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The Wild Branches

Every summer, Jews around the world celebrate Tish B'Av, the ninth day of the month of Av. This day commemorates the loss of the first and second temples, as well as the Jewish expulsion from Spain in 1492. Interestingly, when you add the seventy years of exile from the first temple to the 1940 years without the second temple (2010 AD-70 AD when the temple was destroyed), you find the Jews have now spent 2010 years without a temple. Events in Israel during the past five years seem to indicate the little country of Israel is undergoing a period of radical change. Is 2000 years significant?

2 Peter 3:8 and Psalm 90:4 state that a thousand years are as one day to God.

(Hosea 6:2) After two days [two thousand years] He will revive us; On the third day [within the third thousand years] He will raise us up, that we may live in His sight.

The scripture in Hosea has many interpretations, but could we associate these scriptures to conclude that God has been very actively involved with world events affecting our lives these past ten years, since the year 2000? Hosea is written to Ephraim but does the word "us" include all Christians, both Israelites and Gentiles? The influence of the Vatican and Europe regarding Jerusalem is a very strong indication of where we are in end-time prophecy. So is the Jewish give-away of the God-given land of Gaza to their millennia-old enemies and the horrific natural disasters the world has experienced lately.

How often have you thought about the allegory in Romans 11 where Christian Gentiles are being grafted into the root of Abraham at the temporary expense of unbeliving Jews?

(Rom 11:16-20 NKJV) For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches. {17} And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them, and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, {18} do not boast against the branches. But if you do boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you. {19} You will say then, "Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in." {20} Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear.

Today I want to talk about the wild branches – the Gentile Christians.

I'm taking this sermon from an article in the magazine, Hebrew Roots. The permission of the author to use his material has been obtained.

In the analogy of the Olive Tree of Israel in Rom. 11:17, it is understood that the olive tree is composed of two basic groups of people; Jewish Believers and Gentile Believers. Paul, or Sha'ul in Hebrew, equates the Jews as being the 'natural' branches of an olive tree and the Gentile Believers as being branches from a "wild olive tree." Speaking to the Gentile Believers he says:

(Rom. 11:24)"For if you were cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and were grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree, how much more will these, who are the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?"

As we saw in verse 17, Paul refers to the Gentile Believers as being "...a wild olive tree ..." But in verse 24 he refers to Christian Jews being grafted into their own olive tree.

The English word Gentile comes from the Hebrew word Goy (Gohee, Strong's #1471). The plural form in Hebrew is goyim (Gohee-eem; Strong's does not differentiate between the singular and plural forms)

Goy literally means 'a people.' However, the common understanding is that anyone who is not Jewish is considered to be a Goy. The most used translation for goyim is 'nations,' and it is generally understood to be those nations which are not of Israel. However, from a Scriptural standpoint these definitions, while usually correct, are not always true. In fact, goy can refer to anyone who is a part of any 'nation,' including the nation of Israel. Prior to the calling of Avraham (Ahv-rah-hahm = Abraham), all peoples were said to reside within their goyim or 'nations.'

The central promise which God gave when He called Avraham was that He would make Avraham a great Goy - a great nation.

(Gen 12:1-2 NKJV) Now the LORD had said to Abram: "Get out of your country, From your family And from your father's house, To a land that I will show you. {2} I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing.

Even though God was promising him that he was to become the father of a great nation, at this point in time Avram had no children. It was not until later on that God specifically told Avram that the nation he had been promised was to come through a son born to his wife Sarai (Gen. 15), although that was probably assumed in Gen. 12.

Ten years went by and still they had no children. By this time Sarai, at age seventy-five, was long past her childbearing years. So, at Sarai's suggestion, Avram fathered a son by Hagar; Sarai's handmaid from Egypt. According to tradition, Hagar was actually an Egyptian princess, whom the Pharaoh had given to Sarai when they were in Egypt. (See Gen. 12:1-20.) The product of this union was named Ishmael, which means "God hears." He was given this name because the pregnant Hagar had cried out to God in her distress after fleeing from the harsh hand of her mistress, Sarai. It was at this time that a prophecy was given by God concerning the kind of man Ishmael would become:

(Gen 16:12 NKJV) He shall be a wild man; His hand shall be against every man, And every man's hand against him. And he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren."

Today we know the descendants of Ishmael as the Arab people. They are every bit as much descendants of Avraham as are the Jewish people. However, because they do not also descend from Yitzchak (Yeetz-ahk = Isaac) and Ya'acov (Yah-cove = Jacob) they are considered to be Goyim or Gentiles. It is interesting to note that Ishmael was prophesied to be a 'wild' one.

Now let's discuss the "Father of Many Goyim."

