Tag Archive | Church

When Brothers Don’t Get Along

On December 4, 2015, the B’Ney Yosef Region 35 Conference convened at Camp Copass in Denton, Texas, for the purpose of bringing together people in the central part of the United States to seek YHVH’s direction about His Kingdom work at this time.  The initial concept was to continue in the spirit of the First B’Ney Yosef National Congress in the interest of building Ephraimite (Israelite) identity among believers in Messiah Yeshua.  The Holy Spirit quickly expanded that concept into a call for repentance within the Hebrew Roots/Two House movement and reconciliation with other parts of the body of Messiah, particularly with our Christian brethren.  That was the motivation for this address which opened the conference.

BFB151204 MNF-IThe best boss I ever had was the man under whose supervision I served the last time I was in Iraq.  He was also the most profane man I have ever met.  The name of Jesus Christ was for him but one weapon in a formidable arsenal of expletives.  Not a single day passed that some outrage did not fall from his lips, causing my ears to burn and my heart to wonder how long I would have to endure such offense.  And yet I continued in his service, not merely because I had no choice (both of us, after all, were soldiers assigned to serve together), but because God gave me grace to look beyond the offense to see and benefit from the substantial qualities he possessed.  Those qualities included an encyclopedic knowledge of intelligence functions and procedures based on decades of hard experience.  He possessed as well a dogged determination to persevere through all opposition and achieve success in whatever goal he or his superiors established.  That determination sprang from his undying loyalty to the United States of America, and to his belief in the ultimate good of our mission in Iraq.  Yet none of that would have mattered in the least had this man lacked the greatest quality of all:  he regarded every person as having intrinsic value, and as a potential ally in achieving the goals set before him.  He may have spoken roughly, and even in private moments vented his frustration and anger, but he never diminished the value of the human beings in his charge, nor of those under whom he served.

We had occasion to work with military and civilian officials from a number of services and agencies.  Whether they were Army like us, or Marines, Air Force, or Navy, they were all “great Americans” in my boss’s opinion – if for no other reason than because they had volunteered to wear the uniform and be deployed to a Middle Eastern war zone.  He could not call our British, Australian, and German colleagues “great Americans”, but he did hold them in high esteem – while at the same time recognizing that the highest priorities for each of them were the interests of their own nations, not those of the United States.  The true professionals among us, regardless of nationality, recognized this.  We knew that at times there would be questions we could not ask and answers we could not give, but whenever and wherever possible we helped one another.

That “great American” description did extend to the civilian intelligence professionals we encountered.  Those men and women represented nearly all of the 16 agencies of the U.S. Intelligence Community.  The ones you would expect were all there:  each of the agencies of the military services, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the National Security Agency (NSA), the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGIA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the State Department.  Our office dealt mostly with the CIA, whom my boss lovingly called, “Klingons”.  Like our foreign counterparts, they, and all the other intelligence agencies, had their own priorities which were not necessarily the same as ours in the Department of Defense.  Their vision of how to support the national interests of the United States sometimes clashed with ours, and the means and resources at their disposal often put them at an advantage over us.  We had much reason to distrust them, but we had even more reason to work with them – just as the Start Trek heroes found reason to cooperate with the Klingons to defeat their common enemies.

We laugh at the description of the CIA as Klingons, but long before I arrived in Iraq I understood exactly what my boss meant.  Early in my tenure in Washington, DC, I had occasion to work with the CIA on a joint project.  Most of the people with whom I worked were intelligence analysts, people not very different from myself.  They were well educated, often from privileged backgrounds, highly academic (a reflection of the CIA culture), and professionally courteous.  As part of our project we had to consult with a different type of CIA employee.  This person was not an analyst.  Intelligence analysts look at information from various sources and put it together in different ways to understand what it means.  They are the friendly face of the CIA.  There is another face, however, and it is not very friendly.  That face belongs to the operators, the men and women who go about the difficult business of collecting the information.  They are consummate professionals, very good at what they do, but they are not the kind of people you would want in your social circle.  Quite often the name by which they introduce themselves is not the name their parents gave them at birth.  In the course of their duties they will have to do some questionable things, and perhaps even some very unpleasant things, to acquire information their agency has commissioned them to gain.

This was the kind of person with whom we met in that office on the CIA campus in Langley, Virginia long ago.  He was an impressive man, and one whom I admired for his courage and devotion to his country.  I could tell without asking that he had suffered much personal loss in service to the nation, and that my own poor service paled in comparison to his.  Yet we could not be friends, and we would have difficulty working together as colleagues.  His world was one I could not enter, and my world was one he would not find comfortable.  Nevertheless, my work could not continue without him, and without me his work would have no meaning.  That is why I have never forgotten the man, although our paths have never crossed since that day.

