Questions and Answers
Excerpts from Hard-Hitting and Hard-to-Answer Questions at our ďLost TribesĒ conference.
Editor: I wanted to name this section ďKnock Down and Drag outĒ! Ė but that title, though may be attention grabbing, would NOT have been descriptive. The discussions were run according to Ė well, here it is in John Stembridgeís own words:
When we set up our yeshiva in Miami, we had Jews and Christians from all different persuasions. You can imagine there were some with very strong held beliefs and systems. So we had to put down some guidelines. Those guidelines were these:
Whatever given topic weíre discussing at any time weíve met, everybody around the table was free to come at that particular teaching from their own advantage point, their own perspective, from their own understanding. So here is the rule: when each of us would speak to that issue, it would be like weíd say, ďThis is my position today. This is what I hold to. This is what I believe. But if you have been blessed, if you have a greater revelation or a greater insight to the truth than I now have, or that I am now walking in, Iíll gladly exchange my weaker position for the stronger one that God has given to you.
So that way nobody had to be afraid of being intimidated, or being put down if they didnít come up with the position that the whole body could agree with. And itís helped us. It stands the test of time. Itís courteous. Women also are treated as ladies should be. Thatís the way to go about these studies. Itís carnel and accomplishes nothing to get angry.
Question, Answers, Discussions begin:
Doug: I fully agree with that. Hereís my question: From what Iíve been hearing in this morningís session, you feel that out of Christianity youíre going to find the 10 lost tribes of Israel. Is that what youíre saying?
Ben: Yes, what we mean to say is that the leadership of the 10 lost tribes is in the hands of the Christian world right now.
Doug: Where would you differentiate between that and Gentile believers? Where do you break the line?
Ben: Letís try to draw an analogy here: the United States since its existence is basically Anglo-Saxon. Now, are all Americans Anglo-Saxons? No! There are exceptions. Among those who came from England are others who helped establish this country. It means that the leadership holding this country together, has been largely in the hand of the Anglo-Saxons.
In a similar way, the 10 lost tribes might be identified. Theyíre not all identified, for the time has not come, but they are mostly within Christianity. But that doesnít mean that all Christians are descendants of the 10 tribes.
Doug: Are you saying that all the 10 tribes are Christians?
Ben: I would say the majority Ė again Ė itís like the Anglo-Saxons in the United States, but the Anglo-Saxon live in England, in Australia, in Jerusalem and everywhere else.
Doug: In what your
belief is, and in the things that you are dealing with here, where do you
differ from ďBritish-IsraelĒ?
Ben: . . .they are like
two different doctrines, British-Israel and the 10 lost tribes which we were
teaching today, but I believe that there is a strong connection between the
two of them. Armstrong and other people have a huge biography and even names
each of the tribes in leadership of a country. For example, he says that
Britain is being ruled by Ephraim, and America is being ruled by Manasseh,
France by Reuben, Issachar - the Swiss, Gad is Sweden, etc.
This is based on a lot of historical facts and books are written about it. But we here today are interested in sticking to the Bible.
[Then followed discussion and different opinions as to when the reunion of the two kingdoms was/will be. The questioner saying they all came back with Judah and became ďone stickĒ (Ezekiel 37:20-21) at that time. He, therefore, felt there is now no ďlost tribesĒ. He pointed out that the words ďten lost tribesĒ is not actually in the Bible.]
Part of Benís reply was: The Ezekiel passage here is of the two nations that are going to gather together. ďI will purify them from their sins. They will be my nation and my servant David will be the king over them.Ē This is still going to happen. Itís not something thatís happened before, is it?
Doug: The way I view prophecy: I believe itís an on-going thing from the time that they returned from Babylon. That was the beginning. What joins them together is the land when they come into it. I donít see anywhere that it speaks of God re-establishing the social system of 12 tribes. He talks about them being one in the land with one leader from the house of David. And I see that coming about in a physical natural way in the land of Israel today, because for the most part, those who have returned to Israel donít know their tribal roots. Some have records, but most do not. There is no tribal division and to say that the 3-million-plus Israelis who have returned are all the house of Judah, I just canít do that. I see it as all Israel coming back. He says He will gather the whole house of Israel.
Chris: May I say, that with the Kingdom of Judah after the split, were people who did not want to belong to the northern kingdom. I can give you the Scripture references showing that there were some from ALL the tribes that joined with Judah then. However, most of the other 10 tribes were carried away captive by the Assyrian leader. When he [Pilag Pileaser] brought other people into the land of Israel, the northern kingdom, he was told that they did not know the God of the land. Then he brought back some Levites to teach the pagan inhabitants about the God of Israel. This shows that some Levites [who were the priestly tribe living among all the other tribes] had been carried away into Assyria. From Assyria, history tells us, many of these from the 10 tribes migrated into Europe.
