In this teaching we are going to change the term “new testament” to “Gospels and Epistles” because we don’t believe the term “new testament” is accurate, at least the way it is portrayed today. To be honest, using the term Gospels and Epistles, or “the first century writings of the Jewish believers in Yeshua” would be more accurate. In addition, using the term “old testament” should be Tanak. The Hebrew for “new testament” is “brit chadasha” and it comes from Jer 31.31, but that is a different concept.
There is an article by Monte Judah called “The Most Uninspired Page of the Bible” and it is talking about the page in all bibles that reads “The New Testament.” It is like the wall that separated the Court of the Israelites from the non-Jews. This page was not written by any prophet or apostle and it is not in any manuscript. But, there is more false doctrine about this page than most believers even realize. For example, every Torah command prior to this page has been fulfilled and “done away with” according to Christianity. Every “korban” (offering) before this page has been removed or replaced by the “sacrifice of Jesus.” Any teaching prior to this page is good for history, but it has no authority over the conduct of believers. Any effort to obey any commandment or custom found prior to this page is “bondage” and “keeping of the Law” and if you do you have “fallen from grace.” Only the pages after this page are valid for teaching a believer, and even that has exceptions, like Sabbath, festivals, kosher and Jewish customs. That is why this page is so uninspired.
The term “new testament” is dealing with the house of Israel and the house of Judah in Jer 31.31. The Torah will be placed in the heart of the people and all will know the Lord, you won’t need to teach people that anymore. Obviously, we have not come to the fullness of that yet because not everyone has the Torah in their heart and not everyone knows the Lord, but those day are coming. But, as you can see, the concept of the “new testament” is almost the exact opposite of what is understood about it today. In the Gospels and Epistles, we do have an allusion to the New Testament in Luke 22.20. There is a discussion about this in the Book of Hebrews, and we will touch on this at a later time. For more information on this, see our series of teachings called “I see Him, But Not Now” on this site.
There is no place in the Tanak, Gospels or Epistles where we see the term “new testament” ever applied to any set of books in Scripture. We do have a term for the Hebrew Scriptures called the Tanak. This term is an acronym of three words: Torah (Instruction), Nevi’im (Prophets) and Ketuvim (Writings). Within Christianity, this was designated as the “old testament” and this is an offensive term. It implies these books are “old” and have “passed away.” It infers that these books are of less importance, especially compared next to the second set of books called the “new testament.” A more accurate way of describing these books is “Gospels and Epistles.” So, we wanted to bring out this concept right away so we can start using the correct terms.
In another aspect, these books have been “anglicized” and “gentilized” so that they have been transformed into a form of “replacement theology.” This was done to bring it into something the people could be more “comfortable” with. You have terminology that is important. Like an actor, you need to think and act the part, but if the terms are changed, “anglicized and gentilized” we are not thinking and acting as it was intended. That will take away from what you will see and understand. One of the things you can do is change the words of the Gospels and Epistles into Hebrew for yourself. This will give you a beginning Hebrew vocabulary. For example, change Jesus to “Yeshua” and Mary to “Miriam.” What happens is you begin to see things you never saw before. Part of the process when looking at the Gospels and Epistles is putting them back into a Hebrew framework.
In a Jewish prayer book there is a prayer called the “Shemoneh Esrai” or the “Eighteen Benedictions.” It is also called the Amidah meaning “standing prayer.” This prayed daily, except on the Sabbath when a shortened form is used consisting of seven benedictions. The tenth prayer is called “The Ingathering (reunion) of the Exiles.” It says, “Sound the great horn for our freedom; raise the ensign (standard=a term for Messiah) to gather our exiles, and gather us from the four corners of the earth. Blessed are you, O Lord, who gathers the dispersed of thy people Israel.” Now, read Isa 11.10-12, and this is a prophecy that occurred in the time of Hezekiah, but, in the “sowd” or secret level, it applies to the Messiah. So, it is a “double-reference” prophecy and we are going to take a look at Isa 10-12 from the NASB. Where it says “in that day” it refers to the last 1000 year period, when Messiah comes. The word “signal” means “banner, ensign” and it is the word “nes” in Hebrew meaning “miracle” and the word “Nescafe” means “miracle coffee.” His “resting place” is “m’nuchah” in Hebrew and it means “a matrimonial rest” and alludes to the rest found in the Messiah and the Messianic Kingdom, the Sabbath of God (Heb 3.7 through 4.1). Then in v 11 it says that the Lord will “recover the second time” the exiles, who will be gathered at the end of the Birth-pains from all the countries named in v 11. Then he (God) will “lift up a standard (banner, ensign-Messiah)” and will gather the banished ones of Israel and Judah from the four corners of the earth.
