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Saturday, January 28, 2023

Part V: Failure, Punishment, and Redemption

Now, in Part III of this series, we underscored the fact that the children of Israel's participation in the promises made to Abraham was conditional (based on the terms of the covenant/agreement which God made with them. Likewise, in Part IV of this series, we underscored the fact that Solomon's and his descendants' participation in the promises made to David was conditional. In both cases, their participation in those blessings was made contingent upon their good behavior - whether or not they were faithful to God and were obedient to the instructions which he had given them in the Torah. However, the promises to/covenants with Abraham and David were unconditional and immutable. In other words, there was NO question that they would be carried out and fulfilled by God. The ONLY question, then, was whether or not these other people would qualify to share in the commitments which God had originally made to those two men!

Unfortunately, Scripture is very clear about the fact that ALL of those other folks FAILED to meet the criteria which God had established for their participation in the promises made to their ancestors! So, we can see that the how and why of their failure is critical to refuting the larger premise of Anglo-Israelism. In other words, we must establish that they did indeed fail and were, consequently, NOT entitled to share in those blessings! Thus, in this part of the series, we will examine the moral failings (sins), both individual and collective, which led to their disqualification and punishment. However, we will also look at yet another promise which God made to these same folks - that, someday, he would mercifully redeem them from their fallen state and eventually allow them to fully participate in those same blessings!

Even so, we begin with the failures, and they were both egregious and numerous. Indeed, in the case of the children of Israel, the ink wasn't even dry on the contract between them and God when they started violating its terms! In the thirty-second chapter of Exodus, we read that the people grew impatient waiting for Moses to return from the mountaintop and asked Aaron to make them a golden calf! Keep in mind, that God had just given them these commands as part of his covenant with them: "You must not have any other god but me. You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods." (Exodus 20:3-5) Next, Aaron's sons failed to follow God's instructions for the priesthood (Leviticus 10). And the children of Israel never grew tired of complaining (Numbers 11-12). They also failed to follow God's instructions about exploring and taking possession of the Land of Canaan (Numbers 13-14). A short time later, we are informed that a man named Korah incited a rebellion against the leadership of Moses and Aaron (Numbers 16). That settled, Moses himself failed to follow God's instructions at the Waters of Meribah (Numbers 20). Next, some of the Israelites were seduced by Moabite women and were drawn into the worship of their gods (Numbers 25). In other words, the children of Israel were violating the terms of their covenant with God straight out of the gate! Notice that ALL of these examples are from the Torah!

Moreover, as we will demonstrate, the Scriptural narrative which follows makes clear that the sinning NEVER stopped! The people of Israel sinned during the period of their conquest of the land of Canaan (Joshua 7:1-15). Likewise, we read that the children of Israel continually violated the terms of their covenant with God throughout the time that God's judges were leading them (Judges 2:11, 3:7, 12, 4:1, 6:1, 10:6, 13:1, I Samuel 2:12-17, 8:1-8). What's more, the wickedness and covenant breaking only seemed to intensify after Israel became a kingdom!

Indeed, throughout the various books which cover the history of their kingdoms (I & II Samuel, I & II Kings, and I & II Chronicles), we see that the children of Israel and their monarchs were partners in sin! We have already mentioned Saul's failure and Israel's subsequent defeat in previous sections of this series, but Scripture informs us that most of the men who succeeded him in the kingship also failed in their duties to God and their people! In fact, even David, the man to whom God made the promise of an eternal throne, failed repeatedly to live up to God's standards. In graphic and painful detail, Scripture informs us that David committed adultery and murdered the woman's husband to cover up his misdeeds (II Samuel 11, 12). Likewise, we read in the twenty-fourth chapter of the same book that David failed to follow God's instructions about taking a census of Israel. And, the sinning wasn't confined to the king, we read in the same account that David's children also dabbled in sin from time to time (II Samuel 13-18).