Thirteen years passed after the birth of Ishmael (when Avram was eighty-six years old) before God again spoke to him. At this time God told Avram that he would become the father of many goyim (nations):

(Gen. 17:1-6) "When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the LORD appeared to Abram and said to him, 'I am Almighty God; walk before Me and be blameless. And I will make My covenant between Me and you, and will multiply you exceedingly.' "Then Abram fell on his face, and God talked with him, saying: As for Me, behold, My covenant is with you, and you shall be a father of many nations [goyim]. No longer shall your name be called Abram [which means high father], but your name shall be Abraham [father of a multitude]; for I have made you a father of many nations [goyim]. I will make you exceedingly fruitful; and I will make nations [goyim] of you, and kings shall come from you."'

Here we have a prophesy that Avraham is to become the father of goyim (nations or Gentiles). Later God spoke to Avraham's grandson, Ya'acov (Jacob) and made a similar promise to him:

(Gen. 46:2-3) "Then God spoke to Israel in the visions of the night, and said, 'Jacob, Jacob' And he said, 'Here I am.' " And He said, 'I am God, the God of your father, do not fear to go down to Egypt, for I will make of you a great nation [goy] there.'"

Avraham is the father of many nations, both those of the promise (descended through Yitzchak (Isaac) and Ya'acov (Jacob)), and other nations which came through Ishmael and his other children, plus Yitzchak's (Isaac's) firstborn son Esau.

Now let's see how Israel and Judah are Goyim:

The name HaShem is commonly translated as "The Lord"or God but HaShem actually means the Name. HaShem told the children of Israel (through Moses) that He would make them a 'holy goy,' if they would obey him. Remember the meaning of "HaShem." We'll be using it often:

(Ex. 19:5-6a) "'Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation [goy]...."'

Throughout the Hebrew Scriptures the Israelites are referred to, from time to time, as a goy or nation. For example:

(Joshua 5:8) "So it was, when they had finished circumcising all the people [goyim], that they stayed in their places in the camp till they were healed."

Many, many other examples could be cited where Israel and/or Judah are called by the generic term commonly used for Gentile(s); goy or goyim.

What is a Pseudo Goyim?

In the majority of cases where the words goy or goyim are used, they refer to nations and peoples other than the children of Israel. However, there is one special situation that has existed in the world for over 2500 years where this term can be applied to a group of people who were once an integral part of the nation of Israel, but now are fully assimilated into the Goyim or nations of the world. This situation is the one in which the descendants of the House of Israel currently find themselves.

To understand what happened to the House of Israel we need to go to the book of Hosea. The name Hosea (Hoshea = Hoh-shay-ah in Hebrew) comes from the same root word (yesha) as does the name of our Savior, Yeshua (from which we get the English word Jesus). The name Hoshea means " deliverer." Hoshea was a contemporary of Isaiah, Amos and Micah. Hoshea and Amos were prophets to the northern kingdom (House of Israel) while Isaiah and Micah were primarily prophets to the southern kingdom (House of Judah). The book of Hoshea opens by giving the time setting of his prophecies:

(Hosea 1:1) "The word of the LORD that came to Hosea the son of Geeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Abaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel."

The reigns of the listed kings extend all the way from ca 782 to 686 BCE. While it is quite unlikely that Hoshea's prophetic life was this long, it is clear that he would have been prophesying at least from ca 754 to 714 BCE in order to overlap all of the listed kings by at least one year.

Apparently Hoshea was a young unmarried man when HaShem first called him to prophesy, for the first instruction he received was to take a prostitute for a bride:

(Hosea 1:2 NKJV) When the LORD began to speak by Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea: "Go, take yourself a wife of harlotry And children of harlotry, For the land has committed great harlotry By departing from the LORD."

The reason Hoshea was required to marry a harlot was because she and her children were to become symbols of the House of Israel who, even though they were spiritually married to the God of Israel, had played the harlot through their idolatry.

- Idolatry is Spiritual Harlotry -

The marriage of HaShem to the children of Israel took place in the spiritual rather than the physical realm, and just as a human wife promises to be faithful to her husband, so did the children of Israel promise to be faithful to HaShem:

(Ex. 20:3) "'You shall have no other gods before Me.'"

This was one of the Ten Words (the commandments) which all of the children of Israel promised to observe when they were married to HaShem at Mount Sinai:

(Ex. 19:8a) "Then all the people answered together and said, All that the LORD has spoken we will do.' ..."

