Europeans Are Hebrews: A Theological Perspective Based on the Principle of Election
By Reed Benson
Proving that people of Caucasian European extraction are the literal, physical descendants of the ancient Israelites can be done in several different ways. It is my hope that this article can provide reasonable evidence of this thesis from a theological perspective.
The beginning point of this discussion is the concept of election. Election is the idea that God, for reasons we may not always understand, chooses some person or group of people for some specific purpose. One type of election that Scripture teaches is election on an individual basis. For example, God chose the recipients of His salvation grace. In this case, the election is secret; no one knows who the elect in salvation are—not even the elect themselves. A second type of election taught in the Bible is collective, or the choosing of a group of people. This election is generally not secret, but is open information to everyone.
The Bible teaches both collective and individual election. A broad perspective reveals that God collectively elected the entire people of Israel for special purposes. From within that large mass, God also elected some individual Israelites to also receive His salvation grace. It is broad collective election that is the primary focus of this essay.
Collective Election in the Old Testament
Few Bible students attempt to disagree with the premise that God selected the Hebrew nation (Israelites) to be His chosen vessel of distinction in the Old Testament. Beginning with Abraham and narrowing the field to the descendants of one of Abraham’s grandsons, Jacob, God chose them for His own purposes. This theme so permeates the Old Testament in its books of law and history that to deny it renders the narrative meaningless. A few passages illustrate this vital principle of election. To Abraham, God said, "I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee, and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" (Genesis 12:2-3). At Mount Sinai, Jehovah had the following to say to the Israelite nation upon their reception of the Ten Commandments: "Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people" (Exodus 19:5).
While the covenant at Mount Sinai was conditional, based on obedience, God made no such overtures to any other people. Indeed, God later promises that if they do break this covenant, He will chastise them for waywardness so that at least a remnant will be driven back to Him. Consider the extensive description of this in Leviticus 26. The entire passage is too lengthy to reprint here, but we can capture the flavor with these verses: "But if ye will not hearken unto me, and will not do all these commandments; And if ye shall despise my statutes, or if your soul abhor my judgments, so that ye will not do all my commandments, but that ye break my covenant: I will also do this unto you . . . And I will set my face against you, and ye shall be slain before your enemies . . . And I will make your heaven as iron and your earth as brass . . . And I will also send wild beasts among you . . . And I will bring the land into desolation . . . And I will scatter you among the heathen . . . And ye shall perish among the heathen . . . And yet for all that, when they be in the land of their enemies, I will not cast them away, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break my covenant with them: for I am the Lord their God. But I will for their sakes remember the covenant of their ancestors" (Leviticus 26:14,15, 17, 19, 22, 32, 33, 38, 44,45).
As we continue through the text of the Old Testament, the same tenor of God’s everlasting love remains. Yes, the Israelite’s forgot God time and again, but then He punished them, which in turn stimulated a period of repentance in at least a portion of them, resulting in a renewal of their collective spiritual life. Thus we find scattered throughout the Old Testament passages such as Amos 3:2: "You only have I known of all the families of the earth: therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities." In fact, the last book of the Old Testament, Malachi, heightens this theme of punishing and purifying the people of Israel. Consider Malachi 3:3: "And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness." The final three verses of this prophet read as follows: "Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb [Mt. Sinai] for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse" (Malachi 4:3).
It is plain to see that the principle of God’s unconditional election of Israel is a fixed cornerstone of the Old Testament. While the blessings of peace and prosperity may be withdrawn until they repent, Jehovah will never utterly and permanently abandon Israel.
Collective Election in the New Testament
Does this change in the New Testament? Bible students disagree. Some completely reject this concept of collective election and focus entirely on individual election and repentance. While individual election and repentance are highly profiled in the New Testament, it was present in the Old Testament all along. Even in the days of the judges, kings, and prophets of ancient Israel, every man had to make his way to Jehovah in repentance if eternal life were to be his. The question before us is not regarding individual salvation in either the Old or New Testament, for in both cases every man must seek the face of God completely alone. The issue before us is this: does the New Testament abandon this theme of the collective election of Israel so highly profiled in the Old Testament?
