America & Britain in Prophecy:
The Rise and Fall of Ancient Israel
|Why this matters ...|
|Arguing forward...||Arguing backward...|
(a) Does God keep His promises?
(b) Were any promises of physical blessings made to the Biblical patriarchs?
(c) Is anyone alive today (regardless of ethnicity, race, language, geographical location, ...) the recipient of promises of physical blessings made to the patriarchs?
(d) If someone is a recipient, are there special responsibilities that go along with those blessings?
(e) If there are special responsibilities, then do we need to discover if we are the ones with those special responsibilities?
(f) If we are the ones with those special responsibilities, should we perform them?
(g) Get to it! Perform those special responsibilities!
(a) As a nation (of all kinds of ethnicities, races, languages, ...), do we have more than our share of physical blessings?
(b) Does God gives us these blessings?
(c) Does God have a reason for giving us these blessings?
(d) Is any part of the reason the promises of physical blessings given to the Biblical patriarchs?
(e) Do God's blessings also come with special responsibilities for those blessed?
(f) Do we have special responsibilities?
(g) Let's get to it! Let's perform those special responsibilities!
In 1840, Wilson concluded that the British Empire was blessed as a result of the promises to the patriarchs, and so had a responsibility to set a Christian example, and evangelize, the whole world. He warned that if the British Empire did not do this, its future was bleak.
To learn who the modern people of Israel are, we must examine the fascinating facts concerning the history of the ancient people of Israel. In doing so, we need to realize that, of all nations on earth, God Almighty plainly says He has only "known" one nation--Israel! "Hear this word that the LORD has spoken [concerning]... the whole family [of Israel] which I brought up from the land of Egypt, saying, 'You only have I known of all the families of the earth'" (Amos 3:1-2).
This does not mean that God does not love all peoples of all nations (John 3:16), but there is only one people, on the national level, with whom God has ever had a close, hands-on, engaged relationship. God told Israel, "For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth" (Deut. 7:6).
But notice what He says next: "The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because the LORD loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers" (vv. 7-8). Who were these "fathers"? What was so special about them?
Mankind has basically rejected God and His way since the Garden of Eden. Almost 2,000 years from that time, only three men had accepted God's way of life, according to the biblical record--Abel, Enoch and Noah (Heb. 11). The rest of mankind lived in rebellion against God. His solution was to bring a Great Flood upon the earth and start over with just eight people--Noah, his wife and their three sons with their wives (Gen. 6).
Noah's three sons became the fathers of the three great families or "races" of mankind. After the Deluge, God instructed these three families to disperse into those regions of the earth to which He had previously assigned them (Gen. 10-11). Yet, within a few generations, men were once again not looking to God, but to their own devices--striving against God to build the huge Tower of Babel (Babylon) and a world-class city to prevent themselves from being scattered abroad over the face of the earth (Gen. 11:1-9).
For that rebellion at the Tower of Babel, the Almighty rebuked them sharply and confused their languages, forcing the peoples to separate and migrate out into the areas which He had assigned each of them as their inheritance (Deut. 32:8; Jer. 27:5; Acts 17:26).
The Family of Abraham
In the course of time, God Almighty would choose a unique man named Abram (later renamed "Abraham" by God) and his "seed" to form a new nation by which He would preserve the true religion and carry out certain aspects of His divine plan upon this earth.
Abraham's illustrious ancestors are listed in Genesis 11:10-32. Nine generations before Abraham was Noah's son Shem, who, generally speaking, was father of the white or Caucasian race. Thus Abraham's descendants are predominantly white. The term "Semite" is derived from Shem's name. The Hebrew language is classified as "Semitic," and racial hatred of Jews is called "anti-Semitism."
Next in this lineage was Shem's son, Arphaxad. He was father of the Chaldeans--which makes Abraham and his descendants part of them. This makes sense since Abraham came from "Ur of the Chaldeans" (v. 31). Next in line was Salah and then Eber (or Heber), whose descendants are called Hebrews. So Abraham was a "Hebrew." But, because all of Eber's descendants didn't come through Abraham, there are more "Hebrews" than just his family!
Next in Abraham's lineage was Eber's son Peleg. It was in his lifetime that the Tower of Babel incident occurred--when God assigned portions of the earth (Gen. 10:25). After Peleg was Reu and then Abraham's great-grandfather Serug. Next came his grandfather Nahor and, finally, his father Terah.
And "Terah begot Abram [later named Abraham], Nahor, and Haran" (11:27). "And Terah took his son Abram and his grandson Lot, the son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai [later named Sarah], his son Abram's wife, and they went out with them from Ur of the Chaldeans [in Lower Mesopotamia] to go to the land of Canaan; and they came to Haran and dwelt there.... and Terah died in Haran" (vv. 31-32). The city of Haran was located between the Tigris and Euphrates in Upper Mesopotamia.
Why were Terah, his son Abram and their clan trekking their way to the "land of Canaan"? Genesis 12 explains: "Now the LORD had said to Abram [while his family was still in Ur]: 'Get out of your country, from your kindred and from your father's house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation.... and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed'" (vv. 1-3).
Here was a tremendous promise of God--conditional upon Abram's obedience. This was a real test! Ur was a prosperous city. Abram was asked by God to leave it and go to a backward land far, far from civilization. Could his descendants really become a "great nation" there?
