When a Nation is Born in a Day
Many dry bones lie scattered across Tennessee. Tens of thousands of them found their resting places during the tumultuous years of the American Civil War. Perhaps it is fitting, therefore, that Tennessee served as the place where the dry bones of the House of Yosef (Joseph) began to come back to life in North America.
This is a prophesied event, of course. More accurately, it is a prophesied process – the single greatest topic of prophecy in the entire Bible. Israel, the nation Almighty God established in covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, split into two pieces and died many hundreds of years ago. Judah, the part of that nation which we know now as the Jewish people, retained knowledge of its identity, and in 1948 returned to life as the State of Israel. The other part of the nation, however, has never come back to life.
The prophets tell us that the tribes who followed the lead of Ephraim in rebellion against King David’s grandson will, like Judah, return to life from the national death sentence pronounced by YHVH for their rebellion. This will happen in the latter days, the time before Messiah’s coming in power and great glory to reestablish united Israel under His eternal rule (Isaiah 9:6-7; Jeremiah 23:1-8; 31:20-21, 31-36; Ezekiel 37: 1-28; Hosea 2:21-23). It was the last thing about which the apostles asked Messiah Yeshua just before He left them, knowing that He had not yet fulfilled that part of the Messianic mandate (Acts 1:6-8). After faithfully carrying out Yeshua’s instructions for nearly two millennia, His disciples are awakening to the fact that His purpose was not only to bring personal salvation and a way to return to fellowship with the Creator, but to bring back scattered Ephraim, along with multitudes from every nation on earth, and restore them to the Commonwealth of Israel (Matthew 10:5-6, 15:24; Ephesians 2:8-22; Galatians 3:29). This awakening could not have happened without a return to Torah, the teaching, instructions, and commandments of God which Yeshua came to teach in their fullness (Matthew 5:17-19). With that awakening comes the understanding that the Almighty Himself stakes His own Name and reputation on fulfilling this mighty act of restoring the children of Joseph (B’ney Yosef) as a people and a nation and reuniting them with Judah (Deuteronomy 7:7-8; 9:5-6; Jeremiah 16:14-21, 32:41-42; Ezekiel 36:22-32).
The time of restoration is now, or so is the belief among many people around the world who are beginning to identify themselves as Ephraimites. “Ephraimites” are the non-Jewish Israelites descended spiritually (and perhaps physically in some cases) from the Northern Kingdom of Israel which was conquered by Assyria over 2,700 years ago. Nearly 50 of these modern-day Ephraimites met in Chapel Hill, Tennessee, over the weekend of January 15-18, 2016, to discuss practical steps for the reestablishment of the Ephraimite nation in North America. The gathering, known as the B’ney Yosef North America Plenary Committee, was the logical next step after several regional events in the United States launched in the spirit of the B’ney Yosef National Congress. The Congress, which convened in Israel in May 2015, was the first known gathering of Ephraimites on such a scale. Over 130 participants from twelve nations assembled in faith and expectancy that the time has come for assembly and resurrection of the dry bones of B’ney Yosef. The spirit of the Congress inspired European Ephraimites to hold a conference in Memmingen, Germany, over the weekend of January 1, 2016, to discuss the next steps on that continent. The gathering of North American Ephraimites in Tennessee just over two weeks later was the counterpart to the European event.
The B’ney Yosef North America Plenary took shape from the consultations of several regional visionaries. Two among them were Tzefanyah Pappas and Pete Rambo, men who had pioneered the vision of the B’ney Yosef National Shabbat in Georgia and South Carolina, respectively. Joining them was Al McCarn of Hebrew Nation Radio, co-founder of B’ney Yosef Region 35 in Texas, and David Atman, administrator of the Alliance of Redeemed Israel. Together they issued an invitation in mid-December to about 70 ministry and congregational leaders and others who are familiar with the B’ney Yosef Congress to come to Tennessee and deliberate prayerfully on how to establish a continental structure for B’ney Yosef in North America. The invitation came at short notice, but with good reason: at the conclusion of the Congress in Israel, several U.S. and Canadian participants had committed to holding a North American Summit in Florida early in 2016. The date had been set for March 4-6, but as of December 2015 no comprehensive planning mechanism had materialized to bring that Summit into existence. This was a tremendous concern, not only because Israeli participants in the Congress had already made plans to attend the Summit, but because the lack of a cohesive North American Ephraimite structure exposed the fact that the Israelite nation on this continent remained fragmented, vulnerable, and irrelevant. With a growing sense of urgency, the Plenary organizers issued the invitations knowing that many could not attend due to the short notice, but expecting that the Holy Spirit would bring the right people.
