- Category: History
- Published on Saturday, 12 September 2009 08:09
The following is a short response to Boaz Michael's article "Encounters with an Ephraimite: Identity through a Lost Heritage" (download pdf).
Boaz is the founder and president of First Fruits for Zion. He is a gifted teacher who has done a great deal to turn so-called "Gentile Christians" into the path of Torah, the same path Yeshua led His original disciples. For this reason, I respect Boaz and his ministry tremendously.
Even so, his refusal to acknowledge the Two House reality is a point of difficult contention for many in the Hebraic Roots movement.
Ultimately, he does not deny the Lost Ten Tribes still exist, but simply contends they will remain lost until the Messianic era. I appreciate the fact that he at least allows for this possibility, which is a slightly dissimilar position compared to some of his colleagues (e.g., Tim Hegg), where "the Jews" are strongly perceived to be representative of all 12 tribes because the 10 presumably rejoined Judah after the Babylonian Captivity (something the Jews and history broadly denies). See 10 Reasons the Jews are from Judah.
"The Two-House message contains a prophetic truth that is yet to occur. There are ten lost tribes, whether they are lost by assimilation into the nations or into Judea–they are lost. We do not know who they are; we do not know where they are or what they are, but we do know that at some point in the future they will be identified and re-established. All the tribes will be brought home, and in the Messianic era, tribal differentiation reemerges. However, we do not suppose to know the means or mechanism by which this will be accomplished and are not willing to suggest one theory over another. It is a matter of eschatology, and in that regard, it is similar to the arguments over pre-tribulation, mid-tribulation and post-tribulation advent. Everyone has a theory, but no one will really know for certain until Messiah comes." pg.13
If one uses the Prodigal Son parable as a macro-timeline for the Lost Ten Tribes regathering and restoration, it will be made apparent that they awaken to themselves before the Father brings them home to be restored to their older brother "Jew-dah". This means they are identifiable or at least known to themselves even before they return to the Land and BEFORE the Messianic Era. See The Prodigal Son Parable, a Prophetic Macro-Timeline of Ephraim in the Last Days for further consideration in that regard.
"Adherents of the movement are quick to explain that one’s identity is ultimately unknowable. No one can prove that they are actually descended from Israel, but neither can it be proven that they are not." pg.6
In fact, Judah has a very similar problem in the realm of what is truly knowable and provable, especially in light of modern-day genetics, where both Jewish men and women are represented by many genetic Haplogroups. In reality, this is not that great of a problem. Historically, the assembly of Israel has allowed for and even sought after converts from the nations. We should then expect to see various haplogroup representations. The ongoing question is: which haplogroups literally represent Jacob's Y-Chromosome?
Boaz acknowledges the reality that Jews can largely not be proven to be Jews also, but tries to make a distinction.
"These two un-provables should not be equivocated though. The Jewish people, whether through rabbinic conversion or assumed genealogical decent, have an unbroken chain of continuity with Jewish ancestry, and ancestry which has been transmitted by community identity. The Two-House Israelite does not. The fact that a Jewish person cannot produce a genealogy reaching back to Jacob does not validate a non-Jew’s supposition that he is descended from Israel." pg.13
The prophet Hosea actually indicated that Ephraim would become "not a people" and then later become "a people" again. Hosea never alludes to the possibility that Jew-dah would ever succumb to a similar fate. In fact, Jew-dah has miraculously maintained her social identity as "Jewish" in spite of much assimilation pressure while in exile. So I agree the Jews have less of a "burden" of proof than does Ephraim, but the substance of the provability problem is still largely a very similar issue. And there are many anti-semitic groups out there that actually argue that the Jews are not true Jews precisely because of the genetic disparity that has been found within those Jews who have been genetically tested.
Note: in my view, many of the people who were not Jewish but converted to Judaism over the last 2,000 years were actually Ephraimites or related to the Lost Ten Tribes in some way (excluding Edomites, Hittites, etc). The Khazars are one notable national conversion example which just happened to be in the general Median region where the Lost Ten Tribes were originally deported to, hence the Ashkenazi Jewish population likely has more of an Ephraimite mixture than does the Sephardi.
In the following quote, Boaz questions a common identity claim made by Ephraimites.
