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The Ten Lost Tribes and the Ingathering of the Gentiles

by Brant Pitre November 15, 2019 0 Comments


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Very excellent choice for the Old Testament for today, it’s from Isaiah 66. So this is the last chapter of arguably the greatest of the prophets in the Old Testament, the book of Isaiah. And what does Isaiah describe? Exactly what Jesus was just talking about, the eschatological or the end time ingathering not just of Israel, the remnant of Israel, but also of the gentiles and of the nations. So you see, Israel and the nations are being gathered together into the New Jerusalem in Isaiah 66. So this is what it says:

“For I know their works and their thoughts, and I am coming to gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come and shall see my glory, and I will set a sign among them. And from them I will send survivors to the nations, to Tarshish, Put, and Lud, who draw the bow, to Tubal and Javan, to the coastlands afar off, that have not heard my fame or seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the nations.  And they shall bring all your brethren from all the nations as an offering to the Lord, upon horses, and in chariots, and in litters, and upon mules, and upon dromedaries, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, says the Lord, just as the Israelites bring their cereal offering in a clean vessel to the house of the Lord.  And some of them also I will take for priests and for Levites, says the Lord.

Ok. I did my whole dissertation on this topic, of the ingathering of Israel and the gentiles so I’ll try to keep this brief. But notice two things here. First, Isaiah ends with a mission to the nations, the survivors of Israel. That’s an image for the remnant. The righteous remnant of Israel isn’t just going to stay in Israel, they’re going to go out into the four corners of the earth and they’re going to proclaim the glory of the Lord amongst the nations. And the Hebrew word there for nation is the goyim. Even to this day, the word goy can be used in modern day Hebrew to refer to a gentile (a non-Israelite, a non-Jewish person). So God himself, in the Old Testament (Notice this, this isn’t Acts, this isn’t Paul, this isn’t the New Testament), in the book of Isaiah, describes a mission to the gentiles, a mission to the nations in which the remnant of Israel goes out to the nations. But they don’t just gather the gentiles. Notice it also says that they shall bring some of your brethren, some of your brothers from all the nations. Well who are their brothers? That’s the Israelites. Remember, I mentioned the lost ten tribes, there was this debate amongst the rabbis. Some rabbis said the lost ten tribes were lost forever, and the other ones said, “no, no, no. In the end, they’re going to be saved. They’re going to be brought into the world to come.”  Well that second opinion there reflects this prophetic tradition that when the mission to the nations (the gentiles) take place, guess who will also be brought back? The descendants of the lost ten tribes of Israel, so that when you go and get the gentiles, you end up bringing all of the scattered Israelites as well who have been intermingled among the gentile nations. And elsewhere I’ve talked about this, how that I think that is really what’s driving Paul for example. He’s not just going to the nations to get the gentiles, he’s also going to the nations to bring the good news of salvation to the diaspora, to his fellow Israelites throughout the diaspora. That’s why he always goes to the synagogue first and only then does he go to the gentiles. So to the Jews first and also to the Greek, because it’s a universal salvation in the sense that it’s not just for Israel, but it’s also not just for the gentiles. It’s for Israel and the nations. It’s the ingathering of all peoples into the New Jerusalem of God.

That I actually think (this passage) is a wonderful background for Jesus’ image in the gospel today. That many will come from East and West and North and South and they’re going to be gathered into the banquet of the kingdom of God. That’s Jesus’ image and vision for salvation.

Brant Pitre
Brant Pitre


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