Moreover, by this time, the world had again strayed a long way from God. Society was so deeply entrenched in paganism that the true religion was almost unheard of anymore. Yet what was Abram's response to God's command? "So Abram departed as the LORD had spoken to him" (v. 4). There was no grumbling or arguing. Abram simply obeyed God. That's the unique character he had.
Promises of Ethnic Lineage and Grace
It is fascinating to realize the nature of the promises God made to Abraham. Many have missed the fact that God's promises were dual. To reconcile the fact that the Jews have never become a "great nation" in the world, some claim that this reference is to the Church only. It is true that to inherit the spiritual promises of God, everyone must become a descendant of Abraham spiritually (Gal. 3:29).
It is also true that the Church is called a "royal priesthood, a holy nation" (1 Pet. 2:9). However, as we will see, this promise of a "great nation" was later expanded to include "many nations." That certainly cannot refer to the Church. This is speaking of Abraham's physical descendants--ETHNIC LINEAGE!
Many have recognized that when God said, "In you all the nations of the earth shall be blessed," this was primarily a spiritual promise (although there is a physical application even to this, as succeeding chapters will reveal). God later told Abraham: "In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed" (Gen. 22:18). The singular "seed" here refers to Jesus Christ--the Son of God who would come in the flesh as a descendant of Abraham to offer spiritual salvation to the entire world--GRACE!
Through Abram's descendants would come these tremendous dual blessings. God told Abram, "'Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.' And He said to him, 'So shall your descendants be.' And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness" (vv. 5-6).
At Sarai's prompting, Abram soon had a son, Ishmael, by Sarai's Egyptian handmaid Hagar. But this is not how God intended to bless Abram.
When Abram was 99 years old, God appeared to him and said, "I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless. And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.... and you shall be a father of many nations. No longer shall your name be called Abram [Heb. "Exalted Father"], but your name shall be Abraham [Heb. "Father of a Multitude"]; for I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come from you" (Gen. 17:1-2, 4-6).
Numerous prophecies reveal that Abraham's descendants would become "many nations"! Those prophecies could never have been fulfilled in the Church or in the two small kingdoms of Israel and Judah, which we will examine later. "Many" can't possibly be interpreted to mean only two! So was all of this to be through Ishmael then?
Notice what God did next. He changed Sarai's name to Sarah (Heb. "Princess") and said, "And I will bless her and also give you a son by her; then I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of peoples [plural!] shall be from her" (v. 16).
The main promises of their descendants becoming many nations were not to go through Ishmael. Abraham was happy about Sarah, but he still hoped that his firstborn son Ishmael--now 13 years old--would be his heir: "And Abraham said to God, 'Oh, that Ishmael might live before You!'" (v. 18).
But God answered, "No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him. And as for Ishmael, I have heard you. Behold, I have blessed him, and will make him fruitful, and will multiply him exceedingly. He shall beget twelve princes, and I will make him a great nation [see box: "Isaac and Ishmael"]. But My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this set time next year" (vv. 19-21).
The tremendous promises of national blessings to Abraham were, at first, conditioned upon his complete obedience to God. Would Abraham persevere in obeying God's commands?
When Abraham later proved his total obedience to God, the Lord rewarded him by making the conditional promises to him UNconditional! "By Myself I HAVE SWORN, says the LORD, because you have done this thing, and have not withheld your son, your only son, in blessing I will bless you, and in multiplying I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heaven and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your descendants ["race" Fenton translation] shall possess the gate of their enemies [promise of ETHNIC LINEAGE]. In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed [promise of GRACE], because you have obeyed My voice" (Gen. 22:16-18).
|Isaac and Ishmael|
The Arabs readily acknowledge Abraham's son Ishmael to be their father-as any one of them will tell you! God promised to make them "a great nation" (Gen. 17:20; 21:18). People might look at the Arab countries today and balk at this because--even though some of them are quite rich from oil exports--they are not a "great nation" now. They are fragmented. This isn't what God meant when He made this promise to Abraham. So is God unreliable? No! Arab greatness has already passed. But in its heyday, it was truly remarkable to behold.
Louis L'Amour, the famous American author, described this period well. In his number one bestseller, The Walking Drum, set in 12th century Eurasia, he wrote, "In the space of one hundred years following the death of Muhammad in 632, the Arabs had carried the sword of Islam from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean, holding at one time most of Spain, part of southern France, the isle of Sicily, all of North Africa and Egypt, all of Arabia, the Holy Land, Armenia, Persia, Afghanistan, and almost a third of India. The empire of the Arabs was larger than that of Alexander the Great or of Rome.... Under the FLUSH OF GREATNESS... for more than five hundred years the Arabs carried the torch of civilization" (Bantam Books, 1984, pp. 171-172).
Now consider what this means for Isaac! If this is what God meant by Ishmael becoming a GREAT NATION--a vast empire, larger than Rome's, which preserved civilization through Europe's Dark Ages--then just think what must have been in store for Isaac's descendants, who were to inherit FAR GREATER blessings and become MANY NATIONS! Certainly, no one can argue that this has been fulfilled by the Jewish people-ever! Nor was it fulfilled anciently by Israel in the Holy Land. It's hard to even imagine that. So, then, was it ever fulfilled? The truth will astound you!
