Ephraim And Judah Come Back Together To Form One Nation Of God!
God’s People Will Be Preserved
Then I saw four angels standing at the four corners of the earth, holding back the four winds so they did not blow on the earth or the sea, or even on any tree. And I saw another angel coming up from the east, carrying the seal of the living God. And he shouted to those four angels, who had been given power to harm land and sea, “Wait! Don’t harm the land or the sea or the trees until we have placed the seal of God on the foreheads of his servants.”
And I heard how many were marked with the seal of God—144,000 were sealed from all the tribes of Israel:
from Judah 12,000 from Reuben 12,000 from Gad 12,000 from Asher 12,000 from Naphtali 12,000 from Manasseh 12,000 from Simeon 12,000 from Levi 12,000 from Issachar 12,000 from Zebulun 12,000 from Joseph 12,000 from Benjamin 12,000
Revelation 7:1-8 (NLT)
Now, the context of this passage is that it is occurring in the Tribulation period… the period that is known to the Jewish people as the Time of Jacob’s Troubles. The Time of Jacob’s Trouble and the Tribulation indicate basically the same thing. It’s just two different cultural expressions for the same event.
And, here we have this great event we have heard about for years…. the sealing of the 144,000 witnesses. But, notice, these witnesses are all from the tribes of Israel; and these witnesses are listed tribe by tribe, 12,000 per tribe times 12 tribes equals 144,000.
But, look carefully: oddly, there are two names missing from this list, and an old one added back in: Ephraim and Dan are missing, and Joseph and Levi are added back in.
Well, as we get ready starting in Chapter 49 to study the blessings of Jacob upon his 12 sons, we’ll see that Dan is apparently going to have a serious on-going problem with idolatry. Some even think that the Anti-Christ will arise out of a connection to the tribe of Dan. So, that may be the reason Dan is left out.
Yet, the next logical question is: where is Ephraim?
Next we see that in place of Ephraim, Joseph is added back in. I told you earlier that we will see the make-up of the tribes of Israel evolve, beginning from the time of their inception, and eventually here in Revelation.
We must understand that this is significant. To suddenly see Ephraim deleted and Joseph added back in says something dramatic has happened.
Well, let’s look at the next couple of verses in Revelation 7.
After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb. They were clothed in white robes and held palm branches in their hands. And they were shouting with a great roar,
“Salvation comes from our God who sits on the throne
and from the Lamb!”
And all the angels were standing around the throne and around the elders and the four living beings. And they fell before the throne with their faces to the ground and worshiped God. They sang,
“Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom
and thanksgiving and honor
and power and strength belong to our God
forever and ever! Amen.”
Then one of the twenty-four elders asked me, “Who are these who are clothed in white? Where did they come from?”
And I said to him, “Sir, you are the one who knows.”
Then he said to me, “These are the ones who died in the great tribulation. They have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb and made them white.
Revelation 7:9-14 (NLT)
First, let’s remember that Ephraim and Judah coming back together occurs BEFORE the Great Tribulation, also called the Time of Jacob’s Troubles. It happens in the latter days, but before the world enters that terrible period.
We have another group of people, in Revelation 7, being described as from every nation, tribe, and tongue. Of course, these are the Believers who have been removed from the Tribulation. Some say these are those who were martyred during the Tribulation; others say that these are those who have been raptured.
But, the point is, whoever these people are, and however it is they wound up before God’s throne, it is clear these are Believers.
Now, I told you when I would be speculating, and this is one of those times.
Who are these people dressed in the white robes?
Could this be a portion of Ephraim, who is suddenly missing from the listing of the 12 tribes?
For John asks the angel in verse 13… “Who are they and where are they from?”
We know from an earlier verse that they are from EVERY nation, tribe, and tongue. EVERY means EVERY.
And, we know that Ephraim was not only scattered among the gentiles, but a few Ephraimites joined with the tribe of Judah…the Jews. And, we know that “nations” by definition means, gentiles.
To close out this lesson, I would like to tell you my best estimation of what this means to us, and then read to you a couple more scriptures.
First, I believe that the tribes of Israel called out in Rev. 7, those who had been called “lost”, but are certainly lost no more; those who are called part of Ephraim, are those that did NOT assimilate into the gentile world, but through God’s providential hand, managed to stay together and stay identified to their original tribes.
And, notice, it is from these “Ephraimite” tribes that will come the bulk of that 144,000. In other words, Most of the tribes in that listing in Revelation 7 are what came to be known as Ephraim Israel as completely apart from Judah and Benjamin and Levi.
Why are the Levites being un-set apart: included back in as a tribe of Israel?
Because there is no more need for a special priestly tribe to officiate Temple services. The only men who will survive the Tribulation in one form or another are Believers.
- And all men will be as priests.
- All sacrifice is over. All Temple worship is over.
