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Prominent English Barrister, Counselor to Queen Victoria, Methodist Minister, Founder of the Pentecostal League of Prayer  The Lost Tribes of Israel
Where Are They?

Richard Reader Harris
1847-1909

Prominent English Barrister
Counselor to Queen Victoria
Methodist Minister
Founder of the Pentecostal
League of Prayer
 

Richard Reader Harris

Richard Reader Harris, K.C. (1847-1909) was an eminent British lawyer and a King’s Counselor. Early in life he was an atheist but accepted Christ as Savior after realizing the Bible was true as a result of the Anglo-Israel truth. He gave up his lofty and respected secular career and became a Methodist minister, highly respected Christian leader and author who wrote over 34 books. He and his wife, Mary, founded the Pentecostal League of Prayer in 1891 as "an interdenominational union of Christian people who, conscious of their own need, would join in prayer: 1) For the filling of the Holy Spirit for all believers; 2) For revival in the Churches: 3) For the spread of Scriptural holiness." They named their League publication, "Tongues of Fire." He remained a firm believer in the Anglo-Israel message and in 1908 he wrote a book on the topic, entitled, "The Lost Tribes of Israel."

Reader Harris and Oswald Chambers were close mutual friends and were held in very high esteem among their Christian contemporaries. Oswald Chambers is revered as an outstanding mainstream evangelist, missionary, Bible teacher and author. The following is excerpted from the book, Oswald Chambers: Abandoned to God: The Life Story of the Author of My Utmost for His Highest.

"When Reader Harris, founder of the League, first met Chambers, he took a special interest in the keen young tutor from Dunoon. They talked about Oswald’s gift and desires, and where God might be leading him. Harris helped raise Chamber’s vison from Britain to the world. And the more Oswald learned about this tall man of dignified grace and decisive action, the more he liked him. Harris was a prominent London barrister and also a King’s counsel, a lifetime appointment recognizing his skill and success in the legal profession. His leadership in the League of Prayer was voluntary and unpaid. From the circles of royalty to the slums of London, Harris moved freely as a fearless but compassionate representative of Christ.

"Richard Reader Harris was an unlikely person to establish a religious organization devoted to scriptural holiness and spiritual revival. As a teenager, Harris had sought God, but his conversations with a liberal clergyman left him so disillusioned that he later became a follower of Charles Bradlaugh, the well known London atheist. Bradlaugh often lectured on Bible texts, ridiculing Christians for their weak response to its teachings while he called people to live moral lives and put into practice the ideas in the Sermon on the Mount.

"Joining the Puritan Wing of Bradlaugh’s Ethical Society, Harris pledged not to smoke or drink. If a man lived more uprightly than most Christians, he thought, why did he need their God? "For ten years," Harris later said, "I remained an honest doubter because no one pointed me to Jesus Christ as the One who saves ‘to the uttermost.’ I had wanted to know God, but the professing Christians I knew failed to introduce me to Him, because they did not know Him themselves."

"His conversion to Christ came through Mary Griffin Bristow, a gifted and cultured young lady whom he married in 1880. Reader and Mary Harris could easily have remained well respected, comfortable members of the upper strata of London society. But Reader could not forget the scathing accusations of Charles Bradlaugh from years past: "If Jesus had been divine," Bradlaugh thundered, "his followers would long ago have claimed the power He offered them, obeyed His command, and evangelized the world."

"The Pentecostal League of Prayer whose magazine was named "Tongues of Fire" was immediately associated with the emerging "tongues movement." When Harris founded the League in 1891, the terms pentecostal and tongues of fire had no connotations beyond the familiar passage in the second chapter of Acts. Within a few years, however, the growth of Pentecostalism as a movement in Britain and the attendant emphasis on speaking in tongues caused confusion about the League’s orientation."

"Reader Harris distinguished between the gift of speaking in an unlearned foreign language (Acts 2:6-12) and the ecstatic utterance or glossolalia mentioned in the letters of Paul. Harris had no quarrel with either ‘gift’ but strenuously opposed those who made "tongues" the litmus test of being filled with the Holy Spirit. In a November 1907 address he said: "There is nothing wrong with speaking in tongues; it was the privilege of the early Church, and it may be the privilege of any believer today."

