Joseph's Sons Named "Israel"
When Jacob-Israel was ready to die at the age of 147, he first blessed the sons of Joseph and gave them the Fruitfulness Mandate, which by this time was called the birthright. Jacob prayed over Ephraim and Manasseh in Genesis 48:16, saying,
16 The angel who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and may my name live on in them, and the names of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and may they grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.
Jacob was referring to the angel that he had wrestled earlier, the angel who had given him the name of Israel. He blessed his grandsons by making them the custodians of the birthright name, Israel. The blessing was specifically that of the Fruitfulness Mandate, for he said they would “grow into a multitude.”
Let us also point out that Joseph’s sons were not legally entitled to the name Israel until that name was given to them in the blessing. Natural sons are Jacobites; an Israelite is an inheritor of the birthright.
The Birthright Given to Joseph
Reuben was the oldest son of Jacob. His name means “Behold, a son!” He would have received the birthright, except that he was disqualified by sin. And so the birthright passed from him to Joseph. In Gen. 49:22 Jacob blessed Joseph, saying,
22 Joseph is a fruitful bough [Heb. ben, “son, branch from a family tree”], a fruitful bough by a spring; its branches [Heb. bath, “daughters”] run over a wall.
The Fruitfulness Mandate is described in terms of sons and daughters. In one sense it was the Kingdom, as distinct from the King (Dominion Mandate). The sons and daughters were the citizens of the Kingdom. In the highest sense, the Fruitfulness Mandate was the calling to bring forth the manifested sons of God, and not mere fleshly children. This would have gone to Reuben, but because of his lawless behavior, he was disqualified. More than that, Reuben was a type and shadow of those who attempt to bring forth the sons of God by carnal methods.
After Jacob separated the scepter from the rest of the birthright, the birthright itself came to mean just the Fruitfulness Mandate, the calling to bring forth the manifested sons of God—the true citizens and inheritors of the Kingdom. It is specifically called “the birthright” in 1 Chron. 5:1, 2, hidden in the genealogy of Reuben:
1 Now the sons of Reuben the first-born of Israel (for he was the first-born, but because he defiled his father’s bed, his birthright was given to the sons of Joseph the son of Israel; so that he is not enrolled in the genealogy according to the birthright. 2 Though Judah prevailed over his brothers, and from him came the leader [nagid, “leader, ruler, prince”], yet the birthright belonged to Joseph.
It is clear from this that the genealogy of the kingly, Messianic line was part of the Dominion Mandate that was given to Judah, while the birthright itself was given to Joseph. Many years later, God anointed David to be king of Israel. He was of the tribe of Judah.
David and his son, Solomon, each ruled forty years over the United House of Israel. After Solomon died, his son Rehoboam became the new king. But the people revolted because he refused to reduce the high taxes that Solomon had imposed upon the people. The Kingdom was divided. The northern ten tribes retained the name Israel, while the southern two tribes reverted to the name of the dominant tribe, Judah.
The northern tribes had the right to keep the name Israel, because they included the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh—the tribes of Joseph. Recall that Jacob-Israel had given Joseph’s sons the birthright name of Israel. This division into two kingdoms essentially put a breach between the scepter and the birthright. The scepter remained with Judah in the southern kingdom; the birthright remained with Ephraim in the northern kingdom.
The Scepter Given to Judah
Genesis 49 records Jacob’s blessing upon all of his twelve sons. Here we see that the Dominion Mandate was given to Judah in Gen. 49:8-12, while the Fruitfulness Mandate (birthright) was given to Joseph in Gen. 49:22-26. Jacob said to Judah,
8 Judah, your brothers shall praise you; your hand shall be on the neck of your enemies; your father’s sons shall bow down to you.
The name “Judah” means praise. The Hebrew root word is yadah. Strong’s Concordance says that it means
“to use (i.e., hold out) the hand; phys. to throw (a stone, an arrow) at or away; espec. to revere or worship (with extended hands).”
When one swears allegiance to a leader or ruler, he is often required to extend a hand into the air and make his vow. And so, Jacob was telling Judah that he would rule over his brothers with the Dominion Mandate.
