Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?
Through an undesired twist of fate, the patriarch Jacob found himself married to two sisters, Leah and Rachel, thus creating two main factions within Israel. Jacob favored Rachel and gave Joseph her firstborn the mantle of leadership over his whole household. The other brothers, the children of Leah, rejected Joseph’s authority. Reuben was the firstborn of Jacob and of Leah, but because of his actions and that of Simeon and Levy, the leadership of the house of Leah fell on Judah, Jacob’s fourth born. Israel’s History is punctuated by the rivalry between the House of Joseph and the House of Judah. Prophets have expressed the World to Come as the time when the two Houses are finally united in peace.
Joseph had two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. When Moses died, leadership of the newborn nation of Israel was given to the House of Joseph through the Ephraimite Joshua. Until the reign of Saul the Benjamite, leadership in Israel fell on Judges who were mostly from either the tribes of Ephraim or Manasseh, the House of Joseph. It is King David who united the tribes under one rule and started the Davidic dynasty that was to fulfill Jacob’s prophecy and usher in the Messiah (Genesis 49:8-12).
At the end of the Solomonic reign, the country was again divided into two camps: the Ephraim and the Judah camps. Most of the tribes from the House of Leah joined with Ephraim and Judah was left alone with Benjamin. Ephraim became the Northern Kingdom, and Judah the Southern Kingdom, with Benjamin stuck in between the two. Eventually the Assyrian conquered and deported the Northern Kingdom and Nebuchadnezzar deported the Judeans to Babylon. At the end of the Babylonian exile, King Cyrus issued the order for all the captives of Israel from either North or South to be allowed to return to their land.
In his prophecies of the ‘two sticks’, the prophet Ezekiel speaks to us of the Messianic Age as the time when the two houses of Israel are again united under the Judean Davidic leadership (Ezekiel 34-37). This comes in fulfillment of the Psalms which tell us: He (God) rejected the tent of Joseph; he did not choose the tribe of Ephraim, but he chose the tribe of Judah, Mount Zion, which he loves (Psalms 78:67-68). Ezekiel’s prophecy of the two sticks united (Ezekiel 37) is actually an echo of the reunification of the two houses foreshadowed by Joseph when he embraces his brothers lead by Judah as he reveals himself to them (Genesis 45).
The reunification of the two houses is and has always been one of the main signs of the Messianic Age and of the coming of Messiah. Before Yeshua ascended to the Father, His disciples asked Him, "Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel (Acts 1:6)?" Which meant, “Will You at this time restore the twelve tribes as a sovereign nation? To which He answered, "It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority (Acts 1:7-8)." May it happen soon Abba, even in our days!