Addressing the Two-House Teaching


Where does your ministry currently stand in regard to the Two-House teaching?

Outreach Israel and Messianic Apologetics should not at all be considered a “Two-House” ministry, given the wide and diverse array of Biblical and theological topics we address, germane to the broad Messianic community. Our ministry encounters and interacts with people in Messianic Judaism, as well as in the One Law/One Torah sub-movement and in the Two-House sub-movement—as we consider and analyze a wide series of issues and subjects which are thought to be of importance to people in all of those different sub-communities. If our ministry choice is to at all be honored by others in the Messianic world of ideas, we would consider ourselves an egalitarian Messianic ministry. We are a ministry which regards both Jewish and non-Jewish Believers in Messiah Yeshua to be a part of the Commonwealth of Israel (Ephesians 2:11-13, 19; 3:6), and which advocates a mutual submission ideology (Ephesians 5:21; Philippians 2:3-4). We fully affirm that all Messianic Believers, Jewish and non-Jewish, male and female—are equals in the eyes of the Lord (Galatians 3:28; Colossians 2:11)—and should be encouraged to develop all of their gifts, talents, and skills as is proper in Him. We also believe that the Messianic movement’s shared Judeo-Protestant spiritual and theological heritage must be steadfastly honored.

As it concerns the specific issue of the Two-House teaching, our ministry has made considerable efforts to disavow the popular/populist variety of the Two-House teaching which has been promulgated since the 1990s, via a number of pseudo-denominations, sensationalistic groups, and dominant and/or presumed-prophetic personalities—which has not allowed itself to be often subject to constructive criticism and/or further theological refinement and engagement with conservative Biblical scholarship. Yet, we do believe it is entirely appropriate for any Bible reader to consider the questions posed by the Divided Kingdom period in Tanach history, and to evaluate what happened with the Northern Kingdom exiles taken away by Assyria. There are certainly pre-millennial theologians who affirm that there is a prophesied, yet-to-occur reunification, involving those from the exiled Northern Kingdom of Israel/Ephraim and the Southern Kingdom of Judah.[1] But this hardly requires, as the Two-House teaching advocates, that almost every non-Jew in today’s Messianic movement be a descendant of the Lost Tribes.

We would acknowledge a greater, end-time restoration of Israel to come that is prophesied, going beyond the rebirth of the State of Israel in 1948, as important as this has surely been. Such a larger restoration of Israel definitely involves the Jewish people, as well as descendants from the exiled Northern Kingdom, but also many welcomed and valued scores of companions from the nations themselves as co-participants and co-laborers. There are pockets of people in remote corners of places like Southeast Asia, Southern Asia, the Middle East, the Eastern Mediterranean basin, and the environs of Central Africa, who claim to be descendants of the exiled Northern Kingdom via some kind of oral tradition, and/or what can appear to be Jewish-style customs—and most probably are. (Sometimes this has been enjoined with some credible DNA analysis, confirming distant Semitic descent.) These are the areas which generally fall within the sphere of influence of the old Assyrian, Babylonian, and Persian Empires, and where the exiles of the Northern Kingdom could have been legitimately deported, scattered, and/or assimilated (cf. Jeremiah 31:10; Hosea 8:8-9; Amos 9:8-9).

We believe that the Lord will bring together, as one people in Him: the Jewish people, such aformentioned descendants of exiled Israel/Ephraim, and their many associated companions from all nations as one broad and inclusive community of people in Messiah Yeshua, before His return, in fulfillment of end-time prophecy (i.e., Isaiah 11:12-16; Jeremiah 31:6-10; Ezekiel 37:15-28; Zechariah 10:6-10). We do not at all encourage non-Jewish Believers (particularly those of Western European ancestry) who are a part of today’s Messianic movement, and who recognize themselves as a part of the Commonwealth of Israel (Ephesians 2:11-13; 3:6) or the Israel of God (Galatians 6:16), grafted into Israel’s olive tree by faith in Israel’s Messiah (Romans 11:17-18), to identify themselves as some sort of “Ephraimites.” We especially do not encourage such non-Jewish people to make any kind of permanent pilgrimage or “aliyah” to the Holy Land, as there is no indication that all Messiah followers will, in total, ever live in the Land of Israel, even in the Messiah’s Millennial Kingdom (cf. Isaiah 19:23-24; Zechariah 14:16-19).

An eschatology-based approach toward addressing this subject, with obviously various details needing to be left to an Eternal and Sovereign God, is frequently not the approach which one encounters in much of the well-known literature surrounding the subject matter. It can be said that there is a distinct difference between a populist Two-House teaching, which essentially advocates that the majority of non-Jewish Believers are distant descendants of the exiled Northern Kingdom (with various connections to be likely made with Nineteenth Century British-Israelism), versus a more Biblical approach to the issue that focuses on the specific prophecies of a larger restoration of Israel. While we would affirm a wide number of Tanach prophecies involving the exiled Northern Kingdom as a participant, as being unfulfilled at the present time, our ministry would not at all be considered a part of a Two-House sub-movement which practices a great deal of theological eisegesis, where many Biblical references to “two” are applied to Judah and Ephraim, whose Hebrew and Greek examination is often limited to Strong’s Concordance, and which even promotes polygamy as a valid lifestyle for today’s men.

When this subject matter has been raised, we have definitely strived as a ministry—as best as we humanly can—to focus the attention of today’s Messianic people on a larger scope of expectations regarding the restoration of Israel, with the exiled Northern Kingdom of Israel/Ephraim as a noticeable participant. How does this affect our view of the end-times, and what is to transpire regarding the restoration of Israel before the Messiah’s return? Unlike the populist Two-House teaching that has garnered the most attention since the late 1990s, our ministry has made it clear that non-Jewish Messianic Believers thinking that they are mostly descendants of the exiled Northern Kingdom, is not at all a useful or profitable endeavor. Jeremiah 31:10 certainly directs Bible readers, “He who scattered Israel will gather him” (NASU). Many of the finer details of such a larger restoration of Israel to be anticipated are only known by our Eternal and Omnipresent Creator. And, not at all to be ignored, is the steadfast Torah word of Deuteronomy 28:62, “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” (NASU). Much of the popular/populist Two-House literature has actually posited that the physical numbers of descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are in the hundreds of millions, if not billions, whereas the tenor of the Pentateuch itself does not at all convey this. Not only does this seem like a significant over-exaggeration, it makes the known Jewish population seem absolutely miniscule—especially in light of the 6 million Jews who were slaughtered in the Holocaust!

NOTES

[1] Cf. Walter C. Kaiser, Preaching and Teaching the Last Things: Old Testament Eschatology for the Life of the Church (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2011), pp 37-38, 47-49.


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