The Jerusalem Debate – Introduction | The Lamb’s Servant

Worshippers at the Kotel (Western Wall) in Jerusalem for Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles), October 23, 2016.

Do you sense something new in the air?  What is God doing today that is different from a few weeks ago?  If you have followed the posts on this blog and others like it, the answer you find is that we have somehow crossed a threshold into a new era of YHVH’s Kingdom.  Those who expect the Almighty to come through on His promises to restore the entire nation of Israel are now holding our breath in anticipation that we will see huge steps forward in this Hebrew year 5777 (2016-2017).

It is too soon to say for certain what those steps will be, but I have some idea.  The things I observed while in Israel during the Feast of Tabernacles and the Second B’ney Yosef National Congress indicate two great moves are afoot:

  • Accelerated awakening of Hebrews (at this point, mostly Christians) to their identity as Israelites;
  • Accelerated awareness of Jews to this awakening, coupled with a new openness to “Hebrew Christians” who do not want to be identified as Jews, but who keep Sabbath, observe the Feasts of the Lord, eat biblically clean meats, and do other things to honor the Torah (Law) of God as Jews have done for millennia.

Among Christians, at least in my observation, keeping aspects of Torah has gained a degree of understanding and tolerance.  Our brethren in the church are seeing that we have not abandoned Yeshua (Jesus), but instead seek to imitate His example – His very Jewish example.  Most still do not want to accompany us on this path, but they are seeing the relevance of the Feasts in the foundations of their faith and in the prophecies of Messiah and His Kingdom.

Among Jews, again in my observation, there is curiosity coupled with expectation of Messiah’s imminent coming, and with Him the restoration of the Lost Tribes of the House of Israel.  Many of us identify with those Lost Tribes, calling ourselves B’ney Yosef (Children of Joseph).  Whether we are physical descendants of the tribes is not as important as what our Jewish brethren are seeing:  we identify as Hebrews and embrace the Torah of YHVH, in many cases more fervently than most Jews.  Moreover, they see that we do this because Yeshua of Nazareth, the one we regard as Messiah, has shown us the way.  They may not understand this (in fact, I’m not sure any of us understand it completely), but they are noticing that many from the Christian world not only proclaim love and support for Jews and for Israel, but identify as Israelites.

Although it is too soon to say where this is going, it is not too soon to consider how to continue this process which the Almighty has begun.  Here is one bold proposition:

Go up to Jerusalem three times a year for the Pilgrim Feasts of Passover (Pesach), Pentecost (Shavuot), and Tabernacles (Sukkot), just as YHVH has commanded.

That proposition is the subject of a series of articles by Bob Parham, published recently by Sue Wyatt on her blog, The Lamb’s Servant.  Bob and Valerie Parham, along with Sue and John Wyatt, are residents of Aqaba, Jordan.  Their stories about what brought them to Jordan are inspiring, and I encourage you to take some time to peruse Sue’s blog to learn something about that.  For now, though, consider what this series is addressing:  why is it that God’s people are not going up to Jerusalem?

This is a lengthy series that will take about two weeks to post.  Those who want to read everything at once can do so on Sue’s blog.  However, I would encourage reading slowly, prayerfully, and carefully, which is why the articles will appear one per day on The Barking Fox, followed by a post containing my thoughts on the subject.

We live in very interesting times.  Miracles are happening all around us as the Kingdom of Heaven is taking shape.  Long ago, two men who preached about the Kingdom gave the same advice:  “Repent, for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand!”  Maybe the process of repenting should include a serious examination of why we have not gone up to Jerusalem at our God’s invitation.

Source: The Jerusalem Debate – Introduction | The Lamb’s Servant

© Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog, 2016.  Permission to use and/or duplicate original material on The Barking Fox Blog is granted, provided that full and clear credit is given to Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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The Jerusalem Debate – Introduction

Sue Wyatt
Originally published on The Lamb’s Servant, November 11, 2016

There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, the holy place of the tabernacles of the most High.  Psalm 46:4

Glorious things are spoken of thee, O city of God.  Psalm 87:3

And YHVH said unto him [King Solomon], I have heard thy prayer and thy supplication, that thou hast made before me:  I have hallowed this house, which thou hast built, to put my name there for ever; and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually 1Kings 9:3

Jerusalem as it appeared during the days of the First Temple.

Jerusalem as it appeared during the days of the First Temple.

Mount Moriah, on which Temple Mount is seated, is a focal point of scripture because it is the focal point of Yah’s Future Kingdom.  However, the entire Holy City of Jerusalem, the City of God, has been important in Yah’s dealings with man at least since Father Abraham was instructed to sacrifice his precious son, Isaac, on the spot that later became the Holy of Holies of the Temple.  (The sages teach that Mount Moriah was the starting point of Creation itself!)

