Why Israel? Let’s begin with an outline of some of the things that we believe to be true.
- We believe that Israel is not just the Jewish people.
- We believe that the lost ten tribes will at some point in the future have their identity restored.
- And that the twelve tribes of Israel will be reconstituted as a recognizable entity.
- We believe that Ephraim and Manasseh are observable in the current nations of the United States and the British Commonwealth.
- And we believe that the British Monarchy has ties to the biblical line of David.
We feel relatively comfortable expressing those things in this context. But we would be quite uncomfortable expressing them outside this particular group of people. And if we did discuss these ideas within a non-church environment, it would be quite uncomfortable because they are widely considered to be racist.
When asked if British-Israelism is racist, ChatGPT, responded:
“Yes, British-Israelism can be considered a form of racist ideology.
“British-Israelism is a belief system that suggests that the British people are descendants of the ten lost tribes of Israel. Proponents often use this as a justification for British superiority and the divine right to colonize other nations.
“This belief system is often associated with white supremacy and the belief in the inherent superiority of white people. It has been used to support colonialism and imperialism, which have caused great harm to indigenous peoples around the world.
“Furthermore, the idea of British-Israelism is not supported by historical evidence and has been widely discredited by scholars. Therefore, it is best to avoid this belief system and instead promote more inclusive and respectful attitudes towards all peoples.”
The thing is, ChatGPT is not wrong. British-Israelism is indeed racist. So how do we unfold that?
The connection between Britain and Israel has quite a spectrum of beliefs but most people attribute British-Israelism to relatively recent 19th century English writings which were brought to the United States and incorporated into overtly racist ideologies. The more problematic versions include the “Christian Identity” and “Serpent Seed” movements. Wikipedia has something to say about these two concepts:
“The Christian Identity movement emerged in the United States in the 1920s and 1930s as an offshoot of British Israelism. It advocates that only Celtic and Germanic peoples, such as the Anglo-Saxon, Nordic nations, or Aryan people and people of kindred blood, are the descendants of the ancient Israelites, and that all non-whites will either be exterminated or enslaved in order to serve the white race in the new Heavenly Kingdom on Earth under the reign of Jesus Christ. Its doctrine states that only “Adamic” (white) people can achieve salvation and enter paradise. Many of its adherents are Millennialist.”
“The serpent seed is a fringe Christian religious belief which claims that the Serpent mated with Eve in the Garden of Eden, and the offspring of their union was Cain. This resulted in two races of people: the wicked descendants of the Serpent who were destined for damnation (that’s principally blacks and Jews), and the righteous descendants of Adam who were destined to have eternal life. The doctrine frames human history as a conflict between these two races in which the descendants of Adam (white people) will eventually triumph over the descendants of the Serpent (non-white people).”
This is toxic garbage. It does notrepresent what we believe about Israel’s identity, its purpose, or its future but we are painted with this same brush.
People connect what we believe with some very horrible ideas and that is Satan’s master stroke. He blends truth and error together into a toxic mix and he recasts truth. When Christ came to earth, and preached God’s plan of salvation he started somewhat of a revolution. So, Satan raised up a false Church, took what Christ taught, twisted it and re-presented Christianity to the world.
We want to focus on this as a doctrinal issue for the church today.
The antagonism that is expressed in academia about anything that attaches Britain and Israel is venomous. It’s labeled on the first page of Wikipedia as “pseudo-archaeological and pseudohistorical” and the commentary is strident. That’s the tone that is expressed about matters like the US and BC in Prophecy.
Nevertheless, we suggest that the connection between Britain and Israel is not ridiculous. The links that connect Israel and Britain pre-date British nationalism. The idea of whiteness as a racial identity in a sense of superiority cropped up in the 17th century. These ideas about Britain’s connection to Israel go back quite a bit further before Christianity; the connection was before Rome.
There are defensible historical links that support the US and BC doctrine. Ideas like the Israelites under Solomon had a treaty with the Phoenicians. The Phoenicians were famous sea-faring people. Under that arrangement it’s quite likely that the Israelites had settlements throughout the Mediterranean, likely the British Isles.
