Israel in Future Prophecy: Afterward

Most likely, if you have been diligently reading Israel in Future Prophecy, it is fair to say that you are a non-Jewish Messianic Believer who has been curious as to what my perspective is regarding the whole “Two-House” controversy—or you might be a Messianic Jewish Believer who knows that our broad faith community needs some resolution to this issue, as time proceeds forward, and as theological and spiritual challenges of much more major substance and importance present themselves (i.e., debates over the Divinity of Yeshua and His Messiahship). There have been a number of sensational and hype-laden books circulate throughout the broad Messianic movement over the past ten to fifteen years, promoting the Two-House issue, which have caused an unnecessary amount of confusion and discord. It is, to be sure, one thing to raise the awareness level of the issue of the exiled Northern Kingdom of Israel/Ephraim in Biblical history, as well as unfulfilled prophecies concerning its descendants. It is another thing to just assume that just about every non-Jewish Believer in the Messianic movement is a descendant of those people, without any substantial proof other than a “feeling.”

If you presently consider yourself a member or a part of the Two-House sub-movement—or are even a non-Jewish Believer who has classified himself or herself as some kind of “Ephraimite”—after reading this publication you should see that I am in agreement with you that prophetic oracles like Jeremiah 31:6-10 or Ezekiel 37:15-28 are obviously unfulfilled. I also agree with you that there are people groups on Planet Earth today who are descended from the exiled Northern Kingdom. More is on the agenda of history regarding Israel in future prophecy. At the same time, though, I think that the numbers of those people are far, far less than you likely do, because the Torah itself has said that a significant lessening of Israel’s numbers would come as a consequence of disobedience (Deuteronomy 28:62).[1] There are no billions, or even hundreds of millions, of physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob on Planet Earth. If you are a white, Caucasian Messianic Believer who has thought of himself or herself as some kind of “Ephraimite,” you need to come to the stark reality that you probably bear no genetic ancestry to those of either the Northern or Southern Kingdoms of Israel.

Various non-Jewish people in today’s Two-House sub-movement have been led astray to think that they must be descendants of the exiled Northern Kingdom, but not because they think they are descendants of the exiled Northern Kingdom; they have been led astray because these people tend to believe that only a physical connection with the progenitors of Israel makes them acceptable in the eyes of God, and that someone from the nations generally is not that close to his or her Creator. Such a concept is absolutely deplorable, and many of the popular/populist leaders of the Two-House sub-movement will have to answer before the Lord for placing an unbalanced and grossly inappropriate emphasis on physical bloodline.[2] This is not just because it causes people to look down on others, but mostly because it causes people to think that if they are physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob that they are entitled to some sort of special favors before God. The errant thinking expressed by many ancient Jews in the Second Temple period was, “All Israelites have a share in the world to come” (m.Sanhedrin 10:1),[3] meaning that physical descendants of the Patriarchs were guaranteed eternal salvation. Quite contrary to this, the Apostle Paul was clear to say, about his own fellow Jews, “For not all Israelites truly belong to Israel” (Romans 9:6, NRSV), and how the natural branches of Israel’s olive tree could be cut off (Romans 11:17). Without the eternal redemption available in Messiah Yeshua, “both Jews and Greeks are all under sin” (Romans 3:9).

Will those who compose the Two-House sub-movement be willing and able to pull back the reigns where necessary? For the immediate future, there is a desperate need for many of today’s Two-House people to become far more respectful to Judaism and Christianity, than is commonly seen. Improvements need to definitely be made by Two-House people in how they approach Torah application, and much of the anti-traditionalism and anti-Judaism witnessed from them. Getting many people who have been involved in the Two-House sub-movement to stop using the Divine Name of God (YHWH/YHVH) as flippantly as they tend to, and to use the standard, Hillel II Rabbinical calendar employed by both mainstream Judaism and Messianic Judaism, would be two places for some positive changes to begin. While many of today’s Two-House leaders and teachers claim they want to bring unity between non-Jewish Messianic Believers and those in Messianic Judaism, many Two-House advocates have done more to keep these groups of people divided, because of the various rogue tendencies that manifest when it comes to mainline Jewish tradition and custom. (It is not as though non-Jewish Messianics have to live as though they are ethnically and culturally Jewish, but more understanding and respect are surely needed.)[4]

For the longer term future, there are definite clashes of ecclesiology which are coming,[5] which are going to be lobbied from many in Messianic Judaism, at a largely independent, non-Jewish Messianic (sub-)community. Two wide groups are going to emerge: (1) those who believe that the Commonwealth of Israel (Ephesians 2:11-13) is composed of the two sub-groups of the ethnic Jewish people and Christian Church, and that non-Jewish Believers need not concern themselves that much with their Hebraic Roots or the Torah, and (2) those who believe that with the arrival of Yeshua the Messiah, David’s Tabernacle will be restored, resultant in an enlarged Kingdom realm of Israel (Amos 9:11-12; Acts 15:15-18) that welcomes in the righteous from the nations. In this latter scenario, there will be resolution brought to the issue of the exiled Northern Kingdom for sure, but at the same time, with Israel expanding its borders—like it did with David’s rule extending to Edom—so will the reign of King Yeshua result in an expanded polity of Israel welcoming in the nations.[6]

