We are to draw closer to each other, to acknowledge each other for what we are – family, separated a very long time ago. We need to begin working together, but only within the framework of mutual respect – with neither of us trying to change the other one.
What if there was a ‘secret’ way to understand the eternal messages of the Prophets of Israel? You know, a timeless message to countless people, ‘ hidden’ in the text; by HaShem – by God, Himself, to His people. But, one that was ‘hidden’ in plain sight – would you want to know about it? Would you want to understand things the way they’re supposed to be understood? Be careful what you wish for – it may come true…
For me personally, a moment like that happened back in April 1994. It was then that I began meeting people who told me that they believed that they were part of the people of Israel. Not Jewish, they had come to the feeling/belief/understanding that they too were part of Israel – descendants of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Yes, the fabled, “Ten Lost Tribes.”
Yeah, you heard right…How is that even possible, right? Well, first let’s start at what we know. Let’s go back to the glory years of the United Kingdom of Israel under the leadership of the House of David. King David followed by his son – King Shlomo (Solomon). With Solomon’s death, due to the mismanagement of his son Rechavam (Rehoboam), the kingdom split into two. Rehoboam’s was comprised of the tribes of Yehuda (Judah) and Binyamin (Benjamin) (along with Levi). The kingdom was in the area from Bet El (slightly north of Jerusalem) and all the area south; that was the Kingdom of Judah. The rival kingdom comprised of the remaining 10 tribes was led by Yeravam (Jeroboam). It comprised the territory north of Judah and was called the Kingdom of Israel (later referred to as, Ephraim – after the largest tribe which composed the new kingdom).
Jeroboam forced his people to stop going to the Temple in Jerusalem and built calves for them to worship instead. The split within our nation was truly final…Our one people had become two separate nations – Judah and Ephraim. This gulf between our formerly one people, led to wars, hatred and competing alliances with foreign powers. The Northern Kingdom slid into a life of idolatry, and the die was cast – they were to be punished for their sins.
The Assyrians attacked and destroyed the Kingdom of Israel in the year 722 BCE – carrying the surviving population off into exile. And from there, they seem to have disappeared from the pages of history – mentioned only from time to time – a whisper in history – perhaps merely a fable. But, the tribes didn’t disappear – they were dispersed throughout the world, to the corners of the earth – “…then shall they know that I am the Lord their God, who caused them to be led into exile among the nations…” Yehezkel (Ezekiel) 39:28. They were destined to forget their identity, “…for you are not my people…” Hoshea (Hosea) 1:9. But they never were actually lost – because Avinu Sh’bashamyim – our Father in heaven never loses anything or anyone – rather they were hidden away; put aside.
But the promise of their return and reunification with their brothers and sisters is a theme that is consistent throughout the Tanach (the Hebrew Bible). We read in Yermiyahu (Jeremiah) 32:41 that, “…and I will truly plant them in this land, with My whole heart and with My whole soul.” In fact, it is the one single time in the entire Tanach where HaShem (God) that He will do something with ALL of His heart and soul. This is the only instance where HaShem promises to do anything with His whole heart and whole soul. The restoration of His people is that important. So, it’s clear that Ephraim (also referred to in Scripture as Israel, Samaria, or Joseph) and Judah WILL reunite, that the entire people of Israel will be RESTORED. “Fear not: for I am with thee; I will bring your seed from the east, and gather them from the west; I will say to the north, Give up, and to the south, keep not back: bring my sons from far and my daughters from the ends of the earth…” Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 43:5-6.
What we weren’t given was a roadmap of where the exiled Israelites were hidden away and what they would actually “look like.”
Throughout recorded history, representatives of the Jewish communities traveled the globe in search of their “lost” brothers and sisters of Ephraim. It was rumored that they were hidden behind some vast mountain ranges or the mystical river, Sambatyon. A great warrior kingdom that was one day going to be reunited with the Jewish people – the known part of the people of Israel. The search went on, across the known world, until the age of exploration was over. At that point, when even Australia was explored, it was assumed by some that the tribes were truly lost – never to be returned. But God Himself does not make mistakes and when He promises to return and restore His people – He means it!
But, then, within the last few decades, a phenomenom has begun occurring worldwide – where people have begun been awakened to the understanding that they are part of His hidden people – part of Ephraim/Israel. This has been a totally spontaneous awakening – not caused by hearing the same teachings, reading the same books or watching the same DVD’s. It has only been His divine inspiration that has enabled people to reach this understanding; this insight. People have walked away from the churches they grew up in, the family holiday traditions they were raised with and even from family relationships. When this first began occurring during the 1990’s it was at the same time of the rise of the Christian Zionist. Bnai Noah (Noahides) and Hebraic Roots movements as well. No one quite knew what to make of these people, let alone who they were. This movement is sometimes referred to as the “Two House Movement.” A reference to the two Houses of Ephraim and Judah. “…and I will restore you from your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from the places I have driven you…” Yermiyahu (Jeremiah) 29:14. Two Houses that were to become one, once again.
They have been led to study and begin to lead a life of Torah and are having their hearts drawn to the Land of Israel and the Jewish people. It has almost been like people who have been locked away, trapped in darkness, who have come streaming into the bright light. They are shaking off more than 2,700 years of exile; they realize that they don’t belong to the world that they have been part of for their entire life…People who otherwise would have gone through their entire lives as part of some Christian denomination, were now driven to something else. Instead of thinking that they were part of just some denomination, they began to think of themselves as being part of a Nation… the Nation of Israel.
