THE TWO HOUSES OF ISRAEL
We considered how Israel as a nation was born at the exodus and then at Sinai how they were called to become His holy priesthood nation, in which they defaulted and became a nation with the Levitical system of priesthood that served the nation spiritually and judicially to enable them to walk in Yahweh's ways.
Their transit through the wilderness was a time under Yahweh's personal direction and provisions for their every need, supervising and discipling their child-like fleshly nature.
At the entrance to the promised land His hand of special protection in the Cloud by day and the Pillar of fire by night was lifted and they were allowed to enter the promised land with yet again signs and wonders as Yahweh opened up the Jordan river to allow their passage and demolished the stronghold of Jericho before their eyes, as it were.
Now the nurturing and instruction of the wilderness years was called upon as they began to implement the instruction He had given them for living in the land.
They prospered under Joshua's (Yehoshua) leadership as a man they knew and trusted, and they went forward to conquer the land and empty it of its inhabitants as He had told them to do. However they failed to purge the land of its iniquity and in time they began to imbibe the practices of the heathen who they allowed to remain among them. It wasn't till the time of David that they overcame their enemies and totally took possession of the land which had been give to them. In the intervening period of time, they had various leaders who called them to account in their spiritual walk and brought the nation back to repentance; to be followed by a time of complacency and spiritual decline into sin and idolatry once again.
During these slack times, Yahweh allowed their enemies to oppress them and harass them and to spoil their goods in order to discipline them and cause them to turn their eyes toward Him once again and cry out for deliverance. He withdrew their liberties in this way to teach them the consequences of disobeying and going their own way. This was like a childhood stage of of learning that the rules are for their benefit and prosperity and not for needless restrictions of their liberties.
Many years and many different applications of discipline went into the forming of the character of His Firstborn son, Israel, to bring him to mature manhood. The Levitical priesthood served as an interim arrangement for the nation to learn the basis of serving Him in an acceptable manner.
When David came to the throne, he united the two main tribal heads of Ephraim (10 tribes) and Yehudah (2 tribes), into one united kingdom.
It was almost like they were coming of age and had their Bar Mitzvah in their unity under David. Jerusalem became the centre of worship and David functioned as both a king and a priest after the order of Melchizedek, to the nation.
David's revelation of the Lord (Adonai) seated at the right hand of Yahweh, as a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek is recorded in Psalm 110. It was based upon the revelations he had and the liberty given to him to function in this order to the nation that he set up a Tabernacle in which they Ark of His Presence was placed and before which worship, praise, thanksgiving with choral and singing and soloists and musical instruments performed 24/7 in a continuous flow of ministry by special divisions of the Levitical priests, before Him.
Israel had a taste of the glory for which she was destined!
THE DIVISION OF THE HOUSES
However, due to Solomon's sins in his latter years, the northern tribes became discontent and Yahweh's judgment was provoked against the Solomon for the idolatry he introduced to the nation. For David's sake, the judgment was delayed till the reign of Rehoboam, Solomon's son. The northern tribes under Ephraim were then severed from the southern kingdom of Yehudah and they became a separate kingdom in their own right with their own government and kings to rule over them. Their first king was Jeroboam (1 Kings 11:11-13; 31-39).
The northern kingdom became known as the House of Israel under the leadership of the tribe of Ephraim and Jeroboam in particular. The southern kingdom became known as the House of Yehudah and the tribe of Benyamin remained loyal to them. That gave ten tribes to Ephraim and tow to Yehudah with the Levites being interspersed between the two of them.
The centre of worship was intended to remain at Jerusalem in the territory of the House of Yehudah, but Jeroboam appointed tow places of worship on his own initiative at Dan and Bethel to avoid the need of the people to go down to Jerusalem for the festivals three times a year which Yahweh had appointed for them to do.
As a substitute, he set up images of golden calves for them and the people fell into idol worship. As a result, the northern kingdom went into serious spiritual decline and the two kingdoms were alienated and often hostile to one another. The apostasy became so bad that in the end, Yahweh had to divorce the northern kingdom and serve His judgment upon it by allowing them to be taken captive out of the land by the nation of Assyria in 734-722BC, never to return as a nation up to this present time.
