The Identity of Israel
One of the most common incorrect assumptions among Christians today is that the Jews are Israel.
The original Israelite was Jacob, who was the first to receive the name Israel in Gen. 32:28. His grandfather, Abraham, had been a Hebrew, being descended from Heber, but Abraham was not an Israelite. Isaac, too, was a Hebrew, but not an Israelite, for it is self-evident that Isaac was not descended from his own son.
Jacob’s sons were Israelites in the sense that they were sons of the man named Israel. But Israel was also a title, a name that was meant to convey the idea that Jacob had attained to a certain level of faith by which he was given this name as a testimony. In this greater sense, the only way one can be an Israelite is to have the same testimony that Jacob did.
Jacob passed the Birthright down to the sons of Joseph (1 Chron. 5:1, 2) and with this went the Birthright name, Israel. This was given to Ephraim and Manasseh in Gen. 48:16,
16 The angel who has redeemed me from all evil [Gen. 32:28] bless the lads; and may my name [Israel] live on in them …
As long as all the tribes were united, they could all share the name Israel with Ephraim and Manasseh. However, after Solomon died, the kingdom split in two. The tribes of Joseph separated from Judah and Benjamin and formed their own kingdom. Because the name Israel rightfully belonged to the sons of Joseph, it was the northern kingdom that retained the name of Israel. The southern kingdom chose the name Judah, as it was the tribe of the king.
From that point in history, the term Israel took on a restricted meaning, for it now was used to distinguish the nation from Judah. The prophets then speak of them as two different nations having two different callings. The kingdom of Israel possessed the Birthright (1 Chron. 5:2), because the tribes of Joseph (Ephraim and Manasseh) were located in the northern kingdom. The southern kingdom of Judah received the Scepter (Gen. 49:10).
Israel Deported to Assyria
After 210 years of separation, the kingdom of Israel was conquered and deported by the Assyrians. 2 Kings 17:18 says,
18 So the Lord was very angry with Israel and removed them from His sight; none was left except the tribe of Judah.
These exiles were the so-called “lost tribes” or lost sheep of the house of Israel (Ezekiel 37). In being lost and presumed dead, they were following the prophetic pattern of the father Joseph, who too was “lost” and presumed dead for many years. Even so, the first-century Judeans were well aware of the continued existence of the Israelites in the land of their captivity. We are told by Josephus in his Antiquities of the Jews, XI, v, 2,
“Wherefore there are but two tribes in Asia and Europe subject to the Romans; while the ten tribes are beyond Euphrates till now, and are an immense multitude, and not to be estimated by numbers.”
Though the old Assyrian empire had long passed, many of these Israelites still remained on the other side of the Euphrates River near the Caspian Sea in the nation of Parthia. They were not Jews, nor did they profess any form of Judaism, having long since adopted the religious practices of the host nations. Over time, many had also immigrated west into the northern provinces of Asia (now Turkey) and had become subject to the Romans. Peter wrote to them in his first epistle, saying,
1 Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to those who reside as aliens of the dispersion throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen 2 according to the foreknowledge of God the Father …
Later, in 1 Peter 2:9 and 10 he says to them,
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.; 10 for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
Peter was referring to the prophecy of Hosea, who had been sent to the House of Israel and who prophesied both of their destruction and their reconciliation. Hosea had been instructed to marry a prostitute as a sign of God’s marriage to Israel and her spiritual adultery with false gods. His wife’s name was Gomer, or Ghomri, which was also the official name for Israel in the Assyrian records. (See the Black Obelisk of Shalmanezer.)
They had some children who were named prophetically. Jezreel means “God scatters, or God sows.” Lo-ruhamah means “no mercy.” Lo-ammi means “not my people.”
Hosea relates all of these statements to the house of Israel in chapter one, but later in chapter two he prophesies of a reversal.
22... and they will respond to Jezreel. 23 And I will sow her for Myself in the land. I will also have compassion [or mercy] on her who had not obtained compassion, and I will say to those who were not My people, “You are My people!” And they will say, “Thou art My God.”
The prophecy of Jezreel indicates that when God scattered Israel, He was also sowing them in the earth. One must scatter the seed in order to sow it in the field. God’s underlying intent in scattering the seed of Israel was to bring forth a greater harvest to come. This is the theme that Jesus used often in His parables of the Kingdom. Peter follows through on this by writing to some of the ex-Israelites of the dispersion, telling them that they had been reinstated as the people of God through Christ.
The regathering of the Israelites is not about immigrating back to the old land. It is about immigrating from the Old Covenant to the New. A “Hebrew” is literally an immigrant, for that is the meaning of the word. The book of Hebrews is not the book of Israelites or the book of Jews. The title was chosen carefully in order to give the people an immigration map, showing them the way to the true Promised Land and how to inherit the promises of God through Christ.