God had now SWORN--it would happen no matter what! Abraham's physical descendants would be innumerable--compared to counting stars in the sky or grains of sand on the seashore. And the singular "seed," Jesus Christ, would come through his lineage. What is a "gate"? Merriam Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (10th ed.) defines a gate as "a means of entrance or exit" or as a strategic "gateway."
The word "gate" in the national blessing means a strategic geographic passageway which controls the movement of trade and military forces for a certain region--such as an important mountain pass or sea passage. Modern examples of land and sea gates would be the Khyber Pass, the Panama Canal and the Strait of Gibraltar.
Promises to Isaac's Seed
After Abraham's death, the unconditional promises of his descendants becoming "many nations" passed to his son Isaac. These incredible promises would devolve upon Isaac's descendants--not Ishmael's. Isaac later married Rebekah. Notice the blessing her family gave her as she left her homeland to go and marry Isaac: "Our sister, may you become the mother of thousands of ten thousands ["many millions!" Living Bible]; and may your descendants possess the gates of those who hate them" (Gen. 24:60).
Here, again, this was prophetic. Isaac's descendants would become many millions and possess the strategic gateways of their enemies. The Jews have NEVER fulfilled this--and it certainly can't refer to the Church.
Neither can these verses refer to the Jews in the coming Millennium of Christ's rule--because, after their regathering in the Promised Land, it would take until well into that future age for them to overspread the world and take possession of such gates. And, by that time, there will be NO enemy nations (Is. 2:2-4). So this prophecy can ONLY be fulfilled in this present evil age of strife and war which will soon come to an end. Therefore, we must look for a group of nations--all descended from Abraham--that has possessed the vital land and sea gates of the world. We must do this or reject the Bible as fraudulent. There is simply no way around it.
The Birthright for a Bowl of Stew!
Let's look again at the dual nature of the promises to Abraham. The promises of ethnic lineage and the future availability of God's grace were unconditional. However, as the New Testament makes clear, actually receiving God's grace by an individual was conditional upon repentance--turning away from breaking God's law. The promise of ethnic lineage, however, required nothing from Abraham's descendants. Their behavior might have affected the TIMING that God chose for giving them the promised national blessings--but God had bound Himself to give those blessings no matter what. Thus, the promises of lineage now belonged to the descendants of Isaac by RIGHT. Such a right is termed a birthright.
The 1992 American Heritage Dictionary defines birthright as "a right, possession, or privilege that is one's due by birth." It can also mean "a special privilege accorded a first-born." Notice this note in The New Open Bible (NKJV) from Thomas Nelson Publishers: "The term birthright appears several times in the Bible. The word refers to the inheritance rights of the firstborn son in a Hebrew family in Old Testament times. The property of a father was normally divided among his sons at his death. But a larger amount, usually a double portion, went to the oldest son (Deut. 21:17), who assumed care of his mother and unmarried sisters" (p. 35).
Normally, the birthright was continued through the firstborn son. But there are instances where God intervened and dictated otherwise. This happened with Isaac. Ishmael had been Abraham's firstborn son. Yet God saw this son as the product of a lack of faith--an attempt to bring about God's promises through human effort. Abraham's firstborn lawful son, in God's eyes, was Isaac. "And Abraham gave all that he had to Isaac" (Gen. 25:5).
God later told Isaac, "I will perform the oath which I swore to Abraham your father. And I will make your descendants multiply as the stars of heaven; I will give to your descendants all these lands ["countries" KJV--not just Canaan!]; and in your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes, and My laws" (Gen. 26:3-5). We must always bear in mind that Abraham's descendants were NOT blessed because of racial superiority, but because of Abraham's obedience.
The birthright blessings were to be passed on to the descendants of Isaac. He and Rebekah had twin boys. At their birth, "the first came out red. He was like a hairy garment all over; so they called his name Esau [Heb. "Hairy"]. Afterward his brother came out, and his hand took hold of Esau's heel; so his name was called Jacob [Heb. "Supplanter" or "Heel-Grabber"]" (Gen. 25:25-26). God had prophesied that the birthright wouldn't go to the firstborn, Esau, in this case--but to the younger son Jacob (v. 23).
But Jacob would live up to his name by trying to supplant Esau prematurely. One day Esau came in tired and hungry, desiring some stew Jacob was eating. Jacob sold him the stew in exchange for Esau's birthright (vv. 27-34).
God's Promises to Jacob
Years later, Jacob even deceived his own father, Isaac, to get the blessings that accompanied the birthright. So Isaac mistakenly blessed Jacob: "See, the smell of my son is as the smell of a field which the LORD hath blessed. So God give thee of the dew of heaven, and of the fat places ["rich soil" Moffatt translation] of the earth, and plenty of corn ["grain" NKJV] and wine. Let peoples serve thee, and nations bow down to thee. Be lord over thy brethren, and let thy mother's sons bow down to thee. Cursed be everyone that curseth thee, and blessed be everyone that blesseth thee" (Gen. 27:27-29 Holy Scriptures, Jewish Publication Society).
These are purely physical promises of national prosperity. Nothing stated here concerns spiritual salvation. Yet what incredible promises these are: ideal rainfall on the choicest agricultural lands on earth to yield an overabundance of produce; administrating over the affairs of other nations; enemies brought low and allies prospering. Jacob was promised all this for his descendants!
