Note: In Appendix 4 - "The Subtle Demise of True Christianity" - the tragic results of rejecting or even neglecting the constitution of our faith, the Torah, and its author Yahuah was described. However, there is another side of that coin: Many Messianic Believers, in trying so hard to be Torah-observant Hebrews, neglect their Renewed Covenant relationship with the Messiah Yahushua and thus ruin their witness both to Jews and to Christians. The following essay explains how our understanding of our life in the Messiah and our relationship to His People applies to our interpretation of End-Times Bible prophecy.
I am eternally grateful to Yahuah for opening my eyes to the Hebraic roots of my faith. There is no way that I could fully or correctly interpret prophetic Scripture without some understanding of the language, religion, and culture of the writers of Bible prophecy. However, there is a flaw in the doctrine of many Hebraic Roots teachers and Believers that is causing confusion in their understanding of Yahuah’s plan for His People at the End of the Age. Few Hebraic Roots teachers seem to acknowledge the clear distinction between Yahuah’s plan for His physical People, those of the twelve tribes of Israel who will not recognize that Yahushua is the Messiah until He returns at the End of the Age, and His plan for those Jews and Gentiles who have already come to faith in the Messiah Yahushua.
Most (not all) Hebraic Roots Believers and teachers think that all of Israel, including those grafted into her through faith in Yahushua, will be brought physically out of the Gentile nations back into the Land of Israel at the End of the Age, then, after being reunited as the twelve tribes of the nation of Israel, will inhabit the restored earth in their mortal, physical bodies during the millennial reign of the Messiah Yahushua. However, Scripture clearly reveals that there will be two categories of the Redeemed of Yahuah during the Millennium - those who have already trusted in Yahushua as their Savior and Messiah before the sounding of the “Last Trump” on Yom Teruah (those who are under the Renewed Covenant), and those physical descendants of the twelve tribes of Israel who will not recognize that Yahushua is the Messiah until He returns in the clouds on that day (those who are still living under Yahuah's original covenant with Israel). And Yahuah’s plan for those two groups of Saints at the End of the Age and during the millennial reign of the Messiah (albeit not throughout eternity) are very different.
Most Hebraic Roots teachers take numerous passages of Scripture out of context, misinterpret them, and misapply them to support their doctrine that all of Israel, including the Gentiles grafted in through faith in Yahushua, will be brought physically out of the nations at the End of the Age into the Land and established there as the spiritual and physical Kingdom of Yahuah.
An example of a misinterpreted passage is Zechariah 8:23, which states, “In those days ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying, ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that [Yahuah] is with you.’” Most Hebraic Roots teachers assert that “those days” refers to the End of the Age, when the Lord will gather His People Israel out of the nations into the Land. However, just a cursory examination of the text reveals that this passage is referring to what will happen during the millennial reign of the Messiah, after Israel is reestablished in the Land and is surrounded by nations made up of descendants of Yahuah-fearing Gentiles who did not come to faith in Yahushua prior to the Millennium, but who were allowed to enter the millennial Messianic kingdom because they favored and helped the Jews during the Great Tribulation and never took the mark of the beast. During the Millennium, according to the prophecy of Ezekiel 40-48, the twelve tribes of Israel will be reestablished in the Land and will have a favored place in the Land, just as they did in the land of Goshen in Egypt when Joseph (a type of the Messiah) was the Prince of Egypt. And, during the Millennium (not during the Great Tribulation at the End of the Age), the surrounding Gentile nations will see that Israel is blessed by Yahuah and will want to share in her prosperity. But, to partake of Israel’s prosperity, the Gentiles must observe the Torah of Yahuah. Those who fail to keep the Torah, and to go up to Jerusalem year after year to keep Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles) and worship the King, will perish during the thousand years (cf. Zechariah 14:16-19), or will be among those who will be deceived into following Satan when he is released from the bottomless pit at the end of the thousand years, only to be destroyed by fire from Heaven (cf. 20:8, 9).
