Understanding the Seed of Abraham: A Review of Redeemed Israel – Reunited and Restored By Batya Ruth Wootten
One of these days, the people of God will be amazed to learn that any power Satan retains is only that which God allows him to have, or that God’s people themselves give to him. That is the testimony of Scripture (Job 1:6-12, 2:1-10; Isaiah 14:12-20, Colossians 2:8-15; Ephesians 4:7-10; Psalm 68:18-19). It is a testimony lived out in recent centuries as Christians and Jews of all denominations and sects cling tightly to their own unique perspective of the Creator’s work, while questioning the inclusion of others with them in that work. The result is a terminal fragmentation, evident in the declining effectiveness of the church (at least in the West), and a Judaism split between an assimilated Diaspora and an internally focused observant segment largely concentrated in Israel.
The stumbling block, of course, is the Messiah – the one Christians call Jesus Christ, but whom Jews for the most part disregard. Even those who fall in between these two major elements of God’s people have their issues. Although Messianic Jews and non-Jewish Hebrew Roots adherents agree that Jesus (whom they call by his Hebrew name, Yeshua) is the Messiah, and that the Torah (teaching, instruction, direction, law) of God are still applicable to Yeshua’s followers, the agreement tends to stop at that point. Thus the terminal fragmentation persists even in this expanding space that is filling the gap between Judaism and Christianity.
Where is the remedy for this sad state of affairs? Batya Ruth Wootten offers an answer in Redeemed Israel – Reunited and Restored. Her answer rests squarely on the question of identity, a question that leads her to ask, “If our God is the God of Israel, and the Jewish people are Israel, then who is the Church?”
I remember fondly the last Chinese American colleague of my military career. She was my supervisor: a very kind, patient, conscientious, hardworking, and highly competent person. It was she who explained to me the difference between American Born Chinese (ABC), and Chinese who had just immigrated and were, therefore, Fresh Off the Boat (FOB).
The memory of my first Chinese American colleague is less pleasant. Not that it was his fault; the blame was entirely mine. He, too, was conscientious, hardworking, and highly competent. Perhaps because we were officers of the same rank, I did not consider him as Chinese, but as a fellow soldier. That, of course, is how the Army expected us to think of one another. However, our shared identity caused me to forget the identity he had carried since before his birth. Then one day I told a tasteless joke which had as its object a Chinese stereotype, and my colleague heard it. He was angry, I was embarrassed, and our relationship was never the same. That was one of a lengthy series of lessons that taught me not only to guard my tongue, but to adjust the heart attitudes that shape what comes from my tongue.
Gene Luen Yang has carried that life lesson even further with his graphic novel, American Born Chinese, a masterful insider view of what it means to be part of an ancient culture transplanted to an alien setting.
It is surprising to consider how pervasive the legacy of Rome is on the global culture. Even those nations which never felt Rome’s touch directly still labor under the political, economic, and social order that the Empire bequeathed to its European children. Tales of the Roman era still find a familiar place in our consciousness. Whether one is looking for the real King Arthur in the detritus of post-Roman Britain, reveling in the semi-mythical exploits of Maximus after the death of Marcus Aurelius, or absorbing the accounts of Christian martyrs in the days of Nero, the grandeur of Rome captivates the imagination. That grandeur certainly includes the glory of the Caesars, the logic of Roman law, the enduring architectural monuments, and the lingering vestiges of Latin, but too often it obscures something else: Rome, the insatiable beast.
Whatever good Rome’s empire accomplished in the half millennium of its existence is forever smirched by the wake of broken civilizations, conquered peoples, and extinct cultures ground into the dust under its boot heels. This is no less true of Britain’s Celts as it is of Judea’s Jews – and of scores of other peoples forever altered by Roman domination.
The story of the Jews should be well known both to Jews and Christians, at least up to a point. Christians will be familiar with the accounts of Yeshua (Jesus) and the apostles from the New Testament; Jews will know the accounts of the Great Jewish War that brought the destruction of Jerusalem and the Second Temple, and the epic tragedy of Masada. Thus the first century of this current era is at least generally understood through these two distinct, yet complementary, lenses. What each will find unfamiliar is what happened next: that unexplored dark time between the fall of Masada in 73 CE, and the final destruction of Judea in 135 CE at the end of the Bar Kokhba Revolt.
