Wednesday, September 18, 2019

The 12 Tribes and the Remnant

The 12 Tribes and the Remnant


Introduction


British Israelism, the Hebrew Roots Movement, and Commonwealth Theology all teach that when the Northern Kingdom 10 tribes of Israel were taken to captivity in Assyria, they were completely absorbed into the surrounding Gentile nations. As a result, they completely lost their identity through assimilation into those nations, and the myth was born in which the 10 tribes of the Northern Kingdom became the "lost tribes". When it is pointed out that some did return, those supporting that myth go on to say that their return from captivity was in such small numbers that they too eventually disappeared.

As we will see, the Northern Kingdom 10 tribes were not lost forever, for God has always kept a Remnant for Himself.

A Temporary Kingdom Division


In 1Kings 11 we read the reason for, and the means by which the Kingdom of Israel was divided into the two kingdoms.

  • 1Ki 11:9-11 The LORD became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. (10) Although he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the LORD's command. (11) So the LORD said to Solomon, "Since this is your attitude and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates.

  • 1Ki 11:31-35 Then he said to Jeroboam, "Take ten pieces for yourself, for this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: 'See, I am going to tear the kingdom out of Solomon's hand and give you ten tribes. (32) But for the sake of my servant David and the city of Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, he will have one tribe. (33) I will do this because they have forsaken me and worshiped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Molek the god of the Ammonites, and have not walked in obedience to me, nor done what is right in my eyes, nor kept my decrees and laws as David, Solomon's father, did. (34) "'But I will not take the whole kingdom out of Solomon's hand; I have made him ruler all the days of his life for the sake of David my servant, whom I chose and who obeyed my commands and decrees. (35) I will take the kingdom from his son's hands and give you ten tribes.

The Division Not Forever


The state of the divided kingdom however, would not last forever. At some point, the Northern Kingdom would be restored.

  • 1Ki 11:39 - I will humble David's descendants because of this, but not forever.'"

Ezekiel speaks of the rejoining of the two kingdoms.

  • Eze 37:20-22 Hold before their eyes the sticks you have written on (21) and say to them, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land. (22) I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms.

The rejoining of the two sticks speaks of the Millennium fulfillment, and is presently being brought to pass. Israel today is returning to the land, and there is little concern with tribal identities.

The Return of the Exiles


Isaiah is very clear regarding the results of the captivity. The Northern Kingdom is referred to as two entities, the first being "the sand of the sea", and the second being "the Remnant".

  • Isa 10:21-22 A remnant will return, a remnant of Jacob will return to the Mighty God. (22) Though your people be like the sand by the sea, Israel, only a remnant will return. Destruction has been decreed, overwhelming and righteous.

The Israelites that did not survive the exile, that were absorbed into the nations were unbelieving Israel, the "sand of the sea". Those are the ones that went into the nations and were assimilated, and supposedly make up the "lost tribes". A Remnant, however, would return to Jerusalem and continue on, and in sufficient numbers to repopulate all 12 tribes, as we shall see.

All Israel Returns


In the return of the Remnant from exile under Zerubbabel, Judah, Levi, and “all Israel” are mentioned. This includes:

Arah from the tribe of Asher (Ezra 2:5 cf. 1Ch 7:39),
Bani from the tribe of Gad (Ezra 2:10 cf. Neh 7:15);
Bethlehem from the tribe of Zebulun (Ezra 2:26 cf. Jos 19:15-16),
Ramah from the tribe of Naphtali (Ezra 2:26 cf. Jos 19:32-39),
Men from Bethel and Ai, towns of the Northern Kingdom (Ezra 2:28),
Nebo from the tribe of Reuben (Ezra 2:29 cf. 1Ch 5:1-8).

2Chronicles fills in the gaps. There were those from EVERY TRIBE who set their hearts on seeking the Lord and followed the Levites to Jerusalem.

  • 2Ch 11:16 Those from every tribe of Israel who set their hearts on seeking the LORD, the God of Israel, followed the Levites to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices to the LORD, the God of their ancestors.

  • 2Ch 15:9-10 Then he assembled all Judah and Benjamin and the people from Ephraim, Manasseh and Simeon who had settled among them, for large numbers had come over to him from Israel when they saw that the LORD his God was with him. (10) They assembled at Jerusalem in the third month of the fifteenth year of Asa's reign.

    2Ch 11:12-16 - "Those from every tribe of Israel"

    2Ch 15:9 - "Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, Manasseh, Simeon"

    2Ch 30:11 - "Asher, Manasseh, Zebulun"

    2Ch 30:18 - "Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, Zebulun"

    2Ch 31:1 - "Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, Manasseh"

In the above 2 lists, 11 of the tribes are mentioned by name after the return from the exile. Asher, Gad, Zebulun, Manasseh, Ephraim, Simeon, Issachar, Reuben, Naphtali, Judah, and Benjamin. Only Dan is not mentioned.

When the Northern Kingdom was taken into captivity, not all of them were taken. Some members of the northern 10 tribes were left behind in the land when the Northern Kingdom was taken into captivity. These would have remained in the land and reproduced.

  • 2Ki 25:12 But the commander left behind some of the poorest people of the land to work the vineyards and fields.

