British Israelism and the Ten Lost Tribes

By Meg Tisdale

Replacement theology teaches that all of the promises and blessings God expressed toward the nation of Israel were transferred to the church when Jesus was crucified. Several different denominations, including Roman Catholicism, believe in different aspects of replacement theology despite the fact it is contrary to Scripture. One type of replacement theology teaches that not only did God transfer Israel's blessings to the church, the ten tribes of Israel actually migrated to Great Britain, and the English and English-Americans are descended from these tribes. Anglo-Saxon Christians, then, inherit God's blessings directly.

The ten tribes of Israel were the tribes that separated after Solomon's son Rehoboam refused to lessen their tax burden and the northern tribes were led into idolatry (1 Kings 12). These ten tribes go under the names Ephraim (Isaiah 11:13), the Northern Kingdom, or Israel. The two Southern Tribes were jointly called Judah. In 722-721 BC, Shalamnezer, king of Assyria led a force that took the ten northern tribes captive. God used Assyria as the "rod of his anger" (Isaiah 10:5-19). Hezekiah, Judah's king, led the people in repentance and thus diverted for 95 years the discipline that came under Babylon who took Judah out of the land in three waves 606-580 BC. So representatives of all 12 tribes of Israel were taken out of Israel. At the end of these captivities, Israel returned to the land under Zerubbabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah. The return took years to complete from the first detachment under Zerubbabel and Joshua (Ezra 1-6) beginning in 538 BC and the books of Haggai and Zechariah, the expedition of Ezra (455 BC) over fifty years later, and the commission of Nehemiah (445 BC) thirteen years later (Nehemiah 2:1-6). In both Ezra and Nehemiah the lists that are included cover individual family leaders from all of the tribes. That is the history in an abbreviated version.

The book of Malachi opens with the statement, "The burden of the Word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi" (emphasis added). Therefore, all tribes were represented after the Assyrian invasion (see 1 Chronicles 9:3, 2 Chronicles 11:6-17; 19:4; 30:1, 18, 25-26; 35:17-18). All tribes are represented in Judah after the Babylonian captivity and then called Israel (2 Chronicles 12:6; 21:2; 28:19). The best proof that there are no tribes missing is Jesus offering Himself to the "lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matthew 10:6) and so all of the tribes existed in the land during the New Testament times (Matthew 4:13; Luke 2:36; Acts 4:36; Philippians 3:5; James 1:1). In addition, the Apostle Paul, in a Romans chapter that speaks of a future for Israel (Romans 11:25-29), writes that the "promises of God are without repentance" (Romans 11:29). In other words, all of Israel is still God's chosen nation. Peter used the terms "Jews" (Acts 2:4), "Judea" (Acts 2:14), "men of Israel" (Acts 2:22) and "house of Israel" (Acts 2:26); all of these are synonyms. Therefore, given these Biblical facts, there are no tribes that did not return to the land. People who claim otherwise are either Biblically illiterate or have a dangerous agenda.

Why is there such a debate? Anti-Semitism! If one can deny that the Northern Tribes were part of the return to Israel, one can use replacement theory and negate the promises God gave to Israel. God promised Israel a land. That promise was never made to the church. Yet, there are those that take the blessings that God gave to Israel and leave her with the curses. All of Israel's history is a type and shadow of the last days, and that prophecy will be fulfilled to the letter. Make no mistake: as the Scripture plainly teaches, there are no representatives of the tribes in the North or the South that did not return (Revelation 7:4-8).

Anti-Semitism is seen in a covert technique called "British Israelism." This is a heresy that attempts to re-identify the tribes of Israel with the modern British Commonwealth rather than with the Jews of the Bible and history. It is built on the untruth that the 10 northern tribes of Israel are lost. This is false because God knows where they all are and, as the Word itself proves, they are accounted for. One example of the attempt to lay claim to this lie is that they say the river Danube was named because that is where the tribe of Dan lived. The implication of this is that since the 10 tribes of Israel are lost (they are not) and have become Britain/Commonwealth/United States of America, then all of the laws and responsibilities given to the Jews now need to be observed by the church age of grace today. These adherents have constructed a legalistic system full of inconsistency, which results in a mixture of truth and error. The result is a cult that is contradictory to the Word of God. This view perverts grace salvation and prophecy. If the United States and New York City are Judah and Jerusalem, we are in big trouble. This thought has anti-Semitism at its core, and is the premise behind the Plain Truth magazine published by Garner Ted Armstrong and his father and the television program called The World Tomorrow. British Israelism is a covert attempt to unseat Jews from their position as God's chosen people. Of course, today there is also the Palestinian controversy that says that Israel has no claim on the land and it belongs to the Arabs.

Therefore, the controversy as it is presented, from every side, is a red herring, and an attempt to strip Israel of God's promises and put the church in its place. At its very core, the controversy is anti-Semitic and its source is Satan. All of this is building up to when the tribulation — the time of "Jacob's trouble" — comes and anti-Semitism will be the worst it has ever been. So bad that if the time could last any longer than the LORD has determined, there would be no flesh left alive (Matthew 24:21-22). While it is important for believers to know where we are in history, the real issue is that we are to be watching for the catching away. Biblical knowledge about whether or not all representatives of the tribes of Israel returned is important so that we are equipped to answer those who deny it. As believers in Christ, however, we should not be spiritually distracted by these controversies. Rather we should be focused upon the truth of the Word of God and sharing the gospel.

TagsBiblical-Truth  |  Controversial-Issues  |  End-Times  |  History-Apologetics  |  Theological-Beliefs

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Published 6-25-14