The answer is an unqualified no. Israel is as highly profiled in the theology of the New Testament as the Old. Collectively speaking, Israel is to play a powerful and central role in all of God’s work on earth until the end of time itself. Consider several very plain passages.
First, look at Paul’s comments in Romans as he addresses this very point: "I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew . . ." (Romans 11:1-2). Now consider what Paul said about Israel just two chapters previously: "Who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises" (Romans 9:4). It is quite clear that Paul embraces the idea of the collective election of Israel and does nothing to erode it.
Second, consider this passage in Hebrews, probably also written by Paul, which is crystal clear on Israel’s continued special role in God’s divine works: " . . . Behold the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah . . .For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put my laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and the shall be to me a people" (Hebrews 8:8, 10). Again, Israel is central to what God is doing on earth in the New Testament. In fact, notice that it clearly states that the New Covenant is with the same people as the Old Covenant was! There has been no change in God’s choice of people.
A third passage should be sufficient to persuade any open-minded Bible student. Revelation describes the Bride of Christ, the New Jerusalem, at the final consummation of the ages, the climax of history. Of whom is this bride comprised? Only Israelites. See for yourself: "And I John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband . . .and he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me that great city, the holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God . . . And had a great wall and high, and twelve gates, and on the gates twelve angels, and names written thereon, which are the names of the twelve tribes of Israel" (Revelation 21: 2, 10,12).
Although more could be added easily, this evidence is decisive. Anyone who insists that Israel, in a collective sense, is not uniquely chosen of God in the New Testament, or in the New Covenant if you prefer that nomenclature, is either willingly ignorant, thoroughly duped, or dishonest.
Sheep: A Metaphor for Israel
Now that it has been ascertained that Israel was collectively chosen in the Old Testament and that unique selection has been maintained to this very moment, please consider a metaphor used for Israel in its collective sense. Many metaphorical images are used in the Bible, including lamps, olive trees, women, and candlesticks. But the most pervasively used metaphor for the Israelites is sheep. Indeed, some writers have simply called the Israelites the sheep people. Perhaps the image of a white, wooly, harmless, and slow-to-learn-from-his-mistakes sheep is descriptive of the national characteristics of Israelites. But even more important than any identifiable group characteristics of Israelites is the simple fact that the Bible repeatedly uses sheep as a descriptive term for these Hebrews. Here are just a few of many possible examples that could be cited:
Psalm 74:1-2 states, "O God, why hast thou cast us off forever? Why dost thine anger smoke against the sheep of thy pasture? Remember thy congregation, which thou hast purchased of old; the rod of thine inheritance, which thou hast redeemed; this Mount Zion, wherein thou hast dwelt."
Psalm 78:52-53 reads, "But made his own people to go forth like sheep, and guided them in the wilderness like a flock. And he led them on safely, so that they feared not: but the sea overwhelmed their enemies."
Psalm 79:13 says, "So we thy people and sheep of thy pasture will give thee thanks for ever: we will shew forth thy praise to all generations."
Psalm 100:3 declares: "know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture."
Isaiah 40:9,11 reads, "O Zion that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain: O Jerusalem that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength, lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold your God . . . He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young."
Zechariah 9:16 says, "And the Lord their God shall save them in that day as the flock of his people: for they shall be as the stones of a crown, lifted up as an ensign upon his land."
In the Old Testament the metaphor of sheep or flocks refers only to Israel. If you are skeptical, read the above verses in their larger context and you will see this is so. This imagery is never used to refer to another people or nation. Now, it is assumed that in the New Testament, the metaphor of flocks and sheep is referring to a church body or a congregation—and it is. But many also assume that such a church body or congregation could be comprised of people that are not Israelites—but there is no proof of this anywhere in the New Testament. Indeed, it is only logical and fair to assume that the metaphor of sheep still refers only to Israel unless there is fresh use that is plainly otherwise—and there is none.
Remembering that God elects, chastens, and passes over groups and nations on a collective basis helps us understand an interesting passage in the New Testament about sheep. Consider Matthew 25:31-33: "When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left." This judgment has many lessons for us, but the singular relevant point is the observation that this collective judgment of nations indicates that there is more than one sheep nation. There are multiple sheep nations and multiple goat nations that shall receive collective judgment.
