National Israel and Judah

The following questions and answers are specific points regarding the fulfilment of God's promises to National Israel and Judah. For more information, please check out our Bible Studies page where you will find a number of articles on the modern identity of the twelve tribes of Israel. 

  1. What Does the Topic of National Israel Mean?
  2. Why is National Israel important?
  3. What national promises are there in the Bible?
  4. What are some of the clues the Bible gives us on the whereabouts of Israel today?
  5. Were the promises not fulfilled in the Jews and the modern state of Israel?

1. What Does the Topic of National Israel Mean?

When the Jews and modern-day Israel are examined as a nation, it soon becomes clear that they do not fulfil the national promises given in the Old Testament by God to the Israelites. This apparent discrepancy led Thomas Paine, one of the instigators of the American Declaration of Independence, to go as far as to reject the Bible as being true. However, we know that God does indeed keep His promises. Thus we must gain a deeper understanding of the national promises which have been given to Israel, and we must seek out where these promises are fulfilled.

For example, in Genesis, when God called Abraham, He gave him a blessing. "... a father of nations have I made thee ... I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee ..." (GENESIS 17:5-6). This blessing was passed from Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. Now Jacob had twelve sons, and when it came time for him to pass on the blessing, he divided the promises. To Judah he gave the promise of kingship: "The sceptre shall not depart form Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come ..." (GENESIS 49:10). To Joseph's sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, he promised greatness. Manasseh would become a great nation, but Ephraim would become "greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations" (GENESIS 48:19).

When David became king of all Israel, it was the fulfilment of God's promise to Judah. God also promised David that there would always be a member of his family on the throne. "… David shall never want a man to sit upon the throne of the house of Israel" (JEREMIAH 33:17).

After the death of King Solomon, Israel was divided into two kingdoms. The two southern tribes, Judah and Benjamin, together with the tribe of Levi, were called the Kingdom of Judah, and remained under the rule of David's descendants. The northern 10 tribes, called Israel, completely rebelled against God and were taken into captivity by the Assyrians. Later, Judah also rebelled against God and were taken into captivity by the Babylonians. Some of the people of Judah had the opportunity to return from Babylon, but the people of Israel were dispersed and never returned (see Figure 1).

Figure 1: Israel's Wanderings Figure 1:Israel's Wanderings

Where are the promises of God regarding kingship and nationhood fulfilled? Where is the fulfilment of the promises given to Abraham? If we study history and the Biblical prophecies regarding National Israel and Judah we will see all God's promises have indeed come to pass. The Israelites and the descendants of the southern kingdom of Judah can be found today in Great Britain and her Commonwealth, the United States of America and the countries of Northern Europe. To remain ignorant of this topic means that much of the Bible will remain hidden, as much of God's work among the nations is the fulfilment of Scriptural prophecy.

2. Why is National Israel important?

“We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts” (2 PETER 1:19).

A correct understanding of prophecy is not important for your salvation, however it is important for several other reasons. It allows us “light” until Jesus comes back – giving us understanding of current events as they unfold. Prophecy also bolsters our faith in God and His perfect Word. If prophecy can be shown to be 100% accurate over time, it certainly can be used to convert people and show them the infallibility of the Word of God. So although knowledge of such subjects bears no influence on a person’s salvation, it does play a very important role.

Just to give you an example. In EZEKIEL 38-39 we learn that Gog and Magog will attack Israel. Will the modern land in Palestine be attacked, as many assume? That is quite possible, but Ezekiel prophecies that the enemy will invade a land “of unwalled villages”, a land “having neither bars nor gates” (EZEKIEL 38:11). That hardly fits Palestine! But it does describe North America very well!

Knowing who Israel is today, we get a better understanding of history. Another example is a prophecy made in JEREMIAH 31:31-33 (and repeated in HEBREWS 8:6-13) that God will make a new covenant with Israel: “I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to me a people.” God speaks about a people here, not individual believers! It is hardly a coincidence that Protestantism was embraced in Great Britain, Scandinavia, North Germany and Holland – the exact same countries the people of Israel live in today!