BFB151204 US Intelligence CommunityWhat would happen if this vast intelligence community in the service of the United States of America ceased to function as designed?  What if the various individuals and organizations within it forgot that they were all Americans, and instead placed their own personal agendas, or the name and reputation of their own agencies and services, above the interests of the country?  That is not a rhetorical question; I can tell you what would happen.  I have seen it.  What happens is a fragmentation of the national intelligence establishment. 

For the most part that establishment consists of good, honest people trying to do the best they can with limited resources and time.  They have a tendency to focus exclusively on the work right in front of them, whether it is office administration, counterterrorism analysis, national technical means of information collection, the number of tanks in the Russian Far Eastern Military District, or poppy production in Afghanistan.  They forget that there is a wider world out there, and that their work is but one small piece in a very, very big puzzle.  It does not take much to convince them that their piece is the most important.  Once convinced, it is but a small step toward competing with others to gain a greater share of attention and resources.  Having entered that arena, it is nothing to begin pushing others aside in ever more aggressive ways, taking resources and people away from them so that one’s own piece of the puzzle grows in size and importance, and the competitors’ pieces shrink, or disappear altogether.  In time the picture that emerges is distorted at best, magnifying certain things to the extreme, diminishing others, and ignoring important bits that would otherwise tie together the seemingly contradictory reports from various sources.  That is the picture which goes before high level decision makers like the commanders of our forces in the Middle East, and even the President himself.  Is it any wonder, therefore, that we have national disasters such as the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001?

My lesson from this should be clear.  National defense is a team effort.  I know my part of the effort, and my job is to do it to the best of my ability.  I do not know most of the millions of others involved in the effort, nor do I understand what they do.  I could not do what most of them do, nor could most of them do what I do.  Very few of them could be considered my friends, and most of them would probably never want to associate with me anyway.  Nevertheless, we need each other:  every warrior, every clerk, every mechanic, every technician, every lawyer, every cook, every aviator, every logistician, every sanitation worker.  If we do not find a way to cooperate, then this living, breathing organism we call the National Defense Establishment will fail, and with its failure the United States of America fails.

Is this any different from the living, breathing organism known as the Body of Messiah?

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What is Torah Anyway?

Présentation de la Loi (Presentation of the Law), by Edouard Moyse (Musée d'art et d'histoire du Judaïsme via Wikimedia Commons)

Présentation de la Loi (Presentation of the Law), by Edouard Moyse (Musée d’art et d’histoire du Judaïsme via Wikimedia Commons)

Let us think about language for a moment.  There are many people around the world who consider themselves followers of Jesus Christ, but who prefer to call Him by His Hebrew name, Yeshua, and by His Hebrew title, Messiah (Moshiach, the Hebrew term for Christ).  These people may be classified as Messianic Jews if they are Jewish, but most of them are not.  They are non-Jews, people whom others would call Gentiles, but who resist that term because they understand that their faith in Messiah Yeshua takes them out of the category of “Gentile” (meaning “of the nations”) and into the category of “Hebrew” (עִבְרִי, Strongs H5680).  The term “Hebrew” derives from the father of our faith, Abraham the Hebrew (Genesis 14:13), the man who answered YHVH’s call to cross over the Euphrates River and leave his homeland in Mesopotamia to inherit the Promised Land of Canaan (Genesis 12:1-9).  According to the Apostle Paul, everyone who acquires new life offered by the grace of YHVH through faith in Messiah Yeshua similarly crosses over from death to life and inherits the identity of a son or daughter of Abraham (Ephesians 2:1-21; Galatians 3:1-29).  For that reason, these non-Jewish Yeshua followers are rightly called “Hebrews”, or “Hebrew Roots believers”.  They are also entitled to the identity of “Israelites”, because Israel is the name of the nation YHVH established through Abraham’s descendants.

