Answer.—Their first month Nisan (also called Abib) was reckoned as beginning with the first new moon after the Spring equinox, in Palestine,—not quite the same as here. And if the new moon preceded the equinox a day it did not matter: the important point was that the moon should be at her full on the 14th of the month, the day for the killing of the Passover lamb.
The importance of the moon's being at her full was that the moon symbolized the Law Covenant as the sun symbolizes the Gospel or New Covenant (Rev. 12:1) and the offering of our Lord to Israel as their King, the day before he was crucified, represented the full of their blessing: from his rejection, then, they as a nation began to wane.
Question.—(1).—If the "ten tribes" do not exist as a nation, but returned to Palestine with the Jews under Cyrus, how do you account for the failure of Amos 9:15 ?
Answer.—We did not say that the ten tribes returned to Palestine with the Jews under Cyrus. We said that during that long captivity the division and jealousy disappeared; and that then, and ever since, the names Jews and Israelites no longer distinguished as between descendants of the two and the ten tribes, but were used indiscriminately in referring to the same people. We proved this by many New Testament references; and referred to the fact that no Jew to-day will pretend to say from which tribe he descended. [R2124 : page 87] Although the tribal lineage of but few of the early believers is given, these show that the Jews were mixed tribally;—Paul was of the tribe of Benjamin, Barnabas of the tribe of Levi, and Anna, the prophetess, of the tribe of Asher. We proved that only a few of all of the tribes returned to Palestine when Cyrus gave the permit to all under the name (not of Judah but) of Israel. We proved from the Scriptures that such of all the tribes (a remnant) as accepted Christ became spiritual Israel, that many ("all Israel") were blinded and will not have their eyes opened until the full number to complete the bride of Christ has been taken from the Gentiles. (Rom. 11:25-33.) We showed that all of that nation who abandoned the promises and circumcision ceased in every sense of the word to be of either natural Israel or spiritual Israel.
We are not obliged to account for the failure of Amos 9:15, for it has not failed. It is not yet fulfilled in the return of the "Jews," "all Israel" to Palestine. This Scripture was evidently in the mind of the Apostle James, when, after hearing Peter's explanation of God's sending him to preach the gospel to the Gentiles, he said:—
"Simeon hath declared how God at the first did [or made a beginning to] visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets: After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David."—Acts 15:14-16.
Answer.—Your question indicates great prejudice and blindness which you must get rid of if you would see the truth. You say, "the return of the Jews from Babylon," but Ezra (3:1; 7:13; 9:1) says that it was Israel that Cyrus set free, and Israel that came to Palestine with him. And the next company under Nehemiah, ninety years after (and after Zechariah's prophecy), knew no division in Israel.—See Neh. 9:1,2; 11:3,4,20.
Turn now to Zechariah's prophecy. Note that the theme beginning chap. 9:9 and concluding chap. 10:4 relates to and was fulfilled at our Lord's first advent; as also the 11th chapter. (See particulars in MILLENNIAL DAWN, VOL. III, chap. 8.) Chap. 10:5-12, to which you refer, evidently applies to the second advent of our Lord. Notice that while Judah, Joseph and Ephraim are mentioned (See 9:13; 10:6,7) they are not, as formerly, mentioned as antagonistic or even rival kingdoms, but as unitedly sharing divine favor;—of the same kind and at the same time. The Lord does not mention Israel as one nation and Judah as another; but mentioning the chief tribe of each part of the once divided nation, he so to speak clasps their hands and assures them that the coming favor will be to both and to all the tribes of the covenanted seed.
Question. (3).—At what time in the forgotten history of the race did the house of Joseph enjoy the birthright blessings of Gen. 48:19 ?
Answer.—The birthright, with its "double portion" of the promised land (Deut. 21:15-17), went to Ephraim and Manasseh, the sons of Joseph; and the blessing, "let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth [margin, land]," made the double portion almost a necessity. Nevertheless, notice carefully that the ruling power went to Judah.—See Gen. 49:8-12.
You possibly refer specially to Jacob's declaration, Ephraim "shall become a multitude of nations." The marginal reading corrects this to read "fulness of nations." But the fulness of what nations? We answer, Ephraim became the fulness of multitude to the tribes, or nations, or peoples* of Israel. Look in your "Teacher's Bible" at a map showing Canaan as divided among the tribes, and note the goodly portions given to the children of Joseph (Ephraim and Manasseh) on the west of Jordan; and then note how the "branches went over the wall" or river; see the large tract east of Jordan. In all they had about one-half of Canaan. These large appropriations of the best of the land were because these tribes were multitudinous amongst the tribes or nations of Israel. The map shows Manasseh more numerous than Ephraim at the beginning: but soon, as Jacob had prophesied in this blessing, Ephraim became the greater, so that when the federation of tribes split and formed rival kingdoms the influence of Ephraim's multitudes among the nations or tribes was so great that the side which he espoused took the name Israel, and sometimes because of his numbers and influence all were called Ephraim.