Even though the marriage vow had been made, the House of Israel (the northern ten tribes) refused to stay within their vow and instead went whoring after other gods. which are not really gods, just sticks and stones. God speaks about their adulterous idolatry in chapter two, in a metaphor about the wife of Hoshea. However, the one being chastised here is really not Gomer (the wife of Hoshea) but the House of Israel (the northern ten tribes). Thus, Gomer becomes a type of the House of Israel:

(Hosea 2:2-5 NKJV) "Bring charges against your mother, bring charges; For she is not My wife, nor am I her Husband! Let her put away her harlotries from her sight, And her adulteries from between her breasts; {3} Lest I strip her naked And expose her, as in the day she was born, And make her like a wilderness, And set her like a dry land, And slay her with thirst. {4} "I will not have mercy on her children, For they are the children of harlotry. {5} For their mother has played the harlot; She who conceived them has behaved shamefully. For she said, 'I will go after my lovers, Who give me my bread and my water, My wool and my linen, My oil and my drink.'

Because of her adulterous idolatry, in verses 6-12, HaShem speaks about the judgments that He will bring against the House of Israel. At the conclusion of this section it is made clear why God is intending to bring this calamity upon the House of Israel:

(Verse13 NKJV) I will punish her For the days of the Baals to which she burned incense. She decked herself with her earrings and jewelry, And went after her lovers; But Me she forgot," says the LORD.

A little later on, HaShem again takes the House of Israel to task for their idolatry:

(Hosea 4:12-13 NKJV) My people ask counsel from their wooden idols, And their staff informs them. For the spirit of harlotry has caused them to stray, And they have played the harlot against their God. {13} They offer sacrifices on the mountaintops, And burn incense on the hills, Under oaks, poplars, and terebinths, Because their shade is good. Therefore your daughters commit harlotry, And your brides commit adultery.

It is clear that God is speaking to the House of Israel and not to the House of Judah (the Jews), for He commands Judah not to follow the path of her sister Israel:

(Verses 15-19 NKJV) "Though you, Israel, play the harlot, Let not Judah offend. Do not come up to Gilgal, Nor go up to Beth Aven, Nor swear an oath, saying, 'As the LORD lives'; {16} "For Israel is stubborn Like a stubborn calf; Now the LORD will let them forage Like a lamb in open country. {17} "Ephraim is joined to idols, Let him alone. {18} Their drink is rebellion, They commit harlotry continually. Her rulers dearly love dishonor. {19} The wind has wrapped her up in its wings, And they shall be ashamed because of their sacrifices.

This is just a sampling of the many Scriptures found in the book of Hoshea concerning the adulterous idolatry of the House of Israel. The indictment is clear: the House of Israel has become like an adulterous wife.

What is the Offspring of Harlotry?

Not only was Hoshea to marry a harlot, he was to father children by her as well:

(Hosea 1:3-5) "So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son. Then the LORD said to him:
'Call his name Jezreel, For in a little while I will avenge the bloodshed of Jezreel on the house of Jehu, And bring an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel.
It shall come to pass in that day That I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel."'

Hoshea's wife is named Gomer, which is the same name as one of the sons of Japheth; one of the three sons of Noah. There is no indication in the Scriptures as to which tribe Gomer may have come from, or if she was indeed a Gentile. However, the fact that she carries a Gentile name will prove to be significant as the story of the House of Israel unfolds. There is additional meaning in her name, for Gomer comes from a root word which means " end ( in the sense of completion or failure)." As we shall see, the prophesies of Hoshea speak of both the 'failure' and the 'completion' of the House of Israel.

The first son born to this union of God's prophet and Gomer, the harlot, is a son named Yizreel (Yeez-reh-ehl = Jezreel). This name has a double meaning. First of all it is the name of the valley where God would bring the House of Israel to their destruction and ultimate captivity by the Assyrians. However, the literal meaning of the word is: "God will sow." Contained within the name of this firstborn son is the prophecy that God would 'sow' the House of Israel by scattering them like seeds of grain throughout the earth. This scattering was to be accomplished through the hands of their Assyrian captors: Hold your place in Hosea and turn to 2 Kings 18.

(2 Ki 18:9-12 NKJV) Now it came to pass in the fourth year of King Hezekiah, .... Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against Samaria and besieged it.... {11} Then the king of Assyria carried Israel away captive to Assyria, and put them in Halah and by the Habor, the River of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes, {12} because they did not obey the voice of the LORD their God, but transgressed His covenant and all that Moses the servant of the LORD had commanded; and they would neither hear nor do them.

It was at this very juncture when HaShem first began to sow the people of the House of Israel throughout the nations (goyim) of the world.

Let's describe more of Gomer's children:

Yizreel was only the first child born to the union of Hoshea and Gomer. The next child was a daughter:

(Hosea 1:6-7 NKJV) And she conceived again and bore a daughter. Then God said to him: "Call her name Lo-Ruhamah, For I will no longer have mercy on the house of Israel, But I will utterly take them away. {7} Yet I will have mercy on the house of Judah, Will save them by the LORD their God, And will not save them by bow, Nor by sword or battle, By horses or horsemen."