We would not call these people Christians in the traditional sense because they have left behind many of the characteristics of Christianity.  Make no mistake, they have not walked away from Jesus Christ as the author and finisher of their faith, nor have they walked away from the New Testament as Scripture delivered by Holy God to humanity through His designated messengers.  They merely prefer to call Jesus Yeshua, and to refer to the New Testament as the Apostolic Writings, or by the Hebrew term Brit Chadashah (New Covenant).  For that reason it is incorrect to classify these persons as Jews.  For one thing, they are not born Jewish and do not claim any physical descent from Jewish ancestors.  For another, they have no desire to convert to Judaism, which really would require leaving Jesus behind.  They see themselves as part of the nation, commonwealth, and kingdom of Israel along with Jews and Christians.  This commonwealth exists because of three things:

  1. Our mutual faith in YHVH, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob;
  2. Our adherence to the same body of Scripture (well, everything from Genesis to Malachi at least);
  3. Our hope in the same Messiah (even though some do not yet recognize who that Messiah is, and others do not fully understand what Messiah is to do).

Having now defined who we Hebrew Roots believers are, let us consider something of what we believe.  Or, more accurately, what we do not believe.  This is something that requires considerably more attention than this blog post can provide.  The immediate motivation is a post written by my friend Pete Rambo which he titled, “How To:  Building Bridges with the House of Judah”.  Pete has much to say about the issue of language, noting how the use of certain terms can create offense and division simply because they mean different things to different people.  As usual, Pete invited discussion from his readers.  Here is my contribution:

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In Search of Kingdom Unity

HN News

A Hebrew Nation News Special Report by Al McCarn

Two Sticks 01What would happen if all the people who claim to have pledged allegiance to Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ) actually cooperated with one another?  The operative word is “cooperate”, not “agree”.  Total agreement has never been possible, even among the prophets and apostles of old (Numbers 12:1-16, Mark 9:38-40, Acts 15: 36-41, Philippians 1:12-18).

Nevertheless, there should be a unifying factor of some kind among godly people to distinguish them from the rest of the world and ensure they get on with YHVH’s business rather than their own.

Pictured above: Mike Clayton (house of Joseph/Ephraim) and Hanoch Young (house of Judah) as two living sticks in process of becoming one in the spirit of Ezekiel 37: 19: ‘Thus says Yahweh our Elohim: “Surely I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel, his companions; and I will join them with it, with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they will be one in My hand.”

Pictured above:  Mike Clayton (house of Joseph/Ephraim) and Hanoch Young (house of Judah) as two living sticks in process of becoming one in the spirit of Ezekiel 37: 19:  ‘Thus says Yahweh our Elohim:  “Surely I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel, his companions; and I will join them with it, with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they will be one in My hand.”

Finding that unifying factor is the purpose of the B’Ney Yosef (Sons of Joseph) Region 35 Conference.  The conference will take place December 4, 5, and 6, 2015 at the Tally Retreat Center on Camp Copass in Denton, Texas

The conference grew from an idea discussed at a Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) celebration on the Red River near Wichita Falls, Texas, early in October.  Some of the participants at the feast had been delegates at the First B’Ney Yosef National Congress in Ariel, Israel, late in May 2015.

The Congress served as the launching point for a concerted effort to follow YHVH’s lead in the long-anticipated restoration of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, the Ten Tribes of the House of Joseph (House of Ephraim).  In discussing what could be done to advance the work of the Congress, particularly in view of recent initiatives by the State of Israel and by Jewish organizations to identify non-Jewish groups that have an affinity with Israel.

For a comprehensive discussion of these initiatives, see two recent posts on Pete Rambo’s blog, natsab:
Pete Rambo blog post #1, JPost  Bney Yosef Advertisement
Pete Rambo blog post #2, Yosef is Alive!

Tally Retreat Center

Tally Retreat Center

That discussion developed into a plan to hold a the conference in Denton, not far from Dallas, to bring together Hebrew Roots believers in Texas and Oklahoma in the interest of sharing the vision of the B’Ney Yosef Congress and organizing for a B’Ney Yosef North American Summit planned for the first weekend of March 2016 in Orlando, Florida.

It did not take long for this idea to grow as the Holy Spirit provided further direction.  Before leaving the Sukkot celebration, organizers Larry Ferguson, Al McCarn, and Akpene Torku realized the need to include like-minded brethren from the central part of the United States, meaning the region around the Interstate 35 Corridor.

That was the genesis of B’Ney Yosef Region 35.  It is not yet an organization, but a concept embracing the states of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, Louisiana, Arkansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and North Dakota.  An invitation letter sent out in mid-October produced sufficient response to beginning conference preparation.  Now, just a month after the initial idea was proposed, the Region 35 conference is already on its way to reaching the maximum registration of 300 participants.

