Today I Am A Hebrew: An Address to the B’ney Yosef North America Summit
Those who have attended a birth understand the chaos involved. It is no easy process, and not accomplished without pain. As in everything else, the Scripture gives us a helpful perspective:
Whenever a woman is in labor she has pain, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy that a child has been born into the world. (John 16:21 NASB)
A child was born into the world on the shore of Tampa Bay on March 6, 2016. After 2,730 years of non-existence, a portion of the long-lost tribes of the northern kingdom of Israel have declared themselves to be a people again. This is the North American assembly of the House of Joseph, known prophetically in Scripture by the name of Ephraim, the tribe that led them into rebellion against the House of David (I Kings 12).
Does that sound radical? Fanciful? Foolish? Perhaps, but then so also were the declarations of provincial English colonists to be a nation distinct from the mighty empire that ruled them; or of a collection of European Jews to call the Jewish nation back into existence at the First Zionist Congress; and of another generation of ordinary Jewish people to establish Israel as an independent state in the face of certain annihilation.
If the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were not in these things, why do we look to them now for inspiration and example? And if God is not in this process of restoring the people He long ago said would one day be a people again, then why did the assembly in St. Petersburg, Florida on March 6, 2016, occur in the midst of such a weighty presence of the Lord?
In days to come much will be shared about the birth of B’ney Yosef North America. Already it is in the international press, thanks to Breaking Israel News. What I can share is that the signing of the Articles of Declaration which tell the world who we are was a holy undertaking. One who was there signing these articles shared with me that there are no words to describe holy things; putting words to them brings them down to the realm of the common. She is right; there are no words to do this justice.
The words I can share are those which opened the B’ney Yosef North America Summit on March 4. It was my honor to deliver the keynote address to the 200 people assembled there from Canada and the United States, with observers from Israel and the Netherlands. This address explains the purposes of the gathering. We accomplished those purposes. What more we accomplished is yet to be seen.
Today I Am A Hebrew
Albert Jackson McCarn
presented at the B’ney Yosef North America Summit
St. Petersburg, Florida
March 4, 2016
If you have not realized it by now, let me explain why we are assembled in St. Petersburg, Florida today. We are here to welcome the birth of a new nation. It is no coincidence that our gathering is happening at the time that another nation is marking nearly two centuries since its birth. I speak of the place I now call home, the place our brother Hanoch Young calls the Nation of Texas.
Two days ago, on March 2, Texans observed the 180th anniversary of the birth of the Republic of Texas. On March 2, 1836, the Texas Declaration of Independence was adopted in convention at Washington-on-the-Brazos. News of that declaration did not have time to reach the 200 men besieged in an old Spanish Catholic mission in San Antonio de Béxar before the great battle that claimed their lives. Today, 180 years ago, March 4, 1836, those men knew only that they faced the stark choice between surrender or death at the hands of an enemy that outnumbered them 12 to 1. Two days hence, as we conclude our gathering on March 6, Texans will honor the memory of those 200 who laid down their lives at the Alamo fighting for a cause they did not fully understand and a nation they did not really know, but which their selfless sacrifice helped to bring into existence.
The Alamo’s defenders would have died in vain had it not been for the efforts of others: men and women who were not present at that battle, but whose selfless sacrifice is worthy of no less honor. They include men like José Antonio Navarro. It is perhaps an injustice that his name has not come down through history with as great a reverence as the more familiar names of Travis, Crockett, Bowie, and Seguin. Yet if Navarro had not done what he had done, those heroic names would not be remembered at all. José Antonio Navarro was a native of San Antonio and a signer of the Texas Declaration of Independence. Before his death at an advanced age, he had faithfully and competently served the Empire of Spain, the Republic of Mexico, the Republic of Texas, and the State of Texas.
