Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Lost Tribes?

 Is there any literary evidence that the Jews of Jesus' day lived with a sense that they were an incomplete nation? that ten tribes were still missing? that only two or three tribes had ever returned to the land? that God's promise to restore them all to their land hadn't happened yet? 

Paul didn't seem to have that feeling. He said all twelve tribes were serving God. 

Elsewhere in the New Testament, in the Gospels, a number of other tribes are mentioned, in the land. (Not only the tribes of Judah, Levi and Benjamin).

It doesn't seem it was an issue to New Testament era Jews: I'm not aware of anything that indicates they didn't feel God's promise to restore Israel to their land had already been fulfilled. 

The northern tribes (of Israel) were taken captive by Assyria before Judah was taken captive by Babylon. But during that time Babylon gained independence from Assyria, and then annexed Assyria's territory, including the Israelis there, under its own rule. 

So by the time the Jews returned from captivity, all Jews including the northern tribes would have been under the same captivity. (The Book of Esther mentions the Jews' presence across 127 provinces spanning from Ethiopia to India. It wasn't limited to Babylon.) These are the Jews who returned to the land: there is therefore no reason to think it was only the tribes of Judah, Levi and Benjamin who returned, is there?

Most of the modernday Jews who have returned in recent centuries to the land were from the diaspora which occurred in AD70 and afterwards, not from the earlier captivities. (In many countries today, Jews can't trace their presence there back further than AD600 or 700). The return (Aliyah) we've seen from this later dispersion wasn't therefore the subject of Bible Prophecies about Israel returning, is it? 

We know it wasn't the subject of Bible Prophecies, because the Bible Prophecies described Israel being restored not only to their land but also to Levitical-style worship, complete with a Temple, altar and sacrifices. That's not relevant now that God has already made the new covenant with Israel. It happened back in Old Covenant times. 

And in that setting, Messiah was to come. And He did come: Jesus!

This is important because it makes Jesus our focus, not Judaism - even with regard to modern Israelis. 

And it takes nothing away from the modern State of Israel - it's not antisemitic - because since God has already fulfilled His promises, and never revoked them, we can be confident He's still willing to act in accordance with His promise - if the conditions are met.

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