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Amos 3:7 declares, “Surely the Lord Yahweh will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets.” This is precisely where the customary interpretation of the gentiles falls woefully short. The generally accepted application of the word “gentiles” not only misuses God’s Word, it also misapplies or leaves unfulfilled many prophecies. Consider the following three Old Testament witnesses:
Witness Number One
And Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid it upon Ephraim’s head…. And he blessed Joseph, and said … his [Ephraim’s] seed shall become a multitude of nations. - Genesis 48:14-19
Ephraim was the representative tribe of the ten-tribed house of Israel. The prophets used Ephraim and sometimes Joseph, Ephraim’s father, to represent the house of Israel. Fausset’s Bible Dictionary attests to this use of Ephraim:
This kingdom was sometimes also designated ‘Ephraim’ from its leading tribe (Isa. xvii. 3, Hos. iv. 17), as the southern kingdom ‘Judah’ was so designated from the prominent tribe.72
Jacob’s blessing upon Ephraim and his descendants was essentially an extension of Yahweh’s promise to Abraham:
…Yahweh appeared to Abram, and said unto him ... I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly. …and thou shalt be a father of many nations. Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee…. And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. - Genesis 17:1-7
As a consequence of misidentifying some of the gentiles in the Bible, much of contemporary Christendom teaches a replacement theology known as “Spiritual Israel.” This doctrine erroneously maintains that under the New Covenant Yahweh has replaced national Israel with a spiritual Israel made up of a multiracial multitude of people who have embraced Yeshua (Jesus’ given Hebrew name) as their Saviour. However, when Yahweh blessed Abraham, He prophesied that Abraham’s descendants would become a multitude of nations. Likewise when Jacob blessed Ephraim, he prophesied that Ephraim’s descendants would become a multitude of nations. Neither Yahweh nor Jacob prophesied that a multitude of non-Israelite nations would become spiritual Israelites.*
*This doctrine is more thoroughly addressed in Appendix 1 – Spiritual Israel: Out of All Nations or Out of the Nation of Israel?
The phrase “a multitude of nations” can also be rendered “a fullness of gentiles,” a translation that will be addressed in Chapter 7.
Witness Number Two
Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For [the tribe of] Judah, and for the children of Israel [of the house of Judah] his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For [the tribe of] Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions: And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand. …Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: And I will make them [the house of Judah and the house of Israel] one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all. - Ezekiel 37:16-22
Yahweh declared through Ezekiel and other Old Testament prophets that the ten tribes of the house of Israel, whom Yahweh had divorced and scattered among other nations, were not to be banished forever. They were to be called out from among the non-Israelite nations where they were dispersed and eventually reunited with the house of Judah.
Many people assume that the Judahites represent all twelve tribes of Israel. Consequently, when some Christians are called upon to interpret prophecies relating to both houses of Israel, they are unable to do so. Because these Christians are mistaken about the heritage and ancestry of today’s Jews, and because they have absolutely no idea who represents the house of Israel, they often ignore Ezekiel’s and other corresponding Old Testament prophecies. They are unable to see that this prophecy and others like it actually find fulfillment in the New Testament and in today’s descendants of the house of Judah and the house of Israel.
Ezekiel’s prophecy is sometimes erroneously circumvented by those who teach that it was fulfilled at the time of Ezra and Nehemiah* or that it is yet to be fulfilled at the Second Advent of Yeshua. Neither of these two interpretations is correct. Scripture records that the reunion of Judah and Israel would begin at the First Advent of Yeshua the Christ, as evidenced in Micah’s and Zechariah’s well-known prophecies concerning Yeshua’s first appearance upon earth:
But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. Therefore will he [Yahweh] give them [the divorced house of Israel] up, until the time that she [Mary] which travaileth hath brought forth: then the remnant of his [Yeshua’s] brethren [of the house of Judah] shall return unto the children of Israel. And this man shall be the peace…. And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many people as a dew from Yahweh, as the showers upon the grass, that tarrieth not for man, nor waiteth for the sons of men. And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles in the midst of many people…. - Micah 5:2-8
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim [the representative tribe of the house of Israel], and the horse from Jerusalem [the capital of the house of Judah], and the battle bow shall be cut off: and he shall speak peace unto the heathen [goyim or nations]…. - Zechariah 9:9-10
*A careful reading of Ezra and Nehemiah reveals that only Israelites from the tribes of Judah, Benjamin and Levi returned from Babylon to Jerusalem. The following quotations should also prove interesting: “…believers in the literal inspiration of the Scriptures have always labored under a difficulty in regard to the continued existence of the tribes of Israel, with the exception of those of Judah and Levi (or Benjamin), which returned [from Babylon] with Ezra and Nehemiah.” “Tribes, Lost Ten,” The Jewish Encyclopedia (New York and London: Funk and Wagnalls Company, 1905) Volume XII, p. 249.