Navarro was a young man when the first Republic of Texas was proclaimed in the year 1813. That, too is a footnote in history that few people know. When Mexico was in the throes of its struggle for independence from Spain, a group of American and Tejano adventurers gained control of Texas and established it as an independent republic. It survived only a few months before a Spanish army crushed the revolution in an engagement known as the Battle of Medina. Medina remains the largest battle ever fought in Texas, but few know of it. More Texans died in a single day at Medina than died over the six weeks spanning the fall of the Alamo, the massacre at Goliad, and the victory at San Jacinto. But Antonio Navarro survived, and because he and others survived, the seeds sown in bitter defeat in 1813 became the fruit of nationhood one generation later.
The reality of Texas independence has reached legendary proportions, but it lasted only a brief time. Nine years after winning independence Texans willingly laid down their sovereignty to become part of the United States. Yet for a shining moment, a diverse group of people came together to build something bigger than themselves. Who made that nation? Anglo-American settlers, Mexican farmers, descendants of Spanish noble houses, Mission Indians and their descendants, and African bond servants and free people. They did not even speak the same language, but they shared a dream of something better than the tyranny they had endured in an antiquated Spanish imperial system, or a tumultuous Mexican republic still trying to find its own identity, or even an expanding United States where the ideals of Liberty outstripped the realities of a young Republic.
Why do I bring up these obscure points of Texas history? Because they speak to our history, to our present, and to our future. I came here as a Texan, but I stand before you as a Hebrew, an Israelite of the House of Yosef. Until this day I could only dream of proclaiming that identity, just as Texans before 1836 could only dream of an identity other than Spanish or Mexican or American. The conditions were not right in 1813; they were right twenty years later. That does not mean the sacrifices of Antonio Navarro’s youth were in vain; it means the sacrifices of José Antonio Navarro’s maturity became that much more precious and enduring.
We have in our midst today pioneers who like José Antonio Navarro, have labored a lifetime for a dream that could not come about before this time. If it were not for the foundation laid by our beloved Batya Wootten and her husband Angus, we would not be here today. If it were not for the tireless efforts of Ephraim and Rimona Frank in holding a place for us in Eretz Yisrael, we might long ago have lost sight of the covenantal promise of our God. Others have labored with them, and we honor them all. The fact that we are assembled today vindicates their sacrifices over the years, which have this day produced a fruit far more precious and enduring than could have been imagined in an earlier day.
To use analogy from Scripture, that fruit is the fruit of a fig tree, barren until this appointed time. We dare today to stand here and claim the promises long ago uttered by the Almighty to our fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and to our mothers Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, and Leah. We assemble here as Abraham’s seed of the House of Yosef, coming to life again just as the Lord God promised long ago. Like our father Abraham, we this day proclaim our belief in Elohim and our readiness to walk out that belief in faithful obedience as the returning Lost Tribes of the House of Israel.
What brings us to this moment is a conscious decision made by each of us here, and by multitudes around the world. We have read in the holy Scriptures that all Israel is to be restored before Messiah takes His place on the throne of His father David in Zion. We have understood that the Jewish people, our brethren of the House of Judah, have returned to the Land of Promise just as the Almighty proclaimed in His enduring covenant. And we have understood that the rest of the nation must at some point come into existence to join with Judah once again. The conscious decision we have made is the acknowledgment that we are that people: the non-Jewish part of Israel, without which the nation remains incomplete.
But why now? Why could the children of Joseph not have come to life a generation ago? The best answer I can give you is that it was not time until now. We seem to have crossed a threshold in time that our God had set long ago. I submit that it is the threshold of our sentence of national death. If we search the Scriptures we find that sentence pronounced to Ezekiel, who bore the iniquity of the House of Israel for 390 days, one day for each year (Ezekiel 4:4-5). Then we see in the words of Moses that if the children of Israel refuse correction from the Almighty, He would multiply their punishment seven times (Leviticus 26:18-34). If the punishment of national death for our sins began with the Assyrian conquest of our people in 721 BCE, and if that punishment of 390 years is compounded seven times, then our people would not be released from bondage until 2,730 years later. Perhaps it is no coincidence that the Torah Awakening among Christians has accelerated since 2009, for that is the time these 2,730 years would have elapsed since the fall of Samaria to the Assyrians. Could it be that the debt has been paid at last, that the promise of freedom and restoration is now coming true, and that we are the generation to experience it? What does your heart say as the Spirit of the Living God speaks about these things?
