Who is Israel?
Our answer to this question is vitally important to each of us. It determines how we interpret Scripture and who we think are the Father’s "chosen" people. It also defines our view of His end-time plan for His people. So who are our Heavenly Father’s "chosen" people: the "Christians" or the "Jews"?
It is interesting to note that according to Scripture, both people groups are called "chosen" (Deuteronomy 7:6; 1 Peter 1:1; 2:9).
Nonetheless, to more fully answer this critical question we must first address the idea of "Physical Israel." We do this because, whether realized or not, no matter how specific or vague their understanding about supposed "physical descent," that is the standard applied when people seek to define who is, or is not, of "Israel."
Moreover, those who claim to be "Spiritual Israel" often assume they are not of "Physical Israel," and some believe that whether they are, or are not, part of physical Israel is unimportant.
So why is it important for Believers in the Messiah of Israel (Yeshua) to know whether they are part of Israel?
The answer is that the Father says, "Israel is My son, My firstborn" (Exodus 4:22). This means that conversely, His "firstborn" is "Israel." Israel is therefore a birthright title that is of great importance to the Father, because Israel is "His Son." Concerning this birthright we remember what the Father said of Esau, who disdained his birthright: "I have loved Jacob; but I have hated Esau...men will call [Esau]...the people toward whom YHVH is indignant forever" (Malachi 1:2-4). New Covenant Believers are similarly warned, "See that no one is...godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights [birthright] as the oldest son." Because, "afterward, as you know, when he wanted to inherit this blessing, he was rejected. He could bring about no change of mind [no place for repentance], though he sought for it with tears" (Hebrews 12:15-17, NIV).
It is crucial that we understand Israel, as well as our inheritance as "part of" that people, but to do so we first need to understand a few important points about Israel:
Israel - Divided By the Almighty
Abraham fathered Isaac, who fathered Jacob (later named Israel), who fathered twelve sons known as the Twelve Tribes of Israel. After King Solomon’s death (the son of King David), Israel’s tribes were divided into two houses, or kingdoms: Ephraim (who also had the birthright and title of "Israel") and Judah. Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, became king of the Southern Kingdom of Judah, and he wanted to force those of the Northern Kingdom (Ephraim/Israel) to come under his rule (they had broken away because of the way they were being treated by Rehoboam). However, YHVH warned King Rehoboam, "You shall not go up or fight against your relatives...for this thing is from Me" (2 Chronicles 11:4).
That Israel’s division is from the Father is an important point for us to see.
Israel: Not Yet Reunited
Some people teach that the two houses of Israel have already been reunited. However, this cannot be true because the hallmarks of a fully restored Israel are sinlessness, living safely in the Land, and being under the rule of the King of Kings. It is evident that these conditions have not yet been met; therefore, Israel’s two houses could not possibly be fully reunited at this time. As Believers, we realize that Israel’s unity is presently imputed in Messiah Yeshua, but Israel has not yet fully implemented that unity (Ezekiel 37:22-26; Isaiah 27:9; Zechariah 8:3,7-8,13; Ephesians 2).
The "Witness People" - Divided In Two
Why did the Father allow division to come to Israel? Because they are His "witnesses," and He needs two... "You are My witnesses," YHVH said of Jacob/Israel’s children (Isaiah 43:10). We must realize that Israelite sheep are always being a "witness," although their witness may be positive or negative, or a mix thereof. Israelites and their children are forever chosen to be witnesses because "the gifts and calling of God are without repentance" (Romans 11:29, KJV). Israel, and her companions, are called to witness to the world that YHVH alone is "GOD." She is to proclaim that YHVH is the "I AM," that before Him there was no GOD formed, and that there will be none after Him, and that there is no Savior besides Him (Isaiah 43:8-13; 44:8; Luke 2:11).
However, their call to be His witnesses presents a problem, because YHVH cannot break His own Law. Moreover, He is the ultimate Author of Israel’s Covenants, Old and New. And in His Inspired Books He established a law that demands that all things be confirmed by two or more witnesses...
Two Houses - Two Witnesses
In Israel two or more must bear witness before a matter can be established, confirmed, or believed. Messiah Yeshua and Paul the apostle both upheld this important principle. This means that according to both the Old Covenant and the New Covenant, a matter must first be confirmed by "two or more witnesses" (Numbers 35:30; Deuteronomy 17:6; 19:15; John 8:17; 2 Corinthians 13:1). Since YHVH will always abide by His own Torah (or "Law"), He too must have two witnesses to confirm and establish His truth - Genesis to Revelation.
