From the Ends of the Earth
Vol: 62 Issue: 21 Tuesday, November 21, 2006
“But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and He that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art Mine.” (Isaiah 43:1)
Most scholars place Isaiah Chapters 40-55 during the time the Babylonian captivity. Jerusalem had been destroyed and the people were either in captivity or scattered.
But Isaiah is one of the richest sources of what is known as ‘dual fulfillment’ prophecy in Scripture. ‘Dual-fulfillment’ refers to prophecies that were fulfilled in part during that period of history in which they were written, with the remainder of the prophecy to be fulfilled on a grander scale at some later point in history.
In Isaiah 43 is an excellent example of dual fulfillment. Verses 1-7 address the ingathering of the exiles, which took place, in part, following Ahasuerus’ decree to rebuild the city and sanctuary.
But it also prefigures the complete ingathering of the exiles from the ‘from the ‘ends the earth’ in the last day.
Isaiah 43:8-9 is another example of dual-fulfillment:
“Bring forth the blind people that have eyes, and the deaf that have ears. Ye are My witnesses, saith the LORD, and My Servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He: before Me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after Me.”
While God is addressing the Jews in Babylonian captivity, He also includes the promise of a Redeemer, One Who gives sight to the blind and ears to the deaf, and includes a challenge to all those who would claim another god.
“Ye are My witnesses, saith the LORD, and My servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He: before Me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after Me. I, even I, am the LORD; and beside Me there is no Saviour.” (Isaiah 43:10-11)
This is a clear reference to the coming Messiah Jesus, Whom John 1:1-3 reveals as the Creator of the Universe:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made.”
The ‘Word’ — Jesus — was God, and as such, was with God in the beginning, and it was He, Jesus, Who was the Creator of the physical universe.
So, in this passage, we find history, (Creation) and three separate prophecies; the promise of their return from captivity in Babylon,( fulfilled in 445 BC), the coming of the Messiah (fulfilled some 500 years future), and their ultimate re-gathering to their own land in the last days, (in the process of being fulfilled in this generation).
The re-gathering in Isaiah’s day was only a partial fulfillment, since only the Jews of Judah were restored by Ahasuerus. The ten northern tribes of the Kingdom of Israel were taken into exile by Sargon the Assyrian in BC 702, from which they disappeared from history.
After the Israelites were conquered and scattered, there remained only the Jews of Judah, who were taken by the Babylonians and then restored to the land by the Persians.
Isaiah’s re-gathering here is not the re-gathering of the Jews of Judah, but of the whole nation of Israel.
“For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of ISRAEL, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee.” (Isaiah 43:3)
A group of fifty-one Indians who claimed to be descendants of one of those ten lost tribes are just now arriving in Israel in what Jewish religious authorities are calling a fulfillment of Bible prophecy.
Israel’s chief Rabbinate certified a group of some seven thousand Indians from the remote north-eastern Indian states of Mizoram and Minapur as members of the Bnei Menashe, one of the ten tribes that were lost after being exiled by the Assyrians.
Michael Jankelowitz, spokesman for the Jerusalem-based Jewish Agency, which is co-ordinating the Indians’ arrival, said “they have lived a Jewish way of life for decades” including by keeping Saturday as the Sabbath and observing Jewish dietary laws.
The tale of how the community’s ancestors came to India’s north-east – sandwiched between Bangladesh and Myanmar is fascinating. Exiled by the Assyrians, the tribe was apparently forced east and travelled through Afghanistan and China before settling in what is now India’s north-east.
Rabbi Avihayil, who discovered the Menashe, says he learned of them back in 1979, and, after two years of studying their history and traditions, identified them as members of the lost tribe.
Among the clues that he took to be telltale signs, he said, were traditions resembling those of the ancient Israelites, including having places of refuge for those who had killed someone by mistake.
Rabbi Avihayil said his research revealed that the descendants of Menasseh also practised circumcision, albeit with sharpened flint rather than a knife.
In 1982, Rabbi Avihayil travelled to India, where he met Bnei Menashi . Then in 1989 he sent a religious official there to convert 24 people.
The ingathering of Jews from exile is a central theme of the last days:
“I will bring thy seed from the east, and gather thee from the west,” Isaiah predicted. “I will say to the north, Give up; and to the south, Keep not back: bring My sons from far, and My daughters from the ends of the earth.” (Isaiah 43:5-6)
By Rabbi Avihayil’s estimate, there are tens of millions of descendants of the lost tribes of Israel living in Japan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, Thailand and Burma.
“It is not our task to bring all of the ten tribes back, that is the task of the Messiah,” he said.
“But it is our task, before the Messiah comes, to create an opening in this matter.”
The opening is created, and the ingathering is in process.
The ten lost tribes of Israel are rediscovering their Jewish history in places throughout the world, from east to west, north to south, exactly as prophesied, and are being ‘lifted up’ and put back down again in their own land.
Just in time for the Messiah.
“Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. . . .”
“Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till ALL these things be fulfilled.” (Matthew 24:32-34)