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The Plain Truth – April 1986
The Plain Truth – April 1986
Chapter Five
Mystery Of The Ages

Mystery of Israel

by Herbert W. Armstrong

We continue, with this eighth installment, the serial publication of Herbert W. Armstrong’s last book Mystery of the Ages. We pick up the story thread in the time of King David of Israel.

KING DAVID of ancient Israel personally was not without sin. Nor has any human ruler ever been.

But what made King David different is that each time he repented and turned from each sin. David became “a man after God’s own heart.” He wrote a most important book in the Bible, the book of Psalms.

God made an unconditional and unbreakable covenant with David, assuring that his dynasty, ruling over Israelites, would continue unbroken forever. Finally, in God’s due time, that throne will be taken over by Jesus Christ, at his Second Coming to earth.

Israel Split into Two Nations

David’s son Solomon became the wisest man who ever lived (except Christ). But he taxed the people very heavily, and when he died his son Rehoboam became king. The people sent a delegation with an ultimatum to Rehoboam. If he would reduce their taxes, they would serve him. If not, they would reject him as king. On the advice of the younger men among his councilors, Rehoboam told the people he would lay even heavier taxes on them.

Thereupon the people decided against the royal house of David. They named as king, Jeroboam, who had occupied the office we would today call prime minister, under King Solomon. Since Rehoboam was seated on the throne in Jerusalem, the people of Israel chose a new capital some distance north of Jerusalem. (Under a later king, Omri, they built a new northern capital at Samaria.)

Thereupon the tribes of Judah and Benjamin decided to remain loyal to Rehoboam. This brought about a secession of the rebellious tribes from Israel, and they became the nation of Judah.

Upon ascending the throne, Jeroboam deposed the Levites from the office of priesthood because he feared they might turn the hearts of the people back to Rehoboam and thereby he would lose his new throne. He also changed the holy festivals of the seventh month to the eighth month. There is strong indication that he also changed the seventh day Sabbath to Sunday, the first day of the week. The Sabbath had been made an everlasting covenant by God between him and Israel, by which they would be identified from all other people (Ex. 31:12-18) as God’s nation Israel and by which they would be brought into weekly remembrance that the Eternal was their Creator. For in six days God renewed or recreated the earth and creation is the proof of God.

The Ten Lost Tribes

Thus the people of Israel became known as the Ten Lost Tribes. They had lost the covenant sign identifying them as Israel. They had lost the knowledge of God their Creator. They soon lost even the Hebrew language.

During the time of 19 kings and seven dynasties, the 10-tribed kingdom of Israel continued in sin, rejecting the pleadings of prophets God sent to them. In a siege of war, about 721 to 718 B.C., the House of Israel was conquered by Assyria. They were moved from their homes, farms and villages and transported as a captive people to Assyria on the southern shores of the Caspian Sea.

From there, within a hundred years, they migrated northwest and became known as the Lost Ten Tribes.

The world has never known what became of them. The world in general, mistakenly, has considered that all Israelites were Jews. But in the Bible, the term Jew applied only to the tribes of Judah, Benjamin and Levi. The Levites had joined the kingdom of Judah when they were expelled by Jeroboam.

The 2,520 Years Punishment

Dating from the captivity of Israel – 721 to 718 B.C – that nation entered its 2,520 years of punishment as foretold in Leviticus 26. During this time the promises made to Abraham of national wealth, prosperity and dominance were withheld from them. This duration carried to the years 1800-1804 when national supremacy and economic dominance was to become theirs. This had to be, because God had promised it unconditionally to Abraham.

How they finally, beginning the year A.D. 1800, regained the national dominance and wealth God had unconditionally promised Abraham is recorded in the book The United States and Britain in Prophecy.

Meanwhile, the Jews of the kingdom of Judah were conquered and removed from their land by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon about 585 B.C.

Among the Jewish captives taken to Babylon was a brilliant young man, Daniel, a prophet who wrote the book under his name in the Bible. God used the prophet Daniel as a go-between between the Eternal and King Nebuchadnezzar.

This great gentile king had organized the world’s first empire uniting several nations under one government. God used Daniel to make known to the Babylonian king that the Creator God ruled over the whole earth, and that Nebuchadnezzar held his throne only by God’s will. Actually, God was giving this gentile king opportunity to come under God’s rule and have the consequent blessings of God.

The prophecy of Daniel chapter 2 pictured a stupendous image, representing Nebuchadnezzar’s Chaldean Empire, to be followed by the Persian Empire, and then, in turn, the Greco-Macedonian Empire, the Roman Empire, and the entire system of human governments to be destroyed and replaced by the kingdom of God headed by Christ as King of kings ruling all the earth.