"Oswald knew Reader and Mary Harris as few others did, and he considered them "the Lord’s choicest saints." Some looked at Harris and saw only the prominent barrister. Others focused solely on his leadership in the League of Prayer. Chambers saw the man of God whose winsome, yet fearless testimony for Christ extended from the circles of British aristocracy to the poor in the slums of Battersea.

"On November 13, 1908, the day of his engagement and imminent departure for Ireland, Chambers wrote: "What I owe to the League of Prayer only our heavenly Father knows. How it exalts me and humbles me when I remember so many hundreds are praying for me all over the country."

"Perhaps Oswald might have looked longer at the bearded face of the organization’s founder or gripped his hand more tightly if he had known it would be the last time he would see Reader Harris alive.

"Chambers was five days into his mission at Lowestoft when the shocking news came on March 26 that Reader Harris had suffered a stroke and lay in a coma at his London home. Four days later, without regaining consciousness, Harris died at the age of sixty one.

"On Tuesday afternoon, April 6, two thousand people overflowed Speke Hall for the funeral. Hundreds of others stood outside, lining the streets. Chambers gave a brief tribute at the service. Then, along with hundreds of others, he boarded a special train carrying the funeral party to Norwood and interment in the cemetery there high on a hill.

"That evening in Queen’s Hall, Langham Place, a memorial service paid further honor to Harris. Franklin Chambers came from Perth to preside at the organ and Oswald joined a large party on the platform. His remarks revealed not only his personal relationship to Harris, but his awareness of people’s questions regarding the future of the League: "He was a King’s Counsellor to me in the very highest sense," Oswald said, "by one of those strange turns of God’s providence, Mr. Reader Harris came across me. How, I do not know; God knows, and he began to counsel me, and from that moment the counsel and the prayers and the guidance of Mr. Reader Harris have been to me as those of a commander. "Others of you may have known of his winsomeness, of his beauty and humor. I have known of these also, but to me he had a clarion voice spiritually and he was indeed a man by whom God witnessed to my own heart with these words the first day he shook hands with me, "I have chosen him to be a witness, and a leader and a commander," and God knows he has been that to thousands.

"There is no second Reader Harris, and never will be. There never was a second Moses. God does not repeat His servants."

Compiled by Charles A. Jennings & Robert A. Balaicius


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THE LOST TRIBES OF ISRAEL

(The following are excerpts from the book written by Reader Harris)

"The subject of the lost tribes of Israel is a study of great interest. Two perplexing questions meet us on the threshold, vis., how is it that so little is known of the ten tribes of Israel, and why has so little enquiry taken place concerning them? This may well be because the devil has succeeded in frustrating any serious research into the matter.

"It is remarkable that until the middle of the nineteenth century there was little or no serious enquiry in Protestant countries regarding the fate of the ten tribes; and noteworthy, also, that from that period was awakened in some of God’s people a spirit of enquiry as to the fate of the ten tribes with regard to their destiny.

"The discovery and the acknowledgment of the lost tribes would revolutionize the whole world, give an impetus to Scriptural study, and encourage men in a wonderful degree to believe the promises of God; while on the other hand, if any nation or aggregate of nations could be proved undoubtedly to represent in large measure the ten tribes of Israel, it would inspire them and encourage them to possess their possessions as nothing else could do.

"From the "holiness" standpoint and from what I may call that of the "fifth Kingdom" (Daniel 2), the subject of the history of the lost tribes assumes tremendous importance, and must be of intense interest to every Bible student. The faithfulness of God in regard to promise, covenant and prophecy is herein involved. It is a well known fact that the historian Hume justified his unbelief by what he declared to be the failure of the Bible promises to Israel. I believe that if we study this subject under the light of God’s Spirit, resting in the revelation of God’s Word, God will give to us, and to others through us, a new interest and confidence in the Bible, a further impetus to religious experience and to prophetic study; and perhaps a clearer apprehension of the political future of the world, and of the signs which foretell the return of our Lord.

"First and foremost let us understand that difference between the Jews and the lost tribes of Israel, between the kingdom of Judah and the kingdom of Israel. This distinction between the two nations is never lost sight of in the Bible, and until it is understood we cannot follow the Scriptural truth on this subject. The majority of Christian people at the present day have never seen this distinction. They confuse the Jews with the Israelites in various ways. Some, in reading of Israel, apply the passage to the Jews, while others think it refers to the Church. Some people apply the curses of the Bible to the Jews, and its promises to the Church. The Bible, however, is perfectly plain. When it speaks of Israel, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred the ten tribes are meant. There are some few passages where the word "Israel" undoubtedly refers, as it did originally, to the twelve tribes of Israel; but generally speaking there is a marked and definite distinction between Judah and Israel, and unless we realise that distinction we cannot understand the prophecies concerning this wonderful people.

