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What the Bible says about Identity of Israel
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Genesis 21:12

Genesis contains two significant prophecies about the name of the Israelite peoples. In the first, Genesis 21:12, God tells Abraham to send Ishmael and his mother away, "for in Isaac your seed shall be called." Paul repeats this twice in the New Testament (Romans 9:7; Hebrews 11:18). On the surface this seems to mean that God would consider Isaac's progeny to be the true sons of Abraham, and this is true. But it means so much more! It also means that Israel would call itself by the name "Isaac" in later times.

The second prophecy concerns Jacob's blessing on the sons of Joseph. In his prayer he asks God to "bless the lads; let my name be named upon them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac" (Genesis 48:16). This confirms God's words to Abraham, only this time it is specifically directed toward the birthright tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh. The descendants of Joseph would bear the names of the patriarchs, particularly Isaac.

Amos, written less than a half century before Israel fell, uses the name "Isaac" twice to refer to Israel:

The high places of Isaac shall be desolate, and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste. . . . Now therefore, hear the word of the LORD: You say, "Do not prophesy against Israel, and do not spout against the house of Isaac." (Amos 7:9, 16)

Israel may have already been calling itself "the house of Isaac" or "the sons of Isaac" even before their overthrow and captivity.

After Assyria fell, ancient records tell of a new people living around the shores of the Caspian Sea. These people were variously known as Sakai, Sacae, Sagetae, Sakki, Scyths, Scythians, Scuths, Scuits, Scolotoi, and Scots. In his book The Tribes, Yair Davidy writes:

SACCAE was the contemporary Middle Eastern term for Scyth and the name is believed to be a derivative of 'Isaac'. The appellation 'Saxe' or 'Saxon' is a further development of the same name. (p. 128)

Sharon Turner, author of History of the Anglo-Saxons, agrees, "Saka-Suna or the Sons of Sakai abbreviated into Saksun, which is the same sound as Saxon, seems a reasonable etymology of the word 'Saxon'" (p. 87). It takes no great leap of reason to conclude that "Saxons" is a corrupted form of "Isaac's sons."

Where do we find the Anglo-Saxon peoples living in these last days? In the very same place the Bible tells us Israel would be: northwestern Europe and its colonies!

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Israel: Present

Genesis 22:17

He adds to the dust mentioned in Genesis 13:16: sand and stars, which are considered to be countless. We see here strength, power, greatness in number. And not only that, those who come from Abraham are going to sit in strategic locations like doors and gates, letting people in and out.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Where Is the Beast? (Part Three)

Genesis 49:13

Zebulun would "dwell by the haven of the sea" and "become a haven for ships." His descendants would be a seafaring people.

Charles Whitaker
Searching for Israel (Part Two): Blessings in Faith

Genesis 49:13

The Dutch have long been recognized as a sea-faring people. Measured by shipping volume, the vast Rotterdam Harbor is the largest in the world.

Charles Whitaker
Searching for Israel (Part Ten): Clues and Answers

Genesis 49:14

Finland indeed is "a strong donkey, lying down between two burdens" (Genesis 49:14). This characterization is best demonstrated by the confusion over Finland's European alignment. Is Finland a Baltic state, along with Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, or a Nordic state, with Norway and Sweden? That is, is Finland part of Western Europe or a part of Eastern Europe (Russia, Poland, etc.)? Before 1939, Finland was recognized as a Baltic state, clearly connected to those Eastern European client states of the Soviet Union. However, to keep peace in Europe as a whole, Finland also became a Nordic state. She lies between the two, not only geographically, but politically as well. One secular historian says about Finland:

Finland worked out a grand bargain with the Soviet Union (and also with NATO), in which it retained political, economic, and cultural independence while giving up military and strategic independence. Indeed, while being in the strategic sphere of influence of the Soviet Union and having no military connections at all with the West, Finland was in the political, economic, and cultural sphere of influence of the West. It retained its democratic political system throughout the Cold War, and it became first a member of the European Free Trade Association and later a member of the European Community. This was the famous—and, for some, notorious—"Finlandization." (Kurth, James, "To Sing a Different Song: The Choices for the Baltic States," The National Interest, Summer 1999, p. 81.)

