of the previous verses, which speak of "foreigners who join themselves to the Lord" (vs. 6). In other words, there would be (genetic) non-Israelite people who would be gathered with the (genetic) Israelites, but they would all have to "join themselves to the Lord" in the same manner in order to gain citizenship in Israel.
"The Lord" is Yahweh in the Hebrew language. Isaiah 12:2 says, "Behold, God is my Yeshua... For Yah Yahweh is my strength and song, and He has become my Yeshua." In other words, Yahweh became Yeshua (Jesus) when He was born as a baby in Bethlehem.
We can only conclude, then, that the path to Israelite citizenship is for people to be joined in unity with Jesus Christ. Apart from Him, no one can lawfully claim to be an Israelite. God has indeed promised to save those lost, dispersed, genetic Israelites, but the divine plan leveled the playing field and opened it up to "foreigners" on an equal basis.
This principle of Unity culminates in Paul's statement in Eph. 2:14, 15, where we find that Jesus Christ broke down the dividing wall to "make the two into one new man." Verse 19 says,
(19) So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God's household.
Hence, in the same manner that the 318 servants of Abraham, along with their families, were part of Abraham's household, so also are strangers and foreigners able to become part of God's household of faith. The dividing wall has been demolished in Christ.
But what about the Jews? Or, more specifically, what about the house of Judah?
The same principle holds true. When Judah and Israel were divided in 1 Kings 12:16, the Judahites ("Jews") no longer were called Israelites because they were no longer in unity with the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh. Hence, they took on the secondary name, "Judah," which was later contracted to "Jew."
When Yahweh became Yeshua, the people were required to be in unity with Him in order to form the nation to which Israel would be reunited in later years. However, Judah rejected Him (John 1:11) as a whole. Those who DID receive Him were a tiny minority, and yet they remained as the true "Jews," for they were in Unity with the King. John 1:12, 13 says,
(12) But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, (13) who were born [begotten] not of blood(line), nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
Those disciples were soon driven from the land by persecution. The scattering of the seed served to expose many Greeks and Romans to the gospel, and soon the foreigners outnumbered the Judeans. Paul was their main spokesman for equal rights in the Kingdom of God, though the Judaizers fought hard to retain the two-tier citizenship system that they knew in the old temple with its dividing wall.
Together, however, these Judeans and foreigners came to be known as "the Church." They were united, not by race or culture, but by their "one Head," Jesus Christ. These are the ones Paul refers to in Rom. 2:29 when he says, "he is a Jew who is one inwardly." Those Jews who rejected Christ, those who claimed citizenship by virtue of their outward circumcision, were not Jews at all in the sight of God (vs. 28).
Apart from unity with the King, there is no citizenship in this United Kingdom of Israel and Judah. Neither does any one have the right to claim such citizenship merely on the grounds of their physical descent. One must have faith in Christ to be a "Jew." One must become an overcomer to be an Israelite.