But how do we know? By what possible measure can we claim Israelite identity? That is the debt we owe to these pioneers and Torah teachers, the ones who have explained to us over the years that when the sovereign Lord of the Universe says something, He means it. Thus we take as unalterable truth His word through Isaiah:
“Also the foreigners who join themselves to the Lord, to minister to Him, and to love the name of the Lord, to be His servants, every one who keeps from profaning the sabbath and holds fast My covenant; even those I will bring to My holy mountain and make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar; for My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples.” The Lord God, who gathers the dispersed of Israel, declares, “Yet others I will gather to them, to those already gathered.” (Isaiah 56:6-8 NASB)
We have been strangers to the covenant, cut off from the Lord, but now we are being restored. It is just as the Almighty has said through Jeremiah,
“Behold, I am going to send for many fishermen,” declares the Lord, “and they will fish for them; and afterwards I will send for many hunters, and they will hunt them from every mountain and every hill and from the clefts of the rocks.” (Jeremiah 16:16 NASB)
I submit to you that we, the Ephraimite people of Northern Israel, are assembling this day as the result of a two-thousand-year fishing expedition. For that reason we gratefully, humbly, and yet boldly proclaim that the reason we can claim any Israelite identity is because of Yeshua ben Yosef ben David m’Netzeret (Jesus son of Joseph son of David, of Nazareth), the one we hold to be our Messiah. He himself said he had come for the Lost Sheep of the House of Israel. About him the apostles taught that all who believe on him are grafted into the olive tree that is Israel, and into the Commonwealth of covenant with our Jewish brethren.
We cannot, we dare not, hide the fact that Yeshua is our Messiah, but we will not demand that others believe as we believe. Our Jewish brethren should not fear that they are targets of conversion attempts. We do not ask them or anyone else to accept that Yeshua is Messiah, but we do ask that they respect the fact that he is our Messiah, and that without Yeshua we have no claim or hope of returning to the nation of our fathers and mothers. For that reason, we must resist any and all efforts to separate us from our Messiah.
In this is a test, perhaps the greatest test: can Jewish and non-Jewish Israelites accept one another as brethren and work to build this nation even through disagreement on so vital a question as the identity of Messiah? I submit that we can. Once again we take instruction from Isaiah, who speaks of Messiah saying,
Then He shall become a sanctuary; but to both the houses of Israel, a stone to strike and a rock to stumble over, and a snare and a trap for the inhabitants of Jerusalem. (Isaiah 8:14 NASB)
Both Houses of Israel have stumbled over the question of Messiah, and taken offense at one another because of this question. Yet once the presence of the stumbling stone is acknowledged, than perhaps we may find ways to walk so that we no longer stumble over it. That is what we require now. We do not need any further doctrinal arguments and disputes which cause division, either between ourselves and Judah, or among ourselves. The hunters are coming, and they are ruthless. We have seen them remove the heads of those who do not revere their god. Have we any doubt that they yearn to do the same to us? I guarantee that if given that opportunity, they will not ask first what each of us believes about Yeshua, or how we pronounce the Sacred Name of the Almighty. In their eyes there is no distinction between Jew and Greek, male and female, bond and free.
What is the true merit of our doctrinal differences when faced with such wicked evil? What is the point of debate over questions that the Creator alone can and will answer in the time of His choosing? We have work to do now on those things He has called us to do, and if we do not do that work then multitudes will perish. This train of national redemption is at the station waiting to depart. Let us get aboard together; we can argue about things like how to determine the New Moon while the train is moving. If we do not board this train, then we will still be arguing when the hunters come to blow up the station.
But where is this train going? Who is aboard with us? How will we get there? What will we do along the way?
The train is going to the Promised Land: Eretz Yisrael. Those with us are our fellow Hebrews – Jews, Ephraimites of the reconstituted House of Yosef, and foreigners from the nations who join themselves to our God. How do we get there? That is a question we will answer as we go along. But as we go along, we will build this nation.
