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The Seperate Identity of Israel and the Jews

P.C. Johnson (UK)

To obtain a clear picture from the wealth of scriptural evidence on this subject, it is necessary to first refer back to the time just after the death of King Solomon in c930 BC. Israel was divided into two separate so named 'houses' at that time, the house of Judah in the south of the Holy Land and comprising of the tribes Judah and Benjamin, and the house of Israel in the north which consisted of the other ten tribes. This division was brought about by God as we are informed in 1 Kings 12:4:

"For this thing (the division) is from me"

Through the prophets God had warned Israel many times that if they disobeyed his law and precepts, they would be eventually exiled from the Holy Land. In c722 BC the whole house of Israel (the ten tribes) was exiled by Shalmaneser, King of Assyria. An unspecified number of the house of Judah were also exiled about the same time by Syria; see 2 Kings16:6. This reference also gives the first biblical mention of the word 'Jew'. The rest of the house of Judah were exiled by Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, in c586 BC.

The Bible uses the word Jew in reference to part of the house of Judah in the Holy Land from about 722 BC and also to the Jewish religion, but not to the parts of the house of Judah who had previously emigrated or had been exiled abroad. Except for a small part of the house of Judah - about 50,000 who returned between c538 and c432 BC under Zerubbabel, Ezra and Nehemiah plus possible immigrants, neither of the two houses have ever returned to the Holy Land. Scripture tells us that they will return in the time frame of the second advent in Jeremiah 3:18:

"In those days the house of Judah shall walk with the house of Israel, and they shall come together out of the land of the north to the land that I have given for an inheritance unto your fathers".

The New Testament records that the Jews rejected Jesus as the long promised Messiah and Redeemer. A view still held in the Jewish religion today. Scripture makes it clear that Jesus, the Son of God, is the promised Messiah, have no doubts about that. Isaiah gives us several references concerning the Redeemer and Saviour. Chapter 41 verse 14 tells us:

" ... ye men of Israel,. I will help thee, saith the Lord, and and thy REDEEMER, the Holy One of Israel".

The Bible knows of only one Redeemer and Saviour, and He of course is Jesus the Messiah. Therefore the Holy One of Israel must have been Jesus. Isaiah 47:4 confirms the same truth:

"As for our Redeemer, the Lord of Hosts is his name, the Holy One of Israel"
Isaiah 41:16 also tells us

"... thou... shalt glory in the Holy One of Israel"

Sadly, the Jews do not glory in the Holy One of Israel, Jesus, and therefore cannot be part of true Israel. The remnant of true Israel in the church do glory in Jesus their Redeemer.

Isaiah gives us further information in chapter 62 verse 2:

"... thou (Israel) shall be called by a new name, which the mouth of the Lord shall name".

The Jews call themselves Israel. But true Israel no longer carries that name. Jeremiah provides another identifying point in 33:17:

"For thus saith the Lord; David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel... ".

The Jews in Palestine or elsewhere certainly have no king or royal family. The royal line of David has continued to the present day descendants of true Israel. The family tree of the present royal family in Great Britain has been traced back to King David.

Jesus, speaking to the unbelieving Jews says in Matthew 21:43:

"The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof'".

Jesus is referring to the necessary missionary work to spread the gospel of salvation first to dispersed Israel so that they can fulfil their servant status and be faithful witnesses, and take the gospel to the whole world. Again, sadly, the Jews are certainly not spreading the gospel worldwide. This alone shows that the Jews are not true Israel.

The apostles and Paul (except Judas) were all Benjamites and were commissioned to set up the first churches. The present day descendants of Israel, through the church have been at the forefront of the missionary work in spreading the gospel throughout the world for a long time.

As will be shown from scripture hereafter, the locations of true Israel today are in north-west Europe, in the Scandinavian areas and the British Isles. It is believed that the scriptural references to 'Isles' relates to the British Isles. In the last few centuries, many Israelites have emigrated and formed many new nations world wide. This also was predicted in scriptural prophecy.

As already stated the house of Israel and then the house of Judah were finally exiled in 722, and c586 BC respectively because of their sins. The Bible is very careful to emphasise that not one of them was finally left in the Holy Land at that time. As a result many of the people in the countries round about took the opportunity to help themselves to the empty land, towns, houses and vineyards etc. These immigrants were the Edomites, Moabites, Ammonites, Hagarenes, Amalekites, Philistines, Assyrians, Babylonians and people from Gebal and Tyre and descendants of Lot. Psalm 83:12 tells us:

"... let us (the Edomites etc) take to ourselves the houses of God in possession".

To see further evidence of this read the whole of Psalm 83 along with Ezra 4:1-10; Lamentations 5:2; Ezekiel 33:24 & 25; 35:10; & 36:2 and 5; Obadiah verses 10-14; and Revelation 3:9.