Indeed, Finland learned how to cast a middle course between two world powers.

Charles Whitaker
Searching for Israel (Part Ten): Clues and Answers

2 Kings 17:5-8

God was thorough. He just wiped them all out of the land of Canaan and sent them into the cities of the Medes and into Assyria—exiled. And in a way, they are still in exile. God has led them to the lands that He was holding for them.

The descendants of Israel who went into exile do not know that their homeland is back in Canaan. They have never gone back. That is a detail of how thorough God's exile of Israel was—they forgot everything. Just as He prophesied in Deuteronomy 28, the Israelites went into other lands and took gods of wood and stone and completely forgot their past.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
How to Survive Exile

Isaiah 41:1

In verse 1, God encourages the peoples of the "coastlands," telling them in verse 9 that He has "taken [you] from the ends of the earth, and called [you] from its farthest regions, and said to you, 'You are My servant, I have chosen you and have not cast you away.'"

Charles Whitaker
Searching for Israel (Part Eight): The Scattering of Ten-Tribed Israel

Jeremiah 31:18-21

Notice how different verses 18-19 sound from anything being spoken by the peoples of Israel today. After Jacob's Trouble, Israel will actually grieve and moan due to the correction she receives. She will beg to be brought back to God. Verse 20 shows the unmistakable compassion and feeling that God has for His people, and His determination to lift them out of the pitiful physical and spiritual condition they will be in at that point.

Verse 21 tells of Israel reversing the course of her migration millennia ago, "Set your heart toward the highway, the way in which you went. Turn back. . . ." Israel comes to this condition and pleads for God's restoration before she makes the Second Exodus, just as Israel cried out in Egypt to the God of their fathers, and then God delivered them. If this is correct, the identity of Israel will be recognized sometime during Jacob's Trouble, but before the Second Exodus takes place.

If the patterns of Israel's history remain consistent, God will remind Israel of her obligation to Him, which will include the knowledge of who Israel is. She will not listen—Israel has rarely listened—so God will cause the nations of Jacob to go through such "trouble" as they have never experienced. Though God does not revel in destruction, He knows best what it will take to turn His people around. In the end, the repentant people who remain will be willingly led back to the Promised Land.

David C. Grabbe
The Second Exodus (Part Three)

Revelation 17:1

In Revelation 17:1, the Woman sits on many waters; in verse 3, she sits on the Beast; in verse 9, she sits on seven mountains, symbolic of nations (Isaiah 2:2-3); and in verse 15, the "waters" are defined as peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues. The term "sits" appears more than 300 times in Scripture, and most of the time, it merely indicates a posture contrasting to "stands." However, sometimes it indicates qualities of far greater importance.

Proverbs 31:23 says, "Her husband is known in the gates, when he sits among the elders of the land." This is a common positive usage and implies a measure of respect and authority. In contrast, Psalm 1:1 reads, "Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful." Here, sitting is shown in a negative usage. Matthew 8:11; 23:2; and Acts 23:3 all show that "sit" indicates a position of prominence, authority, and influence for good or evil. One in this position is influential enough to teach, persuade, guide, or force another to follow, imitate, or submit.

This description of the Great Harlot "sitting" in Revelation 17 opens clues to help identify her among the nations: First, even as a person sits on a horse's back and influences it to go this way or that, walk, or run, the Woman teaches, guides, or coerces many nations, perhaps worldwide, to do her bidding.