The Gentile World Government

The prophecies of Daniel 7 and of Revelation 13 and 17 foretell the same thing.

Of course, although Nebuchadnezzar acknowledged the existence of God, he never obeyed. Meanwhile, God kept hands off the other peoples of the world.

The Persian Empire succeeded Nebuchadnezzar’s Chaldean Empire. Seventy years after the captivity of Judah and destruction of Solomon’s Temple God put it in the mind of King Cyrus of Persia to send a colony of captive Jews back to Jerusalem to build a second Temple.

This colony was headed by Zerubbabel as governor. The prophets Ezra and Nehemiah also joined this colony in Jerusalem. Zerubbabel built the second Temple, to which Jesus came some 500 years later. The Romans had come into power before the birth of Jesus. Just prior to the birth of Jesus, King Herod, who ruled over Jews and served the Romans, had remodeled and enlarged the Temple.

This colony of Jews sent back to Jerusalem some 500 years before Christ had expanded over the area of Judea. None of the kingdom of Israel had gone back to Jerusalem in this colony. They had migrated west by northwest and lost their Hebrew language, and even the knowledge of their identity. The world has called them the Lost Ten Tribes. More of them later.

It was during this 500 years that God sent so-called minor prophets to the Jews in Judea. Also it was during the latter part of this period that Jewish elders altered points in the religion started through Moses into the Judaism found among Jews in the lifetime of Jesus. The stage was set for his appearing.

Now let us return to the 10-tribed kingdom of Israel. As stated above, they had, before the captivity of Judah, migrated west by northwest. The Assyrians settled in central Europe, and the Germans, undoubtedly, are, in part, the descendants of the ancient Assyrians.

However, the so-called Lost Ten Tribes – the kingdom of Israel – continued into western Europe and Britain. We cannot be positive in respect to the various tribal identities today, but probably France or at least the northern French are the tribe of Reuben. Ephraim and Manasseh journeyed on into the British Isles. They became a colonizing people, and according to prophecy they were to lose their first colony.

Name “Israel” Given to Joseph’s Sons

The dying Jacob, who had been renamed Israel, conferred the birthright blessing on Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. Jacob, now renamed Israel, though blind so he could not see the lads before him, crossed his hands, “and Israel stretched out his right hand, and laid it upon Ephraim’s head, who was the younger, and his left hand upon Manasseh’s head, guiding his hands wittingly; for Manasseh was the firstborn. And he blessed Joseph, and said, God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac did walk, the God which fed me all my life long unto this day, the Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth” (Gen. 48:14-16).

Continuing from The United States and Britain in Prophecy:

Let who grow into this promised multitude? Let whose descendants become that numerous seed, which shall number into billions? Not Judah, the father of the Jews – note it! – but EPHRAIM AND MANASSEH! Why have the eyes and understanding of church leaders and Bible students been blinded to this plain fact of Scripture?

Notice, Israel did not confer this blessing on just one, but on both – “Bless the lads,” he said. This blessing went upon them jointly. “Let my name be named on them” was part of this blessing. His name was ISRAEL. Hence, it was the descendants of these lads, not the descendants of Judah, or the Jews, who were named ISRAEL. How clear it is that the name ISRAEL was to be indelibly stamped on EPHRAIM and MANASSEH!

A shocking fact – and yet plainly proved, right before your eyes! And remember, this scripture needs no “interpretation” or “special meaning” or “hidden symbolism” for you to understand! Here is the plain, simple statement that Jacob’s name, which was changed to Israel, would become the very POSSESSION and property – the label on the peoples of Ephraim and Manasseh!

WHO, then, according to your Bible, is the real Israel (racially and nationally) of today?

Ephraim and Manasseh!

Ephraim and Manasseh together received the right to the name ISRAEL. It was to become the national name of their descendants. And their descendants were never Jews! Fix this fact firmly in your mind!

Thus it is that many of the prophecies about “Israel” or “Jacob” do not refer to Jews or to any of the nations that are today the descendants of the other tribes of Israel. Mark that well! Few, indeed, are the clergymen, theologians, or professed Bible scholars who know that today. Many refuse to know it!

Together the descendants of these two lads, Ephraim and Manasseh, were to grow into the promised multitude – the nation and company of nations. These national blessings are poured upon them jointly. These are the collective blessings which the lads together received – but not the other tribes!