Judah has maintained a presence in the Holy City for all these centuries, particularly during the Pilgrimage Feasts (Pesach, Shavuot and Sukkot), but now it seems that Ephraim’s[1] presence in Jerusalem for the Pilgrimage Feasts is ALSO very much on the Father’s heart.[2]

  • Recently, more and more Ephraimites have told us something along the line of, “The Ruach (Holy Spirit) has really been impressing on me that I need to do my best to be in Jerusalem for the Pilgrimage Feasts.”
  • Each time we’ve gone to Jerusalem over the last year (six occasions – WOW!!!  Praise Yah!!), we’ve met Ephraimites who have told us, “This is my first time in the Land.  Abba insisted that I be here for this Feast!”
  • Then, just to top things off, Abba has also been putting the subject of Ephraim’s presence at the Feasts very much on the hearts of numerous people who already live in the Land.  These folks have been praying ceaselessly over this matter, and speaking / writing / singing about it whenever the opportunity has arisen.  One of them, worship leader James Block, has already published an article at this blog (An Open Letter to the Brethren), and the topic is the theme of some of his most anointed songs.  Our dear Israeli brother Hanoch Young of Kol Yehuda has been traveling all over the States urging Ephraim to “Connect with Israel.”  I could go on and on!

On the Other Hand

I was genuinely shocked to learn that there are some believers who object to observing the Pilgrimage Feasts in Jerusalem on moral and/or scriptural grounds.  This is a topic that is even seriously debated in our little community here in Jordan.

The folks holding this position are people that I love, respect and admire, so I was anxious to know what their reasons were.  The outcome was disappointing.  I can find no validity to their arguments.  It certainly seems to me to be inescapable Truth that Abba’s instructions – His eternal commands (Ps 119:160, Ps 111:7-8, Ps 119:89, etc.) – make it clear that there are three times a year when He expects His people to meet with Him (and with each other) in Jerusalem.  Period.

It’s obvious that not every believer can be in Jerusalem for every Feast.  Finances, health and many other factors disrupt our best-laid plans and our dearest desires.  However, just as Brother Judah has cried for over 2000 years, “Next year, in Jerusalem!“, we too should be longing to be able to please YHVH by our obedient and joyful appearance in His Holy City at His appointed times.

Because every believer’s highest joy is to please YHVH by obeying Him, it should GRIEVE us when we are unable to obey His commands to appear at the Pilgrimage Feasts.  In fact, the Word says that it will be those who GRIEVE over their inability to properly observe the Feasts who will be gathered!

I will gather you who mourn for the appointed festivals; you will be disgraced no more.  Zeph 3:18 (NLT)

Does this mean that we should not observe the Pilgrimage Feasts AT ALL when we cannot be in Jerusalem?  My personal jury is still ‘out’ on that question (Guest author, Bob Parham, gives his thoughts on this issue in his article entitled But What Shall We Do??), but I AM convinced that no matter what course I take, it should include sincere mourning and grief over the current situation that prevents full obedience.

In addition, I am convinced that my presence in Jerusalem at the appointed times whenever possible is one of the best ways available to me to demonstrate to Father my genuine desire to please and obey Him – and absolutely the best way available to me to express fraternity with His people.

Answering the Objections

Since I believe strongly that my brothers and sisters in the Faith will miss out on many blessings if they are misled regarding Jerusalem’s place in Yah’s Heart and Plan, I wanted to write something in rebuttal of the various arguments against our presence in Jerusalem for the feasts.  Thankfully it came to my attention that our dear friend, Bob Parham, has already written just such an article.  It would be pretty silly for me to ‘re-invent the wheel,’ so I asked Bob if I could publish his article. To my delight, he agreed!

It is a tremendous pleasure and honor to be permitted to present Bob’s article here.  Because it is a long article, we’ll break it up into portions so you will have lots to read for a few days!  A link is provided to each article, so you can pick and choose the ones that interest you.

Even if the ‘Feasts in Jerusalem issue’ is a non-issue for you, you will still learn a LOT of great stuff from the intensive study that Bob and his wife, Valerie, have done on this topic!  Don’t miss out!

First, meet Bob and Valerie Parham

Bob and Valerie have my deepest respect.  They daily exhibit inexhaustible love for the body by serving in every conceivable way despite health issues, financial restraints and the inevitable criticism.  Both of them are serious students of the Word, doing their studies in Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic, and not resting until they are confident that they have heard from the Ruach rather than from man or their own personal bias.

I love this photo of the two of them, because it illustrates their ability to combine a very serious commitment to a careful walk in Torah with humor, humility, joy and laughter.

