What does it mean to be lost? Does this word describe people who don’t attend church? Are the lost the people who didn’t “invite Jesus into their hearts” in Sunday school? These, modern ideas of what lost means fall tragically short of encompassing the awesome meaning of being “lost” in our Bibles.
Let’s start by considering the following: that Messiah was sent specifically to FIND the LOST.
Matthew 15:24 But he answered and said, “I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
Wait, what was that? We often refer to the “lost,” but we never consider WHAT it is that we’re talking about. We’ve either been taught or just assumed that everybody who doesn’t go to our church is lost, but Messiah said something different here. He used words that aren’t a normal part of our vocabulary. He said that the “lost” are SHEEP of the house of Israel.
Luke 19:9-10 And Yahshua said to him, “This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
Again, Messiah makes mention of salvation coming to “the lost” who was a son of Abraham. So this isn’t some lonely verse taken out of context, but rather an understanding pervasive throughout the Apostles’ letters.
Matthew 10:5-6 These twelve Yahshua sent forth, and commanded them, saying, “Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter not, But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
In this passage, we can see Messiah sending out his Apostles. This is a particularly noteworthy passage because in it, Messiah tells them not to go to the Gentiles, but rather to the lost. He differentiated between “lost” and other non-believers. Now that should come as a big surprise to most of us. Not all unsaved, heathen, non-believing sinners are considered as the “lost” which Messiah came seeking to save!
So it’s kind of like the Venn diagram problems that made us do in abstract math classes:
“All cats are animals, but NOT all animals are cats.”
Likewise, all the “lost” are blind to the gospel, but NOT everybody without the gospel is what Messiah refers to as “lost.”
Remember – the church definition of “lost” means “without salvation.” But what we’re seeing here is that the BIBLE definition is something a little different.
2 Corinthians 4:3-4 But if our gospel is hidden, it is hidden from them that are lost – In whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which believe not, so that the light of the glorious gospel of Messiah, who is the image of YHWH, should shine unto them.
So where did the lost come from? There is actually a Biblical origin of the lost! All the way back in Deuteronomy, we read a prophecy that foretells the disobedience that would cause the people to become “lost,” what “lost” actually MEANS, and HOW the “lost” would be able to become “found” once again. This is a bit of a long passage, but pay attention, and by the end, the expression “lost” should take on a whole new meaning in your mind! This IS the revelation we’re looking for:
Deuteronomy 4:23-31 Take heed of yourselves, that you don’t forget the covenant of YHWH, your Elohim, which he made with you, and make you a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, which YHWH, your Elohim, has forbidden. For YHWH, your Elohim, is a consuming fire, even a jealous god. When you shall have children, and children’s children, and you shall have remained long in the land, and shall corrupt yourselves, and make a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, and shall do evil in the sight of YHWH, your Elohim, to provoke him to anger: I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that you shall soon utterly perish from off the land to where you’re going over Jordan to possess it. you shall not prolong your days upon it, but shall utterly be destroyed. And YHWH shall scatter you among the nations, and you shall be left few in number among the unbelievers, where YHWH shall lead you. And there you shall serve gods, the work of men’s hands, wood and stone, which neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell. But if from there you will seek YHWH, your Elohim, you shall find him, if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. When you are in tribulation, and all these things are come upon you, even in the latter days, if you turn to YHWH, your Elohim, and will be obedient to his voice; (For YHWH, your Elohim, is a merciful god;) he will not forsake you, neither destroy you, nor forget the covenant of your fathers which he swore to them.
Did you get that? For disobedience to the Law YHWH gave us… for violating the covenant that He made with Israel, the Israelites would eventually be scattered… dispersed throughout the world where they would eventually forget their identity and find themselves worshiping strange gods as the people in these host nations do.
But, YHWH is merciful, and He shows us grace! IF we will turn back to Him and obey the laws He gave us, then He is willing to have us back! This is what is called in our Bibles “repentance.”
Ezekiel 37:21-24 This says YHWH, your Elohim: “Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, where they have gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land. And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all. and they shall be no more two nations (Judah and Ephraim), neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all: Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions. but I will save them out of all their dwellingplaces, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their god. And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them.”
(This deliverance and reunification of Israel we just read about is something we call in the New Testament “The Gospel,” but that’s another study altogether.)
So getting back to this “lost sheep of the house of Israel” concept, if Israel is scattered throughout the world and we’ve lost our identity, how do we know who IS part of Israel and really “lost” as opposed to non-Israel Gentiles? Messiah taught us how to tell the difference with a couple of parables:
Luke 8:5-8 A sower went out to sow his seed: and as he sowed, some fell by the way side, and it was trodden down, and the fowls of the air devoured it. And some fell upon a rock, and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up with it, and choked it. And other fell on good ground, and sprang up, and bare fruit a hundredfold.
Good ground? Seed on good ground produces fruit! And it’s funny we should be talking about fruit when it comes to identifying people of Israel scattered throughout the world:
Matthew 7:18-20 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that brings not forth good fruit is cut down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits you shall know them.
This still might seem a little bit arbitrary to some. We can apparently determine by fruits the difference between a false prophet and a true believer, but what exactly are these “fruits?” The following three verses elaborate upon what kind of “fruits” we are looking for – and they are either obedience or disobedience.
So what do you do when somebody opens your Bible and shows you the eternal laws that YHWH asked us to obey? When you saw that all the Prophets and the Messiah and even the Apostles after Messiah’s death continued obeying these same laws, did you repent, or did you rebel?
If you felt that urge deep down to obey and keep learning more, congratulations – you’re Israel, and you’ve now been FOUND!