Jacob Crosses Hands

But at this juncture, Joseph noticed that Jacob’s right hand was not resting upon the head of the firstborn. He endeavored to remove it.

“Not so, my father,” said Joseph, “for this is the firstborn; put thy right hand upon his head. And his father refused, and said, I know it, my son, I know it: he [Manasseh] also shall become a people, and he also shall be great: but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude [or, COMPANY] of nations. And he blessed them that day, saying, In thee shall Israel bless, saying, God make thee as Ephraim and as Manasseh: and he set Ephraim before Manasseh” (Gen. 48:18-20). Here the promises are no longer collective, possessed jointly. Jacob now was prophesying as to the blessings of each, individually.

Promised Blessings to Britain and the United States

Remember, if ancient Israel obeyed God in the land (Sabbath breaking and idolatry were specifically mentioned in Leviticus 26), they would, in the ancient days of Moses, Joshua and up to the time of their captivity about 721-718 B.C., have inherited the national and material blessings of the birthright promise God made to Abraham. But, remember, if they did not obey, these promises would be denied for a duration of 2,520 years – that is, until A.D. 1800.

So it now becomes plain and clear that after the 2,520 years, beginning A.D. 1800, it was the descendants of Joseph, subdivided into two nations descended from Ephraim and Manasseh, who were to become the wealthiest and most powerful nations on earth.

United States Is Manasseh

From the prophetic blessings passed on by the dying Jacob, it is apparent that Ephraim and Manasseh were in a large measure to inherit the birthright jointly; to remain together for a long time, finally separating.

In Genesis 48 Jacob first passed the birthright on to the two sons of Joseph jointly, speaking of them both together. Then, finally, he spoke of them separately – Manasseh was to become the single GREAT nation; Ephraim, the COMPANY of nations.

And in his prophecy for these latter days Jacob said, “Joseph is a fruitful bough, even a fruitful bough by a well; whose branches run over the wall” (Gen. 49:22). In other words, Joseph – Ephraim and Manasseh jointly and together – was to be a colonizing people in this latter day, their colonies branching out from the British Isles around the earth.

Together Ephraim and Manasseh grew into a multitude, then separated, according to Jacob’s prophetic blessing of Genesis 48. Our people have fulfilled this prophecy.

But how can the U.S.A. be Manasseh when a large part of the population have come from many nations besides England? The answer is this: A large part of Manasseh remained with Ephraim until the separation of NEW England. But our forefathers were to be sifted through many nations, as corn through a sieve, yet not a grain to fall to the earth or be lost (Amos 9:9). The people did filter through many nations. Ephraim and much of Manasseh finally emigrated to England together, but many others of Manasseh who had filtered into and through other nations did not leave them until they came, as immigrants, to the United States AFTER the New England colony had become the separate nation. This does not mean that all foreigners who have emigrated to America are of the stock of Manasseh, but undoubtedly many are. Ancient Israel, however, always did absorb gentiles, who became Israelites through living in Israel’s land.

The U.S. has become, known as the “melting pot” of the world. Instead of refuting a Manasseh ancestry, this fact actually confirms it. The proof that the U.S. is Manasseh is overwhelming. Manasseh was to separate from Ephraim and become the greatest, wealthiest single nation of earth’s history. America alone has fulfilled this prophecy. Manasseh was in fact a thirteenth tribe. There were twelve original tribes. Joseph was one of these twelve. But when Joseph divided into two tribes and Manasseh separated into an independent nation, it became a thirteenth tribe.

Could it be mere coincidence that it started, as a nation, with thirteen colonies?

But what about the other tribes of the so-called Lost Ten Tribes? While the birthright was Joseph’s, and its blessings have come to the British Commonwealth of nations and the United States of America, yet the other eight tribes of Israel were also God’s chosen people. They, too, have been blessed with a good measure of material prosperity – but not the dominance of the birthright.

We lack space for a detailed explanation of the specific identity of all of these other tribes in the nations of our twentieth century. Suffice it to say here that there is ample evidence that these other eight tribes have descended into such northwestern European nations as Holland, Belgium, Denmark, northern France, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway. The people of Iceland are also of Viking stock. The political boundaries of Europe, as they exist today, do not necessarily show lines of division between descendants of these original tribes of Israel.

Prophecy for United States and Britain for Now

Just as God has bestowed on us such material blessings as never before came to any nations, now to correct us so we may enjoy such blessings, he is going to bring upon our peoples such national disaster as has never before struck any nation! Many prophecies describe this!

