COMMONWEALTH THEOLOGY - PART 1
Cir. 2017 – DOUGLAS W. KRIEGER
(Introductory Note: It is imperative in reading the text that the reader give careful consideration to the endnotes when listed; otherwise, the full development of Commonwealth Theology will NOT clarify in the reader's mind and/or spirit—it should be included as one reads through the document. Note: All Scripture is "hot linked" as are many references throughout the text which substantiate the content. The NKJV is used throughout unless otherwise stated. Much of this brief discourse came as a result of the Denver Prophecy Summit held August 4-6, 2017)
COMMONWEALTH THEOLOGY – INTRODUCTION (CT)
It has come to our “prophetic attention” that the time has come to embrace and/or give serious consideration/definition to a growing body of present-day eschatology and theology which recognizes a more biblical basis for the Church’s relationship with Israel. (Note: The plural or singular pronoun will be used interchangeably.)
One which falls within the confines of Evangelicalism, adhering to the major tenets of the faith; however, this is NOT a polemic on what does or does not constitute the tenets of the Faith but is narrowly focused on the distinctions of a growing body of theological understanding on what constitutes COMMONWEALTH THEOLOGY (CT) juxtaposed to other “theological/eschatological systems” within Christendom which we shall later define.
The term Commonwealth is taken from Ephesians 2:11-12.
“Therefore remember that you, once Gentiles (“ethnos”) in the flesh—who are called Uncircumcision by what is called the Circumcision made in the flesh by hands—that at that time you were without Christ, being aliens (lit. “alienated” – “non-citizens” and/or your citizenship was removed) from the COMMONWEALTH OF ISRAEL and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.”
COMMONWEALTH connotes POLITY or the State, Community, and is corporate in nature (Strong’s G#4174 – politeia) – the relationship that a citizen shares with the state.
CT’s brings together Jew and Gentile in accordance with Romans 9:22-24; in particular, vs. 24, which has a profound meaning:
“. . . even us whom He called not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles (Strong’s G#1484 ethnon [pl.] or multitudes or nations)?”
The verse is phrased as a question wherein we are alerted that “He might make known the riches of His glory on the Jewish vessels of mercy” (vs. 23) BUT ALSO upon the Gentile vessels would He deign to make known “the riches of His glory” – thus, both Jew and Gentile are identified as “vessels of mercy” (vs. 23). Moreover, Paul recognizes from the divine perspective that both Jews and the Ethnon/Gentiles are “called” (“He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Nations?” – vs. 24)
This word “called” has a most profound meaning. It is taken from the Greek word kalamos (used here in Rom. 9:24 as ekalasen or “called out”). Strong’s G#2563 gives the word the most unusual meaning/sense:
“. . . a reed (the plant or its stem, or that of a similar plant); by impl. A pen . . . The word denotes (1) “the reed” mentioned in Mt. 11:7; 12:20; Lk 7:24; the same as the Heb., ganeh (among the various reeds in the OT); e.g., Is. 42:3, from which Matt. 12:20 is quoted (cf. Job 40:21; Eze. 29:6, “a reed with jointed, hollow stalk”) (2) “a reed staff, staff,” Mt. 27:29, 30, 48; Mk 15:19; (3) “a measuring reed or rod,” Rev. 11:1; 21:15, (4) “a writing reed, a pen,” 3 Jn 13.”
Not only have the Jews been “called out” but also there are those “called out” from among the Nations/Gentiles who have been so designated. This “calling out” is associated with “divine measurement." What God Almighty “measures” He owns. John in the Revelation “was given a reed like a measuring rod” and told to “rise and measure the temple of God, the altar, and those who worship there” (Rev. 11:1). John is told to “leave out the court [i.e., the Court of the Gentiles or Nations] which is outside the temple, and do not measure it, for it has been given to the Nations . . . And they [the “antecedent” is obviously those Gentiles in the Court of the Gentiles] will tread the HOLY CITY underfoot for forty-two months” (Rev. 11:2).
Although this passage has manifold exegesis, the critical observation has to do with the reed, the kalamos (Strong’s G#2563) which appears in Revelation 11:1. It is this kalamos which measures the “worshipers at the altar” and declares they are His, owned by Him. It is this same sense that those “called out” from among the Nations are “possessed” (owned) by Him. Likewise, as far as the Court of the Gentiles who shall persecute the “Holy City” for 42 months . . . this court was NOT a part of the original Solomonic Temple or the Second Temple, but was inspired by the Sadducees (the “liberal” Jews at the time of the Herodian Temple to allow uncircumcised Gentiles to come as close to the Altar as possible cause of their interest in the Jewish Temple).
Here, we must distinguish between those “called out” from the Nations/Gentiles and those who occupy the “Court of the Nations/Gentiles” (i.e., “given to the Nations”) – for these “uncircumcised found in the Court of the Gentiles” refuse to deal with their “flesh” and, consequently, we find them in opposition to the “Holy City” for forty-two months—they are NOT measured, are NOT with the worshipers at the altar. The symbolism here is overwhelming.
Although we have already explained some definitions, we will expand upon those initial terms. From the outset, it is imperative for us to determine sundry words derived from Scripture which will assist us in clarifying what does and does not enhance our understanding of CT.
The Church: From henceforth in this document the term “Church” as understood in the New Testament sense of the word refers to “the called out from among the nations” (aka the Gentiles or “ethnos” – Romans 9:24; Acts 15:14 – “God at the first visited the Nations/Ethnos to take out of them a people for His name.”) – as well as the “called” from among the progeny of Abraham, the Jews or Judah) to be “a people for His Name” – the predominate term/word used for Church does NOT appear in the testaments; the normative word is the Greek word in the N.T. – ekklesia (Strong’s G#1577 – used for both “assembly” (3x) and for Church (115x) . . . this word stresses a group of people called out for a special purpose . . . [derived from] ek, ‘out of,’ and klesis, ‘a calling’ (kaleo ‘to call’) [Note: We can readily observe that kalamos is engaged in this exegesis or ek-kaleo].
The EKKLESIA are the “called out ones” from among the Ethnos/Nations but likewise in accordance with Romans 9:24 from “among the Jews” as well.
They are the “ecclesia” or “ekklesia” (the ELECT). Together, both the “called out” Jews and the “called out from among the nations” constitute the One Body–the Body of Christ (the Messiah – Eph. 4:4; Col. 3:15; 1 Cor. 12:12; Rom. 12:5), the One New Man – the HOUSEHOLD OF GOD; to wit:
For He Himself is our peace, who has made both (Jew and Gentile) one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself ONE NEW MAN from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in ONE BODY through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity, and He came and preached peace to you who were afar off (Gentiles) and to those who were near (Jews). For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father . . . Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but FELLOW CITIZENS with the saints and MEMBERS OF THE HOUSEHOLD OF GOD” (Eph. 2:14-19) (Our caps).
Furthermore, this EKKLESIA – these “called” ones from the Jews and from the Nations – are revealed through Paul and John as a MYSTERY in that the “Mystery of God” is not finished until the sounding of the Seventh Angel:
But in the days of the sounding of the seventh angel [the Seventh Trumpet] the MYSTERY OF GOD would be finished, as He declared to His servants the prophets (Rev. 10:7).
We cannot divorce the “Mystery of God” from its definition found in Colossians 2:2 which literally is read:
. . . to the knowledge of the MYSTERY OF GOD – Christ [the Messiah] (Col. 2:2).
In other words, the MYSTERY OF GOD is Christ. But we must go on further for the MYSTERY OF CHRIST is likewise resolved in the book of Colossians; but first we must establish that there is the Mystery of Christ:
That God would open to us a door for the word to speak the MYSTERY OF CHRIST . . . (Col. 4:3).
And, what is the Mystery of Christ?
I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His BODY, which is the church [ekklesia – Strong’s G#1577] of which I became a minister according to the stewardship [dispensation or administration] from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, THE MYSTERY which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of THE MYSTERY AMONG THE GENTILES: Who is Christ in you, the hope of glory (Col. 1:24-27).
The Mystery of Christ is His EKKLESIA – the ONE BODY. Yes, the “riches of the glory” of this “Mystery among the Nations” is “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” That same Mystery is embodied within His ONE BODY – made up of the “called” from among both Jews and the Nations, the Gentiles—the EKKLESIA.
The Mystery of the ONE BODY is the Pillar and Ground of Reality—the HOUSE OF GOD, the EKKLESIA OF THE LIVING GOD (1 Tim. 3:15). This Mystery of Christ is the New Creation—“For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything, but a NEW CREATION” (Gal. 6:15); and through the resurrection of our “Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep” we NOW partake of the Blood of the Everlasting Covenant (Hebrews 13:20).
The ONE BODY—comprised of both Jews and non-ethnic Jews—as a Result of the preaching of the Gospel of the Grace of God (salvation through the Blood of the Lamb of God, Yeshua—Jesus, the Son of the Living God—Acts 20:24)—which is intrinsically bound to the “preaching of the kingdom of God” (Acts 20:25).
Yes, we “both Jew and Greek” have been redeemed by the Blood of the Cross and have been brought as full-fledged citizens into the Community of Grace, into the Commonwealth of Israel, and have become “children of promise” as a result of our new-found position of being IN CHRIST and CHRIST being in us through the power of the Holy Spirit.
We now share in the New Covenant (Please carefully read the discourse concerning the New Covenant in this endnote.) mediated by the Mediator, the Lord Jesus, through His once-for-all sacrifice for our sins. (Ref. Galatians 3:15-18; 4:28; Col. 1:20; Eph. 2:14-17; Heb. 12:24; 13:20).
Israel (First Definition)
Israel is defined as ethnic Jews (aka, Judah and Benjamin; primarily the Two Southern Tribes and the remnant who joined themselves to Judah from the Northern 10 Tribes (likewise, most of the Levites and Simeon) after their return to Judea from Babylon cir. Sixth Century BC). They are known today as “Jewish people” whether they live in the State of Israel or outside of the State of Israel. This Israel is in line with the Abrahamic Covenant; the Land Covenant (Palestinian Covenant); the Davidic Covenant (Millenarian Covenant/the Kingdom on Earth); and they will “nationally” participate in the New Covenant, which was inaugurated at the Cross in His First Coming as the Suffering Servant.
They are likewise defined as the Stick of Judah (Ezekiel 37:15-28) or House of Judah (Isa. 8:14—“both the houses of Israel” – i.e., Judah and Israel) or as the Natural Branches of the One Olive Tree (Romans 11:11-24). Most Jews today – be they traditional or religious – are seen under the Mosaic Covenant (aka, the Law of Moses) which if followed will bring them to Messiah, as a “school master” (Gal. 3:24) – but in and of itself the Law does not “save” – only Messiah saves/delivers through His once for all sacrifice—only His Blood can suffice the “Judicial Wrath of God” upon our sin, our unrighteousness—for “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23) . . .
Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation (Romans 5:9-11).
Israel (Second Definition)
These Israelites constitute those nations identified in the blessing given to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and conferred upon Joseph’s younger son, Ephraim, where he would become a “multitude of nations.” Thus, the 10 Northern Tribes (aka, the House of Israel, the House of Ephraim, Samaria, Jezreel, were taken into captivity cir. 740-712 BC by the Assyrians and were assimilated among the nations. They have a prophetic destiny with the Jewish people and BOTH constitute the COMMONWEALTH OF ISRAEL—be they “blinded in part” (i.e., the Jewish people) or “prophesy in part and see through a glass dimly” the elect from the nations—Romans 11:25; 1 Cor. 1:9-12). Today’s Ephraim will be expanded upon in this CT tome.
