Understanding the return of Ephraim
The heavens declare the glory of G-d; the firmament proclaims the work of His hands (Psalm 19:1)
For since the creation of the world, G-d’s invisible qualities–His eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse (Romans 1:20)
The Father has imprinted His nature in all creation. Just as He set the stars in place and called them by name in order that a pre-Torah generation might be given a visual of the elements and plan of His salvation, He put many other lessons in nature to enlighten us about issues which concern us. When I first began to hear about the return of Ephraim, I asked the Lord about it. He answered me immediately with two thoughts–sea turtles and monarch butterflies. And in that moment, I understood.
I first became aware of the migration of sea turtles while working for Dr. James Richardson at the University of Georgia. Dr. Richardson is an internationally recognized authority on sea turtles and has been tracking the populations in Georgia since the 1960’s.
The turtle that nests on Georgia beaches is called a loggerhead. The female emerges from the ocean at night, digs a hole and lays anywhere from 100 to 126 eggs. She may nest as many as four times in a season. The eggs are subject to poachers and a variety of predators, and it is current practice for environmental workers to gather the eggs out of the nests and store them or rebury them in protected areas until it is time for them to hatch. Once out of the nest, the tiny creatures, about 5% of their adult size, make a mad dash for the sea, where they live in the shoals for a short time.
Currents and seaweed carry them for years before they return to near shore waters as juveniles. Gradually, they grow and make their way further out into the ocean. Eventually, they swim or are carried to the Azores, a group of islands which sit in the Atlantic Ocean about 1000 miles due west of Lisbon, Portugal. The loggerheads remain deep in Atlantic waters until sexual maturity, about 20 to 30 years. At that time, they swim home to the exact same beach upon which they were hatched in order to nest and, again, bring forth the next generation. It is estimated that perhaps only one in a thousand turtles lives long enough to reproduce.
Another creature famed for its migratory habit is the graceful and colorful monarch butterfly. These insects make their homes in central Mexico or California. Each year, the current generation awakens from hibernation in February or March. They mate and begin to fly northward. The female lays eggs as she goes, as many as 1100 in her lifetime. These eggs hatch into caterpillars within 4 days. The caterpillar eats voraciously and forms a chrysalis within the next 14 days. The chrysalis phase lasts 10 days and then the butterfly hatches out. This butterfly, whose parent left Mexico some 28 days before and is now long dead, finds itself somewhere in Texas and proceeds on its northward journey, again laying eggs as it goes. The lifespan of this butterfly is anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks. It is a first generation monarch. This cycle continues as eggs are laid and eventually hatched throughout the Midwest and eastern seaboard, and finally the fourth generation arrives in New England or Canada by mid-summer.
As the weather turns cold in November, it becomes the task of this final generation to fly home to Mexico, a place it has never been, to over-winter and hibernate. This unique generation outlives its predecessors by 400% to 1000%, surviving up to nine months. This is the same generation that will wake up in the spring to begin the cycle again. There are anywhere from 60 to 160 million of these insects waiting for the warming of spring.
And perhaps ask the beasts of the field and they will point the way, and the bird in the heavens will declare to you. Or converse with the earth and she will point the way, and the fishes of the ocean will tell you the story. Who of all these doesn’t know that the hand of YHWH has made this? (Job 12:7-9)
The fact that Ephraim has gone missing for over 2700 years is not news to historians. While this author does not deny that many of the inhabitants of the northern kingdom fled south during difficult times, the fact remains that much of the population was lost in exile. While none of the tribes per se were lost, many people were assimilated over time, losing their Hebraic identity. In the end, the local inhabitants of northern Israel were replaced with peoples settled there from other areas of the Assyrian empire. There is a documented trail of Ephraim’s deportation and subsequent wanderings during the next few centuries, but this trail then dissipates into oral history, local tradition and mythological desire.
The fact that YHWH means to gather Ephraim and return him to the land is well documented in scripture and understood by the rabbis of Israel. Verses such as Isaiah 27:13, Jeremiah 31:8 and Ezekiel 20:24, addressed exclusively to the nation of Israel (as opposed to Judah) cannot be denied as manifestations of YHWH’s intentions. We expect a large number of these people, perhaps as many as ten times the number of known Jews on the earth today. Where is this burgeoning group of people?
Simcha Jacobovici makes a convincing presentation of his research in his documentary Quest for the Lost Tribes (available through A&E) and people have already returned under this banner: the falashas of Ethiopia and the Bene Israel of India. More recently the Bnai Menasshe, or Monmassi, of Burma have been making aliyah. Research by others extends to the Pathans of Afghanistan, and tribes in Japan, Africa, China and Ecuador. In 2003, the Missouri Cherokee declared themselves to be remnants of Hebrew people who fled the Middle East after the siege at Masada. Many of these peoples have arrived at an understanding of their tribal history because of a previous Christian faith and study of Tanakh. In addition to these tribal peoples, there is an unexpected gentile population that has come to YHWH and Torah observance within the past decade, having been drawn there by Messiah Yeshua. As He said, “I have come to seek and save what was lost” (Matthew 15:24) and also “I am sent to the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Luke 19:10).
When we talk about a turtle finding the place of its own hatching some 20 or 30 years and thousands of miles of water after that event, it is a most remarkable phenomenon. The Creator has apparently equipped the animal with a sensory power that humans do not have, specifically so that it might accomplish this task. We might call this a ‘homing instinct.’ We realize that this information is transmitted genetically. If I myself, having been born a Jew and having spent time in Israel many years ago, decide to return to my homeland as a result of the call of the Holy Spirit, this is somewhat understandable. Like the turtles, I have had an experience personally and I feel called to repeat it, in some way.
But the case of the monarchs is different. It is a cross-generational call that brings each group of butterflies, no matter where their hatching place along a 3000 mile route, to the ‘summer home’ up north. And the fourth, and final generation, finds its way home to a country it has never seen. If the Creator of the universe has designed these insects to accomplish this task, is it unthinkable that the descendants of Ephraim, even after 2700 years, wake up in their current lands and suddenly feel a call to their ancestral home land, the land of Israel? Only in this generation, the generation since 1948 and the founding of the state, has this been possible. We see it before our very eyes.
And in fact, the Father has called them:
“The Ephraimites will become like mighty men, and their hearts will be glad as with wine; and their children will see it and be joyful; their hearts will rejoice in YHWH. I will whistle for them and gather them, for I have redeemed them; they will multiply as they multiplied before. Though I sow them among the nations, yet in distant lands they will remember me. They and their children will survive, and they will return. I will bring them back from Egypt and from Assyria I will gather them. To the land of Gilead and Lebanon I will bring them, and there will not be room enough for them. And he will pass through the sea of trouble; and will smite the waves of the sea; all the depths of the Nile will dry up; and Assyrian’s pride will be brought down and Egypt’s scepter will pass away. I will strengthen them in YHWH and in His name they will walk about,” declares YHWH. (Zechariah 10:7-12)
www.cccturtle.org – Learn about sea turtles around the world
www.learner.org/jnorth/current.html – Learn about monarchs and other living things which migrate
www.aetv.com – Order “Quest for the Lost Tribes”
www.unitedisrael.org – Read about David Horowitz’s work ongoing since 1944 (non-Messianic site)
www.moshiach.com/features/tribes – Research on the lost tribes (non-Messianic site)
www.worldandi.com/public/1988/april/cl2.cfm – Read about the falashas
www.philologos.org/__eb-tws/ – Read Bullinger’s “The Witness of the Stars” and many other excellent books
religion.press-world.com/v/42609.html (cut and paste this address in your browser) – Read the Missouri Cherokee’s statement