An important additional proof of modern Israel’s identity is found in a fantastic, detailed and most specific prophecy found in Micah 5:7-15. It is speaking specifically about the “remnant” of Israel – modern Israel today – wherever it is. It describes the wealth, the beneficent dominance among nations, and then the coming downfall of the American and British Commonwealth peoples in detail!

Notice: “And the remnant of Jacob [not Jews] shall be in the midst of many people [nations] as a dew from the Lord, as the showers upon the grass, that tarrieth not for man, nor waiteth for the sons of men” (verse 7). Remember that dew and showers are absolutely necessary to agricultural productivity and are a symbol of national blessing and wealth from God.

Continue: “And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles in the midst of many people as a lion among the beasts of the forest, as a young lion among the flocks of sheep: who, if he go through, both treadeth down, and teareth in pieces, and none can deliver” (verse 8).

Again, this symbolism describes the last generation of Israel as a great power – as a lion among the other nations of the earth.

“Thine hand shall be lifted up upon thine adversaries, and all thine enemies shall be cut off” (verse 9) or defeated. Their enemies were defeated from the beginning of God’s birthright blessing on America and Britain starting about 1803, through the First World War, the Second World War, until the turning point of the Korean War at the end of 1950.

Since that time, however, these blessings are surely being taken away – and neither America nor Britain has come out on top in any major conflict since that time!

So this prophecy shows that at the very time we were receiving God’s blessings, we were a tremendous blessing to the other nations of the earth – for it is our peoples who have rescued the other nations of the world time and again through the Marshall Plan, the Point Four program, the Alliance for Progress, the hundreds of millions of bushels of wheat for starving nations.

The Hoover Program saved up vast food supplies after World War I. It saved millions in other nations from starvation!

Anciently Joseph saved up the wheat and food and made it available to others. Modern Joseph did also. But – we are stiff-necked and rebellious toward God and his law, while our ancient forefather Joseph served and obeyed God with a whole heart.

It is our peoples who have been like a “lion” among the other nations of the earth – preserving in two great world wars the peace of the world and stability for all human life on this planet!

Sudden Destruction

Yet, in this detailed prophecy, God says: “And it shall come to pass IN THAT DAY, saith the Lord, that I will cut off thy horses [“war-horses,” Moffatt translation]” – tanks, ships, rockets – “out of the midst of thee, and I will destroy thy chariots: and I will cut off the cities [by hydrogen bombs?] of thy land, and throw down all thy strong holds” (verses 10-11). (Notice, all the strongholds.)

God says he will do this! God determines the outcome of wars (Ps. 33:10-19).

How plain can you get? Here God identifies the great peoples of the earth who are the most wealthy and beneficent, the most POWERFUL – yet at the very time their power reaches its zenith, he suddenly “breaks” the pride of their power (see Leviticus 26:19), cuts off their implements of war and destroys their cities! Why?

Because, as the prophet continues to explain, we have too much “witchcraft” and too many “soothsayers” (astrology) and false ministers in our lands who refuse to preach with authority the commandments and ways of the living God!

In America, we print on our money “In God We Trust.” But instead we rely on foreign allies and our own human ingenuity, not in God.

Stealing from God

God has a financial law for our nations. He says 10 percent of the increase, or gross income of each one of us, belongs to God for his purposes and his work.

In Malachi 3:8-10: “Will a man rob God? Yet ye have robbed me. But ye say, Wherein have we robbed thee? In tithes and offerings. Ye are cursed with a curse: for ye have robbed me, even this whole nation. Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.”

After the year 1800 the English-speaking world prospered because of Abraham’s obedience and God’s unbreakable promises to him. But now having received such individual and national prosperity, we sin by stealing from God. That has brought our nations under a curse. We have won our last war. Nothing but troubles now lie ahead until we repent.

God’s tithe is holy to him (Lev. 27:30). God’s Sabbath, the seventh day of every week, is holy to him. Yet we have put no difference between the holy and the profane (Ezek. 22:26).

Now continue the prophecy in Micah 5. Therefore, God will punish and destroy us – unless we repent – just before and leading up to the utter destruction to come “upon the heathen” (verse 15), which will take place at the very end of this age and at the second return of Jesus Christ as King of kings!

There is no other people that even remotely fulfills this great prophecy! But the American and British peoples fulfill it precisely!

As the “pride of our power” continues to be broken, as the British gradually lose their foreign sea gates and possessions around the earth, as America signs away ownership of the Panama Canal – control over this vital sea gate – as the gold supply drains away, and weather upsets increase, this focal prophecy alone represents giant PROOF as to where the modern “remnant” of the peoples of Israel resides today!