But, if sheep can refer only to Israel, how can there be other sheep nations?
Quite simply really, if we remember the Old Testament prophecies regarding the Israelites. Israel was not to remain one nation, but was to become many nations. As God said to Jacob, ". . .thy name shall not be called any more Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name: and he called his name Israel, And God said unto him, I am God almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins" (Genesis 35:10-11). More specific prophecies of multiple nations coming from Israel are found in Genesis 48:19, Genesis 49:22-26, and Deuteronomy 33:17.
So where are these other sheep nations?
I have written other essays that document the historical data that conclusively shows that people of European Caucasian extraction are literal genetic descendants of the ancient Israelites. Many other authors have written fine works making this historical linkage. Recapping, this evidence proves that the ten tribes of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, when taken into captivity by the Assyrians in 722 B.C., eventually escaped from their captors and, en masse, made a harrowing escape over the Caucasus Mountains and migrated into western Europe over the next several hundred years, becoming the progenitors of the Anglo, Saxon, Nordic race. By the time of Jesus, these people were firmly entrenched in Western Europe.
However, the goal here is not to repeat this evidence, but show that there are scriptural clues that support this from the perspective of election. If these European nations were sheep nations, just like the Judean nation, why are there no references to them? Or are there?
Many will be surprised to discover that Jesus Himself knew about these Israelites who had been disconnected from the original branch for hundreds of years. When we reconstruct what is known about Jesus’ personal life, it makes perfect sense that He knew. Let us recall that Jesus had already developed such an impressive base of knowledge at the age of twelve that He stunned the scholars at Jerusalem (Luke 2:41-52). Jesus became a man of great knowledge. Additionally, consider this connection: the man that gave up his own tomb after Jesus’ death was His mother’s uncle, Joseph of Arimathea, an international businessman with a cosmopolitan outlook. Joseph was wealthy and owned a shipping company that regularly plied the waters of the Mediterranean Sea. One of the products he commonly carried was tin, brought all the way from the "Tin Isles," or Britain. A persistent legend in Cornwall of southwest England is that Jesus accompanied His uncle on at least one of these journeys to obtain tin. Since the Bible records nothing of Jesus’ life between the ages of twelve and thirty, it is quite plausible that He may in fact have actually visited Britain with His uncle during His youth, and the legends have a nugget of truth at their root.
Regarding scriptural proof, let us begin with John 7:35. When Jesus alluded in the preceding verses that He would soon be returning to heaven, the Pharisees misunderstood His meaning and said, ". . . Whither will he go, that we shall not find him? Will he go unto the dispersed among the gentiles, and teach the gentiles?" Remembering that the word gentiles simply means nations, it is clear that the Pharisees knew that some Israelites of old had been separated from the Israelites that remained in Judea and were somewhere out there among other nations. Indeed, this verse proves that it was general knowledge among Judeans that other Israelites were out there somewhere. Is it possible that Jesus knew this also?
Absolutely, for He states as much, specifically referring to them as sheep, a word used to refer to Israelites: "And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd" (John 10:16). This statement quotes Ezekiel 37:24, a prophecy that the two ancient kingdoms of Israel, Israel and Judah, would be reunited under a Davidic king. When Jesus spoke these words, Ezekiel’s prophecy was yet unfulfilled, as it is even today. You see, then, Jesus knew absolutely and positively that there were other Israelites out there, separate and distinct from the Israelites in Judea.
Another statement from Jesus’ own lips provides final confirmation. The context for His comment comes when a non-Israelite woman who lived outside the confines of Judea (from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon) came to Jesus, seeking help for her daughter. Jesus eventually was moved by her determination and faith and helped her. But, before He did so, He explained to her that His main thrust outside of Judea was to Israelites, indeed lost Israelites: "But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matthew 15:24). Note three things. First, sheep are again a metaphor for Israelites. Second, Jesus declares His target to be lost Israelites—not merely Israelites—but those who are lost. Third, the word lost cannot be interpreted to mean "individuals who are unsaved," because this passage is speaking collectively, not individually. We know Jesus was speaking collectively by the words, "house of Israel." Such a phrase is a collective term, a group term, a national characterization. Thus, the true meaning of Jesus response is something like, "Madam, you do not live in the land of Judea, and the only folks outside of Judea I am really meant to target are dispersed Israelites who have become completely disconnect from their covenant past."