In similar fashion, we have already read about Solomon's idolatry, and the Lord's decision to allow his enemies to trouble the latter part of his reign over Israel and tear most of the kingdom away from his son (Rehoboam). Even so, as we continue reading, we see that all of this was only the beginning of the tale of sinning and covenant breaking! For instance, we are informed that the very first king of a separate Israel (Jeroboam) created two golden calves for his people to worship and led them into sin (I Kings 12:25-33). Indeed, after the new king was warned about the consequences of his behavior, we read: "But even after this, Jeroboam did not turn from his evil ways. He continued to choose priests from the common people. He appointed anyone who wanted to become a priest for the pagan shrines. This became a great sin and resulted in the utter destruction of Jeroboam’s dynasty from the face of the earth." (I Kings 13:33-34)

Unfortunately, Scripture informs us that Jeroboam's wicked behavior was repeated by ALL of the men who followed him on the throne of Israel! Continuing in this account, we read that: "Nadab son of Jeroboam began to rule over Israel in the second year of King Asa’s reign in Judah. He reigned in Israel two years. But he did what was evil in the Lord’s sight and followed the example of his father, continuing the sins that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit. Then Baasha son of Ahijah, from the tribe of Issachar, plotted against Nadab and assassinated him while he and the Israelite army were laying siege to the Philistine town of Gibbethon. Baasha killed Nadab in the third year of King Asa’s reign in Judah, and he became the next king of Israel." (I Kings 15:25-28) Indeed, that phrase, "he did what was evil in the Lord's sight," would be repeated over and over again throughout this account of the kings of Israel (I Kings 15:34, 16:19, 22:52, II Kings 13:2, 11, 14:24, etc.) And it wasn't just that kings like Jeroboam, Ahab, and Jehu were personally wicked - it was the fact that they had caused the children of Israel to sin!

Now, in the accounts of these kings, we read that God raised up prophets like Elijah and Elisha to warn them about the consequences of their evil deeds (I Kings 17-19, 21, II Kings 1-8, 13). However, we also see that God sent other prophets to warn the people of Israel and Judah about the consequences of their sins (see the major and minor prophets of the Old Testament). As we will demonstrate, these prophets repeatedly warned both the kings and their subjects about their sinning/covenant breaking, but Scripture also informs us that the children of Israel and their monarchs refused to heed those warnings and continued down the path to their own destruction!

In the book of Isaiah, we read: "Listen, O heavens! Pay attention, earth! This is what the Lord says: 'The children I raised and cared for have rebelled against me. Even an ox knows its owner, and a donkey recognizes its master’s care—but Israel doesn’t know its master. My people don’t recognize my care for them.' Oh, what a sinful nation they are— loaded down with a burden of guilt. They are evil people, corrupt children who have rejected the Lord. They have despised the Holy One of Israel and turned their backs on him." (1:2-4) In other words, the children of Israel had proven themselves to be both ungrateful and wholly committed to doing the exact opposite of what God had commanded them to do when he had made his covenant with them. God had NOT failed, Israel had failed! A little later, in the same book, we read that God instructed Isaiah to "Shout with the voice of a trumpet blast. Shout aloud! Don’t be timid. Tell my people Israel of their sins!" (58:1)

Moreover, these prophets whom God had raised up made it very clear that both kingdoms had failed miserably in this regard - both the kings of Israel and their people AND the kings of Judah and their people! In the book of Jeremiah, we read: "Listen to the word of the Lord, people of Jacob—all you families of Israel! This is what the Lord says: 'What did your ancestors find wrong with me that led them to stray so far from me? They worshiped worthless idols, only to become worthless themselves...Has any nation ever traded its gods for new ones, even though they are not gods at all? Yet my people have exchanged their glorious God for worthless idols! The heavens are shocked at such a thing and shrink back in horror and dismay,' says the Lord. 'For my people have done two evil things: They have abandoned me— the fountain of living water. And they have dug for themselves cracked cisterns that can hold no water at all! (2:4-13) Jeremiah then proceeded to talk about the people of Judah's hypocrisy relative to their religious practices (7), and their idolatry (10).