But this understanding of the End-of-the-Age and the Millennium scenarios begs the question, “If they do not return to the Land of Israel with the twelve tribes, what will happen to those who have previously (before the end of the Final Seven Years) accepted Yahushua as the Messiah (the Renewed Covenant Saints)?” does it not? Again, Scripture is clear to those who have their doctrinal ducks in order and their spiritual eyes open to the Truth: At the end of the Final Seven Years, the wrath of Satan (the “Great Tribulation”) will be interrupted (cf. Matthew 24:22) by the awesome events of Yom Teruah (the Feast of Trumpets), when the Messiah will return to gather those who have already believed in Him, catch them up to meet Him in the air, and take them to New Jerusalem (which is still in Heaven), until Yahuah has finished pouring out the “last plagues” (15:1) of His wrath on the earth dwellers. Then, after the marriage in Heaven of the Lamb to His Bride (the Body of Believers in Him) and His coronation as King of kings and Lord of lords, the armies of Heaven (including angels and the redeemed, glorified Saints) will return with King Yahushua on Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement) to destroy His enemies, save the Redeemed of Israel (who had looked on Him whom they had pierced, repented, and accepted Him as their Messiah and King when He returned in the clouds on Yom Teruah), pour out His Spirit on them (Zechariah 12:10), and establish His millennial kingdom on earth. The glorified, Renewed Covenant Saints will then rule with the Messiah over the tribes of Israel and the surrounding nations from their thrones in New Jerusalem (which has descended from Heaven—21:1). (cf. Matthew 19:28; 2 Timothy 2:12; Revelation 2:27; 20:4).
However, contrary to this Scriptural scenario, some of the more popular Hebraic Roots teachers (Bill Cloud, Perry Stone, Jim Staley, et al.), ironically, teach a Hebraic Roots version of Replacement Theology, asserting that those Gentiles who come to faith in Yahushua are actually literal Hebrews of the Northern Kingdom of Israel (the “ten lost tribes”) who will be brought back into the Land and reunited with the tribes of the Southern Kingdom (mainly the tribe of Judah) who are already in the Land and who will not come to faith in Yahushua until the Final Seven Years. In other words, according to this doctrine, the “Jews” who do not yet believe that Yahushua is the Messiah are in a different category - they are not yet the People of Yahuah in the same sense that those “Hebrew Gentiles” (an oxymoron) are. This “two-sticks-becoming-one-man” doctrine, which asserts that only the tribes of the Northern Kingdom (consisting of the Hebrew Gentiles) will be brought out of the nations back into the Land, but that the tribes of the Southern Kingdom have never been divorced by Yahuah and exiled from the Land - they have just been temporarily blinded to who He is - is based on erroneous interpretations of Ezekiel 37:16-22, Romans Chapter 11, and Ephesians Chapter 2.
Scripture correctly interpreted, however, proves this doctrine false. A basic reason for its error is in making a false, unscriptural distinction between the House of Ephraim and the House of Judah, stating that the Northern Kingdom was divorced by Yahuah, banished into the Gentile nations of the world and absorbed by those nations, making them “Hebrew Gentiles.” But, according to this doctrine, the tribes of the Southern Kingdom have never been divorced by Yahuah and dispersed into the nations, so have not become Gentiles. But, I would submit, that interpretation is incorrect according to both history (see the Wikipedia article "Kingdom of Israel (Samaria)") and sound exegesis. Yes, the Northern Kingdom was divorced by Yahuah because of idolatry, but history tells us that, although as a political entity the Northern Kingdom was destroyed, not all of the ten “northern” tribes were carried away by the Assyrians. Entire tribes remained intact in the land. In fact, although ten tribes rebelled against the Torah and practiced idolatry, Simeon was located within the boundaries of the Southern Kingdom, so was not geographically a “northern” tribe at all. Part of the tribe of Dan was also located within the boundaries of the Southern Kingdom. Also, when the Assyrians invaded the Northern Kingdom, multitudes fled to the Southern Kingdom. The population of Jerusalem increased five-fold because of the influx of refugees from the north. And the tribes that were taken away by the Assyrians remained pretty much intact for many years in the lands in which they were relocated. And today, there are groups of people all over the world who are still keeping the Torah, or at least remnants of the Torah, who either claim to be or studies have shown them to be descendants of the nine (not ten) northern tribes. And now, DNA studies are further confirming that many of these modern Israelites are indeed descended from or are at least partially descended from various tribes of Israel, including both the “northern” and southern tribes.
