The Theory of
The theory of British Israelism was once a main doctrine of the Worldwide Church of God, begun by Herbert W. Armstrong. The current leadership has since discarded this teaching as biblically incorrect. However, many offshoot groups of the WCG have clung to all the doctrines held by the late Herbert W. Armstrong, and so still accept this teaching. Some Christians are also influenced by this teaching, and need to take a closer look at it.
The book, "The United States and the British Commonwealth in Prophecy" outlines the teaching that Britain and the United States are the lost ten tribes of Israel. In this teaching of "British Israelism", the tribe of Ephraim becomes Great Britain, Manasseh is the United States, and the throne of David is the throne of England.
Herbert W. Armstrong published this theory as his own special revelation from God. Recent evidence has surfaced that shows plagiarism from J. H. Allen's book, "Judah's Scepter and Joseph's Birthright", a 375-page book published in 1902 and copyrighted in 1917.
This book was written a full thirty years before Armstrong claimed to have made an "exhaustive" study of the British Israelism issue.
ONLY A THEORY
The theory teaches that when God's people returned to Palestine after the captivity, only the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and Levi really returned. The "House of Israel", meaning the ten lost tribes, scattered. By Jesus' day, supposedly only three tribes were represented. According to the theory, the "House of Israel" was missing.
THE BIBLE SPEAKS
The Apostle Peter was, however, unaware of British Israelism teaching, since he uttered these words at Acts 2: 36,
"Therefore let all the HOUSE OF ISRAEL know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ--this Jesus whom you crucified."
In the B-I theory, the judgments against Israel naturally become directed towards the United States. We thus find the belief that America will cease to be a nation, and her citizens will be removed, finding themselves in captivity.(Plain Truth, July 1959, p. 16).
The Bible teaches that a prophet is false when his words fail to come to pass. (See Deuteronomy 18:20-22). Time has already run out for this prophecy, since it was foretold for 1972 in the publications of Herbert W. Armstrong. The theory of British-Israelism falls with the prophecy, and the prophet.
ARE "ISRAEL" AND "JEW" ALWAYS DIFFERENT?
Armstrong taught that "Israel" and "Jew" were two separate nations. "Jew" always meant "The House of Judah", and "Israel" meant "the lost ten tribes". 2 Kings 17:18-23 is a favorite passage of British-Israelism devotees, so let's consider it.
"So the LORD was very angry with Israel, and removed them from His sight; none was left except the tribe of Judah. Also Judah did not keep the commandments of the LORD their God, but walked in the customs which Israel had introduced.
And the LORD rejected all the descendants of Israel and afflicted them and gave them into the hand of plunderers, until He had cast them out of His sight. When He had torn Israel from the house of David,they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king.
Then Jeroboam drove Israel away from following the LORD, and made them commit a great sin. And the the sons of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they did not depart from them, until the LORD removed Israel from His sight, as He spoke through all His servants the prophets. So Israel was carried away into exile from their own land to Assyria until this day".
Notice the last phrase of this scripture. Israel went as far as Assyria until this day! They relocated, but not far away, certainly not across oceans! Certainly not scattered far afield!
THE REBUILDING OF JERUSALEM IN NEHEMIAH'S DAY
According to the British-Israelism theory only Jews should have been participating in rebuilding Jerusalem since the house of Israel was "long gone". Yet Ezra uses the words "all Israel" several times in the account. (Ezra 2:70; 6:17; 8:25,35; 10:5; Nehemiah 7:73; 12:47). Evidently the terms "Jew" and "Israel" were used interchangeably, thus spoiling the unsupported theory of British-Israelism.
THE TEN TRIBES IN CHRIST'S DAY
If the ten tribes were gone by Christ's day, how does the B-I theory explain that Anna the Prophetess was of the tribe of Asher? (Luke 2:36). Paul mentioned all twelve tribes. (Acts 26:6,7). James mentioned all twelve tribes. (James 1:1).
The book of Revelation tells of 12,000 people from each of the twelve tribes of Israel. (Revelation 7:4-8). All Israel shall be saved, eventually. (Romans 11:26).
Upon consulting a Jewish rabbi, he assured me the list in Revelation was a literal one, as are the other lists in the Bible, although they differ from one another for various reasons. The Revelation list is not "figurative" or "spiritual" allowing for interpretation to apply to some other nation, but applies to literal Israel.
CONSIDER THE APOSTLE PAUL
The Apostle Paul was addressed in three ways
1. As a Hebrew. (Phil. 3:5).
2. As an Israelite. (2 Cor. 11:22).
3. As a Jew. (Acts 21:39; 22:3).
Obviously, Paul recognized no such distinctions as invented by this theory. All terms interchange.
CHRIST THE KING
Since Christ had a sign over his head on the crucifixion reading "King of the Jews", are we to assume that He was King for Judah only? No, for the scriptures are plain that Christ was the promised Messiah for all Israel. The disciples understood this when they questioned Him in Acts 16, "Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the Kingdom to ISRAEL?"
Obviously, "Jew" and "Israel" were used interchangeably in Christ's day.
After putting up the sign "King of the Jews", His mockers then said, "He is the King of Israel'; Let Him now come down from the cross and we shall believe in Him". (Matthew 27:42). Again, the terms interchange.
PROBLEMS WITH THE STONE
British-Israelism claims that the stone under the Queen of England's coronation chair is the very "pillar stone of Jacob" which was first transported by Jacob, and finally by Jeremiah to the British Isles, via Egypt.
The scriptures know nothing of this invented event! We would expect, if the theory is correct, that the English coronation stone could be analyzed and found to be of the type found in Israel. The stone has been analyzed and "The Marson Report, " page 128, records.
"The stone in Westminster Abbey has been analyzed and shown to be a calcareous type of red sandstone of Scottish origin".
CONCLUSIONS ON BRITISH-ISRAELISM
British-Israelism is not a revelation from God as some teach. Rather it is a theory that cannot stand up to Biblical or scientific examination. It should be rejected by those professing Christianity.