Jacob, despite his character problems, prized and valued the awesome divine blessings promised to Abraham. Esau did not (25:34; Heb. 12:16-17).
God later confirmed the birthright promises to Jacob in a dream: "I am the LORD God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie [Canaan] I will give to you and your descendants. Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad [colonize] to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed" (Gen. 28:13-14). Jacob's descendants would be great colonizers--spreading themselves around the whole world!
Jacob married two sisters, Leah and Rachel, and by them and their two handmaids, fathered 12 sons and a daughter. And, after he repented of his deceit, God changed his name: "Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but ISRAEL [Heb. "Prevailer with God"]; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed" (Gen. 32:28).
So here is the origin of the name "Israel"! Through Israel's 12 sons, God would build His chosen nation. Each of Israel's sons would be the progenitor of an individual tribe of people. For instance, Jacob's son Judah was the father of the tribe of Judah. His descendants, as we will see in more detail later, were called "Jews." You need to make sure you understand this because many are confused about it. Ethnic Jews are only one tribe of Israel. And there are 11 other tribes of Israel besides them. This, then, is the origin of the TWELVE TRIBES OF ISRAEL.
Later, God confirmed Jacob's new name and the fantastic promises: "And God said to him, 'Your name is Jacob; your name shall not be called Jacob anymore, but Israel shall be your name.' So He called his name Israel. Also God said to him: 'I am God Almighty. Be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall proceed from you, and kings shall come from your body'" (Gen. 35:10-11). Here again is the promise of a line of "kings," but there is something else here we haven't seen before--the promise of "a [single] nation and a company ["group" Moffatt] of nations"!
The Ferrar Fenton translation says, "a Nation and an Assembly of Nations." The New International Version renders it, "a nation and a community of nations." A "company," "group," "assembly" or "community" of nations. This could not be something like the United Nations because its member nations are not all of the same family. No, this would have to be something similar to the Arab League or the British-descended Commonwealth nations. When did such a "company of nations" ever form in ancient Israel? Never. When has it happened among the Jewish people? It has not. We must, then, look elsewhere.
"The Birthright Belonged to Joseph"
The birthright would next have gone to Jacob's firstborn son by Leah--Reuben. But Reuben committed incest with Bilhah, his own father's concubine (Gen. 35:22; 49:3-4). Therefore, the birthright fell to the firstborn of Rachel--Jacob's 11th son, Joseph. First Chronicles 5:1-2 explains: "The sons of Reuben the firstborn of Israel. (He was the firstborn, but because he defiled his father's bed his birthright was given to the sons of Joseph son of Israel, so that he [Reuben] is not enrolled in the genealogy according to the birthright; though Judah became prominent among his brothers and a ruler ["the chief ruler" KJV] came from him, yet the birthright belonged to Joseph)" (NRSV).
Something remarkable happened here! God decided to split the promises of ethnic lineage and grace between two different tribes. Judah would receive the kingly line, referred to as "the SCEPTER" (Gen. 49:10). A scepter is defined as "a staff held by a sovereign as an emblem of authority" or "ruling power or authority; sovereignty" (American Heritage Dictionary). King David would come from this line and from him would descend the "one seed," Jesus Christ, offering salvation to the world.
|The 12 Sons of Jacob (Israel)*|
|*Each son fathered one of the
Twelve Tribes of Israel.
No wonder Jesus later said, "Salvation is of the Jews" (John 4:22), and Paul wrote of "salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek" (Rom. 1:16). The promise of GRACE was to come down through JUDAH. But the birthright promises of national blessings--ETHNICLINEAGE--would come through JOSEPH! Get this fixed in your mind. It is an extremely important key to understanding your Bible!
Joseph was Jacob's favorite son. Joseph's brothers saw this favoritism--displayed in such ways as the famous "coat of many colours" (Gen. 37:3 KJV)--and hated him. One day Joseph told them of a powerful dream he had: "'There we were, binding sheaves in the field. Then behold, my sheaf arose and also stood upright; and indeed your sheaves stood all around and bowed down to my sheaf.' And his brothers said to him, 'Shall you indeed reign over us? Or shall you indeed have dominion over us?' So they hated him even more for his dreams and for his words" (vv. 7-8).
He then had a second dream: "'This time, the sun, the moon, and the eleven stars bowed down to me.' So he told it to his father and his brothers; and his father rebuked him and said to him, 'What is this dream that you have dreamed? Shall your mother and I and your brothers indeed come to bow down to the earth before you?' And his brothers envied him, but his father kept the matter in mind" (vv. 9-11). As time would prove, these dreams were prophetic--not only foretelling what would happen to Joseph himself, but also what would happen to his descendants far into the future.
What did happen to Joseph himself is amazing. His brothers sold him into slavery and convinced their father Jacob that he'd been killed and eaten by a wild animal. Jacob, of course, was devastated. Joseph was sold into Egypt and spent years in slavery and then in prison. Yet God miraculously worked it out so that the Egyptian Pharaoh made Joseph the prime minister of all Egypt! "You shall be over my house, and all my people shall be ruled according to your word; only in regard to the throne will I be greater than you" (Gen. 41:40).
