Looking Like Joseph

Enrique Simonet, Flevit super illam (He wept over it). (Prado Museum, via Wikimedia Commons)

How do we evaluate dreams and visions? Like everything else, we test them to Scripture.

There is no question that God sends these Divine communications to people. There is also no question that there are alternative sources of dreams: satanic influences, mind-altering drugs, wild imaginations, or even the aftermath of a wrestling match with disagreeable food. That is why we evaluate everything according to the standard of Scripture to see if it is consistent with the Word of God. Not everything will stand up to that standard, which is why we must be careful to sift the legitimate messages from the deceptive, the irrelevant, and the just plain loony. This is important because we now live in the time when the words of the prophet Joel are coming to pass:

It will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. (Joel 2:28-28, NASB)

It has been nearly two thousand years since the Apostle Peter verified that humanity had entered the era when Joel’s prophecy was coming into fulfillment (Acts 2:14-21). Where are we now on the timeline of fulfillment of all prophecy – especially the ultimate redemption of Israel, YHVH’s covenant nation? That is something addressed in this vision related by my friend Jesse Jury (Jesse ben Yosef).

I first heard Jesse’s account of this vision while recording an interview of him and his wife, Amy, for the B’ney Yosef North America radio program, Reunion Roadmap. The podcast of that interview is available at this link:

https://bneyyosefna.com/2017/08/14/byna-radio-reunion-roadmap-august-12-2017/

It is worth hearing, not only for Jesse’s vision, but for the insights he and Amy share on a life of walking in Torah with Yeshua, and for the other enjoyable elements of the show. What you will read below is Jesse’s full account of the vision which he posted recently on his blog, Torah Driven Life. You will see that he has attempted to evaluate the vision according to Scripture in the interest of finding an interpretation, and understanding its validity. Maybe you will be able to find more meaning as you do your own testing of this word by the Word of God.


Looking Like Joseph

Jesse ben Yosef
Originally posted on Torah Driven Life, August 9, 2017

As Shabbat started on Av 13, in the Gregorian year 2017, the Ruach HaKodesh came over me, and I began sobbing uncontrollably with joy over the restoration of the sons of Joseph. What I am about to share was so overwhelmingly “real” to me that I cried not only in the evening, but in the early morning of Shabbat as well. It was as if the Father cracked the door, ever so slightly, to share with me a portion of His grief, as well as His excitement, over the separation of Ephraim from the flock of Israel, as well as our coming restoration. One thing in particular that stood out from this prophetic “download” was an emphasis on “looking like Joseph,” which I will explain as follows.

It began with a vision of the heavenly throne room, in which the angels had assembled themselves before the Father. He commanded them, “Go, and bring Me My firstborn son Ephraim, for I long to see his face yet again.”

And the angels left, and searched over the face of the whole earth, and returned back to the throne room, empty handed. They said to the Father, “We cannot find Your son.”

But He would not accept it, and He sent them out many more times, saying to them each time, “Go, and find My son, and bring him back to Me, that I may look upon his face yet again.” But each time, they came back more confused than they were the time before.

“We cannot find Your son.” they said to the Father yet again. “We have searched over the top of the highest mountain, and in the depths of the deepest valleys, and Your son is nowhere to be found.”

“Of course you can’t yet find him,” the Father said, “Because he no longer looks like Joseph. When the time comes when he looks like Joseph, then you will be able to find him.”

The final word that I received from the Father was that the time of the ingathering would be very soon.

An Explanation

After the vision had ended, the first Scripture which came to mind was Matthew 24:30-34, “And then will be seen the signal of the Son of Man in heaven: and then will all the tribes of the earth mourn, when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great trumpet and they will collect together His elect from the four winds, from one extremity of heaven to the other. Now learn an illustration from the fig tree. As soon as its branches become tender and its leaves shoot forth, you know that summer is coming on. So also, when you perceive all these things, you know that He is near, even at the door. Truly, I say to you, that this generation shall not pass away, until all these things shall come to pass.”

First, we see that it is not Yeshua directly who gathers in His lost sheep, but that the Father sends forth His angels to do the ingathering in the last days. This is literally what I saw in my vision, with the angles assembled, looking for Ephraim, but unable to see him, because he did not yet look like Joseph.

Secondly, Yeshua then compares the ingathering to branch of the fig tree, which– when it begins to bud and bear fruit– is the sign that the harvest is approaching. The branch is used here as a euphemism for Ephraim, and specifically recalls the stick of Joseph in Ezekiel 37. When the stick of Joseph becomes tangible, visible, and identifiable– when the wheat and the tares are distinctly known from one another– this is when the Messiah returns and sends out the gathering angels.