As the conference concept took shape, it became clear that this was to be more than merely a Hebrew Roots/Two House event. To reflect the Holy Spirit’s direction, it has developed into a forum at which all who love Israel are welcome, not only from among Torah-keeping Hebrew Roots believers, but also Christians and Messianic Jews.  The unifying theme is that all who have a testimony of following Yeshua are part of the Commonwealth of Israel and the seed of Abraham.

Pictured above: Mike Clayton (house of Joseph/Ephraim) and Hanoch Young (house of Judah), two living sticks in process of becoming one.

Pictured above:  Mike Clayton (house of Joseph/Ephraim) and Hanoch Young (house of Judah), two living sticks in process of becoming one.

According to the testimony of Scripture (Isaiah 56:1-7; Ezekiel 37:1-28; Romans 11:11-32; Ephesians 2:11-22), these believers share with Jews an Israelite identity that distinguishes them from the rest of the nations (gentiles), regardless of their ethnic or national identity of birth.  This identity is firmly grounded in the covenantal promises of YHVH to our fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and to the work of Messiah Yeshua in opening the way for the lost sheep of the House of Israel to return (Genesis 12:1-3, 15:1-6, 26:1-5, 28:13-15; Matthew 15:24).

Sadly, this identity question is something that eludes many believers. Moreover, the different terms used by Messianic, Hebrew Roots, and Christian believers amplifies misunderstanding, leading to further division. These are the things the Region 35 Conference is designed to address.

Speakers confirmed thus far include:
Pastor James Sterling of Christ’s Community Fellowship in Wichita Falls, Texas
David Altman of the Alliance of Redeemed Israel; and
Al McCarn, co-host of The Remnant Road on Hebrew Nation Radio and author of The Barking Fox blog

A centerpiece of the conference will be a panel discussion on Shabbat (Saturday) focused on the question of how Christian, Hebrew Roots, and Messianic Jewish believers can work together as members of the Body of Messiah.  At the heart of the event is a desire to seek the will of the Father regarding His Kingdom purposes.  For that reason there will be emphasis on prayer and repentance, as well as praise and worship, from the start on Friday evening.

Registration DeadlineRegistration is still open for all who sense a leading to participate.  Ministry partners are also encouraged to register to set up displays of the resources they can provide in the process of educating the Body of Messiah to their identity, and supporting our Jewish brethren and the State of Israel.

To find out more and to register, please visit the B’Ney Yosef Region 35 Conference (http://bneyosef35.com/2015conference/) webpage or email the Region 35 team at bneyosef35@gmail.com.

BFB151113 Two Sticks in HandThis article was originally published as a Hebrew Nation News Alert, November 12, 2015.


© 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.

Reverse Replacement Theology?

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these thing shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:33 KJV)

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these thing shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:33 KJV)

One of those songs I recall singing in church as a youth begins like this:

Seek ye first the kingdom of God

And His righteousness;

And all these things shall be added unto you,

Hallelu, Hallelujah!

(“Seek ye first”, by Karen Lafferty, 1971)

It is a good song taken directly from Scripture.  This particular chorus is from Matthew 6:33, as rendered in the King James:

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these thing shall be added unto you.  (Matthew 6:33 KJV)

Like so many things in my Christian upbringing, I do not recall a succinct explanation of this instruction by Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ).  Perhaps it was assumed that we would absorb the meaning in our Sunday School classes or in our own study of the Bible.  Even the Biblical instruction I received in my Christian school never included a full disclosure of what the Kingdom of God is, or a definition of righteousness.  This is not to say that my Christian upbringing was without value; I owe an incalculable debt of gratitude to the teachers, pastors, and counselors who labored lovingly to help me become a disciple of Jesus and to impart their love of the Word of God and the God of the Word.  However, there were some holes in my education, particularly regarding the specifics of certain key terms in my Christian vocabulary.

Righteousness was one of those terms.  Simply put, it is being right according to YHVH’s standards.  Moses provides the details in the Torah.  The rest of the Bible elaborates on that foundation, providing examples of how God’s people succeeded or failed in meeting those standards.  When we get to the Apostolic Writings (New Testament), we see those standards demonstrated by the example of Yeshua, and then we find commentary by the Apostles.  Consequently, even though I cannot recall anyone giving me a definition of righteousness when I was young, it was easy enough to figure out what Yeshua meant when He commanded us to seek it.

