The Two Sticks
Jeremiah 11:16 -- YHWH called thy name, A green olive tree, fair, and of goodly fruit: with the noise of a great tumult he hath kindled fire upon it, and the branches of it are broken.
Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!
— Psalm 133:1 (RSV)
A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle.
— Proverbs 18:19
As children, most of us at one time or another played with a stick of wood. Occasionally, perhaps, we might have broken such a makeshift toy either accidentally or intentionally, and than we would have two sticks that had been only one stick. We likely, at one time or another had the opportunity to fit or shove the broken and jagged ends of the two pieces back together so as to have the same "form" as the original unbroken stick. At times the fitting process might have worked quite well, but it was still only two lesser or broken sticks being held by friction to serve as a broken, weakened and scarred version of the original. The resulting "single" stick was significantly inferior to the original and probably lasted only a short time before being once again separated into two pieces. If we tried gluing the two pieces together, we might have had moderate success, but we couldn't remove the scar, and we didn't really have the original. With the glue, we simply had two sticks being held together by an artificial bond, and the bond actually kept the two pieces separated. The two pieces weren't actually even touching each other; they were both touching the glue, and they were not "one." The two could never really be one again. We may have legitimately concluded that only a miracle could rejoin the two pieces into the original ONE STICK. With all the technology of man, no human could return the two pieces of the stick to its original one piece form. That original stick was gone forever.
Abraham (which means father of multitudes) whose name was originally Abram (high father) was a worshiper of the Creator God. Abraham was devoted to our Creator, and our Creator made an unbreakable and binding covenant with Abraham and his descendants.
Genesis 15:18 – In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates.
The context of the above passage provides details that make this a covenant which is unbreakable. God WILL provide this entire land to Abraham’s descendents. This covenant is then repeated in the 17th chapter of Genesis.
Genesis 17:1-9 – And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. And I will make my covenant between me and thee, and will multiply thee exceedingly. And Abram fell on his face: and God talked with him, saying, as for me, behold, my covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be a father of many nations. Neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for a father of many nations have I made thee. And I will make thee exceeding fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee. And I will establish my covenant between me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee. And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God. And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations.
Abraham had a "son of promise" when he and his wife Sarah were quite old. Though Abraham had elected to have a son earlier in life by impregnating Sarah's handmaid, and though Abraham had several sons by his second wife Keturah after Sarah's death, Abraham and Sarah had only one son. Abraham's and Sarah’s son of promise was named Isaac. The covenant between our Creator and Abraham was carried through and also promised to Isaac. Isaac had twin sons, Esau and Jacob. Esau was the older of the twins, but Esau sold his birthright to his brother for a bowl of soup, and through a ruse by his mother Rebecca and his brother Jacob, he also lost his blessing from his Father Isaac. The blessing instead went to Jacob. The Covenant to Abraham was passed on through Jacob. Jacob, due to a deception by his father-in-law, married two wives who were sisters. Each of the wives had handmaids. Jacob eventually had sons by both wives and by both of their handmaids. He had a total of twelve sons. Through the course of time our Creator gave Jacob the additional name of “Israel” because he “had been a prince with God and had prevailed” (Genesis 32:28).
During a time of severe drought and famine, Israel (Jacob) and all of his descendants moved to the country of Egypt so as to survive the hard times. Israel died in Egypt and over the decades his twelve sons all grew into great families. These families each became known as tribes and as each tribe consisted of the descendants of a particular son of Israel, each tribe took on the name of one of Israel's sons and over a span of four hundred years the twelve tribes of Israel became a large population within the nation of Egypt. These are the families, which were eventually led out of Egypt by Moses. These were the peoples who marched across the dry land at the parting of the Red Sea. These were the peoples to whom God through Moses gave the Ten Commandments. These twelve tribes were the peoples through whom God established the mighty nation of ancient Israel. The twelve tribes were the descendants of and were named for: The sons of Leah; Reuben, Jacob’s firstborn, and Simeon, and Levi, and Judah, and Issachar, and Zebulun: The sons of Rachel; Joseph, and Benjamin: And the sons of Bilhah, Rachel’s handmaid; Dan, and Naphtali: And the sons of Zilpah, Leah’s handmaid; Gad, and Asher. We might note here also, that Jacob before his death claimed the two sons of Joseph as his own and they thus became “half tribes.” They are called Ephraim and Manasseh. With Ephraim and Manasseh, there were actually thirteen tribes, but when the tribes were given their territories they were divided into twelve areas. The tribe of Levi was then scattered among all the tribes, since the Levites were the priests for all the tribes.