The name Lo Ruhamah (Low Rue-hah-mah) means: "not pitied," or "no mercy." Her name is significant because it tells the House of Israel that no matter what they might do at that point it was too late and God was not going to have mercy on them but was going to 'sow' them into captivity as He had promised.

(Verses 8-9 NKJV) Now when she had weaned Lo-Ruhamah, she conceived and bore a son. {9} Then God said: "Call his name Lo-Ammi, For you are not My people, And I will not be your God.

Lo Ammi (Loh Ahm-mee) is also a prophetic name for it means: "not my people." Not only was God going to (Yizreel) 'sow' the House of Israel among the goyim of the world, He was not going to take (Lo Ruhamah) 'mercy' on them even to the point of indicating that the House of Israel was (Lo Ammi) 'not His people.' This is why the northern ten tribes of Israel are, to this day, often spoken of as "The Lost Ten Tribes." They have been 'lost' to their God, they have been 'lost' to their sister Judah (the Jews) and they have been 'lost' to themselves, for to this day they do not even know who they really are. They consider themselves to be children of Gomer, i.e. they consider themselves to be Goyim (Gentiles).

Now let's describe the Tribes of Israel -

To understand the enormity of what God did when He had the Assyrians take the House of Israel captive, it must be remembered that there were ten tribes in the House of Israel and only three tribes in the House of Judah. The question is often asked: "...'Where did the extra one come from? Ten and three make thirteen, but Ya'acov (Jacob) only had twelve sons."

The answer is that Yoseif (Yohsafe = Joseph), the eldest son of Jacob's (Ya'acov's) favorite wife, Rachel, was given the birthright promise of a double blessing. His two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, each received a full portion in the land of Israel. However, Levi did not receive a portion of land because they were the priestly tribe and were scattered throughout the country, coming to Jerusalem only when their division was required to serve at the Temple and during the Festivals. At the time of the separation of the House of Israel from the House of Judah (i.e. after Solomon's death) the Levites fled to Judah because the northern tribes were in the process of setting up idolatrous worship in the form of golden calves at Dan and Bethel.

Thus, the final breakdown of the two kingdoms was as follows:

In the House of Israel:

Some of the tribe of Simeon may have gone with Judah. Some of the tribe of Benjamin may have gone with Israel.

Let's discuss the Scattering:

The captivity of the House of Israel by the Assyrians was total and complete. In all likelihood a small remnant probably escaped and fled to Judah for refuge, and another small remnant may have avoided captivity by hiding in caves and forests. However, the vast majority of the people of the House of Israel were physically removed from the land by the Assyrians and resettled in far away areas:

(2 Kings. 17:23) "... the LORD removed Israel out of His sight, as He had said by all His servants the prophets. So Israel was carried away from their own land to Assyria, as it is to this day."

Not only did the Assyrians remove the House of Israel out of the land, they moved other Gentile peoples in to take their place:

(Verse 24) "Then the king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Cuthah, Ava, Hamath, and from Sepharvaim, and placed them in the cities of Samaria instead of the children of Israel; and they took possession of Samaria and dwelt in its cities."

It was this mixture of people who made up the Samaritans of Yeshua's or Jesus' day. They were a people of mixed blood and, even though they eventually came to follow the precepts of the Torah, they were roundly hated by the Jews.

So it was, in the passage of time, that the House of Israel lost the knowledge of their own identity. They no longer understood that they were a part of God's 'Chosen People,' the descendants of Avraham, Isaac (Yitzchak), and Jacob (Ya'acov), and brothers to the Jewish people. Instead they became Goyim (Gentile) in every respect, including their religion, for they had not practiced the worship given them by HaShem through Moshe or Moses since the death of Solomon, some two hundred years prior to their captivity. And so, the House of Israel fulfilled the first part of the prophetic name of their symbolic mother, Gomer. They had come to their end (Gomer) as members of God's chosen people.

However, God Will Show Mercy:

Despite all of this gloom and doom concerning the House of Israel, HaShem was very careful to weave a message of hope within the very prophecies of despair. Beginning in the first chapter of Hosea we find promises being made of an eventual restoration:

(Hosea 1:10-2:1 NKJV) "Yet the number of the children of Israel Shall be as the sand of the sea, Which cannot be measured or numbered. And it shall come to pass In the place where it was said to them, 'You are not My people,' There it shall be said to them, 'You are sons of the living God.' {11} Then the children of Judah and the children of Israel Shall be gathered together, And appoint for themselves one head; And they shall come up out of the land, For great will be the day of Jezreel! {2:1} Say to your brethren, 'My people [Ammi],' And to your sisters, 'Mercy [Ruchamah] is shown.'