This prayer in the Shemoneh Esrai was prayed by Yeshua and the writers of the Gospels and Epistles. This restoration in the first century Temple era was not complete, not all the tribes had returned, so it has a future fulfillment. It will be fulfilled when Yeshua returns. The concept of the “lost tribes” is not accurate, at least up through when the Gospels and Epistles were written. Isa 11.12-16 is a prophecy about the return of the tribes to the land, and it was prayed for (and still is) in the Shemonaeh Esrai. The “ten tribes” in the north were not “lost.” In 2 Chr 30.1-18, all tribes were gathered for Passover after Assyria. Luke 2.36 mentions Anna from the tribe of Asher. How would they know that if Asher was “lost.” James 1.1 says it is a book written to all twelve tribes that were dispersed. Ezek 37.11-22 says some returned after Babylon. Acts 2.9 says the tribes were represented at Shavuot. 2 Chr 35.18 says Judah and Israel were present at Josiah’s Passover. 2 Chr 34.9 says they helped Josiah repair the Temple. Ezra 8.35 says the exiles made offerings. Rabbi Huna (216-296 A.D.) was the acknowledged head of all twelve tribes. Tobit (wrote the book of Tobit that is part of the Catholic and Orthodox Bible) was from Naphtali. Judith (part of the Apocrypha, accepted as Scripture in the Septuagint, Catholic and Orthodox Bible) was from Simeon. The Septuagint was written by six members from each of the twelve tribes by 132 B.C. So, that should tell you that the concept of the “Lost Tribes” is largely a myth.
The “Men of the Great Assembly” were 120 scribes, sages and prophets in the period from the end of the biblical prophets to the early Hellenistic period. It was comprised of such men like Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, Mishael, Azariah, Hananiah, Mordechai, Zerubbabel and many others. They formalized the wording of the Shemoneh Esrai and worked over a period of 150 years. By the time of Yeshua, this prayer had long been formalized and prayed by children as soon as they learn to talk. Every Jewish person would know of these prayers.
The order of these prayers, arranged by the Men of the Great Assembly, seem to reflect the belief of a chronological unfolding of events about the coming of the Messiah. So, Amidah #10 prays for the return of the exiles from all over the world to Israel, then the rebuilding of the Temple, Messiah and the coming Temple and true worship. When this prayer was put together, Jews were already returning back to the land and the Temple was being restored, yet they included the blessing for the return of the exiles because most Jews had not returned. These blessings took on further significance after 70 A.D. and 135 A.D., when most Jews were forcibly removed from Judea.
Now, as far as the return of the Jews to the land, it has two parts. It involves the return of the Jews who have not lost their identity as Jews, and the return of Jews who have lost their identity over the years, but are “discovering” their identity. This is where the “lost tribes” concept comes from. An interpretation of the 10th blessing of the Shemoneh Esrai was suggested by Rabbi Joseph B. Soloveitchik on the phrase in Isa 11.12 and 56.8 where it says, “the dispersed of thy people Israel.” He said it not only only refers to the physically dispersed, but the spiritually dispersed as well. This blessing can be referring to the “lost souls returning to their own heritage.” So, we have a physical return, but there is also a “spiritual” return back to God. These go hand in hand. This blessing is also taken from Isa 27.13 where it says, “It will come about also in that day (When Messiah comes; the Day of the Lord) that a great trumpet (Shofar ha Gadol blown on Yom Kippur, the day Yeshua returns (Matt 24.29-31) will be blown; and those who were perishing in the land of Assyria and who were scattered in the land of Egypt will come and worship the Lord in the holy mountain at Jerusalem.” Matt 24.29-31 basically says the same thing as Isa 11.10-16 and Isa 27.13. This is exactly what we see in the tenth blessing of the Shemoneh Esrai.
In Part 2, we will pick up here.