For those who read the Sriptures with the understanding that the two Covenant Books are conjoined it is plain that the two houses of Yisra’ĕl and Yehudah will be reunited and return to the land of Yisra’ĕl which is commonly referred to as “The Second Exodus.”
The Scriptures are quite clear that this phenomenon will take place at the END of the “Great Tribulation” yet some Messianic “teachers” and leaders are treating this event just as Pagan Christianity does with their pre-tribulation “Rapture”! As if we, as followers of Yahushua haMashiach are somehow special and will escape the wrath of Yahweh on ALL who have added to the sin of the world, which includes all of us if we are honest.
It’s tempting with our human nature to think that there is an easy out and to pull a few Scriptures together to appease this desire, but we need to put the whole “puzzle” of Scripture together to see the whole picture and prepare to face the reality that we are at the doorstep of “Ya’aqob’s Trouble.”
Having made these statements, let’s get started and look at all the pieces of the puzzle and see how and when this Second Exodus will take place.
It has long been observed that about one-third of Scripture is prophecy, and the majority of those prophecies have not yet been fulfilled.
In addition, nearly all of those unfulfilled prophecies pertain to the descendants of Abraham in general – and Ya’acob in particular – and to other nations and entities only as they encounter the descendants of these patriarchs.
Understanding the history and the future of the descendants of Ya’acob is paramount to understanding the rest of Scripture. In particular, grasping what Yahweh says will happen to these people allows us to make sense of this world’s seemingly incomprehensible events. “Where there is no vision, the people are let loose” as Proverbs 29:18 notes. But Yahweh has given us a vision of where current events are leading, and what will soon happen to the nations of Yisra’ĕl that have been scattered around the globe.
Historically, after the death of Shelomoh (c. 931 bc), the Reign of Yisra’ĕl split into two separate Reigns. The northern ten tribes retained the name “Yisra’ĕl”, establishing their capital at Samaria. The southern tribes Yehudah – and Benyamin, along with part of Lewi – became known simply as“Yehudah” (Judah) and its people known as Yehudim (Jews); see 2 Kings 16:5-6, continuing to be ruled by the royal line of Dawid from the capital city of Yerushalayim.
Two hundred years after this national division, the northern ten tribes were in a terminal state of wickedness and rebellion. Idolatry was widespread, pagan religious practices from the surrounding cultures were common and celebrated, Yahweh’s law was trampled underfoot, and Yahweh Himself was scoffed at – much as in today’s Western culture. Yahweh’s prophets, warning of Yisra’ĕl’s destruction and subjugation, were invariably ignored, mocked, or killed.
Around 722 bc, Yahweh caused Assyria to subdue Yisra’ĕl and enslave the people. The Assyrians deported the population from its homeland in Kena’an to the southern shores of the Caspian Sea in what is today Iran (2 Kings 17:5-6). The northern Reign of Yisra’ĕl thus passed from the view of all but the most obscure histories, becoming known as the Lost Ten Tribes.
The Yehudim – the southern kingdom of Yehudah – followed the same course shortly thereafter. With few exceptions, the sovereigns of Yehudah proved more corrupt than Yisra’ĕl’s sovereigns. Yisra’ĕl set the pace into idolatry, and Yehudah enthusiastically followed (Yehezqel 16:45-52). As with Yisra’ĕl, Yahweh sent prophets to Yehudah to warn her of destruction if she failed to repent. She refused. Between 604 and 585 bc, the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar carried the population of Yehudah to Babylon (2 Kings 24:14). Later, he totally destroyed Yerushalayim, Hekal (Temple) and all, and “carried away captive the rest of the people.” 2 Kings 25:11
Both kingdoms, having turned from their covenant with Yahweh, earned the penalty of national captivity.
After seventy years in Babylonian captivity, the Yehudim began returning to Kena’an. Under Ezra and Nehemyah, the wall around Yerushalayim was rebuilt, and the Hekal was restored under Zerubbabel and Yehoshua. However, the northern ten tribes of Yisra’ĕl never returned. After a long sojourn in and around the areas of their captivity, they migrated north and west into the European continent, eventually spreading from there into the United States, Canada, South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand.