After a long period of time, the nation of Israel – which originally consisted of all the tribes listed above – split into two nations. These two nations became the Northern Kingdom called Israel and the Southern Kingdom called Judah. Israel was then composed of ten tribes while Judah was composed of the tribe of Judah and the tribe of Levi. Note that most all the Levites eventually moved to Judah since Israel began to move away from the teachings of the Torah and thus had no use for priests. Both nations, Israel and Judah, were eventually taken away into captivity because of their failure to follow God's directives. Particularly for the nation of Judah, the citizenry spent 70 years in Babylon for their failure to observe the seventh year land Sabbath. The land Sabbath had not been observed for 490 years which amounted to seventy "Sabbaths." God thus required the seventy Sabbaths in captivity in Babylon. The Jews did then, after 70 years, return to the Holy Land.
The ten tribes of Israel, the Northern Kingdom, were taken into captivity by the Assyrians in 722 B.C. The Northern Kingdom has not yet returned to its homeland. In fact, the Northern Kingdom, Israel, the ten tribes, has become lost. The world does not know who or where the lost ten tribes are today. There are various theories presenting interesting evidences of who and where these people may be, but there is no concrete conclusion which we can draw from the evidence. We can only make "educated best guesses" as to where the ten tribes are – if we are educated in that area.
There is one certainty concerning these lost tribes. That certainty is that they are not lost to God the Creator. Our Creator knows the location of each and every Israelite. Our Creator will see to it that each and every Israelite is returned to Israel at the establishment of his Kingdom on Earth – if not before.
As noted above there are various conclusions drawn by various researchers as to the identity and location of the ten tribes. Perhaps the conclusion most often drawn by those leaders of the "Churchianity" establishment, is that the ten tribes have merged with the nation of Judah, and that Judah now represents all twelve tribes of Israel. Because a very few of the Northern Kingdom people did return and join Israel, these Christian leaders conclude that the remainder of Israel is lost forever to God and that God now recognizes Judah as representing all of Israel. These leaders are wrong in their conclusions. They are wrong because of some very plain and straight forward scriptures which we shall cite to prove that God has not yet acted concerning the true nation of Israel or the Northern Kingdom. There will most assuredly be a time yet future when God will bring the Northern Kingdom back to the homeland of ancient Israel. The plain, simple and irrefutable proof follows in this chapter.
What did Jesus have to say concerning the nation of Israel? (Let’s be sure and remember that the modern nation of Israel which is composed mostly of the descendants of Judah (Jews) is NOT synonymous with what the Holy Scriptures refer to as the nation of Israel. The biblical nation of Israel – the Northern Kingdom – was composed of TEN tribes. These tribes were made up of the descendants of Jacob (or Israel). When the Holy Bible refers to the nation of Israel, it is always referring to at least ten tribes. Prior to the dividing of the kingdom of Israel into two nations, the original nation of Israel was composed of the entire twelve tribes of Israel. Thus, in biblical usage the term “nation of Israel” may refer to the entire twelve tribes as a nation, or it may refer to the ten tribes which formed the northern kingdom after the original nation was divided, but it is never a reference to the Jews, nor to the modern nation which is today called Israel.) Jesus was a Jew, and most all of his first century followers were Jews, but Jesus did provide specific instructions to his disciples concerning the “lost ten tribes” who were NOT Jews. Jesus even referred to them as lost in the first century.
Matthew 10:5-6 – These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
Many teachers today when reading this scripture, attempt to provide it some amorphous meaning which contrasts “lost” to “saved.” They essentially teach that Jesus was telling his disciples to “save lost souls,” or something similar to that. But that is NOT what Jesus was doing. He specifically refers to the “House of Israel” which in biblical usage always means the nation of Israel. Jesus was referring to the lost tribes of the northern kingdom. Jesus sent his disciples to spread his message to the Israelites wherever they might be. Jesus was aware that there were ten tribes of Israel living apart from the Jews. Jesus knew – and knows – who these people are and where they are.
