Usurping the Birthright
What about antichrist today? Were all the prophecies of antichrist fulfilled when the chief priests usurped the throne of Jesus in the first century?
No. When antichrist usurped the throne of Christ, it caused a problem that yet needed to be resolved in our time. There is still an ongoing dispute between Jews and Christians over the true identity of the Messiah, or Christ. Christians believe the Messiah is Jesus; Jews look for another, and many of them believe it is simply the Jewish people as a whole or the state of Israel.
Spiritually speaking, they sent a delegation to the court of heaven, saying, “We do not want this man to reign over us” (Luke 19:14), This appeal established a court case that has yet to be resolved. Each side believes it is right; only God can decide the case.
But we do have the David-Absalom precedent to help us determine God’s verdict. When David left Jerusalem and made a sacrifice on the summit of the Mount of Olives, he prophesied of the great Sacrifice that Jesus was to make on the same location a thousand years later. David then went into a far country for an unknown period of time.
Mahanaim, the Two Camps
2 Samuel 17:24 tells us that he went to Mahanaim, which means “two camps.” Mahanaim was named by Jacob as he returned to the land of Canaan after working for Laban for 20 or 21 years. It was so named after Jacob divided up his family and flocks into two camps in case Esau attacked them. We read about this in Gen. 32:1, 2, and 7,
1 Now as Jacob went on his way, the angels of God met him. 2 And Jacob said when he saw them, “This is God’s camp.” So he named that place Mahanaim… 7 Then Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed; and he divided the people who were with him, and the flocks and the herds and the camels, into two companies.
Mahanaim prophesies of the two camps: church and overcomers. As I showed in chapter 4 of The Laws of the Second Coming, Mahanaim prophesies of the feast of Trumpets (resurrection). There were two trumpets built by Moses when this feast was established in Num. 10:2-4. Blowing one trump signified gathering the rulers of the people (i.e., the overcomers); blowing both trumpets called the entire congregation (church). This prophesies of two resurrections, which are distinguished further in Revelation 20.
The point is that when David returned from Mahanaim to reclaim his throne, he set the prophetic pattern of Christ’s return, or “second coming.” Just as the feast of Trumpets is the first step in the return of Christ, so also was it the point where David began to return.
When David returned, his supporters fought against the army of Absalom, and we read in 2 Sam. 18:6-8,
6 Then the people went out into the field against Israel, and the battle took place in the forest of Ephraim. 7 And the people of Israel were defeated there before the servants of David, and the slaughter there that day was great, 20,000 men. 8 For the battle there was spread over the whole countryside, and the forest devoured more people that day than the sword devoured.
David’s army fought against Israel in the forest of Ephraim. Ephraim was the holder of Joseph’s birthright (1 Chron. 5:1, 2). Ephraim was also the tribe of Joshua, who had led Israel into the Kingdom many centuries earlier. This suggests prophetically that the end-time battle in our time is fought over the birthright and not just the throne itself.
The Battle in the Forest of Ephraim
The throne and scepter had been given to Judah (Gen. 49:10), while the birthright had been given to Joseph and passed to his son, Ephraim (Gen. 48:20). When Jesus came the first time, He was born of the seed of Judah and David, because He was the lawful inheritor of the throne of David and the scepter of Judah. As I have shown, the chief priests usurped His throne and scepter. But when He comes the second time, Christ is said to come “clothed with a robe dipped in blood” (Rev. 19:13) in order to identify Him with Joseph—the only man in Scripture whose robe was dipped in blood (Gen. 37:31).
Hence, the nature of the conflict shifts, because the same people who usurped the scepter of Judah also want to usurp the birthright of Joseph (the forest of Ephraim). This second dispute has arisen in the past century with the rise of Zionism and the Jewish claim to be Israel. The Jews have no right to claim the name Israel, for Jacob gave that name only to the sons of Joseph, saying in Gen. 48:16, “The angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and may my name live on in them.” Jacob was referring to the angel who had given him the name Israel in Gen. 32:28.
The only tribes who had the right to call themselves by the name Israel were those who are in unity with the tribe of Ephraim. However, after the reign of Solomon, the kingdom was divided, and the northern ten tribes alone were called Israel. The southern kingdom took the name Judah, because it did not have the right to call itself Israel. The name Israel goes with the birthright, not with the scepter.
About 210 years after the division of the kingdom, Israel was deported to Assyria and never returned. The birthright appeared to be lost when those tribes were lost. The scepter of Judah, however, remained with the seed of David in Jerusalem, and there it remained for another 135 years. Then Judah was deported to Babylon.
After a 70-year captivity to Babylon, the people returned under Ezra. The nation was reconstituted and Jerusalem was rebuilt so that Jesus could be born in Bethlehem, as Micah 5:2 had prophesied. So the dispute over the scepter was fought in Judah (Greek: Judaia, or Judea) in the first appearance of Christ (as the son of David).
But we are now at the end of the age, and Christ’s second coming is imminent. Hence, we look at the story of David’s return to claim his throne after spending time in God’s camp. By studying the biblical account, we discover that not only was this a dispute about who was the rightful king; it was also a dispute over the birthright (the kingdom).