Yes, Hosea 1:6, 7 states that Yahuah will . . . “utterly take them [the House of Israel] away. Yet I will have mercy on the house of Judah . . .” But obviously, that was a Hebraic hyperbole that meant the House of Ephraim/Israel, as a political and geographical entity, would be destroyed and scattered. It did not mean that the individual Israelites or even the tribes would be absorbed by the nations of the world to the point of totally losing their identities and even becoming Gentiles. Also, although Yahuah had mercy on the House of Judah and did not divorce them at that time, they were not blameless before the Lord, were they? Please notice that in Hosea Chapter 3 the focus of the indictment for spiritual adultery generalizes to the whole nation of Israel (the “children of Israel”) rather than applying just to the “House of Israel” (Ephraim). And more is said about how the entire nation of Israel was guilty of idolatry from the time they came out of Egypt in 11:1, 2. So, although the book of Hosea addresses primarily the unfaithfulness of the House of Israel and their consequent rejection by Yahuah, and His sparing of the House of Judah because they had not yet rebelled against Him as had the House of Israel, about 120 years after the Northern Kingdom was destroyed, the tribes of the Southern Kingdom also rejected the Torah and broke the covenant, just as had those of the Northern Kingdom. And just as happened to the House of Ephraim, beginning in about 606 BCE, the House of Judah (which consisted of members not just of the tribe of Judah, but of all 12 tribes) was carried away into captivity into Babylon. Then, please note, 70 years later, only a small remnant returned to the Land of Israel and rebuilt the Temple and Jerusalem. The vast majority remained in Babylon and other places to which they had migrated. And what did those Jews who had come back into the Land of Israel do in 29 CE? They totally rejected the Living Torah - the Messiah - didn’t they? And what happened to them? Just as had happened to the House of Ephraim, they were scattered (in 70 and 135 CE) all over the world. So, exactly as was prophesied (Isa 50:1), both houses of Israel were divorced by Yahuah.
So what, really, is the difference between the Northern Kingdom and the Southern Kingdom today? I submit to you that, at the present time, there is ZERO difference - ZILCH! They are both members of the cultivated olive tree that have been cut off (Romans 11). They have both been scattered all over the world until the Lord gathers them out of the nations back into the land, where, when they see Him return in the clouds at the end of the Final Seven Years, on Yom Teruah at the sounding of the seventh and “last trumpet” (1 Corinthians 15:52; Revelation 11:15), will mourn because they will then recognize that their Messiah and King is the Torah they have both rejected and the one they pierced (Zechariah 12:10; Revelation 1:7) (in a spiritual sense, we have all rejected and pierced the Messiah). So, it will be at that time - at the end of the seven years (and not before) - that the physical descendants of Israel - all 12 tribes - will repent, accept Yahushua as their Messiah and King, and be saved. There is absolutely no reason to interpret Ezekiel 37:16-22 in any other way than the plain, literal way in which it was written - as referring to the physical descendants of Israel - all 12 tribes - being separated and dispersed into the world, then coming back together at the End of the Age. To say that it refers only to the House of Ephraim is a forced, inconsistent interpretation that is disingenuous, to say the least. Please read Ezekiel 37:21-22 carefully and honestly:
Surely I will take the children of Israel [not just the House of Ephraim or the House of Judah] from among the nations, wherever they have gone, and will gather them [the children of Israel] from every side and bring them into their own land; and I will make them [the children of Israel] one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king over them all [the children of Israel]; they shall no longer be two nations, nor shall they ever be divided into two kingdoms again.
And please notice that the terms “children of Israel,” “one nation,” “two nations,” and “two kingdoms” all refer to all 12 tribes of Israel. The term “children of Israel” appears 656 times in the Bible, and it always refers to all 12 tribes of Israel - never to just the Northern or Southern Kingdom.
But the teachers of the Hebrew Gentile doctrine insist that it was only the tribes of the Northern Kingdom, the House of Ephraim/Israel, who were divorced by Yahuah and dispersed among the Gentile nations. And, they assert, at the End of the Age, it will be only the Hebrew Gentiles who are brought out of the nations back into the Land. And who, specifically, are the Hebrew Gentiles according to this doctrine? They are those who have already accepted Yahushua as their Savior and Messiah. They are the branches of the wild olive tree who have been grafted into the natural olive tree, Israel (Romans 11:17), and have been made “fellow citizens” in the “commonwealth” of Israel (Ephesians 2:12, 19). And, according to this doctrine, this grafting-in process will continue until “the fullness of the [Hebrew] Gentiles has come in” (Romans 11:25).
In other words, the terms “Hebrew Gentiles” and “Christians” are, essentially, synonymous. Both the "Hebrew Gentiles" and the Christians are Believers in Yahushuah. And like most Christians, most of the teachers of the Hebrew Gentile doctrine see themselves as separate from and therefore, by implication, spiritually superior to those Jews who have not yet accepted Yahushua as their Savior and Lord. The only differences between "Hebrew Gentiles" and Christians are that "Hebrew Gentiles" have (allegedly) embraced their Hebraic roots and believe that they are, literally, descendants of the tribes of the House of Ephraim. No wonder popular Hebraic Roots teachers like Perry Stone, Bill Cloud, and Jim Staley are finding warm acceptance in many Christian churches and their ministries are prospering here in America-Babylon.