Later we read of a woman from Canaan asking for mercy from Jesus. Jesus’ first response to her was that he was sent to the “lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Jesus spoke plainly when he made this statement. Jesus had the purpose of notifying and informing the descendents of Jacob (or the descendents of Israel) of his arrival as Messiah and of his mission. Jesus was not on Earth at that time to “save the lost.” Jesus did not save the “lost” or any other group at that time. For those who want to teach that Jesus did come to save the “lost,” we might ask, “From what were they saved?” For those people who today claim salvation for themselves, we might also ask – saved from what? Are they not still here? Do they not still suffer the trials and fortunes of life in a world which has been fallen since the sin of Eve and Adam? Jesus did not come to save the world two millennia ago. Jesus will return to save the world, and he will hopefully do so in the not too distant future. So, if when Jesus spoke of the “lost sheep of the house of Israel,” he was not speaking of those who “were not saved,” then he must have been speaking of the lost tribes of Israel. This should be a very plain statement, but modern day teachers have perverted the meaning and intention of Jesus’ statement. He was plainly and simply speaking of the lost tribes of Israel. These tribes were lost to the world because they ceased keeping God’s Sabbath. Jesus had a message for them, and he sent his disciples to deliver that message. When scripture says the “lost sheep of the House of Israel,” that is exactly to what scripture is referring – the lost (to the world) “House of Israel.”
Matthew 15:24 – But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
For another “NEW TESTAMENT” reference to the lost tribes of Israel, let’s notice what the Apostle James had to say.
James 1:1 – James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.
James’ very first statement was to the lost tribes of Israel or to the “twelve tribes which are scattered abroad.” James was not addressing only Jews, and he made that very plain. He also made it very plain that the twelve tribes were “scattered” and that they were “abroad.” Could James have been addressing any group other than the “Lost Ten Tribes of Israel”? The Greek word used by James which has been translated as “scattered abroad” was “Diaspora.” “Diaspora” as commonly used today most often refers to the plight of the Jews. The Jews have indeed suffered their Diaspora, but not to the same extent as have the lost ten tribes. Let’s now read from the prophet Daniel concerning the lost ten tribes.
Daniel 9:7 – O Lord, righteousness belongeth unto thee, but unto us confusion of faces, as at this day; to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and unto all Israel, that are near, and that are far off, through all the countries whither thou hast driven them, because of their trespass that they have trespassed against thee.
Here in Daniel we see that ALL Israel was driven away into numerous countries because of their trespasses against God. In their dispersion, they also lost their identity because they failed to keep God’s Sabbath.
We then learn from the Apostle Paul that ALL Israel shall be saved. Paul did not write that all Jews shall be saved, but he specifically said ALL Israel shall be saved (which certainly includes the Jews). Paul, who was highly educated in the Torah and the prophets, certainly knew the difference between Israel and the Jews. Paul knew that ALL ISRAEL IS TO BE SAVED.
Romans 11:26 – And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.
What does Paul tell us that God had to say about Israel? Does he not plainly say in the first verse of the eleventh chapter of Romans that God has not cast away Israel? Let’s read the passage which stipulates this particular attitude of God.
Romans 10:21-11:1 – But to Israel He saith, All day long I have stretched forth my hands unto a disobedient and gainsaying people. I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin.
What does the prophet Ezekiel tell us concerning the House of Israel or the Northern Kingdom?
Ezekiel 28:25-26 – Thus saith the Lord GOD; When I shall have gathered the house of Israel from the people among whom they are scattered, and shall be sanctified in them in the sight of the heathen, then shall they dwell in their land that I have given to my servant Jacob. And they shall dwell safely therein, and shall build houses, and plant vineyards; yea, they shall dwell with confidence, when I have executed judgments upon all those that despise them round about them; and they shall know that I am the LORD their God.