And lastly, Yeshua says that “this generation shall not pass away until these things shall come to pass.” I believe He is referring to the generation of the fig tree, the budding branch of Ephraim, the stick of Joseph. And I believe that WE are that generation.

When I shared the vision with my wife, she brought to mind the parable of the Wheat and the Tares from Matthew 13:24-30, “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. And while people were asleep, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away. And when the plant shot up and bore fruits, then the tares also appeared. And the servants of the householder came, and said to him, ‘Our lord, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where did the tares that are in it come from?’ And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Is it your pleasure that we go and gather them out?’ And he said to them, ‘No, lest while you gather out the tares, you also eradicate the wheat with them. Let them both grow together until the harvest; and at the time of harvest, I will say to the reapers, “Gather out the tares first, and bind them in bundles to be burned; but gather the wheat gather into my granary.”’”

In this parable, it is seen that “the wheat” and “the tares” are indistinguishable from one another for a long course of time, where they will “both grow together until the harvest.” And at that time, “the servants of the householder” are commanded to separate the two, and bring the wheat into the granary. Now what makes this parable fascinating is when it is examined from an agricultural perspective. The similarity between these two plants is striking; the tares, called “false wheat” in some regions, resemble the wheat nearly identically throughout its growth cycle, and is only discernible from it at the end, when the wheat bears fruit, but the tares do not. And because of its fruit, the heads of the wheat become heavy, and literally “bow down” due to the weight of the grains, indicating a metaphoric resemblance of humility, as opposed to the tares, which stand proud, bearing no fruit.

What does it mean to “look like Joseph?”

As mentioned above, the time of the ingathering would come very soon. He did not give me a tangible date, but the impression I had was that these were events that He was putting into motion in the relatively immediate future. And in the meantime, our calling is to “look like Joseph” with every ounce of our being, by exhibiting good fruit, by showing humility, and by living the fruit of the spirit: “love, joy, peace, endurance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and patience,” (Galatians 5:22) not only as individuals, but also in our families, our communities, and our Ephraimite nation. For me, the ultimate picture of Joseph’s character, revealed in the Torah, is his response to his brothers in Genesis 45 for having sold him into slavery. He did not respond with judgment, nor malice, nor a will for vengeance; but rather with forgiveness, with love, with compassion, and with sincere concern for the well being of his family– that same family which had betrayed him twenty-two years prior.

So when the Father tells me that we need to “look like Joseph,” this is what that means to me. I look forward to hearing what this means to you in the comments below.

Source: Looking Like Joseph. If you like what you’ve read, drop by Jesse’s blog and leave a comment.


© 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.

Israel 2016: A Lesson in Being Peculiar

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light;  (I Peter 2:9 KJV)

The Church of All Nations, traditional site of the Garden of Gethsemane.
The Church of All Nations, traditional site of the Garden of Gethsemane.

The meaning of “peculiar” has changed somewhat since the publication of the King James Bible four hundred years ago.  In 1611 it meant special, set apart, treasured – in other words, holy.  Today it means odd, strange, or out-of-place, which is why the New King James uses the word “special” instead of peculiar.

The point of this language, both in I Peter and in the Torah passages Peter references (Exodus 19:5-6; Deuteronomy 14:1-2, 26:18-19), is that YHVH has designated the people of Israel as His own possession.  As such, Israelites will think, eat, speak, dress, and act differently than the rest of the world.  The fact that Peter draws on the Torah for his exhortation to First Century followers of Yeshua testifies to his belief in direct connection between them and Israel.  Paul agrees, which is why he says that we who take advantage of the grace offered through Yeshua’s redemptive work are adopted or grafted into the covenant people of Israel and become part of Abraham’s seed (Ephesians 2:8-13; Romans 11:16-27; Galatians 3:29).

As sincere Christians in traditional churches, we already had some measure of distinction from the world as we tried to speak kindly, treat one another nicely, refrain from vices, go to church regularly, and study the Bible.  All of that established us as different from “unchurched” people.  Observant Jews are also distinctive from the rest of the world in that they dress and eat differently, observe the Sabbath and the Feasts of the Lord, and make a concerted effort to take care of one another.  So what happens when sincere Christians start looking like observant Jews?

That is a lesson we learned yesterday in our walk around Jerusalem.  As Hebrews, we wear tzittzit in observance of the commandment in Numbers 15:37-41.  Many of us have also adopted the Jewish custom of keeping our heads covered, either with a kippa or with a hat of some kind.  This is normal in Jerusalem, where many varieties of tzittziyot and head coverings – as well as other dress – come together in an eclectic Jewish blend.  What made us peculiar even here, however, was what we did.