The prophets consistently prophesied that Israel would be regathered once again. The prophecies are of comfort, not of disaster; of rebuilding, not destruction; of salvation, not loss. Yet the prophets were not speaking directly of Judah, but of Israel.
Even James himself wrote his epistle “to the twelve tribes in the dispersion” (James 1:1). Both Peter and James use the Greek term, diaspora, “the dispersion, the scattered ones.” It is a reference to Jezreel, the son of Hosea, whose name means “God scatters.” These were the scattered ones, whom God had sown in the earth in order to obtain a much greater harvest and fulfill the promise of the Birthright—that their seed would be as the sands of the sea and the stars of heaven.
The fulfillment can only come through Christ, at least in the ultimate sense. It is apparent from the 2,520-year tribulation time cycle that America is a picture of the regathered house of Israel on an earthly level. However, if we desire to fulfill the underlying prophecy of the name Israel in its original meaning to Jacob, we must become overcomers in Christ.
Israel Lost because of Name Changes
We must recognize that when God scattered Israel, He stripped them of the Birthright name, and they were called by other names such as Ghomri (i.e, Gomer). No longer would God allow them to be called Israelites, because their idolatry did not bear witness to the meaning of the name Israel.
It is important to note that the surrounding nations did not call Israel by the name Israel. Merrill Unger’s book, Archeology and the Old Testament confirms this on page 243,
“... The initial contact between Israel and Assyria evidently occurred during Omri’s day, for from that time on Israel appears in cuneiform records as Bit-Humri (‘House of Omri’). This official appellation was applied to Samaria, the capital city. Moreover, the designation of an Israelite King became Mar Humri (‘son,’ i.e., ‘royal successor of Omri’). Tiglath Pileser III’s reference to the land of Israel over a century later by its official name Bit Humria evidences the significance of Omri as a ruler in the history of Israel.”
The name Humri or Bit Humria means “House of Omri.” This was originally pronounced as Ghomri or Gimirra. This is shown by Theophilus G. Pinches in his 1902 book, The Old Testament in Light of the Historical Records and Legends of Assyria and Babylonia. Pinches says,
“It is noteworthy that the Assyrian form of the name Yaua (‘Jehu’) shows that the unpronounced aleph at the end was at that time sounded, so that the Hebrews must have called him Yahua (‘Hehua’). Omri was likewise pronounced in accordance with the older system, before the ghain became ayin. Humri shows that they said at the time Ghomri.”
So the name Ghomri (Gomer) derives from King Omri of Israel, a powerful but ungodly king mentioned in 1 Kings 16:23,
23 In the thirty-first year of Asa king of Judah, Omri became king over Israel, and reigned twelve years …
The Dispensationalist teachers ignorantly stated that Gomer, Ghomri, Humria, and Gimirra derived from Gomer the son of Japheth who is mentioned in Gen. 10:3,
3 The sons of Japheth were Gomer and Magog and Madai and Javan and Tubal and Meshech and Tiras.
Dr. Bullinger’s note on Gen. 10:3 reads this way:
Gomer: In Assyrian, Gimirra (the Kimmerians of Herodotus). Progenitor of the Celts.
Bullinger confused Japheth’s son, Gomer, with Hosea’s wife, who was a prophetic type of the nation of Israel. If Bullinger had written this note to explain Hosea 1:3 instead of Gen. 10:3, he would have been accurate, because Hosea’s wife, Gomer (or Ghomri) had a name that was virtually identical with the official name for the House of Israel, as seen on the Assyrian records.
The fact is that the Celts and many others in Europe originated in the old land of Assyria, migrating into Europe after Assyria fell to the Babylonians in 607 B.C. These Israelites were known to the Assyrians by the name Gimirra.
The historians prove by all of the ancient records that the name derives instead from King Omri (Ghomri) of Israel. This is witnessed also by The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia (1970 edition), page 1471,
“According to the Moabite Stone, he [Omri] subdued Moab. The Assyrians called the kingdom of Israel by his name for the rest of its existence.”
The Gimirri-Israelites were called Saka and Sakka in other languages, but they were the same people. We see this on the tomb of Darius of Persia, located at Behistun. The inscription there shows all of the different nations and peoples that Darius had ruled in his kingdom, including the Gimirri. This inscription is recorded in three languages. The Wikipedia tells us about this Behistun inscription as follows:
“The inscription includes three versions of the same text, written in three different cuneiform script languages: Old Persia, Elamite, and Babylonian.”
