Who Wins When Siblings Fight?

On January 8, 1815, an odd assortment of U.S. Soldiers, French and Spanish Creoles, African slaves and free men, Kentucky frontiersmen, and French pirates set aside their differences to fight as comrades against an invading British army at New Orleans.  The peril they shared transformed these disparate residents of the western frontier into Americans - a single people who shared a common identity regardless of their past and future differences.  (Image: The Battle of New Orleans January 8th 1815 / drawn by Oliver Pelton ; engraved by Hammat Billings,1882. Accessed from the Library of Congress.)
On January 8, 1815, an odd assortment of U.S. Soldiers, French and Spanish Creoles, African slaves and free men, Kentucky frontiersmen, and French pirates set aside their differences to fight as comrades against an invading British army at New Orleans. The peril they shared transformed these disparate residents of the western frontier into Americans – a single people who shared a common identity regardless of their past and future differences. (Image: The Battle of New Orleans January 8th 1815 / drawn by Oliver Pelton ; engraved by Hammat Billings,1882. Accessed from the Library of Congress.)

Something very strange happens when people face an imminent threat to life and livelihood.  The strange thing is unity such as would never have been possible otherwise.  History provides countless examples, such as the defense of New Orleans in January 1815.  When a veteran British force attacked the city, an odd assortment of people turned out to defend their home.  They included Regular soldiers of the American army under Major General Andrew Jackson, as well as Creole gentlemen and their American merchant rivals, common laborers, farmers, militia men from far away states, black slaves and free men, and even pirates and smugglers affiliated with the infamous Jean Lafitte.  Once the threat was past, these disparate segments of society returned to their separate lives and the circumstances that divided them, but for one glorious moment they experienced the joy of being a people united in a common cause.

We might consider as well the example of our Jewish brethren in World War II.  Immediately before the war, an Arab revolt in British Palestine compelled His Majesty’s government to issue a White Paper in 1939 which closed the door on Jewish immigration to the Holy Land.  This was a political and military necessity for the British; another Arab revolt would threaten their hold on Egypt, their link to India and the Pacific, and the lifeline of the Empire.  When faced with war against Hitler’s Germany, Great Britain could not afford to lose that lifeline, and thus European Jews in peril of their lives in the Shoa (Holocaust) lost their last and best chance at escape from the death camps.

One might suppose the Jewish response to the White Paper – particularly among those living in the Land – would be violent rejection and revolt.  Some did respond that way, but the most memorable response was by David Ben Gurion, at that time among the most prominent leaders of the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish settlers in the Land.  He expressed his position this way:

We will fight the war as if there were no White Paper, and we will fight the White Paper as if there were no war.

Ben Gurion’s pragmatism was instrumental in establishment of the Jewish Brigade, the only regular military unit of any Allied army in World War II comprised entirely of Jews.  The Jewish Brigade served with distinction in the British forces in Egypt, Italy, and Northwest Europe, and it also served as a training ground for Jewish warriors who carried the fight for Israel’s independence after the British Mandate over Palestine ended in 1948.

Please click here to continue reading

Fox Byte 5774 #30: The Truth About Transformation

Transformers in the movies can change in an instant, but with God's people the process takes much more time and effort.
Transformers in the movies can change in an instant, but with God’s people the process takes much more time and effort.

What is Yeshua really teaching us through the Sermon on the Mount?  Yes, He explains that it’s good to be connected to the Maker of all life, but is His sermon an explanation of how to do that, or is it a picture of what happens when we really connect with our God?

As with so many things about our relationship with our Creator, the answer is “Yes”.

By now it should be clear that the basic details about how to live a godly life are not in Yeshua’s teaching.  The details are in the Torah.  In the Sermon on the Mount Yeshua takes the principles of Torah, which His audience knew very well, and clarifies them.  It’s not that He is teaching something entirely new, but that He is looking in a new way at what His Father originally delivered through Moses.  That is why He uses the format, “You have heard that it was said . . . but I tell you”.  Consider these next points:

Please click here to continue reading

Fox Byte #29: An Eye For. . . .

BFB141008 Three MonkeysFrom what we have seen so far in the Sermon on the Mount, Yeshua is indeed correcting our understanding of what His Father really meant when He gave His Law (Torah) to Moses.  The attitude of our heart is the most important thing.  Specific commandments like, ”You shall not murder”, and “Bring your gift to the altar”, help us measure how far our heart has come toward operating the way God designed.  After all, that’s really what the Law is:  God’s operating instructions.  If we operate within the parameters of the Law (choose life), we get all kinds of good things (blessings); but if we operate outside His design parameters (choose death), we suffer all manner of consequences (curses). (Deuteronomy 30:11-20James 1:22-2:13).  If our heart is right with our Creator, then we will do His commandments naturally, as an act of love for Him.  And that is the exactly what the Apostle John, the Apostle Paul, and Yeshua Himself told us.

Yeshua continues his teaching by addressing another sticky point of human nature:

Please click here to continue reading

Fox Byte #28: An Acceptable Sacrifice

When Abel and Cain offered sacrifices, both had meaning, but only one was acceptable.  (Bible Card illustration, "The Story of Cain and Abel")
When Abel and Cain offered sacrifices, both had meaning, but only one was acceptable. (Bible Card illustration, “The Story of Cain and Abel”)

If Yeshua really did make it possible to understand and live out God’s commandments (Torah) as our Creator originally intended, then we would expect Him to give us a few examples.  And in fact He did.  It’s all a matter of going beyond the “letter of the Law” and getting to the Spirit behind it.  Consider what Yeshua said right after He told His audience that their righteousness should exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees:

You have heard that it was said to those of old, “You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.”  But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment.  And whoever says to his brother, “Raca!” shall be in danger of the council.  But whoever says, “You fool!” shall be in danger of hell fire.  Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way.  First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.  Agree with your adversary quickly, while you are on the way with him, lest your adversary deliver you to the judge, the judge hand you over to the officer, and you be thrown into prison.  Assuredly, I say to you, you will by no means get out of there till you have paid the last penny.  (Matthew 5:21-26 NKJV)

Please click here to continue reading

Fox Byte #27: About That New Heart

The Tin Man's new "heart" was really a symbol of the change that had already happened in him.  Perhaps that is not too different from what happens in the heart transplant God accomplishes in His people.
The Tin Man’s new “heart” was really a symbol of the change that had already happened in him. Perhaps that is not too different from what happens in the heart transplant God accomplishes in His people.

What did Yeshua mean when He said He had come to fulfill the Law (Torah)?  Some people would say that He came to complete the Law so that it no longer applied to His followers.  But is that really what He meant?  Look again at what He said:

Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets.  I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.  For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled.  (Matthew 5:17-18 NKJV, emphasis added)

Please click here to continue reading