Last Wednesday as I went out to preach the Gospel in the open air a gentleman walking by stopped to listen to what was being said. After some time he asked a few questions, the questioned asked was “can a homosexual who eats pork be a Christian” ? As always I gave him a biblical answer saying “practising homosexuals cannot be Christian, and dietary laws only apply to Jews in the Old Testament; I’m a gentile” (1 Corinthians 6:9-10, Romans 1:26-27).
He then asked if a person should follow the 613 commandments given in the Law of Moses. It was at this time I realised what I was dealing with, I asked him “are you a Black Hebrew Israelite?”. After a little hesitation, he admitted to being a BHI. I truthfully told him he cannot have salvation by trying to keep the Law.
Black Hebrew Israelites History
The origins of the Black Hebrew Israelite movement began with Frank Cherry and William Saunders Crowdy, both men claimed they had revelations in which “God” revealed to them that African Americans are descendants of the Hebrews in the Christian Bible; Cherry also embraced anti-semitism, claimed that the earth is square, and predicted that Jesus would return in the year 2000. Cherry worked on ships and railroads in the South before running a religious congregation. He taught that God, Jesus, Adam, and Eve were Black.
Crowdy claimed to have had several visions in which he was told “that Blacks were descendants of the ten lost tribes of Israel.” He created the “Church of God and Saints of Christ” and is regarded as a founder of the Black Hebrew Israelite movement. Setting up congregations in Kansas in 1896. In these early days he was arrested 22 times. After setting up another congregation in Topeka, he spread his beliefs in Sedalia, Missouri, Chicago, and several cities in New York, establishing an Elder-in-Charge in each city before moving to the next. In 1903, he bought 40 acres of land in Suffolk, Virginia, calling it “Canaan Land”.
During the following decades, many more Black Hebrew congregations were established, with some holding no connection to Christianity. After World War I, another Black Hebrew congregation was set up in Harlem by Wentworth Arthur Matthew, called the “Commandment Keepers of the Living God.” Selecting elements of Judaism and adopting. In 1930 he moved the congregation to Brooklyn, where he later founded the Israelite Rabbinical Seminary, where Black Hebrew rabbis have been educated/ordained.
Black Hebrew Israelites Camps
While the “Black Hebrew Israelites” all believe similar teachings they can differ between camps. It’s my endeavor to touch upon each specific congregation and their beliefs in the future, Lord willing. For the purposes of this post we will be looking into the Israel United In Christ (IUIC) congregation. All “Black Hebrew Israelites” believe that the 12 tribes spoken of in the Bible refers to them, more specifically they do not believe that the Jews which are in Jerusalem are the true Jews.
IUIC and other congregations teach the tribes consist of “Afrocentric peoples”, when these groups hit the streets to preach what they believe you’ll see a chart which breaks down the “12 tribes of Israel” according to them, here’s how it’s listed.
- JUDAH – Blacks/Negroes (American Blacks).
- BENJAMIN – West Indians (Jamaica, and the West Indies).
- LEVI & SIMEON LEVI – Haitians.
- EPHRAIM & MANESSAH – Puerto Ricans/Cubans.
- GAD – North American Indians.
- REUBEN – Seminole and Muskogee Indians.
- ZEBULON – Mayans.
- ASHUR – Colombia, Brazil, Peru, Venezuela, Guyana, Paraguay, Uruguay & Ecuador.
- NAPTHALI – Argentina and Chile.
- DAN – Trinidad,Tobago, Bahamas & Virgin Islands.
- ISSACHAR – Mexicans.
According to them, the true Hebrews are people from the Caribbean, American Blacks and Native Americans. They believe this because they try to tie in the Transatlantic slave trade with the scattered Jews mentioned in the Bible, thereby proclaiming they’re persecuted and held captive in lands such as America. They view Jewish people located in Jerusalem as not authentic Israelites, yet some of those Jews can trace their lineage back, through historical documentation (scrolls) of the names of each male belonging to at least the tribes of Judah and Levi.
Make no mistake “Black Hebrew Israelites” are a cult (just like the Jehovah Witnesses, Christadelphians or Mormons) they use the Trans Atlantic slave trade as a way to lure unsuspecting people indoctrinating them through emotions. A majority of the members of IUIC and other BHI groups are disenchanted by how they are treated in terms of socio-economic factors, and understandably so. They feel betrayed by the communities they’re a part of and the challenges they face.
