How "Lost" Were the Ten Tribes of Israel?


Don K. Preston


A while back, the A and E channel aired a program entitled Searching for the Lost Tribes. The premise of the show was that attempts are being made to find the lost 10 tribes of Israel that were deported in the Assyrian invasion of Israel in BC 721. The reason they, the Jewish makers of the program, are looking for the lost tribes, is because they believe that the time of the end has arrived and the restoration of the lost tribes is, per their view, necessary to “bring in Armageddon.” Many of the people interviewed spoke with zeal about their hope of the restoration of the tribes so that the Messiah could come.
Throughout the show, “evidence” was presented to ostensibly prove that descendants of the lost tribes have been found in Asia, Africa, and other regions of the world.
What about the “lost tribes”? Is the search for these ancient tribes legitimate? What about the motives behind this search?
First of all, it is clear that those involved in the search reject the true Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth! As Peter, faithful Jew that he was, declared, “Ye men of Israel Hear these words, Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God by many miracles, wonders and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know.” (Acts 2:22). Peter proclaimed that God had vindicated Jesus’ claim to be the Messiah! God raised Him from the dead! What greater proof could anyone desire? Any modern attempt to find the “lost tribes” in anticipation of the coming of another Messiah, is misguided and doomed to failure. It is based on a false foundation.
Further, the 10 tribes were never intended to be fully restored as a nation! Read Amos 5:1f: “The virgin daughter of Israel is fallen, and will never rise again!” The Lord predicted the Assyrian invasion and deportation of Israel and said that He would destroy Israel to such an extent that she could never be restored again. See Hosea 1:3-5 also. Only a remnant would return.
The fact is that the 10 northern tribes were not truly lost. They certainly were not lost to the Lord, if He wanted to restore them. The point is that Jehovah said Israel would “rise no more,” and that only a remnant would return. The book of Nehemiah records the return from captivity (chapters 6-9)  and Ezra records that sacrifice was offered for all twelve tribes that had returned!
You see, the Assyrians conquered the 10 northern tribes. However, the Babylonians then conquered the Assyrians and therefore, the 10 “lost tribes” were now in Babylonian captivity along with the 2 southern tribes. Thus, when the Persians then destroyed Babylon (Daniel 5) all twelve tribes were then in Persian captivity.
However, Cyrus, the Persian king gave the captives of Israel, any and all who desired, permission to return to Israel (Ezra 1). That is why Ezra and Nehemiah recorded the return of a remnant of all twelve tribes! The 10 tribes were not lost. They literally returned from captivity as a remnant just as predicted.
Programs like that aired by A and E are sensationalistic and appealing to a lot of people. However, the very premise of the show is a rejection of the only hope of Israel, Jesus. Any attempt to circumvent the salvation that is to be found in Him and Him alone is misguided and doomed to failure. We will take a look next at the Messianic gathering of Israel.