As you can see, this passage contains a number of plays on the names of the children of Hoshea and Gomer. The son named Lo-Ammi (not My people) is renamed Ammi (My People) and the daughter named Lo-Ruchamah (No Mercy) is renamed Ruchamah (Mercy). HaShem is promising that the day will come when He will once again show them the mercy for which He is famous, when He declares the House of Israel to be His people. They will then be sown ( Yizreel) in His land, and will be blessed by His mercy. Thus God will restore the House of Israel back into the 'chosen people,' when they give up their adulterous idolatry and return to true spiritual worship of Him, as it is written:

(Hosea 14:1-2 NKJV) O Israel, return to the LORD your God, For you have stumbled because of your iniquity; {2} Take words with you, And return to the LORD. Say to Him, "Take away all iniquity; Receive us graciously, For we will offer the sacrifices of our lips.

Rather than animal sacrifice, HaShem desires the sacrifice of continual praise: Hold your place in Hosea

(Heb. 13:15-16) "Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased."

Continuing in Hosea 14:3

(Hosea 14:3 NKJV) Assyria shall not save us, We will not ride on horses, Nor will we say anymore to the work of our hands, 'You are our gods.' For in You the fatherless finds mercy."

Then we will see a Family Reunion:

The House of Israel fell deep into idolatry from the very beginning of their separation from Judah. Today the House of Judah (the Jewish people and the nation of Israel) still exists as an identifiable people, but the House of Israel is scattered throughout the nations of the world and only God knows who they are. Yet He promises to bring them back from the places where they have been scattered and unite them once again with their brothers and sisters in the House of Judah.

There is a marvelous prophecy in Ezekiel 37:11 concerning Dry Bones which are brought together. Sinew and flesh are placed upon them and they are resurrected to life:

"Then He said to me, 'Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel."'

How will the House of Israel come to know who they are and who their God really is? At least in part it will be through their resurrection of at least certain of them from the grave. However. this prophecy can also symbolize the resurrection of the House of Israel from obscurity back to prominence. Notice the emphasis on "My people" in Ezek 37: 12-14:

(Verses 12-14 NKJV) "Therefore prophesy and say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Behold, O My people, I will open your graves and cause you to come up from your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. {13} "Then you shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O My people, and brought you up from your graves. {14} "I will put My Spirit in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land. Then you shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken it and performed it," says the LORD.'"

Does "My people" imply that only those God has judged worthy will be resurrected or is He speaking in a generic sense to all the House of Israel? Immediately following this prophecy about the 'Dry Bones' of the House of Israel is the prophecy of the 'Two Sticks Rejoined:'

(Verses 15-22 NKJV) Again the word of the LORD came to me, saying, {16} "As for you, son of man, take a stick for yourself and write on it: 'For Judah and for the children of Israel, his companions.' Then take another stick and write on it, 'For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel, his companions.' {17} "Then join them one to another for yourself into one stick, and they will become one in your hand. {18} "And when the children of your people speak to you, saying, 'Will you not show us what you mean by these?'; {19} "say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Surely I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel, his companions; and I will join them with it, with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they will be one in My hand."' {20} "And the sticks on which you write will be in your hand before their eyes. {21} "Then say to them, 'Thus says the Lord GOD: "Surely I will take the children of Israel from among the nations, wherever they have gone, and will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land; {22} "and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king over them all; they shall no longer be two nations, nor shall they ever be divided into two kingdoms again.

God is currently in the process of regathering the House of Judah and returning them to the land of Israel. This has been going on for over one hundred years and has culminated in the establishment of the modern nation of Israel. However, the House of Israel (the northern ten tribes) is still "lost." God has yet to regather them to the land and rejoin them with Judah.

The Wild Branches:

Today, the vast majority of the people of the House of Israel do not even understand who they are. Just as God had prophesied, they think themselves to be Goyim, or Gentiles. At present they are an integral part of what Paul (Sha'ul) called the "wild olive tree." Just like the true Gentiles (those of nonIsraelite blood), the 'lost' members of the House of Israel must be grafted into the Olive Tree of Israel so they can once again partake of the root called Israel:

(Rom. 11:17-18) "And if some of the branches were broken off, and you, being a wild olive tree, were grafted in among them. and with them became a partaker of the root and fatness of the olive tree, do not boast against the branches. But if you boast, remember that you do not support the root, but the root supports you"

What happens when a descendant of the divorced House of 1srael (which was cut out over 2500 years ago when the House of Israel went into captivity) is grafted back into the Olive Tree of Israel? That person, once again, becomes a full-fledged member of his own people, the children of Israel:

(Verse 23) "And they also [the natural branches who were cut out], if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again."

