One of the large theological stumbling blocks in Hebrew roots and Messianic circles today is a doctrinal position termed ‘Two House theology.’ It is a topic I have covered on this blog before, but recent conversation has led me to understand that we need to go over it again. I firmly believe that Scripture, and especially prophecy, cannot be rightly understood until one fully grasps and embraces the Two House position. That is not to say one cannot be saved, but I do not believe one will understand what is happening and how prophecy is being fulfilled until they fully understand and embrace Two House.
Here is an opening video that will begin our discussion. Please watch, then read on…
Zac begins with seven verses that clearly demonstrate that the idea of two houses, and the meaning of the phrase, is not only entirely Scriptural, but connected to multiple significant future prophecies and many doctrines. What Zac didn’t mention, and he should have, is that in 1 Kings 12:24 God clearly says,
“this thing is from Me.”
God’s plan from the beginning was to divide the Kingdom in order to display HIS glory and that this is all HIS plan. Only He can bring restoration and He will do so in a most amazing and literal fashion, thus proving Himself the Author and Finisher of all! But, I am getting ahead of the story.
To fully cover this topic would require a large book, but I am going to simply expand what Zac has done to a larger teaching that helps validate what he has pointed out. Further, beyond my previously stated reasons, I want to postulate why God did it this way.
Before we can completely dig in, we need to identify some terms for the houses used throughout Scripture. Zac pointed to several verses that specifically state, ‘two house,’ or ‘both houses’ and names them as ‘the house of Judah’ and ‘the house of Israel.’ Scripture uses a number of other terms and to really study this topic, one must know and recognize the terms. This requires a little Biblical history.
1 Kings 11 and 12 are critical reading, but I want to point out several specific verses to bring definition to several common terms.
Ephraim, house of Ephraim: Often in Scripture the Northern Kingdom is simply called ‘Ephraim’ or the ‘house of Ephraim.’ When Solomon’s Kingdom was divided, ten tribes were given, by God, to Jeroboam (1 Kings 11:31). Jeroboam was from the tribe of Ephraim (1 Kings 11:26) and he became their king, thus, his kingdom began to be referred to as ‘the house of Ephraim,’ or simply, ‘Ephraim,’ just like the terms ‘house of David,‘ ‘house of Judah,’ and ‘Judah‘ are used for the Southern Kingdom.
House of Joseph: There are a number of places that we find the term ‘house of Joseph’ used interchangeably with ‘Ephraim.’ This connection is because Ephraim was the younger son of Joseph, seen in Genesis 48 to be prophesied as becoming an innumerable multitude in the midst of the earth. First Kings 11:28 clearly connects at least the tribe of Ephraim as ‘the house of Joseph,’ but we know Manasseh is part of Joseph and later all ten tribes are referred to as the house of Joseph, or B’ney Yosef. 😉
House of Israel: Because Ephraim received the double portion blessings from Israel (Jacob) in Genesis 48, he received the name, ‘Israel.’ Thus, we see Jeroboam’s kingdom also referred to as ‘Israel’ and ‘the house of Israel.’ See 1 Kings 12:16-20.
Whole house of Israel, and House of Jacob: Generally, these terms refer to all twelve tribes.
Israel: This is a very tricky one because context must be employed to understand the term. Sometimes it means only the Northern Kingdom (see 1 Kings 12:16-20 for clear examples), though, more often it means all of Israel. Context and careful analysis must be employed.
YHVH divided Solomon’s kingdom into two parts:
House of Israel House of Judah
House of Joseph House of David
House of Ephraim
Together, they can be called Israel, all Israel, Jacob or house of Jacob.
A good study is to search your Bible for each of these terms and highlight with colors specific to each term, then watch Scripture begin to unfold.
Scripture has countless verses that demonstrate a clear and abiding distinction between the two houses. Generally, Judaism, and especially Messianic Judaism, try to say the terms are all synonymous. We can address possibilities for their reasoning in a minute, but first we need to clearly see that Scripture defines the two houses against each other at numerous points, often connected with future/unfulfilled prophecy. Consider,
Hosea 1:6 Then she conceived again and gave birth to a daughter. And [a]the Lord said to him, “Name her [b]Lo-ruhamah, for I will no longer have compassion on the house of Israel, that I would ever forgive them. 7 But I will have compassion on the house of Judah and deliver them by the Lord their God, and will not deliver them by bow, sword, battle, horses or horsemen.”