There is something to consider carefully in Ezekiel 37 about the two sticks: The Lord told Ezekiel to take one stick and write on it Judah AND for the children of Israel his companions; then take another stick and write upon it, for Joseph, the stick of Ephraim and for all the house of Israel and his companions. (V.16) So there definitely are two sticks of the two kingdoms and both have ďcompanionsĒ from the other tribes.
John: If I understand his question, heís really searching and thatís what we are all doing. We are all learning, and hope that one day weíll become really teachers of pure Truth. But concerning the tribes: there were several things that helped me, Doug, in my studies and inquiries. No. 1: Isaiah 49 that I referenced earlier where the smallest part of our assignment was the restoration of the tribes of Jacob [because the larger view is the restoration of all the earth].
The other thing that helped me: the Holy Spirit knows what, where and who the tribes are, but He wants us to inquire. Now, we know how many tribes there are and these include Joseph who had two tribes, Ephraim and Manasseh. Israel Ė Jacob - put the blessing on the sons who became the tribes. He blessed all 11 sons, but when he came to Joseph, it was different. He didnít put the blessing on Joseph alone, but on his 2 sons. There is a spiritual connotation and meaning behind that blessing. Why did Joseph get two tribes while the others got only one? Because he was the son who really got revelation from God his whole life. Those 11 hated Joseph, sold him into slavery, killed an animal, put the blood on his coat and took it to their father saying, ďA wild animal killed your sonĒ Ė the one that Israel loved. This is a very horrible sin. But we learn that in the sovereignty of God, Joseph was separated from the rest for the salvation of those who hated him. Itís a beautiful story.
So Joseph got a double blessing to all the others and if you study that blessing, Israel (Jacob) the father, put the name of Israel on those two tribes of Joseph.
Doug: what significance are you putting on that?
John: Well, The Name of Israel.
Doug: And thatís all there is of Israel? That the rest of them ó ó
John: No! No! Iím not saying that.
Doug: Thatís what Iím asking. Iím wanting to understand what the significance of that is.
John: It IS significant.
Doug: In what way?
John: It is significant because Ephraim as we read here today is his firstborn. God calls Ephraim His firstborn.
Doug: He also calls Israel His firstborn.
John: Yes, thatís true. But again what weíre dealing with is trying to track. Thatís all weíre trying to do. But how do we track it? As he said, the kingdom was divided Ė the two kingdoms after Solomon, Rehoboam/Judah; Jeroboam/Ephraim or Israel.
And the Book of Hosea: I think it was Richard, referenced that this morning. And in Hosea He said that He would scatter the seed of Ephraim among the goyim [Gentiles, nations]. Ephraim represents the 10 tribes because Ephraim was the largest part.
Ben: And because Jeroboam was the king of the north and he came from the tribe of Ephraim. Always, the leadership remains in the hand of Ephraim. Exactly the same, the House of Judah was led by David who was of Judah. That was the leadership. We have to look at it as leadership.
And youíre asking a good question: how will you be able to identify? Well, just about two years ago, they came up with genetic analysis and they found out ó ó
Doug: Thatís kind of anti-Semitic, isnít it Ė that the Jews have a different DNA than the rest of us?
Ben: You think itís anti-Semitic?
Doug: Yeah, I do. Itís just like saying the Jews are smarter, the Jews are more wealthy and the Jews are different, the Jews have bigger noses and they are different than we are, so letís get rid of them.
Ben: But thatís not the ultimate primary purpose as you know. You know you have to look at it from a different standpoint. Let me give you an analogy. Suppose we sign an agreement right now with a third party. And we have to fulfill our commitment, but we hide for 20 years. Theyíre coming after us and they get us; they identify you and me, and him, and him, and him. Are you going to call it anti-Semitism? This is a commitment that God made in a covenant to the children of Israel. Itís a commitment on both sides. And God is saying, ďIím going to hold you to that commitment, to that covenant.Ē In order to do that He has to identify the body. He has to identify who are the people whose father and forefathers made that commitment? And because He is so loyal to His Word, He says to you, ďIím going to pick you up from wherever you are.Ē How you think Heís going to do it?
Doug: Just by bringing them back.
Ben: Well, are you going to call it anti-Semitism?
Doug: No, thatís not what Iím saying. What I was getting at was: isnít this thing about DNA in Jewish people being different than the rest of us ó it sounds like another blood libel or poisoning in Rome to me, that some anti-Semitic came up with.
