The United Kingdom of Israel split in two during the reign of Solomon's son, Rehoboam. The Northern Kingdom of Israel was composed of 10 tribes, headed by the tribe of Joseph, in their new capital called Samaria. The Southern Kingdom of Judah continued to rule from Jerusalem, with the Royal House of David presiding over them. Both sinned against the God of Israel and were patiently warned by the prophets, but Northern Israel fell first and was deported by the Assyrians approximately 130 years before Judah was conquered by the Babylonians and the Temple destroyed (2 Kgs. 17).
After 70 years, a small number of Jews returned and restored Jerusalem and built the Temple. The Jews had been deported to Babylon and were from the Southern Kingdom of Judah. The Northern Israelites had been taken captive earlier to other areas (2 Kgs. 17:6) and have never returned.
If you check the records of those who returned from the Babylonian exile it becomes clear that basically it was only those from the Southern tribes of Benjamin, Levi and Judah. There are a few exceptions to this rule, certain individuals from Ephraim and Manasseh and undoubtedly some of the other tribes who joined with Judah (1 Chronicles 9:3). Some carelessly assume that just because those who returned are all sometimes referred to as sons or children of Israel that it means they were from the Northern Kingdom of Israel. However, Jacob-Israel had twelve sons who were the patriarchs of the twelve tribes. Every Jew is an Israelite, an ethnic descendant of Jacob-Israel, but not every Israelite is a Jew! The Northern Kingdom of Israel, as a whole, remain in exile as the "Lost Ten Tribes."
It is historically and biblically important to make this distinction between Jews and Israelites and to be careful not to blur their identities (Ezek. 44:23). After all, God has devoted four books of the Bible to do just that!
But did God intend for Northern Israel to remain lost? Since we acted like pagan Gentiles God let us lose our spiritual minds and think we're Gentiles, but was the punishment for our religious sins supposed to last forever? Didn't God promise that He would preserve Israel's unique identity even though they were scattered throughout and among many nations? Clearly God has never lost sight of who the "Lost Tribes" really are and where they're located today: "For, lo, I will command, and I will sift the House of Israel among all nations, like as corn is sifted in a sieve, yet shall not the least grain fall upon the earth" (Amos 9:9).
If God's aware of a sparrow's condition, certainly He's more concerned with collective Israel's affairs, especially since we're beloved for the fathers' (Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) sakes. Yet we see grief-stricken Israel feeling helpless and hopeless, dead to history, cut off from their roots, having given up any hope of being restored to national life, being reassured by God Almighty that He will restore their physical identity!
Once God begins the healing process, the life-giving spirit of reconciliation between Judah and Israel will result in our restoration as a United Kingdom, One Nation under God! God will restore us to our ancient homeland and revive the Davidic monarchy to rule with but under Messiah. God's Sanctuary will again be found in Jerusalem, and shine as a sign to the whole world, since He'll return home with the exiles (Ezek. 36).
Israel was only to remain lost until just before Messiah comes. That's when we would begin to fulfill our tribal destinies as prophesied by Jacob and Moses (Gen. 49; Deut. 33). The sons of Joseph, the Anglo-Saxons, have fulfilled the prophecies like no other "claimants" to Israel's inheritance can: Manasseh has become the single great nation of the United States, and his brother Ephraim has become the British Commonwealth of Nations (Gen. 48:19), as clearly brought out in The United States and Britain in Bible Prophecy, influenced by Herbert W. Armstrong, one of the greatest proponents of this biblical truth.
After our prophesied 2520 years of exile, Israel began to grow and multiply and be blessed around 1800-1803. A Jewish Homeland reveals how our Jewish brethren also came into their own after the time of their punishment came to a close, and boldly declared their statehood in 1948, holding the Promised Land in trust for all Twelve Tribes (Rom. 3:2).
Joseph and Judah are the top two leaders of the twelve tribes of Israel. It was around the ordained time that God began to bestow Joseph's Birthright that He began to restore Israel's identity among both the Anglo-Saxons and Jews (I Chron. 5:2). Some have embraced this wonderful truth and consequently have drawn closer to each other as brethren, but others have foolishly allowed Satan to create enmity and alienate us. Soon such "sibling rivalry" will be a thing of the past (Isa. 11:13).
Some rabbis/ministers have stubbornly refused to search for the "Lost Ten Tribes" and have left them to wander in their pagan Gentile ways and days! GOD HOLDS MINISTERS RESPONSIBLE FOR NOT HELPING TO RESTORE ISRAEL'S ROOTS AND RESPONSIBILITY! (Ezek. 34:4). He'll personally cut them off from the pulpit and strip them of their duties! They've proven themselves unworthy of shepherding God's people Israel and have forfeited their future as leaders.(Ezek. 34:10; Matt. 12:30). Nevertheless, God has raised up others to accomplish this urgent "search and rescue" mission (Ezek. 34:16).
Surely God wouldn't leave His Church in the dark about Israel's identity, especially since the Gospel should go first to Israelites and then to Gentiles. And the Gospel is ONE BIG PROPHECY! .
Thankfully, there are a growing number of groups and organizations, books and articles, both Christian and Jewish, that are assisting this GREAT WORK OF ISRAELITE IDENTIFICATION. They are helping to proclaim: "I am Joseph your brother" (Gen. 45:4). The Jerusalem-based Brit-Am Israel organization (founded by the Israeli Orthodox Jew Yair Davidiy) is a pioneer among our Jewish brethren.
God reveals our Israelite identity and expects us to help restore our brethren to their biblical senses (Isa. 42:22; 51:1-2). Those ministers who fail to respond to God's call to search and rescue Israel have robbed them of a right relationship with God and our forefathers, substituting pagan hollow days for God's holy days (Isa. 63:16; Hos. 5:7; Malachi 4:4-6). They've stubbornly put their idolatrous traditions above God's commands, preferring doctrinal darkness and captivity over Messiah's spiritual light and freedom.
Nevertheless, a number have been called from the womb to help restore Israel's identity and religion (Isa. 49:5-6), blasting Babylon and clearing away the stumbling blocks of religious confusion (Isa. 57:14; 58:1, 12). Even if our people as a whole reject the plain truth for popular error (2 Chron. 30:5-11), a precious few will always respond to God's call to forsake Babylon (traditional Christianity/Jewish myths) and return to our biblical roots and responsibility (I Kgs. 18:21, 36-37; Rev. 18:4).
It's vital to know who Israel is so they can return to the biblical faith once delivered. Why? To enable them to be spared from "the Time of Jacob's Trouble," the "Great Tribulation" that is prophesied to fall especially hard upon our heads. God expects us to work together to remember our Hebrew roots and responsibility, and to lead and direct our Israelite nations in the right direction (Jer. 31:21).
In order to warn Israel about the many prophecies that preview our coming captivity (due to our idolatry and immorality), it was first necessary for God to restore our identity. God has now restored our identity, He's again warning our nations, and it's up to us what will happen next.
May we take God's Word to heart, return to the God of our fathers, and have hope: "If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from Heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land" (2 Chron. 7:14).