This is Sunday 14th September 2014 and on Thursday the people of Scotland will be voting to be independent or to stay as part of the United Kingdom.
Many who will vote YES for independence will be motivated by a desperate dislike of the rule of London and David Cameron’s Tory party which keeps coming into power in spite of getting very few members elected from Scotland.
About three thousand years ago the descendants of Jacob, who God renamed Israel, also had a sort of referendum. The ten northern tribes were discontent with rule from the south and said they didn’t want to be ruled by the house of David. They rebelled and formed another country that they called Israel and elected another king. The tribes of Judah and Benjamin formed a smaller state that they called Judah which kept David’s grandson as their king.
From then on the people of Judah were known as Jews, which is short for Judeans. So it is mistaken to say that Abraham and the people of the Exodus were Jews as there was no land of Judah in their day, unless perhaps actual members of the tribe of Judah could have been classed as Judeans. The folk in the other camp were Israelites.
Now technically both nations were descendants of the man Israel and so were Israelites but as in Ezekiel’s valley of dry bones they are together called “the whole house of Israel”. Following this he is told to take two sticks and to write on one JUDAH and on the other ISRAEL and he is to join them together as a prophecy of a reunion of the two nations under one of David’s house. He made a clear distinction between Jews and Israelites.
Hosea was a prophet to Israel and makes only few references to Judah. Elijah too was a prophet to Israel – Ahab and Jezebel ruled the northern kingdom of Israel in his day.
Amos was sent to the Israelites who told him to go back to his own place in Judah, and preach to them.
We have the accounts of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah. For more than a hundred years they functioned as separate kingdoms which even fought against each other until the Assyrian army carried the people of the northern kingdom away and replaced them with people of other nations that they had conquered. This is what they offered the people of Jerusalem if they would surrender – to be re-located somewhere else. Quite a smart strategy as they would never be able to rebel on home ground.
After Thursday’s referendum a lot of people are not going to get what they had voted for. If it is a YES for independence some may find it intolerable and move south, others will move south for the sake of their jobs. When Israel broke away from Judah there must have been many who did the same and moved south. But there were even stronger forces; the Temple which was at the centre of their religion and the policies of Jeroboam, Israel’s chosen king – to set up idols to the north and south of his kingdom to be worshipped instead of the usual pilgrimages to Jerusalem. Many must have taken this as a sure sign that a move south was their only option. In the book of Tobit, written by a man from northern Galilee and from the tribe of Naphtali, he says that he was the only one of his family who regularly went to Jerusalem to the appointed festivals as the Law of Moses commanded. The rest of his relatives paid homage to the bull calves that Jeroboam had set up. This was before he was taken with the rest of Israel into captivity.
So, of course there were men of all tribes living in Judah (Anna who blessed Jesus was from the tribe of Asher). But all of these immigrants were now Judeans or Jews. However the population of the northern kingdom were never Jews. How can those who can’t differentiate between Jews and Israelites explain the Bible? Judeans are technically Israelites because their ancestor was Israel but all Israelites are not Judeans or Jews. Eagles are birds but not all birds are eagles.
Hosea was a prophet to Israel and prophesied that they would be as innumerable as the sand of the seashore. Read Hosea; it was written to the spiritually naked land of Israel. He has dire warnings for them and says they will be scattered and wanderers among the nations and will be punished for their apostasy but God says to them “How can I give you up, Israel? How can I abandon you? My heart will not let me do it! My love for you is too strong.” A remnant will return for God assures us of this.
Two years after they left Egypt, Moses took a census of all the people, except the tribe of Levi, and there were just over 600,000 men, aged 20 or over and capable of military service. About 250 years later David took a census which found the number of such men had risen to about 1,500,000. We can only estimate the size of population that this represented but their number had to be of several millions but it had more than doubled in a quarter of a millennium.
BUT THAT WAS THREE THOUSAND YEARS AGO!
You who believe the Bible to be God’s word. Do you believe these numbers? If you do, then you must also believe that these people are now in the hundreds of millions and as God said He could not abandon them then He must still have them as the apple of his eye and He must be bringing to pass what He spoke through prophets like the dying Jacob who said of his grandsons that Manasseh’s descendants will become a great people. But his younger brother will be greater than he, and his descendants will become great nations”. Then he told each of his sons what would befall them in the last days.
The historian Josephus, in the first century AD, wrote that the ten tribes who lived beyond the Euphrates and outside of the Roman Empire had become an innumerable multitude
Would all of them be saved? Sadly, they would be sifted as wheat (Amos 9:9) and a remnant saved. Until then, the nations that they have become must, because of their sheer numbers, be prominent on today’s world stage.
Are USA and Great Britain mentioned in the Bible – I believe they are!