Were the Ten Tribes of Israel Really Lost?
Text: Ezekiel 37:15-28
I. Hurlbut’s Story of the Bible: “As in their own land, the children of Israel had forsaken the Lord and had worshiped idols, so after they were taken to these distant lands, they sought the gods of the people of those lands and ceased to be Israelites; and after a time they lost all knowledge of their own God, who had given them his words and sent them his prophets. So there came an end to the Ten Tribes of Israel, for they never again came back to their own land, and were lost among the peoples of the far east.”
A. So many speak of the ten lost tribes of Israel.
1. When Israel divided after King Solomon’s death. Ten tribes to the north followed Jeroboam and became known as the kingdom of Israel. The two southern tribes became known as Judah.
2. The northern kingdom never faithfully followed God and eventually God sent the Assyrians in 722 B.C. to ransack the land. The people were led away into captivity.
B. Mormonism is founded on the belief that at least a portion of these ten tribes migrated over to America.
C. Some versions of premillennial theory are based on the ten lost tribes
1. The belief is that these ten tribes were lost among the foreign nations.
2. Since they lost their identity and did not return from captivity, it is believed that some of the Old Testament prophesies concerning them have not been fulfilled.
a. For example, Amos 9:14-15 is claimed to be unfulfilled.
3. Hence it is believed to be fulfilled at some time in our future.
4. The reason for the establishment of the current nation of Israel and the migration of Jews to that nation is suppose to encourage the fulfillment of these prophesies and signal the imminent return of Jesus to begin his millennial reign.
II. When Judah returned from the Babylonian captivity, they did not come alone.
A. I Chronicles 9:1-3 - Notice in the roll taken on the return by Ezra are people of the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh, two of the ten northern tribes.
B. Ezra 8:24-25 - Twelve priest carried the tribute from all Israel.
C. On their arrival in Jerusalem, 12 bulls were offered for all Israel - Ezra 8:35
D. When Ezra rebukes the people for marrying foreign wives
1. Judah and Benjamin were listed as guilty - Ezra 10:9-10
2. The Levites as well are listed among those pledged to put away their wives - Ezra 10:18-19
3. But notice that it also included those of Israel - Ezra 10:25
E. All of this makes sense because God said that both kingdoms would return from captivity together - Jeremiah 3:18
III. Some might object saying that Jeremiah 3:18 is a prophecy about the Christ
A. They might be right, but even if it deals with the time of Christ, notice that it still refers to both halves returning.
B. Many readers of the Bible missed the fact that several Old Testament prophesies had double fulfillment.
1. For example Psalm 22 was written by David. It deals with his anguish as he is surrounded by his enemies.
a. The words have primary meaning to David and his situation.
b. Yet, at the same time they are prophetic of the suffering and death of Christ on the cross.
c. The words had both an immediate and future application.
2. Another example is Ezekiel 34:11-13
a. It talks about God gathering his people out of their captivity.
b. Yet Ezekiel 34:23 is a prophecy about the great Shepherd, Jesus.
c. This is a two-part prophecy. The first speaks of the near-term return and the second part talks of a more distant event.
3. Yet a third example is Ezekiel 37:15-21, which clearly states that God will join the divided nation back into one people.
a. Yet Ezekiel 37:22-24 obviously refers to the kingdom of Christ
C. If there were any doubt, consider Ezekiel 39:21-23
1. Notice that God said he proves His power not only by sending Israel into exile, but also by returning them to their land.
2. If the ten tribes did not return, then God’s promise was not kept and nothing was proven.
IV. Further proof in the New Testament
A. Remember Anna, the prophetess? She was from the tribe of Asher - Luke 2:36-38
1. Asher was one of the ten tribes
2. People still traced their lineage to the tribes.
B. Luke 22:30 - Jesus spoke of the apostles judging the twelve tribes.
1. Yes this is symbolic, but notice Jesus said twelve tribes and not two.
2. All twelve were still known
C. Acts 26:7 - Paul said the twelve tribes were serving God night and day
V. The ten tribes are not lost.
A. We are not waiting for God to return the ten tribes.
B. They didn’t wander off to the New World.
C. God had kept his word and restored them to their land.
D. God has always kept His promises - II Peter 3:3-14
1. God has promised an end to this world and it will happen.
2. Are you ready for that promise to be fulfilled?