“…unto the Second Temple there only went up Judah and Benjamin who were carried captive to Babylon; and the children of Judah and the children of Israel were not gathered together at that time.” Rabbi David ben Joseph Kimhi, quoted in The Holy Bible According to the Authorized Version (AD 1611): With Explanatory and Critical Commentary…. (London, England: John Murray, 1876) Volume VI, p. 417.)
Isaiah also prophesied that the reuniting of the two houses of the nation of Israel would begin at Yeshua’s First Advent:
And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles [goyim or nations] seek: and his rest shall be glorious. And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people…. And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. - Isaiah 11:10-12
The fact that Isaiah was referring to the First and not the Second Advent of Yeshua is made apparent by the Apostle Paul in Romans 15:12. Paul applied the phrase “the root of Jesse” to Yeshua and this prophecy to His First Advent.
Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary applies the reference to David in the prophecy of the two sticks in Ezekiel 37 to Yeshua’s First Advent as well:
Although God’s people were suffering at the hands of a pagan nation when Ezekiel prophesied, better days were assured. God would establish His universal rule among His people through a descendant of David (37:24-25). This is a clear reference to the MESSIAH, a prophecy fulfilled when Jesus was born in Bethlehem more than 500 years later.73
These prophecies reveal that the two houses were not reunited when the house of Judah returned to Jerusalem from their Babylonian captivity. Instead, Yahweh promised to call the house of Israel back from among the non-Israelite nations where she had been dispersed and reunite her with the house of Judah beginning at the First Advent of Yeshua.
Witness Number Three
Then said God … ye are not my people, and I will not be your God. Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them [the house of Israel], Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God. Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together…. - Hosea 1:9-10
Hosea was speaking to Israelites of the divorced house of Israel whom Yahweh would call from their banishment and christen “sons of the living God.” Yeshua’s ministry was initially to His brethren of the house of Judah, and He granted them the power to become sons of God first:
He came unto his own, and his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. - John 1:11-13
Another name for sons of God is Christians. According to Hosea, there would also be Israelites from the house of Israel who would become Christians. Many people understand that Yahweh’s New Covenant people were to be given the name “Christians” as prophesied in Isaiah 65:15 and fulfilled in Acts 11:26. But, those same people often fail to discern that Isaiah’s prophecy was made to and about Israelites.*
*This is not to say that non-Israelites are unable to share in some of the New Covenant benefits available through Yeshua and His blood-atoning sacrifice, much the same as non-Israelites did under the Old Covenant. See Appendix 2 - Yahweh’s Plan for Believing Non-Israelites.
So far we have gleaned the following clues from the Old Testament:
- Non-Israelites and Israelites alike can be gentiles.
- Yahweh divorced the ten-tribed house of Israel and scattered them among non-Israelite gentiles or nations.
- These same Israelite people were to become a multitude of nations or fullness of gentiles.
- These Israelites lost their identity and became collectively referred to as gentiles or by the names of the gentile nations among whom they were dispersed or by the names given to them by these non-Israelites nations.
- A remnant of these Israelite people were to be reunited with a remnant from the house of Judah beginning at the first advent of Yeshua.
- These reunited Israelites would be christened sons of the living God and would be called Christians.
Armed with these clues, let us consider some additional Old Testament prophecies quoted in the New Testament:
And that he [Yahweh] might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, even us, whom he hath called, not of the Judahites only, but also of the Gentiles. As he saith also in Osee [Hosea], I will call them my people, which were not my people…. - Romans 9:23-25
Christians who assume that the Judahites in Romans 9 represent all twelve tribes of Israel, conclude that the gentiles must be non-Israelites. Therein lies the heart of the mystery. Because the term “Jews” is never used in either the Old or New Testament to describe all twelve tribes of Israel, there is no reason to immediately conclude that the gentiles in this and other passages represent non-Israelites. The gentiles in Romans 9 simply represent non-Judahites - either Israelites or non-Israelites or both. The Old Testament prophets narrow down these three options, helping us to determine which nations Paul was referring to.
