Recently, a visitor to our church asked about our beliefs. After giving a brief overview of the two houses of Israel in Scripture, their division and separate sets of prophecies, he looked at me somewhat bewildered and replied, “What does any of that have to do with the price of tea in China?” A strange comment indeed! I could have answered in kind with a smart answer such as, “What does the price of tea in China have anything to do with the Gospel or Scripture?” However, I knew what was on his mind. Our teachings are unquestionably out-of-step with much of modern Christianity, and definitely not what first-time visitors are expecting to find in a church service. People question whether we are teaching the right message.
The twenty-first century has already popularized a new gospel, often termed “the gospel of wealth,” and their ministers are called “prosperity preachers.” I term it the false gospel of self: “What is in it for me?” The focus is now upon personal materialism and the belief that “God wants me wealthy.” The teachings have various names – name it and claim it, Word of faith, seed-faith, or the prosperity gospel. What relevance does the “old time gospel” have anymore? Promise them wealth and riches instead!
A surprising number of leading radio and television evangelists have popularized it. The dean of the divinity school at Regent University, founded by evangelist Pat Robertson, says “It’s a growing problem.” This is the new gospel as defined in a recent newspaper report: “Be faithful in how you live and how you give, and God will shower you with material riches.” Several newspaper articles have reported that tremendous wealth has indeed been realized – by the ministers of this new gospel themselves at the expense of their followers.The problem has gotten so bad in the United States that US Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa, the ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee is asking a number of these ministries “for financial records on salaries, spending practices, private jets and other perks,” according to published reports. The result of all of this nonsense is to expose Christ to ridicule in the eyes of the world. One is reminded of the apostasy within Israel as reported in the Book of Deuteronomy: “Then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, Who is on the LORD’S side? let him come unto me.” (Dt. 32:26) Today again the truth faces obstinacy and disinterest. Once again God’s true ministers need to clash with popular belief as we face a post-Christian culture. We need to find and cultivate those who value truth. “Who is on the Lord’s side?”
Yes, it is surprising that so many Christians do not see the value in the truths we teach. I would say that there are two main arguments that have been current lately. Some individuals do not deny that our beliefs are true, but insist instead that they are not important and therefore should not be taught! A second argument is that all of modern scholarship rejects our teaching. Neither of these arguments is correct! Our belief is both important and its basis is substantiated by a significant amount of modern scholarship.
Interestingly enough, there is a growing amount of Jewish scholarship that supports our foundational premises concerning the two houses of Israel and their separate history and promises. Respected Jewish historian and rabbi, W. Gunter Plaut, in his book, “The Torah: A Modern Commentary” (1981), gives evidence that the two houses of Israel, Ephraim and Judah, were separate and distinct entities going back to the Egyptian captivity.
Similarly, scholar and Jewish theologian, Baruch Halpern, had this to say about the division between the two houses of Israel in the Journal of Biblical Literature: “Particularly in the north [i.e., Ephraim, the Ten-tribe House of Israel], the division was the mold in which the events and theological doctrines of coming centuries were cast. Thus it becomes essential, if one aspires to comprehend subsequent developments, that the historian begins with an understanding of… Ephraim’s succession.” (JBL 95:31)
Notice these key points: Firstly, the division into separate kingdoms, of the two-tribes of Judah and the ten tribes of Ephraim, was the “mold” that determined both Bible teachings and subsequent events throughout history. I would say that makes this subject pretty important! Secondly, note that without an understanding of the two houses of Israel – Judah and Ephraim – one cannot “comprehend” subsequent developments which have occurred since the two houses separated in 925 B.C. Thirdly, our understanding of the two houses of Israel and their division (and separate promises) is the place where we should “begin” in our teaching of the Bible.
Fourthly, and most important, our teaching is “essential” to understand the Bible and its teachings.
Yes, it is true that there are many scholars who refuse to transgress the popular idea that the Jewish people are all of Israel and constitute all of Abraham’s descendants in the world today. Often there is “peer group pressure” on those in university and school teaching positions to conform to current “politically correct” ideas. Yet there are scholars who are willing to speak the truth. As Professor W. Eugene Claburn expressed it, “Surely it is the obligation of every scholar to do everything in his power to break out of such closed theological circles.” (JBL 92:12) It is the obligation of every Christian believer as well!
There is no question that there has been a concerted effort in our educational institutions to quash any knowledge concerning much of what we teach. This makes our evangelizing efforts more difficult and our teaching ministry more important. Many have never heard of our beliefs, and for new hearers a lack of knowledge can be confused with a lack of importance. With ignorance comes misunderstanding. What does this have to do with Christianity, anyway?
Perhaps the best book now in print on the subject of our heritage and responsibilities is “The Story Of Celto-Saxon Israel,” by W.H. Bennett, which is available from CBIA at www.migrations.info. There is no better or more important time to introduce someone to the truths we teach..
One historian has famously said that “those who do not learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them.” The history of God’s people is testimony to that fact, for a constant never-ending cycle has existed to this day: From sin to oppression, to repentance, to judgment, to deliverance, to peace and rest, and back to sin again. Would that God’s people would wake up! A knowledge of who we are and of our responsibilities before God would do much to break the cycle of sin and punishment. May God bless you for your part in this great and important undertaking.
Editors Note: Pastor Jory Brooks writes, “Yes, it is surprising that so many Christians do not see the value in the truths we teach.” Yet, during the early to mid-part of the twentieth century, the truth was expanding rapidly as branch after branch of the Israel Truth movement was flourishing. And the message was being preached by dozens and dozens of theologians, members of the Royal family, high-ranking politicians and military people and tens of thousands of people just like you and I. And people, young and old, saw and embraced the value.
It seemed so remarkable that Pastor Brooks’ article arrived a few hours after I had read about a series of articles by Professor H. L. Stewart, of Dalhousie University, Halifax, N.S. published in the British Weekly a couple of years before the modern Israeli State adopted the name of Israel, thus pushing the true identity of Israel into obscurity. Anyway, the title of the article I read was “Acknowledging the Undeniable” [not Stewart’s title] and it highlighted Professor Stewart’s study of four movements with which he says he has been “at close range within the compass of a dozen years, and which he characterizes as “more or less exciting.” These being Fundamentalism, British Israel, and a couple of lesser know movements. In his analysis of British-Israel [The Israel Truth Movement] Dr. Stewart used such phrases as, believers in British Israel are “radiant with delight” and the message has “thrilled many people, for the simple reason that it has given them back their whole Bible.” And this, he told us, “it has done for a generation for which the Old Testament had been lost, its histories had become almost unknown and wholly unregarded …..” Judging from his remarks, it would appear that despite Dr. Stewart’s comments, he still had problems embracing the truth himself.
Still, you see, the knowledge of the Israel Truth has given us back the whole Bible; now all we have to do is to encourage our brethren to pick it up and give it a little study.