What is the longest running and largest Bible study in human history? That is one way to describe the Torah reading cycle that Jews around the world have followed for many centuries. Every year, Jewish families and congregations read through the five books of Moses (Torah), along with selected portions from other books of the Hebrew scriptures (the Tanakh, or Old Testament).
There are many advantages to this way of studying the Bible, such as creating the identity of a “global Jewish congregation” that transcends national, doctrinal, cultural, and ethnic barriers. Any Jew from any country can enter a synagogue in any other country on any Shabbat and know what Torah portion they are studying. Imagine what that has done to preserve Jewish identity during the centuries of exile to every corner of the earth – and how it has strengthened the nations as the scattered Jewish people have returned to the Promised Land of Israel!
Why can’t Christians, Messianic, and Hebrew Roots believers do the same? Why not adopt the Jewish Torah reading cycle, and add to it all the Apostolic Writings (New Testament) and other portions of the Tanakh not included in the cycle? What would it do to our unity as followers of Messiah Yeshua, and to our shared spiritual heritage with our Jewish brethren?
That is the motivation behind this reading plan. Starting with the Torah and Haftarah annual cycle, this plan for the Hebrew year 5781 (2020-2021) incorporates readings from the rest of the Tanakh and Apostolic Writings into a daily plan that covers the entire Bible over the course of the year. If you are in search of an organized approach to the Word of God, maybe this can help. Whatever you do, please do get into the Word so that it can get into you!
Which is easier: the journey to a new home half a continent away, or the journey into a new dimension of one’s walk of faith? Marcus Bowman can address that from personal experience! He and his wife, Michelle, grew up in a close community in Indiana, but early in their marriage moved to Washington State to plunge into new opportunities. At the same time, they journeyed from their denominational heritage of the Old German Baptist Brethren into the Torah Awakening. Those simultaneous journeys brought them to the Administrative Council of B’ney Yosef North America, where Marcus now serves as BYNA’s Finance Director. In this three-part interview, he shares their story, as well as his vision for helping connect the people of Ephraim through commerce.
Along with Marcus, we have music from Solomon Lopez and Will Spires, and Barry Phillips and David Jones are back with a midrash they call, “Return and Quiet.”
Angus Wootten is a person I would very much have liked to meet. My interaction with his wife Batya has been very encouraging and uplifting over the past several years, but I never had the opportunity to connect with Angus. He has now departed this life to enter a well-earned rest. It’s time to honor to this brother who devoted his life to the calling of the Kingdom of our Lord. That is why I am glad to share the tribute my friend John Conrad has written about him.
Originally published by B’ney Yosef North America, July 7, 2020
I first met Angus Wootten along with his wife Batya when they visited our community in the Utah west desert in 1989. Batya had written a couple of books, The Olive Tree of Israel and In Search of Israel, which piqued my Dad’s interest. He invited them to our celebration of Pesach in 1989 and a long and wonderful friendship was born.
Angus attacked life with energy and gusto. He loved our home-grown Red Pontiac potatoes and instantly began to formulate plans for us to grow them and export them around the country. His zest for life infected everything he did. He served for many years in the US Armed Forces and retired as a lieutenant colonel.
While in the Armed Forces he served in Korea. While flying to Seoul for some R&R their plane suddenly developed engine trouble. Undaunted, Angus donned his parachute and jumped out of the plane. After a harrowing descent and a hazardous trip through the unfamiliar countryside, he finally made it to Seoul. There he found out his buddies had played a practical joke on him—there was nothing wrong with the plane and he was the only one who had jumped.
Angus and Batya are in many ways the father and mother of the Two House Movement. When Batya began to see the importance of Israel in Biblical prophecy she realized that Israel is composed of two houses with a common destiny but two separate paths to that destiny. Together with others they founded Messianic Israel Alliance which later became the Alliance of Redeemed Israel. Sadly they lost many friends over this revolutionary understanding and became the target of malicious rumors and slander. Neither ever returned the evil poured out upon them and they have remained faithful to this day.
Angus was known as the “Colonel” amongst his friends. He was not afraid to take a stand for the truth as he saw it. I remember one conference we had here in Utah where I wanted someone to speak but Angus disagreed because this man was holding services on both Sabbath and Sunday. He saw this as dangerous compromise and I saw it as being flexible. As the conference was being held in my home territory, I had the final word. The man came to the conference and gave a wonderful talk about his wife dying in Africa on the mission field. The indigenous people they had served yearned to have her buried in Africa but her family in America desired her remains to come home. Finally, they compromised by burying her heart in Africa and allowing her body to come home to America. It was an emotional, compelling sermon. Angus came up to me afterward and said “That is the best talk I have ever heard.”