9 Judah is a lion’s whelp; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He couches, he lies down as a lion, and as a lion who dares rouse him up?
The Dominion Mandate gave Judah the symbol of the lion. That is why many years later, when Jesus was born of the tribe of Judah, He became known as “the Lion of the tribe of Judah” (Rev. 5:5). But with this symbol of great strength also came a great responsibility—to give one’s life for his brethren. And so the lion had to be willing to lie down in death. The true ruler, as finally portrayed in Jesus Christ, had to have the strength of a lion and the meekness of a lamb. This is why Jesus was both the Lion and the Lamb at the same time.
10 The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.
Here again we see the royal “scepter” being given to Judah. But yet it is clear that something was destined to change when Shiloh came. It says that the scepter would not depart from Judah “until Shiloh comes.” Shiloh was the town in Ephraim where the Ark of the Covenant was first placed (Joshua 18:1). After the priesthood became corrupted in that place, God moved the Ark to Jerusalem, which became the capital city of the Kingdom of Judah.
Jesus was born of the tribe of Judah, but His throne was usurped by the priests and leaders of the Sanhedrin. This is portrayed in Jesus’ parable in Matt. 21:33-45, especially in verse 38, where the “vine-growers” said, ‘This is the Heir; come, let us kill Him and seize His inheritance.” When Jesus came of Judah to claim the Dominion Mandate, the leaders recognized Him as the Heir, but disagreed with His peaceful ways. He came as the Prince of Peace, rather than as an armed general to fight the Romans. So they killed the King and usurped His throne.
Because of this, Jesus the “King of the Jews” was never proclaimed King in the earth during His life as a Judahite. Those disciples who DID recognize Him as King were the true Judahites, as Paul says in Romans 2:28, 29, but Jesus ascended without being crowned on earth. Because the Church was the continuation of the tribe of Judah, it received the scepter of Judah temporarily until Christ’s second appearance.
In Christ’s second appearance, He will come not from the tribe of Judah, but as it were, from the tribe of Joseph. Thus, the scepter departs from the true Jews (the Church) and is given to Yeshua the Ephraimite and to His body, the overcomers. His second work is a Joseph work. This is why Rev. 19:13 describes Christ as coming “with a robe dipped in blood.” Joseph’s robe, his coat of many colors, was dipped in blood also (Gen. 37:21). A more complete study of this can be found in chapter 11 of my book, The Laws of the Second Coming.
The fact that Judah must give way to Joseph’s rule is shown also in Joseph’s dream about the sun, moon, and eleven stars bowing down to him. The dream prophesied that Joseph’s parents and brothers ultimately would bow to him. And this is what happened in the story of Joseph. This teaches us what the word “until” means when Jacob said to Judah, “the scepter shall not depart from Judah . . . UNTIL Shiloh comes.” The scepter was given to Judah only temporarily until Joseph came into his calling.
There was a carnally-minded element within Judah, however, that coveted power. This group wanted it all—the scepter and the birthright together. These men of the tribe of Judah (and its Levitical priesthood) had rebellious hearts and ultimately formed the group of “evil figs” mentioned in Jeremiah 24. We described these people fully in our book, Who is a Jew?, showing that there were two groups of Judahites, one good and one evil. The good figs accepted Christ, while the evil figs crucified Him and usurped His throne. Today, this same group of evil figs desires to usurp Joseph’s birthright as well.
Zionism is the New Replacement Theology
Carnally-minded men seek to increase their power over others, and they are often willing to resort to violence to accomplish their goals. There has been a power struggle over the scepter and the birthright for thousands of years, and it is yet with us today. In the first coming of Christ, the struggle centered primarily around the scepter—that is, the right to rule. In the time of the second appearance of Christ, the struggle has centered around the birthright and the birthright name of Israel.
In each of these two struggles, both sides lay claim to the callings—first of Judah, and secondly, the calling of Joseph. Jesus and His disciples are the true inheritors, but they are violently opposed by “evil figs” who proclaim that they are the true inheritors of both callings. From a biblical perspective, however, these violent men are usurpers who seek to overthrow and replace the true inheritors of the promises.