Now turn to Gen. 49 and compare the blessings upon Judah in vss 8-12 with those upon Joseph (including Ephraim and Manasseh) in vss 22-26. Both blessings are great, but that of Judah is by far the greater.
The statement, "The archers have sorely grieved him, and shot at him, and hated him: but his bow abode in strength, and the arms of his hands were made strong by the hands of the mighty God of Jacob, by the name of* the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel; [R2125 : page 88] even by the God of thy father, who shall help thee," is not a promise for the future but a recounting of Joseph's past experiences at the hands of his brethren. His blessings, as enumerated, are multitudes of children and estate. If any think the prosperity of Joseph's children among the tribes does not fulfil all this, let them recognize the fact that Ephraim and Manasseh constituted a majority of the dispersed Israelites now commonly called "Jews" after the name of their great capital city, Jerusalem. Surely, the Jews are a fulness amongst all nations, and prosperous as no other people. They are, as predicted, lenders to many nations (Deut. 28:12), and in a peculiar manner are pushing or goring all peoples to the ends of the earth. (See Deut. 33:17, Revised Version.) So much so that every nation is seeking to get rid of them.—"These are the ten thousands of Ephraim and the thousands of Manasseh."
Question. (4).—Must not Israel exist as a nation before the fulfilment of Jer. 3:18 ? Answer.—No; neither will Judah exist as a nation at that time. This verse merely tells of the gathering of Israel and Judah for the purpose of reestablishing them in their own land. This prophecy corresponds to that of Isaiah 11:12-16. They walk "with" each other and "come together out of the land of the North [where they have been together, all recognized as Jews] unto the land that I have given for an inheritance unto your fathers." Those who think erroneously that the Jews are only two of the tribes, and that the peoples of Great Britain and the United States and the British colonies are parts of the ten tribes, would have all these peoples—over one hundred millions—go with the Jews to the little corner of the earth called Palestine.
Do you ask, why are Judah and Israel mentioned separately by the prophets if they are to be one people, dwelling together as Jews, at the time of the fulfilment of the prophecy? We answer: Because these prophecies were written before all had gone into captivity to Babylon; and had the national name Israel alone been used Jeremiah's hearers would have supposed that Judah was not to share in the promised blessing. For this reason also it is shown that there will no longer be factional differences between the two members of the one nation,—as there had been for over two centuries up to that time.
Question. (5).—Has Deut. 32:26 ever been fulfilled?
Answer.—This prophecy by Moses was not concerning a part but against "the whole house of Israel." If taken literally as it reads in our common version of the Bible it has not yet been fulfilled, for the remembrance of Israel continues. The Hebrew word here used, translated remembrance, does not signify knowledge (as the questioner evidently supposes), but rather memorial or scent.* Pleasant remembrance of Israel is to cease—we may say has very generally ceased (except with themselves and the true spiritual Israel). The modern name for Israelites—"Jews"—is becoming a stench instead of a scent in the nostrils of the world, which shortly will "drive them" into their own land as predicted in the Word of the Lord.
Do you object to this answer? Then we will refer you to the inspired Apostle Paul. Let him settle the matter as to whether or not "all Israel" as he knew them in his day—not lost—is here referred to by the Prophet Moses. Paul quotes part of verse 21 verbatim, with other prophecies against Israel, and applies them without qualification or limitation to "all the house of Israel" living in his day—not lost, but well known, called "Jews"—living at Jerusalem and scattered throughout the world. He specially addressed some living at Rome.—See Rom. 10:19-21;
Question. (6).—What did the Jews mean when they said, "Will he go to the dispersed among the Gentiles?"—John 7:35.
Answer.—The meaning of this is plain. There were probably more "Jews" living outside Palestine, among the nations, than resided in Palestine. The latter, however, were accounted the more faithful and devoted, in that they clung to the land of promise as well as to the promise. It would not occur to a Jew that anyone claiming to be the Jewish Messiah would go to the Gentiles; and so when our Lord spoke of going away they wondered if he would go to the Jews residing in the surrounding nations. The Apostles did this afterward—preaching to the Jew first and afterward to the Gentiles. It was to these "dispersed" "Jews," "Israelites" of "our twelve tribes" that James and Peter wrote epistles.
Answer.—If you refer to the Apostle's illustration, we refer you to his own words, Romans 11:15-21. The Apostle does not say that all, but some, of the natural branches were broken off. Our Lord and the Apostles and the several thousand brought to Christ shortly after Pentecost were Israelites, natural branches, and were not broken off. And doubtless many others among the Jews were found worthy of the light and blessing then due.
Notice that none of the savages living at that time in Britain and Ireland (without knowledge of God or of Moses or of the Law, or of Abraham, or of the [R2125 : page 89] promises, or of circumcision) could be here referred to. Such could not be branches of the "olive tree" to which the Apostle refers, whoever their ancestors may have been. The olive tree existed complete in the Apostle's day;—then some were broken off and cast away, in order that the wild branches from the Gentiles might be grafted in.