Since the Beast is clearly an awesome, frightful entity, this fact suggests that her powers are vast. Adding to this evidence of strength, the Beast is described as consisting of peoples, multitudes, nations, and tongues. The Beast is no pushover, yet at this time in the prophecy, the Woman is in control. Only the modern nations of Israel in the entire world possesses this combination of strength to control something as ferocious as the Beast. The Bible's description of the Beast having the strongest parts of several vicious, carnivorous animals adds to John's amazement over the Woman.

She is never described in any way as similar to the Beast. The Bible always depicts her as one unit. Because of this contrast between the Woman and the Beast, it is distinctly possible that God wants us to understand that the Woman in this end-time prophecy is one people, as contrasted to the Beast, which consists of many diverse, unrelated peoples.

Feeding this thought into present circumstances, God is describing all the nations of Israel in intimate association with the Beast. The world does not conceive Israel in this manner, but God does. It is an association of support, strong influence, and even control. Consider how entwined the nations of Israel are with Europe through political, trade, and military agreements. As the history of the last two centuries prove, the Joseph tribes—America and the United Kingdom—in particular, are the clearest end-time realization of the Woman.

Notice how God specifically mentions the tribe of Joseph in prophecies written in the last decades before Israel fell to Assyria in 721-718 BC:

[Woe to you] who lie on beds of ivory, stretch out on your couches, eat lambs from the flock and calves from the midst of the stall; who chant to the sound of stringed instruments, and invent for yourselves musical instruments like David; who drink wine from bowls, and anoint yourselves with the best ointments, but are not grieved for the affliction of Joseph. (Amos 6:4-6)

Why single out Joseph, even though all of the ten northern tribes were about to fall? Because "Joseph" is used here to represent the entire house of Israel just as "Jerusalem" is used to represent the entire house of Judah. Ephraim and Manasseh were the leading and strongest tribes just before Israel fell, even as they are today. Judah was the leading and strongest tribe in the south, and today, though small, it is again fairly strong and, interestingly, located to the south of the bulk of Ephraim and Manasseh.

In Amos 5:15, God adds, "Hate evil, love good; establish justice in the gate. It may be that the LORD God of hosts will be gracious to the remnant of Joseph." God may intend these prophecies for all of Israel, but He singles Joseph out because it was the leading tribe politically, economically, and militarily. Interesting, too, is the fact that most of the end-time church resides in Joseph.

Amos 6:1 adds yet another characteristic of Israel that helps identify her by revealing what some of her citizens were saying: "Woe to you who are at ease in Zion, and trust in Mount Samaria, notable persons in the chief nation, to whom the house of Israel comes!" In modern language, God is saying that the average, reasonably well-off Israelite boasted, "Look at the other nations. None are greater than we are." This arrogance echoed what their leaders, the notable persons, said. This boast was probably true, but beneath it, the cancer of their immorality and false spirituality was eating away at their vitals, and God would soon bring this powerful nation down. Amos paints a picture of a people so self-absorbed with pleasure, so self-confident in their power, that they feel free to indulge themselves, ignoring the fact that the entire nation is, in reality, walking on eggshells in every vital area of well-being.

Amos and Hosea, both prophets to the northern kingdom, were contemporaries during the reigns of Uzziah in Judah and Jeroboam II in Israel. Amos began preaching before Hosea, but Hosea preached for a longer time, ending his ministry just a few years before the northern tribes fell to Assyria. In Hosea, "Ephraim" appears 37 times, using it the same way Amos uses "Joseph." Sometimes, it is clear that God means all ten northern tribes, but at other times, He means Ephraim alone. Hosea 10:11 is typical: "Ephraim is a trained heifer that loves to thresh grain; but I harnessed her fair neck, I will make Ephraim pull a plow. Judah shall plow; Jacob shall break his clods." He means all of Israel here, but "Ephraim," the leading tribe's name, is used.

It is Israel, primarily the Joseph tribes, to which the Beast is currently submitting, but the time is coming when events will take a stunning turn, as Revelation 17:16-17 shows.

John W. Ritenbaugh
The Beast and Babylon (Part Eight): God, Israel, and the Bible


 




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