One does not need a course in logic to understand that the house of Israel cannot possibly be a synonym for the house of Judah in this verse, despite the teaching of many messianic and rabbinic Jews to the contrary. Similar verses just from Hosea are 4:15; 5:5; and 6:10-11, where the whole book is about Ephraim/house of Israel and Judah.
In stating future prophecy, Isaiah 11:12-13 says,
12 And He will lift up a standard for the nations
And assemble the banished ones of Israel,
And will gather the dispersed of Judah
From the four corners of the earth.
13 Then the jealousy of Ephraim will depart,
And those who harass Judah will be cut off;
Ephraim will not be jealous of Judah,
And Judah will not harass Ephraim.
This prophecy is yet future! If you continue reading the passage, it has not been fulfilled. In order for it to be fulfilled, there will have to be a clear distinction between Judah and Ephraim and there will have to be division/enmity/jealousy between them. There is no group among the Jews today who consider themselves to be ‘Ephraim.’ Further, notice the language in v. 12. Some might call it splitting hairs, but Israel was banished, while Judah was only dispersed. More specifically, Israel was divorced, Judah was not. Ever. (That is not to say that Judah doesn’t have things they need to get right, because they do. It is to say we need to clean our own house and let the Father deal with the older brother.)
Besides verses that clearly mention both houses and draw distinction between them, there are numerous passages where the indictment against Israel does not fit Judah. We read one today in our Torah study!
Ezekiel 36:16 Then the word of the Lord came to me saying, 17 “Son of man, when the house of Israel was living in their own land, they defiled it by their ways and their deeds; their way before Me was like the uncleanness of a woman in her impurity. 18 Therefore I poured out My wrath on them for the blood which they had shed on the land, because they had defiled it with their idols. 19 Also I scattered them among the nations and they were dispersed throughout the lands. According to their ways and their deeds I judged them. 20 When they came to the nations where they went, they profaned My holy name, because it was said of them, ‘These are the people of the Lord; yet they have come out of His land.’ 21 But I had [i]concern for My holy name, which the house of Israel had profaned among the nations where they went.
Who profaned God’s name among the nations? The Jews? Hardly! the Jews kept the Torah and honored the name of YHVH. Maybe imperfectly, but they honored it. It was the house of Israel who took their idols with them into the nations and absorbed more traditions as they were assimilated into the peoples.
There are many more passages like the one above that cannot possibly apply to the Jews.
To not belabor the point, I will move on, but a proper analysis of the many verses that can’t apply to the house of Judah and the many verses that pit Israel against Judah would require many, many pages. go study it out. Notice the distinction.
God Himself said, “this thing is from Me.” He was not surprised by the division in the family. In fact, I believe there are multiple prophetic pictures of this in the Torah. He had a plan to divide the family for a time and I believe He has a particular reason. Consider:
- Genesis 29-33 relate the story of Jacob during his time outside of the land. During his sojourn with Laban, outside the Land, he acquires two wives. The elder, Leah, has something wrong with her eyes. She can’t see something (Yeshua?). The younger is beautiful and favored, but she has idols (Christendom?). [Notice the menstrual connection with the Ezekiel passage above.] Then comes the ‘time of Jacob’s Troubles’ and to protect the family, Jacob divides them into two groups (houses) and sends Leah (with Judah) ahead into the Land first, then he sends Rachel (with Joseph) into the Land immediately before he wrestles the Angel of the Lord.
- Genesis 37-46 relates the story of Joseph. While I have strongly argued for Joseph as a picture of Yeshua, this story is also a picture of the house of Joseph, sent from the land in chains, and not recognized by Judah until Jacob is in deep trouble. Ultimately, Egyptian-looking Joseph is recognized by his circumcision, proving he keeps the commandments, exactly what we see happening among “Egyptian-looking,” Torah-keeping non-Jews.
