Abraham was ninety-nine years old when God entered into a covenant with him. It is an everlasting covenant that continued through Abraham’s son Isaac and grandson Jacob (Genesis 17:7, 21). God changed Jacob’s name to Israel, blessed him and his descendants, and reaffirmed the covenant that He had made with Abraham (Genesis 35:10-12). Israel went on to have 12 sons and the families of these 12 sons became the 12 tribes of Israel.
Israel’s historical journey was a tumultuous one. After being delivered from Egyptian bondage by Moses, they wandered the wilderness for 40 years before being delivered to the land that God had promised them. After settling in the promised land, Israel went through periods of obedience and disobedience to God’s instructions. During this time, God raised up ‘judges’ to lead the Israelites and restore them to Godly living whenever they had strayed. Then, at the people’s request, God appointed ‘kings’ to rule over them (1 Samuel 8:5, 9:17).
It was during the rule of the kings that the Israelites were split into two kingdoms. The tribes of Benjamin and Judah formed the southern kingdom under the rule of Rehoboam, whilst the remaining ten tribes formed the northern kingdom under the rule of Jeroboam.
Although the tribes of Benjamin and Judah have largely kept their identity as the Jewish people throughout the ages, the remaining 10 tribes of Israel were scattered throughout the world and have lost their identity as Israelites (Amos 9:9, Jeremiah 31:10).
God chose Israelites as special people (Exodus 19:5-6). His commitment to them was eternal and He promised to bless them for a thousand generations (Deuteronomy 7:6-12). God’s covenants with Israel continue to stand and God declares that they will never be revoked (Jeremiah 31:35-37, Psalm 105:7-11).
Jesus Christ came and established two great commissions on earth. The Gospel of Luke describes His dual role as ‘a light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel’ (Luke 2:32). Before Jesus died, He commissioned His twelve disciples to go and find the lost Israelites (Matthew 10:5-6, James 1:1) so that they could be brought back into their covenant relationship with God.
Up until the death and resurrection of Jesus, soul salvation was a gift given only to the Israelites through the covenant made with Moses (Leviticus 17:11, Exodus 30:16, John 4:22). By contrast, throughout this period, the Gentiles were without God and the gift of soul salvation (Ephesians 2:11-12).
After His death, Jesus went to prepare a place (heaven) for all souls that believed in Him (John 14:2-3). He then commissioned Paul the Apostle to preach the Kingdom of Heaven to all those who were not Israelites, opening up the gift of soul salvation to all mankind.
Not forgetting those who had died in the ages before He came, Jesus went and preached to them in their graves, giving them an opportunity to accept Him as the Son of God, and to thus have their souls saved (1 Peter 3:18, 4:6, Matthew 27:52-53, 2 Timothy 2:18).
With the Gentiles now able to receive soul salvation by grace (by accepting Jesus and His resurrection – Romans 10:9-10), many have concluded that there is no difference between the Israelites and the Gentiles. However, God has not forgotten His chosen people. In Romans 9:4 we read that the covenants belong to Israel, and this is also stated in Jeremiah 31:31 and Hebrews 8:8, where we read of a new covenant that God will make with them. This is a covenant of obedience to God, the law being placed in their hearts and minds, and they being led by Christ and the Holy Ghost. It is also a covenant where God will remember their sins no more (Isaiah 1:18, Revelation 7:14).
In God’s first covenant with Abraham, God promised a gift to the Israelites: the land of Canaan. Under the new covenant, God again promises a gift to the Israelites – the reward of having their mortal bodies made immortal, like Jesus, at Jesus Christ’s return, but without seeing death. This is the greater work that Jesus spoke of in John 14:12.
These two gifts or glories are spoken of in the Bible as incorruptible (soul salvation after the death of the body) and immortal (life of the body without death). Jesus spoke of both glories in John 11:25-26, as did Paul the Apostle in 1 Corinthians 15:52-54.
Just as other parts of the Bible differentiate between the Israelites and other tribal groups (Isaiah 44:5), so too does the book of Revelation. Revelation describes the end times and glorious rewards that will be bestowed by Jesus Christ on His return (Revelation 22:12).
Revelation 7:4-8 speaks specifically of 144,000 sealed of God from the twelve tribes of Israel. This group is then distinguished from a separate group – a great multitude – being all those who have accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour. Revelation 14:1-4 also describes the 144,000 as being the remnant of Israel who are redeemed from among men as the first fruits unto God and the Lamb.
Paul the Apostle, knowing God’s plan, explained how the dead shall be raised to a spiritual glory, and how others who are mortal shall put on immortality (1 Corinthians 15:52-53). To receive this immortality, these people will need to be alive at Christ’s return and have honoured the law and gospel (John 8:51, Matthew 5:17-19). God will then remove their sin (Romans 11:26-27) and fulfil the covenant by restoring again the Kingdom of God to them (Acts 1:6).
Christian Israelites embrace the instruction of Hebrews 6:1, which tells us to ‘leave the principles of the doctrine of Christ (the focus on soul salvation)’ and ‘go on unto perfection (immortality – being changed at Jesus Christ’s return to be made like Him without seeing death)’.
The Bible provides irrefutable proof that a remnant of Israel will fulfil God’s promises and be saved (Isaiah 10:21-22, 11:11-12, Jeremiah 31:10, 32:37-38, Micah 5:8, Romans 9:27, 11:26).
God promised to gather Israel under a new covenant in readiness for the return of Jesus Christ. This covenant for Israel was prophesied in both the Old and New Testaments (Jeremiah 31:31, Isaiah 59:21, Hebrews 8:8). It combines a willingness to be obedient to God’s laws and commands as established in the Old Testament, and as preached by Jesus Christ. Jesus announced His fulfilment of the sacrificial law (Matt 5:17-19), and then went on to say that the remainder of the law would continue until heaven and earth passed away.
In 1822 the prophet John Wroe was called by Jesus Christ to go out into the world and call the lost tribes of Israel back into a covenant relationship with God. John received many visions and teachings from the Lord, and was instructed to renew the covenant with the lost tribes of Israel and act as an ensign to draw Israel out from the world. The new covenant that was prophesied in both Jeremiah 31:31 and Hebrews 8:8 was re-established at this time.
The Christian Israelite Church continues today as a group of believers who accept Jesus Christ as the Messiah, who feel called to be of the lost tribes of Israel, and who hope to be made immortal at Christ’s return, without seeing death.
Scripture quotations are taken from the King James Version of the Holy Bible.