These Israelites are today’s “Elect from among the Gentiles” called out of the nations to be “a people for His Name.” They are DISTINCT from Judah but not separated in the “eyes of God.” Prophetically, they are the STICK OF EPHRAIM and will be, in the Hand of the Lord, made ONE STICK in fulfillment of Ezekiel 37. Neither Judah nor Ephraim (separately) constitute the “Whole House of Israel” but together they most certainly do.
They (viz., the Jewish people, Judah) are the “natural branches” of the One Olive Tree—both the Wild Branches (Ephraim) and the “Natural Branches” (Judah) which were broken off the COMMON ROOT (which is the Messiah) are of the single Olive Tree. The First and Second Definition of Israel comprise ALL ISRAEL or the ISRAEL OF GOD. BOTH Judah and Israel (Ephraim) comprise “The People of the Book” (both Testaments). ALL ISRAEL – THE ISRAEL OF GOD – have both an immediate and prophetic fulfillment with their definitions. Although Judah is "blinded in part"" as far as their Messiah's identity, they still are described as a "natural branch" of the One Olive Tree, though "broken off." Are they still "Israel"? Absolutely.
THE THREE THEOLOGICAL/ESCHATOLOGICAL PARADIGMS OF CHRISTENDOM
There are three predominating views taken by Christendom as far as the Church’s relationship with Israel (First Definition – Judah):
(1) Replacement Theology (aka, Supersessionist) - Catholic/Orthodox (Eastern Churches), Reformational Churches (Protestant). Amillenarian, Post-Millenarian, Preterism, Covenant Theologies, Dominionism, Christian Reconstructionism, Theonomy. The “Gospel Age” persists until either the Church prevails over all the earth—both culturally and politically (no future Antichrist). Today’s Israel is a fluke of history, not prophetic, and Zionism at best is worldly “nationalism” and at its worst, it is apostate. The Seventieth Week of Daniel has already been fulfilled (in part but assuredly in whole) – there may be a final rebellion and there may be the physical return of Christ to the Earth – there is No Future Millennium—we are living in the one-thousand-year Millennium now.
The Church is the One Continuing Community of Grace. Israel forfeited their standing and their covenants were broken upon their corporate rejection of Jesus as Messiah. Varied forms of Replacement Theology include “partial” Preterism; partial fulfillment of Daniel’s 70th Week (1/2); Jerusalem is Babylon the Great. “Let His blood be upon us and our children” (Matthew 27:25) is the current plight of “the Jew” – for they have rejected their Messiah!
These theologies tend toward virulent breeding grounds for hatred of Jews—Antizionism—Antisemitism. Preterism, in particular, affirms that virtually all Bible prophecy was fulfilled in 70 AD. There is no future prophetic role for Israel (Judah/Jews)--they will be judged like all others who have rejected Christ’s Messiahship. The Abomination of Desolation took place in 70 AD. Today’s Israel is today’s Church in sum and substance—today’s Jews are NOT the real Jews (many hold to such a view) but are of the “Synagogue of Satan” – they “say they are Jews but are not.”
There is no “favored treatment” of Jews today (viz., “I will bless him who blesses thee” – said to Abraham - “and in thee shall all the nations of the earth be blessed” – Jews are no more the “blessed peoples of the earth” than any other ethnic group. Zionism is Racism in the eyes of many who embrace some form of Replacement theology. Amillenarian, John Piper, seems foremost in this persuasion (See endnote.. Jews returning to their ancient homeland (gathering of the exiles) – even in unbelief (e.g., Valley of Dry Bones—Ezk. 37:1-14) simply alludes (metaphorically) to the resurrection and has nothing to do with the modern State of Israel. Indeed, Amillenarians who witnessed the “resurrection” of the State of Israel appear to be in “intellectual denial” of the material facts and the biblical injunctions associated thereto.
“Replacement theologies” are, by definition, “supersessionist.” (See Marcionism - although Marcionism’s belief system is more akin to that of Dispensationalism – see below endnotes).
The Church, as the continuing community of grace, the “redeemed of the earth” – has persisted throughout the ages from Adam onward. The “Congregation in the Wilderness” (Acts 7:38) is the Church of today—she simply received her baptism at Pentecost. Paul clarified the Church’s extension among the nations in her “take-over” of the kingdoms of this world.
The “Law of Commandments contained in ordinances,” or even the mandate and/or standard of the Ten Commandments, was somehow abolished at the Cross (which simply cannot be scripturally justified); indeed, Christians who celebrate Jewish Feast Days and other “legalities” are in opposition to the Christian Calendar. The Jewish Feast Days are antithetical to the New Covenant and must be rejected outright if one is a Christian. However, Theonomy and certain branches of Calvinism affirm that civil law as propounded in the Old Testament, Mosaic Era, is either a guideline for civil societies today or must be rigidly implemented for today. MOST ANCIENT CHURCHES AFTER THE 2ND CENTURY ADOPTED AMILLINNIALISM AS THEIR POSITION—THE CHURCH IS NOW IN THE MILLENNIUM! To that I could respond; YOU’VE GOT TO BE KIDDING ME.
(2) Dispensationalism – Premillenarian, Classical – Progressive – Hyper-Dispensationalism. The Church does not replace Israel’s pre-existing Abrahamic, Davidic, Land (Palestinian), and New Covenant—nor does she participate in them as propounded by most Amillenarians. God’s Economy/Dispensational Administration is committed to at least seven dispensations over a seven-thousand-year time frame. Today, we are living in the Church Age – previous to this it was the Age of the Law (Mt. Sinai). We, as well, are living in the Age of Grace. The Age of Grace is the Age of the Church and this “grace” produces but Mystery, the Church.
The Climax of the Age of Grace is the Rapture of the Church prior to the Wrath of God and the Lamb poured out upon “all them who dwell on the earth” and the judgment of Babylon the Great—Religious, Commercial and Political. There is the coming of the Antichrist. The Jews (Judah/today’s Israel) play a major role in Bible prophecy. Most dispensationalists affirm a pre-tribulational rapture of the Church – the futurity of Daniel’s 70th Week is yet to happen. The Church Age will terminate at the Rapture either at or some time before the commencement of the Week.
The Jews will endure Jacob’s Trouble without the presence of the Church and Jews (perhaps 144,000 Jewish Evangelists) preach “this gospel of the Kingdom to all the world” (Matthew 24:14) and will face the Antichrist, rebuild the Tribulation Temple and suffer the Abomination of Desolation by themselves. The “Gospel of the Kingdom” is NOT the “Gospel of the Grace of God” – “tribulation saints” will be alerted to the “coming kingdom” and will be saved by their obedience to the Law—there are many conflicts in dispensational theology after the Church’s rapture. The Holy Spirit will no longer restrain the rise of the Antichrist; there are “Two Brides” (the Wife of Jehovah for the Jews – the Bride of Christ for the Christians); two New Covenants or simply today’s Christians enjoy the “spiritual aspects” (only) of the New Covenant; the Bride of Messiah will descend to the Earth but remain hovering upon the Earth for 1,000 years where she abides, with the Jews upon the Earth “ruling and reigning” with her Groom who also shall be upon the Earth in some fashion—either as the Son of David upon His throne or through someone else who will either be King David himself or a son of king David.
New theories proliferate: After the Rapture there will be a GAP before the 70th Week – could last for decades; the Jews will come to saving knowledge of the Savior, the Lord Jesus, at the Abomination of Desolation in the Middle of the Week. Many affirm that the Rapture is only “partial” – only the Overcomers constitute the Bride of Messiah—other Christians who “don’t make the cut” must endure unto the end.
The Second Coming of Jesus is IMMINENT—“No man knows the day nor the hour” – consequently, the Rapture can occur at any moment--and since the birth of the Church, her rapture has always been imminent. Today’s Israel is a fulfillment of Bible Prophecy – it does constitute a SIGN of the Second Coming of Christ but it is not a SIGN of the pending Rapture—the RAPTURE IS A SIGN-LESS EVENT because no man knows the day nor the hour. Christians should be ready at all times, and watchful.
The GAP provides greater uncertainty as to the commencement of the 70th Week. Most agree the 70th Week begins via an Agreement, Covenant, Defense Pact, Confirmation of the Unbreakable Alliance between either the Antichrist or Nations, and the State of Israel to guarantee their security—prophetic wars proceed and persist through most of the 70th Week and climax in the Battle of Armageddon.
Once within the confines of the 70th Week the chronologies are rigid; but, still no man knows the day nor the hour – some say we can “discern the times and seasons” but not the “day nor the hour.” Some dispensationalists affirm that the “Day of the Lord” commences as the “Broad Day of the Lord” at or just before the Rapture but the “Narrow Day of the Lord” are the Week’s final hours—the Judgment, the Great and Awesome Day of the Lord. There will be a “Great Apostasy” and move toward a One World Religion; however, “some will depart (lit. “apostatize”) from the faith” in “latter times” (1 Tim. 4:1) is different from the Rapture (Latin: Rapizo; Greek: Harpadzo) found in 2 Thess. 2:3: “Unless the falling away comes first” – this “falling away” or “apostasies” means a “departing” from the Earth or Rapture (notwithstanding, some within Dispensationalism do not agree on this verse--they say it is not the rapture but the Great Apostasy).
A strict separation between the Church’s purview/witness to the Heavens is maintained—against Principalities and Powers in heavenly places; whereas, Israel’s authority/witness is to Gentile World Powers upon the Earth; consequently, there is separation today, and separation up through and perhaps including the Eschaton (beyond the 7,000 years).
The Church is a MYSTERY not seen in the Old Testament but revealed only through Paul. The Jews will suffer unfathomable persecution prior to the Second Coming of Christ to prepare them for His Deliverance. Some dispensationalists flirt with “dual covenantalism” – i.e., the Jews today are brought (now) into right standing with the Almighty through the Mosaic Covenant; whereas Christians are brought to right standing via the “Blood of the Everlasting Covenant” (and some say the New Covenant) juxtaposed to the Old Covenant (which is still viable under “dual covenant” dispensationalists). Most affirm that the 2,300-day prophecy in Daniel 8:13-14 was fulfilled by Antiochus IV Epiphanes cir. 170 BC.
(3) Aberrant Theologies/Other Eschatologies Theologies/ Identity Theology – Although this category could be placed within either Replacement or Premillenarian Theologies – it deserves its own platform. These theologies are based primarily upon Christian Historicism. Seventh-Day Adventism Eschatology, Mormonism, Jehovah Witnesses, other groups such as British Israelism. All share some form of “Identification” with the ancient Tribes of Israel. Most claim some philo-semitic identification but are wholly separate from the Jews, per se. Most reject Replacement Theology but their theologies tend to be “all over the map” – in particular, most view the 2,300-Evening/Mornings Prophecy of Daniel 8:13-14 as fulfilled in “years” (most – Mormons and SDAs say during the Great Disappointment of 1843/1844 – William Miller – with the 2,300 years commencing in 456/457 BC with one of the Decrees made by Artaxerxes Longimanus and persisting until 1843/44 AD) – thus, Mormons started building temples, the SDA’s under E. G. White affirmed the “Investigative Judgment” as found in Daniel 7:9-14 when the Ancient of Days came forth, “the court was seated, and the books were opened” (Dan. 7:10). The JWs continued to calculate the “date of His coming” based on Historicism’s concepts (i.e., the 2,300 day/year prophecy).