American Hebrews gathered in the Garden to study the Bible.
American Hebrews gathered in the Garden to study the Bible.

In our wanderings, we made our way to the foot of the Mount of Olives to read and discuss some scripture passages at the traditional site of the Garden of Gethsemane.  That in itself is peculiar:  why would these “Jewish” people want to go to a site associated with the Christian Jesus?  The garden is in the courtyard of the Church of All Nations, a Catholic church and a regular stop for Christian tour groups.  As we gathered on the edge of the garden and discussed the various events associated with the Mount of Olives, we received many puzzled looks from the groups who filed by us.  The quizzical looks continued when we left the garden as Arab vendors and Jewish pedestrians wondered the same thing:  why are these “Jews” going to a church?

The answer, of course, is not that we are trying to be Jewish, but that we are finding our own way in this appreciation of the whole Word of God.  

It is a peculiar journey.

(For the curious, the passages of interest included II Samuel 15 and Zechariah 14, which we discussed in the context of King David’s story prefiguring the life, ministry and second coming of Messiah Yeshua, the Son of David).  


© 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.

Finding Israelite Identity in the New Covenant

©Harper Collins Christian Publishing. Used by permission.
ReverendFun.com.  © Harper Collins Christian Publishing.  Used by permission.

Language is a perilous thing.  It can unite us, but quite often it does the opposite.  That, by the way, was God’s intent.  We know that from the story of how He created the different languages of the earth as presented in Genesis 11:

Now the whole earth used the same language and the same words.  It came about as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there.  They said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly.”  And they used brick for stone, and they used tar for mortar.  They said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”  The Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built.  The Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language.  And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them.  Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.”  So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth; and they stopped building the city.  Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of the whole earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth.  (Genesis 11:1-9 NASB, emphasis added)

Ever since then that curse of language has been with us.  And, by the way, so has the curse of nations.

Curse of nations?  Yes, it does seem to be a curse.  It would seem that the Lord did not intend for humanity to be scattered and separated across the face of the planet in competing factions.  Nevertheless, nations were His idea.  The story of the Tower of Babel explains why.  You’ll notice that mankind also had an idea of uniting themselves as one people, but their idea was not the same as the Almighty’s.  They wanted to be a single, unified power that could challenge YHVH for sovereignty over this planet.  Since these people lived in the generations immediately after the Great Flood, we can suppose that some of them harbored a little resentment at God’s destruction of the pre-Flood civilization.  Maybe they thought they could do things better than their ancestors, perhaps by building a strong defense that could ward off any further Divine intervention in human affairs.  Now since our God does not change (Numbers 23:19; I Samuel 15:29; Malachi 3:6; James 1:17; Hebrews 13:8), and since the eternal governing principles of the universe which He established do not change (Psalm 119:44; II Kings 17:37; Matthew 5:18, 24:34-35; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33), He had to do something about this blatant rebellion.  There can only be one God, after all. 

The problem with sin is that it seeks to create many gods – in fact, as many as there are human beings on the earth.  That is at the heart of Satan’s insidious deception spoken to our mother Eve:  “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  (Genesis 3:5 NASB)  Tragically, the way our Creator dealt with the deception before the Flood was to destroy humanity.  I would surmise He had little choice in the matter since all of humanity apparently was united as a single people, most likely under satanic leadership (not unlike the world we are anticipating at the end of this age when Messiah returns).  To make sure He did not have to make a complete end of the human race this time around, the Lord God created nations and then scattered them across the earth.  If they were divided in language, they would soon be divided in every other imaginable way, and the resultant wars and rumors of wars would ensure that a united human empire would not arise to defy the Living God until the end of days.  In the meantime the Living God could go about the process of cultivating His redemptive work in human hearts while they remained in the nations.

Please click here to continue reading

Fox Byte 5775 #41: Pinchas (Phinehas)

פִּינְחָס

Declaration of Independence John Trumbull
Declaration of Independence
John Trumbull

One of the great depictions of American historical events is John Trumbull’s painting, Declaration of Independence, which hangs in the Rotunda of the United States Capitol.  The scene captures the moment on June 28, 1776, when the five men who drafted the Declaration present their work to the Continental Congress.  Of the 56 signers of the Declaration, 42 appear in Trumbull’s work, the others having died before he could obtain their images.  The painting also depicts five men who did not sign, including Robert Livingston of New York.  Livingston was one of the men who drafted the Declaration, but New York recalled him from the Congress before he could sign his work.  In Trumbull’s painting Livingston appears in the center of the drafting committee, with Roger Sherman of Connecticut on his right and Thomas Jefferson of Virginia on his left.  Americans may not remember the distinguished men from Connecticut and New York, but they do remember Jefferson and John Adams of Massachusetts, two future presidents.  Jefferson and Adams embraced different visions of how to govern the infant American Republic, and even though they became political rivals, they remained friends until their deaths on the same day, July 4, 1826. 