Likewise, in the book of Ezekiel, we read: "'Son of man,' he said, 'I am sending you to the nation of Israel, a rebellious nation that has rebelled against me. They and their ancestors have been rebelling against me to this very day. They are a stubborn and hard-hearted people. But I am sending you to say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says!’ And whether they listen or refuse to listen—for remember, they are rebels—at least they will know they have had a prophet among them.'" (2:3-5) Then, a little later in the same book, we read a passage about Ezekiel's commission to warn Israel about the consequences of their sins that is reminiscent of the commission given to Isaiah that we referenced earlier. Ezekiel recorded that God told him: "Now, son of man, I am making you a watchman for the people of Israel. Therefore, listen to what I say and warn them for me. If I announce that some wicked people are sure to die and you fail to tell them to change their ways, then they will die in their sins, and I will hold you responsible for their deaths. But if you warn them to repent and they don’t repent, they will die in their sins, but you will have saved yourself. Son of man, give the people of Israel this message: You are saying, ‘Our sins are heavy upon us; we are wasting away! How can we survive?’ As surely as I live, says the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of wicked people. I only want them to turn from their wicked ways so they can live. Turn! Turn from your wickedness, O people of Israel! Why should you die?" (33:7-11)

In the book of Hosea, we read: "Hear the word of the Lord, O people of Israel! The Lord has brought charges against you, saying: 'There is no faithfulness, no kindness, no knowledge of God in your land. You make vows and break them; you kill and steal and commit adultery. There is violence everywhere— one murder after another." (4:1-2) Also, in the next chapter, the prophet makes plain that Israel's rulers have been full partners in the promulgation of all of this sinning. We read there: "Hear this, you priests. Pay attention, you leaders of Israel. Listen, you members of the royal family. Judgment has been handed down against you. For you have led the people into a snare by worshiping the idols at Mizpah and Tabor. You have dug a deep pit to trap them at Acacia Grove. But I will settle with you for what you have done. I know what you are like, O Ephraim. You cannot hide yourself from me, O Israel. You have left me as a prostitute leaves her husband; you are utterly defiled. Your deeds won’t let you return to your God. You are a prostitute through and through, and you do not know the Lord." (4:1-4) And, in the tenth chapter of that book, we read: "The Lord says, 'O Israel, ever since Gibeah, there has been only sin and more sin! You have made no progress whatsoever. Was it not right that the wicked men of Gibeah were attacked? Now whenever it fits my plan, I will attack you, too. I will call out the armies of the nations to punish you for your multiplied sins.'" (Verses 9-10)

Too much? Do you begin to weary with the subject? Brethren, this is only a SMALL sampling of the Scripture which is available to us on this subject! The TRUTH is that the Bible makes VERY CLEAR that Israel, Judah, and their kings did NOT meet the conditions which God had established for them to participate in the blessings which had been promised to their ancestors! Moreover, these passages make plain the why and how of Israel's failure, and the fact that God repeatedly warned them away from their bad behaviors before he decided to punish them for those sins! Believe me, I know that this is a lot of reading and quoting, but I felt that this deep dive into the pertinent scriptures was necessary to counteract Armstrong's "here and there" prooftexts for his thesis about Anglo-Israelism!

Now, having established that Israel and Judah failed (violated the terms of their covenant with God), we are ready to talk about the punishment which God decreed for those peoples. In this vein, we have already discussed in some detail the downfall of the Kingdom of Judah, and how the Babylonians overthrew the Solomonic line of kings which had reigned over it. We have not, however, discussed God's punishment of the Kingdom of Israel - the larger and northern most kingdom of the children of Israel. And, in terms of Anglo-Israelism, this is critical to refuting that teaching.

In the fifteenth chapter of II Kings, we read that the King of Assyria invaded the Kingdom of Israel, and King Menahem scraped enough silver together to buy him off and cause him to withdraw (verses 19-20). Then, a few years later, the Assyrians returned during the reign of King Pekah, "and he captured the towns of Ijon, Abel-beth-maacah, Janoah, Kedesh, and Hazor. He also conquered the regions of Gilead, Galilee, and all of Naphtali, and he took the people to Assyria as captives." (verse 29). Now, this is an important point to note as this relates to Anglo-Israelism. According to Scripture, it was the custom of the Kings of Assyria to carry the native inhabitants of the lands which they conquered and transplant them to other regions within their empire. In the following chapter, we read that King Pekah of Israel and King Rezin of Aram made an alliance to invade the Kingdom of Judah and attacked Jerusalem together (16:1-6). As a consequence, King Ahaz of Judah appealed to the King of Assyria and paid him a handsome sum to rescue him and his kingdom from their enemies (verses 7-8). The Assyrians responded by invading Damascus and forcing the combined armies of Israel and Aram to withdraw (verse 9). This, of course, set the stage for the ultimate destruction of the Kingdom of Israel.