British Israelism claims that the Northern Europeans, especially the British, constitute the Ten Lost Tribes of Israel (carried away by the Assyrians into captivity between 740-712 BC.) – most adhere to some of the discoveries found in J. H. Allen’s Judah’s Scepter and Joseph’s Birthright (1902). Herbert W. Armstrong popularized these views using Allen’s material. Most all these sects assert the importance of keeping the “commandments” and portions or all the Law of Moses and, in particular, celebrate the Jewish Feast Days in some form. Most rigidly keep the Sabbath Day as Saturday or enshrine the importance of the Lord’s Day (Sunday – Mormons). Most tend toward “cultic practices” and do not find themselves in mainstream evangelicalism (although SDAs and others in the Worldwide Church of God are considered evangelical because of their soteriology).
Most of these eschatologies do NOT regard today’s State of Israel as a prophetic fulfillment and most keep a rigid separation between themselves and their “Jewish counterparts.” Many claim to be the real Jews or intensely philo-Semitic: “Mormonism teaches that its adherents are either direct descendants of the House of Israel or adopted into it. As such, Mormons regard Jews as a covenant people of God and hold them in high esteem. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church), the largest church in Mormonism, is philo-Semitic in its doctrine.” (Wikipedia). NOTE: The aforementioned “churches” which claim some degree of Christian identity are not considered by dispensationalists as a part of today’s “prophetic evangelical community” – most are outside the pale of acceptable Christian “prophetic understanding” and are considered either cults or cultic in their practice.
(3a) British Israelism/Christian Identity - One only need to add to this mix various speculations made by both British-Israel and Christian Identity people, and their many offshoots. For some, the association of these groups to this prophecy (Ezk. 37 – Two Sticks) is just too much, and so they think that it is best to avoid the prophecy of Ezekiel 37:15-28 altogether. But even though there have been abuses with the two-stick prophecy, and no one can deny how aberrant groups have interpreted it throughout recent religious history—it is nevertheless a part of the Biblical canon that cannot be avoided. (Source: http://messianicapologetics.net/archives/1224). The “Two Stick” doctrine found in Mormonism is altogether convoluted and bears little resemblance to the eschatology of the Two Sticks/Two Houses of CT.
COMMONWEALTH THEOLOGY (CT) - EXPANDED –
In summation, the three dominant views of the Church’s relationship with Israel are as follows; i.e. how are today’s Jews, who are not Christians (viz. Judah), viewed within Christendom by the Church—e.g., Replacement Theology says there is NO DISTINCTION and NO SEPARATION between Israel and the Church . . .
(A) REPLACEMENT THEOLOGY - NO DISTINCTION – NO SEPARATION
(B) DISPENSATIONALISM - YES DISTINCTION – YES SEPARATION
(C) COMMONWEALTH THEOLOGY YES DISTINCTION – NO SEPARATION
EXPANDING ON THE THEOLOGY OF COMMONWEALTH:
“I have been interested in this prophecy for quite a while. I think that when we weigh not only the claims of the text, but also the different views that are out there, we can safely say that the two sticks of Judah and Israel/Ephraim have not yet been reunited. Yet this prophecy also has an important message of fostering unity among God’s people, which many of today’s popular Two-House teachers, who you are likely to encounter, have seriously overlooked or just absolutely not implemented.” (Messianic Apologetics “Have the Two Sticks been Reunited?” Studies on Ezekiel 37:15-28 by J.K. McKee – 6 Sept. 2016).
Response to the Refutations concerning CT:
Ephraim Ceases from Being a People or Ephraim’s Two-House Theology (ETHT) – The conclusion that the prophecy of Ezekiel 37:15-28 was fulfilled by the 10 Tribes now under Babylonian Captivity were united with Judah (the Two Tribes of the South – also known as Israel) was fulfilled when the Jews (now, configured by the ETHT opponents) returned to Judea as the full-fledged 12 Tribes under the decrees of the Persian Kings (commencing with King Cyrus in 537 BC)—this assumption is unbiblical and is naught but anthropological historical revisionism (i.e., large numbers of the “swallowed up Israelites among the nations” never integrated with the Jews of the Babylonian captivity--notwithstanding the aforementioned claims recorded in the Messianic White Paper—See Endnote #4).
The prophecy given in Ezekiel 37:15-28 is yet future and must be taken in context to take place in the “latter days” – the prophecy finds itself between the vision of the “Valley of Dry Bones” (Ezekiel 37:1-14) and the Gog-Magog War (Ezekiel 38-39) . . . AND the unfilled Two-Stick prophecy:
“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 . . . David My servant shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd; they shall also walk in My judgments and observe My statutes, and do them” (Ezk. 37:22, 24)
The context of the yet future prophetic fulfillment is “Messianic” and is set within the immediate context of the yet future, literal 1,000-year Millenarian Reign of the Son of David. “The Whole House of Israel” (Ezekiel 37:11). At issue is this: What constitutes the “Whole House of Israel?” If we are to read further (Ezekiel 37:15-28) we discover that the “Whole House of Israel” is comprised of Two Sticks (Two Houses) – the House of Judah and the House of Ephraim; therefore, is the Valley of Dry Bones comprised of BOTH HOUSES or simply the House of Judah?
The context demands an agonizing reappraisal of the Vision of the Valley of Dry Bones—it bespeaks of BOTH HOUSES as the Whole House of Israel and of BOTH resurrection and immediate revival at the close of the age for both Judah and Ephraim. If Ephraim were swallowed up either by Judah through “captivity integration into Judah” or simply scattered among the nations and thereby assimilated—then why is Ephraim prophetically ensconced into Ezekiel 37’s Valley of Dry Bones vision and Two Stick prophecy which is yet future—finding itself just prior to the Gog-Magog War? Many well educated and well-meaning brethren, like Chuck Missler, are determined to ascribe Ephraim’s assimilation into the Southern Two Tribes—but this argument from conjecture, juxtaposed to the biblical and historical accounting of Ephraim being SWALLOWED UP (Hosea 8:8 – there the Hebrew word for “swallowed up” is Bala, which is used twice in succession in the Hosea 8:8 text to emphasize a complete disappearance, even destruction—the same word is used of Jonah being “swallowed” by the great fish) . . . simply does not wash.
Again, the Vision of the Valley of Dry Bones is given to the “Whole House of Israel” – which vision feeds into the Prophecy of the Two Sticks; therefore, upon further examination of the relationship between the Stick of Judah and the Stick of Joseph, which is the Stick of Ephraim—a relationship dead for centuries, the “Whole House of Israel” can be viewed not only of Judah’s gathering together to the Land in the latter times (Ezk. 38:8) but of Ephraim’s revival wherein TOGETHER they are revived and stand as a mighty army—i.e., Judah’s awakening is Ephraim’s awakening and comports with Romans 11:11:
“Now if their diminishing is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Nations (Gentiles) how much more their FULLNESS.”
This passage of the Valley of Dry Bones can no longer be viewed as a unilateral revival of latter-day Israel (the Jews) but bespeaks of BOTH HOUSES – BOTH STICKS – for if their (the Jews) trespass/diminishing is riches for the world—then the following is being fulfilled:
“For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but LIFE FROM THE DEAD?” (Romans 11:11, 15).
“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. 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” (Ezk. 37:12-13).
Judah and Ephraim abide “the People of God” destined for revival from “blindness in part” and the current apostasy afflicting the Ekklesia, among the nations.
Moreover, the contentions that a majority of Israelites (Ephraim – the 10 Tribes) joined themselves to Judah (the Two Southern Tribes) over the course of some three decades (740-712) cannot be substantiated by Scripture.
David numbered the men of “fighting age” of the 10 Northern Tribes to be 800,000 (2 Sam. 24:9) cir. 980 BC or, because of other considerations, the number of men of “fighting age” was 1,100,000 (1 Chronicles 21:5); meaning, with women and children and the elderly, upwards of 4 million Israelites of the 10 Tribes. Nigh 250 years later (722 BC) there could have been as many as 10 million or more Israelites of the 10 Northern Tribes. The return of the Jews from Babylon to Judea was paltry compared to this number—approximately 50,000.
THE DISAPPEARANCE OF EPHRAIM – EPHRAIM IS MIXED IN WITH JUDAH AS TODAY’S JEWS…
To suggest that all 12 tribes (Including Ephraim) joined together both prior to the Babylonian Captivity and during the Babylonian Captivity and were all subsequently identified as Israel or Jews flies in the face of previous Scripture which demands that millions were carted off by the Assyrian Kings, literally, anthropologically-speaking, by the millions. Nigh 7 generations separated the Samaria/Ephraim Captivity from the Babylonian Captivity (e.g., 740-586 BC); although, King Nebuchadnezzar II (Viceroy at the time) laid siege to Jerusalem in 608/607 BC. At that time he took some captive of the Jews (e.g., Daniel and other youth).
 Some dispensationalists teach, as did John Nelson Darby (see below), that only the progeny of Abraham (viz., today’s Jews) shall partake of the New Covenant mentioned in Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 11:19-21; 36:24-28; the Church today partakes of the “spiritual blessings” only of the New Covenant but NOT the New Covenant itself. One of the major proponents of this teaching today is Randy White of Randy White Ministries and is considered by some to be a “hyper-dispensationalist” akin to the late Peter Ruckman (aka, Ruckmanites) who espoused a very strict separation between Israel and the Church throughout his teachings. Lewis Sperry Chafer, the founder of Dallas Theological Seminary (Dallas Seminary), embraced “two New Covenants”—one for the Church inaugurated at the Last Super and the other for ethnic and/or National Israel to inaugurate the one-thousand-year Millennial Reign of the son of David upon the earth.
A better position is taken by Lewis Sperry Chafer who believes the new covenant in the Old Testament will be fulfilled only in the millennium, but finds also another new covenant revealed in the New Testament which has reference to the church in the present age. This conceives the sacrifice of Christ as making possible two covenants, a new covenant for Israel as well as a new covenant for the church. (Dr. John Walvoord - The New Covenant with Israel – Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology (Dallas: Dallas Seminary Press, 1948), IV, p. 325).
John Nelson Darby’s “spiritual blessings"
“A third position, also premillennial, was advocated by J. N. Darby who held that the new covenant belonged to Israel alone in both Old and New Testaments though the church participates in the benefits of the sacrifice of Christ. He writes, ‘We enjoy indeed all the essential privileges of the new covenant, its foundation being laid on God’s part in the blood of Christ, but we do so in spirit, not according to the letter.’ Darby holds that ‘the gospel is not a covenant, but the revelation of the salvation of God.’” (Source: J. N. Darby, The Collected Writings of J. N. Darby, William Kelly, editor (London: G. Morrish, n.d.) Doctrinal, I, 286.
 These covenants are outlined by Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost in his classic text: THINGS TO COME…A Study in Biblical Eschatology, Dunham Publishing Company, Findlay, Ohio with Introduction by John f. Walvoord. The covenants are found in his section two: The Biblical Covenants and Eschatology pp. 65-128 and include the New Covenant. On p. 121 of his text, Pentecost states in reference to the New Covenant:
The relation of the church in the new covenant. There are five clear references to the new covenant in the New Testament: Luke 22:20; 1 Corinthians 11:25; 2 Corinthians 3:6; Hebrews 8:8; 9:15. In addition to these there are six other references to it: Matthew 26:28; Mark 14:24; Romans 11:27; Hebrews 8:10-13, and 12:24. The question arises as to the relationship of the believers of this present age to the new covenant of Jeremiah 31:31-34. This question is important, for, as has been seen previously, the contention of the amillennialist is that the church is now fulfilling these Old Testament prophecies and therefore there need be no earthly millennium.
(Note: Pentecost lists John Nelson Darby’s “spiritual blessings” view; then Pentecost presents the view held by C. I. Scofield in his Reference Bible . . ..)
