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).

MapFigure 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.