3. What national promises are there in the Bible?

Here are some of the national promises listed:

God promised that Israel would be very populous

  • Make your seed as the dust of the earth - GENESIS 13:16; GENESIS 28:14
  • Abram’s seed as the stars of heaven in number - GENESIS 22:17; GENESIS 15:5; GENESIS 26:4
  • I will multiply thee exceedingly - GENESIS 17:2; GENESIS 26:24; GENESIS 48:4
  • Multiply thy seed as the sand on the seashore - GENESIS 22:17; GENESIS 32:12
  • Rebekah to be mother of thousands of millions - GENESIS 24:60

Israel would consist of several nations

  • A Father of many nations - GENESIS 17:4-5
  • I will make nations of thee - GENESIS 17:6
  • Kings shall come out of thee - GENESIS 17:5; GENESIS 35:11
  • A great and mighty nation to come from Abraham - GENESIS 18:18
  • Jacob to become a multitude of people - GENESIS 28:3; GENESIS 32:12; GENESIS 48:4
  • A nation and a company of nations to be of Jacob - GENESIS 35:11
  • Manasseh to be a Great People - GENESIS 48:19
  • Ephraim to be a Multitude of nations - GENESIS 48:19

Israel would be very influential

  • Seed to possess the gate of his enemies - GENESIS 22:17; GENESIS 24:60

The promises would be fulfilled in the last days

  • Promises to be fulfilled in Last Days - GENESIS 49:1

Which nation - or rather which nations fulfill the above promises?

4. What are some of the clues the Bible gives us on the whereabouts of Israel today?

1) They will be without a king for a long time.
HOSEA 3:4: They shall abide many days without a king.

2) The throne will be in the sea and the people will rule over the sea.
2 SAMUEL 7:10: "And move no more". So Israel was to finally possess land.
HOSEA 12:1: Follow after the east wind = towards the west.
PSALM 89:25: I will set David's hand (= Sceptre) into the sea; his throne is to be in the sea, and he will control the sea-routes.

3) This land is to the north-west of Israel.
ISAIAH 49:3,6: In reference to Israel (Jacob).
ISAIAH 49:12: From far and from the north and from the west = north-west (there is no Hebrew word for north-west).

4) It is on a far-away island.
JEREMIAH 31:9-10: In the isles "afar off".

When you take a map of Europe and draw a straight line from Jerusalem to the North West, through the European continent to the sea, and then on to the isles in the sea - you come straight to the British Isles!

5. Were the promises not fulfilled in the Jews and the modern state of Israel?

It is true that “Salvation is of the Jews” (JOHN 4:22). But, addressing the Jews, Jesus told them, “The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof” (MATTHEW 21:43).

That nation would be “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (MATTHEW 10:6; MATTHEW 15:24). Jesus commanded His disciples not to “finish going through the cities of Israel, until the Son of Man comes.” (MATTHEW 10:23)

Even the Jews back then knew where the Israelites lived. They said among themselves: “Whither will he go, that we shall not find him? Will he go unto the dispersed among the Gentiles, and teach the Gentiles?” (JOHN 7:35)

Also the apostles knew where the Israelites lived. James introduces his letter “to the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad” (JAMES 1:1).

Israel was only ever a small nation. Even the modern state of Israel is only maintained through America’s support. Many promises just don’t fit, e.g. ...
“God give thee the dew of heaven, and the fatness of the earth, and plenty of corn and wine. Let people serve thee and nations bow down to thee; cursed be every one that curseth thee and blessed be he that blesseth thee” (GENESIS 27:28-29).

Neither the Israel of old nor the modern state of Israel ever

  • became a great and mighty nation;
  • was called great;
  • would form a nation and a company of nations;
  • would have great numbers of people;
  • possess the gates of her enemies;
  • etc.