By Matthew McGee
Most of the false doctrines concerning the tribes of Israel center around a common false theme: That for one reason or the other, God’s prophecies about the future of the tribes of Israel are not going to come true.
One such error is the teaching that because Israel in Biblical times did not obey God’s laws and/or because they handed over the Son of God to be crucified, that Israel has forever forfeited their place of privilege, and that therefore, God will not follow through on His promises to regather Israel and restore the kingdom. But as we have seen in the prophecy section above, God’s prophecies in Deuteronomy 28:63-67 and Deuteronomy 30:1-3 do not say that they are contingent upon the people Israel doing anything. In each passage, God plainly stated, “… it shall come to pass ….” Likewise Hosea 3:4-5, Amos 9:9, Jeremiah 16:14-15, Ezekiel 34:12-13, Ezekiel 37, Ezekiel 48, and Revelation 7, all say that God is going to fulfill those prophecies, period.
Another such error is the teaching that ten northern tribes are lost forever, and so the end times prophecies that mention Israel are not to be taken literally. We have already seen in the pages above what God has clearly said in His prophecies. Many of these prophecies about the tribes of Israel were given long after their exile, and some were even given well after the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus Christ. God has made it very plain that He intends to carry through on all His prophecies. One can either believe God, or not believe God. Either way, He will make it happen.
Some say that ten northern tribes of Israel are lost and that not much is known about them or their whereabouts. Not so. Everything is known about them and their whereabouts. You may not know it, and I may not know it, but our Father in Heaven knows them and every hair on their heads. Nearly 800 years after the northern tribes had been taken away into captivity that God explicitly names the tribes, both northern and southern, in describing the future tribulation in Revelation 7:4-8.
Some say that we should not expect that these prophecies will be fulfilled in biological Israelites. While being a biological Israelite alone is not enough, God will save and purify one third of Israel. Zechariah 13:8-9 says, “And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the LORD, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried: they shall call on my name, and I will hear them: I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God.” God will fulfill the prophecies about the kingdom quite literally and exactly as He said.
Yet another such error is the claim that since the tribe of Dan is not mentioned in the list of tribes in Revelation chapter 7, that for this reason the prophecy should not be taken literally. Well then, what we do with the rest of the twelve tribes of Israel clearly listed in chapter seven of Revelation? We cannot ignore them just because one is not listed. Judas betrayed Jesus, and was replaced by Matthias as the twelfth apostle (Acts 1:16-26). Does that mean that the twelve were not really Christ’s apostles just because of Judas was no longer among them? Of course not, and it is not true with the tribes either.
Also, there are many different cults and false teachers scattered around the world that claim that they are the so-called “lost tribes of Israel”. But such claims cannot be supported with scripture. Plus, here and there, one might find a tribe of people somewhere in the world who claim to be descended from the ancient Israelites. Whether they really are or not, God knows.
One might ask, why are there so many false teachings about the tribes of Israel? Notice that each of these errors has one thing in common. They all try to remove the true nation of Israel from their place of privilege and replace them with Gentiles. So these errors are each “replacement theology” in one form or another. Some try to replace Israel with the church (all Christians everywhere). Others try to replace Israel with a particular denomination or with a particular cult or with a different nation of people.
Most of them argue that God is through dealing with Israel as a unique nation. Thus many replacement theologians feel that they have to discredit Revelation chapter 7 and other such prophecies, and say that the specific listing of the tribes of Israel should not be taken literally. But that is just a crafty way of telling people not to believe what God has said. These groups will usually try to say that they themselves are the “spiritual Israel”, but they are not spiritual at all. There is nothing “spiritual” about not believing what God has said. What could be more carnal, and less spiritual, than replacing God’s words with something else? Too often, replacement theologians falsely teach that “literal” equals “carnal” and that “allegorical” equals “spiritual”. But what truly is spiritual is believing what God has said. What is carnal is not believing God and replacing what He has said with an allegorical interpretation that removes the truth from His prophecy. Most of this stems from jealousy of Israel, and also from anti-Semitism, a primary trait of Satan himself.
Back in Genesis 12:3, God said that He would bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse Israel. So it behooves us all to stay on the correct side of that promise.