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Note II.


THE PROMISES OF A MULTITUDINOUS SEED, AND THAT ISRAEL SHALL BECOME A GREAT AND MIGHTY NATION.


A great point is made by all Anglo-Israel writers of the promises which God made to the fathers of a multitudinous seed. The argument is, that since the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were to be a great and mighty and very numerous nation—yea, "a company of nations"—these promises cannot apply to the "Jews," who are comparatively few in number. There must exist, therefore, a people somewhere great and mighty and numerous who are the seed of Abraham, in whom these promises are realised.

Now look at the British Empire, how great and mighty it is in the earth, and what vast numbers it includes, ergo, the British, including the United States of America (which by some wonderful process of divination Anglo-Israelites are able to distinguish and identify as "Manasseh," in spite of the fact that their progenitors, who emigrated from England, were, according to them "Ephraimites," and that those original emigrants have since been mixed up with a flood of emigrants from all other races under heaven), are the descendants of Abraham, and particularly of the "lost" Ten Tribes!

Now the following are the Scriptures on the subject:

(1) "And I will make of thee (Abraham) a great nation" (Gen. xii. 2).

(2) "And I will make thy seed as the dust of the earth; so that if a man can number the dust of the earth, then shall thy seed also be numbered" (Gen. xiii. 16).

(3) "And He brought him (Abraham) forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the number of the stars, if thou be able to tell them: and He said unto him, So shall thy seed be" (Gen. xv. 5).

(4) "And God talked with him (Abraham), saying: As for Me, My covenant is with thee, and thou shalt be the father of a multitude of nations; neither shall thy name any more be called Abram, but thy name shall be Abraham; for the father of a multitude of nations have I made thee. And I will make thee exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of thee, and kings shall come out of thee" (Gen. xvii. 4–6).

(5) "Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him" (Gen. xviii. 18).

(6) "In blessing I will bless thee, and in multiplying I will multiply thy seed as the stars of heaven, and as the sand which is upon the seashore; and thy seed shall possess the gate of his enemies" (a Hebrew idiom for "shall be victorious over his foes") (Gen. xxii. 17).

(7) "And God said unto him (Jacob), I am God Almighty, be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins" (Gen. xxxv. 11).

To these passages have to be added Isaac's blessing to Jacob: "God Almighty bless thee and make thee fruitful, and multiply thee, that thou mayest be a company—literally, 'a congregation' (קְהַל עַמִים) of peoples" (Gen. xxviii. 3); and Jacob's forecast of Ephraim in his blessing of Joseph's sons, that his seed shall become "a multitude (or literally, 'a fulness,' מְלֹא הַגּוֹיִם) of the nations."

Now in reference to all these particular promises and forecasts, I would beg your attention to the following observations:—

I. There are expressions in them which must not be pressed to the extreme of literalness according to our Western ideas. We speak of "nations," and think of them as embracing populations of whole countries, and of "kings" as being sovereigns of States, but in the earlier books of the Bible we are introduced to many "nations" and "peoples" as comprised in one little country of Canaan, and of many "kings" who were no more than chiefs, or rulers of "cities," which in our modern times we would only class as "villages." As a matter of fact, the term גּוֹיִם, goim, generally standing for "nations," and usually for the Gentile nations, is actually used for the tribes or families of the Jewish people. Here is the Scripture: "And He said unto me, Son of Man, I send thee to the children of Israel, to nations (גוֹיִם, goim—the word is in the plural) that are rebellious, which have rebelled against Me" (Ezek. ii. 3).

The "Jews," or "Israel," as they are properly called are being spoken of as "nations," because they comprised different families or tribes.

Already Moses could say of the Israel of his time: "Jehovah your God hath multiplied you, and behold, ye are this day as the stars of heaven for multitude" (Deut. i. 10; x. 22); and Solomon, in his prayer for wisdom, says: "Thy servant is in the midst of Thy people which Thou hast chosen, a great people that cannot be counted for multitude" (1 Kings iii. 8).

The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews knew nothing of a supposed identification of the millions in Britain and America with the "lost" Ten Tribes, but speaking of the descendants of Abraham and Sarah, he could say that because Abraham believed God, and Sarah herself, in spite of natural impossibilities, judged Him faithful who had promised: "Wherefore also there sprang of one, and him as good as dead, so many as the stars of heaven for multitude, and as the sand which is by the seashore innumerable" (Hebrews xi. 12); so that even if we view only the past it is not true to assert that the promises of God that the seed of Abraham should be a multitude which cannot be numbered, and constitute "a company of nations," has not been fulfilled in the "Jews" or "Israel," which has never been "lost."