Ezekiel says that the House of Israel which has been scattered, shall return to the land which was given to Jacob. This land includes land of the modern day nation of Israel, but it is somewhat more extensive. So we learn from Ezekiel that ALL Israel will dwell in safety and confidence. We also learn when this will happen. It will happen when God has executed his judgments upon the world. Has God yet executed those judgments? He has not, and thus we can know that the modern day nation of Israel (the Jews) is not the finished product which God has in mind. The modern day nation of Israel does not include ten of the tribes of Israel, and the nation certainly does not live in safety and confidence.
What else can we learn from the prophet Ezekiel? We can learn about the miraculous mending of a broken stick. Through Ezekiel, God says that he will miraculously make two sticks become one stick. Let’s read Ezekiel’s prophecy. One note we need to remember before reading this passage: the Southern Kingdom was normally referred to in terms addressing Judah such as the “House of Judah” or simply “Judah,” while the Northern Kingdom was referred to as “Israel,” or “Joseph,” or “Ephraim.
Ezekiel 37:15-28 – The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying, Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For 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 his companions: And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand. And when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying, Wilt thou not shew us what thou meanest by these? Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand. And the sticks whereon thou writest shall be in thine hand before their eyes. And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be 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, 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 dwelling places, 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. And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children’s children for ever: and my servant David shall be their prince for ever. Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And the heathen shall know that I the LORD do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore.
We can see that those who teach that the Jews represent all of Israel should have a severe problem with the above verses from Ezekiel. We read very clearly here in these verses, what God very plainly says. God says that he will rejoin Israel (or the Northern Kingdom, or Joseph, or Ephraim) with Judah (the Southern Kingdom), and he says that he will do this at a time when King David will again be Israel’s King. He also says that he will accomplish this at a time when he cleanses them; and that Israel will then walk in God’s judgments; and that God will at that time make a covenant of peace with Israel; and that God’s tabernacle will then be with Israel; and that the heathen will then KNOW that it is the LORD (YHWH or Yahweh) who sanctifies Israel. We have to ask ourselves whether any of these conditions could possibly apply to the Jews of today. Do the Jews now have David as their King? Have the Jews yet been cleansed by God? Do the Jews today walk in God’s judgments? Do the Jews today live with a covenant of PEACE? Is God’s tabernacle now with the Jews? Do the heathen know that God has sanctified Israel? Obviously, we plainly see that the answer to all of these questions is an ABSOLUTE NO! Thus we must conclude that the only possibility is that in the future, God will rejoin ALL Israel into one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel. Apparently God still knows where all people of the lost ten tribes can be found.
Let’s now read a few verses from the prophecies of Jeremiah. The time frame for this passage from Jeremiah is yet future. It references a time yet future when Babylon is to be destroyed, and a time when Israel will be pardoned.
Jeremiah 50:4-9, 17-20 – In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, the children of Israel shall come, they and the children of Judah together, going and weeping: they shall go, and seek the LORD their God. They shall ask the way to Zion with their faces thitherward, saying, Come, and let us join ourselves to the LORD in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten. My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains: they have gone from mountain to hill; they have forgotten their resting place. All that found them have devoured them: and their adversaries said, We offend not, because they have sinned against the LORD, the habitation of justice, even the LORD, the hope of their fathers. Remove out of the midst of Babylon, and go forth out of the land of the Chaldeans, and be as the he goats before the flocks. For, lo, I will raise and cause to come up against Babylon an assembly of great nations from the north country: and they shall set themselves in array against her; from thence she shall be taken: their arrows shall be as of a mighty expert man; none shall return in vain………Israel is a scattered sheep; the lions have driven him away: first the king of Assyria hath devoured him; and last this Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon hath broken his bones. Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will punish the king of Babylon and his land, as I have punished the king of Assyria. And I will bring Israel again to his habitation, and he shall feed on Carmel and Bashan, and his soul shall be satisfied upon mount Ephraim and Gilead. In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found: for I will pardon them whom I reserve.
We notice again that Jeremiah also refers to Judah and Israel as being separate peoples. We see that Israel is to return to “his habitation” and is to feed on “Carmel and Bashan.” We see that Israel is to have his soul satisfied upon mount Ephraim and Gilead. We see that it refers to a time when Israel and Judah will possess no iniquities or sins, for God shall pardon them. (Note that in this context Carmel, Bashan, Gilead and Ephraim all refer to specific geographic locations within the land promised to Israel.)