In verse 23, the Apostle Paul describes these people as “vessels of mercy.” The prophets Isaiah, Ezekiel and Zechariah inform us which nations were to specifically receive Yahweh’s mercy:
For thy [the house of Israel’s] Maker is thine husband; Yahweh of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel…. For Yahweh hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God. For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee…. For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith Yahweh that hath mercy on thee. - Isaiah 54:5-10
So the house of Israel shall know that I am Yahweh their God from that day and forward. And the heathen shall know that the house of Israel went into captivity for their iniquity: because they trespassed against me, therefore hid I my face from them, and gave them into the hand of their enemies: so fell they all by the sword. According to their uncleanness and according to their transgressions have I done unto them, and hid my face from them. Therefore thus saith the Lord Yahweh; Now will I bring again [reverse] the captivity of Jacob, and have mercy upon the whole house of Israel, and will be jealous for my holy name. - Ezekiel 39:22-25
And I will strengthen the house of Judah, and I will save the house of Joseph, and I will bring them again to place them; for I have mercy upon them: and they shall be as though I had not cast them off: for I am Yahweh their God, and will hear them. - Zechariah 10:6
In Hosea 1:6, Yahweh initially declared that He would “no more have mercy upon the house of Israel.” Later, He announced that it was to these very people that He would indeed eventually show His mercy:
And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies…. And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy…. - Hosea 2:19-23
Throughout the Old Testament prophets, we find Yahweh bringing judgment upon the backsliding houses of Judah and Israel, yet He always followed that judgment with promises of His future mercy. Although at times Yahweh was also merciful to non-Israelites, the prophetic passages of the Old Testament specifically identify Israelite nations as the recipients of His mercy. Therefore there is no reason to assume that Romans 9:23-24 applies to non-Israelite gentiles, especially in light of the remaining textual evidence.
The New American Standard Bible translators described the nations in question in Romans 9:23 as having been “prepared beforehand for glory.” In verses 3 and 4 of this same chapter, Paul proclaims to whom the glory belongs:
…my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory…. - Romans 9:3-4
Isaiah prophesied that the glory of Yahweh was reserved for Israel:
In that day shall Yahweh of hosts be for a crown of glory, and for a diadem of beauty, unto the residue of his people. - Isaiah 28:5
…the house of Jacob…. Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of Yahweh shall be thy rereward. - Isaiah 58:1-8
These prophesies reveal that Yahweh’s glory was “prepared beforehand” or predestined for the people of Israel. Paul also spoke of predestination in Romans 8:
…all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. - Romans 8:28-30
Note especially the phrase “whom He did foreknow.” The Greek phrase hoús proégnoo, from which this English phrase is translated, is also found in Romans 11, where Paul used it to identify Israelite nations:
I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew…. - Romans 11:1-2
The Prophet Amos declared that it was only Israelites whom Yahweh foreknew:
Hear this word that Yahweh hath spoken … O children of Israel … saying, You only have I known of all the families of the earth…. - Amos 3:1-2
Paul identified those “whom he did foreknow” as Yeshua’s brethren in Romans 8:29 and as Israelites in Romans 11:1-2. Paul continued in Romans 8:30 by saying – “…whom he did predestinate, them he also called.” In other words, those whom Yahweh foreknew - identified as Israelite “kinsman according to the flesh” - were also those people whom He called. This calling leads us right back to Romans 9:
And that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, even us, whom he hath called, not of the Judahites only, but also of the Gentiles. - Romans 9:23-24
Isaiah identified those whom Yahweh called as Israelites:
Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I am he; I am the first, I also am the last…. I, even I, have spoken; yea, I have called him. - Isaiah 48:12-15
According to Paul, those whom Yahweh called were of the house of Judah and also “of the Gentiles.” The New American Standard Bible translates this same phrase “from among the Gentiles,” which points again to the house of Israel scattered among the non-Israelite nations. In Ezekiel’s prophecy regarding the two sticks representing the house of Judah and the house of Israel we find essentially the same phrase:
…say unto them, Thus saith the Lord Yahweh; Behold, I will take the children of Israel [of the house of Israel] from among the heathen [goy], whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land: And I will make them [the house of Judah and the house of Israel] one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all. - Ezekiel 37:16-22
All of the textual evidence points to the fact that the gentiles referred to by Paul in Romans 9:24 are the divorced and “gentilized” nations from the house of Israel. In these verses both parties have been identified – the Jews represent the house of Judah and the gentiles represent the house of Israel. Romans 9:23-24 is not describing a union between Israelites and non-Israelites, which was never prophesied in the Old Testament. It is describing the beginning of the fulfillment of Ezekiel’s prophesied reunion of the house of Judah and the house of Israel.