II. The promises of a multitudinous seed and rapid increase of the seed of Abraham, though in the first instance given to the fathers unconditionally, and therefore will assuredly be fulfilled, were nevertheless made conditional on Israel's obedience. It is with this, as with all the other great promises, given to the Jewish nation. They were conditional as far as any particular generation of Jews are concerned, who may either enjoy them if in obedience, or forfeit them through disobedience; but they are unconditional to the nation because God abides faithful, and in the end all His plans and purposes in and through them will be fulfilled. For this very reason He has preserved them as a people in spite of all their sin and disobedience.

Now at the very commencement of Israel's history—long before there was any likelihood of a schism among the tribes—Moses, speaking in the name of God of the whole nation, says: "If ye walk in My statutes and keep My commandments to do them, . . . I will have respect unto you and make you fruitful and multiply you, and will establish My covenant with you" (Lev. xxvi. 3–9).

On the other hand, he solemnly forewarns them that if they shall "corrupt themselves" and fall away from the living God, "I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day that ye shall soon utterly perish from off the land whereunto ye go over Jordan to possess it, . . . and Jehovah shall scatter you among the peoples, and ye shall be left few in number among the nations whither Jehovah shall lead you" (Deut. iv. 25–27).

This is repeated with solemn emphasis in Deut. xxviii. 62: "And ye shall be left few in number, whereas ye were as the stars of heaven for multitude." In the light of the Word of God, therefore, and apart from all the absurdities involved in the Anglo-Israel theory, the very fact that the British and American races are so numerous and powerful among the nations precludes the possibility of their being Israel, for when out of Palestine and in dispersion Israel was to become "few in number," and oppressed and downtrodden among the nations.

III. The underlying fallacy in the Anglo-Israel argument from the promises of a multitudinous seed which God made to the fathers (and this, indeed, is one of the chief errors underlying the whole theory), is that it overlooks the fact that those promises, according to the testimony of the prophets, will be fulfilled in the future, when (as stated above) the Jewish nation, restored and converted, shall become under the personal rule of their Messiah, great and mighty for God on this earth. Then, when Israel shall be spiritually restored to God, and in and through the grace of their Messiah they shall be a nation all righteous and planted by God in their own land, "the little one shall become a thousand, and the small one a strong nation" (Isa. lx. 21, 22); and so rapidly and marvellously shall they increase that even the whole promised land, which is fifty times as large as the portion of it "from Dan to Beersheba," which alone they possessed in the past, shall become too small for them, so that they shall say to the surrounding nations: "The place is too strait for me, give place ('make room') that I may dwell" (Isa. xlix. 19, 20).

Now all this has been, and will be, fulfilled in the "Jews," who, as I have shown, are the people of the whole "Twelve Tribes scattered abroad." In the dispersion among the nations they became reduced to "few in number," but when they are restored and blessed God says: "I will multiply them, and they shall not be few; I will also glorify them, and they shall not be small" (Jer. xxx. 19).

Of the capacity for rapid increase of the Jewish people there is sufficient proof already. The following is from a recent number of The Scattered Nation:—

"The marvellous increase of the Jewish people since their so-called 'emancipation' in the xixth century, is indeed a striking sign of the times. The statement of a recent writer in the Jewish Chronicle that at the commencement of the xvith century there could scarcely have been more than a million Jews left in the entire world after the untold sufferings, dispersions and massacres which they had to endure in the dark and middle ages—is probably true. The historian Basnage, in his 'History of the Jews from Jesus Christ to the Present Time,' calculated that in his time (end of the xviith and beginning of the xviiith century) there were 3,000,000 Jews in the world. Since then, however, the growth of Jewry has been phenomenal. At the commencement of the xixth century there were said to be five millions. Half a century later the numbers reached six or seven millions; and at the end of another half a century—in 1896—the greatest living authority on Jewish statistics gave their number as eleven millions. And now, after the lapse of another seventeen or eighteen years, we are informed that there are no less than 13,000,000 Jews in the world. And the surprising feature of this latest calculation is the officially authenticated fact that, in the country where they are most persecuted, and which during the past three decades has driven forth millions to seek an asylum in other countries, there are more Jews to-day than ever before; and this in spite of pogroms, and baptisms, and overcrowding, and starvation, and the pursuance of a merciless policy of repression which led Pobiedonostsef to prognosticate that, in the end, a third of Russia's Jews would emigrate, a third would die, and a third would join the dominant faith. The old story of Israel in Egypt renews itself to-day in Russia: 'The more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied.'"

And if this be so now even in dispersion, we can imagine that in the millennial period, under the fostering care and blessing of God, the favoured nation will increase and multiply so that they will be as the stars of heaven, and as the sand which is upon the seashore, innumerable.