Claims of replacement theology or supersessionism are going to come from many leaders in today’s Messianic Judaism, if you do not embrace a bilateral ecclesiology of the Commonwealth of Israel composing the Jewish people and Christian Church, with distinctions and differences among people to be rigidly emphasized. Yet traditionally, replacement theology has advocated that the Jewish people have no more Biblical right to live in the Holy Land, and that the rebirth of the State of Israel was according to political self-determination and not God’s promises. Non-Jewish Believers such as myself, while foreseeing more Jews and pockets of people descended from the exiled Northern Kingdom, migrating to the Land of Israel in fulfillment of prophecy, will not claim some kind of ownership over territory that is exclusively reserved for Israel’s twelve tribes. But there are many non-Jewish Messianics in the Two-House sub-movement who think that they have a Biblical right to permanently live in the Holy Land. Non-Jewish Messianic Believers need to become more familiar with the strident word, “The heavens are Yours, the earth also is Yours; the world and all it contains, You have founded them” (Psalm 89:11). All Messianics decisively need a more global vision, which places a much higher estimation and value on all of the people and natural wonders of this great planet.

Much of the extremism, sensationalism, hype, and bad behavior manifested by much of the Two-House sub-movement—we should all likely think—is going to naturally moderate itself out, and be burned off, over time. (Much of this will occur, as it becomes more and more apparent how some of the popular/populist Two-House leaders are not as astute with their Biblical Studies as they may present themselves.) But in order to see this occur, there is a need for patience, more Bible studies, and a more reflective and self-critical manner of spirituality which needs to be embraced by many in the Two-House sub-movement (which many will choose to reject). As this is done, many non-Jewish Two-House people will stop seeing themselves as some sort of “Ephraimites,” and instead will see themselves as being a part of the Commonwealth of Israel, rightly understood to be an enlarged Kingdom realm of Israel. They do not need to think of only the physical descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as being special to God; all of God’s human creations, made in His image (Genesis 1:27), are special to Him.

With important changes doubtless to come to many people who have composed the Two-House sub-movement, many non-Jewish Believers who have been caught up in some of the “Ephraimite” sensationalism, will have to transition to a position that is more respectful and honoring of Judaism and Christianity, and one which values Biblical scholarship and reason much more.[7] Non-Jewish Believers should be much more content in who they mainly are as those from the nations, whom God loves dearly, and who according to prophecy will come to Zion to be taught from His Torah or Law (Micah 4:1-3; Isaiah 2:2-4), joining with the Jewish people (Zechariah 8:23). Even with many non-Jewish Believers having been caught up in some Two-House hype and sensationalism—they have still made some significant, important, and positive changes in adopting a Messianic, Torah obedient lifestyle, striving to live more like Yeshua and the First Century Believers.

How we all learn, whether we are Jewish or non-Jewish, to recognize ourselves as a part of the “Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16), in mutual honor and submission (Ephesians 5:21; Philippians 2:3-4), is going to be a challenge in the short term, due to the shortsightedness of many leaders and those they have influenced. I do not think it is going to be a challenge in the long term, though, as a larger restoration of Israel begins to really take shape. For, in spite of the short sightedness and limitations of mortals, God’s future plans will inevitably transpire!


NOTES

[1] “Then you shall be left few in number, whereas you were as numerous as the stars of heaven, because you did not obey the LORD your God” (Deuteronomy 28:62).

[2] Cf. Batya Ruth Wootten, Who Is Israel? Redeemed Israel—A Primer (St. Cloud, FL: Key of David, 2011), 43 and the various references to so-called “genetic memory.”

[3] Neusner, Mishnah, 604.

[4] Consult the author’s article “Considering Messianic Jewish Fears of Replacement and Irrelevance” appearing in the Messianic Torah Helper by Messianic Apologetics (forthcoming).

[5] Cf. Boaz Michael, with Jacob Fronczak, Twelve Gates: Where Do the Nations Enter? (Marshfield, MO: First Fruits of Zion, 2012), pp 50-52 for a preview.

[6] Consult the author’s publication Are Non-Jewish Believers Really a Part of Israel?

[7] The various features of this are examined and explored in the Messianic Torah Helper by Messianic Apologetics (forthcoming 2013).

About J.K. McKee 633 Articles
J.K. McKee (B.A., University of Oklahoma; M.A., Asbury Theological Seminary) is the editor of Messianic Apologetics (www.messianicapologetics.net), a division of Outreach Israel Ministries (www.outreachisrael.net). He is a 2009 recipient of the Zondervan Biblical Languages Award for Greek. He is author of numerous books and commentaries, dealing with a wide range of topics that are important for today’s Messianic Believers.

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