There is a legend that Jefferson paid Trumbull to paint his foot on top of Adams’, but it is only a legend.  The two men’s feet are close together in the picture, and as time and dirt wore away at the painting it came to appear that Jefferson’s foot was resting on Adams’.  That is not the only oddity in Trumbull’s work.  Like many works of art it is not entirely accurate, but is effective in capturing the spirit of the moment and of the age.  So also is 1776, a musical play which humorously explores the events during that fateful summer of American independence.  Howard DaSilva dominates the film version with his portrayal of Dr. Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania.  If we are to believe the movie, independence was Adams’ idea, and the declaration was expressed in Jefferson’s words, but it was Franklin who brought it into being with his wisdom, wit, and ability to achieve consensus.  1776 embellishes the story with fictional dialogue, but it captures a number of famous quotes by the Founding Fathers, including Franklin’s immortal words:  “If we do not hang together, we shall most assuredly hang separately!”

Dr. Franklin spoke a warning to a people facing the threat of political extinction before they could become a nation.  Long before Franklin uttered his warning, Yeshua of Nazareth spoke the same truth to the people He had come to redeem from the threat of extinction by the enemy of their souls:

And knowing their thoughts Jesus said to them, “Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself will not stand.  (Matthew 12:25 NASB; see also Mark 9:38-40; Luke 9:49-50, 11:16-23)

Please click here to continue reading

Fox Byte 5775 #39: Chukat (Decree Of)

חֻקַּת

Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) instructs Daniel (Ralph Macchio) in the art of karate in the 1984 movie, The Karate Kid.  (Photo from a review by Roger Ebert, January 1, 1984)
Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) instructs Daniel (Ralph Macchio) in the art of karate in the 1984 movie, The Karate Kid. (Photo from a review by Roger Ebert, January 1, 1984)

Is it possible to be a hero without paying a price?  A hero is one who does something worthy of esteem on behalf of someone else, and that requires sacrifice.  Sometimes it requires the sacrifice of a life, and sometimes merely the sacrifice of time and attention.  Sometimes heroes save nations, and sometimes they save little children from tears of embarrassment, pain, or grief.  Every act of salvation, no matter how small, entails a sacrifice that someone offers willingly.  And that is what makes a hero.

We learn about heroes in The Karate Kid, a 1984 film starring Ralph Macchio as Daniel Larusso, a fatherless teenager very much in need of a hero.  Daniel suffers a vicious beating by boys from a local martial arts school.  He is saved by a humble janitor, Mr. Miyagi (played by Noriyuki “Pat” Morita), who drives off the attackers with a masterful display of karate skills.  Before long Mr. Miyagi agrees to teach karate to Daniel.  The instruction begins when Miyagi assigns Daniel a number of hard tasks.  First he must wash and wax Miyagi’s antique automobiles, using special hand motions to “wax on” and “wax off”.  Then he must sand the walkway around Miyagi’s house, paint the fence around the property, and finally paint the house itself.  Each task features a specific set of hand motions.  After days of arduous labor, Daniel complains that he has learned nothing about karate while working like a slave.  Miyagi responds by having Daniel perform the hand motions for each task.  He then throws punches and kicks at Daniel, demonstrating that “wax on, wax off”, “sand the floor”, “paint the fence”, and “paint the house” have trained the boy to defend against attacks from many angles.  As he blocks Miyagi’s attacks, Daniel realizes the truth:  his faithfulness in seemingly unconnected menial tasks has made him ready for further instruction and greater responsibility in the art of karate.

In time Daniel becomes competent at karate and confident in himself as Miyagi’s training transforms him from a self-absorbed braggart into a self-controlled warrior.  In the concluding scenes he enters a martial arts tournament where he faces the boys who first attacked him.  Each is a formidable opponent, yet while Daniel learned karate as a means of disciplining himself in service of others, they had learned it as a means to exalt themselves over the weak.  They do not realize that the humble attitude Miyagi cultivated in Daniel has made him stronger and better able to withstand pain and suffering.  Their combined efforts at wounding and weakening Daniel only help him discover deeper wells of strength which in the end bring him victory.

This is a life lesson few are willing to learn.  Either we walk humbly in the confidence of our King, or we get eaten by our adversary.  As the Apostle Peter says:

You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.  Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.  Be of sober spirit, be on the alert.  Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.  (I Peter 5:5-8 NASB)

Please click here to continue reading