As the narrative continued in the next chapter, we have what is probably the most comprehensive summary of what happened to the Israelites - and the reasons for their failure and downfall. We read: "King Shalmaneser of Assyria attacked King Hoshea, so Hoshea was forced to pay heavy tribute to Assyria. But Hoshea stopped paying the annual tribute and conspired against the king of Assyria by asking King So of Egypt to help him shake free of Assyria’s power. When the king of Assyria discovered this treachery, he seized Hoshea and put him in prison. Then the king of Assyria invaded the entire land, and for three years he besieged the city of Samaria. Finally, in the ninth year of King Hoshea’s reign, Samaria fell, and the people of Israel were exiled to Assyria. They were settled in colonies in Halah, along the banks of the Habor River in Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes. This disaster came upon the people of Israel because they worshiped other gods. They sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them safely out of Egypt and had rescued them from the power of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. They had followed the practices of the pagan nations the Lord had driven from the land ahead of them, as well as the practices the kings of Israel had introduced. The people of Israel had also secretly done many things that were not pleasing to the Lord their God. They built pagan shrines for themselves in all their towns, from the smallest outpost to the largest walled city. They set up sacred pillars and Asherah poles at the top of every hill and under every green tree. They offered sacrifices on all the hilltops, just like the nations the Lord had driven from the land ahead of them. So the people of Israel had done many evil things, arousing the Lord’s anger. Yes, they worshiped idols, despite the Lord’s specific and repeated warnings. Again and again the Lord had sent his prophets and seers to warn both Israel and Judah: 'Turn from all your evil ways. Obey my commands and decrees—the entire law that I commanded your ancestors to obey, and that I gave you through my servants the prophets.' But the Israelites would not listen. They were as stubborn as their ancestors who had refused to believe in the Lord their God. They rejected his decrees and the covenant he had made with their ancestors, and they despised all his warnings. They worshiped worthless idols, so they became worthless themselves. They followed the example of the nations around them, disobeying the Lord’s command not to imitate them." (II Kings 17:3-15)

Now, while all of this is consistent with the narrative and thesis advanced by this series, Armstrong and his followers chose to focus on the fact that the Assyrians had carried the people of Israel away and settled them in other lands. This is where the notion arose that the ten tribes which constituted the northern Kingdom of Israel were "lost" to history. Is that, however, consistent with what Scripture reveals about what happened to these people? In this connection, we must also note that the Babylonians later did the same thing to many of the inhabitants of the southern Kingdom of Judah. In short, what happened to the children of Israel after these two kingdoms ceased to exist?

The fate of Israel was summarized again at the conclusion of this narrative: "For when the Lord tore Israel away from the kingdom of David, they chose Jeroboam son of Nebat as their king. But Jeroboam drew Israel away from following the Lord and made them commit a great sin. And the people of Israel persisted in all the evil ways of Jeroboam. They did not turn from these sins until the Lord finally swept them away from his presence, just as all his prophets had warned. So Israel was exiled from their land to Assyria, where they remain to this day." (Verses 21-23) Obviously, this account was written sometime after the fall of both kingdoms, sometime during or after the Babylonian captivity, and we are explicitly told that the people who had been carried away remained among the Assyrians at the time the account was written.

In addition to the obvious aspect of hindsight, recounting past events from the perspective of the present - these scriptural accounts also mention a number of historical sources which are no longer available to us (The Book of the Acts of Solomon, The Book of the History of the Kings of Israel, The Book of the History of the Kings of Judah, The Record of Nathan the Prophet, The Record of Iddo the Seer, The Record of Jehu the Son of Hanani, etc.). In other words, we know of a certainty that these scriptural accounts of the two kingdoms were written many years after the fact. In this connection, it is reasonable to conclude that the people of Israel who were carried away into captivity remained in the places where they were settled in Assyria for HUNDREDS of years!

Nevertheless, we should also note that Scripture reveals that NOT all of the Israelites were carried away to Assyria! How do we know this? King Hezekiah reigned over the Kingdom of Judah when the Kingdom of Israel finally fell to the Assyrians. Remember too, that some of the Israelites had already been carried away to Assyria many years before Hezekiah even came to the throne (II Kings 15:29). And, although we cannot be precise about the timing, it appears that the final Assyrian invasion of Israel was already underway when Hezekiah became king (compare II Kings 17:1-6 with 18:1). In the parallel account in the book of II Chronicles, we read in the twenty-ninth chapter that Hezekiah reopened the Temple and rededicated it soon after becoming king.