- And, all redemption is over.
- It’s finished.
No more need for the Levites to be set apart as the ransom for Israel’s firstborn. The Levites role is completed, and so they are returned to their heritage, Israel.
I believe that Ephraim, at the very least is all those remaining remnants of the 10 northern tribes of Ephraim-Israel who have maintained that identity over the centuries. Those 10 tribes who have been rediscovered and invited to return for a joyful reunion with their Jewish brothers and sisters, is in their homeland, Israel.
But, I leave room for the possibility that Ephraim in some way also represents the gentile portion of the Church…. probably on a spiritual level more than on a physical level.
However, a physical connection is certainly possible. As with all prophesy, one only gets the full picture AFTER it has all come to pass. When one is in the midst of its fulfillment, as we are today in regards to the reuniting of Ephraim and Judah, not all is clear.
There is much about all this that is mysterious, and so we need to be careful not to be rigid and dogmatic about what the path to the final outcome is going to look like.
When Ezekiel says that the two sticks, Ephraim and Judah are coming back together, I believe that we may be hearing of a reunion on two levels:
I have spoken to you about what I call The Reality of Duality; this mysterious way that God operates in which everything to do with His plan has a spiritual element and a physical element that works in parallel.
On a physical level, I see the reuniting spoken of in Ezekiel 37, as the return of the “lost” tribes of Ephraim to Israel, joining their brothers from the tribe of Judah…the Jews…. who came a few years before them to establish the State of Israel. I don’t have to guess about this, because it is happening and we are witnesses to it.
And, on an earthly and physical level, we have the 2 houses of Israel…Ephraim and Judah…coming back together to form one nation of God, as they were at their inception, Israel. The 12 tribes are together again. Physically present and living together in Israel. Something that has not been so for almost 3000 years.
Yet…following my model of the Reality of Duality… on a spiritual level, I also see another aspect of the reunion of Ezekiel 37 as ultimately about the gentile believers in Christ, possibly represented in some way by Ephraim, who are going to come together with the Jewish believers in Christ, represented by Judah.
Together, these are SPIRITUAL ISRAEL, or the TRUE Israel that Paul speaks of.
And, that is beginning to happen, right now, as gentile believers are reaching out in love to the Jewish people as never before in history. The number of Jewish people coming to faith in Yeshua is growing at a breakneck rate, and as those of you who have been to Israel recently discovered, there is a bond of love growing being gentile and Jew, and especially between Messianic Jew and gentile Christian.
And, this was all prophesied as to how it would happen, in what order it would happen, where it would happen, and who would be involved.
Turn to Psalm 102:1-19.
Notice that it says in verse 14 (perhaps verse 15 depending on your Bible version) that “your servants” will love Israel’s very stones.
NOT just His chosen people…His servants.
All those who love Him, Jew or gentile, are His servants. Jews and gentiles will simply fall in love with Israel.
Also, look at the last few words I read to you; it says that what is spoken in this Psalm is for a future generation (from David’s time). This is for a people who hadn’t even yet been created that will praise God.
Well, all of Israel had certainly already been created, lived in Egypt, left Egypt, and at the time of this Psalm were living in their own sovereign nation with one king over all 12 tribes…. David.
This mention of a mysterious “people not yet created” is talking about nothing less than the body of gentile believers…the Church…. who will become part of spiritual…true…. Israel. And, we will all love Israel, and praising God, according to this prophesy.
Now, let’s take what we’ve learned and look at Romans 11. Here’s the question:
Why is it that God gave His Torah to 12 tribes of Israel, then through the House of Judah, the Jewish part of Israel, gave us our Savior, only to have the torch of the gospel to be passed on from the Jews to the Gentiles, and then for the Jews and the gentiles to be at odds with each other for centuries?
Let’s read Romans 11:11-26, because this question is explicitly addressed and answered.
Also, let’s look once again at the Circle of Salvation chart. ( See Ephraim mixes with the people)
God’s plan was to give His covenants to Israel: covenants that would lead to a restoration of the relationship between mankind and God. In due time, the gentile world was to be joined to Israel’s covenants…Old and New.
When Israel, for the most part, rejected the New Covenant, which is the blood of Christ, gentile believers were grafted into Israel, with the twin purposes of partaking of Israel’s covenants, and of carrying forth the gospel to the whole gentile world.
But, at the appointed time, the Jews would wake up, and see that the gentiles had what had always been intended for Israel; and they become jealous, and want what the gentile believers have.
And, then, Paul says the Jews will learn the gospel from the gentiles, who originally learned the gospel from the Jews, and in this way ALL Israel will be saved. Both houses.
Who is ALL Israel, spiritually?
Ephraim, the house of Israel that became part of the gentile world, and Judah, who remained Jewish. Both houses. Saved. And, we are seeing this happen, with our own eyes.