The second view is that of Scofield. This view, more generally held than Darby’s view, says: ‘The New Covenant . . . secures the perpetuity, future conversion, and blessing of Israel . . . and it secures the eternal blessedness . . . of all who believe [C. I. Scofield, editor, The Scofield Reference Bible, p. 1297]. Thus, according to this view, there is one new covenant with a two-fold application; one to Israel in the future and one to the church now.
The Third View:
The thirds view is the two-covenant view [See: Lewis Sperry Chafer, Systematic Theology, IV, 325; Walvoord, op. cit., 110: 193-205; Ryrie, op. cit., pp. 105-25.] This view holds that there are two new covenants presented in the New Testament; the first with Israel in reaffirmation of the covenant promised in Jeremiah 31 and the second made with the church in this age. This view, essentially, would divide the references to the new covenant in the New Testament into two groups. The references in the gospels and in Hebrews 8:6; 9:15; 10:29, and 13:20 would refer to the new covenant with the church, Hebrews 8:7-13 and 10:16 would refer to the new covenant with Israel, and Hebrews 12:24 would refer, perhaps, to both, emphasizing the fact of the mediation accomplished and the covenant program established without designating the recipients. This view would accept the Darbyist concept that Israel’s new covenant is to be fulfilled by Israel alone. In addition, it would see the church as brought into relation to God by a new covenant that was established with them. (Pentecost, THINGS TO COME, p. 124).
Pentecost, notwithstanding, gives a brief summary of the New Covenant, by concluding that the Church is NOT under the New Covenant announced in Hebrews nor by Jesus in the Upper Room:
“It is a misrepresentation of the thinking of the writer to the Hebrews to affirm that he teaches that Israel’s new covenant is now operative with the church.” . . . In its historical setting, the disciples who heard the Lord refer to the new covenant in the upper room the night before His death would certainly have understood Him to be referring to the new covenant of Jeremiah 31. Several things are to be observed concerning the record of this reference on that occasion. In Matthew 26:28 and Mark 14:24 the statement is recorded: “This is the blood of the new covenant . . . “ [italics ours]. In this statement emphasis would be placed upon the soteriological aspects of that covenant. The blood that was being offered was that required by the promised new covenant and was for the purpose of giving remission of sins. In Luke 22:20 and 1 Corinthians 11:25 the statement is recorded: “This is the new covenant in my blood . . . “ [italics Pentecost]. This statement would emphasize the eschatological aspects of the new covenant, stating that the new covenant is instituted with His death. This would be according to the principle of Hebrews 9:16-17: For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.
Pentecost’s insistence that Christians, the Elect called out from among the Nations, do NOT participate NOW in the New covenant due to its eschatological implications is the classical approach of Dispensationalism’s determination to keep Israel (Judah, the Jews) separated from the Church during the present “Church Age.” Pentecost once again summarizes his conclusions by keeping the Church from Israel’s New Covenant or by keeping Israel from the inauguration of the Upper Room announcement of the Blood Covenant termed the “New Covenant in My Blood” – to wit:
(1) The term Israel is nowhere used in the Scriptures for any but the physical descendants of Abraham…Since the church today is composed of both Jews and Gentiles without nations distinctions, it would be impossible for that church to fulfill these promises made to the nation.
NOTE: Many of us today would outright reject such a conclusion that the Scriptures unequivocally determine that “Israel” is singularly comprised of the “National progeny of Abraham, the Jews” – the Commonwealth of Israel by its very definition demands a corporate polity which contradicts Pentecost’s conclusion. No, Gentiles are NOT Jews; however, both are included in the “State/polity” of Israel (Eph. 2:11-13)
(2) Within the New Covenant there were promises of spiritual blessings and promises of earthly blessing. While the church, like Israel, is promised salvation, the forgiveness of sins, the ministry of the Holy Spirit, yet the church is never promised inheritance in a land, material blessings on the earth, and rest from oppression, which were parts of the promise to Israel.
NOTE: Somehow Pentecost occludes the fact that saints of the “Church Age” shall “rule and reign with Christ” ON THE EARTH for one-thousand years (Rev. 20:4). “The meek shall inherit the earth” – within dispensational thinking was given to National Israel and not spoken for the formative Church. The “ladder” – i.e., the Son of Man – apparently does NOT link Heaven to Earth and Earth to Heaven. The “Church” by dispensational definition are exclusively a “heavenly people” and will, consequently, during the Millennium, never touch the Earth but, as Dr. John Walvoord contends:
If the new Jerusalem is in existence throughout the millennial reign of Christ, it is possible that it is a satellite city suspended over the earth during the thousand-year reign of Christ as the dwelling place of resurrected and translated saints who also have access to the earthly scene. This would help explain an otherwise difficult problem of the dwelling place of resurrected and translated beings on the earth during a period in which men are still in their natural bodies and living ordinary lives. If so, the new Jerusalem is withdrawn from the earthly scene in connection with the destruction of the old earth, and later comes down to the new earth. (From the Series: The Revelation of Jesus Christ #21, John Walvoord)
Dispensationalism's determination to keep the separation between Israel and the Church – both with regards to the immediate implementation of its inauguration in the Upper Room and the preponderance of its validation throughout the book of Hebrews because the Church constitutes a “heavenly people” juxtaposed to an “earthly people” (i.e., National Israel) – simply cannot be justified by the Scriptures used by these well-meaning dispensationalists – the Bride of Messiah does NOT orbit around or finds herself stationary, affixed somewhere in Earth’s stratosphere awaiting her final descent to Earth at the close of the Millennium as Walvoord and other dispensationalists would have us affirm. This SEPARATION between Judah and Ephraim (which the dispensationalists eliminate because of their claim that today’s Jews are the sum and substance of “all Israel”) simply flies in the face of biblical realities.
(3) Since the church receives blessings of the Abrahamic covenant (Gal. 3:14; 4:22-31) by faith without being under or fulfilling that covenant, so the church may receive blessings from the new covenant without being under or fulfilling that new covenant.
NOTE: The “biblical logic” presented by Pentecost obfuscates the succession of the Promise Seed through Isaac where the believer is IN CHRIST . . . we have become heirs of the Promise and as Isaac was we today “are all children of promise” (Gal. 3:15-18; 4:28). Yes, we have received the blessings of the New Covenant because the New Covenant in His Blood has been shed for us TODAY. Likewise, the salvation of National Israel and/or the Remnant of Israel wherein National Israel shall enter into these same blessings of the New Covenant wrought through His Blood will take place at the return of Messiah: “And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn” (Zech. 12:10). It will be at this time the SAME NEW COVENANT inaugurated by Jesus will be enjoyed by National Israel (viz., Judah). By keeping the “heavens and the earth” separated, Pentecost has unwittingly kept the progeny of Abraham from those called into the New Covenant today—both Jews and Gentiles—by erecting a “dimensional divide” that is done away IN CHRIST and will, during the Millennium, be materially demolished once and for all.
(4) Since the tribulation, second advent, and millennial age are yet future, the fulfillment of this promise [i.e., of the New Covenant] must be yet future, and therefore the church cannot now be fulfilling this covenant. (NOTE: All quotes from Pentecost are taken from his text, THINGS TO COME, Chapter 8, The New Covenant, pp. 116-128).
NOTE: The presupposition made by Pentecost regarding the timing of the New Covenant’s inauguration is simply stated but cannot be backed up with supporting Scripture. He uses Romans 11:26-27 to substantiate his “timing claim” (viz., “And so all Israel will be saved . . . The Deliverer will come out of Zion and He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob, for this is My covenant with them, when I take away their sins”). There is nothing endemic within this text that demands the circumvention nor the immediate implementation of the New Covenant for the Church—it simply states that “All Israel” shall be saved at the time of the Second Coming of Christ, no doubt, but even leaves open a full exegesis of “All Israel” based upon the previous verse found in Romans 11:25 regarding the “fullness of the nations has come in” and its association with National Israel (i.e., the Jews and their prophetic deliverance). The futurity of these items in the thinking of dispensationalism occludes the Church’s presence within the confines of the Seventieth Week of Daniel (aka, “the tribulation” from the viewpoint of Pentecost) and, apparently, her presence upon the earth during the Millennium—positions supported by CT.
 The captivity and/or dispersion into the Assyrian Empire of the Ten Northern Tribes persisted from cir. 740 BC up through and including 712 BC (Assyria’s Campaign against Judah – See here). Nigh thirty years with some five Assyrian Kings participating in their captivity—a captivity well over ten million for David numbered the men of fighting age (20 to 50 years of age) of the Ten Northern Tribes cir. 980 BC to be upwards of 1,100,000 (1 Chron. 21:5) – counting women and children and the elderly, the number of “Israelites” could have been approximately 4 to 5 million. By 740 BC – nigh 250 years later – that number could easily have exceeded 10 to 15 million. Their “swallowing up of the nations” (Hosea 8:8-9… “Israel is swallowed up, now they are among the Gentiles or Nations…for they have gone up to Assyria”). Thus, from 740-712 BC, the Israelite captivity was in full sway; and then, after nigh 110 years (Judah’s captivity into Babylon commenced in 608 BC and reached its climax in 586 BC with the Fall of Jerusalem under Nebuchadnezzar) or some 4/5 generations they “multiplied among the nations” all the more. The Bible does NOT record a mass assimilation into Judah by these Israelite Captives into Assyria—they are simply “swallowed up of the nations.”
 CT is keenly aware of the emphasis place upon “Two House Theology” wrought by aberrant denominational entities within the tent of Christendom (e.g., Mormonism, Jehovah Witnesses, Seventh-Day Adventism and the “Identity Movement” of British Israelism). This tome (CT) presents a far more evangelical rendering of “Two House Theology” – that said, it would behoove the reader to explore the findings of “Two House Theology” recorded in Wikipedia – we simply state the contemporary attitude of opponents to the immediate thesis with citations required, notwithstanding; to wit:
Opponents (From Wikipedia with observations included)
Many opponents [who?] claim that the lost tribes reunited with the Kingdom of Judah in the years leading up to and following Judah's return from the Babylonian Captivity in 537 BCE, hence they do not exist in the nations today other than in the form of the Jews, those scattered by the Roman diaspora (70 CE) and subsequent Christian and Muslim exiles in later periods. Other opponents claim that the lost tribes have been completely assimilated by and are unidentifiable in the nations of the world and hence could never have returned from their deportation by and into Assyria.
Opposition also arises simply when Israelites are identified with people more commonly associated with Japheth, one of Noah's three sons. Interestingly, some Two-House advocates won't deny some aspect of this argument, taking into account a prophetic verse: Genesis 9:27a "God enlarge Japheth, and let him dwell in the tents of Shem" (RSV). (Shem was another son of Noah, but also the ancestor of the Hebrews, Arabs, and many other ethnic groups according to genealogies found in the Hebrew Scriptures.)
Three of the major Messianic Jewish groups reject Two House Theology as being misguided at best, or at worst a Gentile cult seeking to make themselves appear as Jews. The Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations, the Messianic Jewish Association of America (an affiliate of the International Messianic Jewish Alliance) and the Messianic Bureau International all proclaim the Messianic movement as a movement for Jewish believers in Yeshua and forbid the teaching that gentiles may be of the lost tribes of Israel, or any reference to the two houses of Israel. This kind of thinking is best seen in the "Ephraimite Error" white paper, produced in 1999, which several Two House proponents have responded to. These attitudes may come as a reaction to British-Israelism which is best epitomized by the Worldwide Church of God founded by Herbert W. Armstrong, and its many offshoots.
Many in Messianic Judaism consider Two House teaching to be irrelevant and meaningless. Some[who?] would view Messianic Judaism's total avoidance of the issue and its dismissal of the Scriptures as a manifestation of Messianic Judaism's wide-scale avoidance of more important theological issues pertaining to the nature of Messiah, the composition and historicity of Scripture, and Messianic Judaism's engagement with modern society.