Jesus came as the Messiah, born of the kingly line of Judah. He was the rightful Heir to the throne of David. But in the opinion of the chief priests, He was too peace-loving and too submissive to the Romans to be the Messiah. So the chief priests killed the Messiah in order to usurp His throne, as Jesus stated in His parable in Matt. 21:37-39,
37 But afterward he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ 38 But when the vine-growers saw the son, they said among themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and seize his inheritance.’ 39 And they took him, and threw him out of the vineyard, and killed him.
The parable shows that they recognized Him as the Messiah, the Son, the Heir. They were not blind in this. The common people were blinded by their leaders, but the chief priests knew exactly what they were doing. Their actions showed them to be antichrists. To usurp the throne is to be antichrist, for anti in Greek means “in place of” or “to replace.” Matt. 2:22 says (NASB),
22 But when he heard that Archelaus was reigning over Judea in place of [Greek: anti] his father Herod, he was afraid to go there.
In 2 Samuel 15, we read that Absalom usurped the throne and replaced David as king of Israel. He ruled “anti-David.” And since David was a type of Christ, Absalom became a type of anti-christ. To rule in place of another is not wrong in itself, but to usurp the throne unlawfully is to be an anti-king. David himself ruled upon the throne of God (Christ). The difference was that he did not rule in rebellion, nor did he secure the throne by usurping it. He was anointed by God to rule in His throne. He ruled in submission to Jesus Christ, the Yahweh of the Old Testament, bound by God’s law.
The Jewish rulers, however, did not secure the throne in a lawful manner. They got it in the same way that Absalom got it. Because of that, they became antichrists, as John describes them in 1 John 2:18-23. He says that an antichrist is one who denies the Father and the Son. It was a direct reference to the Judaism of that temple in Jerusalem that had denied the throne to Jesus Christ, the Son. To deny the Son also denies the Father.
In the first coming of Christ, the controversy was over the scepter of Judah. However, in the second coming of Christ the controversy is over the birthright of Joseph. Zionism has become the primary movement designed to usurp the Kingdom itself, for what good is it to usurp the throne of David without having the birthright as well? The birthright is the Kingdom itself. They want to rule the world—the Kingdom of God—as God’s “chosen,” but they want to do it by violence and force. They certainly do not intend to rule their Kingdom in submission to Jesus Christ, for Jesus said of them in Luke 19:14,
14 But his citizens [of Judah] hated him [Jesus], and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to reign over us.’
The usurpers succeeded in gaining control of Joseph’s birthright and the birthright name Israel in 1948. In calling themselves Israel, the Zionist “Jews” have claimed to replace Joseph-Israel as the birthright holder. So they first replaced the King of Judah, and then replaced the King of Israel, both times by violence and force. The first time, they had to violently kill the King of Judah. The second time in the 1940’s they had to use terrorist tactics to drive out the British. Thus have they established their own brand of replacement theology.
The Jews in 1948 were not content to name their country Judah, or Judea, knowing that they needed to convince the Christians that they were fulfilling the prophecies of the regathering of the lost tribes of the House of Israel. So they named their nation “Israel,” usurping the name given to the sons of Joseph in Gen. 38:48:16.
The Zionist state of “Israel” has unlawfully usurped the place of Joseph and has replaced true Israel in the minds of men. They have convinced much of the Church that they are the inheritors of the birthright given to Joseph and his children. They have convinced many Christians that the Old Jerusalem, ruled by Jews, is the beginning of the Kingdom of God upon the earth. Every time Christian Zionists call them Israel, they acknowledge the usurpers as the inheritors of the birthright of Joseph.
This is the real issue confronting the Church today. The birthright represents the Kingdom, even as the scepter represents the King. The Jewish priests have replaced Jesus on the throne, and now the Zionist state of “Israel” has replaced the true Israel as the Kingdom of God upon the earth. This is their brand of replacement theology.
