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.
Astronomical Fact Check: A Review of The Bethlehem Star, The Star That Astonished the World, by Earnest L. Martin
Everyone knows when Jesus was not born. Even the most devoted Christians understand that December 25 is not the date their Savior came into the world. But when exactly was He born?
The average person would say that no one knows. That answer is incorrect. It is possible to know when Jesus (Yeshua) of Nazareth was born – at least within a few days of the event, if not the actual day. That is the message of Earnest L. Martin’s work, The Star of Bethlehem: The Star That Astonished the World.
If the book considered only the evidence of the Bethlehem Star, it would not be sufficient to establish the case with any degree of certainty. The title, however, does not embrace the comprehensive nature of the work. Martin delves into astronomy and the astrological practices of the ancient world, but that is only the beginning. His quest for truth leads him to investigate multiple avenues of evidence, including Roman, Judean, and Parthian records and historical data, Jewish cultural and religious practices of the era, and clues hidden within the text of the biblical accounts. In the process, he not only establishes with a reasonable degree of certainty when Yeshua was born, but also sheds light on a period that is considered one of the least known in Roman history.
This weight of evidence permits Martin to make this astonishing claim:
[The] historical evidence supports the nativity of Jesus in 3 B.C.E., at the beginning of a Roman census, and (if we use the astronomical indications of the Book of Revelation) his birth would have occurred just after sundown on September 11th, on Rosh ha-Shanah, the Day of Trumpets — the Jewish New Year Day for governmental affairs. There could hardly have been a better day in the ecclesiastical calendar of the Jews to introduce the Messiah to the world from a Jewish point of view; and no doubt this is what the apostle John clearly intended to show by the sign he recorded in Revelation 12.
Kingdom Power in Context: A Review of The Restoration and the Gifts of the Spirit by Dr. David E. Jones
A pendulum swing is taking place in the Hebrew Roots movement in America. Many followers of Yeshua haMashiach (Jesus Christ) who have sought to embrace the Torah walk He modelled have moved beyond traditional Christianity. In practical terms, that means they have left the organized church in its various denominations and moved into something that looks sort of Jewish (as in keeping Sabbath and observing the biblical Feasts), but retains faith in Yeshua as Messiah. Now that this process has been going on for almost a generation, many are beginning to wonder if we might have left some very important things behind in the church. Things like fellowship, unity, brotherly love, and the Holy Spirit. This does not necessarily mean that Messianic and Hebrew Roots believers are ready to return to the church, but rather that we are beginning to realize the same thing about Christians as we have come to understand about Jews: the things we hold in common are far more numerous and more important than the things which divide us. Consequently, Hebraic believers are now reexamining once again what they believe, taking steps to mend broken bridges and restore precious things which we may have jettisoned too quickly in our zeal to put distance between ourselves and the traditions of man.
Hebraic believers with backgrounds in the Pentecostal or Charismatic branches of contemporary Christianity understand this question in regard to the Holy Spirit (Ruach HaQodesh). At first glance, the Torah observant lifestyle does not seem compatible with what is generally believed to be the gifts and manifestations of the Spirit. Yet a deeper study of the Person and purpose of the Spirit reveals something astounding: living by Torah is impossible without Him.
This is the thrust of The Restoration and the Gifts of the Spirit, a new book by Dr. David E. Jones, Senior Pastor of Ruach Ministries International in Brandon, Florida. The book grew out of conversations he held with Brad Scott of Wildbranch Ministry. As Scott writes in his Foreword:
We believe that these gifts were ignored, tossed away, changed or otherwise corrupted just as the feasts and the sabbaths were. . . All of the gifts of the Spirit are from the beginning and all of them are a testimony and revelation of the end.
What follows is a thorough examination of the Holy Spirit from a Hebraic viewpoint. Starting with Genesis 1 and moving forward through the Scriptures, Jones establishes two very important points. The first is that the Holy Spirit is YHVH God, nothing less. This may seem contrary to the common Jewish understanding of echad, or one, which for centuries has held that God is an indivisible entity – One and only One. That is not necessarily the sense of the Shema, the watchword of Judaism and Hebraic faith, which states, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!” (Deuteronomy 6:4 NKJV) Jones explains that echad in that verse and elsewhere in the Bible means, “’one’ as something that is unified as one, not necessarily only.” In other words, “the One True God is in perfect unity as one.” Therefore, He can express Himself in multiple ways and still be the same YHVH.
The second point is that the Holy Spirit has been active in the world and in human beings from the very beginning. This is contrary to a common Christian understanding that the “outpouring” of the Holy Spirit did not happen until the events recorded in Acts 2 at the Feast of Pentecost following Yeshua’s ascension. Jones cites several examples of people in the Tanakh (Old Testament) filled with the Holy Spirit and empowered to do the works of YHVH. This brings us to the ministry of the Holy Spirit:
We see a common theme throughout all of Scripture in testifying concerning a “spirit-filled” man of YHVH. This testimony is three fold, it consists of: wisdom, knowledge and understanding. Looking at many of the great people of faith, we can see these three things being shown in their lives.