The Person of Jesus Christ
For the “Black Hebrew Israelite” skin colour is everything to them, their doctrines are soaked in racist beliefs, and because of this, they teach that Jesus Christ was a black man. If you’ve ever come across BHI you’ll notice the signs they carry one of them has a picture of a black man with white hair and beard. They get this teaching from two sets of scriptures, one from the book of Revelation and the other from the book of Daniel.
Revelation 1:13-15 And in the midst of the seven candlesticks [one] like unto the Son of man, clothed with a garment down to the foot, and girt about the paps with a golden girdle. His head and [his] hairs [were] white like wool, as white as snow; and his eyes [were] as a flame of fire; And his feet like unto fine brass, as if they burned in a furnace; and his voice as the sound of many waters.
Daniel 10:5-6 Then I lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a certain man clothed in linen, whose loins [were] girded with fine gold of Uphaz: His body also [was] like the beryl, and his face as the appearance of lightning, and his eyes as lamps of fire, and his arms and his feet like in colour to polished brass, and the voice of his words like the voice of a multitude.
It’s easy to see how someone who’s in the flesh would think these verses describe Jesus Christ as being “black”. We must keep in mind that the Messiah is a Jew, our Lord told us that “…salvation is of the Jews.” (John 4:22). The Lord Jesus was the seed of king David according to the flesh (Romans 1:3) and born of a Jewish virgin woman (Matthew 1:1-16, Luke 1:31). Therefore, we must deduce that Jesus was indeed a Jew.
As for His exact appearance being from Bethlehem, He could have somewhat brown coloured skin, but He’s certainly not a black man. Additionally, both sets of scriptures presented for Revelation 1:13-15 and Daniel 10:5-6 are visions of the glorified Christ after His earthly ministry. Shown in His divine glory, as Creator and King of kings and Lord of lords.
a. His head and hair were white like wool: The white hair speaks of old age, wisdom and timelessness. The phrase white as snow also emphasizes the idea of purity (Isaiah 1:18).
i. The white hair and head also connect Jesus with the Ancient of Days (Daniel 7:9). The name of Ancient of Days belongs to God the Father, yet it also applies to Christ in that He is eternal and equal with the Father as to his Divine nature.
ii. This was not only a symbol but evidence of his glory.
b. His eyes like a flame of fire: Fire is often associated with judgment in the Scriptures (Matthew 5:22, 2 Peter 3:7). Jesus eyes could search into the hearts of man, penetrating judgment (Revelation 2:23).
c. His feet were like fine brass: The Lord Jesus took the judgment we all deserve upon Himself, these feet like fine brass, as if refined in a furnace speaks of refinement and purity. (Luke 12:50)
i. Brass is a metal connected with judgment and sacrifice. Israel’s altar of sacrifice was made of brass (Exodus 27:1-6), and it was called the “brazen altar.”
ii. Brass is also a strong metal, the strongest known in the ancient world. Therefore feet… like fine brass are His steadfastness, stability and permanence, He being able to endure all things
iii. Everything in this vision speaks of strength, majesty, authority and righteousness. None of this is about “race” as these groups are hung up on because they run off of hatred and racism.
According to the IUIC website under “Learn The Truth/How Do I Repent” here’s what they say about “who” can repent “Repentance is for the Israelites first and foremost for blessings to come upon the Earth.” They then go on to cite different scriptures some of them having nothing to do with repentance, such as Revelation 7:1-4.
IUIC says in reference to the Revelation verse “This proves the angels are even holding back the final destruction until 144,000 Israelites are sealed with the understanding that they are Israelites and the keeping of God’s laws in Christ.” What the Black Hebrew Israelites fail to understand that 144,000 while yes they are Israelites they were chosen to preach the Gospel during the Great Tribulation.
They go as far as to place the nation of Israel on the same level as Christ Himself! Here’s what they say “Everything must begin with Christ and the Nation of Israel. In the end, the nations will be obedient to the Most High’s laws under Christ and the nation of Israel” Notice they include the nation of Israel on the same level as Jesus Christ.
To argue their views they cite Psalms 149:1-9, Isaiah 14:1-4, Isaiah 60:9-16, Revelation 21:24 but we must understand the context of these verses.