There are connections for Israel and Britain through the Scythians and the Cimmerians who migrated from the middle east through the Caucasus Mountains into Europe after the northern ten tribes were taken into captivity and then resettled in Assyria in 720 BC.
There is also a letter documented where the Spartans (550-330 BC) claimed shared ancestry with the Jewish people. The Parthian empire is another empire that could have been Israelite. They counterbalanced with the Roman Empire from 200 BC to 200 AD. Again it’s all disputed and there’s a lot of history that cannot be proved.
Besides all that, our faith does not stand or fall based on the modern-day identity of Israel. God made a promise about His purpose and His power to redeem all humanity.
Some say the prophecies about Israel have been fulfilled. What does God say?
“. . . Say to the House of Israel . . . ‘For I will take you from among the nations, gather you out of all countries, and bring you into your own land. . . .28Then you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; you shall be My people, and I will be your God. . . . 36Then the nations which are left all around you shall know that I, the Lord, have rebuilt the ruined places and planted what was desolate. I, the Lord, have spoken it, and I will do it.’” (Ezekiel 36:22,24,28,36).
You cannot take Israel out of God’s plan. If Israel has been made useless and irrelevant because they didn’t get it right and they’re gone never to be seen again, what does that say about God? Not very hopeful when you look at what God said He would do with Israel. Where is God in that scenario?
Believing that God is capable of and will do what He said He will do is a matter of salvation because it is an expression of faith.
God deals in reality. His redemptive work is not just some spiritual concept. He deals with real people and real time. He conducts His work in the real human world of political geography and history. And His work is carried out throughout the Bible and even today in real people who are working on His purpose. Think about Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Israel, the church. God works with real people in the real world.
Christ Himself became physical in order to accomplish the Master Plan. The apex of God’s redemptive work was Christ being physical. It is very detrimental to our spiritual health if we spiritualize away the work that God is doing with and in His people.
If you ignore the US and BC in Prophecy because you find it uncomfortable, distasteful in some way, you are probably not fully understanding it, or you are perhaps letting it blend with some really bad ideas. And you will be missing out on something that’s very encouraging, exciting, and dynamic.
But we do need to understand God’s use of duality. In Deuteronomy 7, Israel is referenced as both a spiritual community with shared beliefs like the Church. That’s comfortable, that’s abstract. It is inclusive. But it’s also talked about as a physical family with shared genealogy, which is a chosen people. And that’s not comfortable. It offends our egalitarian sensibilities.
Nevertheless, our objections to God’s method do not have any bearing on God’s righteous prerogative to execute His plan. The Bible is very plain:
“For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth” (Deuteronomy 7:6).
The Old Testament and New Testament agree that both physical Israel and spiritual Israel (the church) are chosen. They are special. In Christopher Wright’s book, Living as the People of God there is very good scholarship about the importance of physical Israel. He states that Israel is a community, not a race. The operative labels in the Hebrew are the words ‘am’ and ‘goy’ Goy is a nation or what we would probably think of as a race in the geo-political sense. But ‘am’ is a community. Usually Israel is referred to as the ‘am’ of God, which means it is the community created by and belonging to Yahweh.
It is difficult to understand how people get wrapped up in the race issue concerning Israel because Israel is a genetic soup. It didn’t have this pure genetic line that could be described as some sort of racial purity. Apparently God’s purpose in His work with Israel was not about race.
The sons of Jacob married Canaanites and Moabites. Ephraim’s and Manasseh’s mother (Joseph’s wife) was Egyptian. The Israelites went out from Egypt with a mixed multitude. Caleb, one of the great figures of heroes of Israel was the son of a Kenizzite of the people of Canaan. The lineage of Christ Himself is mixed. Rahab was a Canaanite prostitute. Ruth was a Moabite.
The key issue is not racial genetics. It is Abraham’s Y chromosome. Israel is not a race; it is a family. God created Israel from scratch. He began this community from nothing. They are the descendants of a man that God picked to accomplish His work.
The biblical progression hits the major crisis-point in Babel in man’s downward spiral. There is increasing sin and rebellion that culminates in God’s intervention through the Noachian flood. From that post-flood world, God called Abraham, redeemed him, and used him to initiate a process of renewal and restoration that is continuing (Genesis 12:2-3).