In his examination of Scripture, Jones illustrates these three elements of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding evident in every move of the Spirit in both the Old and New Testaments. He makes his most powerful argument in presenting the parallels between the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, and the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost. What he reveals is the continuity of the Holy Spirit’s work in the people of YHVH, both before and after the coming of Messiah Yeshua.
This is perhaps the most powerful and greatest contribution of Jones’ work. It is an understanding that neither traditional Christianity nor traditional Judaism could uncover in that both of them start with the perception that they are separate entities rather than two expressions of the same covenant-keeping YHVH. It takes a Hebraic believer, with an appreciation of both the Christian and Jewish perspectives and an understanding of the Old and New Testaments, to grasp this essential truth. Yet he does not stop there. In the latter chapters, he investigates those controversial questions always present in discussions of the gifts of the Spirit. How are we to account for and deal with such things as the gifts of prophecy and tongues? What role do they and other gifts play in the life of a Hebraic follower of Yeshua? What have we missed by avoiding them? What do we gain by embracing them in the context YHVH intended all along? Jones does well in addressing these questions. The answers he provides may not be complete, but they are an essential component to this ongoing discussion of how the power of the Holy Spirit is to be evident in the lives of YHVH’s people.
The Restoration and the Gifts of the Spirit is a much-needed work on a component still lacking in Messianic/Hebrew Roots understanding of the Scripture. It is also a powerful addition and enhancement of the Christian and Jewish treatments of the subject. David Jones has done a great service to the believers of all traditions by his balanced and scholarly investigation of the Spirit of the Living God.
© Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog, 2014-2016. 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.
When Good Becomes Evil and Evil Becomes Good: A Review of See Something, Say Nothing, by Philip Haney
How long would a people be content to suffer outrageous violations by their rulers before they do something about it? And if they are so moved to take action, what would they do? Thomas Jefferson pursued that line of reasoning 240 years ago when, in the summer of 1776, he penned these words:
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.
The student of American history will recognize this as part of Jefferson’s reasoning in the Declaration of Independence. That was 240 years ago. What application, if any, does it have to Americans in the 21st century? Such a consideration requires some thought as to how the people should respond to a government that appears no longer to be acting in their best interests.
How do we know the United States Government is not acting in the best interests of the people? That is the testimony of Philip Haney, a recently retired Federal law enforcement officer of Customs and Border Protection (CBP), a division of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Haney’s memoir, See Something, Say Nothing: A Homeland Security Officer Exposes the Government’s Submission to Jihad, charts the tumultuous ordeal he endured for simply doing his job.
What happens when an author combines the mega-conspiracy theories of Thomas Horn, the spiritual warfare depictions of Frank Peretti, and the science fiction apocalyptic vision of Larry Niven? The result is The Cooper Chronicles, Daniel Holdings’ End of Days trilogy recounting the adventures of physicist and inter-dimensional globetrotter Dr. Bryce Cooper.
Apocalyptic literature is fascinating to say the least, but such works are not necessarily encouraging or fun. If done with the appropriate touch of realism – as, for instance, Nevil Shute’s post-nuclear war drama On the Beach – the work is depressing and scary. The subject, after all, is the complete eradication of human life on planet earth. On the other hand, a Terra-über-Alles yarn like Footfall (co-authored by Niven and Jerry Pournelle) makes the human cost merely the backdrop of an adventure story featuring mankind’s technological prowess and luck in overcoming an invasion by a fantastic foe from deep space. The loss of all of India, for example, registers little to a reader certain that somehow the story will have a happy ending.
The challenge of balancing realism with readability takes on an added dimension in spiritual subjects. A writer of Christian fiction must remain true to the Bible, or at least to his or her interpretation thereof. The result can be dismally flat, contrived, and divorced from real life – which is why it takes a special gift to write such a work. C.S. Lewis comes to mind as the pioneer and first master of modern Christian apocalyptic fiction, a genre which Peretti further develops. Yet when it comes to End Times novels which try to tell the tale of the Great Tribulation from a realistic viewpoint, no one has done quite so well as Daniel Holdings.
It helps that Holdings approaches his subject with the understanding that no one is exempt from the trials and devastations prophesied to come upon the earth according to the Bible. This gives him an advantage over Christian authors who write from the belief that there is a “pre-Tribulation rapture” which will remove Christians to some heavenly safe haven. To such authors, the real prize is not being on earth when bad things happen, which means their interest is not really in figuring out how the bad things are going to happen.
What do Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the pre-Tribulation rapture have in common? There is probably a joke in there somewhere, but the punch line escapes me. The answer, though, is that all of them are part of mainstream Christian practice (at least in the West), but none of them have much basis in Scripture. When held up to the light of Scripture, the Jolly Elf, the Whimsical Rabbit, and the Get-Out-of-Persecution-Free Card actually belong more in the realm of legend, myth, and wishful thinking.