When He put them out of His land, He declared they were "LO-AMMI" - "not My people".
The southern kingdom also came under judgment, firstly for 70 years in Babylon and then for their rejection of Messiah in 70AD; until 1948 when they were restored to the land.
His rebellious children had both been put out of His House to correct them and allow them to eat the fruit of their own ways, out from under His loving care.
He had said that He would punish them for their sins by allowing their enemies to overpower them, take them away captive and that they would serve their enemies in foreign lands as an oppressed people and scattered to the ends of the earth.
But according to the prophesies in Lev.26 and Deut 28:63-64, Yahweh would have mercy upon them if they repented. And the voice of repentance goes forth, ....
"Come let us return (make repentance) to Yahweh, for He has torn and He will heal us, He has smitten and He will bind us up.
After two days will He revive us: and on the third day He will raise us up, and we will live in His sight." Hosea 6:1-2
The division and alienation of the two kingdoms is prophesied to be healed in the latter times in Ezekiel 37:21-22. The House of Israel will again be brought to life and covered with flesh and His Spirit imparted to them.
THE DIVINE MANDATE
The First-born blessing was divided between the two tribal heads, Ephraim and Yehudah. Ephraim became known as the House of Israel, Yehudah became known as the House of Yehudah.
The House of Israel contained 10 tribes
The House of Yehudah contained 2 tribes
The Melchizedek order, which is that of a King/Priest – i.e. a priesthood which rules and has dominion over the earth was divided between the two of them. Both kingdoms were given a divine mandate to share in that divine order that has not been realised in its fullness in their present history.
To Ephraim was given t he role of Priesthood. They were to be a fruitful Vine that manifested the giftings of the Spirit in order to minister to the people.
To Yehudah was given the role of Kingship. To them was given the sceptre as a Lawgiver, to instruct the people in His laws and precepts so that they might walk according to His ways.
Israel did not enter into and fulfil the terms of the covenant and so the divine plan was executed through and in their rebellion. He who knows the end from the beginning purposed the fulfilment of His plan, hidden from the eyes of man but revealed in prophecy. When Ya’acov blessed Ephraim as the first-born to carry on the inheritance, he prophesied, “let them grow into a multitude of fish in the midst of the earth” (Gen 48:16 RNV). The execution of this prophecy was in them being exiled from the promised land, Israel (through breaking His covenant), and being dispersed into the nations of the world. In their dispersion they either eventually assimilated into the nations where they went, or they lost their Israelite identity. Some were more identifiable than others because they retained some of their Biblical customs, but their covenant relationship with Yahweh was completely broken and their betrothal to Him that was made at Sinai, annulled.
It was primarily (although not entirely) for the lost sheep of the House of Israel who had lost all covenant relationship, that Yeshua came in order to establish a new covenant with them. The commission of the Gospel was to “go to the lost sheep of the House of Israel”. (Matt.10:56)
His disciples were to be “fishers of men" who would go out to these “lost sheep" that were as fish in the midst of the nations and draw them back in through the net of the Gospel. As fish to be caught by the net of the Gospel, it would not exclusively be Israelites that would end up in the net. The net was cast wide to gather fish of every kind, even some who would be actually “bad fish” and would need to be thrown away in the end (Matt.13:47-48).
Yehudah has functioned in their role in a measure, under the identity as "Jews' and have been a faithful witness in transmitting the scriptures to the world and recording the teachings of His Word.
Ephraimites who have responded to the salvation of the gospel message, have mostly been an unidentified remnant, that have in a measure, functioned in their role of priesthood under Messiah in the identity known as the "Church" (since Constantine's time) in varying measures, according to the measure of light available to them. Before Constantine's time and since, many have returned to their roots and embraced the new covenant.
Both Houses have been partially blinded and need to be united in the whole counsel of God, functioning in the Melchizedek order. Each without the other is somewhat unbalanced. The Spirit and the Word need to be in harmony - joined as one, so that each can counter-balance the other and be His witnesses upon the earth - one in the Master's Hand.