Why would God cause this division? This calls for a little speculation, but consider several things. First, this is His-story and He can write, produce, direct, and even act in it in any way He chooses. But second and maybe more specifically, if this was a division man could heal, then He would not get the glory. By dividing the family for the last 2000+ years, one branch of the family has kept Torah and proven the written Word for the whole world, despite pogroms, persecution and gas chambers, while the other branch of the family has carried Yeshua and the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob to the ends of the earth! Each branch has its own mission and will receive rewards from the King for how they fulfilled it.
Ezekiel 37:15ff clearly identifies the two parts of the family in unfulfilled prophecy and verse 22 even refers to them as two nations, two kingdoms. Who but Judaism and Christianity (especially those returning to the Covenant) fit this description?
15 The word of the Lord came again to me saying, 16 “And you, son of man, take for yourself one stick and write on it, ‘For Judah and for the sons of Israel, his companions’; then take another stick and write on it, ‘For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim and all the house of Israel, his companions.’ 17 Then join [technically, draw them near, not ‘join’] them for yourself one to another into one stick, that they may become one in your hand. 18 When the sons of your people speak to you saying, ‘Will you not declare to us what you mean by these?’ 19 say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel, his companions; and I will put them with it, with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they will be one in My hand.”’ 20 The sticks on which you write will be in your hand before their eyes. 21 Say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Behold, I will take the sons of Israel from among the nations where they have gone, and I will gather them from every side and bring them into their own land; 22 and I will make them one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king will be king for all of them; and they will no longer be two nations and no longer be divided into two kingdoms. 23 They will no longer defile themselves with their idols, or with their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions; but I will deliver them from all their [a]dwelling places in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them. And they will be My people, and I will be their God.
The Apostles realized what was happening. James begins his letter as follows,
He had no delusion that the tribes had already been gathered. Yeshua himself said,
24 But He answered and said, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
While batting this topic with good friend and fellow blogger, Al McCarn, today, he offered this astute observation,
WAIT A MINUTE!!!! If non-Jewish believers are never called “Ephraim” in scripture, why do Paul, Peter, and James refer to the prophecies of Hosea and Amos about Ephraim’s redemption in the context of non-Jewish people coming to faith in Yeshua?
BINGO!!! The Apostles had this figured out, they just didn’t realize that our exile had 2000 more years to go! As Al asserts, the Apostolic assumption was that the Gentiles were/are the fulfillment of Ephramite redemption as prophesied by multiple prophets.
God’s plan and purposes are being fulfilled by the division and He will receive great glory when the breach is healed!
So why doesn’t Judah ‘see’ this? Well, while there are many reasons that include fear of assimilation, fear of being duped, etc, the bottom-line is simply that God caused this division to happen and He will have to be the One to ‘un-cause’ it.
What is ironic is that in Jewish, and particularly Messianic Jewish circles, we are witnessing an exact reversal of what happened in 1 Kings 12:16ff,
16 When all Israel saw that the king did not listen to them, the people answered the king, saying,
“What portion do we have in David?
We have no inheritance in the son of Jesse;
To your tents, O Israel!
Now look after your own house, David!”
Then, Israel walked out and blew off Judah declaring, “what portion do we have?” Today, it is often the Jews who blow off the non-Jewish Torah-keeping Messianic and Hebrew roots believers with declarations that we have no part in Israel.
Al pointed out these verses from Ezekiel 11,
14 Then the word of the Lord came to me, saying, 15 “Son of man, your brothers, your [a]relatives, [b]your fellow exiles and the whole house of Israel, all of them, are those to whom the inhabitants of Jerusalem have said, ‘Go far from the Lord; this land has been given us as a possession.’ 16 Therefore say, ‘Thus says the Lord God, “Though I had removed them far away among the nations and though I had scattered them among the countries, yet I was a sanctuary for them a little while in the countries where they had gone.”’
Ultimately, the truth of Two Houses and God’s plan is irrefutable in Scripture, though HE has to open eyes, not us. Further, our right of return is something that is in HIS Hands and not in those of any other. He will, in His time, according to His plan, restore us and give us a heart of flesh with the Torah written on it.
Both houses need cleaning up. Both houses have repentance and reconciliation to work on. Both houses need to look to Him and not toward each other.
Much more could be written, but these are a few thoughts to further support what Zac had on his video. I pray they bless you and encourage deeper study on the matter.