Nepaug Bible Church - - Pastor's Evening Sermon Notes -

Ezra: Following God For Reconstruction After Group Defeat
Part II: Following The Lord Unitedly For Group Restoration
(Ezra 2:1-2 et al.)
  1. Introduction
    1. British Israelism that affects Mormonism asserts that not all of Israel's tribes returned to the land after the Babylonian Captivity, that ten "Lost Tribes" of the Northern Kingdom (versus the Southern Kingdom of Judah) went to America as God's people, Jan Karel Van Baalen, The Chaos of Cults, 1973, p. 162-166.
    2. However, Ezra provides evidence that all the tribes returned, negating British Israelism, and exampling our need to follow the Lord unitedly with other godly believers for group restoration after group defeat:
  2. Following The Lord Unitedly For Group Restoration, Ezra 2:1-2 et al.
    1. Ezra 2:1-2 introduced the list of Hebrew leaders who returned to the land of Israel from the Babylonian Captivity under the edict of Persia's king Cyrus [mentioned in Ezra 1:1-4].
    2. After naming these leaders, Ezra 2:3-58 listed other Hebrews who returned to the land, and Ezra 2:28 in particular noted that two hundred and twenty-three men of Bethel and Ai came back from the captivity.
    3. <+@>Since Bethel and Ai had been under the dominion of the Northern Kingdom of Israel (Ryrie Study Bible, KJV, 1978 ed., Map 6), and Bethel was originally in the realm of the tribe of Ephraim (The Macmillan Bible Atlas, 1968, p. 52), one can conclude this meant the ten northern tribes must have returned to the land of Israel under the reign of Cyrus of Persia.
    4. Ezra 2:70 KJV also claims that "all Israel in their cities" returned and dwelt in them, suggesting people from all of the twelve tribes of Israel had returned to dwell in their cities in the land.
    5. The testimony of Ezra 6:17 and 8:35 clearly indicates all twelve tribes had returned from the captivity:
      1. On two different occasions, the first at the dedication of the temple in 515 B. C. in Ezra 6:17 and the second at the return under Ezra 58 years later in Ezra 8:35 (Ryrie Study Bible, KJV, 1978 ed., ftns. to Ezra 6:17 and 7:1), twelve male goats were offered as a sin offering for all Israel.
      2. Well, Leviticus 4:3-4 regarding individual sacrifice and Leviticus 4:13-15 regarding group sacrifice required the sin offering sacrificial animals be offered by those they represented, and that they had to lay their hands on the heads of the animals to typify substitutionary atonement!
      3. Since Ezra 6:17 shows these offerings were made for all twelve tribes, each tribe was represented at the place of sacrifice by its elders (Zond. Pict. Enc. of the Bible , v. Two, p. 268-269), meaning all twelve tribes under their elders had returned to the land of Israel after the Babylonian Captivity.
    6. This testimony from Ezra is dramatically validated by other Scripture passages as follows:
      1. In Acts 26:1-7, Paul addressed Agrippa in his defense, noting this king was an "expert" in all customs and questions about his Hebrew people to whom Paul referred as "our twelve tribes", Acts 26:7. Since Paul had heard Festus tell Agrippa he wanted Paul examined by Agrippa so Festus could write an explanation of the charges against him to Emperor Augustus (Acts 25:23-27), Paul would not have misrepresented the number of the tribes in Israel at the time to the knowledgeable king Agrippa in such a critical situation! Thus, all the tribes had returned to the land of Israel after the Babylonian Captivity.
      2. Jesus told His disciples of their future with Israel's twelve tribes in Matthew 19:28 and Luke 22:30, showing the ten northern tribes were not considered lost at that time (after the Babylonian C aptivity).
      3. James in James 1:1 addressed his epistle to the twelve tribes of Hebrew Christians scattered abroad.
      4. Anna, a prophetess who met Jesus when He was an infant in Luke 2:36, was of the tribe of Asher, one of the Northern Kingdom's tribes, showing they were back in the land! (Ibid., Ryrie, Maps 4 and 6)
    7. Hence, following apostasy and divine judgment for it in the Babylonian Captivity, representatives from all twelve tribes, be they of the Northern or the Southern Kingdoms of the original single Davidic Kingdom, Hebrews from all twelve tribes returned to Israel as a united entity seeking God's blessing!
Lesson: Opposite the British Israelism claims that the Northern Kingdom of Israel never returned to the land following the Babylonian Captivity, all twelve tribes representatively and unitedly returned.

Application: (1) May we realize that British Israelism behind Mormonism (and often other cultic strands) deeply errs. (2) May we like the twelve tribes UNITEDLY follow God after GROUP apostasy!