It thus becomes quite clear that the "lost sheep of the house of Israel," the "other sheep which are not of this fold," and the "dispersed among the gentiles" are Israelites that were previously severed from the body Israelites still living in the land of Judea in the days of Jesus. These people were still part of God’s divine plan of collective election. So, can they be identified?
Identifying the Other Sheep, the Lost Sheep of the House of Israel
The lost sheep of the House of Israel, these other sheep that were dispersed among the gentiles, can be identified because they, as a group, heard the voice of their shepherd and responded. Hearing and responding in a positive way is the hallmark we are looking for in this mysterious group. You see, the New Testament teaches that Jesus’ people, these sheep people, are the ones who would hear His voice, listen to the Gospel of Jesus Christ when spread by His apostles, and actually believe it, act upon it, and begin reshaping their society to be Christian.
Have a look at the passages in Scripture that tell us that Jesus’ people will hear Him and respond favorably:
John 10:3-4 reads, "To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And when he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice."
John 10:26-27 states, "But ye believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you. My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me."
1 John 2:19 asserts, "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have no doubt continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest they were not all of us."
John 8:39 declares, " . . . If ye were Abraham’s children, ye would do the works of Abraham."
Matthew 12:33 reads, "Either make the tree good, and his fruit good; or else make the tree corrupt, and his fruit corrupt: for the tree is known by his fruit."
Matthew 7:16-17, 20 says, "Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit: but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit . . . Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them."
Now then, speaking collectively about nations—not individuals, but speaking in terms of God’s election of nations to accomplish His purposes in the earth, what nations over the past two thousand years have done the work of God? Is there any nation, cluster of nations, peoples, races, or ethnicities that have embraced the teachings of Christ above other nations and peoples? Where can we find the sheep nations of Matthew 25:32? What nations have heard the voice of Jesus, their shepherd, and followed Him? What nations have done the works of Abraham? What nations have exhibited the good fruit of the gospel of Christ? From what nations have the missionaries come? Where did the great evangelists receive their training to go forth with the gospel of Christ?
Again, this is looking at world history for the past two thousand years and examining the Christian fruit of nations. Yes, within nations are found good and evil men, Christians and unbelievers, but that atomized individual examination is not what is being spoken of here. The question is this: what nation or nations have collectively been doing the work of Christ for the past two thousand years?
Are there any nations that stand out from the others on planet earth that have built great churches to the exultation of Christ? Where are the nations that have established colleges and schools to teach the word of God and to spread the Gospel of Christ? Where can we find nations that have framed the Ten Commandments of God as cornerstones of their law codes? What nations have created Christian institutions that incorporate the teachings of Jesus into their social order? Are there any nations that have created a Christian society?
What nations feed other people when starvation and famine strike? Are there any nations that respond with compassion to earthquake and flood victims in far away places? Where can we find the nations that bless others with their generosity in foreign aid to help the sick, diseased, poverty-ridden peoples of our planet? What nations send their sons to keep the peace in far away places wracked and riven in civil war? What nations send their fleets to police the sea-lanes, keeping them free and safe so the all people of the world can enjoy commerce and trade?
Where are these Christian nations that have been filled with good Christian works and have been a blessing to everyone on planet earth?
The answer by now should be clear: these nations are the Caucasian countries of European extraction. Only this group of nations bears the marks of God’s work over the past two thousand years. Thus, returning to the original point, it is manifestly plain that the nations of the West—Britain, France, Germany, Scandinavia, the United States, and related Caucasian nations—are the Hebrews of old because they have borne the fruit of Christendom over many centuries. Certainly not every Caucasian/Israelite person within these lands has been elected to salvation, but that does not preclude the broad evidence that these nations are the "sheep nations" of the Bible and have collectively been elected to accomplish great things for God on the earth. It is they who are the "lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matthew 15:24).