When Will Israel Return?
Much of Bible History is about Israelite kings - of two separate and independent Israelite kingdoms. As a people in their own land, the Israelites were politically united only for the latter part of King David's reign and through the reign of his son and successor King Solomon (see the Fact Finder question below for the complete history of the Israelite kings). After Solomon's death, Israel split into "Israel" and "Judah":
"12:16 So when all Israel saw that the king hearkened not unto them, the people answered the king, saying, What portion have we in David? neither have we inheritance in the son of Jesse: to your tents, O Israel: now see to thine own house, David. So Israel departed unto their tents. 12:17 But as for the children of Israel which dwelt in the cities of Judah, Rehoboam reigned over them." (1 Kings 12:16-17 KJV)
"Join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one ... They shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all"
The people in the country known as "Israel" today are actually the people of Judah ("Jew" is an abbreviation of their originating patriarch Judah) and Benjamin (see also Was Paul A Jew or a Benjamite?). While it is correct that all Jews are Israelites, not all Israelites are Jews. The other people of Israel, the so-called "lost ten tribes," have not returned from their exile to Assyria (see The Galilee Captivity) that occurred over a century before the people of Judah were exiled to Babylon (see Why Babylon?).
The LORD has however declared that they will all one day be re-united as a single kingdom.
"37:15 The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying, 37:16 Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions: 37:17 And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand." (Ezekiel 37:15-17 KJV)
From that time, "they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all."
"37:18 And when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying, Wilt thou not show us what thou meanest by these? 37:19 Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand. 37:20 And the sticks whereon thou writest shall be in thine hand before their eyes.
King David will be resurrected and be their king, under the ultimate King of all humanity, Jesus Christ (see the Fact Finder question below).
"37:24 And David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd: they shall also walk in my judgments, and observe my statutes, and do them. 37:25 And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob my servant, wherein your fathers have dwelt; and they shall dwell therein, even they, and their children, and their children's children for ever: and my servant David shall be their prince for ever. 37:26 Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. 37:27 My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 37:28 And the heathen shall know that I the LORD do sanctify Israel, when my sanctuary shall be in the midst of them for evermore." (Ezekiel 37:24-28 KJV)
Fact Finder: (a) How did the Israelite monarchy originate? (b) Why was a civil war fought among the people of Israel? Which king won? (c) Which two kings reigned over the united kingdom of Israel? (d) Why was Israel divided into two kingdoms? Why did the LORD make it happen? (e) Where was the kingdom of Israel and how did it end? (f) Where was the kingdom of Judah? (g) Who has always been the King of Israel?