"That the missing tribes exist no serious person can doubt. If, under persecution such as the world has never before seen, after massacre upon massacre, torture upon torture, the remnant of part of the tribe of Judah, Levi and Benjamin, can have multiplied until they reach something like twelve millions of people, what must be the number of the ten tribes? Then tribes equally virile; ten tribes of the same stock; ten tribes that have lived their lives and spread their race without persecution, massacre and torture! What a multitude must they now have become! Where are they?

"Let us begin with their earliest history. God chose Abraham, and made an unconditional covenant with his lineal seed (Genesis 22:15-18). That covenant was repeated by God to Jacob when He called him Israel, as you will see in Genesis 35:11:

"GOD SAID UNTO HIM, I AM GOD ALMIGHTY. BE FRUITFUL AND MULTIPLY. A NATION AND A COMPANY OF NATIONS SHALL BE OF THEE, AND KINGS SHALL COME OUT OF THY LOINS."

"Jacob before his death blessed the sons of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh, giving the birthright to Ephraim, although Ephraim was not the elder of the two. If you will look at Genesis 48, you will see that the blessing which ought to have been Reuben’s was taken from him because of his sin and given to Ephraim. Judah received the emblem of the Lion, and obtained the promises of kingship, and that from him should spring the Messiah. Moses before his death blessed the sons of Joseph, Ephraim and Manasseh and gave to them the emblem of the Unicorn (Deut. 33:17). It is remarkable that so far back as the days of Moses the emblems of the Unicorn pertained to Judah and Ephraim.

"The distinction between the two nations of Judah and Israel began before their final separation under Jeroboam, and Rehoboam. You will find in 2 Samuel 2, that David was anointed king over Judah only, while Ishbosheth, Saul’s son, was made king over all Israel, this severance continuing for 7 ½ years. Israel was then annexed to Judah under King David (2 Samuel 5: 1), but the two kingdoms of Judah and Israel were finally separated immediately after the death of Solomon, and from that time to the present Judah and Israel have remained absolutely distinct. They were carried into captivity separately, at different times and by different nations, for Israel was taken in captivity by the Assyrians B.C. 721 (2 Kings 17:6), while Judah was carried into captivity by the Babylonians B.C. 588 (2 Kings 25:21). A portion of Judah was permitted to return after seventy years, as had been predicted (Ezra 2:1), but Israel never returned nor was there any prediction that they should return til the final glorious restoration.

"In B.C. 721 the ten tribes of Israel drop out of sacred history, and there is no further reference made to them in the historical part of the Bible, but the prophetical portion supplies the sequel, for in these Scriptural prophecies the whole future of the people of Israel is chronicled. Apart from the sacred books we find the last historical record of the ten tribes is given by the great Jewish historian Josephus, writing form Rome, in A.D. 70:

"The entire body of the ten tribes are still beyond the River Euphrates, an immense multitude not to be estimated by numbers."

"We see, therefore, that the kingdom of Judah and the kingdom of Israel, ever since the day of Solomon, have been absolutely distinct.

"I begin this study of the history of the so-called lost tribes of Israel with this declaration: –The lost tribes, the descendants of the kingdom of Israel, are certainly in existence today. But where? That is the question, and what a wonderful question it is! The discovery of a continent is a great discovery, and Columbus will be celebrated throughout all time as the discoverer of a continent. The discovery of a new star, a new world, is a great discovery. But I venture to think that the discovery of the kingdom of Israel, of the descendants of those ten tribes, would have a greater effect upon the kingdom of God and the hearts and lives of men than even the discovery of a new continent or a new world.

"The descendants of the tribes of Israel certainly exist, the question is, Where? The Jews we know, but where is Israel? Some people assert that God has cut Israel out of His divine programme, and in consequence Israel has become extinct as a nation. In refutation of such a statement let us turn to Jeremiah 31:35-36:

"Thus saith the Lord, which giveth the sun for a light by day and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth (which stilleth) the sea when the waves thereof roar: The Lord of Hosts is His name: If those ordinances (that is the sun and moon and stars) depart from before me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever."

