I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel - Ezekiel 37:22

Are Christian Zionists from Ephraim?

The hills of Ephraim at Shiloh

The hills of Ephraim at Shiloh

Christian Zionists are experiencing intense feelings of empathy with the Jews and Israel, but is there a deeper reason, as suggested by some, that Jews and Christians are finding new bonds, after centuries of antipathy?

Some are pointing to the prophecy by Ezekiel, following the dry bones prophecy ( Ezekiel 37). The LORD is revealing things about the restoration of Israel using the dry bones vision and the command to make the visual aid of two sticks.

The word of the LORD came to me: "Son of man, take a stick of wood and write on it, `Belonging to Judah and the Israelites associated with him.' Then take another stick of wood, and write on it, `Ephraim's stick, belonging to Joseph and all the house of Israel associated with him.' Join them together into one stick so that they will become one in your hand.

"When your countrymen ask you, `Won't you tell us what you mean by this?' say to them, `This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am going to take the stick of Joseph--which is in Ephraim's hand--and of the Israelite tribes associated with him, and join it to Judah's stick, making them a single stick of wood, and they will become one in my hand.' Hold before their eyes the sticks you have written on and say to them, `This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I will take the Israelites out of the nations where they have gone. I will gather them from all around and bring them back into their own land. I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel. There will be one king over all of them and they will never again be two nations or be divided into two kingdoms. (Ezekiel 37 15-22)

The Judah stick is, obviously, the Jews and the Ephraim stick represents the Northern tribes, the tribes that formed the nation of Israel when it separated from Judah and Benjamin that became the kingdom of Judah, the “Lost tribes” of Israel.

Nehemia Gordon and Keith Johnson have a most enlightening conversation on this passage in one of their downloadable Audio Prophet Pearls discussions - Vayigash - Ezekiel 37:15-28 .

To Christians who have grasped their Hebrew roots, this is an attractive concept. Many Christians who have experienced the depth of understanding that Messianic Jewish believers bring to understanding scripture and have appreciated what the Jews have in their heritage and their understanding of scripture.

Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen. ( Romans 9)

It is easy to be excited about the possibility of discovering that we have Jewish blood. Some have leaped at a chance like this to believe they are Ephraimites and are being joined with Judah.

This position is advanced by Batya Wooten in “Who is Israel” published by Key of David Publishing. The case follows the fortunes of the tribes that formed the Northern Kingdom that were taken into exile and became the "Ten Lost Tribes." See also Who are the Jews

But were the Ten Tribes lost?

David Parsons has pointed out problems with this doctrine. "Ephraimite theory an unsound doctrine."

He objects to the mystical belief that many Christian Zionists are actually descended from the ten lost tribes and the extreme position that, as blood descendents of the ancient Israelites, they must observe the whole Torah as Jews. This clearly raises, or should raise, the objection that believers in Yeshua the Messiah should not be going back to Legalism and abandoning salvation by faith. (Read the letter to the Hebrews) There is also a tendency towards supremacy among Ephraimites, who believe themselves to be the true church and more blessed than mainstream evangelicals. The British Israelite movement of the last century was similar, particularly in this respect.

Another problem with the concept that Christians are actually, physically descendants of Israel is that it must then follow that those who are not of this descent, who descended from all the Gentile nations, can not become Christians. This clearly contradicts the message of the Gospel and the message that those who trust from the strangers can be grafted in to God’s Israel.

remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2) (see also Romans 11).

The Ephraimite’s case revolves around the Ten Lost Tribes but David Parsons points out...

IN EXAMINING this teaching, it can first be stated that the “myth” of the Lost Ten Tribes is just that – a myth. Nowhere does the Bible state that the Ten Tribes of the northern Kingdom of Israel were totally lost. Scattered? Yes! But they are still largely accounted for in Scripture (save for the ultra-rebellious tribe of Dan, which indeed was lost to history).

This is the first problem. They were not actually lost, since the faithful from the northern tribes came and joined themselves to Judah. Who are the Jews?

Two Sticks Ezekiel 37:19-2
many from the northern ten tribes defecting to the south 2 Kings 17 and 18
many “fell to him [Judah’s King Asa] out of Israel in abundance, when they saw that the Lord his God was with him.” 2 Chronicles 15:9
also 2 Chronicles 11:13-17 and 19:4
The army of Judah grew exponentially in this period to over one million warriors

1 Kings 12:21and 2 Chronicles 14:8 and 17:14-18

King Ahab army only 7,000 from the “children of Israel” 1 Kings 20:15
Many Israelites not taken to exile 2 Chronicles 30
Hezekiah invites the remaining Israelites to keep Passover with Judah 2 Chronicles 31:1 and 35:17
New Testament writers both assume and affirm that the Jewish people of their day contained significant remnants from all 12 tribes
Paul uses the present tense in telling King Agrippas: “To this promise our twelve tribes, earnestly serving God night and day, hope to attain.” Acts 26:7
James also addresses his epistle to the “twelve tribes which are scattered abroad” James 1:1
Israelites from the ten tribes have been gathered in according to prophecies Ezekiel 37:22;

Assembling the dispersed of Israel
Isaiah 11:12-13
Return, backsliding Israel and Judah saved and Israel will live in safety
Jeremiah 3:18, 23:6-8 and 31
House of Judah and House of Israel.... will be a blessing
Zechariah 8:13

Has the two sticks prophecy already been fulfilled?

Scholars agree that the bulk those sent into exile in the Jewish Diaspora by the Romans were still identifiable as being of the tribes of Israel or the tribes of Judah.

From this Diaspora, half of these people have now been gathered back together into present day Israel, forming “one nation in the Land on the mountains of Israel”

David Parsons’ conclusion is - We should not take Scriptures with plain meaning and read into them mysteries that are not there. Both the letters of Timothy and Titus exhort us to teach “sound doctrine.” Clearly, the Ephraimite theory does not make the grade.

Updated 28/12/14

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