The requirement for being grafted into the Olive Tree of Israel is not one's bloodline, but one's faith line. Whether we be true Gentile, lost House of Israel or House of Judah, we all must be grafted into the Olive Tree of Israel by faith or trust in Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ):

(Gal 3:29) "And if you are Christ's, then you are Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise."

For this reason, Paul wrote that if we have become citizens of the Commonwealth of Israel by being grafted into the Olive Tree of Israel, then we truly are one people:

(Verse 28) "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus."

Nevertheless, the Commonwealth of Israel is like a body, with various members of that body performing different functions. Thus, a person's background prior to becoming a 'grafted in' member of Israel, may play a major role in what function that person will perform in the body.

(Rom. 12: 4-5) "For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another"

And so it is that the 'wild branches' become 'good branches' in the Body or assembly of our Messiah.

- Where Is The House of Israel Today ? -

Over the centuries there has been much speculation as to the whereabouts of the lost tribes of the House of Israel. Ancient Jewish writings seem to indicate that in the time of Jesus the location of the settlements of a portion of these people was still known by the Jews.

In the nineteenth century, a theory was developed which held that the majority of the Lost Ten Tribes had migrated over the years from the area of the Black and Caspian Seas, and had moved through eastern and central Europe, eventually coming to dwell in northwestern Europe, Scandinavia, and the British Isles. From there they migrated to North America, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and other parts of the world. This theory is known as British Israelism.

More recent research seems to indicate that, while the essence of the British Israel theory may be true, there is evidence that the spreading of these tribes throughout the world is far greater than in just one ethnic/racial group and one area of the earth.

For example, it has been reported that a group of people living in the northeast corner of India held the tradition that they were descendants of the tribe of Manasseh. Over the centuries they had retained a number of religious practices which are similar to ancient Jewish practice. Recently, Israel has determined that their claim is legitimate and they have been given the right of return to the nation of Israel.

There are also reports of the discovery of a genetic DNA link by which scientists claim to be able to determine the male descendants of Aaron. This test may make it possible to locate a valid priesthood should the Temple or Tabernacle service ever be reestablished. Now, this same DNA marker has been found among the priestly caste of a tribe of people in Africa called the Lemba, who reside in Zimbabwe, maybe southern Kenya, and South Africa. I have corresponded with a South Kenyan who is sure she has Jewish roots.

With these discoveries it is no longer possible to legitimately hold to a strict ethnic/racial position on this matter. It is clear that while there may be groups of people who are primarily descended from the Lost Tribes of Israel, nevertheless, other descendants can very likely be found scattered among all of the major ethnic/racial groups in the world.

A genealogist once made the remark that if a person had any French ancestry they were in all likelihood descended from Charlemagne, (ca 747-814 CE) who fathered many children during his reign as king of the Franks and founder of the first empire in western Europe after the fall of Rome. If today, all people of French ancestry are likely descendants of Charlemagne, who lived some 1200 years ago, is it not possible that a large number of people on earth might also be descended from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob [Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya'acov]? After all, nearly 4000 years of time has elapsed since they lived; plenty of time to have descendants over all the earth, especially if those people had been purposely scattered (Yizreel) by HaShem Himself.

Here are some more prophecies:

The prophet Amos, a contemporary. of Hoshea, was also a prophet to the northern kingdom, the House of Israel. His prophecies are similar in many respects to that of Hoshea in that he prophesied captivity for the House of Israel and its king:

(Amos 7:17 NKJV) "Therefore thus says the LORD: 'Your wife shall be a harlot in the city; Your sons and daughters shall fall by the sword; Your land shall be divided by survey line; You shall die in a defiled land; And Israel shall surely be led away captive From his own land.'"

Despite several chapters of prophesy about how the House of Israel is going to be destroyed, in the end HaShem will hold out His hand of mercy to them:

(Amos 9:8b-9 NKJV) "Yet I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob," Says the LORD. {9} "For surely I will command, And will sift the house of Israel among all nations, As grain is sifted in a sieve; Yet not the smallest grain shall fall to the ground.

Coupled with Ezekiel 37, Hosea 14 and other prophecies concerning the reunification of the children of Israel in the land, it seems clear that God is working out a great plan with the people He chose to carry His name, the very children of Israel. This makes one of Paul's (Sha'ul's) statements even more meaningful:

(Rom 11:25-27 NKJV) For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. {26} And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob; {27} For this is My covenant with them, When I take away their sins."

The 'hardening' of the House of Israel began in 722 BCE when they were taken captive by the Assyrians. The hardening of the House of Judah began in 70 CE with the destruction of the Temple, as prophesied by Yeshua, and was completed in 132- 135 CE when the final separation between the Believing and non-believing Jews took place during the Bar Kochba rebellion.

