The Lost Sheep
The story begins with Joseph, one of the 12 sons from Israel (Jacob). When Jacob was nearing the end of his life, he first blessed Joseph with a double portion inheritance and then asked Joseph to bring in his sons so that he could bless them as well. Joseph had 2 sons, the oldest was Manasseh and the younger Ephraim.
Gen 48:17 And when Joseph saw that his father [Jacob] laid his right hand upon the head of Ephraim, it displeased him: and he held up his father’s hand, to remove it from Ephraim’s head unto Manasseh’s head.
Gen 48:18 And Joseph said unto his father, Not so, my father: for this is the firstborn; put thy right hand upon his head.
Gen 48:19 And his father [Jacob] refused, and said, I know it, my son, I know it: he also shall become a people, and he also shall be great: but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed shall become a multitude of nations.
Gen 48:20 And he blessed them that day, saying, In thee shall Israel bless, saying, God make thee as Ephraim and as Manasseh: and he set Ephraim before Manasseh.
The key aspect of this passage is what Jacob prophesied over Ephraim. He said that he would become a “multitude of nations”. This is extremely significant and pivotal part of understanding scripture.
In Hebrew, the words for “multitude of nations” is “mel-o go’ee”, meaning… the Fullness of the Gentiles.
Stick a pin in that… because this is going to get interesting in a moment.
Sometime after Joseph died, the Israelites were enslaved in Egypt until their escape just after Passover 430 years later (Ex 1:8-11,12:41). Let’s fast forward a bit when Israel occupied the land that was given to them as an inheritance by God. There were 3 kings that ruled over all 12 tribes – Saul, David and then Solomon.
Solomon, despite his wisdom introduce the worship of other gods (1 Kings 11). Because of this disobedience, God split Israel into 2 kingdoms… they were no longer 1 nation. Jeroboam was given 10 tribes that occupied the northern part of the land. It’s referred to as the Northern Kingdom, House of Israel, House of Joseph, and Ephraim.
The Southern Kingdom made up of the other 2 tribes was also called the House of Judah. It contained the tribes of Judah and Benjamin (1 Kings 12:21)
In Hosea 1:9, God called the House of Israel (Ephraim) “no longer his people” and they were taken over by Assyria in 721 BC. Within 65 years, Ephraim was to scattered among the nations to be called a people (Isaiah 7:8) and in Jeremiah 3:8, God divorced them.
Jer 3:8 And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also.
That’s right, God divorced 10 of the 12 tribes that was headed by Ephraim. They were no longer His people and they were scattered and assembled into the nations. Since the Northern Kingdom never returned, they then became known as the lost sheep (Jer
50:6, Ezek 34:6)
How can God rescue the sheep if He divorced them (Jer3:8)? His own Law states:
First husband, who divorces wife, is not allowed to marry her again (Deut 24:4).
If you understand that we are to be the bridegroom of Christ… then how can He marry us if we’ve been divorced? This would be breaking His own commandment and would therefore be a sin would it not? Now, you are beginning to understand the “mystery of the gospel” that Paul talked about as well as the prophets.
In Micah 2:4, He talks about gathering back the remnant of Israel. So, how does God solve this issue? He did after all, send his Son that in Matthew 15:24 said…
Mat 15:24 But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
He came through the lineage of Judah because they were the only tribe, along with Benjamin that returned back to the land after being exiled to Babylon. Judah, returned and repented over breaking His commandments and worshiping other gods. Because of this, they were never divorced and remained within God’s covenant vows as His bride.
So, now we see that it wasn’t for Judah that he came, but to restore Ephraim (House of Israel / Lost Sheep) back into the marriage covenant. Paul explains the mystery of the gospel in Rom 16:25-27, Eph 3:1-3, Eph 6-9, Eph 6:19, Col 1:25-27.
Here’s the Readers Digest version:
- Married woman is bound to her husband as long as he is alive, but if husband dies, she is released from the law of marriage. Rom 7:2
- Wife is bound by law as long as her husband lives, but if he dies she is at liberty to be married to whom she wishes. 1 Corin 7:39
- Paul is referring to laws of marriage in Deut 24.
- Old self is cruciﬁed so we are no longer slaves to sin. Anyone who has died has been freed from sin. Rom 6:5-7
Eph 2:12 That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:
Eph 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.
Eph 2:17 And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.
Eph 2:18 For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
Eph 2:19 Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God;
Do you get it? Christ died so the lost sheep (Ephraim) could come back and be remarried to God. We are grafted in to the line of Abraham and now part of the commonwealth of Israel. You are no longer a gentile in the eyes of God… you are ISRAEL!
One day, at His Return we will be reunited with our brother Judah and joined together as prophesied by Ezekiel.
Eze 37:15 The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying,
Eze 37:16 Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions:
Eze 37:17 And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand.
Eze 37:18 And when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying, Wilt thou not shew us what thou meanest by these?
Eze 37:19 Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand.
Eze 37:20 And the sticks whereon thou writest shall be in thine hand before their eyes.
Eze 37:21 And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land:
Eze 37:22 And I will make them one nation in the land upon the mountains of Israel; and one king shall be king to them all: and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all:
Eze 37:23 Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions: but I will save them out of all their dwellingplaces, wherein they have sinned, and will cleanse them: so shall they be my people, and I will be their God.