The Lost Sheep of Israel
Israel was the name that the prophets gave to the northern ten tribes, as distinct from Judah. When the northern House of Israel was conquered and deported by Assyria, they took the birthright with them into captivity. There is no place in Scripture where God says that Judah would replace the tribes of Joseph as inheritors of the birthright. In fact, when the tribes of Joseph became “lost sheep,” they followed the pattern of their father, Joseph, who was also a “lost sheep” and who set the original prophetic pattern. The birthright was lost, but not irretrievably lost.
The life of Joseph was prophetic of what would happen to his descendants, the lost sheep of the House of Israel. Joseph was “lost” and presumed dead for many years. But he was not dead, nor was he lost from the sight of God. While in Egypt, Joseph became the world ruler, and ultimately, his brothers bowed before him. Joseph eventually was “found” when he revealed Himself to his brothers.
So it is with the lost House of Israel. They were considered to be “lost” by men, as we read in Ezekiel 34:8, “My shepherds did not search for My flock.” That is because the shepherds presumed Israel to be dead or lost. Therefore, in Ezekiel 34:11 God says,
11 For thus says the Lord God; Behold I myself will search for My sheep and seek them out.
It was Judah’s idea to sell Joseph into slavery in Egypt (Gen. 37:26, 27). Judah stood to gain the most by getting rid of Joseph. Reuben had been disqualified from receiving the birthright, because he had defiled his father’s bed (Gen. 35:22; 49:4; 1 Chron. 5:1). The next two oldest sons, Simeon and Levi, had been disqualified, because of their legalistic cruelty that made their father’s name stink among the nations (Gen. 34:30). Judah must have known by this time that he was the next in line to receive the birthright. The only one who stood in his way was Jacob’s beloved son, Joseph.
So Judah proposed selling him as a slave into Egypt. No doubt his motive was to replace Joseph as the birthright holder. And indeed, it seemed as if the plan would work, because Joseph was lost for so many years. It looked as if Judah would get it all. But in fact, Judah never received the birthright. The birthright was simply held in abeyance until Joseph was found. In the end, Joseph was found, and his father gave him the birthright.
The divine law tells us that we are responsible to take care of lost sheep until their owner comes to claim them. It is found in Deut. 22:1, 2 says,
1 You shall not see your countryman’s ox or his sheep straying away, and pay no attention to them; you shall certainly bring them back to your countryman. 2 And if your countryman is not near you, or if you do not know him, then you shall bring it home to your house, and it shall remain with you until your countryman looks for it; then you shall restore it to him.
Ezekiel tells us that God’s sheep are the House of Israel and that they are “lost.” God scolds the shepherds for not looking for His sheep. Prophetically, this means that the shepherds (pastors) generally refuse to search for the lost sheep of the House of Israel. They say that God has a sufficient number of sheep in the Jewish people, so why should they take the time to search for those other lost sheep? God’s response is to search for His sheep Himself (Ez. 34:11). He will certainly find His sheep, but is it not more pleasing to Him for the shepherds to follow His instruction in Deut. 22:1, 2 and search for His sheep?
The purpose of this book is to search for His sheep on every level. Because so few have bothered to search for those lost tribes of Israel, the Zionists have been able to usurp Joseph’s birthright and even call themselves Israel. Because so many Christians do not know the basic difference between Israel and Judah, many have been deceived into supporting a counterfeit Israel, a counterfeit Zion, and a counterfeit Kingdom.
Christians have been deceived into thinking that the old Jerusalem can bring forth the promised Seed. But Paul tells us that the old Jerusalem is Hagar and can never bring forth the promise (Gal. 4:24). The old Jerusalem is NOT the capital city of the Kingdom of God. Jesus is NOT coming to rule in that old city or in a rebuilt temple there. Jesus is NOT of Hagar, but of Sarah. Yet, instead of casting out the bondwoman and her son, as Paul tells us to do in Galatians 4:30, Christian Zionists have instead cast out Sarah and her son!
This is what makes it very important to search for God’s lost sheep. Let us not allow Hagar to replace Sarah. Let us not allow Ishmael to replace Isaac. Let us not allow the old Jerusalem to replace the New Jerusalem. Let us not allow the Jews to replace Israel. Let us not allow the antichrist to replace the true Christ. Let us not support the new replacement theology of the Christian Zionists to deceive us into supporting usurpers.