Part of the difficulties in understanding prophecy is the deliberate rewriting and repressing of history, and of historical events and situations that actually matter. When you consider the premise that: “That which is has been already and that which will be has already been, for God seeks what has passed by.” [Eccl. 3:15 NASU] … it behooves us to understand that which has already been. We run into difficulties when it has been obscured, either deliberately or purposefully.
Have you heard of the ancient land of Parthia? What about Tartary? What about Khazaria? If you have, I can almost guarantee you didn’t learn of any of them in educational text books from a government funded education. And you probably didn’t hear about them from any state run media or oligarch owned and controlled media.
Misnomers and schmoozed over details
I know the genealogy and lineage portions of Scripture can be tedious. They’re not really “reading” material, but they are study material. I’m grateful these portions were preserved over the years. They provide invaluable clues that all the powers of darkness can only veil, but not remove. Here are some of my favorite lessons that help me in my eschatology pursuits…
Steven M. Collins does a four book series tracing the tribes of Israel from ancient to modern times. It’s worth the investment in time and money. You can buy the books here, or you can ask your local library to get them so you can borrow them.
In Chapter Four of his second book, Israel’s Lost Empires, you can learn how the Israelites scattered after the diaspora and how they can be traced to their future (our past and present) geographies.
Remember how I told you the Hebrews didn’t have vowels so they would use vowels for pronunciation and variance? Ancient customs used the patriarch names to keep track of lineage. So like we use last names now, they used the patriarch names. This is why they were referred to as the children of Abraham, the children of Israel (Jacob), etc. Of course this practice changed over time, but if you realize the custom from the days it existed, you’ll gain valuable insight.
A quick example is this. In Genesis 21:12, God tells Abraham that his descendants will be named through his son Isaac. So in ancient tradition, Isaac’s name in Hebrew would be the equivalent of S-C. The vowels were added to direct pronunciation, but the root is S-C. After the diaspora, the children of Israel were “scattered”, which means they migrated out of the region. (To stay in the land would bring bondage or death, so most left.) Collins then traces migratory bodies of people with variances of the S-C. Sacae, Scythians, Saka, Esakska (“Beth Sak” or House of Isaac), etc. Latin substituted “x” for “c”, and called these same people Saxoi or Saxones. And these people groups can be traced into Asia, northern Africa and parts of western Europe.
This will come into play later, so I reference it now as a place holder.
Keep the names straight! Hebrews, Israelites, Judah, Jews…
Ezra 4:1 tells us only three tribes returned to Palestine during Ezra and Nehemiah’s time: Judah, Levi and Benjamin. This means the other nine tribes had already migrated out of the region.
We learned in 1 Kings 12 (and 2 Chron. 10) that the nation of Israel (comprised of twelve tribes) was divided into two nations: Judah and Israel. Israel was all twelve tribes from 1025-925 B.C. and then two separate nations from 925 B.C. on. I’m going to make a big deal out of this (temporarily) because I think lack of good teaching has led to a host of errors.
The Biblical nation of Israel was comprised of twelve tribes: the twelve tribes of Jacob, (Abraham’s grandson, who God renamed Israel). When these tribes entered the Promised Land (Canaan), they became known as the Israelites, and were considered a nation and not just a people group, because they conquered the land with boundaries and established a government. Recall though, that they were still being referenced as Hebrews (as well as Israelites), even in the time of David.
When King David’s grandson Rehoboam was king, the nation was split and all of the tribes except for Judah, refused to submit to his headship. The other tribes remained Israel, and King Rehoboam became King of Judah, along with some Benjamites and some Levites (people of the tribes of Benjamin and Levi), while Jeroboam became the king of Israel.
