AMERICANS: DESCENDANTS OF LOST 10 TRIBES?
Churches of Chrisrt believe the Bible to be the infallible word of God, and the only perfect guide in all matters. pertaining to true religion. 2 Tim. 3:16 says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for Instruction in righteousness.” This message is a reproduction of one of my Television programs seen in the Los Angeles area several years ago. I answer some interesting Bible questions presented to me by David White.
David: The first question today has to do with the Christian's responsibility to civil government. Is it wrong for a Christian to salute the American flag?
Lonnie: There is nothing wrong about a Christian saluting the flag. The Christian is under command to obey the civil government, except when such obedience conflicts with obedience to God. Writing to Christians Paul said, “Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God” (Rom. 13:1). This doesn't mean that God appoints the specific form of government for each nation, but it does mean that civil governments exist by the authority of God and with His approval. I am proud of my country, in spite of its shortcomings. There are no perfect governments, and America makes no claim to being perfect. I say that Christians in America should be proud of their country, and it is a high privilege to salute our flag. As a Christian I consider it an honor to repeat the Pledge of Allegiance which says, “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands. One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and Justice for all.”
Davd: I have a question for you about the lost ten tribes of Israel. Are we Americans descendants of the lost ten tribes of Israel?
Lonnie: No, Americans are not descendants of the so-called lost ten tribes of Israel. Two different legendary theories about the settling of America have given rise to the belief that the American Indians were the literal descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. As one myth goes, America was settled about 600 B.C. by a group of Jews who left Jerusalem Just before the Babylonian invasion in 586 B.C. These Jews supposedly landed on the coast of Chili, and they became the American Indians, That is one explanation for the origin of the American Indian. Another similar similar legend is called Anglo-Israelism. It is a fantastic theory about the lost ten tribes of Israel. After the death of Solomon the nation of Israel divided and became two kingdoms. In the south were the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin, and in the north were the 10 tribes of Israel. In 722 B.C. the ten tribes were taken of into Assyria for the sin of idolatry. Then someone invented the hallucination that many of the ten tribes became lost and migrated to the British Isles and settled throughout Europe.
According to this fabulous theory the descendants of Manasseh migrated to Great Britain and from Great Britain to America. So we are told that the United States is Manasseh, and Americans are the direct descendants of Manasseh. So we are told that Americans are the chosen people of God, being literal descendants of the lost ten tribes of Israel.
There is not a whit of evidenc.e to support these imaginary stories. In the first place the ten tribes never became lost. They settled in Assyria and adjoining countries. One hundred years after their captivity God gave permission for the ten tribes to return to Palestine, for he said they were less guilty than the tribes of Judah and Benjamin(Jer. 3:11,12) Furthermore, some of the ten tribes returned to Palestine in 535 B.C. after the Babylonian captivity. There is no evidence that Jews ever settled America and became the American Indians. These theories about Americans being descendants of the lost ten tribes receives no support, either from Biblical history or secular history. American Anthropology believes that the American Indians came to America from Asia through the Bearing Strait to Alaska, only 56 miles separates the two continents at this point, and it is believed at earlier times that there was a land bridge between the two points. This is a reasonable explanation of the probable origin of the Indians, but the idea of the lost ten tribes migrating to America is a myth.
David: Lonnie, I think many of our viewers would like to know how we can identify a cult. What Is a cult?
Lonnie: It has been loosely estimated that 3 million Americans belong to over 1,000 religious cults. The word cult is an explosive term and brings to mind dreadful images connected with certain religious movements. Who can forget the terrible events of Jonestown? Unfortunately, a great many people have come to the point of equating virtually all religion to a sort of “cultism.” This certainly is a false conclusion. We should remember that counterfeits are indications that somewhere the truth exists. In the Western world where Christianity is the predominate religion, a cult may be defined as a far-out, radical religious belief which disagrees with historic Christianity.
Usually a cult exalts some human, charismatic-type leader whose interpretation of the Bible and religion are unquestioned by his followers. Secondly, cultism denies the Bible as the only source of religious authority. Cult leaders often claim to have special revelations from God or supernatural powers. If the New Testament were accepted as the only authority in religion, cults would cease to exist. Thirdly, the cults have one awesome and terrifying thing in common. They are mind-benders. A common feature of a cult is to isolate its members, make them believe that the whole world is against them and subject them to a “training” or “initiation” period.