But then there is that problematic term, “Kingdom of God”.  What exactly is that?  The Bible tells me about the Kingdom of Israel and about the Kingdom of Heaven, but in my church upbringing it seldom occurred to me that the two might be the same.  And in fact they are the same.  Much Christian teaching has attempted to separate the two, but doing so leaves the Kingdom of God as nothing more than a nebulous, over-spiritualized concept.  The Kingdom of Israel, on the other hand, is a concrete, definable, knowable entity, and all the people of God are part of it.  It matters not whether they are Jewish or of Gentile background.  The terms of the New (or Renewed) Covenant tell us that YHVH has executed this agreement only with the people of Israel and Judah (see Jeremiah 31:31-34 and Hebrews 8:8-11).  Isaiah 56:4-8 explains that foreigners will join themselves to the Lord and come into His Temple, the house of prayer for all nations.  Paul tells us how this will happen, explaining in Romans 11 how non-Jews are “grafted into” the olive tree of Israel along with Jews, and in Ephesians 2 how faith in Messiah Yeshua makes these former Gentiles part of the Commonwealth of Israel.  As if there were any doubt, John records the proclamation of the angel at the end of this age that the kingdom of the world has become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ (Revelation 11:15).  With that kind of Scriptural foundation, no wonder the ancient carol proclaims, “Born is the King of Israel!”

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Fox Byte 5775 #48: Shoftim (Judges)

שֹׁפְטִים

The Senate as a Court of Impeachment for the Trial of Andrew Johnson, by Theodore R. Davis. Illustration in Harper's Weekly, April 11, 1868.

“The Senate as a Court of Impeachment for the Trial of Andrew Johnson”, by Theodore R. Davis. Illustration in Harper’s Weekly, April 11, 1868.

What does it take to remove a head of state?  This question concerns situations in which a nation finds cause to remove a leader before the established time.  A survey of history informs us that such circumstances usually involve war and upheaval.  The incumbent, whether a king or a prime minister, is not inclined to surrender power, and therefore must be compelled to give it up, often on pain of death.  In consideration of this state of human affairs, the Founding Fathers of the United States established a procedure by which presidents might be impeached, or removed from office.  The product of their deliberations appears in Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution:

The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

And that is all they have to say on the matter – which is why jurists for nearly 230 years have debated exactly what they meant.

The Founders certainly understood the seriousness of the question.  They had just gone through a lengthy and painful process of removing King George III as head of state over the American colonies by the extreme measure of extricating the colonies from the king’s domain and establishing a separate sovereign nation.  Their attempts at less drastic measures had not sufficed, leaving them no option but the usual method of war and upheaval.  That is why they sought to limit the power of the president, providing a method of removal by legislative and judicial means.  The grounds for removal would have to be well established, which is why the Constitution specifies the obvious transgressions of treason and bribery.  But what exactly are “high crimes and misdemeanors”?  This is where it gets interesting, and frustrating to those who desire to remove an incompetent, unpopular, or abusive president.

The Founders sought not only to prevent abuse of power in the Office of the President, but also to protect the dignity of the office and ensure continuity of government.  Succeeding generations have understood this, which is why only three presidents have been the subject of impeachment proceedings.  President Richard Nixon resigned before Congress could vote on articles of impeachment for his abuse of power.  Had he not done so, it is likely he would have been the only president ever removed from office.  Congress did impeach Presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton on charges stemming from their obstruction of Congress and abuse of power, but acquitted both men – not because the charges were unfounded, but because of the political motivations behind the impeachment proceedings.  Under such circumstances, their removal would have brought immense harm to the Office of the President and its foundation in the organic law of the United States.

One might wish that the Founding Fathers had been more specific in the standards they expected of people holding high office.  Then again, how much more specific did they need to be in a Christian culture based on the rule of law derived from the Bible?  Their understanding of God’s requirements for public leaders shaped their creation of the Government of the United States, leading them to do as YHVH did:  provide just enough detail to establish wise government under the principles of justice and mercy.

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Fox Byte 5775 #47: Re’eh (See)

רְאֵה

Farmer Maggot and his dogs. (Source: Deviant Art, ©2010-2015 ringbearer80)

Farmer Maggot and his dogs. (Source: Deviant Art, ©2010-2015 ringbearer80)

