Why Most People Don’t Understand Bible Prophecy
Biblical prophecy is a mystery—even to most people who read the Bible! This subject is tremendously important, yet it is also tremendously confusing. Why? Because Bible prophecy is locked. And the vast majority of people do not have the one vital key that unlocks the prophecy.
Newscasters, journalists and politicians talk around the clock about the horrendous events that are flashing all around us. But which of them understands what is going on? Which of them can tell you where these events are leading?
The Bible actually makes the ultimate outcome of current events inescapably clear, but its explanations are completely confusing unless you have the key that unlocks them.
To understand this key, we have to look back at the Old Testament.
Israel Fighting Jews?
2 Kings 16 actually shows where the confusion began. It has to do with the identity of Israel. Today, when we think of Israel, we think of the Jews. But there’s something missing here.
Did you know that the first time the Jews are mentioned in the Bible, they are at war with Israel? The Jewish nation was not the same thing as Israel—it was actually fighting Israel!
Anciently and biblically, Israel and Judah were two very distinct entities. And they still are.That’s what so many don’t understand: the modern identities of Israel and Judah. That is the key to understanding Bible prophecy!
Ancient Israel was composed of 12 tribes. Judah was only one of those tribes. Today, we know who Judah’s descendants are: the Jews. But where are the other tribes? Have they just evaporated forever? Not at all!
No, Israel is not extinct. These “lost 10 tribes” are actually some of the world’s most important nations existing today!
This passage in 2 Kings 16 explains what happened. Israel was a united nation consisting of 12 tribes under the rule of King David and his son King Solomon. After Solomon died, 10 tribes of Israel rebelled from the tribe of Judah and the capital of Jerusalem. The tribes of Benjamin and Levi stayed with the Jews. The other 10 tribes established themselves in Samaria, north of Jerusalem.
Israel and Judah became two separate nations. This one fact is crucial to understanding Bible prophecy.
“At that time Rezin king of Syria recovered Elath to Syria, and drove the Jews from Elath.” This is the very first time the word Jews is written in the Bible. “[A]nd the Syrians came to Elath, and dwelt there unto this day. So Ahaz [the king of Judah] sent messengers to Tiglathpileser king of Assyria, saying, I am thy servant and thy son: come up, and save me out of the hand of the king of Syria, and out of the hand of the king of Israel, which rise up against me” (2 Kings 16:6-7).
The king of Judah contacted a foreign king to ask him for help in fighting Israel! How could they be warring against each other if Israel is just another name for Judah? This was well after the kingdom split. Israel was—and still is—separate from Judah!
Today, there is a nation in the Middle East called Israel. But that nation only represents two tribes of Israel: Judah and Benjamin—along with many or most of the Levites. Those are the tribes that remained in Jerusalem when Israel rebelled and seceded. The modern nation calledIsrael does not include the descendants of the 10 tribes that broke away in the 10th century b.c. and migrated to Samaria (northern Israel).
This war in 2 Kings 16 ended with Israel (the northern 10 tribes) being defeated and enslaved by Assyria. “Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel, and removed them out of his sight: there was none left but the tribe of Judah only” (2 Kings 17:18). Israel was so faithless and sinful that it enraged the God of love! Because of the Israelites’ terrible sins, God became so angry that He forsook them and allowed them to be conquered by Assyria.
Assyria conquered the nation of Israel from 721 to 718 b.c. (verse 23). Israel was taken captive, and only Judah was left (verse 18).
We need to think soberly about these verses because they also apply to us. This is the end time. The nations of Israel still exist. And they are still continuing to anger God with their terrible sins! The book of 2 Kings is one of the former prophets. That means this verse is not just about an ancient nation, it also carries a prophetic message for us today—if we understand Bible prophecy! God says the Assyrians will conquer Israel again (see Isaiah 10).
Bible scholars have looked into what happened to ancient Israel. Historian and scientist Werner Keller is one of the chief scholars on the topic. He includes a lot of solid information in his book The Bible as History. Here is his view, which many other scholars share: “The people of the northern kingdom and their kings with them disappeared, were absorbed into the population of these foreign lands, and never emerged again in history. All investigation into what became of the 10 tribes and who had their home there has so far come to nothing” (emphasis added).
Is that true? The northern 10 tribes of Israel did get taken captive. Israel did lose its identity. Israel never did reemergeas Israel. But Israel did not disappear! How could millions of people simply vanish? They have to be somewhere.
Bible scholars know where the tribe of Judah is. “Jew” is just a shortened version of Judah. Modern Judah is where the modern Jews are! They were never totally lost. But most, like Keller, believe that the 10 tribes fell into history’s abyss. So, how do we know that these intelligent scholars are actually wrong?
Because Jesus Christ tells us so.