(SOURCE: Wikipedia @ Two House Theology )
The Ephraimite Error, A Position Paper, submitted to the International Messianic Jewish Alliance, Author: Kay Silberling, Ph.D. Committee Members and Advisors: Kay Silberling, Ph.D., Daniel Juster, Th.D., and David Sedaca, M.A. The "paper" is mandatory reading concerning the opinions of many “Messianic Jews” who, suffice it to say, are adverse as far as “Gentiles claiming attachment” as a separate House of Joseph/Ephraim to the House of Judah (i.e., the Jews). That may be theologically unsettling in that "Messianic Jews" who by definition find themselves within the confines of the ethneon or of the nations who have for the past nigh 1900 years dominated the One Body's attendance--where there is neither "Jew nor Greek." Their acceptance into mainstream Judaism is grossly irritated by the Messiahship of Yeshua; and, among some Messianic groups there is, unfortunately, a decided antagonism to the Zionist State as illegitimate until Messiah makes it so--oddly enough they find common cause with Ultra-Orthodox groups like the Neturei Karta and Satmar Hasidism who perceive the creation of the State of Israel as an anti-messianic act.
We include only the introduction of the “white paper” but a full read is preferable. The overarching concern of these sincere brethren centers on the physicality of the DNA, if you would, of those who aspire as the House of Ephraim. That “element” in CT is NOT “doctrinal priority” – it is at best, irrelevant, for the “spiritual dynamic” far exceeds any materiality associated with the scattering and/or swallowing up of the Ten Northern Tribes who have been purposefully scattered among the nations (Hosea).
We do not disclaim that “Israelite DNA” can be found among sundry peoples “called out from among the nations” but that is NOT the emphasis of Scripture regarding “I will call them My people, who were not My people, and her beloved, who was not beloved . . . and it shall come to pass on the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not My people,’ There they shall be called sons of the living God.’” (Hosea 2:23; 1:10; Romans 9:25-26)
One can immediately determine from the INTRODUCTION to the “white paper” on THE EPHRAIMITE ERROR this heightened sensitivity from those Jews who have embraced the Messiah:
INTRODUCTION: A movement alternately known as the “Ephraimite,” “Restoration of Israel,” “Two Covenant Israel,” or “Two House” movement has recently gained ground in some areas among ardent Christian Zionists. Proponents of this movement contend that members of the “born again” segment of the Christian church are, in fact, actual blood descendants of the biblical Israelites who were dispersed as a result of the Assyrian invasion of the ancient kingdom of Israel in 722 B.C.E.
The movement’s proponents further argue that these dispersed “Israelites,” or “Ephraimites,” whose identities have remained undisclosed even to themselves until recent times, primarily settled in areas now recognized as largely populated by Anglo-Saxons. At times they argue that all Anglo-Saxons, and even all of humanity, are descended from these lost Ephraimites.
At other times, that only born-again Christians can claim descent. In either case, Christians from Anglo-Saxon lands, such as Great Britain, Australia, Canada, and the United States, can feel assured that they are most likely direct blood descendants of the ancient people of Ephraim. It is now incumbent upon these members of “Ephraim,” they argue, to “accept their birthright” and live as members of Israel. They urge Gentile Christians to keep the Torah in obedience to the Hebrew scriptures, to strive to re-educate Jews and other Christians about their new, “latter-day prophecy,” and to work toward the repatriation of the land of Israel by their own number.
Primary among the movement’s spokespersons are Batya and Angus Wootten and Marshall, a.k.a. Moshe, Koniuchowsky. The Woottens publish a newsletter entitled the House of David Herald, as well as several books. Batya’s books include In Search of Israel, The Star of David, The Olive Tree of Israel, and Who Is Israel? And Why You Need to Know.
Angus’ books include Take Two Tablets Daily, A Survey of the Ten Commandments and 613 Laws that God Gave Moses and The Messianic Vision. Other names mentioned by Wootten are Brian Hennessy and David Hargis. Ed Chumney has written a book entitled The Bride of Christ, which I was unable to review. Among the Woottens, I will deal only with Batya’s writings. Moshe Koniuchowsky leads a ministry called “Your Arms to Israel.”
In addition, he has recently formed an organization named “The Messianic Israel Alliance,” which, despite its misleading name, has no affiliation with or endorsement by the International Messianic Jewish Alliance or any of its affiliates. The movement is growing to the point that it now has some areas of overlap with the Christian Zionist movement as well as the Messianic Jewish movement.
As a result of this, there are several spokespersons in both these groups who advance this teaching while maintaining primary affiliation either as Christian Zionists or as Messianic Jews.
The conclusions reached in the EPHRAIMITE ERROR are as follows – although they do chastise the present Two-House Theology, they simultaneously open the door to genuine understanding – so it appears – to the relationship between the Church and Israel but focus such illumination to the “Apostolic Fathers?” - to wit – their conclusions:
The position of the I.M.J.A., then is that the Ephraimite, or “Two House” movement is in error for the following reasons:
1) flawed, unwarranted, and dangerous interpretation of scripture
2) inconsistent logic and contradictory positions
3) racist and race-based theology
4) supersessionist theology
5) historically inaccurate depiction of Israel
6) dangerous, false, and militant claims to the land which threaten the stability of the current State of Israel
It is not unusual for a group to construct a false genealogical myth, that is, one that is empirically unfounded, in order to create for itself a new story, a new mythic purpose in the world, a new ideology and sense of rootedness. It appears that this may be the impulse that gave birth to this teaching.
What it tells us is that Messianic Jews have an important task ahead to offer to the Christian world a clearly-articulated theology of Israel. We should not forget that, up until the time of the Holocaust, the only formally developed theology available to Christians was a supersessionist theology.
Since the time of the Holocaust, several Christian theologians have made important efforts to contemplate the theology of the Apostolic Writings in light of a sincere and open dialogue with the Jewish world. The Messianic world would do well to encourage the dissemination of these theological works to the Christian world as well.
CT finds it somewhat amazing that THE EPHRAMITE ERROR completely disregards the teachings embedded within Dispensationalism and simply affirms Replacement Theologies (supersessionist) which evolved in haste from 144 AD (Marcion); and then encourages today’s Messianic community (Jews who embrace Yeshua) to celebrate the early church fathers/or Apostolic Writings “in light of a sincere and open dialogue with the Jewish world.” Question: Does THE EPHRAIMITE ERROR consider Dispensationalism “supersessionist?” Quoting: “The only formally developed theology (prior to the Holocaust) available to Christians was a supersessionist theology.” That seems to fly in the face of nigh three to four hundred years of historical research (Please see: Dr. William Watson’s: Dispensationalism before Darby, 2017). We find it somewhat disturbing that Messianic Congregations would find theological recourse of any substance in the writings of the Early Church Fathers who were fast progressing into a Triumphal Christianity both in practice and doctrinally in their writings--hardly a reservoir of philo-semitic refreshment.
 Preterism holds that Ancient Israel finds its continuation or fulfillment in the Christian church at the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70. The term preterism comes from the Latin praeter, which Webster's 1913 dictionary lists as a prefix denoting that something is "past" or "beyond". (Source: PreteristArchive.com)
 JOHN PIPER:
Therefore, the secular state of Israel today may not claim a present divine right to the Land, but they and we should seek a peaceful settlement not based on present divine rights, but on international principles of justice, mercy, and practical feasibility.
This follows from all we have said so far, and the implication it has for those of us who believe the Bible and trust Christ as our Savior and as the Lord of history, is that we should not give blanket approval to Jewish or to Palestinian actions. We should approve or denounce according to Biblical standards of justice and mercy among peoples. We should encourage our representatives to seek a just settlement that takes the historical and social claims of both peoples into account. Neither should be allowed to sway the judgments of justice by a present divine claim to the land. If you believe this, it would be helpful for your representatives to know it.
We are not whitewashing terrorism and we are not whitewashing Jewish force. Nor is there any attempt on my part to assess measures of blame or moral equivalence. That's not my aim. My aim is to put the debate on a balanced footing in this sense: neither side should preempt the claims of international justice by the claim of present divine rights. Working out what that justice will look like is still a huge and daunting task. I have not solved that problem. But I think we will make better progress if we do not yield to the claim of either side to be ethnically or nationally sanctioned by God in their present conflict. (Source: Israel, Palestine, and the Middle East, by John Piper)
 FROM PASTOR DOUGLAS R. SHEARER:
Louis Berkhof, another leading amillennialist of the 20th Century, declared much the same in 1938 – ironically, the very year the Nazis were orchestrating “Kristallnact,” the “Night of Broken Glass,” sealing the doom of six million Jews throughout Europe...
"Premillennialists ... maintain that there will be a national restoration ... of Israel, that the Jewish nation will be re-established in the Holy Land - and that this will take place immediately preceding or during the millennial reign of Jesus Christ. It is very doubtful, however, that Scripture warrants the expectation that Israel will finally be re-established as a nation ..." (italics mine).
Berkhof, not content to leave it at that, went even further ...
"(Premillennialism) is based on a literal interpretation of the (Old Testament) which (spells out) a future for Israel ... which is entirely untenable." (italics mine).
Berkhof, though, unlike Bavinck, did indeed live to witness Israel’s restoration. And what was his response? Nothing! Nothing at all! Unbroken silence! Having declared so pointedly that the restoration of Israel would never occur, the UN vote in 1948 to make it so certainly deserved more from Berkhof than a studied silence. Berkhof died in 1957, giving him plenty of time to have acknowledged just how wrong he’d been in 1938. But he never did. Disingenuous? There’s no other way to describe it.
In light of Israel’s jaw-dropping restoration in 1948, Berkhof’s silence has not been an intellectually suitable rejoinder for amillennialist - most especially after Jerusalem was captured in 1967 and the very next day made Israel’s capital. Now, not just Israel, but Israel with her capital at Jerusalem! A miracle that only the most cynical could dismiss out of hand. (Source: Pastor Emeritus, Douglas R. Shearer, A Critique of Amillennialism, 2017 – a preliminary work) (Footnotes:  Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1974), 712.
Shearer later goes on to explain that Amillenarians concur that there is a gathering of the exiles into the State of Israel today; however, that ingathering is NOT the same Israel depicted in the O.T. – not as actual flesh and blood continuation. There is nothing of a “National Israel” in the theology/eschatology of Amillennialism.
Shearer quotes Kim Riddlebarger who openly admits Jews are being regathered to the State of Israel for corporate conversion; however, in classical Amillenarian supersessionist language he states:
“According to Reformed theologians, the promised restoration of [today’s] Israel, point(s) ahead to the church. This is because the New Testament explicitly represent(s) this promise as being fulfilled in the church, which Paul call(s) the ‘Israel of God.’” (Kim Riddlebarger, A Case for Amillennialism (Baker Books, 2013), page 267.