I love this photo of the two of them, because it illustrates their ability to combine a very serious commitment to a careful walk in Torah with humor, humility, joy and laughter.

Their home here in Aqaba is almost always filled with guests from all over the world.  These days it is often where the Cuppa Shebrews radio talk show (Hebrew Nation Radio) is recorded, since Valerie co-hosts the show with Kimberly Rogers (Beastwatch and The Messianic Message) and Teresa Casalino.  You might run into Eddie Chumney there, or perhaps “Joanie,” whose radio interview with Kimberly has given pause for thought to so many.  The Parhams’ friends include many names that you would recognize and many more “unknowns” who are serving Yeshua in critical ways.

Bob and Val first heard the call to the Land about 16 years ago, and 11 years ago they gave up their old secure life to come here to Jordan (which is part of the land promised to Father Abraham’s descendants).  Their first eight or so years were a very tough struggle – the agricultural project they thought would provide their income never got off the ground, leaving them stranded without a way to make a living.  However, they were determined to be obedient and remain in The Land[3] despite all obstacles.  They survived by teaching English in the local schools for ‘a mere pittance.’  Abba honored their obedience by meeting every need.

Not only did He provide their needs in Aqaba, He also provided for them to make the (expensive) trip to Jerusalem three times each year for the Pilgrimage Feasts!  They have faithfully observed each Pilgrimage Feast in the Holy City for almost eleven years now!

During those many visits to Jerusalem, Bob and Val have built relationships not only with many Hebrew Roots and Messianic believers, but also with many of the Jewish faithful.  They testify that each time they share their beliefs with Jews, they get the same response:  “You’re a follower of Y’shua, but you observe Torah??”  (Yes.)  “How many more are there like you?”  (Thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, maybe more….).  [Silence]  “If they observe Torah, WHERE ARE THEY?  Why aren’t they here for the Feasts?

Bob and Val have been told,

“If 10,000 like you were to show up at the Western Wall for the Feasts, Israel would have to do something about you!”

The encouraging word is that the Jews WANT Ephraim to come home!  They are anxiously waiting for Messiah, and they know that scripture says that Ephraim will come home FIRST.  They’re excited to see Ephraim coming home!!  When we march behind our Ephraimite Banner in the International Parade at Sukkot, the response is amazing!  Israelis run out into the parade line to hug and kiss us and tell us, “We’re so glad you’re coming home!”

Healing the Breech Between Brothers

I believe that the presence of Y’shua’s Torah-observant talmidim (disciples) in Jerusalem during the Pilgrimage Feasts is the most powerful – and the most loving – way available to us for initiating a healing of the hurt, pain and fear that the church has caused brother Judah over the centuries.  As Valerie points out, when Judah is standing at the Western Wall and looks over to see us worshiping by his side, it’s a pretty strong assurance that we do not wish him harm, but rather that we respect him and his faith.

I also respect those brothers and sisters who have stayed away from Jerusalem for what they believe are good reasons, but it seems a great pity to me that these brothers and sisters are missing out on an amazing opportunity not only to please YHVH by obedience, but also to be part of the reunification of the family of Jacob!

I hope this series will help those who are wrestling with this issue to resolve their concerns and be able to participate in the wonderful things going on in the spiritual dimension in Jerusalem during the Feasts!  And I hope it will encourage those of you who are already longing to be in Jerusalem for the feasts – you are working miracles in the spiritual realm!

Hezekiah sent word to all Israel and Judah and also wrote letters to Ephraim and Manasseh, inviting them to come to the temple of YHVH in Jerusalem and celebrate the Passover to YHVH, the God of Israel. . . . “If you return to YHVH, then your fellow Israelites and your children will be shown compassion by their captors and will return to this land, for YHVH your God is gracious and compassionate.  He will not turn his face from you if you return to him.”  (2 Chron 30: 1, 9 NIV)

ELEVEN OBJECTIONS!

So far, Bob has heard eleven different objections from those who feel that Ephraim’s presence in Jerusalem is either unnecessary or even sinful.  Some of the objections are easily answered, while others deserve careful study and prayer.  Bob has done an excellent job of both studying and praying, and has written a clear response to each of the objections.  My hope is that you will take the time to read them over the next few days and let them open up new avenues of thought and prayer for you.  I repeat:

Even if the ‘Feasts in Jerusalem issue’ is a non-issue for you, you will still learn a LOT of great stuff from the intensive study that Bob and his wife, Valerie, have done on this topic!  Don’t miss out!

Bob and Valerie (and I) welcome your comments!!