In the Old Persian language they are Saka (usually spelled Scythians, Skuths, or Scots). In the Elamite they are Sakka. In the Babylonian they are Gimirri. Hence, the Gimirri are also the Saka. The Greek historian, Herodotus, refers to the Saka as Sacae, while the Latin historians spell the name Saxons.
These are all virtually the same people, descended from the biblical Israelites, and it explains why Europe was populated by immigrants from the same area where the Israelites had been taken captive by Assyria. In fact, so many immigrated through the Caucasus Mountains (located between the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea) that historians came to call them Caucasians.
In other words, the graveyard of Israel in Assyria became the wellspring of Europe as the Israelites immigrated into Europe under new names given to them by other nations.
The Advantage of Judah and Israel
Some of these Israelite captives, as I wrote earlier, immigrated into the northern provinces of Asia Minor. Being more accessible to the first-century Christians, both Peter and James wrote letters to the Christians among them. The Gospel was preached to them, and in time they became known as the “Christian Nations” of the West. God saw to it that the Gospel went to them before the rest of the world, because that is the primary advantage of being of Judah and Israel. Paul says in Rom. 3:1,
1 Then what advantage has the Jew? Or what is the benefit of circumcision? 2 Great in every respect. First of all, they were entrusted with the oracles of God.
The advantage of the Judean (“Jew”) was that they were “chosen” and entrusted with the word of God. No other nation could claim such a distinction. What a tremendous advantage this was over the other nations! But this did not mean that they could use this “chosen” status as a free pass to salvation. In fact, their advantage made them more accountable to God, and so by violating the Covenant, they were judged with greater severity.
The advantage of the Judean (“Jew”) was also the advantage of the Israelites—even in dispersion. They were second in line to receive the word. And so the Gospel went from Jerusalem and Judea into Samaria and then into the Greek-speaking world. This included the northern provinces of Asia, where many of the Israelites had settled. Over the centuries God saw to it that the lost tribes of Israel received the gospel of Christ first. Most of the rest of the world had to wait for about eighteen centuries before the Christian missionaries brought them the gospel.
This lengthy delay was largely because the Church focused primarily upon the “barbarian” (Scythian) tribes in Europe. Their methods of conversion became more and more carnal and political as well after the third century. By the time Christianity became consolidated in the West, it had long ago lost the simplicity of the gospel and Christian love. So when it finally turned to look at other nations, it viewed them more as religious rivals and political enemies than as people who needed to know the love of Christ.
Over the centuries these Israelites (or, more properly, these ex-Israelites of the dispersion) were part of the largest migration of people in the history of the world. They moved from Assyria into Europe and eventually to the Americas, Australia, New Zealand, and many other parts of the world. Though “Christian” in name, they often had little understanding of the character of Christ and knew more liturgy than Scripture. And so they often mistreated terribly the people native to those foreign lands. Offering freedom from sin, they enslaved them anew to the Church hierarchy.
What if the Jews are not Israel?
The point of this present discussion, however, is to show first that the Jews are not the Israelites. Second, the regathering of Israel, if viewed from a racial or genealogical perspective, is NOT the Zionist state of “Israel.”
One of the basic foundations of modern Dispensationalism is the idea that the Jews are the Israelites, and this has given rise to Christian Zionism. The usual assertion is that the Jews are chosen because of their racial heritage. Then, by calling them “Israel,” they compound the error by giving the Birthright of Joseph to the Jewish people. These basic assumptions are wrong, and this means that its entire theological structure is built upon sand.
Daniel’s 70th week, as they expound upon it, is said to be tied firmly to the Israeli state, assumed to be the regathering of Israel. Because they have also made this a purely racial matter, they have made Jews “chosen” without the need to accept Jesus Christ. They are allowed to continue in the Old Covenant as if it were still a valid covenant and not, as Hebrews 8:13 says, “obsolete.”
A Gentile Church?
Christian Zionism presupposes a “Gentile Church.” But what if the vast majority of Christians for the first 19 centuries of the Church were actually genealogical Israelites in exile? This would make Dispensationalism the laughingstock of the theological world, for if genealogy were the requirement for being “chosen,” then the vast majority of the Church since the first century would already be the “chosen people.”
The European Church was genealogically descended from Israel, but having been divorced from God, they no longer had the right to be called by that name. To regain Israelite status, they were required to repent and undergo a spiritual transformation by faith in Jesus Christ. This was to be done in two phases. In the first phase, the people were to accept Jesus Christ and have faith in His first earthly mission as the Lamb of God sacrificed for the sin of the world. This allows them to join the tribe of Judah.