While the foregoing provides sufficient evidence to conclude that the gentiles in Romans 9:24 are the nations of the house of Israel, the context provides further definitive confirmation for this conclusion:
Even us, whom he hath called, not of the Judahites only, but also of the Gentiles? As he saith also in Osee [Hosea], I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God. - Romans 9:24-26
In Romans 9:25-26, the Apostle Paul quoted from chapters 1 and 2 of the Prophet Hosea. Everything in these two chapters pertains to Israelites and only Israelites. These chapters describe Yahweh’s divorce of the house of Israel and prophesy His remarriage to those same people and their reunion with the house of Judah. In Romans 9:24-26, Paul quoted and applied Hosea 1:10 and 2:23 to the scattered Israelites simply known then as ethne. Romans 9:24 is the beginning of the fulfillment of both Ezekiel 37:21 and Hosea’s corresponding prophecies concerning the reunion of the house of Israel with the house of Judah. The Hosea prophecies were made about the nations of the house of Israel and can be applied to only the nations of the house of Israel.
God is not a man, that he should lie … hath he said, and shall he not do it? Or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good? - Numbers 23:19
The authors of The Pulpit Commentary misidentified the Judahites in Romans 9:24 as being all twelve tribes of Israel and the gentiles as being non-Israelites. Nevertheless, in attempting to explain how these prophecies from Hosea could somehow be applied to non-Israelites gentiles, they admitted that these prophecies pertained to the ten-tribed house of Israel:
It might seem that these quotations are not apposite [applicable], since they referred originally, not to the Gentiles, but to the ten tribes of Israel.74
The Pulpit Commentary’s use of the word “originally” implies that at some point in time Yahweh changed His mind. But nothing in the Old Testament indicates that someone else was ever substituted for the Israelites. There is no biblical justification for applying these prophecies to anyone other than to whom they were originally directed. These prophecies refer to the ten tribes of Israel, and no one has the authority to apply them to non-Israelites. Had ethnos been translated nations in Romans 9:24 and had the connection between the ten tribes or nations of Israel and the goyim and the ethne been made, most of the confusion over this passage would have never existed.
Immediately following his quotations from Hosea about the house of Israel, Paul quoted the Prophet Isaiah in verse 27. He introduced the quotation by declaring that “Esaias also crieth concerning Israel.” The context of Isaiah 10:22 from which Paul quoted is about the gentilized Israelites from the nations of the house of Israel. By quoting from Hosea 1 and 2 and Isaiah 10, Paul confirmed that the nations to whom he was referring were Israelites rather than non-Israelites. Therefore, in Romans 9 and other New Testament passages, the ethne are the same Israelite goyim found in the Old Testament who were divorced by Yahweh and who were prophesied to be reunited with the house of Judah beginning at the First Advent of the Messiah.
In spite of the prophetic and textual evidence demonstrating that in Romans 9:24 the Jews are Judahites and the gentiles are Israelites, verses 30-31 raises a question that begs an answer:
What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. - Romans 9:30-31
In these two verses, Paul contrasts the gentiles with Israel; therefore, how can those gentiles be Israelites? Remember Yahweh initially chose to conceal the identity of the house of Israel by divorcing and scattering her among the nations of the world. According to Hosea 1:4-6, they lost the right to be called by the name “Israel.” Although undeserved, the house of Judah remained in a marriage relationship with Yahweh right up to the New Covenant dispensation, presumably so that Yahweh’s Son would not be born out of wedlock:
And Yahweh said unto … [Hosea] …I will … cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel…. I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel…. But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah…. - Hosea 1:4-7
Therefore, the house of Judah continued in her kingdom relationship with Yahweh and retained the right to be called by the marital name Isra El. Although representing only the two southern tribes and principally known as Judahites, they were nonetheless Israelites and occasionally called Israel because they still reigned with El in His kingdom:
Hear ye this, O house of Jacob, which are called by the name of Israel, and are come forth out of the waters of Judah…. - Isaiah 48:1
Ephraim compasseth me about with lies, and the house of Israel with deceit: but Judah yet ruleth with God [Elohiym]…. - Hosea 11:12
Under the subheading “Rebellion of the Northern Tribes,” Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary declares that the reason why the term “Israel” in the Bible is sometimes confusing is because it is occasionally used for both the northern tribes of the house of Israel and for the covenant people of the house of Judah:
The northern tribes declared independence and formed a separate kingdom with Jeroboam as head. They named their kingdom “Israel” (this sometimes causes confusion because the name is also used for the remnant of the Covenant People at a later time).75
The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary also comments concerning the use of the name “Israel” as a designation for the descendants of the house of Judah:
After the Babylonian captivity the returned exiles, though mainly of Judah, resumed the name of Israel as the designation of their nation, but as individuals they are called Jews….76
The Israel in Romans 9:31 attempted to follow “after the law of righteousness.” This descriptive phrase fits only the house of Judah. The house of Israel never had such aspirations, which was one of the reasons why Yahweh divorced her. Therefore, the Israelites referred to in verse 31 are Judahite Israelites who were still known by the name “Israel” and who believed that the only path to righteousness was by way of Yahweh’s law. Paul contrasted them with the descendants of the house of Israel who had earlier lost the right to bear that name and who were, therefore, simply known as the nations.