Ben: The Jewish people have an unique thing in their genetics, but that doesnít mean the Dutch, etc. doesnít have something special, too. But weíre just not trying here to investigate others.
Doug: Why investigate the Jews?
Ben: Well, I believe thereís a purpose in that. I really believe that according to the Word of God, those have to be identified.
Doug: You feel that there has to be some natural identification, rather than by the Spirit? Thatís what Ezekiel is about. He tells those in the second order to prophecy. When he ďblewĒ on them, the breath, the Spirit of God came into them.
John: I believe everyone here is in an honest inquirer and none of us is dogmatic to the extent we are not open. Youíve evidently taken a look at it. Letís take the question back to you where are you in your studies in the realm of didactic tracking? In your studies of it, how have you approached this issue of all the tribes Ė if you donít want to say ď10 lost tribesĒ.
Doug: Prophecy takes time to fulfill. It took almost 2,000 years for things to come about for Israel to become a state, but the prophecy was a thousand years before it was going to happen. And it began happening. Israel began to become a free state in 71 A.D. As soon as it fell, it began to come back, but it took all that time Ė if you understand what Iím saying? When the whole house of Israel returned out of Babylon ó those that God brought by His Spirit out of Babylon ó itís my feeling that, that was the beginning of the fulfillment of that prophecy. That the kingdom would no longer be divided; they would be one nation under one leader, under one king. And that prophecy still comes down till today as they continue to return.
To me itís a mute subject as to who the 10 tribes are, as to who Judah is or who Benjamin is. But the subject that interests me is how God is going to bring them all into the land and bless them all as one nation.
Ben: Yes, and the big question is, could we see ourselves as a part of Israel?
Doug: Can I give you my feelings on that also? Iím going to quote Paul a lot. First of all, he says that we were Gentiles, it doesnít say we were Israel. He says you were without God in the world and you were outside the commonwealth of Israel, so that leaves me out of all that. It makes me a goy [Gentile].
He also says that because of their unbelief, mercy has come to me. If I am merciful, then mercy will come to them. He also tells me that through the Messiah of Israel and my belief in Him, by the Spirit of adoption, I have become partaker of the commonwealth of Israel. He also says that Iím no longer a Gentile when I enter into Christ, but Iím a new creature.
And thatís that Spirit. In essence what youíre saying and what I believe is the same thing. I just go at it from a different direction.
The spiritual things that have come down to us Gentiles by the Messiah of Israel, must be added to that natural body of Israel in order to bring life to most of us. For we who have the Spirit without the Law, if I can use some terms as Paul used, will become drunk if all we have is the Spirit. Weíll not have our equilibrium and will lose our balance. On the other hand, those who have only the Law and have not the spirit of it, will die from lack of water. Theyíll dehydrate.
I just donít see it as any of us being Israelis Ė Israelites or whatever word you want to say Ė blood wise. But by the Spirit of adoption, by the Father of us all, Iíve been made one with you and youíve been made one with me in the things of the family. We are one family. Thatís how I look at it.
Howard: When I was a child and weíd sing or talk about Jerusalem, I felt something bubbling in me at just the mention of Jerusalem ó ó Many things were BY promise and then it was THROUGH the promise Ė through the seed that was promised Abraham. . . Christ gave us a new and living way to enter into heaven itself, not just the pattern he gave Moses in the wilderness. Weíre children of faith and itís THROUGH faith now, not by faith. Iím thankful for where the Lord has brought us to, and so has made a way so we can enter right into heaven itself in a new and living way, under a new priesthood, an endless life. The Holy Land is for the Holy and they are the only ones that will abide and remain in the land. God made us to walk uprightly, thatís righteousness, to walk uprightly before Him. He made us in the image and likeness of Him that we might walk uprightly. These are some of the things I feel and have heavy convictions as Iíve heard it from different teachers.
John: Are you saying that in your level of faith at this point in your life, that we can throw away the prophecies of the regathering; that they are not important? You mentioned the resurrection, another R word in the Bible is restoration. On the day of Shavous [Pentecost] the Apostle Peter gave something very interesting: that the heavens must retain the Messiach. He is like locked Ė the Messiah is locked in heaven until the other ďRĒ word Ė the restoration of ALL things.
Ben: What is the conflict that Christians have among themselves? When you talk about Christians just exactly what do you mean?
Doug: Do you have three or four hours?
Ben: If the prescription is there and itís as clear as the day, how come we have so much conflicts? If you believe in Jesus and you trust in him, then the truth comes out. So how come thereís so many truths?
