This is the first Shabbat (Sabbath) of a new Torah cycle. Each year, Jews and Messianic believers in Yeshua go through the Torah (the Books of Moses) and the Haftorah (selected passages from the other books of the Tanakh (Old Testament)) in weekly portions. The portion for this week is Beresheet, “In the Beginning”.
The world’s first truly global conflict, known in Europe as the Seven Years’ War and in America as the French and Indian War, was a disaster for France. By the war’s end in 1763, France had ceded the vast territories of Canada and Louisiana to England and Spain. And yet it was not a complete disaster; the Treaty of Paris which ended the war left France with its most prized possession: the Caribbean sugar island of Guadeloupe. Great Britain had won control over both Guadeloupe and Canada during the war, and in the peace negotiations the British deemed Canada more strategically valuable to their empire. But Guadeloupe had proven more valuable economically, producing more income for France than all the fur collected by trappers and traders in Canada, and all the sugar produced by Britain’s own island colonies. King Louis XV, therefore, was quite willing to trade a vast empire for this small island.
A similar transaction appears in Scripture, when the Lord explains what He is ready to do to redeem a people He deems more valuable than all the nations of the earth:
What keeps Jews and Christians from getting along? That is a primary question addressed on The Barking Fox. The view here is that we are two parts of the same people, the Kingdom of Israel. Jews are the basis of that Kingdom, the remnant of ancient Israel to whom God committed His oracles, and through whom He brought forth salvation through His Messiah, Yeshua (Jesus) of Nazareth. Christians are people of the nations (Gentiles) who, by the grace of God and their belief in Yeshua as Messiah, cease being Gentiles and join with Jews in the Commonwealth of Israel.
The Apostle Paul wrote much about this, particularly in Romans 9-11 and Ephesians 2. So did the ancient prophets of Israel. Ezekiel saw a vision of Two Sticks, the House of Judah (Jews) and the House of Ephraim (non-Jewish Israelites) coming together in the Messianic Age to be one people again. Hosea spoke of this in his words of judgment and restoration. John the Revelator even mentioned it when He saw the 144,000 saints of God from Israel’s Twelve Tribes sealed with the sign of God during the Tribulation.
“We have been robbed of a significant part of our godly heritage through a calendar that was intentionally removed from the biblical one.”
That is how Pastor Don Finto begins his excellent discourse published recently in Charisma Magazine on the purpose of the Biblical calendar and its applicability to all of God’s people – not just Jews, but Christians as well. This is a subject Messianic believers have understood for quite some time, but which the church as a whole is only now beginning to suspect. Finto continues:
“The early believers in Jesus were all Jewish. Not until Cornelius were the Gentiles received into the fellowship without converting to Judaism. But even these early Gentile followers observed the biblical feasts as a prophetic statement of their newly found faith in the Jewish Messiah who is also Redeemer of the nations. When Paul wrote to the predominantly Gentile believers of Corinth, he spoke of “Christ, our Passover lamb (who) has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival …” (1 Cor. 5:7-8). The biblical feasts had become the feasts of the Gentile believers as well.”
The world’s attention has at last focused on the genocide happening in Iraq. Tragically, this story is not new. What is new is that the Islamic State (IS) has undertaken the brutal, systematic eradication of every group that does not adhere to its barbaric and quite literal interpretation of Islam. The murder, rape, starvation, and enslavement of Iraq’s minorities who have refused to convert to Islam is now making headlines in the mainstream media. Hopefully all the world now knows about the Yezidis of Iraq who have suffered these brutalities, many thousands of whom are only now finding refuge after being trapped on the Sinjar Mountains.
Yet the Yezidis are not alone in this suffering. The Christians of Iraq have undergone severe persecution since 2003. The estimated Christian population of Iraq in the 1990s was 1.2 million; today it is perhaps 300,000. Many have fled to the Kurdish region of Iraq, where they have found refuge. Many others have fled the region altogether, finding new lives as refugees. The plight of Iraq’s Christians prompted Congressman Frank Wolf (R-VA) to speak out recently, saying on the floor of Congress, “Christianity as we know it in Iraq is being wiped out.” His remarks highlighted the atrocities of the Islamic State against Christians in Mosul, indicting the United States and the West for silence on this matter. Congressman Wolf called on the church to speak out on behalf of Christians who have been persecuted in the extreme, not only in Iraq, but in Egypt, Africa, and elsewhere that Islamic extremists have taken control. He could also have mentioned Syria, where the Christian population has been literally under siege since the civil war in that nation began in 2011.
Every one of us requires correction now and then. This timely word from fellow Hebrew Roots blogger K. Gallagher at Grace in Torah serves as a reminder not only to Messianic believers, but to all who have a testimony of Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ) about the basics of our faith. There is no substitute for the fruit of the Spirit, which is the only genuine evidence and measure of our walk with Messiah.
© Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog, 2014. 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.
Fruit of the Spirit
There is no mystery that the followers of the God of Israel and His Messiah are supposed to produce godly fruit. After all, that is how we are told we will know one another… by their fruit. But there is some controversy as to what that fruit will look like. Regardless of your view, if you follow the God of Israel, we can all agree to…
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Running with the Marines
Long-distance running has been one of my favorite activities. I am not too old to try a marathon one day, but so far I must remain content with completing several half marathons. My favorite race is the Marine Corps Historic Half in Fredericksburg, Virginia. It truly is a community event. The race starts at the exposition center high up on the ridge west of Fredericksburg, and for about eight miles runs gently downhill through the historic city and past Mary Washington University until it reaches the Rappahannock River. All along the way there are bands playing, choirs singing, school and church groups handing out water, a children’s drum chorus from a local school, and of course Marines everywhere. They mark the course, direct the runners, provide first aid when necessary, and cheer on everyone just by their presence. There is something very special about a Marine, and even in a long race like a half marathon the sight of that uniform brings encouragement and confidence. And the runners do need it, particularly as the miles add up. Once the course reaches Sophia St. next to the river, it runs level for about two and a half miles, and the cheering crowds begin to thin out. About the time the runners pass the VFW post, the only people there to offer encouragement are a couple of representatives from the Rappahannock Nation, beating drums to remind everyone that long ago all the land was theirs.
One of the most familiar Bible stories is that of Yeshua (Jesus) feeding the five thousand. This amazing and encouraging story is the only one of Messiah’s miracles recorded in all four gospels. Since all four gospel writers deemed this event significant, there must be some deeper meaning to it than is apparent in a casual reading. Yeshua demonstrated His compassion and ability to meet human needs, but He also taught His disciples a valuable lesson in faith and in doing the will of God. By satisfying the hunger of 5,000 men and the women and children with them, Yeshua brought the Kingdom of God into their midst in ways none of them had experienced before, and He did so in a demonstration of Holy Spirit power. What more could there be to the feeding of the five thousand than this? Much indeed. In this one miracle, Yeshua provided a sign of His Messiahship, a teaching on the seven thousand year plan of God, and a prophecy about the end of this age.
As expected, the debate between Jim Staley and Chris Rosebrough gave us two full hours of very lively and informative discussion on the question of whether Christians should keep the Sabbath. The link to the archived debate is now available from Passion for Truth Ministries here:
First of all, I compliment Jim Staley and Chris Rosebrough for their courage and candor throughout the debate. Both men prepared well and acquitted themselves as one would expect of brothers in Yeshua who disagree on a matter. The debate did get heated in points, reflecting the passion both men hold for the question of the Sabbath, but it never degenerated into a name-calling shouting match, such as we have become accustomed to seeing in political debates and cable news opinion pieces. That alone is reason to applaud the participants. As moderator, Joseph Farah had little to do but state the rules, keep the time, and wrap up the discussion at the end.
This is the third in a series comparing the words of Yeshua and Paul regarding the Law (Torah) of God.
The Very Jewish Paul
Was Paul hopelessly confused on the question of the Law of God? No, not at all. The confusion comes when we attempt to view him as a man who walked away from Judaism after he met Yeshua on the road to Damascus. That is not true. Paul remained an observant Jew until the end of his life, as we know from his own words:
But Paul said, “I am a Jew from Tarsus, in Cilicia, a citizen of no mean city; and I implore you, permit me to speak to the people.” (Acts 21:39 NKJV, emphasis added)
But when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Men and brethren, I am a Pharisee, the son of a Pharisee; concerning the hope and resurrection of the dead I am being judged!” (Acts 23:6 NKJV, emphasis added)
“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.” (Exodus 20:9-11 NKJV)
For 1700 years the official day of worship for the Christian world has been Sunday, not the seventh-day Sabbath (the day we call Saturday). Who made that change? Was it God or man? If it was God, where did He say so? If it was a human innovation, should we follow the traditions of man or the commandments of God?
These questions are at the heart of the Hebrew Roots movement. They are questions which Christians and the church in all its organized forms must confront. It is therefore timely that World Net Daily is sponsoring a debate on this issue on Saturday, May 10, 6 p.m. EDT. The debate, moderated by WND founder Joseph Farah, will feature Pastor Jim Staley of Passion for Truth Ministries and Pastor Chris Rosebrough of Passion for Truth Fellowship. For more details see the WND article here.
This should be a lively and instructive debate. I plan to watch, and I hope you will also!
Update: For a review of the debate and a link to view it on Youtube, see About that Great Sabbath Debate.