Joseph, a gifted administrator over this great Gentile nation--as his future descendants would also be--directed the project of storing food through "seven years of great plenty" (v. 29) to make it through "seven years of famine" (v. 30). During this famine, Joseph's brothers came to Egypt to buy food but did not recognize him. However, after Joseph put them through a test, he finally revealed his identity. Then there was weeping with tears of joy.
How prophetic! The identity of the descendants of Joseph is generally hidden right now. But it will not be that way for long! Also, notice what Joseph told his brothers: "But now, do not therefore be grieved or angry with yourselves because you sold me here; for God sent me before you to preserve life.... to preserve a posterity for you in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance" (Gen. 45:5, 7). How true this would be, also, of Joseph's descendants in the dark days of Nazi Germany--as we will later see!
Joseph asked his brothers to go and get their father and bring him down to Egypt. The Pharaoh was going to give them the choicest lands to dwell in. So the other sons of Israel returned to Canaan to get him. "'Joseph is alive,' they shouted to him. 'And he is ruler over all the land of Egypt!' But Jacob's heart was like a stone; he couldn't take it in. But when they had given him Joseph's messages, and when he saw the wagons filled with food that Joseph had sent him, his spirit revived. And he said, 'It must be true! Joseph my son is alive! I will go and see him before I die'" (vv. 26-28 Living Bible). When Jacob and Joseph at last met, "they fell into each other's arms and wept a long while" (46:29 Living Bible). What a deeply emotional experience this was for the family of Israel--just as it will be again in the very near future when the identity of Joseph's descendants is revealed!
Why Jacob Crossed His Arms
Pharaoh had given an Egyptian woman, Asenath--daughter of Poti-Pherah priest of On--as a wife to Joseph (Gen. 41:45). She had borne him two sons, Manasseh (Heb. "Forgetting" his previous troubles) and Ephraim (Heb. "Fruitful"). Thus the two boys were half-Egyptian.
When Joseph heard that Jacob was sick, he took his two sons and hurried to his /tr> the utmost bound of the everlasting hills." Genesis 27:28 says they would be given the "fat places of the earth" (JPS). Fulfillment of some of these blessings can be seen in the words of the song, "America the Beautiful," by Katherine Lee Bates: "O beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain, for purple mountain majesties above the fruited plain!"
By itself, the cozy island of Britain is an incredibly beautiful and productive land. Yet remember that, according to prophecy, the people there would someday say, "The place is TOO SMALL for me; give me a place where I may dwell" (Is. 49:20). So, from this small homeland, Britons went forth and colonized nine-tenths of the North American continent, the whole continent of Australia, the beautiful, rich lands of New Zealand, parts of South Africa and numerous other islands and territories.
There is no other instance in the entire history of the world where such a small, seemingly insignificant people spread out around the globe, successfully colonizing such enormous, rich tracts of land--thereby becoming many nations!
How did Britain become "too small"--creating the need to colonize? Historians reveal that various factors (war, famine, disease) kept the population of Britain from increasing very rapidly until the Industrial Revolution (1750-1850). Then, suddenly, a population explosion occurred. British historian, Colin Cross, observes that "one of the unexplained mysteries of social history is the explosion in the size of the population of Great Britain between 1750 and 1850. For generations the British population had been static, or rising only slightly. Then in the space of a century it almost trebled-from 7.7 million in 1750 to 20.7 million in 1850. Why it happened is unknown.... It must just be recorded that human reproduction and vitality follows unpredictable patterns.... Britain was a dynamic country and one of the marks of its dynamism was the population explosion" (Fall of the British Empire, p. 155).
Very striking here is the time element! As we saw earlier, Israel had to wait 2,520 years from the time of her Assyrian oppression and captivity before receiving the actual fulfillment of the birthright promises. This coincides exactly with Britain's population explosion, which gave the British the impetus to spread abroad.
Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India, in 1907, expressed the belief that God had put in the Englishmen a divine impulse to establish colonies around the globe: "I would describe the [British] Empire... as the result, not of an accident or a series of accidents, but of an instinct-that ineradicable and divinely implanted impulse, which has sent the Englishman forth into the uttermost parts of the earth, and made him there the parent of new societies and the architect of unpremeditated creations" (The British Empire, BBC TV and Time-Life Books, p. 2,466).
A Nation and a Company of Nations
As Creator, Possessor and Ruler of this earth, it is within God's prerogative to give any nation or individual whatever portion of this earth He chooses (Gen. 14:19; Acts 17:23-26). The French assemblyman Alexis de Tocqueville made these incisive comments in his famous 1835 work, Democracy in America: "The Indians occupied but did not possess the land. It is by agriculture that man wins the soil, and the first inhabitants of North America lived by hunting.... Providence [God] when it placed them amid the riches of the New World, seems to have granted them a short lease only; they were there, in some sense, only waiting. Those coasts so well suited for trade and industry, those deep rivers, that inexhaustible valley of the Mississippi-in short, the whole continent-seemed the yet empty cradle of a GREAT NATION" (p. 24).
De Tocqueville further stated, "When the Creator handed the earth over to men, it was young and inexhaustible, but they were weak and ignorant; and by the time that they had learned to take advantage of the treasures it contained, they already covered its face, and soon they were having to fight for the right to an asylum where they could rest in freedom. It was then that North America was discovered, as if God had held it in reserve and it had only just arisen above the waters of the flood" (p. 258).