Shearer concludes his expose vis-à-vis Israel’s materiality (viz., the State of Israel) and the convoluted compensation afforded by Amillenarians to justify her existence as anything but a bygone type and shadow:
Amillennialism has stumbled over the birth of Israel in 1948 and the capture of Jerusalem in 1967. Simply put, its underlying hermeneutic doesn’t provide for a narrative that can account for either - notwithstanding all the tweaks they’ve proposed over the last fifty years to make it so. (Ibid. Douglas R. Shearer)
 Marcionism – A quote from Jacob Prasch of Moriel Ministries links Marcionism with Dispensationalism:
John Nelson Darby was indeed in our view seriously deluded by the hyper dispensationalism to which he propounded and which factored into his split from the Open Brethren and Plymouth Brethren and has laid the ground work for closed brethren groups such as the Taylorites which we consider to be a cult that is indeed demonic. Darby's hyper dispensational theology, among other problems, carries subtle influences of ancient Marcionism. Darby's erroneous actions have unfortunately and unjustly tarnished the good name and reputation of more scripturally based Brethren groups and of moderate dispensationalists and caused rapture belief itself to be discredited. (Clarification of our view on Pre-Tribulationism)
NOTE: Marcion (cir. 144 AD) – He rejected the O.T. and most of the gospels and other N.T. writings as “Jewish” and NOT written for the Church and/or to the Church. These are the “roots” to which Prasch alludes; to wit (From Wikipedia):
Marcionism was an Early Christian dualist belief system that originated in the teachings of Marcion of Sinope at Rome around the year 144.
Marcion believed Jesus was the savior sent by God, and Paul the Apostle was his chief apostle, but he rejected the Hebrew Bible and the God of Israel. Marcionists believed that the wrathful Hebrew God was a separate and lower entity than the all-forgiving God of the New Testament. This belief was in some ways similar to Gnostic Christian theology; notably, both are dualistic, that is, they posit opposing gods, forces, or principles: one higher, spiritual, and "good", and the other lower, material, and "evil" (compare Manichaeism). This dualism stands in contrast to other Christian and Jewish views that "evil" has no independent existence, but is a privation or lack of "good", a view shared by the Jewish theologian Moses Maimonides.
Marcionism, similar to Gnosticism, depicted the God of the Old Testament as a tyrant or demiurge (see also God as the Devil). Marcion was labeled a gnostic by Philip Schaff, while other scholars have rejected that categorization. Marcion's canon consisted of eleven books: A gospel consisting of ten sections drawn from the Gospel of Luke; and ten Pauline epistles.
Marcion's canon rejected the entire Old Testament, along with all other epistles and gospels of the 27 book New Testament canon because they transmitted "Jewish" ideas. Paul's epistles enjoy a prominent position in the Marcionite canon, since Paul is credited with correctly transmitting the gracious universality of Jesus' message in opposition to the harsh dictates of the "just god". (Source: Wikipedia)
 The following is an unilateral exchange between Douglas W. Krieger and Dr. William Watson, Professor of History at Colorado Christian University (only Doug Krieger is talking, however):
There are and will be a wide variety of “Jewish practices and cultural reflections found among those who embrace the greater body of truth contained within CT; however, the majority of those who affirm the major tenets of CT also adhere to the following concerning the Mosaic Law, the Ten Commandments, the Commandments contained in Ordinances, Civil/Ceremonial Law…the following was presented in a discourse between several individuals interested in CT as an “eschatological/theological system of understanding” concerning the relationship between “Israel and the Church.”
Jesus did NOT nail the 10 Commandments to His Cross but He most certainly did the "law of commandments contained in ordinances”; to wit:
For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the LAW OF COMMANDMENTS CONTAINED IN ORDINANCES, so as to create in Himself one New Man from the two, thus making peace...and that He might reconcile them both to God in ONE BODY through THE CROSS, thereby putting to death the enmity (Eph. 2:1).
Having WIPED OUT the handwriting of requirements (i.e., "the certificate of debt with its . . . ") that was against us, which was contrary to us . . . And He has taken it out of the way, having NAILED IT TO THE CROSS (Col. 2:14).
I say that it is in this light, Romans 14:1-23 comes into absolute focus!
One person esteems one day above another, another esteems every day alike. Let each be fully convinced in his own mind...He who observes the day, observes it to the Lord; and he who does not observe the day, to the Lord he does not observe it...He who eats, eats to the Lord, for he gives God thanks; and he who does not eat, to the Lord he does not eat, and gives God thanks (Rom. 14:5-6).
The summation of the Law of Christ is thusly spoken:
For the commandments, 'You shall not commit adultery,' 'You shall not murder,' 'You shall not steal.' 'You shall not bear false witness,' 'You shall not covet,' and if there is ANY OTHER COMMANDMENT, are all summed up in this saying, namely, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself." "Love does no harm to a neighbor, therefore love is the fulfillment of the law (Romans 13:9-10).
The Book of Romans makes it abundantly clear that the civil/ceremonial law contained in ordinances relative to the Mosaic Accord cannot atone for sin, neither do they possess any salvific quality for the believer. That said, we believers in Jesus/Yeshua must afford liberality to those brethren who wish to esteem the Sabbath, for example, to be on Saturday--but NOT DEMAND that other brethren do the same as they in a way of condemnation nor to suggest that they are living in DISOBEDIENCE if they were, for example, to eat shrimp!
He who does not eat shrimp does it unto the Lord and he who eats at Red Lobster gives thanks unto the Lord--BOTH do it as unto the Lord--that's what Paul taught and that's what we should wholly embrace!
I trust this does not shock you nor offend your "Jewish sensitivities" - however, after listening to your presentation, I am very much relieved that what I heard echoes the truth of the N.T.'s understanding wrought among those called out from among the nations to be a people for His Name.
I will go one step further, as much as I deeply appreciate Arno Fruchtenbaum, I wholly understand why he affirms that an ethnic Jew's children should be circumcised to maintain their Jewish identity--"but neither circumcision nor uncircumcision avails anything--BUT A NEW CREATION!" (Gal. 6:15).
Now...continuing without the dialogue between Krieger/Watson....still just Doug Krieger talking, but not to Dr. Watson:
Regarding the Law of God (i.e., the Ten Commandments) – Romans 7 emphatically states that the “Law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good” (Rom. 7:12); also that the “Law is spiritual” (Rom. 7:14); “I agree with the law that it is good” (Rom. 7:16) – but Paul states: “For to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find . . . I find then a law, that evil is present with me, the one who wills to do go . . . for I delight in the law of God according to the inward man . . . I thank God—through Jesus Christ our Lo . . . so then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin . . . There is therefore now NO CONDEMNATION to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit . . . for the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death , , , for what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” (Excerpts from Romans 7 and 8).
All the aforesaid proclaims there is NO CONDEMNATION to them who are IN Christ Jesus who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit. That which is holy, righteous, and good can only be fulfilled – the righteous requirements can only be fulfilled – by them who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. To suggest that the keeping of the Law—the Ten Commandments—the righteous requirements of the Law – are somehow “done away with” IN Christ completely misses the point. To the contrary—one is able through the Spirit of Life in Christ—through the Law of the Spirit of Life in Christ to meet and even exceed the righteous requirements made by the Law.
May I give the severest of observations - if we do not get off on the right foot on these matters of the LAW - knowing the difference between nailing the "law of commandments contained in ordinances" vs. the Ten Commandments - which Ten are embodied in the Law of Christ's love - and their practices - we will be committing the same SEPARATION ultimately espoused by Marcion in 144 AD--that will be the end of Commonwealth Theology's fledgling beginnings!
 This initial paper cannot go into excessive doctrinal detail as to these “supersessionist” theologies; however, Amillenarians (no future, literal one-thousand-year millennium upon the earth) are best expressed by Oswald T. Allis in his Prophesy and the Church, p. 154:
“The passage (Hebrews 8:8-12) speaks of the new covenant. It declares that this new covenant has been already introduced and that by virtue of the fact that it is called “new” it has made the one which it is replacing “old,” and that the old is about to vanish away. It would be hard to find a clearer reference to the gospel age in the Old Testament than in these verses in Jeremiah . . . “
Dispensationalist, Charles Ryrie in his The Basis of the Premillennial Faith, pp. 108-110 contends otherwise:
First, it is seen by the fact of the words of establishment of the covenant . . . Jeremiah 31:31 . . .. Other passages which support this fact are: Isaiah 59:20-21; 61:8-9; Jeremiah 32:37-40; 50:4-5; Ezekiel 16:60-63; 34:25-26; 37:21-28. Secondly, that the Old Testament teaches that the new covenant is for Israel is also seen by the fact of its very name . . . contrasted with the Mosaic covenant . . . the new covenant is made with the same people as the Mosaic . . . the Scripture clearly teaches that the Mosaic covenant of the law was made with the nation Israel only. Romans 2:14 . . . Romans 6:14 and Galatians 3:24-25 . . . 2 Corinthians 3:7-11 . . . Leviticus 26:46 . . . Deuteronomy 4:8.
There can be no question as to whom pertains the law. It is for Israel alone, and since this old covenant was made with Israel, the new covenant is made with the same people no other group or nation being in view. Thirdly, that the Old Testament teaches that the new covenant is for Israel is also seen by the fact that in its establishment the perpetuity of the nation Israel and her restoration to the land is virtually linked with it (Jer. 31:35-40) . . . Thus, we conclude that for these three incontrovertible reasons, the very words of the text, the name itself, and the linking with the perpetuity of the nation, the new covenant according to the teaching of the Old Testament is for the people of Israel.
CT contends that the New Covenant does not supersede the New Covenant made to the progeny of Abraham, i.e., the Jews, as perpetrated by Replacement/Amillennialism theology. Moreover, neither is the New Covenant withheld from the immediate purview of the Church at the present time as rejected by Dispensationalism.
These “two extremities” juxtaposed to one another wherein the one (Amillennialism) subsumes Israel and becomes the exclusive “Spiritual Israel”—leaving the physical descendants of Judah in the dust of history past with no prophetic future (supersessionist)—the sole inheritor of the New Covenant vs. Dispensationalism which confines the New Covenant to the exclusive purview of National Israel, yet future, clearly excluding the Church, aside from the ambiguous “spiritual blessings” of the New Covenant – BOTH are theologically deficient and demand that elements of both theologies can readily comprise COMMONWEALTH THEOLOGY.
There is DISTINCTION wrought by Dispensationalism between National Israel (aka, the Jews) and the Church – between the 12 Gates bearing the Names of the 12 Tribes of Israel and the 12 Foundations, bearing the Names of the 12 Apostles of the Lamb – but there is One Olive Tree, one Holy City which is MULTI-DIMENSIONAL (Ezekiel 40-48; Revelation 21) and is NOT separated from National Israel—i.e., there is today a BOND that is intensely spiritual between Jews and Christians. That bond makes them PEOPLE OF THE BOOK and that bond demands, through the Cross, that the MIDDLE WALL OF SEPARATION has been broken down to make of the two/both ONE NEW MAN, so making peace both NOW and into the prophetic future based upon the immediate and prophetic/eschatological aspects of the SAME NEW COVENANT.
The New Covenant does NOT now or into the future exclude Jews. Jews, just as their counterparts among the nations of today, are brought into the New Covenant (individually) and prophetically (corporately). They shall enter into the full impact of that same New Covenant that believers (be they Jewish or non-Jewish) do today. National Israel, during the “latter days” shall corporately enter the New Covenant at the commencement of the literal one-thousand-year Millennium.
Dispensationalism finds itself among its many divergent streams engaged in both an eschatological and soteriological crisis--especially after the pre-tribulational rapture of the Bride of Christ when a "different gospel" called the "Gospel of the Kingdom" distinguishes itself from the Gospel of the Grace of God which produces the One New Man, the Body of Christ, the New Creation. What exactly is produced by the "works of the Law" apparently integrated with spirts of "grace" is anyone's guess; thus, the soteriological crisis. Eschatological issues persist with the New Heaven and New Earth postponed until after the Millennium--apparently, having the redeemed of Israel, the Jews, and Christians "caught together" on the same planet is a fearful sight indeed! In particular, where is the Son of David--is He ruling and reigning with the saints on His throne on the earth during the Millennium, or is He with His Beloved Bride, the Church, in orbit somewhere above the earth as John Walvoord suggests? The multi-faceted "gospels" contrived by the Dispensationalists boggles the mind.
