Today I want to discuss how Jacob’s prophecy that Ephraim would become the “fullness of the Gentiles” actually pertains to the Gentiles themselves.
So far we’ve talked about how the Ephraim-Israelites were absorbed by the Gentile nations and how the the descendants of these 10 lost tribes have now been rediscovered and are in the process of being reunited with Judah.
However, our discussion so far only dealt with real flesh-and-blood Hebrews.
Where do the Gentiles fall into all of this?
Well, before I get into the thick of things, there is one vital point I need to make for the purpose of dispelling any notions that I may be advocating some kind of replacement theology, a doctrine which I despise with all my heart.
Here’s the vital point: Both the Old Covenant and the New Covenant were given ONLY to Israel.
Did you get that?
For the past 1900 years, the Church has done its best to ignore the plain Scriptural truth that in order for a gentile to be saved, he or she must be grafted into the spiritual heritage of Israel. Period!
Christian leaders will mouth platitudes like “once you become saved, you join the family of God“.
True enough but what the hell does that mean?
It seems like the church has forgotten that “the family of God” equals Israel!
I’m pretty sure that’s not the inference intended by most traditional church leaders.
You may be thinking, “Isn’t the real family of God the church?”
In answer to that, I reiterate my point,
What makes the church the church is that gentiles via their faith in Yeshua have been grafted into the covenants of Israel.
Gentiles are NOT grafted in INSTEAD of or as a REPLACEMENT for Israel.
They are grafted in ALONGSIDE Israel.
Take a look at one of the most famous Old Testament verses talking about the New Covenant.
“Behold, days are coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.”-Jeremiah 31:31
Who does God say He is going to make a New Covenant with?
Only the house of Israel and the house of Judah.
There isn’t any mention of there being some universal covenant between God and the gentiles.
And, I affirm that you will not find such a notion anywhere in the Holy Scriptures.
If you are a gentile (and that includes me, so don’t think I’m being arrogant or racist here), you have no part of God’s New Covenant, UNLESS you are somehow seen by God as being enjoined to the House of Israel or the House of Judah.
Fortunately, fellow gentiles, we do have hope.
From the time of Abraham, God has always provided a way for any gentile to join the family of God, (when I say “family of God” I mean Israel), if he or she renounced his or her pagan gods and pledged allegiance to YHVH.
Ruth the Moabite is a great example of this happening.
And what’s even greater is that there was to be no second class citizenship in God’s house.
No distinction was to be made between natural born Hebrews and Gentiles who later enjoined themselves to Israel.
However, (and this is a whopping big “however”), never forget that outside of becoming a part of Israel, there was and is no way to partake in God and His covenants.
So I hope I’ve made my point that I’m as far removed from replacement theology as the East is from the West.
The church does NOT replace Israel.
In fact, its only legitimacy as a church comes from the fact that it has been grafted into the covenants that God has made with Israel.
It’s about time the gentile Christian church wakes up to this eternal fact that will never be revoked or changed.
Okay so you may be thinking, “how can you say a gentile can only be saved by joining Israel when Israel as a national entity and most Jews reject the Messiah, the very source of their salvation?“
Well, it is at this juncture that I tie things back to Ephraim.
When I say a Gentile must join Israel to be saved, I’m not talking about physical Israel but spiritual Israel.
I’m referring to the spiritual element and Godly ideal of Israel.
You may be thinking this distinction between “physical Israel” and “spiritual Israel” might sound like a bunch of nonsensical gibberish I’ve made up to suit some theological agenda I’m pushing, but believe me it’s not.
This teaching is as Scriptural as can be.
Think about it.
What is a true Israelite supposed to be anyway?
Isn’t a true Israelite supposed to be one who fully embodies and lives out the truth and wisdom of God as it exists in the heavens?
In other words, aren’t true Israelites a physical manifestation of the spiritual truths as established by God in the heavens?
Now let me ask you this?
If some of God’s original chosen, Israelites here on earth, rebel against God’s commands to the point where their behavior is no longer a reflection of their Father in heaven, does it change the spiritual ideals and requirements as they exist in the heavens?
Does it change spiritual Israel as it exists in the heavens?
Of course, the answer is no.
Even Paul made this distinction in his writings when he said that in order to be a true Jew, you must be a “spiritual Jew”
What he was saying is that if you are a physical Jew who doesn’t keep God’s commands, you have in a sense lost your Jewishness because the definition of a Jew is one who embodies and keeps God’s commands.
So note I said in my last post that I believe there is both a spiritual and physical component to Ezekiel’s prophecy about Ephraim reuniting with Judah.
We have already learned that physical descendants from the original Ephraim-Israelites are in the process of being reunited with Judah.
However, on a different level, I believe there is another unification happening between “spiritual Ephraim” represented by gentile believers and Judah in our day as well.
There are basically two opinions concerning the Ephraim-gentile connection.
Some say that through God’s miraculous ways, every Gentile believer in Yeshua possesses literal genealogical ties to Ephraim.
There is actually an organization called the Brit-Am Association that asserts that Britain and America are two of the 10 lost tribes of Israel.
Some scholars (including Jewish scholars) say the Japanese people are one of the 10 lost tribes. (Heck, if that’s the case, then I guess I’m half-Israelite.)
The second viewpoint is that Ephraim is purely symbolic of gentile believers and there is no genealogical condition.
Either way you slice this Ephraimite onion, we do know that according to Jacob’s prophecy, Ephraim was to be in some mysterious way connected to and a special blessing to the Gentiles.
Could not the ever increasing number of gentile believers all over the world who have this growing love and concern in their hearts for Israel have something to do with Jacob’s prophecy?
I have often asked myself, where does my love for Israel come from?
Why am I so passionate to learn and teach God’s Torah?
Why do I get incensed when I see others blatantly disregard God’s commands such as His Shabbat and kosher dietary instructions?
Where does this unstoppable zeal for the things of YHVH come from?
Could I possibly be Ephraim, whether physical or spiritual?
CONNECTING THIS TEACHING TO THE NEW TESTAMENT
He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel.”
“There is neither Jew nor Gentile,
neither slave nor free,
nor is there male and female,
for you are all one in Messiah Yeshua.”