JOSEPH-ISRAEL LOST (CONTINUED)
If it could be proved that Israel returned with Judah from the Babylonish captivity, it would only prove that her prophetic history was not fulfilled, and that those prophets which both Jews and Christians have received as the true prophets of God, are but lying prophets. For Jeremiah also has given utterance to prophetic sayings which are in full accord with those of the prophets already quoted, and which cover the same ground, but give additional facts. As in the following:
"Therefore will I cast you out of this land, into a land that ye know not, neither ye nor your fathers, and there shall ye serve other gods day and night; where I will not show you favor. Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that it shall no more be said, The Lord liveth, that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; but, The Lord liveth, that brought the children of Israel from the land of the north, and from all the lands whither he had driven them: and I will bring them again unto their land that I gave unto their fathers.
"Behold I will send for many fishers, saith the Lord, and they shall fish for them; and after I will send many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and from out of the holes of the rocks. For mine eyes are upon all their ways: they are not hid from my face, neither is their iniquity hid from mine eyes. And first I will recompense their iniquity and their sin double; because they have defiled my land, they have filled mine inheritance with the carcasses of their detestable and abominable things. O Lord, my strength and my fortress, and my refuge in the day of affliction, the Gentiles shall come unto thee from the ends of the earth, and shall say, Surely our fathers have inherited lies, vanity, and things wherein there is no profit. Shall a man make gods unto himself, and they are no gods? Therefore, behold, I will this once cause them to know. I will cause them to know mine hand and my might; and they shall know that thy name is the Lord," (Jer. 16:13-21).
We have given the above quotation in full and at length, because, as a prophecy, it contains the facts of the casting out and return of Israel, together with a brief epitome of their history while thus cast out. Let us notice them:
(I) "I will cast you out of this land." We know that they were taken into Assyria.
(2) "Into a land that ye know not." They were not to remain in Assyria.
(3) "Neither ye nor your fathers." A land unknown to the entire race, and as they were among the most, if not the most, civilized nations on the earth, we are safe in saying that it was to be a long way from their home; that they were to move on through the nations until they came into unknown regions, into the uninhabited, unexplored wilderness beyond the pales of civilization.
(4) "And there shall ye serve other gods day and night." They can then and there get their fill of idolatry.
(5) "I will not show you favor," i.e., not ease their punishment, until, as he says, he has first recompensed "their iniquity and their sin double; because they have defiled my land, they have filled mine inheritance with the carcasses of their detestable and abominable things," i.e., Jeroboam's calves, Ahab's image of Baal, Moloch, etc.
(6) When he says that he will not show them favor, the context proves that he means for a certain season or period. For he says, I will bring them again into their land, i. e., the Samaritan portion of Palestine.
(7) "I will send for many [Hebrew, rab -- abundant, enough, plenteous, a multitude] fishers." Jesus said to his disciples, "I will make you fishers of men." He came to his own tribal house, Judah, but his own received him not, and then he said unto them: "Your house is left unto you desolate." But he said to his fishers, "Go to the lost sheep of the HOUSE of Israel." Six hundred and thirty years prior to this, one hundred and twenty years after Israel had been cast out, and before the house of Judah were taken to Babylon, God had said through the mouth of Jeremiah, "My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds [their priests, who were of the lowest type of the people] have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains; they have gone from mountain to hill [wandering], they have forgotten their resting place," i.e., their home.
(8) "And they shall fish them." These gospel fishers of men are successful. Lost Israel takes the bait and is fished. Hallelujah!
All this is in harmony with the prophetic history of Israel, as read by the other prophets. For when Hosea is being used to prophesy concerning Israel being hedged in with walls and thorns, and losing her paths, the Lord further adds, "Behold I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably [marginal reading: speak friendly to her heart] unto her. And it shall be in that day saith the Lord that thou shalt call me Ishi [my husband] and shall call me no more Baali [my master]. For I will take the names of Baalim [plural of Baal] out of her mouth, and they shall no more be remembered by their names," (Hosea 2:14, 16, 17). Is it any wonder that this same prophet declares, "Ephraim shall say, What have I to do any more with idols?" (Hosea 4:8).
Concerning this fact of Israel's receiving the gospel while cast out: "Thus saith the Lord, The people which were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness; even Israel," (Jer. 31:2). The law came by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. Hence the lost sheep of the house of Israel receive the gospel blessings because of the fishers which are sent to them.
(9) "And after (that) I will send for many hunters, and they shall hunt them." The violent protest of our brother, from whose commentary we quoted on a former occasion, is prima-facie evidence that this prophecy concerning the hunting for them has been, and is being fulfilled; it is as follows: "Hence, all of this hue and cry about the lost tribes, ransacking all the world to find them, and writing vast volumes, is a piece of twaddle and nonsense. Thousands of people are now studying (Glory to God!) great books (Thank God for them!) which claim to identify the 'lost tribes.'" Amen! and amen! For God says: "They shall hunt for them."
Another of those who object to so much hunting, Rawlinson, has unwittingly proved this prophecy to have been fulfilled, for he says: "They (the ten tribes) have been found a hundred times in a hundred different localities." This proves that the Lord, in order that his word of truth might be fulfilled, has, to say the least, raised up one hundred hunters. Had Prof. Rawlinson said, "They were supposed to have been found a hundred times in a hundred different localities," we could not doubt that his statement was true. For it is true that thousands are studying, and writing, and ransacking the world, to find the lost tribes of Israel; and the prophecy concerning the hunters and the hunted, stands vindicated, albeit many have hunted in vain.