North America was indeed held "in reserve" by God for the descendants of Israel. As God had inspired Moses to write, "When the Most High divided their inheritance to the nations, when He separated the sons of Adam, He set the boundaries of the peoples [all other nations] according to the number of the children of Israel [whose population size He foresaw and planned for]" (Deut. 32:8)!
Great Britain established its first permanent colony in North America at Jamestown, Virginia, in 1607. In 1620, the Mayflower landed at Plymouth Rock with its Pilgrim settlers. The Puritans arrived soon afterward to establish the Massachusetts Bay Colony. By the early 1700s, a string of 13 thriving British colonies were firmly established along the eastern seaboard of North America. In the 1763 Treaty of Paris, France ceded to Britain her Canadian colonies, as well as all the Louisiana Territory east of the Mississippi River-excluding the city of New Orleans. Thus the die had been cast toward making the Anglo-Saxon-Celtic peoples the dominant ethnic group in North America.
Remember, Joseph's descendants were to become a "great nation" and a "company of nations." Only 12 years after the first Treaty of Paris in 1763, the 13 British colonies in North America rebelled against the Mother Country. During their War of Independence (1775-1783), the upstart Americans threw off the Old World's yoke.
Subsequently, the second Treaty of Paris was signed on September 3, 1783-this time by British and American diplomats. In this treaty, Britain officially recognized the United States as a sovereign nation and ceded all of her North American territories south of the Great Lakes to the victorious rebels. Spain's Florida Territory then formed the southern boundary of the new Republic, and the Mississippi River formed its western boundary. Now it could rightly be said that America was assured of becoming the GREAT NATION God had promised.
Again, the time period for all of this is extremely significant, as we saw in chapter two. If we begin counting the seven prophetic times (2,520 years) of Leviticus 26 from the initial Assyrian incursions into Israel around the mid-740s to early 730s B.C., we would end our count around A.D. 1776 (the signing of the Declaration of Independence) or 1783 (the Treaty of Paris recognizing American independence). If we begin counting from Israel's first Assyrian deportation (c. 734-732 B.C.), we arrive at 1787-1789. The U.S. Constitution was signed in 1787, ratified in 1788 and put into force in 1789. Thus was estabe. To your tents, O Israel! Now, see to your own house, O David!' So Israel [the northern Ten Tribes] departed to their tents" (v. 16). Some have mistakenly thought that King Rehoboam and the Jews seceded from Israel. But that is not so. Rather the Ten Tribes seceded from the dynasty of David, determined to establish their own dynasty of kings: "So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day" (v. 19).
Rehoboam's hard-nosed reply stirred the Ten Tribes to install Jeroboam as their king (v. 20). From that day onward, the Northern Kingdom would be called the "house of Israel," while the Southern Kingdom would be known as the "house of Judah," which included the tribes of Judah and Benjamin as well as some of the Levites (v. 21).
"Modern Jews thus consider themselves to be descendants of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin or are classed as Levites" ("Benjamin," Encyclopaedia Britannica, vol. 2, 1991). This is a vital point that many fail to grasp today! Jews and Israelites are not necessarily synonymous terms. As time went on, there would be intermittent, bitter rivalry and outright warfare between the two rival kingdoms of Judah and Israel: "And there were wars between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all their days" (2 Chron. 12:15).
An Apostate Nation
The Prophet Ahijah had explained that Solomon's blatant idolatry was the reason Jeroboam was now ruling over the northern Ten Tribes. Ahijah told Jeroboam that God would build him an everlasting dynasty if he would obey the Lord's laws and follow in His ways (1 Kings 11:38). God's promise was remarkably similar to what He had said to David. But despite Jeroboam's knowledge of the dire consequences of Solomon's apostasy, as soon as he was made king over the Ten Tribes of Israel, he immediately set up two golden calves, one in Dan and another in Bethel (12:28-29).
He instituted this system of false worship to prevent the Israelites from going to Jerusalem to worship--where they might realign with Judah and the Davidic line (vv. 26-27). The Kingdom of Israel would never recover from the infectious idolatry which Jeroboam started.
The Northern Kingdom of Israel lasted only 209 years, from around 930 B.C. to 721 B.C. During that 209-year period, the Ten Tribes were ruled by 19 kings representing nine different dynasties! The kings of the Ten Tribes reigned, on average, just 11 years! Of the Northern Kingdom's 19 kings--none of whom returned to truly worship God--eight were assassinated, usually by the next king. One even committed suicide.
A later king, Omri, proved to be one of the Northern Kingdom of Israel's most capable kings. Though he reigned only 12 years (c. 885-873 B.C.), Omri exercised political savvy. He moved Israel's capital from Tirzah to a far more defensible position, the "hill of Samaria," where he proceeded to build his new capital. (Samaria would remain Israel's proud, unconquered capital city until its utter destruction by the Assyrians in 72l B.C.)
Omri became widely known throughout the ancient Near East during his lifetime. Numerous cuneiform inscriptions reveal that the Assyrians were well acquainted with him and his dynasty, and called the Kingdom of Israel "mat-bit-Humria" (the land of the house of Omri). Israel was still referred to as such by the Assyrians in their cuneiform inscriptions more than 100 years after he reigned. The famous Moabite Stone mentions that "Omri, king of Israel" oppressed the Moabites during his reign.
