Who are the Twelve Tribes
The following are some of the beliefs and practices of a group of believers in Jesus, whom they call by His Hebrew name Yahshua. This group began in Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1973.
They live and work together as a family, and they hold (open) worship services every morning and night: that they refer to as “menhas” (pronounced menhawz).
They do not work on the Sabbath.
They will not take the Lord’s Supper with anyone who is not a part of their group. Outsiders who visit on Saturday night will be offered to eat apart from the main group; however, on Friday nights they have a dinner (and meeting) that is open to the public.
They believe that for someone to be a disciple of Christ, he or she must live in a commune of like-minded believers. However, when we suggested starting our own group who live as a family, they told us that it would not work — unless it was led by their members.
Their most commonly quoted Scriptures are Luke 14:33 and Acts 2:41-47 and 4:32-37.
Some of the Scriptures they downplay, alter and/or ignore are: Psalm 130:7; Luke 6:37; 11:11-13; 12:21, John 6:37-40; 10:14-27; Rom. 14:1-13; I Cor. 11:28; 14:36 and Col. 2:16-17.
To join one must first give up all of one’s earthly possessions or donate them to the group.
If the Lord has called you to work in a ministry other than what they are doing you will have to give it up and come under the authority of their leadership. If you refuse — or refuse to join their group — then in their opinion you will be damned (to Hell).
According to their leaders, the only way for a person to receive the Holy Spirit and be saved is to receive a “sent one.” Since “sent ones” are only sent out through (and by) The Twelve Tribes, this means that before 1972 nobody could be saved since that is the year they began to live together and share their lives with one another. They also assert that the only way for someone to receive the Holy Spirit is by “the laying on of hands” (by one or more of their members). How they first got saved (and received the Spirit) is unclear: as — according to their own teachings — they would have had to have received the Spirit from someone who had it before 1973.
They have about 100-200 homes around the world, with about 6,000 – 7,000 members.
Approximately half of their members were homeless and/or destitute when they joined, and approximately half of them were frustrated with their once (or twice) a week church — that would not help them when they were in need, and/or whom they only saw “at church.”
They also have bought into the belief that the Earth and Universe are billions and billions of years old: and thus the (so-called) “gap” theory — that the Bible doesn’t talk about, but according to its proponents, it is there nonetheless: in Genesis Chapter 1:1-2: where it says that the Earth “was formless and void, and the Spirit of the Lord was moving over the surface of the waters” (that covered the earth). To me it is apparent that the earth was “formless” because there was nothing on its surface except water. So unless there was some wind to stir things up, its surface would indeed appear without form. Gap theorists say that “the earth became formless” because of the former creations that (they say) were destroyed.
We Highly Commend the Twelve Tribes for giving up their earthly lives to live and work together as a body of believers. And in this respect they are very similar to the early Church in Jerusalem.
We commend the Twelve Tribes for taking in those who come to them who are in need of help: Isa. 58:1-14; I John 3:14-18 also tell us to do such things, and to open up lives (and houses) for His use.
We commend the Twelve Tribes for not spending their time immersed in worldly entertainment or listening to the worst things that happened in you area, or on the other side of the world (on TV).
We commend the Twelve Tribes for allowing those who have something to say to say it — even during their open (and spontaneous) services. They even allow visitors to share as well — although they may not say “Amen” when they are finished speaking (?).
We commend the Twelve Tribes for saying that they would join together and fellowship with other Christians who begin living together and sharing their lives together: and in this regard, it is a fact that they share their lives in a much more intimate way than most Christians today. And for those who are wondering, about half of them are married, and I don’t believe that there is any wife-swapping going on; but rather that they have as high, or higher, morals than most Christians. In fact their divorce rate is somewhere around 1% (or so they have said).
We believe that I Cor. 11:28 and 14:36 are still valid. They seem to think that they are the only ones on Earth who know and Love the Lord, or who are using their Time, Talents, and Money to promote God’s kingdom on Earth: seven days a week.
The Twelve Tribes (Commonwealth) as they refer to themselves believes that any (born again) Christian who is not a part of their group is going to Hell; however, they also believe that non-Christians who don’t believe in Jesus but try to do good and live up to their conscience (even though they fail many times) will be saved: and raised up to live on the earth during the Millennial Reign of Christ. See their pamphlet “The Three Eternal Destinies of Man.” This is however, contrary to what the apostle Paul said in Romans 3:23; 6:23; 10:4 and Eph. 2:8-9.
I once asked (their leader) Gene, who is also called Yoneq when it was (or on what day, time and place) that Jesus appeared to him, or to his people and told them that they had the authority to grant whoever comes to THEM, the gift of Eternal Life, and he replied something as follows:
“Well, it didn’t happen quite like that, but we just came to that conclusion, little by little …” (i.e. on their own … that THEY were the ONLY way to get right with God — and that John 14:6 is no longer correct).
We do not believe that for someone to become a part of the body of Christ he or she must join the Twelve Tribes, or live in a commune: See John 3:16; 6:37-40; 7:37-39; 14:6; Rom. 10:4, 9-13; I John 3:10-19; 4:1-8; 5:1-13 and the Scriptures below. This would mean that nobody prior to 1973 — the year that their group began — could be saved: which is absurd. The Twelve Tribes would also have us believe that the wording of Psalm 130:7 should be … for with the Lord is “abundant condemnation” as opposed to “abundant redemption,” or what the Scripture actually says.
Their beliefs in this regard are evident in an article called “There I Stood,” from their Free Paper titled: The Other Side. On the one hand they say that God:
“will not throw good people into the lake of fire just because they aren’t Christians. In fact … He will judge all people according to their deeds, whether good of evil, and all the judgments will be fair.”