However, there are several serious problems with the Hebrew Gentile doctrine:
In their teachings, those who espouse that doctrine have to do some pretty fancy dancing through the Scriptures to maintain their premise that, at the present time, the Northern Kingdom is divorced by Yahuah and have, in fact, become Gentiles, but the Southern Kingdom has not been divorced by the Lord. For example, it is almost comical (if it weren’t such a serious error) to see them, in their exposition of Romans 9-11 (which contains the name “Israel” 13 times) jumping back and forth between asserting that “Israel” refers to the Southern Kingdom in some verses but to the Northern Kingdom in others. Obviously, throughout his letter to the Romans, Paul is using the terms “Jews” and “Israel” interchangeably to refer to the whole nation - all 12 tribes. (Referring to the whole nation of Israel as “Jews” began after the destruction of the Northern Kingdom, and Judah, the royal tribe from whom the Ruler who would sit on David’s throne would come and the only remaining intact, identifiable tribe, came to represent the entire nation—cf. Dan 1:3; 9:7, 11, 20).
Another example of a forced interpretation, unsupported by Scripture, is their mistranslation and bad exegesis of 1 Peter 1:1, 2:
Peter, an apostle of [Yahushua the Messiah], to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, elect according to the foreknowledge of [Yahuah] the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of [Yahushua the Messiah]: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.
They state that Peter is writing to the “lost tribes” of the Northern Kingdom, who are identified as Gentiles, explaining that the Hebrew word for “strangers” is Goyim ("Gentiles"). But, that is just flat not true. The Greek word that is normally translated “Gentiles” in the B’rit Hadashah is ethnos. But the word translated “strangers” in 1 Peter 1:1 is parepidimos, which Strong’s (3927) defines as: “one who comes from a foreign country into a city or land to reside there by the side of the natives.” In other words, the dispersed ones to whom Peter was writing were indeed descendants of the tribes of Israel, but they had definitely not been absorbed into the nations and become Gentiles.
A third example of trying to force the interpretation to fit the premise is in stating that in Yahuah’s statement to the Canaanite woman, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24), He was referring to the northern tribes. But wasn’t His personal ministry entirely to the tribes of the Southern Kingdom, which, according to the Hebrew Gentile interpretation, would be excluded by His statement to the Canaanite woman? And in His command to His disciples to take the Gospel to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel,” didn’t He pointedly tell them not to go to the Gentiles, or even to the Samaritans (Matthew 10:5)? How does these teachers’ notion that the lost tribes are Gentiles jive with that?
A fourth example of incorrect exegesis is the assertion that the grafting of the (Hebrew) Gentiles into the “commonwealth” of Israel is a literal grafting into the physical nation of Israel. However, an honest examination of the text reveals that this graft is not literal but spiritual. The Gentiles are grafted, “contrary to nature” (Romans 11:24), into the “natural” olive tree (Israel). In other words, those grafted-in Gentiles are not natural, physical Hebrews at all. They are the spiritual, not physical, seed of Abraham through faith in the natural seed of Abraham, Yahushua. (Jews who look forward in faith to the coming Messiah but who do not yet recognize that He is Yahushua are the spiritual and physical seed of Abraham.) Also, the term “commonwealth” does not refer to the literal, physical nation of Israel. Gerhard Kittel’s Theological Dictionary of the New Testament points out that the Greek word politeia, translated “commonwealth” in Ephesians 2:12,
does not mean civil rights, constitution, or state, [but] rather the pious order of life which, ordained by the Law of Moses, is inherited from the fathers. [With one exception it] is a religious and moral concept rather than a political concept; it denotes the “walk” determined by the Mosaic Law. (Volume 6, p. 526)
Then, David Stern, in his Jewish New Testament Commentary, states that politeia . . .
implies an obligation to observe a godly way of life that has its origin in God’s relationship with the Jewish people . . . [and] an obligation to relate as family to the Jewish community to whom [the grafted-in Gentiles’] faith has joined them. (p. 582)
In other words, “fellow citizens” in the “commonwealth of Israel” refers to sharing the familial, spiritual covenant relationship that Israel has with Yahuah, not to a literal, physical grafting into the nation of Israel. Other indications that Ephesians Chapter 2 is speaking of spiritual and figurative rather than physical and literal realities are the statements that Yahuah has “raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in [the Messiah Yahushua]” (verse 6) and, the Messiah has abolished the wall of separation between the Jews and Gentiles, creating in Himself “one new man from the two” (verses 14 and 15). Then, the apostle Paul confirms that the grafting into Israel is spiritual rather than physical when He states, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in [the Messiah Yahushua]" (Galatians 3:28).