Psalms 149:1-9 There are two portions to this particular Psalm, the first half deals with the saints singing praise to God (vv. 1–6a) the second half speaks of the reign of the saints (vv. 6b–9). The time in question is when the Lord Jesus returns to earth and ushers in the millennial kingdom.
Isaiah 14:1-4 The LORD showing His mercy restores Israel to their own land. Gentile nations will assists in the return and live peacefully with God’s people. Israel’s former overlords will be her servants. Notice in that verse it says “The strangers shall be joined with them” God has always had in His plan for all men to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4) not only Jews. As for being “servants” we can’t forget that the Lord Jesus being our greatest example also came to serve during His earthly ministry (Matthew 20:28, Mark 10:45, John 13:1-7) and we’re told to serve one another in love (Galatians 5:13).
Isaiah 60:9-16 Reflects a time in which Israel’s people will return to the land in flocks bringing their wealth with them in ships. Foreigners will help as construction workers and kings as servants of God. Israel will no longer have to worry about persecution for they will no longer be hated but recognized as “The city of the Holy One”.
Revelation 21:24 Gentile nations will enjoy its beauty (New Jerusalem), and the kings of the earth will come with their tribute the Lord Himself. They will pay homage to the King Himself and that’s Jesus Christ not the “Black Hebrew Israelites”.
IUIC goes unto to say “Ultimately everyone will be obedient to the Laws of the Most High taught to them by the Israelites.” When they mention “Laws” they’re referring to the Old Testament Law. One thing all cults have in common is that they focus on trying to keep the Law.
God’s word is clear “no flesh will be justified” by the Law (Romans 3:20) that our works cannot justify us, “justification” only comes by “faith in Christ” alone (Galatians 2:16) because all our “righteousnesses are filthy rags” before a Holy God (Isaiah 64:6). God’s word even says what’s the purpose of the Law and that’s to bring the knowledge of sin (Romans 3:20), that the Law is a “schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ” for justification (Galatians 3:24), that the Law brings death.
Romans 7:5-11 For when we were in the flesh, the motions of sins, which were by the law, did work in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. But now we are delivered from the law, that being dead wherein we were held; that we should serve in newness of spirit, and not [in] the oldness of the letter. What shall we say then? [Is] the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin [was] dead. For I was alive without the law once: but when the commandment came, sin revived, and I died. And the commandment, which [was ordained] to life, I found [to be] unto death. For sin, taking occasion by the commandment, deceived me, and by it slew [me].
The book of Hebrews says for those who are saved the commandment/Law is done away, cancelled or disannulled (Hebrews 7:18-19). The believer in Christ who has trusted in Him never needs to fear because there’s no condemnation for the believer in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).
This statement here by the IUIC is really funny and I’ll tell you why. “The Most High is letting Israel know if they return back unto him, it must be done in sincerity and truth (by keeping His Laws in Christ), and not as a hypocrite. An example of these hypocrites are those who know the commandments of God but yet keep the traditions of men. Wherefore Brothers and Sisters it is imperative we repent and humble ourselves to the scriptures.” According to IUIC we must keep the Old Testament Laws which would place a person under a condemnation which is not funny at all. But what is that they say “it is imperative we repent and humble ourselves to the scriptures”.
If you’ve done any digging around or come across Black Hebrew Israelites you will quickly realise that they are anything but “humble“. They are quick to curse and humiliate people walking by on the streets, even making people kiss their boots if at all possible. This is definitely not how the man or woman of God should behave. This is another cult which uses emotionalism and racism in order to gain more members with those who sympathise.
How are we as believers to deal with cults such as these? The best way is to share the true Gospel found in the scriptures (John 3:15-18, 1 Corinthians 15:3-4). They need to understand that Christ died for the ungodly (Romans 5:6) and that salvation is a free gift freely given by God to the sinner (Ephesians 2:8-9). Whenever we share the pure unadulterated Gospel all the false gospel preached by this cult will vanish away because there’s only one Gospel (Galatians 1:6-9).
Romans 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
As I continue to look into the inner workings and beliefs of this strange and unique cult I’ll write more on them, Lord willing. This was sort of an introductory as to what some of their beliefs are. In the meantime let us remember the words of our Lord on the cross when He said “it is finished” (John 19:30) nothing more needs to be done.