Let’s now consider another verse in Genesis that seems to be quite interesting indeed. We know that the modern nation of Israel which consists of Jews who are the descendents of the peoples who made up the Southern Kingdom (Judah), came into being in May of 1948. Upon the slightest of reflections, we recognize that this event in itself is truly miraculous. Was this restoration of Judah, the old Southern Kingdom, into the Promised Land prophesied to occur prior to the complete restoration of ALL Israel? It seems that perhaps this is the case.
Genesis 49:10 – The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him
Most experts contend that the “him” in the above scripture refers back to Shiloh as opposed to referring back to Judah. They certainly may be correct, particularly when we consider that the Hebrew word “gathering” carries with it the connotation of “obedience” along with the gathering. But the reference could be to Judah, or it may even be a double reference. IF, the reference is to Judah, let’s notice the last phrase of the above verse: “unto JUDAH shall the gathering of the people be.” For All Israel to return to the promised land today (or in the near future), then the people of Israel must “gather unto Judah,” for Judah is already there. At least Judah already possesses a portion of the Promised Land. This is quite intriguing, is it not?
As we can readily conclude, it is God’s intention to eventually reunite ALL of Israel into one nation, and the Jews are NOT ALL of Israel. After drawing that conclusion, we might also be curious as to just exactly who are and where are the peoples of the lost ten tribes? Though the following discussion is by no means meant as a proof as to the identity of the lost tribes, it is an interesting place to start for those who might want to do more research. Many people have come to many different conclusions concerning the identity of the lost ten tribes. There seem to be a significant percentage of the researchers today who arrive at a similar conclusion. That conclusion is that the lost tribes make up several of the western European nations, and the English speaking nations. Once again this discussion does not purport to offer any proof as to the identity of the lost tribes, though it is interesting to note the information mentioned.
Genesis 17:10-13 – This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed. He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant.
The descendents of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Israel) were to be circumcised. What non-Jewish people have a significant percentage of their society who practices circumcision? Certainly this has not been an uncommon practice in American history. Why would a culture practice such a thing? Could it have been handed down by a family tree that has its roots in Abraham? Could this be an evidence of being a part of the lost tribes?
David was to perpetually have a descendent set on a throne over his people. Though we could possibly conclude that this promise made to David refers to Jesus the Christ, it does seem to be a literal statement and promise of an unbroken line of royalty through David’s descendents? If that is the case, where is that throne today? It is a legend in Britain that the coronation stone over which the kings and queens are crowned is indeed the pillar stone of Jacob, and there is substantial documentation to seemingly support the legend. There are a few enigmatic scriptures which also can lend to this legend. The information available seems to fall short of an absolute proof that the members of the royal family are descendents of David. But the information available certainly offers a significant amount of circumstantial evidence.
To offer just a couple of intriguing bits of evidence (by no means a proof), let’s consider the following: The Hebrew word for man is “ish.” The Hebrew word for covenant is “berith.” Thus, if we wanted to say covenant man, we would say “berith-ish.” Could this have become “British” over the centuries?
Over a long period of time the people who are the Anglo-Saxons came to the British Isles after being filtered through the Germanic and Yiddish cultures. One of the peculiarities of the Yiddish was that they dropped the initial vowel sound of any word which started with a vowel. As an example, Isaac would be pronounced Saac. Thus the sons of Isaac would be referred to as the sons of Saac, or Saac’s sons – Saxons.
Who are considered the “Christian” nations of the world today? Did not Jesus send his disciples to the “lost sheep of the House of Israel”? Is it not therefore logical to assume that perhaps those peoples to whom the disciples were sent are the peoples who became the leading Christian nations of the world?
There are volumes and volumes of information offering evidence as to the identities of the lost ten tribes. The evidence available certainly far surpasses the meager information offered in this chapter. The subject of the identity of the lost ten tribes is a very interesting and intriguing study for those who choose to take the time to delve into it. Should anyone do so, they may very well conclude that the British, and those nations who are made up of descendents of the British (including Americans) are a major part of the lost ten tribes and are a major part of one of the two “sticks” – the Nation of Israel.