“And with you there shall be a man of every tribe; every one head of the house of his fathers. And these are the names of the men that shall stand with you: of the tribe of Reuben; Elizur the son of Shedeur. Of Simeon; Shelumiel the son of Zurishaddai. Of Judah; Nahshon the son of Amminadab. Of Issachar; Nethaneel the son of Zuar. Of Zebulun; Eliab the son of Helon. Of the children of Joseph: of Ephraim; Elishama the son of Ammihud: of Manasseh; Gamaliel the son of Pedahzur. Of Benjamin; Abidan the son of Gideoni. Of Dan; Ahiezer the son of Ammishaddai. Of Asher; Pagiel the son of Ocran. Of Gad; Eliasaph the son of Deuel. Of Naphtali; Ahira the son of Enan. These were the renowned of the congregation, princes of the tribes of their fathers, heads of thousands in Israel.”
“…In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis:12:3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.).
To understand some of the Bible’s most amazing and inspiring prophecies, we must embark on a study that begins 4,000 years ago—when God began working with a man called Abraham. Abraham was a remarkable figure. God made astounding promises to him that continue to affect not only his descendants but the whole world.
The story of his offspring is remarkable too. It covers much of what we know as the Old Testament. This is a story filled with great themes—the rise and fall not only of great men and women but of kingdoms and empires.
The story of Abraham’s descendants has its share of twists and turns and ups and downs and more than a few mysteries.
The books of the Old Testament describe Abraham’s offspring growing into a mighty nation—the Israelite kingdom—and entering into a special covenant relationship with God. Comprised of 12 tribes, or family groups, the nation gained prominence for a time.
Yet before long the Israelites divided into two competing kingdoms. When the larger of the two, which retained the name Israel (comprised of 10 of the 12 tribes), rejected its partnership with God, it set in motion one of history’s greatest mysteries when its people were forcibly exiled from their ancient homeland.
The smaller, southern kingdom of Judah—comprised of the two remaining tribes and remnants of another—failed to learn the lesson of its northern kinsmen. Its citizens likewise rejected God and were taken into captivity. For the most part, however, they retained their identity and have remained visible through history as a small and often persecuted race, the Jewish people.
But what happened to the 10 tribes of Israel whose enemies forcibly removed them from their land? The Assyrian Empire captured and exiled them from their Middle Eastern homeland in the eighth century B.C. But standard history books make no mention of them today. The world remembers them only as the lost 10 tribes of Israel.
God, however, had entered into a covenant—a divine commitment —with all 12 of the tribes. He had promised they would always be His people and He would always be their God. Can we count on Him to keep His word? How is that possible if the lost 10 tribes died out, as many assume?
To add to the puzzle, Bible prophecy repeatedly tells us that these supposedly lost Israelites are destined to reappear on the world scene in a prominent role immediately after Jesus’ return—after their rescue from a “time of trouble” that could dwarf their previous suffering. The prophets of old even speak of their restoration after that time of trouble to their original homeland under the rule of the Messiah.
Notice this promise Jesus made to His apostles: “I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel“ (Matthew:19:28 And Jesus said unto them, Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel., New International Version, emphasis added throughout).
Did Jesus mean what He said? If these descendants of Israel are destined to play a future role that God has prophesied for the world, where are they now? How can we identify them among the peoples of the world today? And why is this knowledge so important to us?
As we proceed with this eye-opening study, you will learn just how much God is involved in shaping crucial aspects of our world. You cannot afford to be ignorant of this incredible knowledge.
If this information about the lost tribes were simply of historical and archaeological value, then it might indeed be of interest only to those who are fascinated with history. But it is far more important than that.
It is a master key for understanding all biblical prophecy. It explains why so many prophecies speak of a coming restoration of all of the tribes of Israel as one reunited kingdom and why those prophecies are so prominent in the pages of the Holy Scriptures.
By understanding this incredible story, you can learn a lot about what God expects of all who would serve Him. May God grant you the spiritual insight to understand this amazing story and heed the lessons you are about to discover.
A story of relationships and agreements
Our story begins with a series of remarkable promises God gave to a man named Abram thousands of years ago.