Historically, for multiplied centuries, YHVH has had two witnesses: Ephraim and Judah - Christians and Jews. Although the testimonies of each have thus far been incomplete, they are nevertheless the only two people groups on earth who have been giving "testimony" about the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Both Houses: Chosen To Be Tested
Scripture refers to the two houses of Ephraim and Judah as "The two families that YHVH chose." And YHVH swore that He will one day "restore their fortunes and...have mercy on them’" (Jeremiah 33:23-26). These "two nations" also are called "both the houses of Israel" (Ezekiel 35:10; 37:22; Isaiah 8:14).
Moreover, during their sojourn on earth both are called to a "test." We see this in that the word bachar, or chosen, also is translated tested: "Behold, I have refined you, but not as silver; I have tested/bachar you in the furnace of affliction" (Isaiah 48:10). Israel was chosen to forever be "a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (Exodus 19:4-6; 1 Peter 1:1; 2:9). Because YHVH loved their fathers, He chose, or appointed, their descendants after them. And because they are chosen, all Israelites must make a choice: "I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse...so choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants" (Deuteronomy 30:19; 28).
Restated, Israel is chosen to be tested, and forever chosen to choose. So choose this day whom you will serve O Israel (Joshua 24:15).
Ephraim Israel: Destined To Become A Melo haGoyim
To understand Israel we must realize that whether they are being blessed or cursed, Israelites and their children will forever remain biological Israelites. Furthermore, just as every promise made to the Jewish people must be fulfilled, so every promise made to Judah’s brother Joseph, and thus to Joseph’s son Ephraim, must be fulfilled. And Jacob declared that the heirs of Ephraim would become a melo hagoyim, a "fullness of Gentiles" (Genesis 48:19).
So where is Ephraim today? Could he possibly be found among the non-Jewish Believers? Could the roots of many Believers extend much deeper than they had previously imagined? Is it possible that at this time the Father is revealing the truth of Ephraim’s identity as "part" of the people of Israel? Are Believers beginning to realize that they were not called to "replace" Jewish Israel, but are instead to come alongside here and be a blessing to Judah, even as long-lost Joseph was once a source of blessing for his brothers?
Certainly that would explain why so many Believers now feel drawn to Israel’s feasts and to the eternal truths of Torah. It would explain why so many feel they are being drawn with cords of love toward the Jewish people, and the Land of Israel. It also explains Jeremiah’s prophecy about Ephraim being like a prodigal son and being "instructed," and about him "coming to know himself." It explains Ephraim’s present search for the truth about his Israelite roots, and why he feels as though "deep is calling unto deep" in these matters (Jeremiah 31:18-19). It also explains why so many are fleeing former theologies and traditions and feeling the need for serious change.
Ephraim is coming to repentance in this hour because, as foretold by Isaiah, both houses have stumbled over He Who would be a Sanctuary to them (Yeshua) - although they stumbled in very different ways. Judah has stumbled in not seeing the Messiah as the Living Torah, and Ephraim has stumbled in that he could not see the truths of his own Israelite roots and heritage. This happened because both houses were partially hardened. Neither could see clearly. But now is the time for the veil to be lifted and for blinded eyes to begin to see. It is time for the "two sticks" of Ephraim and Judah to be made one in the Father’s hand (Isaiah 8:13-14; John 2:19-22; Romans 11:25; Ezekiel 37:15-28).
This Restoration Includes "All"
Israel’s full restoration includes all who are called in Messiah. It includes those who were at one time "separate from Messiah, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world." In Yeshua, those who formerly were far off are brought near by His shed blood. "So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints, and are of God’s household" (Ephesians 2:11-22). This Divine restoration includes the "companions" of both Judah and Ephraim (Ezekiel 37:16). The doors to Israel’s New Covenant Commonwealth are open to whomsoever the Almighty might decide to draw. It is open to all who hear the voice of the Messiah of Israel.
Israelites, Ephraimites and Judahites alike, are beginning to see truths in Scripture that they never saw before - because their eyes are being sovereignly opened. This new insight is causing a renewed Israel to come forth from a grave of disobedience and dispersion, and to leave behind their tattered shrouds of Roman and Babylonian garb. It is causing them to seek to be clothed only in truth and righteousness. They are returning to the Father’s Inspired and Eternal Word (Genesis to Revelation). They are leaving behind the uninspired and finite doctrines of men. In this search for truth, Scripture is coming alive with new meaning for a Redeemed Israel.
Though people often make it complicated, the truth about the identity of Israel is very simple:
Long ago the Father divided Israel into two houses: Ephraim (Israel) and Judah. As His two witnesses they were sent in two different directions to serve two different purposes, to establish His two immutable truths of Law and Grace. And now, in this last day, YHVH would have the two Israel’s (and their companions) come together, that they might fulfill His Divine purpose and begin to confirm His truth in the earth.
Israel. Her story is a simple one:
Two Different Purposes
Now it is Time to Put Them Back Together Again.
Arise, O Israel!
Arise to Your Destiny in Messiah!
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