Now it is time for the hardening to be softened, for those who are lost to return to HaShem and be grafted into the Olive Tree of Israel.

Amos prophesied in Amos 9:9 that "...not the smallest grain..." of the House of Israel would "...fall to the ground." Paul said in (Rom. 11:26) that "...all Israel will be saved.".

Are we to trust the Prophets and the Apostles? Of course, and for this reason we understand that God is doing a great work in these last days by revealing to His people their true identity.

On p. 160 in her book Who Is Israel and Why You Need to Know, author Batya Woottcn makes this statement:

"Judaism and Christianity are the only two religions on the face of the earth that give testimony about the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob."

It is evident that today the House of Judah is comprised of the Jewish people. But where is the House of Israel? Is it possible that the majority of the House of Israel might be found within that huge body of people known as Christians? Is it possible that God has called the House of Israel into a monotheistic belief that honors Him above all; among individuals who have been reconciled to Him through the atoning sacrifice of His Son? I think this could well be the case. And, if it is the case, could the return of the House of Israel be accomplished by the State of Israel opening its doors to Torah observant Christians in the same manner as it opened its doors to Indian descendants of Manesseh? Only time will tell.

Whether or not a person is physically descended from Avraham, Isaac (Yitzchak), and Jacob (Ya'acov) is not the point. What really matters is that an individual has accepted Yeshua (Jesus) as their personal Savior and allowed themselves to be grafted into the Commonwealth of Israel.

It is far better to be an Israelite through faith and be grafted in, than it is to be an Israelite by blood and be cut out.

Now let's look at pagan influence:

At this point some may argue that mainstream Christianity cannot be the receptacle through which God carries the House of Israel because there is so much paganism that has infiltrated the Church over the centuries. Today, most Christians do not follow the Torah (the Pentateuch) nor do they observe the Sabbath, the Festivals, nor any of the other identifying signs of Israel, such as association with God's name.

However, Christianity has preserved the New Testament Scriptures and fostered a belief in Jesus Christ (Yeshua HaMashiach) as the Son of God and the Savior of the world. Meanwhile, Judaism has denied these truths while keeping the truth of the Torah and the customs of the fathers. In other words, each group has kept a part of the puzzle. Now it is time to put the puzzle together; to bring both houses together to be one stick in God's hand, reuniting the warring brothers of Israel and Judah.

Remember what Paul (Sha'ul) said about the non-believing Jews of his day.

(Rom. 11:28-32) "Concerning the gospel [the Good News] they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.

"For as you were once disobedient to God, yet have now obtained mercy through their disobedience, even so these also have now been disobedient, that through the mercy shown you they also may obtain mercy. For God has committed them all to disobedience that He might have mercy on all."

It is God's great mercy on all of us, whether Jew, lost House of Israel, or Gentile, that brings us the gift of eternal life in the family and kingdom of God.

The Parable of the Righteous Father:

Consider one last parable of our Savior, Yeshua, commonly called the Parable of the Prodigal Son. This same story exists in the teachings of Judaism where it is called the Parable of the Righteous Father .

(Luke 15:11-32 NKJV) Then He said: "A certain man had two sons. {12} "And the younger of them said to his father, 'Father, give me the portion of goods that falls to me.' So he divided to them his livelihood. {13} "And not many days after, the younger son gathered all together, journeyed to a far country, and there wasted his possessions with prodigal living. {14} "But when he had spent all, there arose a severe famine in that land, and he began to be in want. {15} "Then he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. {16} "And he would gladly have filled his stomach with the pods that the swine ate, and no one gave him anything. {17} "But when he came to himself, he said, 'How many of my father's hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! {18} 'I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, {19} "and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants."' {20} "And he arose and came to his father. But when he was still a great way off, his father saw him and had compassion, and ran and fell on his neck and kissed him. {21} "And the son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son.' {22} "But the father said to his servants, 'Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. {23} 'And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; {24} 'for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' And they began to be merry. {25} "Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. {26} "So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. {27} "And he said to him, 'Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.' {28} "But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him. {29} "So he answered and said to his father, 'Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends. {30} 'But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.' {31} "And he said to him, 'Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours. {32} 'It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.'"

There are a number of parallels between this parable and the major points of this sermon:

One son remained faithful to the teachings of his father.

This son represents Judah, who continues (at least in the orthodox world) to keep the commandments of the Torah to this day.

The other son went off and played with harlots.

The House of Israel set up golden calves in Dan and Bethel where they worshiped from the day they separated from Judah. Remember that in the spiritual realm, idolatry is equated with harlotry .

Eventually the prodigal son found himself at the mercy of the pagan world, even to the point of having to live and care for swine; the epitome of unclean animals.

