During the latter half of 2006, the early part of 2007, and again in 2009
and 2010 I have had
opportunity to visit with a community of Christians who call themselves The
Twelve Tribes of Israel. I have visited with them and/or attended their morning
and evening worship services about 30-40 times, and have spent the night at
one of their communes about five or six times, and eaten with them about 20
times, and talked with about 20 of their members about their beliefs. And my take is as
They are by far the closest-nit group of Christians I have ever associated
with. By that I mean that they Live together, and work together, and
worship together seven days a week. They also don't consider themselves
as owning anything themselves, but rather jointly. In other words they
are very close to the Ideal community of what Christianity is supposed to be about. I also had a deep peace every time I visited with them.
For the most part they are very friendly, and would offer me some tea, and ask if I was
planning to stay for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. On two occasions they
asked me to leave, as I did not agree with various things that they teach:
including their take on the age of the earth.
They dance in circles when they worship, and their kids join in as well. Their kids
are well behaved, and I never witnessed any
arguments during any of my visits except for a brief disagreement between one
of their members and myself on about the 10th or 12th time I was there.
After this incident, on the next visit or two he and I made up for
we continued to speak to one another afterward, and we even apologized to each
other. For the most part, they seemed to be genuinely concerned
about those who are outside of God's Kingdom.
Four areas of disagreement: I disagree with them in the
The Lord's Supper: I believe it is for Each and Every believer, and not
just for those who are within a particular denomination. In other words,
they will not allow anyone who is not one of their members to participate in
the Lord's Supper with them. The Lutherans do this as well, but the
Scriptures simply say for a man to "examine himself" and so let him
partake... and IF he is not right with the Lord, the Lord Himself will either
convict him of his sin, or cause him to become sick, or even take his life if
he persists in living in sin. In this regard I believe that both the
Twelve Tribes and the Lutherans are afraid that if an outsider (who also names
the name of Christ, and is committed to Him) were to partake
in their church (or community) and not suffer any physical harm, that they
might come to realize that THEY are not any better, nor more right with the
Lord -- just because they have
joined a particular church, or community, and that there are other
people out there who also Love the Lord just like they do, and who are also
walking with Him daily, and striving to obey Him just like they are. Perhaps they have another reason, however, it isn't Biblical.
Practicing the Sabbath:
The Twelve Tribes practice keeping the
Sabbath. I also have NO problem with this, except that the Apostle Paul
said that it shouldn't be something that divides Christians. In
other words, the Apostle Paul considered it an area of Christian Liberty, just like eating meat, or meat sacrificed to Idols, or not
eating any meat at all. See Romans 14: 1-12; Col. 2:16-17; Matt. 12:1-21
Giving up all your Possessions:
The Twelve Tribes don't own anything
themselves, but consider all of their property and possessions to belong to
the group. This is all well and good, or it can be good, however it can
also be something that could be used for selfish purposes. In other
words, when you join and give them all your money, or Houses, or whatever you
own: who is there to oversee where it all goes? Are certain members
favored much more than others? Also, while the Lord did say that IF we
want to become His disciple, we will need to (at least be willing to) give up
all of our own possessions (Luke 14:33); however, that does not mean that we
can't own anything and still be in God's will, or still be used by Him to do
great things (Luke 12: 13-21). In other words, the most important thing
to God is Where is your heart, and what are you worshipping? Are
Yourself, and/or your possessions, or are you following and obeying the Lord
and making Him and His will first in your life?
Salvation: I believe that salvation is by Grace alone through Faith in
Christ Alone: not by joining a certain church or religious group or community:
even one that calls itself the Twelve Tribes of Israel. For
Jesus Christ alone is the one who has the Power to save and to raise us from
the dead (John 6:37-40). And He is the One who has the
keys of death and of Hades -- and the One to whom we will all give an account
of our lives: John 5:22-23; 2 Cor. 5:10; Rev. 22:12.
In other words, in discussing this with several members of the Twelve
Tribes, they seemed to think that their salvation was in the fact that they
had joined the group, and had given up all of their possessions, and were now
doing everything in their power to seek and to serve the Lord through the
group -- and with their approval.. The same
could probably be said of many other churches. However, according to
Scripture, believing in Christ and receiving His salvation means having a Personal Relationship with the
living Lord. It
involves both knowing Him Personally, and Loving your brothers and
sisters in Christ as you love yourself. See Hosea 6:3; John 6:37;
7:37-38; 10:14, 27; See also Matt. 7:21-24 and note what happens to those whom
the Lord didn't KNOW Personally. See also Eph. 4:30 to see what happens
to a Christian who isn't living for the Lord. In other words, if you
think you are saved, but your life hasn't changed in any way, or you don't
have a deep peace, then perhaps you were never saved in the first
place??????? I John 3:9-18; Heb. 4:1-16; John 14:27; II Tim. 2:19.
So my overall feeling about he Twelve Tribes is that IF they were to get
over themselves, and stop thinking they are the only ones who are right with God, and
cease from condemning almost all Christians who are not a part of their
group (Luke 6:37; Ps 130:7-8), then they would be about as close to a utopian
society on Earth as I can imagine.
Note that with regard to
the above verse from psalm 130:7, they effectively change the meaning from
abundant redemption to abundant condemnation.
In regard to judging others as less fervent than ourselves, I have been told that Campus Crusade for Christ has 27,000
full time Missionaries, and 186,000 part time missionaries. Are these less committed to the Lord
than the Twelve
Tribes? Or what about the 120-200 million born again Christians in
China? Are they all in need of a "sent one" from the Tribes in
order to be saved? Or what about those who have given their lives
in Afghanistan or Iraq because of their Love of Jesus, and the cause of
Freedom, and of their fellow man?
Their web site Here
Something Wrong with Church?
Who are the
Twelve Tribes of Israel
The group that began in Tennessee in 1973
Supper, The Sabbath,
is a true Jew?