Abraham and Sarah begat Isaac. Isaac and Rebekah begat Jacob. Jacob was renamed after wrestling with God, to “Israel”. Israel had children by four different women: Leah, Rachel, Bilhah, and Zilpah. And they had twelve sons. Israel, his sons, and all their families went to Egypt during a long famine and eventually were required to serve as Pharoah’s slaves.
The nation of Israel and a mixed multitude went out of Egypt 430 years to the day from when God made His promises to Abraham. They migrated to the Promised Land, and grew to great power. And they were unfaithful (Ezekiel 36:17,19). But that is not the end of the story (Ezekiel 36:24,36). We have not seen the second part of this story because it has yet to occur.
Christ is the pre-eminent figure in this salvation story and the blessings that God promised would happen through Abraham’s seed. But introducing Christ does not discount Israel’s role. Israel had a function that God decided it would serve and He will have it serve that function. Israel’s role physically is analogous to Christ’s role. In “The Servant Passages” of Isaiah 42 and 49, the identity of the servant shifts back and forth from Christ to Israel and the role that Israel was supposed to serve. Israel as a physical nation was to serve the same purpose, in type, as Christ did. It was to be a conduit by which all humanity would come into a relationship with God.
What was it that made Israel unique? Why were they special? It wasn’t because they were great (Deuteronomy 7:7-8). It wasn’t because they were somehow special (Amos 9:7). God was using them for His purpose.
What made them special was the gift of God’s way of life. God gave them a law and statutes and judgments, and He gave them His own counsel and by that He formed them into a community that was different, that had a way of life that was to make them holy. It was to form godly character.
God’s holiness is practical and actionable, and it has to be learned through physical means. We learn about God through the physical environment, this classroom that He has created for us. The rest of the world, in their time will learn about God through a physical environment. God is instructing the entire world through that same physicality by which He instructs us.
Per the instructions of God, Israel was to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. They were to be mediators and teachers and they failed. But God won’t. God will redeem Israel and Israel will serve all of humanity. In that way Israel is both the medium, and the message that God is delivering to the world. The message is that He redeems.
Regardless of how ancient Israel and their modern descendants of Israel have failed God, they are still the people that God will use. What message does that send to the world when they see Israel as God’s people, living within God’s way, and being blessed for it? It sends a very powerful message about what God is doing: “Look, there goes the product of God’s mercy” (Exodus 34:6-7).
The arc of Israel’s story is the gospel message. It has to be completed successfully. And it will be done. The election and redemption of Israel was God’s response to the rebellion of man and the global spread of evil. That story is aptly summarized if you would like to read it in Ezekiel 36. Israel was supposed to be a light to the world, a holy nation, and a priesthood. But now God has to fix that because they didn’t do as God instructed.
What He has determined in His righteousness He stands by with fixed purpose.
“. . . the Lord your God, He is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations . . .” (Deuteronomy 7:9).
God is laboring both through physical and spiritual means (including us) to bring His creation into unity with Him. And Israel is a central component of that great plan. We must not spiritualize away His actions in physical life. If we do we will also spiritualize away His expectations and His requirements of us – what we should be doing individually and collectively as a holy people, as a spiritual extension of physical Israel.
We are, as Israel will be, to be set apart as a model of God’s way and a conduit to God. That knowledge casts a very bright and hopeful but also demanding light on Israel and on us. We shouldn’t throw it away simply because Satan has managed to blend it all together with some very terrible ideas.
We must remember that within the election, selection and construction of Israel there was to be a unique community that represents God. There is a very important message buried in that. It is that Israel is just the beginning. Israel is just one step to what God is doing more broadly. The story of Israel is the story of all nations, all peoples, and all of humankind.
“For then I will restore to the peoples a pure language, That they all may call on the name of the Lord, To serve Him with one accord” (Zephaniah 3:9).
“In that day Israel will be one of three with Egypt and Assyria—a blessing in the midst of the land, 25 whom the Lord of hosts shall bless, saying, “Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance” (Isaiah 19:24–25).
“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace . . .10 that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him” (Ephesians 1:7,10).
We can and should be awed by God’s purpose, promise and faithfulness.