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO ACCESS THE LINKS TO THE ARTICLES


[1] The term “Ephraim“ refers to the ten tribes of the Northern Kingdom of Israel who were dispersed into the nations.  They are called by the name of “Ephraim” because their first king, Jeroboam, was of the tribe of Ephraim.  They are mentioned many times in scripture as being very much on the Father’s heart.  Many prophecies tell us that in the Last Days, Abba will gather both Judah and Ephraim from among the nations and will call them home and restore them to fellowship with one another.  Everyone is aware of the regathering of Judah (the Jews), but we have also been seeing the almost unnoticed fulfillment of the prophecies about Ephraim since 1948, and especially since 1967, when Jerusalem was returned to Jewish hands.  The pace is picking up as more and more of these “lost” brothers and sisters are discovering their identity and finding their way back to The Ancient Path. (Jer 18:15, Ps 119:35, etc.)  Some are coming from clearly identifiable groups who have a long tradition of being Israelites.  Others have no readily identifiable connection to Father Abraham, yet their hearts are filled with love for Torah and longing for the Land.  We believe that both of these groups are being called by the Father, as promised in His Word.  If you have been called by the Ruach to follow Torah, you might be a descendant of one of the ‘lost’ tribes, and you are definitely part of the Commonwealth of Israel.  One of many passages that speak of this is found in Jeremiah:
Jeremiah 50:4-6 (KJV) – (4) In those days, and in that time, saith YHVH, the children of Israel [aka Ephraim] shall come, they and the children of Judah together, going and weeping:  they shall go, and seek YHVH their God. (5)
They shall ask the way to Zion [Jerusalem!] with their faces thitherward, saying, Come, and let us join ourselves to YHVH in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten. (6) My people hath been lost sheep: their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains:  they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their resting place.
[2] Some readers may be thinking, “Y’shua’s work on the cross eliminated any need for sacrifices, and the Pilgrimage Feasts are all about sacrifices.  There is no further need to observe them!”  Those of us who have thought this (I was one!) need to do some rethinking.  Just a FEW of the things to be considered are:
  • Y’shua’s personal command is to “eat this bread and drink this cup in remembrance of Me.”  He was very specifically referring to the Cup of Redemption and the matzah (unleavened bread) of the Passover Feast.  We cannot eat and drink them in remembrance of Him if we are not observing Passover.
  • The prophets tell us that the feasts will still be observed during the Millennial Kingdom.  (Ex:  Zec 14:16-21, etc.)
  • Abba tells us that in the Millennial Kingdom, even the burnt offerings and sacrifices of faithful Gentiles will be accepted at His Altar.  (Isa 56:6-7)
  • All of the feasts are pictures of Y’shua’s ministry:  His life, death, resurrection, marriage to the Bride, and Kingship.  Above all peoples, His disciples should be observing His feasts!
WHY will we still be offering sacrifices even when Y’shua is sitting on His Throne?  Because the sacrifices have NEVER atoned for sin!  Every sacrifice ever offered, beginning with Yah’s killing and skinning of the animal in the Garden of Eden (Gen 3:21), has been a PICTURE and REMINDER of The Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”  (Rev 13:8)  THIS was the sacrifice that paid the price of our sin!!!  The ancients understood this.  For example, Job exclaims, For I know that MY REDEEMER [the one Who paid the price for my sin] liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth!  (Job 19:25)  Until the end of Time, we will still need and WANT to memorialize and give thanks for what Messiah has accomplished in our behalf!
[3] This area of Jordan is part of “Greater Israel,” the Land promised to Father Abraham and his descendants.  You will be glad to hear that a great many of his descendants do indeed live here!!  Most of them are of the House of Ishmael but many are from the house of Jacob.

© Bob Parham, Sue Wyatt and The Lamb’s Servant Blog, 2016.  Permission to use and/or duplicate original material on The Lamb’s Servant Blog is granted, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sue Wyatt  and The Lamb’s Servant Blog, as well as to the original author (in this case Bob Parham) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
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About Albert J. McCarn

I am a lifelong disciple of Jesus (Yeshua) of Nazareth, an avid student of the Bible, a devoted husband and father, a 29-year veteran of the United States Army, and a historian who connects people with their own stories.

3 responses to “The Jerusalem Debate – Introduction | The Lamb’s Servant”

  1. Sue in Aqaba says :

    What exciting times we live in!! Thank you so much, Al, for the valuable and obedient part you are playing in YHVH’s Plan. May He continue to reveal the steps each of us are to take, and may we walk boldly under His direction! Wouldn’t it be fantastic if one day, simply because we were obedient to the command to appear for the feasts, we get to welcome Yeshua as He enters His City?? Thanks so much for the reblog – praying with you for great fruit!

    Liked by 1 person

Trackbacks / Pingbacks

  1. The Jerusalem Debate - November 18, 2016
  2. The Jerusalem Debate: An excellent series on a challenging topic…. | natsab - November 19, 2016

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