That is precisely what happened. Participants gathered from as far away as Ontario, Arizona, Washington State, California, Missouri, and Virginia. All came with questions, doubts, and concerns, but with a shared faith in YHVH to do as He has said and an expectancy that He intends to do so through willing human agents. The gathering began with a time of worship led by Barry Phillips of House of David Fellowship in Gloucester, Virginia, and continued in prayer facilitated by Dorothy and Tommy Wilson of Adat Shalom Congregation of Summerville, South Carolina. Then came a presentation of the program for the weekend by the Plenary organizers, followed by the welcoming of Shabbat. There was no formal activity scheduled for Shabbat so that participants could build relationships among themselves and seek the Lord corporately and privately. During the day most of the participants gathered for an impromptu time of worship and prayer, which continued and intensified the humble spirit of the gathering begun the previous day. The momentous developments of Sunday and Monday could not have happened without that time of keeping the Sabbath day holy in obedience to the Creator’s commandment.
The major work of the Plenary occurred on Sunday through the deliberations of four committees. Pete Rambo directed the Finance Committee in discussion of how to promote commerce among Ephraimites and build resources to bless the land and people of Israel. Tzefanyah Pappas presided over the Communications Committee, developing initiatives to connect the people of B’ney Yosef in ways that would promote their identity as a people. Strategic Prayer was the focus of the committee led by the Wilsons. It was recognized at the beginning that prayer would be the foundation of every enterprise – the kind of prayer that King David expected when he asked his prophets to “inquire of the Lord for me”.
The largest committee was Leadership and Organization, in which Al McCarn, David Altman, and Akpene Torku facilitated the efforts of over half of the Plenary participants to establish procedures for creating a continental leadership structure. The three issues to be brought forward for the Summit in March originated in the Leadership Committee. The first of those was establishment of an Interim Executive Committee to plan the Summit. The consensus was to retain the leaders currently in place, adding to their number Dr. David Sloss of Baraka International Ministries in Meaford, Ontario. This Committee has already secured the venue for the Summit at the St. Petersburg Marriott Clearwater, just outside Tampa, Florida, and is actively planning the program.
The second issue is adoption of a statement of identity and purpose to define B’ney Yosef North America and its goals. This document will link Ephraimite expectations with the promises of Scripture and serve as a charter for efforts to connect with Ephraimite brethren from around the world and with our Jewish brethren both in Israel and in the Diaspora. For that purpose, the Plenary established a Writing Committee, naming Ken Rank of United 2 Restore as the chief writer. The Writing Committee will draft the identity document and submit it for review and affirmation at the Summit.
Third, the Plenary established an Exploratory Committee under the leadership of Mark Webb of Living Messiah Ministries in Mesa, Arizona. This committee is charged with gathering names of qualified nominees for two leadership bodies: a 12-member Council of Elders, and a 7-member Executive Committee. These two bodies mirror the leadership of the First Century congregation in Jerusalem which featured twelve Apostles and seven Deacons (Acts 1:15-26, 6:1-6). The Council of Elders will serve as apostolic oversight for the Executive Committee, which will carry out the specific tasks of Strategic Prayer, Finance, Communications, Commerce, Education and Culture, and other endeavors as necessary. As part of its charter, the Exploratory Committee will clarify the duties of the Elders and Executive Officers, and will submit names of nominees to the Summit for selection.
With this business concluded on Sunday, the entire Plenary Committee gathered for one last meeting on Monday morning to hear the reports of the previous day’s work and vote on those items requiring approval. No business could be transacted, however, without one final season of worship and prayer led by Barry Phillips and the Wilsons. With such an introduction, the final work of the Plenary proceeded smoothly, and with mounting excitement as each leader outlined the developments in their areas of discussion. The final action was approval of the Interim Executive Committee to direct the efforts of B’ney Yosef North America until installation of the permanent leadership at the Tampa Summit.
The final vote on the Interim Executive Committee brought to mind the statement made by Theodore Herzl in his diary after the First Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland: “At Basel, I founded the Jewish State.” The sense among the Plenary participants was no less profound, realizing that at Chapel Hill, we, with YHVH’s guidance, had given birth to the Ephraimite nation and set it on a course to join with our brethren of Judah.
This infant nation-in-exile is destined to grow strong and healthy in time, much like its brother the Jewish State of Israel. The Tampa Summit is the next step in determining how the North American part of the nation will grow. Those who are called to participate in this process are welcome to register for the Summit at this link:
Please consider prayerfully whether you can join us in Tampa, March 4-6. Even if you cannot attend in person, your prayers are essential for the success of this process – particularly in intercession that the Summit’s proceedings and outcome remain grounded in YHVH’s Kingdom purposes. Finally, those who cannot attend in person are encouraged to join with others to send representatives who can participate on their behalf and ensure that the B’ney Yosef North America is truly an image of the entire spectrum of the portion of the Ephraimite nation dwelling on this continent.
Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Can a land be born in one day? Can a nation be brought forth all at once? As soon as Zion travailed, she also brought forth her sons. “Shall I bring to the point of birth and not give delivery?” says the Lord. “Or shall I who give delivery shut the womb?” says your God. (Isaiah 66:8-9 NASB)