The Bible identifies God’s people Israel as a community.
They are described in the Old Testament as the descendants of one man.
It is more important (and perhaps more true) that they are a community of faith, combining in the worship of the one God. They are brethren.
Their unity was always imperfect.
During the period of the Judges, the nation was dominated by the central tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh- “the house of Joseph”. They never quite
reconciled themselves to the upstarts of the house of David, and soon broke away to form a separate kingdom. There was constant bickering between the
two kingdoms as long as they both survived.
They were also troubled by a long series of external enemies, who brought about the destruction of both kingdoms and took their populations into
Some of the prophets of the Old Testament promise a final battle in which the enemies of God’s people will be overcome conclusively. I looked at
this theme in The Last Battle in Old Testament prophecy
Following this victory, God’s people are able to return to the land, and the restoration of the people is to be accompanied by a reunion of the
Reunion; Old Testament version
The heirs of the northern kingdom will not be excluded from this restoration.
Jeremiah promises (ch31) that the Lord will have mercy upon Ephraim, as well as upon Judah. He observes(ch33 v24) that the Lord has not rejected the
families which he has chosen.
Ezekiel, indeed, extends the promise not just to Samaria but also to Sodom; they will both be restored at the same time that Jerusalem is restored
The two communities will be able to live in peace;
“In those days the house of Judah shall join the house of Israel” (Jeremiah ch3 v18).
“Ephraim shall not be jealous of Judah, and Judah shall not harass Ephraim” (Isaiah ch11 v13).
While Ezekiel acts out the promise that God will take “the stick of Joseph” and “the stick of Judah” and combine them into one stick. His
vision of the restored land (ch48) includes allocations for all the former tribes.
And what will be the fate of the defeated enemies of God’s people?
One strand of prophecy offers the promise that they will be destroyed; “Your hand shall be lifted up over your adversaries, and all your enemies
will be cut off” (Micah ch5 v9).
But if the enemies are dead, they cannot be conscious of having been defeated. There may be more satisfaction, for Israel, in a turning of the tables
which leaves them as the new rulers of the world.
“With their faces to the ground they will bow down to you, and lick the dust of your feet” (Isaiah ch49 v23).
“Foreigners shall build up your walls, and their kings shall minister to you” (Isaiah
“We shall raise against him seven shepherds and eight princes of men; they shall rule the land of Assyria with the sword” (Micah ch5 vv5-6).
For this purpose, former enemies must be revived;
“But in the latter days I will restore the fortunes of Elam, says the Lord” (Jeremiah ch49 v39).
“At the end of seventy years, the Lord will visit Tyre… her merchandise and her hire will be dedicated to the Lord” (Isaiah ch23 v17).
This, in turn, implies that the former enemies are submitting themselves to Israel’s God.
“In that day there will be an altar to the Lord in the midst of the land of Egypt… when[Egypt] cry to the Lord because of oppressors he will send
them a saviour and will save and deliver them” (Isaiah ch19 vv19-20).
“The nations shall see and be ashamed of all their might… they shall turn in dread to the Lord our God”(Micah ch7 v17)
“The inhabitants of one city shall go to another and say ‘Let us go at once to entreat the favour of the Lord’… In those days ten men from the
nations of every tongue shall take hold of the robe of a Jew, saying ‘Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you” (Zechariah ch8
“They shall follow you… they shall make supplication to you, saying ‘God is with you only and there is no other’” (Isaiah ch45 v14).
Jerusalem shall become the worship centre of the world.
“Then every one that survives of all the nations that have come up against Jerusalem shall go up year after year to worship the king, the Lord of
hosts” (Zechariah ch14 v16).
“Many nations shall come and say ‘Come, let us go up to the house of the Lord… that he may teach us his ways…’” (Micah ch4 v2)
“At that time Jerusalem shall be called the throne of the Lord, and all nations shall gather to it, to the presence of the Lord in Jerusalem”
(Jeremiah ch3 v17).
“I am coming to gather all nations and tongues and they will come and see my glory” (Isaiah ch66 v18).
The effect of this development is the disappearance of the boundary between Israel and the rest of the world. They have become a single worshipping
“In that day Israel will be a third with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, whom the Lord of hosts has blessed, saying
“Blessed be Egypt my people, and Assyria the work of my hands, and Israel my heritage”(Isaiah ch19 vv24-25).
“At that time I shall change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech, that all of them may call on the name of the Lord and serve him with one
accord” (Zephaniah ch9 v9).
“The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah ch11 v9).
Their God will rule them, and they will live in peace;
“Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Micah ch4 v4).
This will be a more complete reunion, healing the state of division symbolised by Cain.
“And the Lord will become king over all the earth” (Zechariah ch14 v9).