Then, in the thirtieth chapter of that book, we read: "King Hezekiah now sent word to all Israel and Judah, and he wrote letters of invitation to the people of Ephraim and Manasseh. He asked everyone to come to the Temple of the Lord at Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover of the Lord, the God of Israel. The king, his officials, and all the community of Jerusalem decided to celebrate Passover a month later than usual. They were unable to celebrate it at the prescribed time because not enough priests could be purified by then, and the people had not yet assembled at Jerusalem. This plan for keeping the Passover seemed right to the king and all the people. So they sent a proclamation throughout all Israel, from Beersheba in the south to Dan in the north, inviting everyone to come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover of the Lord, the God of Israel. The people had not been celebrating it in great numbers as required in the Law." (Verses 1-5) Hence, there were obviously still Israelites living in those lands - there wouldn't have been any reason to invite them to Jerusalem to keep the Passover if they were all living in Assyria at that time!

Indeed, a little later in the same account, we read that the king's "runners went from town to town throughout Ephraim and Manasseh and as far as the territory of Zebulun. But most of the people just laughed at the runners and made fun of them. However, some people from Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun humbled themselves and went to Jerusalem." (Verses 10-11) Continuing in this account of Hezekiah's remarkable Passover, we read that: "Since many of the people had not purified themselves, the Levites had to slaughter their Passover lamb for them, to set them apart for the Lord. Most of those who came from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun had not purified themselves. But King Hezekiah prayed for them, and they were allowed to eat the Passover meal anyway, even though this was contrary to the requirements of the Law. For Hezekiah said, 'May the Lord, who is good, pardon those who decide to follow the Lord, the God of their ancestors, even though they are not properly cleansed for the ceremony.'" (Verses 17-19) Clearly, then, there were Israelites attending this feast!

Moreover, after the king had finished the celebration of his glorious Passover, we read: "When the festival ended, the Israelites who attended went to all the towns of Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh, and they smashed all the sacred pillars, cut down the Asherah poles, and removed the pagan shrines and altars. After this, the Israelites returned to their own towns and homes." (31:1) Hezekiah, however, didn't stop there. In the same account, we read: "In addition, he required the people in Jerusalem to bring a portion of their goods to the priests and Levites, so they could devote themselves fully to the Law of the Lord. When the people of Israel heard these requirements, they responded generously by bringing the first share of their grain, new wine, olive oil, honey, and all the produce of their fields. They brought a large quantity—a tithe of all they produced. The people who had moved to Judah from Israel, and the people of Judah themselves, brought in the tithes of their cattle, sheep, and goats and a tithe of the things that had been dedicated to the Lord their God, and they piled them up in great heaps." (Verses 4-6) So, it is clear from these Scriptures, that even in the midst of the Assyrian invasion and deportation, a large number of Israelites continued to be loyal to the temple in Jerusalem, and at least some of them even moved to the kingdom of Judah!

Later still, we read that King Josiah of Judah celebrated an even more impressive Passover at Jerusalem. In the thirty-fifth chapter of the same book, we read: "The entire ceremony for the Lord’s Passover was completed that day. All the burnt offerings were sacrificed on the altar of the Lord, as King Josiah had commanded. All the Israelites present in Jerusalem celebrated Passover and the Festival of Unleavened Bread for seven days. Never since the time of the prophet Samuel had there been such a Passover. None of the kings of Israel had ever kept a Passover as Josiah did, involving all the priests and Levites, all the people of Jerusalem, and people from all over Judah and Israel. This Passover was celebrated in the eighteenth year of Josiah’s reign." (Verses 16-19) So, many years after the King of Assyria had ended the Kingdom of Israel and carried many of those people away to his own lands, we see large numbers of former subjects of the kings of Israel keeping this pilgrimage festival at Jerusalem!

Now, we have already mentioned the fact that the King of Babylon later invaded the Kingdom of Judah and carried many of its inhabitants into captivity - just as their Israelite brethren had been carried into captivity by the Assyrians many years before them. Nevertheless, we read that many of these folks were later allowed to return to their homeland under the reign of the Persians (see II Chronicles 36:22-23, Ezra, Nehemiah, etc.) Admittedly, many of these folks were probably former inhabitants of the Kingdom of Judah, but the language of these accounts suggests that at least part of them were descendants of the people of the Northern kingdom (Israel).