The tribe of Levi is the priestly tribe, from which the priests of Israel are ordained, which also include a covenant. (Numbers 25:10-13)
The tribe of Judah is the kingly tribe from which God ordained through a covenant with David there would always be a seed from Judah as a king. (2 Samuel 7:17)
People from Judah became known as Jews, and the other tribes were Israelites, even though they are all Israelites and that is used interchangeably. The first time you’ll see the word “Jews” is in 2 Kings 25:25, long after the nation had split, and some versions even read Judeans (from Judah). Every other time you find the word Jews in the Old Testament, it is a reference to the people of the tribe and/or nation of Judah.
Somewhere along the way, Jew became synonymous with the religion of the Israelites through the Mosaic Law. But until the nation split, the Israelites were never called Jews. Some people and in some places they have used the name Jew and Israelite interchangeably, but this is incorrect insomuch as Jew pertains to someone from the tribe of Judah. (It’s like saying all Kansans are Americans but not all Americans are Kansans.)
It gets more complicated when you realize the faith of the Mosaic Law was named the Jewish faith, and thus some sort of mixture is involved. This is pretty important, however, because it has led to a lot of confusion, misnomers, and just bad breakdowns of people and places and events.
But to keep it straight, we need to remember the covenants. The covenant with Abraham is promised to his seed. His seed is the Israelites, which are not just the Jews (of the tribe of Judah) but all twelve tribes. For some reason, modern Christianity has lumped the Israelites and Jews together as one, which in some ways works and in other ways is a grave disservice.
The truth is the people of Israel were scattered and left the Promised Land (Middle East) long before the people of Judah. Though the countries’ falls were only 136 years apart, the Israelites began scattering two or so years before their capitol Samaria fell in 722 B.C. And though Jerusalem (Judah’s capitol) fell in 586 B.C., the people stayed in captivity in the land. There became a clear distinction between the Israelites and Jews after that time. The Israelites migrated and changed their names. The Jews did not.
However, people who kept or adopted the Mosaic Law and adhered to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob became commonly known as Jews. This is where it helps to understand: you can be a Jew because you were born in the bloodline of Judah, or you can be a Jew because you adopted and/or practice the Jewish faith, which is structured by the Mosaic Law. A Jew can be:
- a national or citizen title: Jew from Judah (like American from America, or Kansan from Kansas);
- a Jew can be of the bloodline of Judah (like Smith or Judah),
- and a Jew can be of a religion from the Mosaic Law now known as the Jewish faith (like Christian or Buddhist, etc.).
So when you get all of this “anti-Semitism” rhetoric, I get exhausted. Semite comes from the line of Shem, from Noah. That’s going to be roughly one-third of the world’s population and only a small, small fraction of that third is actually Jewish by one of the three definitions of a Jew. Anti-Semitism is a misnomer, and misleading. Why not just say anti-Jewish?
I’m asking this question because it seems to me there is a deliberate (or ignorant?) muddying of the waters.
These are some of the problems we get into when we are seeking understanding. Misrepresenting names causes misunderstandings.
To help us keep things straight:
- Chart of the kings according to their nation, Israel or Judah
- Chart of the prophets and the kings/nations they served under
- Chronology of the falls of Israel and Judah
I’m going to make a big deal about this because one of the keys (for me) in studying prophecy is understanding who the message is to. Poor teaching in the western church has made ignorant (and sometimes dangerous) students. While the Bible is relevant to all people in some aspect, all of its messages are not for all people at all times. (Please don’t write me and scold me for this.) We can learn from its content and its messages, but that doesn’t mean they all apply to each of us all the time.
When you read the words of the prophet, it would help to ask who the prophecy is to, for, and/or about. Just like the covenants were made to specific people, some prophecies were made for specific people, places, and/or times. If we don’t understand 1) who the people speaking are or 2) who the people they are speaking about are, we will most likely misunderstand or misapply the prophecy.