Punishment on All Nations!

It will now be made plain – from God’s own warning prophecies – that this greatest multiplied intensity of corrective punishment will fall on Britain and America – including British peoples in Commonwealth countries. And it will strike them down first!

But they are not the only nations to suffer corrective disaster. God is Creator of all other nations, too! God is concerned about the people and races we have called “heathen.” They, too, are human. They, too, are made in God’s own likeness, with the potential of being molded into God’s spiritual and character image! God sent the apostle Paul to gentile nations!

All mankind has rebelled against, rejected, and turned from God and his ways! There can never be peace on earth until all nations will have been turned to God and his ways, ruled by his supreme government!

All mankind, right now, is caught in the vortex of the swiftly accelerating crisis marking the utter destruction of this world’s man-built, Satan-inspired civilization.

Through Jeremiah God says: “A noise shall come even to the ends of the earth; for the Lord hath a controversy with the nations, he will plead with all flesh” – how? The World Tomorrow program carries his peaceful pleading worldwide, but the world, except for scattered individuals, does not heed this kind of “pleading.” The next words tell how God is now about to plead: “… he will give them that are wicked to the sword, saith the Lord… Behold, evil shall go forth from nation to nation, and a great whirlwind shall be raised up from the coasts of the earth” (Jer. 25:31-32).

God will use a United Europe to punish Britain-America. Then he will use the Communist hordes to wipe out the Roman Europe.

We are entering a time of world trouble – utter world chaos! There is war, strife, violence in Asia, Africa, South America, Central America, Ireland, the Middle East – as well as Europe and North America. The population explosion is a worldwide threat to human existence. Crime, violence, sickness, disease, inequality, poverty, filth, squalor, degeneration, suffering – these infest all nations!

But, as salvation is given first to Israel, so is corrective punishment!

Our Great Tribulation

Notice Jeremiah’s prophecy:

“For thus saith the Lord; We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace. Ask ye now, and see whether a man doth travail with child? wherefore do I see every man with his hands on his loins, as a woman in travail, and all faces are turned into paleness? Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it: it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble …” (Jer. 30:5-7).

Remember – in passing on the birthright to the two sons of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh (Gen. 48:16), Jacob said, “Let MY name be named on them” – on Ephraim and Manasseh – who today are Britain and America. This tells on whom this most terrible of national calamities is to fall – on Britain and America!

But now when is it to fall? Do not assume this is referring to anything that did happen to ancient Israel. Read right on – see when this prophecy is to be fulfilled!

Continue in Jeremiah 30:7: “… it is even the time of Jacob’s trouble; but he shall be saved out of it.” (After he has learned his lesson in it!) Continuing from the Revised Standard Version: “And it shall come to pass in that day, says the Lord of hosts, that I will break the yoke from off their neck [yoke of slavery], and I will burst their bonds, and strangers shall no more make servants of them. But they shall serve the Lord their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them.” (David, at the time of the resurrection – at the very time of Christ’s coming!)

So the time is just prior to Christ’s coming – coming to liberate our peoples – even as Moses liberated ancient Israel from Egyptian slavery.

Jesus Foretold It!

Other prophecies speak of this same time of national calamity greater than any before. The pivotal New Testament prophecy is that of Jesus on the Mount of Olives – recorded in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21.

The apostles had asked Jesus privately when his Second Coming would occur – and the end of this world and the beginning of the happy world tomorrow. Jesus said the SIGN by which we might know when this is very near would be that his original gospel of the kingdom of God would be preached in all the world as a witness to all nations (Matt. 24:14). But what else – just before his coming?

Jesus continued: “For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved [alive]: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” (Matt. 24:21-22).

Here is described the greatest time of trouble – tribulation – in all history, or ever to be. Jeremiah described it as “Jacob’s trouble,” so great “that none is like it.”

Daniel described the same most severe trouble of all history. Speaking of a time now in our immediate future, Daniel foretold: “And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince [archangel] which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of TROUBLE, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time” (Dan. 12:1).

The same most intense punishment on Britain and America. And when? Continue, same verse, “… and at that time thy people shall be delivered [from this enslaved trouble], every one that shall be found written in the book. And many of them that sleep [are dead] in the dust of the earth shall awake [resurrection], some to everlasting life …” (verses 1-2).

The time is just before the resurrection of the just, at Christ’s coming. Christ’s Second Coming will end this world’s civilization and start the wonderful peaceful, happy world tomorrow!