 John Piper presents a challenge to Christian theology and, in particular, to the “separatist” tendencies within Dispensationalism by asserting that the Church participates in the Abrahamic, Palestinian, Davidic, and New Covenants; however, it appears the Church, once again, subsumes Israel (aka, the Jews) in this endeavor; to wit:
In the words of Romans 11:17, “You [Gentile], although a wild olive shoot, were grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing root of the olive tree”—that is, they become part of the redeemed covenant people who share the faith of Abraham. The reason, as Paul put in Romans 4:13, is that “the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith.” So all who are united to Christ, Abraham's Offspring, by faith are part of the covenant made with him and his offspring.
Here's the most sweeping statement of this truth— Ephesians 2:12, “Remember that you [Gentiles] were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. . . . So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.”
Therefore, Jewish believers in Jesus and Gentile believers will inherit the Land. And the easiest way to see this is to see that we will inherit the world which includes the Land. Jewish Christians and Gentile Christians will not quibble over the real estate of the Promised Land because the entire new heavens and the new earth will be ours. 1 Corinthians 3:21-23, “All things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are Christ's, and Christ is God's.” All followers of Christ, and only followers of Christ, will inherit the earth, including the Land.
You recall that all-important word that Jesus spoke to Pilate in John 18:36: “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” Christians do not take up the sword to advance the kingdom of Christ. We wait for a king from heaven who will deliver us by his mighty power. And in that great day Jew and Gentile who have treasured Christ will receive what was promised. There will be a great reversal: the last will be first, and the meek—in fellowship with the Lamb of God—will inherit the Land.
Therefore, come to the meek and lowly Christ while there is time, and receive forgiveness of sins, and the hope of glory. (John Piper’s document: 2004, Israel, Palestine and the Middle East)
All the above appears “biblically legitimate” – however, its downside completely obfuscates the role that even the conversion of the Jewish people shall experience has any legitimate role in the prophetic discourse laid out by Piper. Indeed, the “entire New Heaven and New Earth” will be ours” – therefore, nothing over which to quibble; but again, if you carefully read—these dictums announced by Piper obfuscate any role for National Israel with those today called out from among both Jews and Gentiles to be a people for His Name . . . they are simply rejected, and disregarded in toto. Indeed, Israel's present materiality is an existential theological imbroglio for the Amillenarians. Israel's presence on the eastern edge of the Mediterranean has nothing to do with Bible prophecy--it's just a "gathering place" where their final persecution will take place; and where they will meet their Messiah--even their final persecution is somewhat happenstance and means nothing in the sum total of their picture of the all-inclusive Messiah!
 Dr. Thomas Ice and the 144,000 Jewish Evangelists during the Seventieth Week of Daniel:
When one exams (sic) the biblical text they find that Revelation 7 speaks of two different people groups: 1) 144,000 Jewish male witnesses (Rev. 7:4–8) and 2) a great multitude, which no one can count from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues (Rev. 7:9). Below are reasons why this passage means what it says and refers to exactly 144,000 Jewish guys (no gals or Gentiles included), and 12,000 from each of the twelve tribes of Israel. First, at this point in Revelation John is writing down what he hears the angel who is crying out with a loud voice says (Rev. 7:2, 4). The angel says they are a specific number of Jewish men. (Tommy Ice: The 144,000 Jewish Witnesses).
 Tommy Ice: The Rapture is a Sign-less Event:
The rapture is a sign-less event, thus there are not and never will develop signs of the time indicating that the rapture is near. This is true because the rapture is imminent, it could happen at any moment. It is impossible for an imminent event to have signs. If signs are related to an event then it would indicate that it was near or not near and thus could not happen until after the signs were present. Thus, signs would have to precede the event which would mean that the event could not happen at any moment until after the signs appeared. Since the rapture is said in the New Testament to be an event that could occur at any moment, without warning (1 Corinthians 1:7; 16:22; Philippians 3:20; 4:5; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 9:28; James 5:7-9; 1 Peter 1:13; Jude 21; Revelation 3:ll; 22:7,12,17,20) then it cannot be related to any signs at all. However, this does not mean that there are not signs of the time that do relate to other aspects of God's plan. (Source: Tommy Ice: Pretrib Research Center – Signs of the Time and Prophetic Fulfillment)
 THE TESTIMONY OF JESUS…WHY THE RAPTURE OF THE CHURCH MATTERS! By Douglas W. Krieger (Tribnet Publications, 2015) is a point by point refutation of Dr. Renald Shower’s text: Maranatha, Our Lord, Come! . . . A Definitive Study of the Rapture of the Church, The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry, Inc. P.O. Box 908, Bellmawr, New Jersey 08099
 The prophecy of the 2,300 days and the various interpretations of those 2,300 “evening-mornings” can be viewed at Conservapedia @ http://www.conservapedia.com/2300_Day_Prophecy_of_Daniel_8 - Retrieved on 08.13.2017.
 Mormonism’s Two Stick teaching (Source: An Exegetical Look at Ezekiel 37:15ff (Evaluating a Mormon View) by Dr. J. E. Rosscup.
Is the popular Mormon view acceptable, that the two sticks refer to the Book of Mormon (Stick of Joseph) and the Bible (Stick of Judah)? The view is that the sticks have parchment rolled around them containing books. For the Mormon view cf. LeGrand Richards, A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, (pp. 67-68), and other sources in the next paragraph.
Mormons point in their Book of Mormon to II Nephi 29:6-14 to help prove their view. That passage argues that God not only gave one book to the nation of Jews, but another book to other nations. [But even here, it sounds like not two books, but the Bible (v. 10) and many other books (v. 11) by various prophets (v. 12), and men are to be judged out of those books]. Mormons believe that the two “sticks” (to them the two “books”) were joined in the early days of Mormonism (1840’s). So they became one book “in the hands of Ephraim” (Ezek. 37:19). They believe that the men who long ago engraved the plates of the Book of Mormon were in the line of Ephraim and Manasseh (Alma 10:3, Book of Mormon). So the Book of Mormon is the Book of Ephraim (cf. E. A. Smith, Restoration: A Study in Prophecy, a Mormon source, (p. 165); cf. also J. E. Talmage, A Study of the Articles of Faith, (p. 276); Hugh Nibley, An Approach to the Book of Mormon. One can see a Mormon’s rejection of this Mormon view and an assertion of the correct view of Ezekiel 37:15ff.
In Heber C. Snell, “Roundtable: The Bible in the Church,” in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Vol. 2, No. 1 (Spring, 1967), pp. 61-62. Mormons similarly hold that Isaiah 29:11-14 by its “book that is sealed” refers to the future Book of Mormon as “a marvelous work and a wonder.” Mormons claim, as Richards shows, that Isaiah 29:11-12 was realized when Joseph Smith received and translated golden plates to write the Book of Mormon. For a refutation of such Mormon contentions, cf. Marvin W. Cowan, Mormon Claims Answered, (36-38); David A. Reed and John R. Farkas, Mormons Answered Verse by Verse, (58-59); Bill McKeever, Answering Mormons’ Questions, (68-69).
 Chuck Missler attempts to persuade us that Ephraim (i.e. the Ten Northern Tribes of Israel) were over the course of some 200+ years (930 BC to 722 BC) merged in massive numbers into Judah and then taken into captivity as Judah, having lost their identification as Ephraim altogether!
There are many groups that believe the northern tribes, separated during the rift between Rehoboam and Jeroboam after the death of Solomon (and subsequently taken captive by Assyria in 722 b.c.), later migrated to Europe and elsewhere.
The myth of the "Ten Lost Tribes" is the basis for "British-Israelism" and other colorful legends, but these stories have no real Biblical basis. They are based upon misconceptions derived from the misreading of various Bible passages. (2 Kings 17:7-23; 2 Chronicles 6:6-11)
[NOTE: It seems obvious that “Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel (i.e., the 10 Northern Tribes), and removed them from His sight; there was none left but the tribe of Judah alone” (2 Kings 17:18).] (Our brackets). The sweeping statements made by Missler regarding these "myths and legends" is astonishing, given his intellectual capabilities, as well as penchant for research.
Before the Assyrian captivity, substantial numbers from the northern tribes had identified themselves with the house of David. The rebellion of Jeroboam and subsequent crises caused many to repudiate the Northern Kingdom and unite with the Southern Kingdom in a common alliance to the house of David and a desire to worship the Lord in Jerusalem. (1 Kings 12:16-20; 2 Chronicles 11:16-17; 2 Chronicles 19:4; 30:1, 10-11, 25-26; 34:5-7, 22; 35:17-18).
[NOTE: The passages used by Chuck Missler appear to contradict the alleged massive numbers who joined with Judah from Israel; to wit: “Now it came to pass when all Israel heard that Jeroboam had come back, they sent for him and called him to the congregation, and made him king over all Israel. THERE WAS NONE WHO FOLLOWED THE HOUSE OF DAVID, BUT THE TRIBE OF JUDAH ONLY” (1 Kings 12:20). Furthermore, and from the “sound of it” the Levites who “left those from all the tribes of Israel . . . strengthened the kingdom of Judah, and made Rehoboam the son of Solomon strong for three years” – that does not sound like a massive commitment on the part of the Levites (three years?). In 2 Chronicles 19:4 where King Jehoshaphat returned from battle with the Syrians, after King Ahab of Israel was killed (his ally at the time), simply “went out again among the people from Beersheba to the mountains of Ephraim and brought them back to the LORD God of their fathers” (2 Chron. 19:4). The “mountains of Ephraim” do not necessarily include all of Israel’s Ten Northern Tribes; furthermore, we immediately discover that Jehoshaphat “set judges in the land throughout all the fortified cities of Judah, city by city” (2 Chron. 19:5). Again, this hardly sounds like the Ten Tribes of Israel are fortified by Judah!
[NOTE: In 2 Chron. 30:1, 10-11, 25-26 the notion that some of the Ten Northern Tribes came to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover with King Hezekiah (cir. 720 BC) AFTER the 10 Northern Tribes had a civil war with Judah (under King Pekah) wherein 120,000 of Judah were killed by Israel (all the “valiant men) in one day (2 Chron. 28:5-8) – plus Israel carried away captive, but then humbly returned 200,000 thousand women, sons, and daughters who they originally brought into Samaria but returned them to Judah at Jericho (2 Chron. 28:9-15). Shortly thereafter, King Ahaz of Israel confronted the king of Assyria, Tiglath Pileser (2 Chron. 28:16-27), but all we are told is that this King Ahaz of Israel took treasure from the House of the Lord at Jerusalem and tried, so it appears, to buy off King Tiglath Pileser to have Assyria assist the King of Judah (same name as King Ahaz) who was under attack from both the Edomites and the Philistines (2 Chron. 28:16-18). Assyria did not assist. King Ahaz of Judah (now) was hardly a paramount of virtue—he set up high places all over Judah; then his son Hezekiah reigned in his stead at the age of 25.
[NOTE: Yes, 2 Chron. 30:1 says Hezekiah upon the inception of his reign; however, when the “runners” went out through Israel and Judah to gather the people for the Passover in Jerusalem (2 Chron. 30:6), it was already clear that if Israel would attend the Passover “then He will return to the remnant of you who have escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria”—for huge numbers of the Israelites had already been taken captive by the Assyrian kings (cir. 740-725 BC) . . . there was but a REMNANT left in Israel!]
