When Pete Rambo asked me to review the book Ten Parts in the King which he co-wrote with Albert J. McCarn, I didn’t think much of it. I’ve reviewed a number of books on this and other blogs over the years, so I figured it would be just one more. Once it arrived in the mail, I pretty much ignored it until I had the bandwidth to give it a look. Then I realized that the topic and I weren’t going to get along very well.
The book isn’t available at Amazon, but according the summary at Key of David Publishing:
Ten Parts in the King offers an explanation for the Torah Awakening among Christians, linking it to the prophecies of Israel’s restoration. Every part of Scripture, from Moses to the Prophets to the Apostles, points to the restoration of both parts of Israel: the Jewish House of Judah, and the non-Jewish House of Israel, also known as Joseph and Ephraim. The Jewish people have been the visible portion of the nation for millennia, but now in the latter days the House of Joseph/Ephraim is becoming visible as Christians embrace the Hebrew roots of their faith. For millennia, these Two Witnesses have provided testimony of God’s sovereignty, faithfulness, and desire to fulfill His covenant promises of redemption. Without both witnesses, the testimony of the Creator and the fulfillment of His redemptive plans remains incomplete.
In other words, it was written in support of what is called Two-House Theology, the idea that those people who are not Jewish but who are believers and attracted to the teachings of the Torah are or must be the figurative or literal descendents of the “ten lost tribes of Israel.”
I like to think of myself as a fair reviewer, but as I was reading, I wondered how was I going to be impartial about a topic with which I disagree?
I took copious notes while reading, the majority of which I’m not going to use in this review. If I did, I might as well write a book of my own.
Much of the book builds a case for the literal existence of the “lost ten tribes” not only in the distant past, but during the time of Jesus and into today. The explanation for what the authors call a “Torah Awakening” among non-Jewish believers is that such a population is naturally drawn to the Torah due to being “Israel.”
The book makes a strong distinction between being Jewish and being “Israel” stating that all Jews are Israel but not all Israel is Jewish. But then who is non-Jewish Israel?
To cut to the chase, the answer is presented on p. 138:
So how does one get to be part of this New Covenant? This is where our Christian training is of such great value. We enter by faith in Messiah Yeshua, by the grace of YHVH his Father. It is not by works or by any act designed to attain our own righteousness, but by appropriating the free gift of God which Christians call salvation, and which Jews call redemption. Once we attach ourselves to the King of Israel (Yeshua, Son of David and heir to David’s throne), then we become his subjects and citizens of his kingdom. That means we become Israelites, regardless of our ancestry. (emph. mine)
That sounds suspiciously like “Christians are spiritual Israel” which I’ve heard before both in the Church and within Hebrew Roots communities.
The authors insist this isn’t a form of Replacement Theology or Supersessionism since they are not replacing the Jews but rather standing alongside of them as part of Israel. And yet, the only qualification for being an “Israelite” and thus inheriting all of God’s Covenant promises to “the House of Judah and the House of Israel” is to be a Gentile who professes faith in Jesus Christ.
So now all Christians everywhere are Israelites. But what about the rest of the world?
On page 95, it says that:
As we shall see in our investigation of the New Covenant, YHVH did not extend salvation to any other nation than Israel. More specifically, when he declared the New Covenant, he stated that he would make it with the House of Israel and the House of Judah (Jeremiah 31:31-34; Hebrews 8:8-12). Therefore, whoever will avail themselves of this salvation must somehow become affiliated with the nation of Israel.
That seems to totally ignore all of God’s promises of the redemption of the non-Israelite nations of the world and God’s concerns over all the people of Creation. After all, God created all human beings in His image and Adam, Havah (Eve), their children, and Noah and his children all were considered precious by God before the time of Abraham, and of Issac, and of Jacob.
Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the Lord say,
“The Lord will surely separate me from His people.”
Nor let the eunuch say, “Behold, I am a dry tree.”
Also the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord,
To minister to Him, and to love the name of the Lord,
To be His servants, every one who keeps from profaning the sabbath and holds fast My covenant;
Even those I will bring to My holy mountain
And make them joyful in My house of prayer.
Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar; for My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples.”
-Isaiah 56:3, 6-7 (NASB)
If, as the authors suggest, only Judah and Israel are considered by God, how are we to understand this prophesy? After all, Israel would not be considered foreigners or strangers, so the object of the prophesy must be another people group and, as verse seven states, “My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples.” (emph. mine).