[More Good humored Laughter]
Doug: Simple. The eye cannot see what the heart wishes it to be.
Ben: Iím not running any body down; we donít have it differently among the Jews. But from you it sounds beautiful. Howard says, ďI was telling you what I feel from my heart.Ē
Weíre dealing here, however, with something that is more corporate. We are trying to look more for an overall solution. And yet the more people who are joining, the more denominations, the more groups and different doctrines we have. Weíre trying to find the base of our coexistence together. Thatís where it is. And I feel very, very strongly that it is there. I feel that true Christianity that started about 2,000 years ago, came forth from Judaism, started from there; that all these apostles that are written in the New Testament were all Jewish people. And I do believe this is the word of God, but we are going to take a step further into it:
The prophecy says in Isaiah 56:3: ĎLet not the foreigner that joined himself to the LORD say he is separated from the people. . . those who keep the Sabbath and grasp the covenant tightly will have a place of honor and never be terminated for my house shall be called the house of prayer for all the people. . . .í
So in answer to your question. We are not trying to separate ourselves. Weíre just trying to understand what is Godís plan. The question is this: when He locates His people who made that commitment, He takes care of His part of the commitment and gather them back everyone of them who will come. This is commitment and He wants to fulfill that commitment. Then at that time, it says, a lot of foreigners will join with the Jews. Heís not trying to separate them from His people, but Heís trying to distinguish them so the people will know that whatever He committed to, He did. Now at that point He doesnít have a problem with other people joining them, but He wants to be committed to bringing every one of them from around the nations to the land of Israel.
The purpose we are looking at is to fulfill the commitment on our part, to fulfill the Word of God. Thatís what itís all about.
John: What had happened in the Temple at the time of Yeshua? They were buying and selling, the priesthood was corrupt and when He overthrew the money changers in the Temple, He quoted from Isaiah when God said, ďMy house shall be a house of prayer for all nations.Ē Not just one ethnic group. Nations could also be ethnic groups. In other words, God is interested in every person. And Israel is called to be a lamp and a light to all the nations.
Ephraim are the ones who did not keep their identity as Jews, as Israelites. They scattered their seed in Asia, in Africa, in the Middle East. I have a little problem limiting Abrahamís seed only to Christianity. Hosea said he was going to scatter that seed among all the goyim. There are those everywhere today with Abrahamís seed.
But Iím not nervous over that either because I believe God knows where each Ďseedí is. And at His appointed time that spiritual shofar blast will go out to wherever and however they have lived, and like a magnet, there is something in them thatís going to awaken and gravitate to Zion.
To me the litmus test is ďHe will gather all who will gather.Ē And in Zechariah for every Jew that comes, there will be 10 non-Jews.
Doug: I think itís important that they all come back, but I donít think the differentiation is important.
Ben: Doug, do you believe. Letís just go over Ė letís talk about your situation for a second. From what I understood, you feel that you are a Gentile.
Doug: I WAS a Gentile.
Ben: At the time of Jesus, heís talking about Jews and Gentiles or is He talking about Israel? What is he talking about?
Polly: Jesus said, ďIím come to the lost sheep of Israel . . . and that they might be one as I and the father are one. . . Other sheep I have . . .Ē Many times Jesus alluded to it and not only that, in John 11:49-52, the High Priest Caiaphos prophesied that He would come and ďdie for the nation and not for that nation only, but that also He should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad.Ē
I think by and large the church has not realized all the role of Messiah. In Isaiah 49 ďmy servantĒ was understood by the ancient rabbis, the ancient theologians as a Messianic Scripture. That the Messiah is His Servant. And one of the roles of Messiah is to gather together all the children of God and the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
Ben: But Heís doing it
Polly: Yes, He IS doing it.
Doug: I donít have any problem with anything you all are talking about.
Polly: Let me finish; Iíve been waiting about an hour! Actually most of our translations says Ephraim shall become a multitude of nations, but the Hebrew says, ďthe fullness of the GentilesĒ. And as far as I can ascertain the only other time this expression is used, is in Romans 11 when Paul says that when the fullness of the Gentiles is come, then all Israel will be saved. And certainly not one kernel is lost.
Doug: Iím with you all the way.
Richard: What I hear is that we are confused or unclear on where the Gentiles are in relation with Ephraim. In other words, who are the Gentiles? who are the Ephraimites? and are they Gentiles? are they Israel?
Polly: It says that from Ephraim will come the fullness of the Gentiles.
Richard: Right. But itís a little different with some of the other groups with which Iím associated. Some are saying now we are actually physical descendants of Ephraim. And what youíre saying is that we become descendants of, or children of Israel or part of that nation through faith Ė by adoption. So there are two different things. Are they one?