With Angus’s passing, a giant tree has fallen in the Restoration Movement. But as Yeshua said, “unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.” None of us have any idea how many seeds Angus and Batya are responsible for scattering over the earth. But we know the harvest will be great.
The saga of the coming Kingdom animated Angus. He noted how Luke says in Acts 1 that the resurrected Messiah appeared “to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.” I can hear him thundering that we know what Yeshua must have been saying because the disciples’ last question was “Will you at this time restore the Kingdom to Israel?”
The colonel favored action over meditation. One of his famous messages concerns what he calls the “exit interview” with God. His greatest fear was that our legacy would be “butt prints in the sand.” We have lost a brother and warrior. Batya has lost her faithful companion and friend. But over in glory, the colonel is rounding up the troops and preparing to take the hill.
Angus passed away on Monday, July 6, at the age of 91. Please visit his memorial page at Osceola Memory Gardens.
When do God’s people turn to Him? While we desire to cling to Him at all times, it is in times of trouble that this desire becomes a compelling need – a need to cry out to Him for deliverance, to ask Him to show us where we have sinned and turned from His righteous ways, to seek His forgiveness, and to learn from Him how to correct those things that separate us from His heart, and divide us from one another.
The world is in a season of distress. How shall we get through this trying time?
Many around the world, both from the Christian and the Jewish sides of Israel’s covenant family, are sensing the need to cry out to the Lord God in this season. As a way to enter into this process, B’ney Yosef North America is observing the week of July 5-11, 2020, as a time of fasting and repentance for our sins of division, discord, injustice, and failure to walk together in love.
Why now? It is a lesson we have learned from our Jewish brethren at this time. July 9 is the 17th day of the Hebrew month of Tammuz, the Fast of the Fourth Month of Zechariah 8:19. This fast day begins a time known as the Dire Straits, a three week period ending on the 9th of Av, the Fast of the Fifth Month. This was the time the Babylonians breached the walls of Jerusalem and destroyed the Temple of God, removing His visible presence from His holy city, devastating the land He cares for, and dispersing His covenant people of Israel to the nations. Ever since then, Jews have fasted and mourned, not merely for themselves as a people, but for the nations of the earth, to whom Israel is a witness of the Most High God.
Our call for prayer and fasting in this week of 17 Tammuz is the beginning of a season of repentance from now until Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, on September 28, 2020. We are joining with other prayer initiatives throughout this season, and we invite you to do the same.
Do we truly want to see our Father’s Kingdom come and His will done on earth as it is in heaven? Then let us humble our hearts, bow our knees, and seek Him together.
Prayer and Repentance Initiatives
17 Tammuz Call for Prayer and Repentance, July 5-11, 2020. Call for all of God’s covenant people to enter into fasting and repentance at the beginning of the Dire Straits. B’ney Yosef North America (bneyyosefna.com).
Nations’ 9th of Av Virtual Solemn Assembly, July 29-30, 2020. Time of mourning and fasting in solidarity with our Jewish brothers and sisters on the Fast of the Fifth month. Nation’s 9th of Av (9-av.com).
40 Days of Repentance, August 19-September 28, 2020. Daily pause for prayer and reflection during the weeks leading up to Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement. B’ney Yosef North America (bneyyosefna.com).
10 Days of Prayer, September 19-28, 2020. A Global Upper Room calling on cities to stop for United Prayer and Worship with Repentance during the Days of Awe. 10 Days (10days.net).
The Return, September 26, 2020. National and Global Day of Prayer and Repentance on the National Mall, Washington, DC. The Return (www.thereturn.org).
The great thing about going to Winchester, Kentucky, is the opportunity to reconnect with good friends like Ken Rank. He asked me last week to record a conversation for United 2 Restore on the topic of “Teshuvah,” a Hebrew term often translated as repentance. It seems our Heavenly Father is calling people from all across the spectrum of His covenant body to enter into a season of prayer, repentance, and even fasting to seek reconciliation with Him and with each other. And why is that? Maybe because we need to do this to find the way through the global crises confronting us.