Christ’s Commission to the Apostles
About 750 years after Assyria enslaved Israel, Christ gave His apostles a specific command to go to a specific group of people. If you understand this, you’re going to understand Bible prophecy.
Turn in your Bible to Matthew 10:5-6 and read: “These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles [Christ would send the Apostle Paul there later], and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” Christ Himself said that!
Werner Keller and other scholars don’t understand this. But if we believe Christ, we have to believe that “the lost sheep of the house of Israel” were somewhere on the scene during Christ’s day. That was more than 700 years after they had been enslaved.
Christ was certainly not referring to the Jews. They were there where He was, in the same place the Jews are today. Their identity wasn’t lost then, and it is not lost today. Israel, however, had been absorbed into the Assyrian Empire, and these tribes did lose their identity. But Christ—and many others—knew they were out there. So where were these tribes, exactly?
Jesus Christ wants us to know the truth about ancient Israel. Several of the Old Testament prophets, and even Christ Himself, prophesied that the modern peoples of Israel would endure the worst time of suffering ever just before His Second Coming. That’s why Christ wants you to understand Bible prophecy! And in order to understand those warnings, you must know who the peoples of Israel are today!
Where Did the Apostles Go?
In his article “Where Did the Twelve Apostles Go?” Herman Hoeh looked into the intriguing history of Parthia to find out where Israel went (Plain Truth, May 1964).
Dr. Hoeh wrote that around 700 b.c., a group of people suddenly appeared around the Caspian shore who had been enslaved to Assyria. They were called the Parthians, a name that means exiles. These exiles eventually ascended to power and prominence in the land of Parthia around 250 b.c.
These peoples were none other than the “lost” tribes of Israel!
They remained in the land where they had been Assyria’s slaves until the early third centurya.d. Then, the Persians drove them northwest into what is Europe today. And that is exactly where you will find most of those lost tribes of Israel right now, in 2012.
Josephus, the prominent first-century Jewish historian, was well aware that Israel had settled in the land of Parthia. “But then the entire body of the people of Israel [the 10 “lost” tribes] remain in that country [they never came back to Samaria]; wherefore there are but two tribes in Asia and Europe subject to the Romans, while the 10 tribes are beyond Euphrates till now, and are an immense multitude, and not to be estimated by numbers” (Antiquities of the Jews).
They were an enormous multitude! The scattered Israelites were so vast that Jesus commanded Peter, James, John and the rest of His disciples to go to these “lost sheep.” And the 12 apostles knew where they were. Jesus Christ knew where they were. Even Josephus knew where they were.
Notice another clue in Matthew 15: “Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon. And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou son of David ….” This Gentile woman knew who He was. She continued: “[M]y daughter is grievously vexed with a [demon].” But Christ didn’t answer her request. He explained why to His disciples: “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (verses 21-22, 24).
Jesus went on to talk with this woman, and she demonstrated such great faith that He healed her daughter that very minute. But He clearly told her that He was preparing His apostles to go to “the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” According to Jesus, that was His purpose.
If we listen to Christ and trust Him, we can understand why He came and what the Bible’s prophecies mean. We can actually understand this tumultuous and horrendous world around us. But we have to have the kind of faith this Canaanite woman had.
Jews Were Conquered—Yet Retained Their Identity
From 604 to 585 b.c., a little over a century after Israel went into captivity, the Jews were also conquered by Babylon. They too had turned from God, and in His wrath, He allowed them to be taken captive. However, 70 years after they had been conquered, the Jews, the Benjamites and the Levites returned (Ezra 1:5; 2:1).
Israel, however, never did. Look into the history of God’s Church in the book of Acts. After chapter 11, you read almost nothing about the original 12 apostles. You read nothing about the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
This is a very interesting part of the history. The book of Acts is one of only three books in the New Testament that does not end with Amen. The absence of that conclusive final word means that Acts still has more information to be added. A big part of that new material is going to be about the locations of the “lost sheep” of the house of Israel from the time Acts was written until Christ’s Second Coming.
The first century was not the time for God to reveal the location of the lost 10 tribes to the world. History—and Bible scholars—lost sight of those 10 tribes. The tribes themselves even lost their identity. But now, when the prophecies are most relevant, just before Christ returns—that time has come.
The revelation of Israel’s identity happened in a powerful way in the 20th century, with God’s Church sending out more than 6 million copies of The United States and Britain in Prophecy. That book is about this vital truth.
This is crucial to understand, because end-time Israel is again sick with sin and stirring God to anger. These modern nations must be warned! And we have to understand prophecy in order to know whom to warn.
Simon Peter Was in the British Isles!
Dr. Hoeh’s article traced how the original apostles traveled to the lost 10 tribes. He even examined which areas were visited by which apostles.