John: I would like to address that. Polly just mentioned one of the prophecies says the seed of Ephraim would be the fullness of the Gentiles. Hosea says God scattered - that seed - among the Goyim [nations, Gentiles]. These are the ones that their seed went among the Gentiles and their children were reared as Gentiles. The point is they donít know that they have Abrahamís seed until some light is shown upon it, then if there is any spark of the faith of Abraham that seed of Abraham will respond to it in this hour.
Doug: Iím understanding more and more what you are saying and what youíre feeling about it, and Iím having less and less problem with that. But I know what youíre saying does to other people who donít take time to question you about what you are saying. It creates British-Israel, which created spiritual Israel, which created replacement theology, which created all these hate groups out here which call themselves white supremacists. They all go back to British-Israel in the late 1800ís. Thatís where they get their doctrine.
John: Well, I tell you, I had trouble with that, too, Before I was elected mayor of North Miami, there was a lady who lived near my store. She was a part of that group; she was a very anti-Semitic person. She hated the Jews and when I, being a very strong lover of Israel, was around her, it was ying and and yang! Sheíd come one way and Iíd come another. And I rejected all that teaching.
Now I am humbling myself and not starting with any preconceptions. Iím taking a honest evaluation and study of those Scriptures. I have great joy and great peace in this regathering.
I see how people are putting their money in the stock market and this, that and the other ó but when I read of the blessing thatís going to come on those who come back and build up the land of Israel and reclaim the land of Israel for the regathering of the tribes. To me, thatís the best bank to put time, money, and my fasting and my prayers into.
As far as theology, Iíve got to allude to some of it. Christianity has wonderful theology in one way, but it has some serious theological problems on the reclaiming, redemption, regeneration of Jerusalem, of the heavens and the earth. The way I understand it, the new heavens and the new earth will come about as in Isaiah 66 when God comes with fire and with sword.
When He came down at Sinai on a little mountain in the Middle East, it was only a limited place in all the earth, but His holiness shook the entire earth. This time weíre told by the prophets, Heís not coming down on just a little mountain in the Middle East; Heís coming down over all the heavens in pure bright fire holiness. The Revelation is kicking the devil out of the heavens down to the earth, and heíll make war on the saints for a little while. But then that holiness is going to come right on down with the warring angels and He is going to kick that source of evil into a pit for a thousand years.
Now, at the end of all that, thereís going to be lot of dead people. The Pharaohs, the Hitlers, the Hamans, the haters are going to be dead (Isaiah 66). Theyíre not even going to be able to look upon the brightness.
So thereís going to be a regeneration. But a lot of Christianity wants to fly away and give this earth over to an anti-christ, a false messiah, a 666, a false prophet and a beast. And when you hear some of these prophets on TV and other programs, by the time you get through hearing them, you are so afraid of the 666, a false messiah and a beast, your faith has taken a big blow. Thereís no where in the Bible where God commands you to be afraid of the devil.
Doug: Iíll identify with that.
John: As mentioned before, on the day of Shavous [Pentecost], the Apostle Peter gives something very interesting: that the heavens must retain the Messhiach. It is like he is locked in heaven until the restoration of ALL things. What has to be restored? Not just man. The heavens have to be restored because thereís demonic powers in the heavens. Thereís problems, a third of them are going to fall out of the sky. Thereís problems in the water, in the earth, in the animal world, the fowl of the air. Why? Because all of them are under the curse, the Adamic curse. We talk a lot about the Abrahamic covenant. We donít say much about the Adamic curse. The Adamic curse is that whoever sins, dies. Thatís a curse. So what has to be restored? Everything!
In other words, a lot of Christianity wants to give over to the new age the cleaning up the heavens and the earth. I reject that totally. Because if anybody is going to be the cleanup crew, it should be every Spirit-filled Jew, Arab and Gentile on the face of the earth that loves the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Our fathers and our mothers from Adam and Eve have polluted the air and the water, the earth, the hearts and minds of men with their perversions and everything. Itís our generation that hears the knock and lets HaShem into our hearts to sup with us and us with Him ó and who are going to be that cleanup crew. We have to be involved in the restoration.
What does restoring mean? Right now a lion will eat a lamb; a snake will poison your child, but the restoration of all things simply means that the Adamic curse is lifted off the heavens, the earth, the beasts of the field, the fish, the fowl. Man will be in league with the animals, Job 5 says. Your child will play with the snake, thereíll not be any more curse. The devil will be put away for a thousand years and eventually be destroyed. Section II