As stated above 50,000 Jews returned between c538 and c432 BC.They rebuilt the Temple and the city walls over the next hundred or so years. They had troubles with the foreign inhabitants, and they intermarried with them, contrary to God's precepts; see Nehemiah 13:23. Finally the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and removed the Jews in AD 70. Over the years some Jews have returned in simple migration. The great bulk of the house of Judah had long gone from the Holy Land through exile and captivity and emigration. Most of those who were exiled in Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar never came back to Jerusalem.

A belief that the Jews comprise all of the children of Israel today is not supported by scripture. This belief may be based on 2 Chronicles 11:13-16 where we read that the Priests, Levites and faithful people of the ten-tribed house of lsrael attached themselves to the house of Judah after Israel was split into two houses in c930 BC: then it is alleged, the rest of the house of Israel were abandoned by God. Scripture does not give any numbers involved in the division of Israel. However we know that all of the two houses of Israel were completely exiled by c586 BC,and only 50,000 returned from Babylon.

Scripture does not show that God abandons anyone. God has given us all the free will to be good or bad, and he may withdraw in whole or in part his restraint on Satan's influence on us and he may chastise us, but abandon us? NO WAY: It is worth remembering Isaiah chapter 54 verses 7 & 8:

"For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee saith the Lord thy Redeemer".

This message was addressed to Israel.

James writing in chapter 1 verse 1 about 60 AD tells us where the TWELVE tribes were at that time:

"James a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the TWELVE TRIBES which are scattered abroad, greeting".

James was not speaking to the Jews. They were not lost, they were not scattered abroad, they were there in the Holy Land. Many, but not all, of the Jews had rejected Christ to their great loss in spite of the words of Jesus in John 14:6 where he states:

"Jesus saith unto him, (Thomas) I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me."

No statement in scripture is more vital and emphatic as that and must be believed and understood.

The Bible gives a lot of information about the continuing existence of true Israel. God, speaking through Jeremiah the prophet in chapter 31 verses 35 & 36 tells us:

"Thus saith The Lord, who giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; the Lord of hosts is his name: If these ordinances depart from before me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a NATION before me for ever".

It must always be remembered that God's word in the whole Bible as in this quotation is absolutely certain to be performed. Malachi 3:6 states:

"For I am the Lord, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed".

The Jeremiah 31:36 quotation above it should be noted is directed to the 'seed' or descendants of Israel and specifically describes Israel as a nation. The view held by some that the church has taken on the 'mantle' of Israel has no scriptural foundation. The faithful believers of Israel today, by virtue of the new covenant, are members of the church. The church is not a nation, it is 'the body of Christ' and is universal, and has or could have members in every nation. Put simply, Israel is part of the church, but members of the church in other nations are not part of Israel the nation, except by individual 'adoption'. Under God's precepts the stranger had to be treated kindly by Israelites, but that stranger had to obey all the laws and precepts of God even as the Israelites.

The Bible contains a large number of references concerning Israel's existence, their duties, that they are the servant nation, their history, their sins, their exiles, their scattering, their redemption, their reinstatement, their duty of witness and their great future. Space demands that only a few typical references can be recorded here.

(1) I Samuel 12:22 tells us:

"For the Lord will not forsake his people (Israel) for his great name's sake: because it hath pleased the Lord to make you (Israel) his people".[see also Deuteronomy 26:18 and 27:9]

(2) God speaking to Abraham in Genesis 12:1 & 2 (Pt) says:

"Now the Lord had said unto Abram ...I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing".

This was the Abrahamic covenant which was totally unconditional, wholly gracious and in force for ever. As we saw above in Malachi, God does not change.

(3) God tells Jacob the same in Genesis 35: 11(Pt):

"And God said unto him, I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee... ".

(4) Some years later, Jacob on his death bed, blessed the sons of Joseph, Manasseh the first born and Ephraim. Genesis 48: 16:19 relates:

"The Angel (God) which redeemed me (Jacob) from all evil, bless the lads; let my name be named on them... And when Joseph saw that his father had. his right hand on the head of Ephraim, it displeased him; and he held up his father's hand, to remove it from Ephraims's head unto Manasseh's head. And Joseph said unto his father, Not so my father; for this is the first bom; put thy right hand on his head And his father refused and said, I know it, my son, I know it he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great; but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations".

The significance of this quotation will be seen in reading the whole chapter. Jacob according to verse 24 was now blind. In blessing Ephraim and Manasseh he may have crossed his hand, knowingly by inspiration, in order to put his his right hand on Ephraim's head. Joseph had placed Manasseh opposite Jacob's right hand. The custom was that the blessing from the elder be performed with the right hand on the head of the first born. Obviously God had ordained, as happened several times in scriptural history, to choose Joseph rather than the first born for his purpose. Another significance of this quotation was the prophecy that Ephraim would become a great company of nations and Manasseh a great nation.