After Omri's death, his son Ahab reigned in his place (c. 873-853 B.C.) along with his wicked queen Jezebel. This evil couple promoted even greater idolatry in Israel. During their reign, the menacing cloud of Assyria's rising power began to appear on the horizon. Unfortunately for Israel and Judah, they were situated on the strategic land bridge of the Middle East's Fertile Crescent, separating rival powers located in Mesopotamia and in Egypt.
King Ahab was destined to do battle with the Assyrians. One of the well-known inscriptions of Assyria's King Shalmaneser III (c. 859-824 B.C.) describes the famous battle of Qarqar--which occurred in 853 B.C. between his army and a coalition of western nations allied against him, led by Israel's King Ahab. Shalmaneser's inscription says, "I crossed the Euphrates; at Qarqar I destroyed... 100,000 men of Ahab, the Israelite." Contrary to the Assyrian's boasting, that crucial battle was Ahab's greatest military achievement and it momentarily checked the power of the "Colossus of the North." However, the Assyrians would come back again and again during the next 150 years until the fall of their empire in 612 B.C.
Jehu's Bloody Revolution
King Jehu, who had been anointed by God to overthrow the house of Omri, was a revolutionary firebrand who reigned over Israel for 28 years (c. 841-813 B.C.). During Jehu's reign, Israel began to pay tribute to Assyria in a partly successful effort to buy Assyrian protection (as a vassal state) from the Aramaeans (Syrians). Another famous inscription of Shalmaneser III recorded, "The tribute of Jehu, son [royal successor] of Omri, silver, gold, bowls of gold, chalices of gold, cups of gold, vases of gold, lead, scepter for the king, and spear shafts, I have received."
Jeroboam II (c. 793-753 B.C.), the fourth king of the Jehu dynasty, was one of Israel's most illustrious kings because He enlarged the Northern Kingdom of Israel to its greatest territorial extent! But "Israelite society, in spite of its healthy appearance, was in an advanced state of decay, socially, morally and religiously" (Bright, p. 256).
Prophetic Warnings and Assyrian Inroads
Through the voices of the prophets Amos and Hosea, Jeroboam's contemporaries, we can still feel the intensity of God's abhorrence at these backsliding, apostate people. The wealthy gained their money at the expense of the poor and deprived the needy of justice. "'Therefore I will send you into captivity beyond Damascus,' says the LORD, whose name is the God of hosts" (Amos 5:27).
Though the Israelites maintained a form of religion and gave lip service to God, they had forsaken all of His teachings and would reap bitter fruit: "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you... because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children" (Hos. 4:6). God foretold their society's collapse. As a result of its social, moral and religious decay, it would be too weak to resist invading armies and ultimate captivity.
During King Menahem's reign (c. 752-741 B.C.), the Assyrians, under Tiglath-Pileser (Pul), began to seriously menace the nation. The Assyrians issued a demand that Menahem ("Menihummu of Samerina" in Assyrian annals) pay them tribute--to which the Israelite king quickly acceded. Menahem's reign was overlapped by that of Israel's next-to-last king, Pekah (c. 752-732 B.C.), who would experience the heavy yoke of the rapidly rising Assyrian Empire. He was a shrewd military officer who ruled for 20 years (2 Kings 15:27-31).
During King Pekah's reign, he allied the Kingdom of Israel with Aram (Syria), and they together attacked Judah (2 Kings 16:5-6). NOTE: Here is the first use of the term "Jews" in the King James Bible and they are at war against "Israel"!
Ahaz, king of Judah, sent an urgent appeal to the Assyrians for immediate assistance against his foes--Israel and Syria (v. 7)along with a large present. "So the king of Assyria heeded him" (v. 9).
Israel's Two Assyrian Captivities
Time had run out for Israel! God's patience with this part of His "covenant people" was at an end. God had warned them repeatedly of the consequences their sins would bring. Through Amos, He had threatened, "Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD are on the sinful kingdom, and I will destroy it from the face of the earth" (Amos 9:8). But they ignored God. They simply would not heed. So He delivered them over to the cruelty of Assyrian captivity: "In the days of Pekah king of Israel, Tiglath-Pileser [III] king of Assyria [745-727 B.C.] came and took Ijon, Abel Beth Maachah, Janoah, Kedesh, Hazor, Gilead, and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali; and he carried them [the Israelites] captive to Assyria" (2 Kings 15:29)!
The Israelites were deported in two separate captivities. The one just mentioned was the first (c. 734-732 B.C.). Based on the locations just given, this first deportation was also known as the "Galilean Captivity." It included all the Israelites living throughout Galilee and the Plain of Sharon, plus the territories east of the Jordan (Reuben, Gad and the eastern half-tribe of Manasseh--cf. 1 Chron. 5:26).
Yet some have subscribed to the notion that the Assyrians took only a few thousand Israelites into captivity, leaving the bulk of them still living in the land of Israel. One author even tries to convince his readers that only about two percent of the Israelites were actually removed to the land of Assyria. This is plainly wrong. The areas just mentioned represented about three-fourths of all the territory of the Kingdom of Israel!