"Since the prophets predict that Israel’s return to Torah is part of the Messianic Restoration, they pointed to their call to Torah as evidence that they must be a part of Israel. They must be a part of the prophetic restoration of Israel. Yet for most of these people, their own mother and father, siblings, uncles and aunts and children had no parallel experience whatsoever. They shared no sense of that inner-identity, had no inclination to start keeping Torah whatsoever. Would it not stand to reason that if one’s family was actually Israelite stock that this prophetic restoration would spread across those families?" pg.13-14
Within individual families, this is true. But within national families or ethnic groupings (i.e., Caucasians, Americans, Indians, Koreans, Japanese, etc), there is an intriguing and apparent sub-conscious awakening that DOES confirm these types of identity claims. I personally have not used such a claim to support my own perceptions of Ephraim, but those who have mysteriously developed an affinity toward the Jewish people and the Torah without knowing the evidence, for them I can not deny that there may be some supernatural manifestation that is occurring on a global scale which is actually being driven by the Spirit of the Father.
To Boaz's credit, I greatly appreciate his view regarding the general absence of replacement theology within the Two House movement. I've fought that battle extensively with Two House critics...
"One would be hard pressed to find one individual in the Two-House movement that would boldly state that they have replaced and are now physical Israel—whereas there are many churches and Christians denominations that fund and support the Messianic movement that do believe and support this false teaching." pg.15
Ultimately, Boaz considers the Two-House movement to be simply a by-product of Messianic Judaism's rejection of Christian Gentiles wanting to observe Torah.
"Though First Fruits of Zion is not ready to endorse the particulars of the Two-House theology, we are able to understand why the teaching arose and why it makes sense to those within the movement. In my conversations with Ephraimites, I have heard the same story, told in one form or another, countless times. Over and over again, I have heard of how non-Jewish believers originally participating in Messianic Judaism were sent away, told that the Torah was not for them. In so doing, they have disenfranchised a large number of non-Jewish believers who are seeking out their biblical roots in an attempt to return to a purer form of our faith." pg.6
To some degree, he seems correct in this estimation. But a reality is a reality no matter how one spins the reality... even if the spinsters are the ones who actually represent the reality (or rather, mis-represent the reality which they represent).
I know that was a confusing statement. Let me explain.
If Ephraim truly became "the fullness of the nations" as Genesis 48:19 indicates he would, then Ephraim exists as a great multitude irrespective of how he is awakening to a desire for Torah life currently. Non-Israelites have been drawn to Israelites and to the Light of Torah since the time they were held captive in Egypt. So that general experience and interest cannot really be indicative of genetic Israelite realities. Instead, Ephraimites are awakening to their identity the very way Yeshua and Hosea indicated they would and at the stage or timeframe expected. Their desire for Torah, in my view, is simply a part of the prophetic timeline where the repentance would come after the Prodigal realizes who he is. The goyim that the Prodigal joined himself to (Luke 15:15) may also repent and just MAYBE this is by Heaven's design. Regardless, the movement is not what Boaz suggests... where "Christian Gentiles" are succumbing to some delusional false-identity that is simply a by-product of Jew-dah's rejection of them. In fact, Jew-dah's rejection is indeed real and has only helped in creating a distinguishable barrier between the two groups instead of allowing for more unity to manifest... making the "Two House reality" even more pronounced. This too seems to be by design. The Prodigal Son parable indicates the older brother remains estranged from his younger rebellious brother until after the Father goes out to His lost son, to restore him.
Ephraim and Jew-dah could be one in Torah and Messiah (the Living Torah), and ultimately they will be, but such is not the case yet (at least such is not broadly manifesting yet). And this is actually what the prophets predicted. Israel and Jew-dah are still separate in Jeremiah 31:31. They are separate entities in Jeremiah 50. They are separate in Ezekiel 37. This means they are primarily not mixed together currently, although there has been some intermingling over the ages.
In a couple places, Boaz tries to paint the Two-House movement as something "new" and in its developing stages... which he tries to allude to as the possible cause for the conflicting and/or difficult language used to describe the Two House movement by individuals within the movement itself. This too is a proper, but incomplete estimation. I would rather describe the phenomenon in this way: The "Two House Reality" is nothing new, but something very ancient. The state of one of the Houses (the Prodigal) currently awakening is somewhat new. And just like any person waking up, 100% coherency should not be expected when asked questions like "Who are you and what proof do you have?" and "Why have you been sleeping so long and why are you in my house?"
Even though many parts of Ephraim are still asleep, there is some leadership that is speaking coherently and accurately regarding who Ephraim is legitimately... and they have MUCH more than delusional insecurity as supporting evidence. I hope Boaz and his colleagues will eventually accept this, but the great thing about realities is the fact that they are real even when denied by intellectuals unwilling to allow their paradigm to be shifted.
- Two-House Theology (Reality) defined and defended
- Two-House Teaching defuses Anti-Semitism
- 10 Reasons the Jews are from Judah
- History and Time-line of 10-Israel and Judah
- 10-Israel and Judah in Scripture