Miriam Feinberg Vamosh provides invaluable assistance in shedding light on that dark era through her riveting novel, The Scroll. She weaves her story around a genuine archaeological find from the period: a get, or divorce decree, issued to a woman named Miriam at Masada at the time the last of the Jewish defenders eld the fortress against Rome’s legions. Although nothing more is known of the historical Miriam named in the scroll, Vamosh draws on her own extensive knowledge of the period to create a multi-generational saga that is not only entertaining and educational, but entirely believable.
Documenting Redemption: A Review of Ten From the Nations: Torah Awakening Among Non-Jews, by Rivkah Lambert Adler
The history of humanity is filled with mothers in all eras and all cultures saying to their children the equivalent of, “I don’t care if you don’t like how that tastes. Eat it; it’s good for you.” In my case, it was broccoli, but I can imagine children around the world sitting glumly in front of their food as their mothers tell them they won’t grow up big and strong unless they finish their borscht, ceviche, pho, or ugali. God created mothers to be right about such things, which is why each generation survives and (depending on the degree to which they listen to Mom) thrives.
This principle works just as well regarding nourishment for the mind, soul, and spirit as for the body. That is why those who persevere in reading and studying even when the subject matter is uncomfortable tend to come out much better in the end – smarter, wiser, more tolerant, and better able to cooperate with others in the interest of a greater good. Rivkah Lambert Adler has provided rich nourishment of this sort in her book, Ten From the Nations: Torah Awakening Among Non-Jews.
The groundbreaking aspect of Ten From the Nations is that Adler is among the first (perhaps the first) Jewish scholars to document the global phenomenon of Christians coming to an appreciation of Torah. She describes the phenomenon this way:
All over the world, current and former Christians are becoming aware of Torah. They are learning about, and implementing, what most of the world thinks of as Jewish practices, including celebrating Shabbat [Sabbath] and the Biblical holidays. They are refraining from eating pork and shellfish. They are studying Torah and seeing the Land of Israel, and especially the return of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel, in a new light. They are building positive relationships with the Jewish people.
The Bible is a history book. The events recorded in it really happened to real, flesh-and-blood people who were not very different from real people who have lived in every age and in every place. Maybe if we understand that a little better, we would read the Bible with more interest.
Miriam Feinberg Vamosh can help us with that. This American-born Israeli writer, translator, and guide has a deep love of her homeland. She has learned much about her Jewish heritage in the Land, and about the course of Israel’s history which have shaped the realities of the present. She is eager to share her learning with others. As she says
My love affair with the Bible and ancient sources, which led to my books and articles, deepened over my many years as a tour educator – and thus, every visitor who ever asked me a question has earned my gratitude.
Miriam’s decades of work have resulted in a number of books which introduce audiences to a wide variety of aspects about the land and people of Israel. This includes her first historical fiction novel, The Scroll. Miriam crafted this story from a real archaeological find from Masada, weaving it into the saga of a family that spans the dramatic decades from the fall of Masada at the end of the Great Jewish War to the Bar Kokhba Revolt in 135 CE.
Come along and join us in our visit with Miriam. You just might learn that life in modern Israel is just as fascinating as Israel’s bigger-than-life biblical history!
Check out Miriam’s web site at http://miriamfeinbergvamosh.com/.
© Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog, 2017. 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.
Key points here:
– This is an opportunity to reach MILLIONS.
– Pray, and help get the word out.
– Give as you are able (surely more than 16 people are able!!!)
Two weeks to go and we are not yet half way there… While the Father has this in His hands, we are called to action. Before us is an opportunity to share broadly what we are understanding concerning the Hebrew roots of our faith and the everlasting nature of the Torah!! We can rise to the occasion and help bring this message through a mainstream outlet that gets 6 MILLION hits a day, or we can let this opportunity go by the boards….
Currently, we do not yet have half of the funding pledged, while half of the time has passed. Let us not let this opportunity slip by! Here’s what you can do:
- Help get the word out. Share with your social media connections!