Actually what occurs is brainwashing or a form of mind-control. Such methods and discipline are unknown in genuine New Testament Christianity. The church which Jesus built does not practice the mind-control of cultism. Rigid mind control or brainwashing is contrary to scripture. Jesus used truth to control the mind. People are free to belie ve the gspel and are free to reject the gospel Eaach person judges for himself We can all say this about what we received in early childhood, “Well, I will not lightly part with this, for it may be pure gold; but at the same time, I will not blindly hold on to it because it may not be true.” The proper thing to do is to sit down and study the Bible for yourself, and endeavor, as far as you can, to unpreJudice yourself. Read the New Testament, yourself, and read just as if you had never heard a preacher or had been taught by a parent. Make a sincere effort to find out what God has said. And when you have learned what God has said, believe it, espouse it and obey it.
David: Lonnie, how does this discussion relate to preachers? Do they have a responsibility to teach only according to the law and testimony of God? Are they, too, under command not to add to or take away from what God has said?
Lonnie: Yes, David, we preachers must observe the same standard. If we do not speak according to the law and testimony of Christ, as revealed in the New Testament, it is because there is no light in us. The general notion of most religious people is that all preachers are right. Even though today I may contradict someone else, and someone else may contradict me, yet we are all right. And though it is treason to common sense to believe such a thing, yet that is the common idea. Preachers are not to be questioned; they all teach the Bible, The notion that all preachers are right is a great misconception. How did this misconception arise? The answer is simple and conclusive. The reason is that the mass of people who listen to preachers do not lay hold upon what is said, but upon how it is said. People are much more impressed with how preachers speak than what they speak. Audiences are moved more by oratorical gifts than by divine truth, If a speaker has a commanding presence, a gifted voice and a so-called charisma, that is enough. He can sway an audience, even if he does not speak the truth. Hence, the misconception! Anyone who can speak like that must be speaking the truth. I would suggest to you that in this matter of hearing religious speakers, that you not Judge by outward appearances. Do not care so much how the man says it; the thing you should care about is what is said. What you should ask is, “Did he speak the truth?” When I enter the pulpit, I claim the right to be heard, but I do not claim the right to be believed unless the words that I speak shall be in accordance with what God has said in the Bible. The apostle Peter gave these instructions to all preachers, “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God. (i Pet. 4: ii). Whether the preacher is or is not possessed of oratorical gifts, he is under command to speak that which is in accordance with what God as said in His word.
David: What do you think of professing Christians who stay home on Sunday and watch a religious program on Television instead of attending church services where the gospel is preached and God is worshipped?
Lonnie: The word of God says, “And let us consider one another In order to stir up love and good work~, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the day approaching” (Heb. 10:24,25). It is wrong for Christians to be absent from the worship services, unless providentially hindered. If we are sick, feeble or infirm and unable to attend, God does not demand the impossible. Otherwise it is a sin not to attend.
David: Is a family who has honest debts expected to make a financial contribution to the church? If they do give to the church, are they not giving money that does not belong to them?
Lonnie As God's people, our first debt is to Him. God doesn't need our money or any other material gift, but it is His will that true religion be financed and propagated by the generosity of Christians. In Old Testament times Israel often failed to meet their financial commitments to God. In Malachi 3:8 the prophet said to Israel, “Will a man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me! But you say, in what way have we robbed you? In tithes and offerings. You are cursed with a curse, for you have robbed me. even this whole nation.” We rob God when we take money which belongs to Him and use it for ourselves and our families. I suppose Israel thought they had so many debts that no money was left for God.
The principle of robbing God is equally applicable to Christians. It is specially tempting to Christians in America who live in such an affluent society. We spend ourselves down the drain for luxuries we do not need, and then say we don't have any money for the church.
In the religion of Christ tithing is not commanded. The Jew was commanded to give 10%, but the Christian is commanded to give as God has prospered him (I Cor. 16:1, 2). In the Christian religion, some may be able to give more than a tenth and some less than a tenth. Be that as it may, there is no certain percent required of Christians. Christ has placed us on the honor system; you give what you want to give out of the love of your heart. The Church of Christ is engaged in the greatest mission under heaven. Money is an absolute requisite in carrying on its work, and hence the proper use of money becomes an important theme in the New Testament and assumes an important place in the Christian's life. God's will for giving in the religion of Christ is clearly set forth in I Cor. 16:1,2. The New Testament plan is to give periodically, “Upon the first day of every week.” Personally, “Let each one of you.” Providentially, “Lay by him in store.” Proportionately, “As he may prosper.” The gifts of Christians are to be laid up in the church treasury, for Paul said, “That there be no collections when I come.” Some may not be able to give much, but you don't need to give much, if you don't make much. In any event everyone can carry out the divine instructions which God has revealed.