I have already shown in chapter four that the Church is the continuation of the tribe of Judah. The Judeans who followed the rightful Heir to the throne of David (Jesus) were the only tribal members who remained in Judah. Those who revolted against the King were cut off from among their people. The “good figs” (Jer. 24) remained in Judah, while the “evil figs” were cut off.
This is why Paul said in Rom. 2:28, 29 that the true “Jews” (i.e., Judeans, or members of the tribe) were those who had accepted the New Covenant along with its “sign,” circumcision of the heart. Conversely, those who remained in the Old Covenant with its “sign” of physical circumcision were NOT Jews.
The Church, then, was Judah. It did not replace Judah. It was Judah from the start. To this nation was grafted branches from many other nations, but it was still a fig tree having as its root the offspring of David (Rev. 5:5). Being part of the Church is not a matter of racial genealogy, but of national citizenship. Citizenship comes by faith, followed by the formal ceremony known as baptism, by which men die to old nationalities and live to the new.
To believe in Christ and accept His Sacrifice for sin and His right to the throne of David is to be given citizenship in the tribe of Judah that is ruled by Jesus Christ. It is not a genealogical matter but rather a matter of lawful citizenship in the tribe of Judah.
In phase two, becoming an Israelite requires accepting Christ in His second earthly mission, when He comes as Joseph the Israelite. Jesus must come twice in order to unite the Scepter of Judah with the Birthright of Joseph. In His second coming He is “clothed with a robe dipped in blood” (Rev. 19:13). This identifies Him as Joseph (Gen. 37:31). For a full study on this topic, see my book, The Laws of the Second Coming.
To become an Israelite is to become an overcomer. This goes beyond simple justification by faith. Whereas believers are citizens of the Kingdom, the overcomers are rulers in the Kingdom. Just as faith is not based on one’s genealogy, neither is genealogy required to become an overcomer. It is a matter of character and becoming like-minded with Christ, not the ability to trace one’s genealogy to a particular man or tribe.
In the sight of God, the Church in general is Judah, while the overcomers are of Israel. Neither group is “gentile” in the usual sense of the word. People cannot claim genealogy in the tribe of Judah to lay claim to citizenship in the Kingdom. Neither can one claim genealogy in Israel as the basis of rulership. Both categories are now based upon relationship with Jesus Christ alone.
If a racial Jew wishes to regain citizenship in the kingdom, then let him place his faith in Jesus Christ. If a racial ex-Israelite of the dispersion wishes to come out of captivity and regain citizenship in the Kingdom of God, let him too place his faith in Jesus Christ. We all must go through the same door, for, as Paul tells us, “there is no distinction” (Rom. 3:22).
If anyone desires to rule in the Kingdom of God, then let him increase his faith, going beyond justifying faith, and come into full agreement with Christ and His plan for the earth. (See my book, How to be an Overcomer.)
The Dividing Wall
Dispensationalists and Christian Zionists have rebuilt the dividing wall that separated Jews from “gentiles.” The old temple in Jerusalem had a wall in the outer court that divided Jewish men from the women and non-Jews. God never instructed Moses to build such a partition in his tabernacle, nor did God instruct David or Solomon to build such a wall in the temple.
It was a tradition of men, which made void the law of God. Jesus came to demolish this dividing wall and to make both groups into one single unit. Paul speaks of this in Eph. 2:14-22.
14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall 15 … that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace … 18 for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and are of God’s household.
Paul describes the True Temple of God, which is built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Jesus Christ being the chief corner stone. As believers, we are being built into “one new man” in Christ, with the old barriers of traditional Judaism being abolished. The purpose of this dividing wall was to make one group “chosen” above the others. It allowed Jewish men to get close to God, but kept women and non-Jews farther away, as if to say that they would pollute God by getting to close to Him.
Christian Zionism supports the rebuilding of the old temple in the old Jerusalem. With this temple—should God allow such a building to be completed—a dividing wall would be rebuilt as well. Jews would be given a special place above everyone else, and a wall would keep non-Jews (and Christians) at a distance from their Jewish Messiah. No longer would there be “one new man,” but two—one inferior to the other and certainly less loved and less privileged. This is the Dispensationalist belief of the conditions of the Kingdom of God in the Age to come.
It is as if Jesus abolished this dividing wall only temporarily during a so-called “Church Age,” only to have it rebuilt in the so-called “Jewish Age” to come. We are supposed to believe that the “one new man” idea is a luxury of the present age that will end with the re-establishment of Jewish traditions of men in a physical temple in Jerusalem, complete with Levites and animal sacrifices, all functioning under a revived Old Covenant.
I have a serious disagreement with this, based upon the book of Hebrews, and so this is the purpose of the present study.