“Are you a Jew?” I get that a lot, and if you’re reading this study, you either probably already do too, or you will someday. Many Christians in many parts of the world (especially on the Western hemisphere) take it for granted that almost everybody you meet on the street that mentions any kind of god at all is – one of them.
So the second you say something out-of-line like:
“I keep the Sabbath,”
“I obey the ‘Old Testament’ commandments,”
“keep your Christmas present,” or even
“The light turned green already – go you filthy pig-gobbler,”
instantly, the wheels start turning, and the interrogation begins. “You aren’t like me. Not one of us. What are you?”
Tidy, Little Boxes
Don’t we all like things that can be simplified? We tend to try to express everything in terms of lowest common denominators. If you see complex equations on the chalkboard, you may not know the difference between tensor algebra or Riemannian geometry… so you call it MATH.
And we do that with all things. When we aren’t familiar with a breed, we just say “dog.” If their hand is out with their palm facing up – liberal. Hand has a tool in it – conservative. And this is how we turn an infinitely complex world into something we can wrap our pea-brains around.
But what happens when it doesn’t work? There are things that defy general characterization. Well, we tend to resent these things, because they make us feel uncomfortable. They challenge our perceptions that we are all masters of the universe.
And for this reason, we try DESPERATELY to make sure EVERYTHING fits into a box!
And Then There’s Us
Whatever the word “Christian” meant 2,000 years ago, that’s NOT at all what it means today. Now, “Christians” (generally) worship a trinity-god under the (sun) sign of the cross on the first day of the week. They believe the back of the Bible invalided everything in the front. They despise the commandments of their own holy book and rigorously defend instead the commandments of Rome. And, well, MANY of us aren’t that.
So then, maybe we’re Jews? Again, talking about what “Jew” means today, it is generally some subset of the following: They submit to Rabbinical authority. They consider Torah-observance impossible without following Mishnah and Talmud. They follow “oral traditions / law” that was created well after the Books of Moses were concluded. They observe a calendar that is not Torah-compliant. They reject the man Yahshua / Yeshua as being “Messiah ben Joseph.” Again, many of us don’t subscribe to this way of thinking either.
So, there I am (along with some of you): not a Jew, not a Christian, and considered lower than dirt by many practitioners of both of the above.
Now a question: is there actually a PROBLEM with accepting any of the names and labels people try to put on us and encourage us to accept? We’ll get to that at the end, but for now, let’s try to see if we even have a place / name at all in the Scriptures.
So What Are ‘We’
Gen. 41:52 He named the second Ephraim, “For,” he said, “YHWH has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.”
- Joseph had two sons in Egypt (by an Egyptian mother nonetheless), and we are going to follow this name closely…
Gen. 48:8 When Israel saw Joseph’s sons, he said, “Who are these?”
- In the beginning of Ephraim’s life, he wasn’t recognized by his family. I think we’ll come to see that this hasn’t changed very much over time…
Gen. 48:17 When Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on Ephraim’s head, it displeased him; and he grasped his father’s hand to remove it from Ephraim’s head to Manasseh’s head. 18 Joseph said to his father, “Not so, my father, for this one is the firstborn. Place your right hand on his head.” 19 But his father refused and said, “I know, my son, I know; he also will become a people and he also will be great. However, his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his descendants shall become the fullness of nations.”
- Blessed? For sure, but let’s read in a bit more closely: Ephraim was to become the “fullness of nations.” I will also mention that the word “nations” here (Hebrew translit. “goyim”) is actually the same word translated as “Gentiles!” Don’t forget that – it’s going to come in handy later on: what this says here is that Ephraim’s descendants ARE “the fullness of the Gentiles.”
Deut. 28:58 “If you are not careful to observe all the words of this Law which are written in this book, to fear this honored and awesome name, YHWH your god, … 64 YHWH will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth; and there you shall serve other gods, wood and stone, which you or your fathers have not known.
- I know what you’re thinking – there’s no specific mention of Ephraim here. That’s true – this promise was made to ALL of Israel to INCLUDE Ephraim, and later we’ll see how it was FULFILLED with Ephraim as well.
Ezek. 12:8 In the morning the word of YHWH came to me, saying, 9 “Son of man, has not the house of Israel, the rebellious house, said to you, ‘What are you doing?’ 10 “Say to them, ‘Thus says YHWH ELOHIM, “This burden concerns the prince in Jerusalem as well as all the house of Israel who are in it… 15 So they will know that I am YHWH when I scatter them among the nations and spread them among the countries. 16 But I will spare a few of them from the sword, the famine and the pestilence that they may tell all their abominations among the nations where they go, and may know that I am YHWH.”