To this day the House of Israel, continues to be at the mercy of the pagan world because mainstream Christianity has been immersed into various pagan traditions. The vast majority of lost Israelites do not follow Torah, partly because they simply do not know who they really are.

When the prodigal son determined to return to his father's house and live under the rules of his house, the father saw him coming while he was still far off.

Likewise, our Father in heaven knows when our hearts are beginning to turn back to Him, and He sees us afar off and makes preparation for our return.

There is much celebration when the prodigal son returns.

Likewise, there is much celebration when a sinner (a transgressor of the Torah) repents of his sins and returns to a proper way of life: (Luke 15:7) I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.

It is this unconditional acceptance on the part of the father that angers the loyal son.

This most likely is at least part of the 'jealously' that Paul (Sha'ul) spoke about concerning the non-believing Jews of his day: (Rom. 11:11).''I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles."

Finally, there is a picture of the resurrection of the prodigal son who was as one that had been dead to his father, but had become alive and returned to him.

This may be compared to the resurrection of the whole House of Israel that is spoken of in Ezek. 37 in the 'Dry Bones' passage.

- In Summary -

The Olive Tree of Israel is comprised of two primary groups of people, the House of Judah (the Jews; referred to as Israel in the book of Romans) and the Goyim (Nations, Gentiles, or nonJews). Within the latter group there is to be found the "Lost Ten Tribes" of the House of Israel. These are people who are literal descendants of Avraham, Isaac (Yitzchak), and Jacob (Ya'acov), but who no longer possess their true identity because HaShem cast them out of the land over 2500 years ago and forced them to become assimilated within the Goyim. In fact, God actually wrote them a bill of divorcement because of their adulterous spiritual idolatry.

(Jer. 3:8) "'Then I saw that for all the causes for which backsliding Israel had committed adultery, I had put her away and given her a certificate of divorce; ..."

Despite the fact that HaShem cast out the House of Israel " and divorced her, He did not forget her. The prophecies of Hoshea indicate that God will in the future, once again have mercy upon the House of Israel and will again call her "My people." This will occur when God decides to reap the fruit of the crop He has sown by scattering ( Yizreel) the House of Israel among the Goyim (nations). At that time, HaShem will once again betroth Himself to the House of Israel, as it is written:

(Hosea 2:19-20) '''I will betroth YOU to Me forever, yes, I will betroth You to Me In righteousness and justice, In loving-kindness and mercy. I will betroth You to Me in faithfulness, And You shall know the LORD."'

Eventually, He will fully marry both houses once more:

(Isa 54:4-8 NKJV) "Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed; Neither be disgraced, for you will not be put to shame; For you will forget the shame of your youth, And will not remember the reproach of your widowhood anymore. {5} For your Maker is your husband, [and, in the words of Gen 3:16 the husband shall rule over you]. The LORD of hosts is His name; And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel; He is called the God of the whole earth. {6} For the LORD has called you Like a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, Like a youthful wife when you were refused," Says your God. {7} "For a mere moment I have forsaken you, But with great mercies I will gather you. {8} With a little wrath I hid My face from you for a moment; But with everlasting kindness I will have mercy on you," Says the LORD, your Redeemer.

When the marriage of HaShem to all of Israel takes place, there will be a great reunion of the House of Israel with the House of Judah, and the two sticks, which represent each of the houses, will be united into one stick; the full nation of Israel. Thus, the 'wild branches' of the House of Israel are grafted into the good Olive Tree of Israel along with those Gentiles who also wish to become citizens of the Commonwealth of Israel.

Today, the House of Israel can be found scattered throughout all of the nations of the earth. Many of them may well be those who have been attracted to mainstream Christianity and who have, by faith, accepted Jesus (Yeshua), the Messiah who came from Judah.

Today the Jews (House of Judah) see Christians as lacking Torah understanding and cannot understand why they observe holidays which are primarily of pagan origin. On the other hand, the House of Israel (Christians) see that the Jews have not accepted Jesus (Yeshua) as their Messiah and Savior and view their strict observance of the Torah (Old Testament law) as 'legalistic.'

These are major obstacles which must be overcome before the two sticks can be rejoined in God's hand. The House of Israel (Christianity) must give up their pagan ways and return to Torah observance, while the House of Judah must shake off those traditions of the Oral Torah which separate them from their brothers, and learn the truth; that Yeshua is their very own Messiah.

Needless to say, it will take a miracle to effect these changes in the minds and hearts of both groups. However, miracles are precisely what HaShem does best.

(Rom. 11:26) " And so all Israel will be saved,...."

Sermon given by Wayne Bedwell
25 December 2010
Copyright 2010, Wayne Bedwell

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