Can you even imagine what was going through their minds, let alone those of their relatives, friends and Church buddies? They thought these people were delusional, misguided or perhaps, “Jewish wannabees.” How could they even begin to understand the clear path to understanding Scripture that these people now had? That they were now able to understand key principles of faith that people had told them were no longer to be observed? You know, the Sabbath (Fri night – Sat night), Kosher food laws, the very Torah itself! Instead of it all being “done away with” – rather, it was actually to be what they were to be basing their lives upon.
How could they think that they were actually part of Israel, after having been cast into exile 2,700 years ago? IF they had been part of Israel, once upon a time, how could they think they would be reunited, returned, restored? “For, lo, I will command, I will sift the house of Yisrael among all the nations, as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth.” Amos 9:9 Listen, we don’t believe in a God who can’t keep His promises, right? So, we really shouldn’t be surprised that this entire, amazing reawakening is occurring. But we are, because it’s not just happening within a ‘foreign’ people in some distant land. It’s happening to that person in the mirror; it’s happening to us…
Instead of being hidden away in some far away place, we’re the witness to the ultimate in Divine irony. No, Avinu Sh’bashamayim – our Father in Heaven didn’t hide Ephraim/Joseph/Israel/Samaria behind some mountains somewhere. He hid His (temporarily…) exiled people right in plain sight – some of them in Church pews around the world… the one place that your Jewish brothers and sisters never would have thought of looking for you…Hidden away until He decided that their time of punishment was over. The time when they would be ready to accept their correction. Yes, that time when they were once again to be restored as part of His people. Yes, when He would restore ALL of His people. “And I will strengthen the house of Yehuda (Judah), and I will save the house of Yosef (Joseph), and I will bring them back again for I have had mercy upon them: and they shall be as though I had not cast them off: for I am the Lord their God, and will hear them. And they of Ephraim shall be like a mighty man, and their heart shall rejoice as through wine: and their children shall see it, and be glad; their heart shall rejoice in the Lord.” Zecharya (Zechariah) 10:6-7
But, wait a moment – how come no one had come to this realization sooner, or recognized that we were from the same family? Well, it obviously wasn’t time yet; His time for ending the exile of part of His people. But, it also is very much like the story of Yosef – Joseph. Remember, Joseph has been sold into slavery in Egypt and through an amazing series of events becomes the second most powerful man in that country. He hasn’t seen his brothers since their treachery, but here they are, once again, in Egypt, desperate for food. Now he knows who they are – but they are clueless to Joseph’s identity. Remember, he doesn’t look like they do, he’s dressed like an Egyptian. His hair is cut in the style of the Egyptian ruling class. He speaks like an Egyptian and after all – he’s the 2nd in command of Egypt! They would never ever even think that he could be their brother – not the way he looks, acts and sounds, right? And that’s just like us, today… You’re looking at the Jewish people, who are your brothers and sisters, and we don’t act like you thought we would. And we’re looking at you and frankly, you’re not looking and sounding like we thought you would be, either…but, for whatever reason, that is part of His plan, too…
But this process of our reunification is not quite as simple as it sounds, is it? Over the last several thousand years, our one nation, which became two people has morphed over time into two distinct religious groups. Two groups which appear to have contradictory views; so, which one is it going to be? Which one of our two constituent parts has to give up their beliefs in order to become the other one, so we can join together to be reunited, once again? Well, that’s just it, we don’t change…we accept each other as we are – the way HaShem made us. And, we deal with each other with mutual respect; not trying to change each other into a clone of who we are, and wheat we believe. Remember, when Judah is forced to become Joseph, or when Joseph is forced to become Judah – then we cease being who we were put on the earth to be. We each have a function, and depend upon each other – “And the house of Yaakov shall be fire and the house of Yosef flame…” Ovadya (Obadiah) 1:18
Where do we look for an answer to that question? Well, to Scripture, of course! We find our answer in the following prophecy that so many of us are familiar with: “Behold I will take the stick of Yosef, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Yisrael, his companions, and will put them and it together with the stick of Yehuda to form one stick, and they shall be one in My hand.” Yehezkel (Ezekiel) 37:19 You see, we can only become one again, in His hand…it is up to HaShem to sort out any religious differences between us; we are His people, after all. It is not for each of us to try to change or “correct” each other – that is what He promises He will do: “…but correct thee in due measure.” Yermiyahu (Jeremiah) 46:28 Think of it this way, how well does it work in any family when siblings attempt to ”correct” each other? It doesn’t; that’s what the father is for…And so too, with Avinu Malkenu – Our Father, Our King.
We are to draw closer to each other, to acknowledge each other for what we are – family, separated a very long time ago. We need to begin working together, but only within the framework of mutual respect – with neither of us trying to change the other one. Our focus needs to be on what we have in common – which is FAR greater than anything that could potentially divide us – the Torah of Israel, the land of Israel and the people of Israel – the Jewish people AND Ephraim. This is where we start. We are told of a time when, “In those days the house of Yehuda shall walk with the house of Yisrael…” Yermiyahu (Jeremiah) 3:18. I believe that ‘those days’ are NOW! Are YOU ready to walk together?
(originally published in GTN – Gathering the Nations magazine’s Preview Issue as:The Time for Restoration has Begun)
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