To back this up they list Eccl. 12:14, Rev. 20:12-15 and Prov. 16:11. In fact, more could be added, such as Prov. 24:12 and Matt. 12:41-42 where we are told that the men of Nineveh and the Queen of the South were righteous: even though neither of them ever heard a word about Jesus since He wasn’t born till hundreds of years later. However, when it comes to those who have made a decision to follow Christ, and who have humbly come to Him for salvation, and asked to be born again of the Holy Spirit, and who seek to follow and obey Him each and every day, the Twelve Tribes take a very different stand: to the point of claiming that no one who lives apart from them and their group can have any confidence, or hope of being saved.
For example, in a previous article called “Voiding the Contract with Death” in the same publication they say that “all those who believe in Him live together and share all things in common,” and that “Neither the gospel nor its fruit has ever changed.” To back this up they list Acts 2:42 and quote 1 John 3:14-16 where we are told that “we know that we have passed from death to life because we love the brethren.” They then state that:
“those who love their brothers in the wholehearted fashion seen in Acts 2 and 4 are the ones who can have legitimate confidence that their first death sentence has been annulled” because … “in the Community of the Redeemed” (as in a Twelve Tribes Community only) “they can have the hope of coming into complete obedience to Messiah’s words, which is the only confidence anyone can have of never tasting death.”
They list John 8:51 to support this and state that “giving up all one’s own possessions … is only possible in true community.” They also ignore what happened to the first believers in Jerusalem that caused them to stop living together: i.e. a great persecution broke out right after the stoning of Stephen: Acts 6-8. This caused many of the believers to flee to other nearby towns and cities and thus to spread the gospel.
In the article above they also state “To redeem is to recover …” and “never refers to isolated individuals, but is always used in the context of the corporate redemption of a people for God’s own possession.” This will occur when the Lord, Himself, comes back to claim those who are His own, and gather them to Himself. However, there is a group of individuals known as the 144,000 who we are told “follow the Lamb wherever He goes,” and who are also called His “bond servants.” Rev. 7, 14. In this regard, it seems likely that they operate individually on the earth: at least before His return to take over. This was also the case with Jeremiah: that he operated alone (Jer. 15:15-21). See also Col. 3:15, where we are told to “Let the peace of Christ rule in our hearts” or be our guide — to know whether or not we are right with God.
The Twelve Tribes claim of a monopoly on God’s Spirit cannot be found in Scripture: unless it is twisted. Their claim that a true Disciple MUST join a commune is also not found in the list of essentials of Acts 15; however, we do acknowledge that living together has advantages.
It is also obvious that (at least) some believers in the early church had homes and possessions: Acts 2:42-47; 4:32-37; 10:17, 22. How else could they have SOLD them??? The issue was not that a believer could not (temporarily) “own” something on earth, as much as it was the attitude of his or her heart. See also Acts 16:15; I Cor. 11:22; Heb. 10:34, and Job 42:10-16. See also Mark 3:31-35; 8:34-38; Luke 12:21; 33-34; Rom. 12:3-5; 14:7-12; Gal. 3:26-28; I Cor. 2:10-13; 3:16-23; 4:1-5; Col. 3:1-4; 12-17; Phil. 3:8-21; I Tim. 3:3, 8; I Pet. 1:17-19.
The Twelve Tribes assert that the Holy Spirit ONLY comes by the “laying on of hands” — as in ONLY their hands — and that virtually all people who proclaim the name of Christ have a false Spirit. If this is so then how was it that they received the Holy Spirit? From whose hands did their leaders receive it: IF all Christians don’t have the real thing??? Note also that ALL 120 of the first disciples got the Holy Spirit directly from God, as opposed to by the laying on of hands.
Luke 6:37 is a warning NOT to condemn other people: especially believers, yet the Twelve Tribes do not hesitate to do so to anyone who visits their group who doesn’t feel compelled to immediately join them — and thus be “saved” from this evil and perverse generation. In other words they think that they are the ONLY ones who are capable of living a holy, sanctified, set-apart life for God, and that they are the only ones who are truly serving Him: and that there are only about 7,000 true believers on the planet: ie. their members ONLY.
We do not believe that drinking coffee is a sin: Rom. 14:1-21; Col. 2:16-17.
We do not believe that Christians should abandon the public sector. For example, the Twelve Tribes don’t vote, but DO pray for Godly leaders to be elected. They also Home School their kids, but will probably not fight to keep doing so, but will pray for other (apostate) Christians to take up the fight.
We do not believe that the Lord only works through the Twelve Tribes. The prophet Jeremiah “sat alone” and was told not to take a wife, nor have kids, nor go into a house where people were eating and drinking and having fun, but simply to warn the people to repent: Jer. 15:15-21; 16:1-9; and 17:10-13. We are all told to “Go” out (into the world) and seek the Lost (Matt. 28:19-20; Acts 13:2-3) and that where two are more are gathered in His name, that the Lord is in their midst. Campus Crusade for Christ has over 28,000 full time missionaries. Are not all people who surrender their lives to the Lord and follow and serve Him true Disciples of Christ?
Our land was founded by Christians and upon the principles in God’s word. Because of this, public schools in America used to teach about the true and living God and Jesus in the schools.
This changed because God’s people gradually abandoned the public sector, after Darwin’s followers began to proclaim that they were the ones who were seeking and speaking the truth, and that the facts of “science” supported their beliefs much better than ours.
This will only turn around WHEN we realize that the truth and the facts are on our side, and we come out of our hideouts and take back our schools and our government: for the Scriptures make it clear that God Created the world and the life forms on it: including man: and science and logic are proclaiming louder and Louder that there MUST be a Creator behind creation’s curtain. See also: The Twelve Tribes of Israel, or visit one of their communities or one of their restaurants that they call “Yellow Deli’s”