However, this migration of Yisra’ĕl will reverse in the days ahead. Scripture shows in many prophecies that a Second Exodus will occur, and Yahweh’s people will return to the land promised to Abraham, Yitshaq, and Ya’acob.
The first exodus, when Yahweh brought the children of Yisra’ĕl out from Egypt, is a defining event for all Yisra’ĕl ites. Passover, the Days of Unleavened Bread, and even Shavuot all commemorate Yahweh’s Sovereignty, providence, and favour in liberating His people (see Deut 16:1-12). Yet, as remarkable as this spontaneous movement of millions of people from a plundered Egypt to a bountiful Kena’an was, the Second Exodus will be so momentous that the original exodus from Egypt will pale by comparison:
“Therefore see, the days are coming,” declares YHWH, “when it is no longer said, ‘YHWH lives who brought up the children of Yisra’ĕl from the land of Mitsrayim,’ 15 but, ‘YHWH lives who brought up the children of Yisra’ĕl from the land of the north and from all the lands where He had driven them.’ For I shall bring them back into their land I gave to their fathers.” Yeremiyah 16:14-15 (see also 23:7-8)
In Yeshayah 11:11-12, the prophet also tells of this time:
“And it shall be in that day that YHWH sets His hand again a second time to recover the remnant of His people who are left, from Ashshur and from Mitsrayim, from Pathros and from Kush, from Ěylam and from Shinʽar, from Hamath and from the islands of the sea. 12 And He shall raise a banner for the nations, and gather the outcasts of Yisra’ĕl, and assemble the dispersed of Yehudah from the four corners of the earth.”
Yahweh tells Yermiyah, “In those days the house of Yehuḏah shall go to the house of Yisra’ĕl, and they shall come together out of the land of the north to the land that I have given as an inheritance to your fathers.” Yermiyah 3:18
During the first exodus, a few million Israelites left Egypt and headed for the land of Canaan, a relatively short distance away. Today, Israelites number in the hundreds of millions, and their current homelands are thousands of miles from Canaan. They cannot re-migrate to the Promised Land as a single group, for their movements have left them in numerous countries around the globe. Only the Sovereign Yahweh can orchestrate such a regathering.
While some prophecies speak of Yisra’ĕl returning from every compass point (Yeshayah 11:12; 43:5-7), Yisra’ĕl is most commonly foreseen returning from the north and the west (of the Promised Land)(Yeshayah 49:12; Yermiyah 3:18; 16:15;23:8;31:8; Hoshea 11:10; Zecharyah 2:6) reversing the path of their migration thousands of years ago.
REGATHERED TO TSIYON
The prophet Isaiah gives numerous descriptions of how this exodus will take place, such as the individual attention that will be given: “And in that day it shall be that… you will be gathered one by one, O children of Yisra’ĕl” Yeshayah 27:12
He speaks of “a highway for the remnant of His people who will be left from Assyria, as it was for Yisra’ĕl In the day that he came up from the land of Egypt” Yeshayah11:16
A similar road appears in Yeshayah 35:8-10:
“And there shall be a highway, and a way, and it shall be called “The Way of Set-apartness.” The unclean does not pass over it, but it is for those who walk the way, and no fools wander on it. 9 No lion is there, nor any ravenous beast go up on it, it is not found there. But the redeemed shall walk there. 10And the ransomed of YHWH shall return and enter Tsiyon with singing, with everlasting joy on their heads. They shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.”
(see also Yeshayahu 43:16-21; 51:10-11)
Not all of Yisra’ĕl will be able to travel back via this Highway of Set-apartness, however.
Yeshayah 60:8-9 asks:
“Who are these who fly like a cloud, and like doves to their windows? 9 “Because the coastlands wait for Me, and the ships of Tarshish first, to bring your sons from afar, their silver and their gold with them, to the Name of YHWH your Elohim, and to the Set-apart One of Yisra’ĕl, because He has adorned you.”