Even during the time of Jesus, Gentiles were, with some restrictions, allowed to bring sacrifices to Herod’s Temple, and in his dedication of the Temple, King Solomon (I Kings 8:41-43) also addressed the prayers of “foreigner who is not of Your people Israel,” so it is not only possible, but within God’s plan to minister to all the nations of the Earth.
Also considering Isaiah 45:23, Romans 14:11, and Revelation 22:1-5, “Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess.” If it’s just the House of Judah and House of Israel, then where does “every” come from?
I could say a great deal more. After all, I did take several pages of detailed notes, but I think I’ve hit the key points. While it is obvious that the authors put a great deal of time, energy, and research into crafting this text, in the end, if your basic premise is off base, so too will be your conclusions.
My personal opinion is that God has a plan for the redemption of the nation of Israel (and in this case, the modern expression of that is the Jewish people) and the rest of us, that is the non-Jewish/non-Israeli/non-Covenant nations of the Earth through God’s New Covenant promises to the Jewish people and our devotion to Rav Yeshua, Jesus Christ, the mediator of the New Covenant.
You don’t have to be Israel for God to love you and plan to redeem you. Yes, it all flows through Israel as central in God’s plan, but as the light to the world, Israel’s King is available to the rest of us if we are so willing.
So does all this mean I think the book was horrible? No. Like I said, it’s obvious Pete and McCarn put a lot of effort into it and the text is a work of their hearts. Certainly if you really want to find out what adherents to “Two-House Theology” believe and why, this will tell you in great detail. Perhaps, in spite of my review, you’ll even be convinced (and I sort of wonder if one of the reasons Pete sent it to me was to see if I could be convinced).
On the other hand, the book also has serious problems in terms of having to rather creatively interpret who and what “Israel” is in order to figure out how the non-Covenant nations can also acquire the blessings of salvation and the resurrection to come without being of “the House of Judah” and “the House of Israel.”
You can learn more about this book at Pete Rambo’s blog and the book’s website.
11 thoughts on “Book Review: “Ten Parts in the King””
Oh, dear — and what, I wonder, does he do about the refugees from Israel’s 10 tribes who fled southward into Judah after the Assyrian decimation, and a century later were exiled to Babylon along with the Judeans, reunifying the tribes that yet 70 more years later began to return to the land of Israel as “Judeans” or “Jews”? There are no ten lost tribes, though the tribe of Dan was virtually destroyed and the tribe of Ephraim was cursed and its name more or less replaced by the euphemism of a “tribe of Joseph” that appears in later references. Likewise in need of explanation are people like Anna (Hannah bat P’nuel) of the “Israelite” tribe of Asher cited in Luke 2:36. Clearly she was Jewish and a descendant of those who had returned from the Babylonian exile of five centuries previous. I’d have to say, “Sorry, Pete, the myth of the ten lost tribes is not correct. Yehezkel’s prophecy in Ezekiel 37 about joining together two sticks, one representing Israel and the other representing Judah, reunified as a single nation, was fulfilled in the return from the first exile in Babylon.”
It’s a pity that destroys outright the apparent foundation of this book, but then it’s not right for the “Two-House” proponents to try to steal for themselves the identity of a portion of the Israeli people that was absorbed long ago into what have been called “Jews” ever since. Prophetic visions are notably difficult to interpret until one actually sees them being fulfilled, and Ezek.37 includes a summary of three separate visions that do not all occur at the same time. Thus the joining of sticks is one that has already occurred, the dry bones characterize another that is still in progress in the development of modern Israel, and the third which discusses the unendingly peaceful Davidic kingdom and its relations with other nations is yet to come.
As you’ve rightly pointed out, James, the “Two-House” hypothesis is based on faulty interpretations and incomplete examination of available historical and scriptural information, leading to false conclusions. It’s just as mistaken (perhaps even as disingenuous) as the modern Palestinian Arab claims to be descendants of the ancient Canaanites and Philistines, who lived continuously in what was never really Jewish land, and that therefore they have a prior claim on it — ignoring historical documentation about who those peoples actually were and what actually became of them, and more modern documents about how sparsely-populated was the territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea during Ottoman rule in the mid-19th century CE, and where its modern Arab population originated.
THANK YOU THANK YOU, James!