In this city of St. Petersburg, we gather to build the North American part of B’ney Yosef, the Ephraimite Hebrew nation. What you are seeing here is the culmination of a lengthy process. We who have been involved in this process have prayerfully and painstakingly considered our collective steps as a nation, and now we present to you, the nation, the results of our labors.
Over the next two days you will meet and examine candidates nominated to be our leaders. If they are acceptable to you, we will ask you to affirm their appointment and invest them with authority to speak on your behalf. These nominees will take their places on two governing bodies: a Council of Elders, charged with providing apostolic oversight and direction to B’ney Yosef North America; and an Executive Council, charged with carrying out the directions of the Elders, conducting business on behalf of the nation, stewarding the funds and resources this nation requires to operate, and engaging with Judah and the rest of the world on your behalf. The standards set for our leaders are very high, taken directly from Scripture and applied to the needs of our day. Mark Webb, Chairman of the Exploratory Committee, will explain to you the thorough process of examination through which these men and women passed to be deemed suitable for these positions.
There is always the question, “Why these people?” We might as easily ask, “Why Moses?” “Why Gideon?” “Why Ruth?” “Why Deborah?” “Why Peter?” “Why Paul?” The simple answer is, God will choose whom He will choose. He will work with whomever chooses to answer His call. The men and women standing before you at this gathering are those who have stepped forward to take our nation out of theoretical spiritual discussion and into practical fulfillment of the promises of the Living God. The proper question is not, “Why these people?” The proper question is, “Why not you?” This is your nation, and it will not be built without you. Will you join in the process with willing hearts and hands? Or will you stand aside and watch it happen without you?
That is why you are here. Not only will you be giving assent to a Continental leadership, you will also be considering Articles of Declaration which will explain to ourselves and to the world who we are and what we are committed to do. These Articles were not drafted in a day. You see in them the result of many weeks of painstaking labor bathed in prayer and in godly counsel. You will be asked to affirm these Articles as your governing document.
The question before you is not whether these Articles of Declaration are perfect. They are not. If we were to seek perfection, we would never leave St. Petersburg, or we would leave here with nothing accomplished. The question, rather, is whether these Articles are suitable for the purposes of declaring to the world that the North American portion of the Ephraimite Nation has come back from the dead. Is it good enough? If so, let us move forward with this, knowing that these Articles, like all other creations of mankind, can be adjusted and amended later as necessary.
Brethren, this is a beginning, but only a beginning. We who grew up in the United States know from our own history that the formation of this nation required the work of a an entire generation. The Declaration of Independence adopted in Philadelphia in July 1776 did not magically appear overnight. It was the product of years of effort at trying to reconcile the differences of an emerging American nation and an increasingly oppressive English Parliament and king. Even at its adoption the Founders knew it was imperfect, which is why the Constitution they authored over a decade later began, “We, the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union. . . “
We, the people of B’ney Yosef North America, assemble here this day not to form a perfect Union, but to form a Union that our God will in time perfect. Ultimately, then, the question is not what is wrong or right about the document and the candidates placed before you, but whether you will permit this process to move forward. If so, then you take upon yourselves the responsibility to put flesh on the bones we bring together at this assembly.
Your Continental leadership can speak for you, but cannot do your work for you. Your work is to go home and organize your locality and your region. Changes and improvements to our work at this Summit must come from regional Elder Councils voicing the ideas of the people under them. The building of schools, businesses, farms, and support networks for our widows and orphans must come from regional Executive Councils sharing the resources and responsibilities entrusted to them by their people. Your Continental leadership, and by extension you yourselves, will have only as much credibility in the eyes of our brother Judah and the rest of the world as we are able to govern ourselves according to the Almighty’s Torah.
In truth, brethren, until now we have been irrelevant: comical at best; self-destructive at worst. Today you have a chance to change that if you so choose. Whatever you may choose, brethren, I know the choice I have made.
Yesterday, I was a Texan.
Today, I am a Hebrew.
Am Ephraim chai.