There is no need to explain to Christians that Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny do not exist. Everyone knows that – and it would be better if our children understood it from the start rather than having to face their first crisis of faith when their kindergarten friends expose the truth. What everyone does not know, or does not want to admit, is that the doctrine of Jesus coming back to snatch His people away from the earth before the trials of the Last Days is not consistent with Scripture. The problem up to now is that there has been no comprehensive reference book written to examine this question from a critical point of view.
Until now, that is. Author Michael Snyder has at last filled the void with his latest book, The Rapture Verdict. It is 268 pages of systematic investigation of the subject from a man who simply wants to sort out the truth. His stark conclusion is stated in the first chapter:
Unfortunately, there isn’t going to be a pre-Tribulation rapture. In fact, millions of Christians are going to die waiting for a pre-Tribulation rapture that is never going to happen.
Depending on the reader’s disposition, such a statement will make him or her angry, fearful, or vindicated. Those with the latter reaction would be the ones who grew up learning about the rapture in church, but who could never shake the nagging doubt that the few dozen verses pulled out of context to justify the doctrine leave far too many unanswered questions.
It is always interesting to see how the Ruach haKodesh (Holy Spirit) makes connections to achieve the Father’s purposes. Soon after The Barking Fox announced publication of our new book, Give Me A Place Where I May Dwell, Gene Porter of Hebrew Nation Radio asked if he could interview me on the Thursday morning broadcast he co-hosts with Bonnie Harvey. It just so happened that they had an opening on February 5, and so I had the great pleasure and honor of talking with them for an hour. During the second hour of the broadcast, Gene, Bonnie, and Don Wyant, co-founder of Hebrew Nation Radio, launched into a round-table discussion on the subject of the Whole House of Israel. Their discussion provides an excellent ground-level introduction to the subject for those who are unfamiliar with this rapidly accelerating move of the Lord (see Jeremiah 16:14-21). To hear the entire broadcast of The Hebrew Nation Morning Show, please click here:
Give Me A Place Where I May Dwell is now available in paperback and in Kindle versions at the following links:
To purchase copies in print, please click here.
To purchase the Kindle version, please click here.
© Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog, 2015. 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.
What was the last question Yeshua’s followers asked Him before He returned to the Father? According to Acts 1:6, they asked, “Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?”
Why would they ask that? Because restoration of the kingdom of Israel is the single greatest promise and prophecy in the entire Bible! From Moses John the Apostle, every prophet and nearly every book contain references to God’s promise to regather and restore all of Israel, the House of Ephraim and the House of Judah, to the Land promised to our fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. That is the national mission Messiah Yeshua Himself proclaimed:
But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 15:24 NASB)
When the apostles asked Yeshua about restoring the kingdom, He did not rebuke them or deny that the restoration would happen. Rather, He said that they were not the ones who would know when it would happen. Instead, they were to receive the power of the Holy Spirit to proclaim the message of Messiah and His kingdom to the entire world (Acts 1:7-8).
Over the last 2,000 years, that message has become muddled. Followers of Yeshua have rightly proclaimed the salvation available through His work of redemption, but have missed the next crucial point: that identification with Messiah Yeshua means citizenship in His dominion, which is called Israel.
So what does it mean to become part of Israel? And when and how will the Son of David restore this united kingdom which has not existed for nearly three millennia? That is the topic of Give Me A Place Where I May Dwell: An Ephraimite Affirmation. This is the first book published by Al McCarn, your host at The Barking Fox. Here is what Amazon.com has to say about it:
Why should contemporary Christians take an interest in the State of Israel? For Hebrew Roots believers, or Torah-observant Christians, the fascination goes beyond the ongoing Middle East conflict or speculation about the second coming of Messiah. Hebrew Roots believers embrace the Commandments of Moses, as exemplified by Messiah Yeshua’s (Jesus Christ’s) adherence to Torah. For these dedicated believers, Israel represents God’s ultimate promise: the reunification of the ancient kingdom and a true homeland for all believers.
Give Me a Place Where I May Dwell is a meticulously researched account of the global Hebrew Roots movement among Christians. Author Albert J. McCarn examines the beliefs and goals of non-Jewish Israelites in a biblical, historical, and contemporary context.
He refers to believers as Ephraimites, or the remnants of the exiled northern kingdom of Israel. Since Ephraimites are spread throughout the world, McCarn presents a compelling case for building a collective identity among all Torah-observant followers of Yeshua—with the goal of an eventual homeland in the Holy Land.
Through McCarn’s hopeful message, Give Me a Place Where I May Dwell makes a compelling and scholarly theological case for uniting all followers of the great awakening that is the Hebrew Roots movement.
Give Me A Place Where I May Dwell is now available in paperback at CreateSpace.com, an Amazon company, and will soon be available on Kindle. To order copies, please click here.