Yeshayah 66:20 describes this massive undertaking further:
“And they shall bring all your brothers as an offering to YHWH out of all the gentiles, on horses and in chariots and in litters, on mules and on camels, to My set-apart mountain Yerushalayim,” declares YHWH, “as the children of Yisra’ĕl bring an offering in a clean vessel into the House of YHWH.”
Yermiyah 30-31 gives a broad overview of what Yahweh will do to bring back Yisra’ĕl and the rest of Yehudah, and restore the Promised Land to them. This was not fulfilled in the 1940s, when hundreds of thousands of Jews returned to their historical land and founded the modern State of Israel, for only Yehudah took part in that. The prophecies regarding the Second Exodus clearly speak of both Yehudah and Yisra’ĕl. Notice, for instance:
Yermiyah 30:1-3 “The word that came to Yirmeyahu from YHWH, saying, 2 “Thus spoke YHWHElohim of Yisra’ĕl, saying, ‘Write in a book for yourself all the words that I have spoken to you. 3 ‘For look, the days are coming,’ declares YHWH, ‘when I shall turn back the captivity of My people Yisra’ĕl and Yehudah,’ declares YHWH, ‘and I shall bring them back to the land that I gave to their fathers, and let them possess it.’ ”
Yahweh refers to both kingdoms here—the descendants of the northern kingdom of Yisra’ĕl as well as the southern kingdom of Yehudah. The return of Yisra’ĕl will be the larger migration because, aside from the 70-year captivity in Babylon, some of the descendants of Yehudah have always resided in the Promised Land. Today, the State of Yisra’ĕl is predominately made up of the descendants of Yehudah.
However, neither Yisra’ĕl nor Yehudah has truly possessed the land since the time of their respective captivities. Despite some of Yehudah having returned to the land, ever since the Babylonian captivity, she has only rarely and intermittently held sovereignty over it.
After Yehudah was taken into captivity, Babylon ruled the Promised Land under Nebuchadnezzar. Babylon later fell to the Medo-Persian Empire, which then became sovereign over Yerushalayim and the Promised Land. Because of their vassal status, the Yehudi captives that returned from Babylon had to ask permission from Cyrus and Darius, the Persian kings, to rebuild the wall and the Hekal. The Yehudim enjoyed a measure of peace, but their freedom depended on the favour of the ruling Persian emperor.
After Alexander the Great conquered Medo-Persia, the Greeks became the new overseers of the Land of Promise. Yehudim under the Maccabees gained a measure of independence until Rome took control of the area. Thus, during the time of the Messiah, Yehudim lived in the land and even worshipped in the Second Hekal, but they did not really possess the land because it was under Roman jurisdiction. Since the collapse of the Roman Empire, notwithstanding some temporary Crusader holdings, the Promised Land has been under the sway of various Arab and Muslim nations – notably the Ottoman Empire – down to modern times.
Even now, the state of Israel does not control all of the land. Jerusalem is a divided city, and the Israelis have not dared claim all of the Temple Mount for themselves (even though they had the opportunity immediately following the Six Day War in 1967), because they know that it would result in an all-out war with the Muslims. Even though the Jews regained a considerable amount of land when it declared statehood in 1948, gaining even more during the Six Day War, the ownership is endlessly argued. Yehudah is not truly sovereign yet. It does not yet “possess” the land in the fullest sense of the word.
BUT FIRST, TRIBULATION!
Even though Yisra’ĕl and Yehudah will ultimately be restored to the land of Abraham, Yitshaq, and Ya’acob, they will first go through a time of tremendous tribulation and hardship:
Yermiyah 30:5-7 “For this is what YHWH said, ‘We have heard a voice of trembling, of fear, and not of peace. 6 ‘Ask now, and see if a man is giving birth. Why do I see every man with his hands on his loins like a woman in labour, and all faces turned pale? 7 ‘Oh! For great is that day, there is none like it. And it is the time of Yaʽaqob’s distress, but he shall be saved out of it.”