In 33 A.D. the Jews usurped the throne of David of the tribe of Judah. In 1948 the Jews usurped the birthright of Ephraim and the name Israel, laying claim to the birthright. Hence, both disputes will be resolved in the second coming of Christ, even as they were resolved when David defeated Absalom.
The Resolution of the Disputes
If Jesus is indeed the Messiah, then He will defeat the usurpers even as David defeated the army of Absalom. If the Jewish leaders (the heirs of Absalom) are the rightful heirs of the throne, then they will defeat Jesus. I am betting on Jesus.
At the same time, the Jewish claim to the birthright as Israelites will be decided. We will see if one can reject Jesus and still lay claim to Israelite status. I believe that being an Israelite is not a matter of racial or genealogical connections to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Even Jacob did not become an Israelite until he was 98 years old.
Who are Israelites?
Jesus, John, and Paul all made it clear that no one can claim to be a son of Abraham unless he followed Abraham’s example of faith. In Hebrew thought, a “son” was not necessarily a biological son. A “son” was one who resembled his father in his character, acts, and ways. So Jesus told His Jewish adversaries in John 8:42, 44,
42 … “If God were your Father, you would love Me; for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me… 44 You are of your father, the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father.
Jesus was not saying that all Jews are of the devil. He was saying that the devil is the father of all who hate Him and reject Him.
No Israelite has the devil as his father. No one is an Israelite apart from Jesus Christ. This is not a matter of race, but of character and one’s spiritual relationship with our heavenly Father.
In the story of David and Absalom, Israelites by genealogy formed the bulk of both armies. Their genealogy was not the issue. The issue was their loyalty. Being loyal to Absalom made them antichrists who supported the great usurper, Absalom. Being loyal to David made them Christians, because David was “christened” (anointed) as the rightful king of Israel. David was the true type of Christ.
It is commonly taught that the Jews will repent after they see Christ coming in the clouds as He comes to save Jerusalem from utter destruction. No doubt many will repent. We know this by the fact that after Absalom’s army was defeated, most of the survivors probably supported David’s claim to the throne.
The Fate of Absalom
The army of David defeated the army of Absalom. But what happened to Absalom the usurper? We read in 2 Sam. 18:15,
15 And ten young men who carried Joab’s armor gathered around and struck Absalom and killed him.
Absalom did not survive this battle, nor did he become part of David’s government. He represents prophetically the antichrist Jewish leaders who usurped the throne of Christ. By comparing the outcome of David’s battle with Absalom to the verdict in Jesus’ parable of the nobleman who returned to claim his kingdom, Luke 19:27 says,
27 But these enemies of mine, who did not want me to reign over them, bring them here and slay them in my presence.
In other words, Jesus said to bring them to Jerusalem and “slay them in my presence.” Zionism is the movement by which they have been brought back to Jerusalem—the scene of the crime. They have not been brought there to rule the Kingdom with Jesus Christ. They have been brought there, as representatives of Absalom and his army, for the verdict to be fulfilled.
That event will fulfill the prophecy of Jeremiah 19, where the prophet smashed an old earthen jar in the valley of the son of Hinnom (Greek: gehenna) and proclaimed, “Just so will I break this people and this city, even as one breaks a potter’s vessel, which cannot again be repaired” (Jer. 19:11). The jar represented Jerusalem.
The city has been destroyed many times over the centuries, but it has always been “repaired.” The final destruction, however, will be so complete that it “cannot again be repaired.” The prophecies about the glory of Jerusalem will be fulfilled, not in the earthly Jerusalem, but in the heavenly city. The earthly city, Paul says, is Hagar (Gal. 4:25), and she must be cast out with her children (Gal. 4:30).
So when Christ returns, let us not be found supporting the Jewish claim to the birthright of Joseph. We ought not to fight for Absalom against David. Neither should we consider Hagar-Jerusalem to be our mother or the mother of the Kingdom, lest we be cast out along with our mother for supporting the rival antichrist government. Those believers who support the usurpers are like Ahithophel and Judas. Another man will take their office (Acts 1:20).
It really does matter who we support in this age-long dispute. If we do not understand this conflict, we may find ourselves blindly following Absalom, as so many Israelites did. Again, we may find ourselves supporting those who wanted Jesus to be crucified.
1 John 2:20 says,
20 But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know.
The context shows that John was speaking of the true anointing (christening) of the Holy Spirit, which came upon the followers of Jesus in the upper room. That anointing did not come upon those worshiping in the temple on that day of Pentecost. Though the high priest did indeed set the timing for the outpouring of the Spirit at the third hour of the day (Acts 2:15), the Spirit did not fall upon the many people worshiping at the temple, but upon the few in the upper room.
David was anointed by Samuel, and this made him an anointed one, that is, a Christ. We too have an anointing, for we are supporters of Jesus Christ, and we have received the promise of God. The antichrists in John’s day and in our own time do not have that same anointing, for they are not “chosen,” regardless of their genealogy. Paul says that only the remnant of grace is chosen, or “elect” (Rom. 11:7, KJV).
John’s word instructs us so that we may be neither antichrists nor betrayers. In the first century, the main issue was the dispute over the scepter of Judah; in our time, the main issue is the dispute over the birthright of Joseph, along with the right to the name Israel. If we are found on the right side of divine justice, the heavenly verdict will go in our favor. If not, the consequences could be quite disappointing.