Also, any suggestion that either the Israelites who remained in their homeland, or who lived "in Halah, along the banks of the Habor River in Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes," later migrated en masse to any other location is purely speculative - and is NOT supported by ANY Scripture. Moreover, there are numerous references to the peoples of both Israel and Judah being scattered across the earth, NOT concentrated and existing in large communities anywhere (Jeremiah 30:11, 31:10, 50:17, Ezekiel 11:16-17, etc.) It is also very instructive that we read in the book of Amos: "'I, the Sovereign Lord, am watching this sinful nation of Israel. I will destroy it from the face of the earth. But I will never completely destroy the family of Israel,' says the Lord. 'For I will give the command and will shake Israel along with the other nations as grain is shaken in a sieve, yet not one true kernel will be lost.'" (9:8-9) Finally, if the identity of the other tribes had been completely wiped out and lost, then why do we read in the pages of the New Testament that the prophetess Anna belonged to the tribe of Asher? (Luke 2:36) Hence, from a strictly biblical perspective, the notion that ten tribes of Israel were lost is shown to be impossible!

And that last passage from the prophet Amos provides us with the perfect segue into the fact that Scripture teaches that ALL of the children of Israel would one day be redeemed from their fallen state. Indeed, the books of the major and minor prophets are literally FULL of predictions that God would redeem the children of Israel in the future. And, while we will certainly look at a FEW of those passages, we must first go back to the foundation of God's covenant with Israel in the Torah!

You will recall that we referenced the blessings and cursing found in the book of Deuteronomy, and how God promised to punish the Israelites if they didn't live up to the terms of the covenant which he had outlined for them in the Torah. We did not, however, examine the passage which followed that one - where God promised to redeem the children of Israel after their punishment had been completed. In other words, God knew that the Israelites would FAIL, and he made the necessary provisions to rescue them from that failure at the beginning - long before they had actually failed! We read there: "In the future, when you experience all these blessings and curses I have listed for you, and when you are living among the nations to which the Lord your God has exiled you, take to heart all these instructions. If at that time you and your children return to the Lord your God, and if you obey with all your heart and all your soul all the commands I have given you today, then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes. He will have mercy on you and gather you back from all the nations where he has scattered you. Even though you are banished to the ends of the earth, the Lord your God will gather you from there and bring you back again. The Lord your God will return you to the land that belonged to your ancestors, and you will possess that land again. Then he will make you even more prosperous and numerous than your ancestors!" (Verses 1-5)

As we have already suggested, this promise of rehabilitation and restoration was echoed in the writings of the prophets. In the book of Isaiah, we read: "But as for you, Israel my servant, Jacob my chosen one, descended from Abraham my friend, I have called you back from the ends of the earth, saying, ‘You are my servant.’ For I have chosen you and will not throw you away. Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand." (41:8-10) Continuing, Isaiah proclaimed God's message to the children of Israel: "Though you are a lowly worm, O Jacob, don’t be afraid, people of Israel, for I will help you. I am the Lord, your Redeemer. I am the Holy One of Israel.’" (Verse 14) Hence, we see that Isaiah assured the Israelites that God would NOT abandon them to their fallen state.

Likewise, the prophet Jeremiah conveyed God's promise of future redemption for the people of Israel. Indeed, in that book, we read that the people of Judah wouldn't have to remain in captivity for very long. Jeremiah wrote: "This is what the Lord says: 'You will be in Babylon for seventy years. But then I will come and do for you all the good things I have promised, and I will bring you home again. For I know the plans I have for you,' says the Lord. 'They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,' says the Lord. 'I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.'” (29:10-14) Even so, the prophet also predicted a time when the children of Israel's fortunes would be fully restored. Jeremiah wrote: "The Lord gave another message to Jeremiah. He said, 'This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: Write down for the record everything I have said to you, Jeremiah. For the time is coming when I will restore the fortunes of my people of Israel and Judah. I will bring them home to this land that I gave to their ancestors, and they will possess it again. I, the Lord, have spoken!'" (30:1-3)