After the Galilean Captivity, only a rather small "rump state" situated around Samaria, Israel's capital city, remained intact. Regarding this same captivity, Tiglath-Pileser III himself said, "Bet Omri [House of Omri = Israel] all of whose cities I had added to my territories on my former campaigns, and had left out only the city of Samaria.... The whole of Naphtali I took for Assyria. I put my officials over them as governors. The land of Bet Omri, all its people and their possessions I took away to Assyria" (Western Campaign and Gala/Damascus Campaign). Obviously, the vast majority of Israel's population was carried away.
After becoming a vassal to the Assyrians, Israel's new king, Hoshea, tried to enlist Egyptian aid to free Israel from that yoke (2 Kings 17:1-4). This rebellion by Samaria's last monarch, and the stubborn resistance of a small portion of the Israelites, convinced the Assyrians they would have to completely break both the power and will of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Their answer? Israel's second Assyrian captivity!
The inspired biblical historian says, "Now the king of Assyria [Shalmaneser V] went throughout all the land [of Israel], and went up to Samaria and besieged it for three years [c. 724-721 B.C.]. In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria [a new king, Sargon II, as Shalmaneser had died] took Samaria and carried Israel away to Assyria, and placed them in Halah and by the Habor, the River of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes" (vv. 5-6).
Did the Assyrians take all the people of Israel out of their land? Or did they only deport a few of them? The inspired Word of God unequivocally answers, "There was none left but the tribe [Heb. sebet] of Judah alone" (v. 18)! Sebet can mean an entire nation with more than one tribe (cf. Jer. 51:19 NRSV, NIV). So only the peoples of the Southern Kingdom of JUDAH were left!
Notice this too: "Then the king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Cuthah, Ava, Hamath and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria INSTEAD of the children of Israel; and they took possession of Samaria and dwelt in its cities" (v. 24). These Gentile peoples from Babylonia, who totally displaced the Israelites, became known as the Samaritans--as they were still called in Christ's day.
Both the Bible and the Assyrian state records agree: all the inhabitants of the Ten Tribes were removed from the land of Israel! Apparently, some stragglers were left behind, and a few even moved south to Judah. This explains all biblical references to people from the northern Ten Tribes in the Holy Land following the Assyrian captivity (Hezekiah's Passover of 2 Chronicles 30 was undoubtedly before Samaria's fall--cf. 2 Kings 18:9-10). So all the Ten Tribes, as tribes, were removed--not one single tribe remained!
Finally, after 200 years of rank idolatry and debased morality, God's patience had worn thin. Israel's day of reckoning came at the hands of the cruelest of all the heathen conquerors--the Assyrian Empire, the rod of God's anger (Is. 10:5-6). The ancient Kingdom of Israel was destroyed--without ever realizing the tremendous blessings God had promised!
In all the days from Joseph until the Assyrian captivity, the Israelites never colonized around the entire globe, inheriting its best agricultural regions. They never came into possession of the most important land and sea gates of the world. They never became a "multitude of nations"--much less the prophesied "nation and a company of nations." And by no stretch of the imagination did they ever become the greatest military superpower nations on the planet!
So these blessings had to wait until the Israelites returned to the Promised Land from captivity--right? NO! For--and here's the astonishing part--the Ten Tribes of Israel never came back, even to this day! To many historians, they simply disappeared from history and are now known as the "Ten Lost Tribes of Israel." What happened to them? Does anyone know? Were they destroyed from the face of the earth? If they were, then what about all of God's promises?
We can't answer this apparent dilemma by looking at what happened to the people of Judah and their modern descendants, the Jews. The Southern Kingdom of Judah, the TWO TRIBES of Benjamin and Judah, continued as a viable kingdom from 930 B.C. until its downfall in 586 B.C. (a period of 344 years), at which time the Babylonians took the peoples of Judah captive to Babylon.
Shortly after the fall of Babylon, in 539 B.C., some of the Jews returned to their former land of Judah and, under Ezra and Nehemiah, reestablished themselves as the nation of Judah. However, only a small portion of the Jews returned to the Promised Land at that time--and not one of the TEN TRIBES returned with those Jews who did!
For the most part, the Jews remained a subject people of the great empires of the Middle East except for a very brief period of independence under the Hasmonean dynasty of the Maccabees. At the time of Christ, the kingdom of Judea had become directly subject to Rome (from 47 B.C.). And, almost 40 years after Christ's death, the Romans, in putting down Jewish insurrection, razed Jerusalem in 70 A.D. After putting down a later revolt (132-135) led by Simon Bar Kokhba, the Romans wiped out the Jewish state completely, changing the name of the province to Syria Palaestina (after Israel's ancient enemy, the Philistines)--out of spite.
In following centuries, the Jews were always scattered and persecuted yet, amazingly, their identity was somehow preserved. They never had any real homeland up until the creation of the modern Jewish state of "Israel" in 1948. Yet even it contains only a small fraction of the world's ethnic Jews. And it is a far cry from the national greatness promised Israel's descendants. IS there an answer to this quandary? There certainly is--as following chapters will reveal--and it is one of the most astounding revelations in your Bible!
The Identity Question
A Great Mystery of History
Anglo-American Ethnic Roots
Israel's Post-Captivity Names
The Birthright Finally Realized!
What Is Now Prophesied?
Originally written by Raymond F. McNair and republished in 1996 by the now-defunct Global Church of God.
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