- Pray for the Father’s favor.
- Give as you are able. (I have to believe more than 16 people are able…)
To learn more, go here
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If most of the events prophesied in the book of Revelation had already taken place, would we live our lives differently? That is the question at the back of the reader’s mind while processing the wealth of data presented by Christine Miller in her book, The Revelation of Jesus Christ Revealed.
Another question one might ask is why the world needs yet another book on prophecy. The answer, like the book, is logical and straightforward: we need an understanding of how the symbols in Revelation correspond to real events and people in the history of the world since the Apostle John wrote Revelation in the year 96 CE. In other words, Miller cuts through the hyper-sensationalized end-of-the-world drama to examine what Revelation really means in a way that readers not only can understand, but can use as a starting point for their own study.
Miller’s premise is that Revelation constitutes the history of the world as it unfolds between the first and second comings of Jesus Christ (Yeshua the Messiah). She bases this premise on the precedent set elsewhere in Scripture, particularly in the book of Daniel, which presents the prophetic history of the world from the end of the Babylonian exile of the Jewish people to the first coming of Messiah. In a lengthy appendix Miller relates the well-known histories of the wars over the Holy Land between the Seleucid (Greco-Syrian) and Ptolemaic (Greco-Egyptian) kingdoms in the centuries following the death of Alexander the Great. Those wars produced the Abomination of Desolation, in which the Seleucid king Antiochus IV desecrated the Temple in Jerusalem and banned the Jews from every aspect of worship of YHVH. As the Jews responded in the War of the Maccabees, YHVH intervened on their behalf to bring the victory memorialized in the festival of Hanukkah. Yet Miller does not stop there; she continues her analysis of Daniel’s prophecies all the way through the ministry of Yeshua and his apostles, making a convincing argument about how they fulfilled the cryptic statement in Daniel 9:27 –
And he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week, and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the offering to cease; and on the wing of abominations shall be one which makes desolate; and even to that full end, which is determined, is poured out on that which makes desolate.
What Miller does with Daniel in an appendix of her book is a microcosm of what she does with Revelation in the body of the work. She begins with this explanation:
The view that all the events of Revelation are future to us is a relatively new view in the history of the church. Traditionally, Revelation was seen as an unfolding prophecy of the things which will take place between the first and second comings of Jesus Christ. This unfolding historical prophecy is in the same manner as Daniel, which set the precedent.
With that introduction, she takes us on a whirlwind tour of two millennia of Roman history.
Social commentary is perilous. Since those who engage in it usually have an axe to grind, they too easily succumb to bitterly cynical sarcasm, or pitifully ridiculous absurdity. On occasion an angry social critic will get it right and inspire generations with profound observations of civilization’s problems – regardless whether his or her prescriptions for fixing those problems have any chance of working out as intended. But for the most part, this kind of social commentary serves only to make people more angry without really addressing the root problem.
The key to successful social commentary is to turn it into fiction. That way the cynicism, ridicule, and anger get channeled into something constructive and lasting. If done properly, the targets of the most bitter epithets will be laughing or crying so hard that they will never know they have been lampooned. That is why such classics as Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, Voltaire’s Candide, and Vonnegut’s Sirens of Titan remain with us today.
Adam Berkowitz has made a great start at entering such august company thanks to his first novel, The Hope Merchant. Usually a novel introduces the protagonist in the first few pages and follows him or her closely to the end. Berkowitz does that, but in a delightfully twisted way. The Hope Merchant is Theo S. Meyer, someone we would not expect at first to be the center of attention in a literary work. He is the awkward young teenager on his parents’ dairy farm; the one no one notices, but who seems to come up with just the right word at the right time to address something painful – even a pain that reaches far down into the soul.
The reason we take no immediate notice of Theo is because our focus is on one of his first customers: an over-aggressive young corporate attorney named Jack. An odd series of events brings Jack to sojourn on the Meyer farm, and there he is transformed by Theo’s magic. Well, perhaps we could call it magic. We never really know how Theo and Big Brad, the Inuit farm hand who trained him in the ways of native medicine, bend events to create precisely the situations required to help people help themselves, but that is the pattern throughout the book.