British-Israelism: Old Theories Never Die - Or Do They?
The articles on our site concerning the Worldwide Church of God are to
inform readers about the history of that organization and the doctrines
taught by its founder. Numerous splinter groups still practice Armstrongism.
The Worldwide Church of God is a Christian denomination and a member of the
National Association of Evangelicals and Evangelical Ministries to New
Herbert W. Armstrong, founder of the Worldwide Church of God, had a fascination with Bible prophecy. That served his needs for a hook to engross the masses for forty years.
One of his many writings was entitled, The United States and Britain in Prophecy.
Armstrong pronounced the leaders of the world "ignorant" of developing world events. Why? Because they did not possess the "key" to understanding the future. Armstrong declared in this work: "But the all-important master key has been found" (p. 3).
He states, "The great world powers of our time have been, and are, the United States, the Soviet Union, Great Britain, Germany, France and other Western European nations. The messing vital KEY is simply the identity of these great world powers in biblical prophecy" (pp. 2-3).
In Mystery of the Ages Armstrong boasted that the Bible was a coded book and that God had revealed to him the secret of the code (p. 12).
The identity of these great nations according to Armstrong is that they are the descendants of the lost ten tribes of Israel.
The teaching of what has been called British-Israelism has been in existence for over two centuries. Armstrong merely revived an old discredited belief rather than discover a new Bible secret.
He and his forerunners taught that Assyria invaded the northern kingdom of Israel in B.C. 721 and carried off all of its inhabitants to the last man, woman and child. As the Assyrians moved north and west into Europe, the captives were carried along with them. Eventually, all trace of their identity disappeared.
The blessing of Jacob upon the sons of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh, bestowed upon them and their descendants the blessing of Abraham and the promise of God. Great Britain and the United States are these descendants according to the British-Israelism theory.
One problem with this scenario is found in II Chronicles 30:1 which reads: "And Hezekiah wrote letters also to Ephraim and Manasseh that they should come to the house of the Lord at Jerusalem, to keep the Passover unto the Lord God of Israel."
Further, II Chron. 30:18 states that "many of Ephraim and Manasseh, Issachar and Zebu¬lum came to Jerusalem."
This event occurred sometime after the Assyrian invasion and the carrying away of Israel.
In the year B.C. 628, Josiah called Israel and Judah to observe the Passover. In II Chronicles 34:9 it is recorded that Ephraim and Manasseh contributed to the rebuilding of the Temple by Josiah.
If the Northern Tribes were swept away and especially the bearers of the birthright, Ephraim and Manasseh, how could they be present years later at these feasts?
In Luke 2:36 it is recorded that Jesus was found at the Temple by a prophetess named Anna, of the tribe of Asher. If Asher had disappeared into Assyrian captivity, who had kept the lineage of Anna's family?
British-Israelism has always been a theory without credible proof. It is presently under review by the Worldwide Church of God and will probably be modified, if not repudiated.
This doctrine is the last vestige of Herbert W. Armstrong's legacy as a false prophet. Will the current president, Joseph Tkach, have the courage to retire it as he has Mystery of the Ages?