I was confronted with these questions. Did Paul teach that the law was over by Jesus’ sacrifice? Also, when will the ten tribes come back to Israel?


Not sure if I would say it exactly that way:  “the Law was over by Jesus’ sacrifice.”  What Paul did say is, “When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ.  He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross.”  (Colossians 2:13-15)

I think what I would say is this.  No one was ever saved by obeying law (either the Law of Moses or any other system of law for that matter) because no one perfectly obeyed that law.  Through the cross, God provided another way to be saved which did not require perfection on our part.  Instead it relies on the perfect life of Jesus and his sacrifice.

It is debatable that “the Law was over.”  One can argue that it is still in place, but that is our problem if we try to find salvation in this Law.  Jesus said that he did not come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17).  I would argue that Jesus did not remove the Law, but instead he fulfilled it in his own life and therefore offered us another way to be saved.  We are no longer subject to the Law, but we are under the Law of Christ (1 Corinthians 9:21).  The law of the Spirit of live has set us free of the law of sin and death (Romans 8:2) and thank God for that.

As for the supposed “ten lost tribes,” believe it or not, there is no discussion anywhere in the Bible about these “lost” tribes.  This is sort of a Christian urban legend.  The biblical and historical evidence is that the Northern Kingdom was destroyed in 722 BC by the Assyrians.  At this time they killed or deported great portions of those tribes which had lived in Samaria/the Northern Kingdom, and imported people from elsewhere in the Assyrian Empire.  The Jews left behind mixed with the imported people and, over time, became what were known in Jesus’ time as the Samaritans.  To the Jews in Judea and in Galilee, these Samaritans were unclean half-Jews.  The Samaritans used the first five books.  Their Bible is known as the Samaritan Pentateuch.

The exact mixture of the Samaritans is uncertain.  How many of the Jews from the Northern Kingdom were incorporated into this ethnicity?  Were they mostly Ephraimites?  Danites?  Zebulunites?   Did some of the deported from Naphtali and Asher return later to reoccupy parts of what used to be the Northern Kingdom?  We really do not have a solid base of knowledge about the fate of the tribes from the Northern Kingdom.  To call them “lost” is a bit of a misnomer.  It implies that there is some territory out there where they lived and from which they could come back some day to Israel.

Besides, the number of “lost” tribes (even if they were lost) is not ten!  In Judah there were significant numbers of the Jews from Simeon, Judah, Benjamin and Levi.  Many Danites were in the South as well.  Probably a majority of the Levites were in the Southern Kingdom, as well as nearly all of the other three tribes.  Who came up with the number for the lost tribes?  If we count a total of thirteen tribes (including the two half-tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh), then there would be at most eight lost tribes.  However, to be accurate historically, none of these tribes were truly lost.  More accurately we can say that several of these tribes were largely assimilated with those brought into the former Northern Kingdom by the Assyrians and that they lost their unique identity.

Many have incorporated the myth of the ten lost tribes, including the Mormons, but we should be skeptical of such ideas.  In any case, there are no “lost tribes” out there waiting to come back to Israel in some kind of last days.  This expectation is not likely to be fruitful.

John Oakes

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