Otherwise, we are forced to the conclusion that one of the holy men who was moved by the Holy Ghost to write the Bible was jesting, when he wrote concerning a corps of men who should become hunters of that which was not lost. And since God has furnished the hunters -- for it is by reading his Word that they become inspired to hunt -- we would be forced to conclude that he would play, or juggle, with the credulity of the human race.
(10) It is evident from the declaration, "They are not hid from my face," that the people in question were hid from others. Else, why should the Lord say that they were not hid from him?
"If they were not hid from the Lord, who were they hid from?"
We answer --THE HUNTERS.
(11) The nineteenth verse relates to Gentiles who shall come unto the Lord, from the ends of the earth. The Hebrew word (Goy) which is here translated Gentiles, is often translated, nations, people, tribes, and, far away people. God had told Israel that he would cast them afar off, and in Jer. 1:10 this same Hebrew word is translated nations. In Jer. 31:9, while speaking to Joseph-Ephraim-Samaria-Israel, the Lord says: "I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my first-born. Hear the word of the Lord, O ye nations [Goy], and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him."
(12) And in this prophecy which we are considering, we are told that these nations shall yet come "from the ends of the earth," and say: "Surely our fathers have inherited lies." How so?
Do not forget, Hosea has prophesied concerning the same people, saying that in the place where it shall be said unto them, "Ye are Lo-ammi, or not the people of God," there it shall be said unto them "Ammi," or "Ye are the sons of the living God." These people shall return to their home and to their Lord, who will be there about the time they get there. And they shall say: "We have inherited lies, for we have been told that we were not the seed of Abraham, but now we know that we, too, have Abraham as our father."
(13) Then, saith the Lord, "I will cause them to know mine hand, and my might; and they shall know that my name is the Lord, i.e., Jehovah.
So we find that while Israel was taken into Assyria they were not to stay there, but were to wander into an unknown country, called the wilderness; and that eventually, when they have fulfilled their destiny by becoming "many nations," the head of the nations is in the isles of the sea, and that the Lord is to gather them from there. So it is evident that the school of teachers, who say that Israel returned with Judah from Babylon, do not know where the Birthright kingdom is, thus making it quite clear that they are lost even to those who say that there is no lost Israel.
The above facts are in harmony with still other authentic history as contained in the apocryphal book of Ezra, i.e., Esdras. Mind you, we do not assert that this book is inspired, although there are thousands who, with ourselves, believe it is. But we give it simply as corroborative history. Esdras had seen a vision in which there were two companies, one a warlike and the other a peaceful company. The declared explanation of the peaceful company is as follows: "Whereas thou sawest that he gathered another peaceful company, those are the ten tribes, which were carried away prisoners out of their own land in the time of Hosea, the king whom Shalmanesar, the king of Assyria, led away captive; and he carried them away so they came into another land. But they took counsel among themselves, that they would leave the multitude of the heathen, and go forth into a further country, where never mankind dwell, that they might keep their statutes, which they never kept in their own land. And they entered into Euphrates by the narrow passage (the gate) of the river. For the Most High then showed signs for them, and held still the flood till they were passed over, for through that country there was a great way to go, namely, a year and a half. And the same region is called Asaareth (Margin: Ararath, same as Ararat or Armenia, which are only different forms of the same word). Then they dwelt there until the latter time; and now when they shall begin to come, the Highest shall stay the springs of the streams again, that they may go through: therefore sawest thou the multitude with peace," (2 Esdras 13:39-47).
Every statement made in this extract is corroborated by unquestioned canonical writings, as we have shown, except one; and Isaiah settles that one as follows: "The Lord shall utterly destroy the tongue of the Egyptian sea; and with his mighty wind shall he shake his hand over the river, and shall smite it in the seven streams, and make men go over dry shod. And there shall be an highway for the remnant of his people which shall be left from Assyria -- like as it was in the day that he came up out of the land of Egypt," (Isa. 11:15, 16).
Mind you, he does not say that they shall come from Assyria; he is speaking of the remnant of his people which are left from Assyria, i.e., the Assyrian captivity. The tongue of the Egyptian sea is not en route from either Babylon or Assyria. The tongue of the Egyptian sea is a tongue of the Red sea, and the river with seven streams, mouths, or delta, is the river Nile, which waters Egypt; and these are in a direction from Palestine which is diametrically opposite to that of Assyria and Babylon.
After all, it is not so much a question of the lost ten tribes, for some out of all the tribes returned to the kingdom of Judab, in the days of Rehoboam, the first king of Judah. This is no doubt the reason that the Jews, upon their return from Babylon, offered the twelve bullocks for all Israel, as a burnt offering unto the Lord. But it is a question of the lost house of Joseph, that is, THE LOST BIRTHRIGHT. The Jews, although denationalized and scattered everywhere, have never been lost; but, as foretold, they have always been so "well known" that they have become a "by-word"; consequently, they have never been hunted for. But there is a prophecy in the Psalms concerning a people by the name of Israel, who are spoken of as the hidden people of the Lord, and whom he is called upon to defend from their enemies. Of these it is declared: "They have taken crafty counsel against thy people and consulted against THY HIDDEN ONES. They have said, come, and let us cut them off from being a nation; that the name ISRAEL may be no more in remembrance," (Psa. 83:3, 4).
Hence, there is a people who bear the name of Israel, which, as we have learned, is the name of the birthright nation, which if it is not now hid, has in the past been hid from all except the Omnipotent One.