This is what must happen before the Second Exodus. Notice that it is called “Ya’acob’s distress,” not either “Yisra’ĕl’s distress” or “Yehudah’s distress.” Both houses will experience it. Yahweh causes Ya’acob’s descendants to be greatly troubled because of their sins. This time of unprecedented crisis – “there is none like it” – corresponds to the time of “great distress” of which Yahushua Messiah warns:
Matthew 24:15-22 “So when you see the ‘abomination that lays waste,’ spoken of by Dani’ĕl the prophet, set up in the set-apart place” – he who reads, let him understand – 16 “then let those who are in Yehudah flee to the mountains… 21 For then there shall be great distress, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 “And if those days were not shortened, no flesh would be saved, but for the sake of the chosen ones those days shall be shortened.”
Luke’s version of the Olivet Prophecy uses different language to describe the same time and events:
Luke 21:20-24 “And when you see Yerushalayim surrounded by armies, then know that its laying waste is near. Then let those in Yehudah flee to the mountains, and let those who are in the midst of her go out, and let not those who are in the fields enter her. 22 “Because these are days of vengeance, to fill all that have been written. 23 “And woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing children in those days! For there shall be great distress in the earth and wrath upon this people. 24“And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Yerushalayim shall be trampled underfoot by the gentiles until the times of the gentiles are filled.” (seeRevelation 11:2)
Just as Yahushua reassures us in Matthew 24:22 that this will not be the complete end of mankind, Yermiyahu promises that Ya’acob will be saved out of his trouble. Even though that “day” is great, and like nothing we have seen before, it will not be the end of Ya’acob.
Yermiyah 30:5-7 does not detail why that time is one of tribulation. The only clue we have in these verses is that Yahweh compares it, not just to a woman in labor, but to a man in labor. This is certainly an unusual symbol, but the picture of the sorrows and pains of labor and childbirth elsewhere helps us to understand what it portends. For example, Yeshayah 13:6-8 prophesies:
“Howl, for the day of YHWH is near! It comes as a destruction from the Almighty. 7 Therefore all hands go limp, every man’s heart melts, 8 and they shall be afraid. Pangs and sorrows take hold of them, they are in pain as a woman in labour; they are amazed at one another, their faces aflame!”
A similar illustration appears in Yeshayah 26:16-18:
“O YHWH, in distress they shall visit you, they shall pour out a prayer when Your disciplining is upon them. 17 As a woman with child and about to give birth writhes and cries out in her pain, so shall we be before Your face, O YHWH. 18 We have conceived, we writhed in pain; we have given birth to wind. We have not accomplished deliverance in the earth, nor have the inhabitants of the world fallen.”
Sha’ul also uses this symbol in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-3:
“Now, brothers, as to the times and the seasons, you do not need to be written to. 2 For you yourselves know very well that the day of YHWH comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then suddenly destruction comes upon them, as labour pains upon a pregnant woman, and they shall not escape.” (see also Yeshayah 66:6-24; Yermiyah 4:31; 13:20-27; Hoshea 13:12-16; Mikah 4:9-10.)
Overall, the symbol is one of anguish, sorrow, intensity, great discomfort, and pain. The prophets contain scores of examples of Yahweh’s anger at the sins of His people. It is with good reason that the prophecies mention that only a “remnant” will return: Even though the descendants of Ya’acob will ultimately be saved, the percentage of the current hundreds of millions of Yisra’ĕl’ites and Yehudim who survive that trouble will probably be small (see Yeshayah 10:20-21).
However, how this illustration is applied is interesting. When it applies to Yahweh’s enemies, the emphasis is clearly on the pain, anguish, sorrow, and fear of what is ahead (Yermiyah 49:20-24). But when it refers to Yisra’ĕl, as in Yermiyah 30, there is always hope that the pain will be turned to joy, just as with a physical birth (Yeshayah 66:8-9). It is painful, but a tremendous blessing is promised to come when it is over (compare Yahushua’s use of this metaphor in John 16:21).
A hint of this hope appears in Yermiyah 30:7:
“…but he [Ya’acob] shall be saved out of it.”
The pain and the anguish will not end in total annihilation. Certainly, a dear price will be paid in human lives, but the peoples of Ya’acob will survive and be blessed—both physically and spiritually, as we will see.