Ever since I heard the Judah-Ephraim analogy, I knew in my “know-er” that it was wrong, and have tried to ignore it while I pursued “more important” teachings…and just never found time to formulate the words to refute it…but you captured it PERFECTLY!
Thank you for “giving me the words”….
Baton Rouge, LA
Kudos for attempting to read contrary literature impartially.
Good, and seemingly fair review. I often wonder why the idea of servanthood is ignored/rejected with all forms of Replacement Theology.
God covenanted with Israel to make them His servants, which, provide blessings to all creation. And, I believe the “times of the Gentiles” provides for Christians to preserve God’s promises of sure redemption (which is via His Covenant People) by protecting Israel.
Instead of embracing servanthood, all the various forms of Replacement Theology seek to attain status with God that marginalized or bypasses Israel. Sad! 🙂
Thanks for doing the review if only so those who didn’t know will know what the term “two-house theology” refers to. My experience with Messianic Judaism was not that. Now… some of the use of wording by Pete (et al.) confuses matters such that, for instance, if someone (else) were to mention “the commonwealth of Israel” (or being associated with Israel) to make an illustration [without intending negative connotations of colonialism or the like] then there could be a misunderstanding that anyone of faith becomes Israel in a sense of like a Jew. Other tribes (of Israel) were absorbed into the community way back when; their being absorbed didn’t change all into being the tribe of Judah. It is terminology at this point. “Two-house” sounds a little bit like a reworking of parts from Calvinism? Besides loss of history.
@PL: You’d have to read the book to understand all of the references. They’re far too lengthy to present in a review. While I disagree with the conclusions, they did do their homework.
@Dee Alberty: You’re welcome.
@Sleepwalker: I was invited to read it, the book was free, and I like Pete Rambo so I figured “why not.” Also, it’s not the first time I’ve read a theological text knowing I would disagree with the conclusions of the author.
@Marleen: I think the part of two-house that chafes me most is the lack of consideration for the nations. Hashem clearly has a plan for all the peoples of the Earth but two-house limits the “saved” to Judah and (spiritual and literal) Israel period.
Pete Rambo: I didn’t read all of this post but I want to let you know I support you if your book is in regards to the two stick prophecy.
Pete is perfectly free to comment here and post rebuttals. We may not always agree but we respect each other.
I think sometimes people get the [mistaken] idea that the only way to include gentiles — whether meaning, by that, nations/any nation other than Israel or meaning people/individuals who are not Jews — is via a “two-house” formulation of theology. On the surface of just hearing the term “two-house” one could easily assume that makes sense as Jew and non-Jew equals two. I’ve heard of the term before, online (over a decade ago at first), but I didn’t start saying it because sometimes a potentially intuitive meaning of word usage isn’t in fact what it could seem. If an intention is not to leave people out (or, in the affirmative, to offer hope for people even if they are not Jewish), I find it unsatisfactory (not able to accomplish that fully*); that shortcoming in addition to the other definitions that don’t add up, which I mentioned earlier.
* I do believe Hashem has a plan+ for all the peoples of Earth.
+ In similarity to my not looking at life as G-d having a plan with specifics laid out for my life or anyone’s life, I am not suggesting that there are specific blueprints for people groups. There is a way for any individual to find presence in the company of believers.
Gentile Christianity has been fighting this battle for as long as it has existed and in fact, most churches think they have long since “won” because of “Christ’s finished work on the cross.” The problem we face today is the one Paul and the other Apostles faced in the mid-First Century CE, how does a Jewish covenant people make Gentile disciples without formal conversion? I finally arrived at an answer I can live with HERE. I agree with you that we are all part of Hashem’s plan and that Israel is at the center of that plan and always has been.
Israel is a servant yes, but ultimately Song of Songs is not the way a king addresses his scullery maid.
Israel is the favorite. And like Rachel she is loved more intensely than the nations – dotingly and destructively alike. G-d says this time and again.
And no. To its merit, Supersessionism works into its fabric fanciful and doughty servantry narratives. “Onward Christian Soldier” and footwashing, all after inheriting Israel’s promises. While I do believe that replacement theology is the linchpin of Christianity and indispensable for it to exist with a coherent identity, I think they encapsulated servanthood enough for Friedrich Nietzsche to pan it as “slave morality.” Both Israel and Mother Church see themselves as conquering servant brides.