Daniel recognized members of the Northern Kingdom, all Israel, both near and far.

  • Dan 9:7 "Lord, you are righteous, but this day we are covered with shame--the people of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, both near and far, in all the countries where you have scattered us because of our unfaithfulness to you.

References to the 12 Tribes Post Exile


Each tribe was responsible for supplying their own sacrificial goat for the sin offering. All 12 tribes would have needed to be present for there to have been "12 male goats".

  • Ezra 8:35 Then the exiles who had returned from captivity sacrificed burnt offerings to the God of Israel: twelve bulls for all Israel, ninety-six rams, seventy-seven male lambs and, as a sin offering, twelve male goats. All this was a burnt offering to the LORD.

Zechariah referred to Israel separately from Judah, indicating that the Northern Kingdom tribes are not lost at all.

  • Zec 1:19 I asked the angel who was speaking to me, "What are these?" He answered me, "These are the horns that scattered Judah, Israel and Jerusalem."

  • Zec 1:1 8:13 Just as you, Judah and Israel, have been a curse among the nations, so I will save you, and you will be a blessing. Do not be afraid, but let your hands be strong."

  • Zec 10:6 "I will strengthen Judah and save the tribes of Joseph. I will restore them because I have compassion on them. They will be as though I had not rejected them, for I am the LORD their God and I will answer them.

The Time of Jesus


Jesus refers to the 12 tribes:

  • Mat 19:28 Jesus said to them, "Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

  • Luk 22:29-30 And I confer on you a kingdom, just as my Father conferred one on me, (30) so that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.

James refers to the 12 tribes:

  • Jas 1:1 James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes scattered among the nations: Greetings.

Paul refers to the 12 tribes:

  • Act 26:7 This is the promise our twelve tribes are hoping to see fulfilled as they earnestly serve God day and night. King Agrippa, it is because of this hope that these Jews are accusing me.

In the Future


In the Revelation, the tribes are again listed by name during the Time of Jacob's Trouble, which is still future to us:

  • Rev 7:4-8 Then I heard the number of those who were sealed: 144,000 from all the tribes of Israel. Vs 5-8:
    From the tribe of Judah 12,000 were sealed,
    from the tribe of Reuben 12,000,
    from the tribe of Gad 12,000,
    from the tribe of Asher 12,000,
    from the tribe of Naphtali 12,000,
    from the tribe of Manasseh 12,000,
    from the tribe of Simeon 12,000,
    from the tribe of Levi 12,000,
    from the tribe of Issachar 12,000,
    from the tribe of Zebulun 12,000,
    from the tribe of Joseph 12,000,
    from the tribe of Benjamin 12,000.

Ezekiel mentions 12 tribes who are still in existence at the time of the division of the land in the Millennium:


  • Eze 47:21 "You are to distribute this land among yourselves according to the tribes of Israel.

  • Eze 48:1-7 "These are the tribes, listed by name: At the northern frontier,
    Dan will have one portion; it will follow the Hethlon road to Lebo Hamath; Hazar Enan and the northern border of Damascus next to Hamath will be part of its border from the east side to the west side.
    (2) "Asher will have one portion; it will border the territory of Dan from east to west.
    (3) "Naphtali will have one portion; it will border the territory of Asher from east to west.
    (4) "Manasseh will have one portion; it will border the territory of Naphtali from east to west.
    (5) "Ephraim will have one portion; it will border the territory of Manasseh from east to west.
    (6) "Reuben will have one portion; it will border the territory of Ephraim from east to west.
    (7) "Judah will have one portion; it will border the territory of Reuben from east to west.

The 12 tribes have a continuous presence all through the timeline of Scripture in the Remnant. Scripture is explicit about this.

Conclusion


Reviewing the passage from Isaiah once again:

  • Isa 10:21-22 A remnant will return, a remnant of Jacob will return to the Mighty God. (22) Though your people be like the sand by the sea, Israel, only a remnant will return. Destruction has been decreed, overwhelming and righteous.

It was Israel, the "sand of the sea" that was absorbed into the nations and assimilated, not Israel "the remnant".

Israel today consists of descendants from all 12 tribes. They existed as the Remnant in post exilic times and clearly maintained an awareness of which tribes the were from.

Even at the time of Jesus many still had awareness of which tribe they were descended from. Paul knew he was from the tribe of Benjamin, Anna knew she was from the tribe of Asher (Luk_2:36), and obviously the Levite’s would have known their tribe. Jesus, James, and Paul made explicit references to the 12 tribes.

Although it is likely today that many Jews are unaware of their tribal genealogy. The fact of the matter is we are all told not to concern ourselves with such matters in Tit_3:9. Nevertheless, there is no reason not to take a literal view of the future restoration of the 12 tribes as the prophecies name them explicitly in the 144,000 as well as the division of the land in the Millennial Kingdom.



References

https://scripturethoughts.wordpress.com/2012/08/31/the-ten-lost-tribes-myth-david-barons-classic-work/

https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_History_of_the_Ten_%22Lost%22_Tribes

http://www.spiritandtruth.org/teaching/Book_of_Revelation/commentary/htm/topics/ten_tribes.html

https://hebrew4christians.com/Articles/Two_House/two_house.html

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