Verses 25-27 of Romans 9 contain prophecies from Hosea 1:10, 2:23 and Isaiah 10:22-23, regarding the ten tribes, that explain verse 24. It is for this reason that the term “Israel” in these verses is used in reference to the house of Israel. However, in Romans 9:30 through 11:25, Paul contrasts the divorced and gentilized nations of the house of Israel with the house of Judah. Therefore, in this and other Roman passages, Paul uses the term “gentiles” to signify the scattered house of Israel and the term “Israel” to signify the house of Judah.
Having determined that the term “Israel,” when contrasted with gentiles, represents the house of Judah and that the term “gentiles” represents the house of Israel, it should be apparent that Romans 11 is the fulfillment of Ezekiel’s prophecy about the two sticks depicting the two houses of Israel.
The first half of Ezekiel 37 begins by describing the valley of the dry bones representing both houses of Israel. One house, the house of Israel, was spiritually dead and already divorced. The other house, the house of Judah, was also spiritually dead and would be divorced later.* However, it was also prophesied that these “dead” Israelites would have the breath of life breathed back into them. What was dead would be made alive.
*The kingdom relationship between Yahweh and the entire nation of Israel was established when Yahweh married the twelve tribes of Israel in Exodus 19:5-6. This kingdom relationship represents His marital relationship with them. Yahweh’s divorce of the house of Israel in Hosea 1:4 is depicted in terms of the removal of the kingdom. Therefore, the removal of the kingdom from the Judahite leaders in Matthew 21:43 is equivalent to the divorce of the house of Judah. The house of Judah’s divorce was prophesied in 2 Kings 23:27: “And Yahweh said, I will remove Judah also out of my sight, as I have removed Israel, and will cast off this city Jerusalem which I have chosen, and the house of which I said, My name shall be there.” The house of Judah was put away, but not divorced, when the Babylonians sacked Jerusalem in 581 BC and took the remaining Judahites captive for seventy years. The house of Judah was finally divorced following the crucifixion of Yeshua, which culminated in the destruction of Jerusalem and the second temple in 70 AD.
A corresponding prophecy is found in the latter half of Ezekiel 37:
The word of Yahweh came again unto me, saying, Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For [the tribe of] Judah, and for the children of Israel [of the house of Judah] his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For [the tribe of] Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions. And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand. - Ezekiel 37:15-17
Each of the two houses of Israel is portrayed in this prophecy as being a stick. The bones in the first prophecy and the sticks in the second prophecy represent dead Israelites. If dead, dry sticks are brought back to life, they become living, fruitful branches – a very important clue.
And when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying, Wilt thou not shew us what thou meanest by these? Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord Yahweh; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of [the house of] Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of [the house of] Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand. And the sticks whereon thou writest shall be in thine hand before their eyes. And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord Yahweh; Behold, I will take the children of [the house of] Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land. And I will make them [the house of Judah and the house of Israel] one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all: Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwellingplaces, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God. - Ezekiel 37:18-23
How peculiar that various Christian leaders are telling their flocks that this and similar prophecies are fulfilled in a union of Israelites and non-Israelite gentiles. Yahweh was very specific in Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Micah and Zechariah that these prophecies concern a reunion of the two houses of Israel. Changing the principle parties of these prophecies makes it impossible to apply them correctly.
By combining both prophecies in Ezekiel 37, it can be seen that the two sticks, representing the house of Judah and the house of Israel, were to be brought back from the dead and reunited with each other. Ezekiel, Isaiah, Micah and Zechariah prophesied that this reuniting was to begin at the First Advent of the Messiah. Therefore, it is reasonable to expect that the fulfillment of such a momentous prophecy would be mentioned in the New Testament.
Chapter 5 Table of Contents Chapter 7
72. “Israel,” Fausset’s Bible Dictionary (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1963) p. 317.
73. “Ezekiel, Book Of,” Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995) p. 432.
74. The Pulpit Commentary (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1962) Volume 18, p. 269.
75. “Israel, History of,” Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995) p. 618.
76. “Israel,” The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary (Chicago, IL: Moody Press, 1985) p. 635.