Question. (8).—Does the declaration of Matt. 21:43, "The kingdom of God shall be taken from you [Jews], and given to a nation [Greek, ethnos] bringing forth the fruits thereof," mean what it says, or that it was to be given to the conglomerate mass of nations known as the Gentile Church?
Answer.—The church which you describe as the "Gentile church" (or churches?), composed of a "conglomerate mass of nations," is not recognized of the Lord's Word, except it be as mystic "Babylon." Your description fits Babylon,—it is "conglomerate;" it is composed of "nations," gentiles, aliens; it might therefore perhaps be called a "Gentile church." But it will inherit nothing but tribulation and destruction, as promised.—Rev. 18:4-12.
The Kingdom heirship was taken from "Israel," the "Jews," as the Apostle testifies. (Rom. 11:7.) It was transferred to the nation bringing forth the proper fruits. (See Luke 22:27; 12:32; 2 Tim. 2:12; Matt. 11:12.) Which nation? do you ask? Well, not the British nation nor any nation of "this world." None of these "bring forth the fruits thereof." The best of them are Ishmaelitish. In none of them can we see even a prospect of the fulfilment of our Redeemer's prayer, "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is done in heaven."
Let us ask the inspired Apostle Peter to definitely and positively point out to us the nation to which the promise of the Kingdom was transferred when it was taken from Israel after the flesh. The Apostle replies:—
Is the questioner a member and heir of this Kingdom and yet ignorant of it? Perhaps he has been so mistaught in the "Gentile church" (good name!) that he knew of no other church than "the conglomerate mass" called Christendom, and had not heard of "the gospel of the Kingdom" and the "peculiar people."
Question. (9).—Jeremiah says, "Behold the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah." (Jer. 31:31.) Does not this mean that the covenant made with the Hebrew race is for them alone?
Answer.—The Law Covenant was with the Hebrew race alone; but the original promise to Abraham was for the blessing of all the families of the earth. The New Covenant began to operate as soon as it was sealed with the precious blood of Christ, and throughout this Gospel age it has "justified" all who come unto God through Christ—the household of faith. When this age ends it will be made effective as a covenant with "all the house of Israel" whose blindness will be turned away that they may "look upon him whom they have pierced." But next in order the light and knowledge of the blessing and privileges of this New Covenant will be granted to every creature—for all of whom it was sealed. See the leading article in this issue. Jeremiah's prophecy mentions both Israel and Judah because when he wrote they had not been reunited, and to have used the name Israel alone or even "all Israel" might at that time have been misunderstood as not including Judah, whereas he specially addressed Judah, with whom he resided.
Question. (10).—What is implied by Simeon's words,—"Mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which thou hast prepared before the face of all people, a light to lighten the gentiles [heathen] and the glory of thy people Israel?"—Luke 2:30-32.
Answer.—Jesus is not only to be the glory of Israel, but the light of the world;—eventually, he shall lighten every man that cometh into the world. (John 1:9.) As to Israel—What Israel is here meant? is probably [R2126 : page 89] your inquiry. We reply, (1) Christ is the glory of the Church, the true Israel of God (Rom. 11:7); and (2) he will be the glory of fleshly or natural Israel when their eyes are opened and they are received by him under the New Covenant. Earthly Israel (under Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets) shall then as the agents and representatives of the heavenly Zion become a blessing and a praise in the whole earth—as the earthly representatives of the spiritual Kingdom of Christ.
Question. (11).—When will Isaiah 41:21,22 be fulfilled?
Answer.—Evidently at the close of this Gospel age, as indicated by the Apostle Paul, who almost quotes the words.—See Rom. 11:26,27.
Question. (12).—Isa. 48:11,12 says, "I will not give my glory to another. Hearken unto me, O Jacob, and Israel, my called." Will this glory ever be given to Gentiles? Is it not for Israel only?
Answer.—You totally misapprehend the Scripture you quote. God gives his glory to no one (neither to Jews nor to Gentiles), but keeps it for himself. Read verses 9 to 11 as one subject. Verse 12 begins a new subject. Compare Isa. 42:8.
Question. (13).—Does the Apostle Peter (1 Pet. 2:9,10,25) refer to Gentiles? If so, when were they [R2126 : page 90] sheep, and when did they wander away so as to make return possible?
Answer.—Peter was the Apostle to the circumcision, Paul to the uncircumcision. (Gal. 2:7,8.) Peter accordingly addresses those who had been Jews, Israelites, non-residents of Palestine. But please note carefully that he is not addressing "lost" Israelites; but the large class of Israelites of all tribes, who after the Babylonian captivity made their homes amongst the Gentiles. Peter knew and tells where they resided. See 1 Pet. 1:1.
However, do not lose sight of the fact so clearly stated (Gal. 3:5,6) that these called from amongst the Gentiles are fellow-heirs and of the same body, priesthood, or holy nation, with the remnant of all Israel which received Christ.—Eph. 3:6.