(5) Zechariah 2:8 informs us:

"For thus saith the Lord of Hosts ... he that toucheth you (Israel) toucheth the apple of his eye".

This shows God's love and compassion for Israel. But this love is no more or less than God's love for all mankind and nations.

(6) Jeremiah 29:12-14(Pt) prophesies:

"Then ye (Israel) shall call upon me... and I will be found of you, saith the Lord: I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from ... all the places where I have driven you... and I will bring you again into the place where I caused you to be carried away captive". (The Holy Land)

Israel's captivity has been removed, but the regathering in the Holy Land awaits the Second Advent, which draws ever nearer.

(7) Jeremiah records in chapter 30 verse 11:

"For I am with thee, saith the Lord, to save thee: though I make a full end of all the nations whither I have scattered thee, yet will I not make a full end of thee: but I will correct thee in measure and I will not leave thee altogether unpunished". (see also Jeremiah 46:28)

(8) This is God's promise to preserve and chasten Israel. Isaiah 49:12 looks to the now nearer future:

"Behold, these (Israel) shall come from far: and, lo, these from the north and from the west". (to the Holy Land) [see also Jeremiah 16:15; 31:8 and Hosea 11:10].

These references give the approximate direction and location viewed from the Holy Land of the larger part of Israel, just before the Second Advent, and the promised return of Israel to the Holy Land.

(9) Isaiah 43:10 and 12 labels Israel as God's witnesses:

"Ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me".

(10) Isaiah 43:12

"... therefore ye are my witnesses, saith the Lord, that I am God".

(11) Paul, in Romans 11:25 tells us:

"... that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the gentiles be come in".

The whole of Romans chapter 11 should be read. True to this word of God, Israel today are largely unaware of their identity, except for a few. It also refers to Israel's usual habit of ignoring God, except for a small remnant.

(12) Isaiah 59:20 & 21 (Pt) foretells:

"And the redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that tum from transgression in Jacob, saith the Lord As for me (God), this is my covenant with them, saith the Lord; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed, saith the Lord, for henceforth and for ever"

This is the ever present background of the faithful remnant of Israel down through history, today and for ever. Always a remnant of faithful Israelites have existed throughout their history. God told Elijah in his time, that a 7000 remnant had not bowed the knee to Baal.

(13) Isaiah 1:9 records a constant remnant:

"Except the Lord of Hosts had left unto us a very small remnant, we should have been as Sodom... ".

(14) Isaiah 49:6 records the connection between Jesus the Messiah and Israel and the nations:

"And he (God) said, It is a light thing that thou (Jesus) shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles (nations), that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth".

Isaiah is here prophesying that Jesus the Messiah would rescue Israel through the new covenant, that is, salvation and spread that gospel of salvation throughout the earth to all nations.

These fourteen references are only a very small number of the many similar ones in scripture, and are a selection of God's word on the subject. The numerous repetition of such references, many adding further detail, throughout scripture indicates their importance. Surely they cannot, indeed must not be ignored for they are part of God's holy word.

The twelve tribes exist today as some large nations and some smaller nations world wide as well as small enclaves. These people are those to whom Jesus referred to in Matthew 21:43 and because of the great importance of this reference it is here repeated:

"Therefore I say unto you (the Jews) The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof".

The context of this part of Matthew should be read. The spreading of the gospel was and still is carried out by present day Israel in the church throughout the world. Of course as a result, people from other nationalities in the church have in turn also been spreading the gospel.

God will reinstate Israel, but he states in Ezekiel 36:22:

"Thus saith the Lord God,. I do not this for your sakes, 0 house of Israel, but for my holy name's sake, which ye have profaned among the heathen whither ye went".

As Israelites, we certainly have no reason to feel proud of our history, ourselves or our nations. Our long history, some 4000 years, since Jacob, has a record of bad behaviour and of ignoring our God. Are we any better now? We should be feeling shame and guilt as a nation and sincerely repent. According to Ezekiel 20:43 we will.

"And there (in the holy land) shall ye remember your ways, and all your doings, wherein ye have been deliled; and ye shall loathe yourselves in your own sight for all the evils ye have committed".

Paul in 2 Thessalonians 2:3 foretells of a falling away from righteousness in the latter days just before the Second Advent. These last two references tell of Israel's sin through the ages and their reaction at the Second Advent time which will be severe feelings of guilt and remorse.

Paul's falling away is surely shown today by the general lawlessness and personal anarchy shown all about us.

Jesus preached of the indispensable need for personal repentance by each of us, meaning a permanent change of mind from evil to righteousness. This can only be done by true belief in the gospel of salvation whereby God's heavenly righteousness is imputed or ascribed to us. It is a free gift of God. Paul tells us that the wages (result) of sin is death but the gift of God is eternal life only because Jesus died on our behalf. The words of a hymn are appropriate here:

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