Where did Peter spend most of his time after those first 12 years in Palestine? Metaphrastes, the Greek historian, reports “that Peter was not only in these western parts”—the western Mediterranean—“but particularly that he was a long time in Britain, where he converted many nations to the faith.” This is speaking of Peter’s main life work to the lost 10 tribes!
Cave’s Antiquitates Apostolicae explains more on this subject of Peter’s ministry. Peter didn’t preach the gospel in Rome. That was left to the Apostle Paul. Peter did visit Rome, but he did not preach the gospel there. Instead, Peter was “a long time” in Britain; he did most of his life’s work there, preaching and teaching the gospel. So, unless Peter disobeyed Christ’s command in Matthew 10:5-6, Britain is one of the lost tribes of Israel! It is, in fact, the modern nation descended from Ephraim!
In Genesis 48, Jacob (Israel) named his name on Ephraim and Manasseh. Manasseh’s modern identity is none other than the United States of America. These two modern Israelite nations, Britain and the United States, became very wealthy and very powerful, just as God prophesied they would.
These two Israelite tribes were blessed because of the obedience and faithfulness of their ancestor, Abraham. God promised Abraham that He would bless his descendants (Genesis 22:18; 48:8-22). Look all over this Earth and all through history, and it’s hard to find two nations that were more blessed than the United States and Britain. God gave those two nations the promises of wealth and prominence that He originally promised to Abraham for his obedience. But now those blessings are being taken away because his descendants are wallowing in perverse sins.
These nations must be told who they are and must be warned about what they are doing. You can only do that if you understand these prophecies.
Besides the modern nations of Israel and Judah, the Bible also has many prophecies about Germany, Russia, China, Japan and many Middle Eastern nations. The Bible tells you what is ahead for all of these nations!
Who Else Went to the Lost 10 Tribes?
There’s something else interesting about these lost 10 tribes.
When the Apostle Paul arrived in Rome, the Jews there had not received the gospel, and they did not know what was happening with the Church that Christ had established. They only knew that it was persecuted and disliked, and they wanted to know what Paul thought about it (Acts 28:17, 21-22). This is absolute proof that the Jews at Rome had never heard from the Apostle Peter. Paul came along after the original 12, and he was the one who was preaching in the Gentile city of Rome.
In a.d. 656, Pope Vitalian decided that the Catholic Church was not interested in the remains of the Apostle Peter and the Apostle Paul. So, the pope sent their remains to Oswy, king of Britain. Here is what he wrote to the British king: “However, we have ordered the blessed gifts of the holy martyrs, that is, the relics [the bones] of the blessed apostles Peter and Paul, and of the holy martyrs, Laurentius, John, and Paul, and Gregory, and Pancratius, to be delivered to the bearers of these our letters, to be by them delivered to you” (Bede’s Ecclesiastical History,Book iii, Chapter 29). Even the bones of Paul and Peter ended up in St. Albans in Britain!
Another impacting part of Dr. Hoeh’s article said this: “Turn now to added proof of the apostles’ mission to the lost sheep of the house of Israel to the British Isles. From an old volume, published in 1674, by William Camden, we read: ‘The true Christian religion was planted here most anciently by Joseph of Arimathea, Simon Zelotes (or Simon the Zealot), Aristobulus, by St. Peter, and St. Paul, as may be proved by Dorotheus, Theodoretus and Sophronius.’ Well, did you catch that? Paul is now included! Had Paul planned to go from Italy into Spain and then Britain? Here is the answer. ‘I will come by you into Spain’ (Romans 15:28). He was on his way around to Spain and then on to Britain. Clement of Rome, in his letter to the Corinthians, confirms Paul’s journey to the West. But did that include Britain? Listen to the words of the Greek church historian Theodoret. He reports ‘that St. Paul brought salvation to the isles that lie in the ocean” (Book i on Psalm 116, page 870). The British Isles!
“But was that merely to preach to the Gentiles? Not at all. Remember that the third and last part of Paul’s commission, after he revealed Christ to the kings and rulers at Rome, was to bear the name of Jesus to the ‘children of Israel’ (Acts 9:15)—the lost 10 tribes. … This is a prophecy of Paul’s mission to the British Isles!”
The Apostle Paul also went to Europe to teach the lost 10 tribes!
The lost 10 tribes were important to Jesus Christ. They were important to the original 12 apostles. They were important to the Apostle Paul. They are important to God! And one of the main reasons is that their true modern identities unlock Bible prophecy!
Are the lost 10 tribes important to you? Knowing their modern identities is the key that unlocks biblical prophecy. You urgently need this precious key, because we are entering the most tumultuous period in world history—the time just before the Second Coming of Jesus Christ—when those prophecies are coming to pass before our eyes!