[NOTE: Likewise, regarding this remnant of Israel who were encouraged by King Hezekiah to return to the Lord (2 Chron. 30:9) – but here’s their response: “So the runners passed from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh, as far as Zebulun; but they laughed at them and mocked them . . . nevertheless SOME from Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem” (2 Chron. 30:10-11). Now, that does NOT sound like a massive turnout from the Ten Tribes of Israel who, at the time, were but a REMNANT in the first place!. SOME from a REMNANT does not a MASSIVE turnout make! Yes, 2 Chronicles 30:25-26 says it was a massive assembly but it was comprised of Levites, those who came from Israel, the sojourners (already infusing Israel with Gentiles—2 Kings 17:24-33—talk about a mixture) who came from Israel, and, of course, those who dwelt in Judah – but they did return after coming to the Passover and, yes, they “utterly destroyed” the high places and the altars—“from all Judah, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh . . . then all the children of Israel returned to their own cities, every man to his possession” (2 Chron. 31:1). Two tribes are mentioned of the Northern 10 Tribes—and they constituted but SOME of a REMNANT that had been left and not taken into captivity by the Assyrian kings.]
[NOTE: In 2 Chronicles 34:5-7 we read that Judah’s King Josiah destroyed all the apostate altars throughout Judah, Manasseh, Ephraim, and Simeon—as far as Naphtali and “all around with axes . . . throughout all the land of Israel” – however, King Josiah’s reign was years after the Ten Northern Tribes were taken into captivity (740-722 BC by at least five Assyrian Kings--) and years after King Hezekiah had faced off with the Assyrian King Sennacherib (2 Chron. 32) in 712 BC (2 Kings 18). Indeed, there was an overlap of the reign of Israel’s last king, Hoshea, and King Hezekiah of Judah but somewhere between 722 BC and 712 BC the captivity of the Ten Northern Tribes was complete; to wit: “Now it came to pass in the fourth year of King Hezekiah, which was the seventh year of Hoshea the son of Elah, king of Israel, that Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against Samaria and besieged it…and at the end of three years they took it. In the sixth year of Hezekiah that is, the ninth year of Hoshea king of Israel, Samaria was taken…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” (2 Kings 18:7-11). The defeat of Samaria/the Ten Northern Tribes was complete in the sixth year of Hezekiah’s reign…but in the fourteenth year of King Hezekiah’s reign (2 Kings 18:13) – some eight years after the fall of Samaria in 712 BC – King Sennacherib laid siege to the cities of Judah and Jerusalem; therefore, from 722-712 BC the “captivity” of the Ten Northern Tribes was in full sway—there being every indication that the “siege of Samaria” lasted at least three years (722 BC through to 719 BC) . . . it appears to be a total wipe out – what was left of the REMNANT of ISRAEL was obviously, taken captive. Furthermore, and based upon the record of 2 Kings 17:24-33 there hardly sounds like a host of Israelites lived in these ancient tribal areas of the Land—in point of fact, they appear to be nigh wholly populated by Gentiles!]
[NOTE: We have no idea why Chuck Missler quotes 2 Chron. 34:22 to substantiate his claim that the Ten Northern Tribes massively merged with Judah. As far as 2 Chronicles 35:17-18 is concerned – the massive Passover kept by King Josiah of Judah (there being King Hezekiah’s additional 15 year reign; plus, King Manasseh’s 55-year reign; plus, King Amon’s two-year reign; plus – there being 72 years of these kings of Judah extending to the year 640 BC; plus 18 years of King Josiah’s reign (2 Chron. 35:19) or some 90 years had transpired between King Hezekiah’s life extension in 712 BC and the great Passover held by King Josiah in 622 BC (nigh at least 100 years after the Fall of Samaria in 722 BC.). Yes, it says that “So all the service of the LORD was prepared the same day to keep the Passover and to offer burnt offerings on the altar of the LORD, according to the command of King Josiah. And the children of Israel who were present kept the Passover at that time and the Feast of Unleavened Bread for seven days. There had been no Passover kept in Israel like that since the days of Samuel the prophet; and none of the kings of Israel had kept such a Passover as Josiah kept, with the priests and the Levites, all Judah and Israel who were present and the inhabitants of Jerusalem.” Notwithstanding these remarks, the “leftovers” of the Ten Tribes still constituted a tiny minority of the participants based upon the previous passages which indicted their persistent deportation by the Assyrian kings. Also, as far as we know, the SOJOURNERS and the Gentiles within those lands who were now adhering to BOTH their own heathen practices and those of the Israelites (aka, the Samaritans) did NOT constitute a hearty throng of Israelites.
Despite all of this, Missler persists:
Not all from the Northern Kingdom were deported. Archaeologists have uncovered annals of the Assyrian Sargon, in which he tells that he carried away only 27,290 people and 50 chariots.
(NOTE: Source: 1 Kings 11:13, 32 – given by Missler and simply declares that the United Kingdom of Israel would be torn asunder—nothing of the Ten Tribes merging with Judah is given. King Sargon (Isaiah 20:1) was the successor of Shalmaneser, and was Sennacherib's father. The 27,290 taken by King Sargon to Assyria simply specifies a group of Israelites taken into captivity—prior to that King. They appear to be the “elite” of Israel and would, therefore, be accorded such an inscription—but simply a representative number of the overall Israelites taken into captivity at that time. Furthermore, prior to that we read in 1 Chron. 5:26 “And the God of Israel stirred up the spirit of Pul king of Assyria, who is also Tilgath-pilezer king of Assyria, and he carried them away, even the Reubenites, and the Gadites, and half tribe of Manasseh, and brought them unto Halah, and Habor, and Hara, and to the river Gozan, unto this day.” This was before Assyrian king Sargon. It should be noted that Tiglath-pilezer began a three-step deportation of Israel with the initial deportation of the tribes east of the Jordan. This is supported by Gad still being located east of the Jordan in the time of Saul as per 1 Samuel 13:7 which locates the “Land of Gad,” “And some of the Hebrews went over Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead. As for Saul, he was yet in Gilgal, and all the people followed him trembling.”]
[NOTE: We then read in 2 Kings 15:29 In the days of Pekah king of Israel came Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria, and took Ijon, and Abelbethmaachah, and Janoah, and Kedesh, and Hazor, and Gilead, and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali, and carried them captive to Assyria. There are scores of passages which bespeak of the captivity of the Ten Tribes of the North (Israel): 2 Kings 16:5-10; 2 Chron. 28:20-21; 2 Kings 17:1-6; 2 Kings 18:9-11; 2 Kings 18:13 (Judah’s siege; also Isaiah 36:1; also, 2 Kings 19:36-37; 2 Chron. 32:21-22; Isaiah 37:36-38) . . . again, It is likely that Tiglath Pilezer (the first of the Assyrian kings to conquer the Ten Northern Tribes) actually made three invasions of Israel. The last included this devastation of Galilee and, when joined by Ahaz, he destroyed Damascus—please see: Interaction of Assyrian Kings with Israel and Judah about 730 BC by Fred P. Miller]
Population estimates of the Northern Kingdom at that time range from 400,000 to 500,000; less than 1/20th were deported-- mostly the leadership from the capital, Samaria. The rest of the Northern Kingdom were taken by Assyria as slaves, which were a valuable commodity. (It is difficult to view the Assyrians as careless enough to let their captives wander off to Europe.) When the Babylonians take over Assyria, the descendants of the "ten tribes" were probably again commingled with the captives of Judah.
[NOTE: Missler’s conjectures fly in the face of both Scripture and historical records. Cir. 980 BC King David numbered the men of fighting age (20-50 years of age) to be between 800,000 to 1,100,000 (1 Chron. 21:5; 2 Sam. 24:9) – which means the Ten Northern Tribes in 980+/- BC could have easily numbered upwards of 4+ million counting women, children and the elderly. It could easily have been upwards of 10,000,000 taken captive into Assyrian by the succession of Assyrian kings from Tiglath-pileser, Shalmaneser, and Sargon II through to Sennacherib (over the course of some 30-40 years). For after nigh 250 years the Israelites which numbered upwards of 5,000,000 could readily have increased, given the parameters of their territory, some 10 to 15 million. Please note the following:
The kingdom established by David [circa 1050 B.C.] on the foundations started by Saul and Samuel attained all the borders and limits of the Biblical promised land. God's land-promises made to the Patriarchs were completely fulfilled in the kingdom of David and Solomon and these borders were kept by Israel through the time of David and Solomon. More than this, all of the Near East was under the control of the united tribes of Israel and ruled from Jerusalem. Garrisons of Israeli soldiers were stationed in Damascus, Hamath, Ammon, Edom, Moab and the out posts of the Negev and the Euphrates River. Shipping in the Mediterranean and Indian Ocean was under the control of Israel. Coincidentally the strongest nations of the Near East, Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, were eclipsed by the power of Israel and due to Israel's political power and control this period is an empty page in the annals of those subject nations. In an extraordinary chart of world history the period of the greatness of David's united kingdom is shown as a period that produces little or no records from the nations usually thought to be the greatest nations of history. This said chart maps all of civilized world history from Sumer to the present. It is in full color on fifteen 12"X18" pages. The total chart stretches 15 feet therefore, and the charting is in small print. In the corresponding streams that chart Egypt, Assyria and Babylon at the point where the chronology matches the period of the United Israeli Kingdom the following entries are made: Re: Egypt, "Egyptian History a Blank"; Re: Babylon: "Break in Babylonian History," Re: Assyria: "Few Assyrian Inscriptions known for 150 Years." There is historical silence that is all but incredible for the greatest nations of the world during the suzerainty of the kingdom of David. No wonder the prophets saw the future age of Glory as the restoration of the kingdom of David. See this in: Hull Edward, M.A., L.L.D., F.R.S.; The Wall chart of World History; Pub. Princess House, London; many editions from 1890 - 1992. Go here: to see a small portion of the chart that depicts this period of history. (Ibid., Fred P. Miller)
To sum up the massive deportations to Assyria of the Ten Northern Tribes (or at least 9 of them) . . .
To sum up then: In a first assault, Tiglath-pilezer had taken captive the tribes east of the Jordan, i.e., the tribes of Reuben, Manasseh, and Gad, about 734 B.C. Approximately 731 B.C. the tribes of Dan, Naphtali, and Zebulun were taken during the invasion and the destruction of Galilee and Damascus by Tiglath-pilezer. The rest (three tribes: Ephraim, Issachar and Asher and the rest of Manasseh) of the "10 Tribes" (actually only 9) went into captivity under Sargon II at the fall of Samaria in 722 B.C. Actually, there were only nine tribes in the northern kingdom after the Levites abandoned their cities in the north and joined Judah after the apostasy of Jeroboam I. Simeon was still settled in the portion of the tribe of Judah although part of Simeon had immigrated to various other locations, some "lehutz la'aretz" or outside the Holy Land. 1 Chron. 4:42-43 describes some 500-men of Simeon who immigrated from Judah to Edom. (Ibid. Fred P. Miller)
Thus, and not to belabor the postulations of our beloved Chuck Missler, it cannot be argued by those opposed to Ephraim’s deportation that such a minuscule number were deported nor assimilated while Judah was still in power, nor of these at least nine tribes being assimilated into the Jews of Babylon after an additional nigh ten generations (722 BC to 537 BC—the end of the 70-year captivity with the first captivity of the Jews taking place under Viceroy, at the time, Nebuchadnezzar, in 608 BC). Finally, this quote from Josephus:
The Jewish historian Josephus (37–100 CE) wrote that "the ten tribes are beyond the Euphrates till now, and are an immense multitude and not to be estimated in numbers.” (Josephus, Flavius. Antiquities. p. 11:133.). Frankly, one can go stark-raving mad determining the whereabouts of the Ten Lost Tribes—suffice it to say, they were “swallowed up by the millions” into the nations—end and beginning of story! (See: Wikipedia)
PLEASE GO TO PART 2