Zionist Christians might be from Israel’s ‘Ten Lost tribes’

After nearly two millennia of animosity and distrust, we see large numbers of Christians loving Jews.

Christian 311 (photo credit: Associated Press)
Christian 311
(photo credit: Associated Press)
We are witnessing an amazing turn of events in Jewish/Christian history. After nearly two millennia of animosity and distrust, we see large numbers of Christians loving Jews. And Jews worldwide are responding and appreciating Christians for their friendship and strong support of Israel. Perhaps no greater evidence of this new congeniality is the very magazine you are holding: a special monthly edition of The Jerusalem Post dedicated to Christian lovers of Zion.
This new mutual warmth has caused many Jews and Christians to remark that we have more in common with each other – in spite of our different beliefs regarding Jesus – than we do with many of our co-religionists. For we are as far removed from our Jimmy Carters and Reverend Wrights as the Jewish Zionists are from their Noam Chomskys and Richard Goldstones.
The swiftness of the change has also caused many within the Christian Zionist movement to wonder if there isn’t more going on here. Is our sudden passionate defense of Israel being driven by something deeper than just our common biblical heritage? Could we actually be witnessing the fulfillment of the most prophesied event in the Bible – the reunion of the House of Israel with the House of Judah? More to the point, could we Christians be actual descendants of the missing Ten Tribes of the House of Israel, captured by Assyria and scattered among the nations in 722 BCE?
More and more Christians (myself included), and even some Jews, have come to this startling conclusion!
Although the event is foretold by all of Israel’s prophets, none described it more graphically than Ezekiel. Given a vision of a valley covered with dry bones, he was asked by an angel, “Son of man, can these bones live?” When he could not answer, the angel told him to command the breath [Holy Spirit] to breathe “on these slain that they may come to life.” So he did, “and they came to life and stood on their feet, an exceedingly great army.” He was then informed: “Son of man these bones are the whole house of Israel” (Ezekiel 37:1-14).
This powerful vision was soon followed by a command from the Lord to join two sticks together, reemphasizing the reunion of Judah and Israel. “And I will make them one nation in the Land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king will be king for all of them; and they will no longer be two nations, and no longer be divided into two kingdoms... My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd” (Ezekiel 37:22,24).
For those a bit hazy on their biblical history, let me back up a bit.
The breakup of the united kingdom of Israel into two separate nations is told in 1 Kings 11 and 12. There we read of God’s judgment on the House of David following the reign of Solomon. God had warned Solomon to repent of his idolatrous ways, but the king ignored God’s command. Consequently, 10 of the 12 tribes were ripped away to become a separate nation known as the House of Israel (often called “Ephraim,” after its largest tribe). The two remaining tribes, Judah and Benjamin, formed the southern kingdom and became known as the House of Judah. Both continued as separate kingdoms for another 200 years, often actually warring with one another.
Eventually God’s judgment fell again, but only on the northern kingdom. After God “divorced” the northern kingdom by declaring it to be “not My people” via the prophet Hosea, Assyria swept down and carried them off into the nations, where they assimilated and disappeared. As gentiles, they were now “excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in this world” (Ephesians 2:12).
God’s judgment finally caught up with Judah also about 100 years later, when she was exiled to Babylon for 70 years (and where her people were first called “Jews”). She eventually returned to the Land and lived there long enough to birth the man we Christians worship as the Messiah. One hundred and thirty years later, Judah suffered a second exile, this time being scattered to the four corners of the earth by the Roman legions in about 135 CE.
Now all 12 tribes were dispersed among the nations, until descendants of the House of Judah began to come home in the late 1800s. But the other 10 tribes of Israel are still missing.
Some contend that enough representatives of the northern kingdom were absorbed into the House of Judah before the Assyrian exile to say the whole nation is today represented by “the Jews.” But why would the prophets, many of whom wrote long after the exile of the northern kingdom, talk of the glorious return of the 10 tribes and their reunion with Judah if it had already taken place?
The bottom line is that more than 80% of Jacob’s family is still missing and have had 2,700 years to intermarry with every nationality. Today they probably number in the hundreds of millions. Where are they? How will we know them? And if we are in the Last Days, as most of us believe, how will they be found in time to be reunited with Judah?
What of the New Testament? Are there any suggestions there that the non-Jewish followers of Jesus could indeed be physical descendants of the scattered tribes? Once you begin to look, the clues are everywhere!
Start with the inauguration of the New Covenant by Jesus. Most Christians and Jews think this was something Jesus created for Christians. But when you read the words of the covenant you see it was promised only to the descendants of Judah and Israel through Jeremiah’s prophecy.
“Behold, days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them, declares the Lord.
“But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord. I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people.” (Jeremiah 31: 31,32; Hebrews 8:8-13)
We also have the apostle Paul saying clearly to the believers in Galatia: “If you belong to Messiah, you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise” (Galatians 3:29).
To the believers in Ephesus he writes that “you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ [...] that in himself he might make the two into one new man” (Ephesians 2:13-15).
Doesn’t that sound like the two joined sticks of Ezekiel?
And in his letter to the Roman church, Paul applies to the gentile followers the very words of hope that the prophet Hosea spoke to the banished northern kingdom, saying: “I will call those who were not My people, ‘My people.’ And it shall be in the place where it was said to them, ‘you are not My people,’ there they shall be called sons of the Living God” (Romans 9:25,26; Hoseah 1:10). And are not the followers of Jesus called “sons of God” by the Jewish writers of the New Testament?
Then there’s Paul’s figurative analogy in Romans 11 of the gentiles being wild olive branches grafted into the cultivated olive tree of Israel. But notice that we too are olive branches. The “wild olive tree” analogy fits perfectly with the northern kingdom scenario of a people who were simply let go.
We also have the apostle James greeting the whole church in the opening of his epistle, both Jew and gentile, as “the 12 tribes who are dispersed abroad” (James 1:1). That’s puzzled scholars for centuries.
And consider the statement by the author of Hebrews that, “Both he who sanctifies [referring to Jesus] and those who are sanctified are all from one [referring to Abraham], for which reason he is not ashamed to call them brethren” (Hebrews 2:11-16).
We also have John’s description of the heavenly city of Jerusalem in the book of Revelation having only 12 gates, each named after one of the 12 tribes of Israel (see Revelation 21:12). There is no gate marked “Christian.” Or any back door for “righteous gentiles.”
And of course there are these words of Jesus (who was of the tribe of Judah), spoken to his Jewish followers: “I am sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24). Not much room there for anyone outside the chosen line of Isaac, is there?
Speaking of not much room, many readers are no doubt thinking, “if this is true, how would so many Christians ever fit into Israel?” Although not all will come home, for only “a remnant will be saved” (Isaiah 10:22; Romans 9:27), still the number would be quite large. That makes this prophecy by Isaiah all the more intriguing: “The children of whom you were bereaved will yet say in your ears, ‘The place is too cramped for me; make room for me that I may live here. Then you will say in your heart; Who has begotten these for me... Behold I was left alone, from where did these come?” (Isaiah 49: 20,21)
I guess the Lord Himself will eventually make it clear whether we Christian Zionists are the missing tribes. A recent news item even suggests a possible way. A new genetic study has shown that worldwide Jewry all share the same genome, proving they constitute “one family.” Maybe it’s time we non-Jewish lovers of Israel take the same test.
The writer is the author of Valley of the Steeples. His writings can be found on www.bhennessy.com