I don’t have time or space to expound on the migrating tribes right now of the 7-5 B.C. centuries, but it’s important to note that while modern history may be ignorant of them, God always knew where they were. If their identity has been obscured over the centuries does not make them lost to God. For example, we know that the tribes of Reuben, Gad, Naphtali and the half-tribe of Manasseh were carried into captivity by the Assyrians at least twenty years before Israel fell to Assyria. That makes literally tens or hundreds of thousands of people displaced off the Promised Land in less than ideal circumstances before their nation even fell. Where did they go? Who did they become? This matters because they are people of the covenant.
By the time Jeremiah (a prophet to Judah) began prophesying, the Israelites would have been off the covenant land for 102 years. Many of them would have been dead, and definitely progeny existed. Yet God declares this through Jeremiah:
Jeremiah 3:12 [NKJV]
Go and proclaim these words toward the north, and say: “Return, backsliding Israel,” says the Lord; “I will not cause My anger to fall on you. For I am merciful,” says the Lord; “I will not remain angry forever.”
Over 80-100 years have passed that the tribes of Israel have been missing, yet God knows they are north of Jerusalem and He sends them a message via Jeremiah.
Forty-eight years and four kings later, Daniel (a prophet to Judah) would pray [Dan 9:7 NKJV] emphasis mine:
O Lord, righteousness belongs to You, but to us shame of face, as it is this day — to the men of Judah, to the inhabitants of Jerusalem and all Israel, those near and those far off in all the countries to which You have driven them, because of the unfaithfulness which they have committed against You.
And he distinctly separates those of Judah from those of Israel, making mention that they are far and near in other countries. I just point out these things for context, because not all the prophecies are for the same people at the same times.
Though there were four prophets of Israel, only two of them had prophetic messages for Israel: Amos and Hosea, about sixty years before the fall of Samaria. This matters because the people of Israel that Amos and Hosea are prophesying to and about, will no longer live in the Promised Land (Middle East region).
This may seem tedious, but it’s important to frame prophecy and understand the message. I’m going to revert back to the different prophecies of the different prophets at varying times. I’m just laying the groundwork now.
In a similar vein…
When we know the audience the prophecy is about, and we know the context the prophecy was written in, we can better ascertain the calendar we need to use to deduce its codes. For example, all of the Old Testament prophets were Israelites and/or Jews. They spoke the Hebrew language and kept the Hebrew customs, from the feasts to the calendar.
That means the Old Testament prophets’ prophecies need to be deduced by their lunar timetables and with their language (not ours).
Yet John was a New Testament believer who gave prophecies under a solar calendar and timetable. That means his prophecies should be deduced with a solar calendar and its math.
When we start to break down some of these prophecies, written by different prophets several years and centuries apart, the equation we use needs to be consistent. So I’ll use a standard conversion for counting the prophetic days to put it into our modern solar time keeping, converting it from a lunar time keeping. But for John’s prophecies in Revelation, no conversion is necessary because the timetable at John’s time was now the solar time table.
Finally, a note to my critics:
I welcome questions and dialogue and even a challenge! I’m not nearly as interested in being right as I am the information being right. So if I need to correct something, retract something, or explain it better, I am so happy to do this. But if you just disagree because what I’m saying isn’t how you’ve been taught or what you think or believe, it’s a waste of both of our time to dialogue.
I’m not here to recruit anyone to a church, a doctrine, or a belief system. I’m not selling anything or trying to convert anyone. I’m simply breaking down what I’ve learned about prophecy for anyone who’s looking for other ways and information. I don’t expect anyone to just believe what I say. My prayer is that people will do their own studies, search, seek and verify. The Holy Spirit is the teacher. I’m just a conduit of some information. Take what the Spirit highlights to you and leave the rest. Take it all, take some, or take none. I’m just offering my gleanings for anyone who’s seeking some direction.
Also, because of this venue, I’m unable to expound on a great number of details. Therefore I’m broaching subjects with a direction to go, but not filling in all the blanks. My approach is more of an outline or bullet point form. Understanding the details will come with personal study and searching. I can also direct anyone to better resources.
Thanks and God bless!
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