"This passage distinctly declares that while sun and moon and stars exist the nation of Israel will remain before God.

"Where are the ten tribes? Where is the nation of Israel? Which nation on earth today represents them? How can this be discovered? I have learned that if we really want to know about God’s people, the Bible is the book in which to look; let us, therefore, go to the Bible for the history of God’s chosen people Israel. Unless God’s promises have failed, Israel must be in existence today.

"We shall find that the Bible declares that Israel exists as a multitudinous nation, bearing certain marks, inheriting certain blessings, doing certain things for which it was created, and which it was and is its special mission and destiny to perform. The ten tribes are in existence somewhere, and the quest is not so difficult as it at first appears, for although secular history is apparently dumb concerning these tribes– a remarkable fact in itself– Bible prophecy is abundant in descriptive allusions to Israel; and we shall find from the study of Biblical prophecy where the kingdom of Israel is today.

"It is perfectly clear that Israel, who had been dispersed for more than 700 years, was much in our Lord’s mind during His three years’ ministry upon earth, for many were the references to Israel made by Him. As an example, let us turn to the commission He gave to the twelve apostles in Matt. 10:5-6:

"These twelve Jesus sent forth, and commanded them, saying, Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not: but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel."

"These apostles were not to go to the Gentiles, nor to the Samaritans– who were the descendants of usurpers of Israel–"But to the lost sheep of the house of Israel," and they obeyed this command as far as was then possible. The only tribe that they could reach which had any connection with Israel was Benjamin, and Benjamin as a tribe was won to allegiance to the Lord Jesus Christ. Benjamin had gone into captivity with Judah, and had come back with Judah, but in the prophecies of God Benjamin had always associated with the ten tribes of Israel. It is a remarkable fact that the majority of our Lord’s disciples at the time of His earthly ministry were connected with the tribe of Benjamin. It is also of interest that when Jerusalem was afterwards besieged by the Romans under Titus, the members of what had become the Christian tribe of Benjamin escaped.

"Christ Himself declared in Matthew 15:24, this was His own mission..

"He answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel."

"Again our Lord says in Matthew 21:43:

"Therefore say I unto you (He was speaking to the Jews), the kingdom of God shall be taken from you and given to a nation (the Jews had long since ceased to be a nation) bringing forth the fruits thereof."

"The Jews themselves evidently so understood His statements, for in John 7:35 we read:

"Then said the Jews among themselves, Whither will He go, that we shall not find Him? Will He go unto the dispersed among the Gentiles, and teach the Gentiles?

"So the Jews quite understood our Lord to refer to Israel. Israel was evidently in the minds of the apostles themselves. On the day of the ascension they asked Him:

"Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the Kingdom to Israel?" Acts 1:6

"We may find that the purpose of God has been fulfilled, and the mantle of Israel has fallen upon the British or Anglo-Saxon race.

"There are many other remarkable prophecies about Israel which are fulfilled by the British race, but there is yet one more remarkable than any I have given you, and which is also of a specially sacred character.

"The observance of a Sabbath has been given by God as a sign which shall mark Israel forever.

"The children of Israel shall keep the Sabbath, and observe the Sabbath, throughout their generations for a perpetual covenant: It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever." Ex. 31:16-17

"Such then are the Scriptures that appear to me to furnish strong evidence in favor of the contention of those who believe that in the Anglo-Saxon race God possesses today the descendants of the house of Israel. If this be true, it adds tremendously to our responsibilities, and opens before us in a way that no human tongue can describe, spiritual possibilities, temporal possibilities, national possibilities, and universal possibilities.

"Let none of us, however, be so taken up with the literal fulfillment of prophecy that we forget the spiritual interpretation of it. For this reason it is extremely important that those who study this subject should be filled with the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the full knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, and should themselves be in the full experience of spiritual blessing.

"Let us, therefore, claim God’s Spirit, and as we learn day by day to see more evidences of the fulfillment of these prophecies, may God possess in us individually, and in the Pentecostal League collectively, and in the thousands of others who are in sympathy with us, body of men and women yielded to Him in heart, and in life, learning His will, proclaiming His truth, and glorifying His name."
 
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