Now, isn't that interesting? In almost the same breath that these prophets were warning the people of Israel about the consequences of their many sins, they are predicting their eventual redemption and restoration! In the book of Ezekiel, we read: "Therefore, tell the exiles, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Although I have scattered you in the countries of the world, I will be a sanctuary to you during your time in exile. I, the Sovereign Lord, will gather you back from the nations where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel once again. When the people return to their homeland, they will remove every trace of their vile images and detestable idols. And I will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them. I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart, so they will obey my decrees and regulations. Then they will truly be my people, and I will be their God." (11:16-20)

And, in the thirty-sixth chapter of that same book, we read: "Therefore, give the people of Israel this message from the Sovereign Lord: 'I am bringing you back, but not because you deserve it. I am doing it to protect my holy name, on which you brought shame while you were scattered among the nations. I will show how holy my great name is—the name on which you brought shame among the nations. And when I reveal my holiness through you before their very eyes, says the Sovereign Lord, then the nations will know that I am the Lord. For I will gather you up from all the nations and bring you home again to your land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.'" (Verses 22-27)

Likewise, in the book of Zephaniah, we read: "Sing, O daughter of Zion; shout aloud, O Israel! Be glad and rejoice with all your heart, O daughter of Jerusalem! For the Lord will remove his hand of judgment and will disperse the armies of your enemy. And the Lord himself, the King of Israel, will live among you! At last your troubles will be over, and you will never again fear disaster...On that day I will gather you together and bring you home again. I will give you a good name, a name of distinction, among all the nations of the earth, as I restore your fortunes before their very eyes. I, the Lord, have spoken!” (3:14-20) Growing weary again? That is only a FRACTION of the prophecies related to the redemption and restoration of the children of Israel! Even so, it is enough to conclusively demonstrate that that is exactly what your Bible has to say on this subject!

Now, in Part VI of this series, we will examine the pivotal role which Jesus Christ has played/will play in the fulfillment of God's promises to the patriarchs, David, and the children of Israel. In that final section, we will see how everything that we have already explored culminates in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. We will see that he really was the fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets. Unfortunately, many of the advocates of Anglo-Israelism have so materialized these promises and prophecies that they have unintentionally relegated Christ to a secondary or peripheral role in a story in which HE is the central character! We must NEVER forget that the only Scriptures that the Christian Church had access to for the first fifty to one hundred years of its existence was the Hebrew Bible - what we now refer to as the Old Testament. Hence, the apostles and early Christians preached Christ out of those scriptures. How did they do that? By interpreting EVERYTHING in them through the lens of Jesus Christ. Thus, for Christians, the Bible isn't about Israel - it is ALL about Jesus of Nazareth, and the salvation for both Gentiles and Israelites which is available through HIM! Stay tuned!


  1. These have been very well put toge.ther so far Lonnie. I appreciate the level of effort. I may be skeptical of it effectiveness, given the target audience's denial of logic as being only 'human reason' and therefore satanic at least in many senses, when it contradicts tradition. Still a good body of work though. I would like to see it edited together when it's complete, I might enjoy leaving copies of it in specific places.

    1. Thank you, Seth, for taking the time to review this series and share some feedback. As always, I will be happy if this causes just one person to reconsider their stance on this teaching! I know that many of the folks in ACOG culture are immune to "human reasoning" and logic, but I hope that they will be susceptible to what Scripture has to say on the subject.

  2. In the interest of full transparency, I would like to draw my readers attention to a change in the text of this part of the series. One of the private commentators on this section of my series noted that there was some legitimate ambiguity surrounding the timing of King Hezekiah's Passover. As a consequence, I have modified the passages which pertain to that event to better reflect that reality.

  3. It is interesting that Jesus said, "... I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel." Yet, he never left Palestine. And the BI fans use the "lost sheep" locution to refer to the exiled northern ten tribes.

    Moving on to Part VI.

    1. YES! Christ's ministry was focused on the land and people of Israel. In this connection, it is also interesting to note that the ministry of his original apostles was initially focused on the same territory and folks. In the tenth chapter of Matthew, we read: "5 Jesus sent out the twelve apostles with these instructions: 'Don’t go to the Gentiles or the Samaritans, 6 but only to the people of Israel—God’s lost sheep. 7 Go and announce to them that the Kingdom of Heaven is near.'" In other words, they weren't wandering around Europe or visiting Great Britain!