The 12 Tribes of Israel
Introduction: Bible Reference, Chapter 9
Because Bible Prophecy encompasses such a broad expanse of the Bible (nearly ⅓ of the entire Bible is prophetic in nature), the entire scope of end-times prophecy will be impossible to cover in depth in this venue. Lord willing, what we can attempt to accomplish in this 4-part series will be to look at a broad overview of end times as they relate to Israel as we study, in particular, Daniel chapter 9. We will undertake this study with the hope and prayer that doing so will challenge and spur each one of us to continue our own in-depth study of God’s amazing Word.
As we shall see, the Church is never addressed anywhere in the Old Testament. She (the Church), until God’s perfect timing, remained a “mystery hidden in God” until such time as God was ready to reveal her. The Church was birthed at Pentecost (see Acts chapter 2) after the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension back to Heaven of the risen Lord Jesus.
The passages in the Old Testament that refer to the (as yet) future time of Tribulation all deal with Israel, NOT the Church. Never forget that the Church and Israel are two separate and distinct entities each with their own calling, purpose, and destiny. The Church has never and will never replace Israel, and God has never and will never abandon Israel as His chosen people. God made an unconditional covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and although God “blinded Israel in part” because of her rejection of Jesus as their Messiah, He will NEVER renege on the unconditional covenants that He made between Himself and Abraham.
The Old Testament deals from mid Genesis on, exclusively with the nation of Israel; and although the book of Daniel also addresses the great Gentile world empires that affect the nation of Israel, nevertheless it is ISRAEL – the Jews, who are at the very center of the prophecy given in Daniel 9. We must always remember that from God’s point of view everything is Israel-centric, because she is the earthly nation through whom God has chosen to reveal Himself.
The Church, on the other hand (made up of BOTH believing Jews and Gentiles who are born into ONE BODY upon salvation), is NOT an earthly nation but rather members of a Heavenly body (the body and bride of Christ). The Church’s inheritance is not of this world. In the end, God will bring all things together for His glory and in His timing; but until the Kingdom Age begins, Israel will retake center stage on earth AFTER the Church will have been removed in the rapture.
Therefore, as we begin our study of Daniel chapter 9, always keep in mind that the focus of this prophecy given to Daniel is specific to “thy (Daniel’s) people;” and who were Daniel’s people? The Jews.
The incredibly detailed book of Daniel, particularly the 9th chapter, deals with the last seven years of human history under the rule of the fallen cherub Lucifer, who became Satan – the Adversary. The entire 9th chapter deals with God’s plans for ISRAEL as given by the angel Gabriel to the prophet Daniel, who was in captivity in Babylon after the Southern kingdom of Judah had been conquered by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar.
So, with this bit of background in mind, let’s begin with a study of Daniel’s 70 “weeks.”
Grab your Bible, a notepad and pen (and maybe a cup of coffee or tea), and let’s get ready to dig into one of the most ASTOUNDING prophecies ever given by God – a prophecy given to the prophet Daniel concerning the future and timeline of the people of Israel – the Jews.
Daniel’s 70 Weeks, Part 1: The 12 Tribes of Israel
A Short Recap of History:
After the death of King Solomon, what had been (under the reigns of Kings Saul, David, and Solomon) the united kingdom of Israel, the kingdom became divided into two separate kingdoms: Israel was known as the NORTHERN Kingdom. This smaller kingdom still called “Israel” consisted of 10 of the original 12 tribes of the formerly united kingdom of Israel, and Judah, known as the SOUTHERN Kingdom, which consisted of the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin.
ISRAEL (the Northern Kingdom comprised of 10 of the 12 tribes) was captured and carried into captivity by the Assyrians in BC 625.
20 years later, Judah (the Southern Kingdom comprised of the two tribes of Benjamin and Judah), was conquered by the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar, and Judah’s inhabitants were taken captive into Babylon.
**An important note must be made here about the so-called “10 lost tribes of Israel.” Many people erroneously speak about how it is impossible to know who is a true Israelite, since after being conquered by the Assyrians the 10 tribes of the Northern Kingdom were “lost” to history. This is simply not true. First of all, God NEVER loses track of anything or anyone.
And second, as we shall see, the Bible itself shows us that God not only knows where the descendants of each of the 12 tribes were then, but He also provided us with clear information on what happened to many of the Jews from the Northern Kingdom. God also knows where the descendants of each tribe are now and who they are. The descendants of the Northern Kingdom are not now, nor have they ever been lost. Here’s why:
(1) A portion of all Israelites (Northern Kingdom) out of all the tribes went into Judah at the time of the division of Solomon’s Kingdom in BC 975 (2 Chronicles 11:5; & 13-17).
(2) A number of them deserted from Israel to Judah in the days of Asa, the grandson of Northern Israel’s king, Rehoboam (2 Chronicles 15:8-9).
(3) 96 years after the 10 Northern tribes of Israel were carried captive to Assyria, King Josiah observed the Passover at Jerusalem (which was located in Judah in the Southern Kingdom), and many were present from the “remnant of Israel” (2 Chronicles 35:17-18).
(4) In BC 605 when Judah was carried captive to Babylon, “many Israelites” were carried away with them.
(5) When the Jews returned to their land in BC 536 AFTER the Babylonian captivity ended, the empires of Babylon and Assyria had become ONE. The remnants of Israel were free to return to Jerusalem and their land, as were the remnants of the two tribes that were Judah – the Southern Kingdom.
The Prophet Ezra tells us that he took with him “some Israelites;” and when the rebuilt temple in Jerusalem was dedicated, they offered sacrifices for THE ENTIRE 12 TRIBES (Ezra 6:16-17).
(6) History says that the 10 Northern tribes of Israel were taken to Assyria, and prophecy says that any of their descendants still there are to be brought out of Assyria (Isaiah 11:11 & 16), the inference being that their descendants are still there among the people of the areas that made up the old empire of Assyria.
(7) ALL 12 TRIBES of Israel (the descendants of BOTH Israel and Judah) are going to play a pivotal role in the not-too-distant future during that time the Bible calls “The Time of Jacob’s Trouble,” which is also called “Daniel’s 70th Week,” also known in scripture as “The Day of the Lord.” This is the same 7-year time period we know as The Tribulation.
With this vital background knowledge in mind, stay tuned for Part II, which will be the prophecy of the 70 “Weeks” of Years.