Another handle onto which the teachers of the Hebrew Gentile doctrine attempt to grab to support their interpretation is the prophetic promise through Jacob that the descendants of his grandson Ephraim would become a “multitude of nations" (Hebrew: goyim) (Genesis 48:19). And they assert that the phrase “fullness of the [grafted-in] Gentiles” in Romans 11:25 is equivalent to “multitude of nations.” However, as was explained in detail in Appendix 3 - Who are the People of Yahuah? - the Hebrew term goy (plural: goyim) is translated simply “nation(s),” and can refer to either Hebrew or Gentile nations, depending on the context. So, the promise to Ephraim looked forward to the multitude of Hebrew (not Gentile) nations - the descendants of Ephraim - during the Millennium. But the phrase “fullness of the Gentiles” in Romans 11:25 refers to Gentiles who are (spiritually) grafted into Israel.
So, it would seem that these teachers’ distinction between the two houses of Israel is purely arbitrary and contrived, based on misinterpreted Scripture, to support their view that “true Israel” (Romans 9:6) is comprised of those “Hebrew Gentiles” of the Northern Kingdom who have been grafted into the cultivated olive tree, but the Jews of the Southern Kingdom are not quite there yet. And sadly, it is at that point that subtle anti-Semitism and Replacement Theology are injected into their teachings.
The present-day, Torah-observant Jews (including those physical descendants of both the House of Ephraim and the House of Judah) who believe in Yahuah and look forward in faith to the coming Messiah, although they have not yet recognized that He is Yahushua, are no less the chosen People of Yahuah than were the Torah-observant ancient patriarchs and Israelites, beginning with Abraham, who believed in Yahuah and looked forward in faith to the coming Messiah. Or, are the teachers of the Hebrew Gentile doctrine going to insist that Abraham, Moses, Joseph, Elijah and all the other great people of faith in ancient Israel were not “true Israel” and are not saved because they did not accept Yahushua as their Messiah? Yes, many thousands - perhaps millions - of Jews (beginning with those of the House of Judah) of both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms have come to faith in Yahushua, but I submit to you that most of them have not. However, in the end, all of "true Israel" (the physical descendants of Jacob who believe in Yahuah and look forward in faith to the coming Messiah, whether or not they have, at the present time, recognized that He is Yahushua), will be saved (Romans 11:26). In the eyes of Yahuah, who sees the whole mural of history from beginning to end, the ones who are saved - past, present, and future - have been chosen from the beginning - “elect according to the foreknowledge of [Yahuah]” (1 Peter 1:2). So, who are we to say that only the ones who accept Yahushua as their Messiah before He gathers them out of the nations into the Land are, at the present time, His redeemed Elect? Who are we to say that those of physical Israel who will not recognize that their Messiah and King is Yahuah until He returns in the clouds at the end of the Final Seven Years, and, at that time, look on Him whom they have pierced and mourn (Zechariah 12:10; Revelation 1:7), are not just as much the People of Yahuah as those Renewed Covenant Believers who have already accepted Him as their Messiah and Savior? Because they have been temporarily blinded to who the Messiah is, they have not yet come into the full Renewed Covenant relationship with Him, but as soon as the blinders have been removed when He returns in the clouds on a soon-coming Yom Teruah, the Spirit of Yahuah will fall on them just as it did on the Believers on Shavuot following the Lord Yahushua’s resurrection and ascension, and they too will be Renewed Covenant People of Yahuah (cf. Joel 2:28; Zechariah 12:10; Acts 2:3-18).
So, as the apostle Paul warned us (Romans 11:25), let us not, whether we are Messianic or Christian Believers in Yahushua, look down our noses at those Jews who believe in Yahuah and look forward in faith to the coming Messiah, although they have not yet recognized that He is Yahushua. Their blindness to His identity is temporary, and, although they will have a different role in the Messianic Kingdom than we do, they are just as much the beloved children of Yahuah as we are. And, in Timeless Eternity following the Millennium, there will be no distinction between Israel and the Gentile nations or between glorified and physical Saints. We will all be one in union with the Messiah Yahushua (Galatians 3:28).
For more details and Scriptural support of the above End Times scenario, please read this commentary on the Revelation Chapters 7, 11 and 19-21.
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