- After the twelve tribes of Israel divided themselves into two kingdoms, the northern was still called “Israel” and consisted of ten tribes. The southern kingdom was called “Judah” (aka “the Jews”) and consisted of two tribes. The northern kingdom was scattered “among the nations” just as was prophesied above. This northern kingdom, as we are about to see, IS Ephraim!
Ezek. 37:15 The word of YHWH came again to me saying, 16 “And you, son of man, take for yourself one stick and write on it, ‘For Judah and for the sons of Israel, his companions’; then take another stick and write on it, ‘For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim and all the house of Israel, his companions.’ 17 Then join them for yourself one to another into one stick, that they may become one in your hand. 18 When the sons of your people speak to you saying, ‘Will you not declare to us what you mean by these?’ 19 say to them, ‘Thus says YHWH ELOHIM, “Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel, his companions; and I will put them with it, with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they will be one in My hand.”’ 20 The sticks on which you write will be in your hand before their eyes. 21 Say to them, ‘Thus says YHWH ELOHIM, “Behold, I will take the sons of Israel from among the nations where they have gone, and I will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land; 22 and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king will be king for all of them; and they will no longer be two nations and no longer be divided into two kingdoms. 23 They will no longer defile themselves with their idols, or with their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions; but I will deliver them from all their dwelling places in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them. And they will be My people, and I will be their god.’”
- So there are ten tribes of Israel who are LOST. They’ve been scattered throughout the world. They don’t KNOW their genealogies; they were not raised in circumcision. BUT, in the end, they WILL BE GATHERED BACK out of the nations, reunited with their brethren (Judah), and will be restored to the promise. This prophecy isn’t a joke or a mistake – this is very real! But that’s not even the end of the story…
Rom. 11:25 For I do not want you, brethren, to be uninformed of this mystery so that you will not be wise in your own estimation that a partial hardening has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in; 26 and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written…
- Here we are in the New Testament now, and all these centuries later, we find that we are still doing what? Waiting for the “fullness of the Gentiles!” Lost tribes indeed, right? Obviously the end of their story has YET to be told. (And yes, for those who don’t believe the New Testament, we DID already establish this fact in the Book of Ezekiel.) So now let’s get one last look at this waiting game we’re so busily playing.
Rev. 6:9 When the Lamb broke the fifth seal, I saw underneath the altar the souls of those who had been slain because of the word of YHWH, and because of the testimony which they had maintained; 10 and they cried out with a loud voice, saying, “How long, O Lord, holy and true, will You refrain from judging and avenging our blood on those who dwell on the earth?” 11 And there was given to each of them a white robe; and they were told that they should rest for a little while longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren who were to be killed even as they had been, would be completed also.
- This world is a farm. The crop is souls. The world is full of WHEAT and TARES. As the farmer, you don’t reap what you’ve sown until the harvest is ready. Today, the “Gentiles” (aka people from the nations which are NOT born Jews) are coming out of the woodwork – all around the world and keeping Torah. That being said, Ephraim’s portion in this is certainly nothing insignificant, much less non-existent (as many would tell you).
So Who Are We Again?
Scripturally speaking, I can say I’m “Israel.” I can say I’m “Ephraim.” It wouldn’t even be wrong to call myself a “Gentile.” Once upon a time I was a “Lost Sheep of the House of Israel.” None of those titles would be unbefitting somebody in my position (and quite possibly yours).
But there are certain other labels I don’t embrace because they tie me to the doctrines and commandments and creeds of MEN rather than those of my god.
I am NOT a Christian or a Jew or a Jehovah’s Witness or a Mormon or a Unitarian or a Catholic or a Hebrew Root or a Baptist or a Pentecostal or a Non-Denominational or any other church or denomination or sect or religion or organization man has created. I just have no use for these titles.
Naming something implies having dominion over it. People name their pets, but pets do not name their owners. Parents name children – and not the other way around. YHWH named Adam, and Adam did not decide what his god would be called. As the people of YHWH, we should trust His word and the titles contained therein rather than allowing men / this world to supplant His dominion over our lives by naming us. We are not the property / people of this world – we are His.