It is understandable why Peter Jackson had to take considerable license with The Lord of the Rings when he brought J.R.R. Tolkien’s mammoth work to the screen, and yet his choices inevitably brought disappointment to Tolkien aficionados.  Why, for example, did Jackson choose to minimize the presence of Farmer Maggot?  Tolkienists take issue with the fact that his role in The Fellowship of the Ring was diminished to the point of insignificance.  In the book, Farmer Maggot saved Frodo and his companions as they fled the Shire, giving them provision and helping them elude Sauron’s dreaded Black Riders.  It was unexpected help, for Frodo had considered Farmer Maggot an enemy.  As a child Frodo had taken a liking to Maggot’s mushrooms, and on more than one occasion absconded with portions of the good farmer’s crop.  Such youthful mischief roused Maggot’s anger, compelling him to chase Frodo from his land and threaten him with his very large dogs should he ever return.  And so it was that Frodo grew up fearing Farmer Maggot, never knowing that beneath his fierce anger lay a loyal, generous, and hospitable heart.  Thanks to the mediation of his companion Pippin, and to the dire need of the moment, Frodo at last gained opportunity to get to know the real Farmer Maggot.  He explained as much as they prepared to leave Maggot’s home:

Thank you very much indeed for your kindness!  I’ve been in terror of you and your dogs for over thirty years, Farmer Maggot, though you may laugh to hear it.  It’s a pity:  for I’ve missed a good friend.

Frodo’s words present us with an all-too-familiar and all-too-tragic reality.  How often have individuals, families, and nations remained at odds over ancient offenses, the causes of which are long forgotten?  How much suffering has multiplied on the earth because natural allies regard each other as enemies, or at least minimize their contact with each other out of mistrust and misbegotten fear?  And how much greater is that tragedy if the people who regard each other in this way are the two parts of YHVH’s people?  In truth, Moses and Yeshua have no contradictions or arguments, but their followers think they do, and for that reason Jews and Christians have separated themselves from one another for twenty centuries.

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Revelation 8-11 as a New Exodus

Could it really be true that God intends to snatch His people out of this earth just before the whole thing blows up, or is that just wishful thinking?  This is something Don Merritt addresses in his recent post, “Revelation 8-11 as a New Exodus”.  Don’s blog, The Life Project:  Finding Clear and Simple Faith, is a straightforward examination of what Scripture says about how the disciples of Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ) should live.  His approach is Christian rather than Hebrew Roots or Messianic, so there are some points where we do not exactly agree.  Even so, I have found his commentary insightful and instructive.

In the midst of this very busy summer the best I have been able to do is file away the email notifications of Don’s posts on Revelation in hope that I will be able to read the entire series.  The notice of this particular post, however, got my attention immediately, and I had to read it immediately.  I was not disappointed.  This is the first time I can recall seeing a Christian commentator make the connection between the First Exodus and the coming Second Exodus that will restore all of YHVH’s people to the land He promised to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – both the natural descendants and those who are “grafted in” to the nation of Israel through faith in Messiah and His redemptive work.  Don’s post is a starting point for further investigation.  After you read it, check out “True Confessions of a Former Premillennialist”, another Life Project post in which Don explains the spiritual journey that brought him to his current understanding of the end of this present age.


BFB150728 The Life Project - Revelation 8-11

Revelation 8-11 as a New Exodus

Don Merritt

Posted on The Life Project, July 23, 2015

I mentioned earlier that there is a parallel structure between the story of the Exodus and John’s vision in Revelation 8-11 that might help us to understand this section better or more easily. To show you what I mean I have set out the parallel below. Take a look, and let’s see what you think…

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Fox Byte 5775 #42-43: Mattot (Tribes); Massei (Stages)

מַּטּוֹת / מַסְעֵי

The Princes in the Tower. John Everett Millais, depicts the young King Edward V of England and his brother, Richard, Duke of York, two royal sons allegedly murdered by order of their uncle, King Richard III, who sought to deprive them of their rightful inheritance and claim the throne of England for himself.

The Princes in the Tower. by John Everett Millais, depicts the young King Edward V of England and his brother, Richard, Duke of York, two royal sons allegedly murdered by order of their uncle, King Richard III, who sought to deprive them of their rightful inheritance and claim the throne of England for himself.

William Shakespeare has such as way with murder.  With so many characters meeting violent death in his plays it would seem that he regarded murder as an essential part of good drama.  Richard III is an excellent example.  When my daughter studied the play in school, she and her fellow students kept a “body count” of the many characters who died over the course of Richard’s rise to power.  Shakespeare’s preoccupation with murder may have been the product of the violent world in which he lived, and indeed England in the 16th century was a violent place, yet we need only look at the headlines of events in our own cities to realize that our world is no less violent than Shakespeare’s.  If the Bard had no qualms about employing murder as a plot device, it was because his art imitated life.  Richard III was a historical play based on events that shook the British Isles just one hundred years earlier.  The play’s popularity derived in part from the horrendous nature of Richard’s quest for power, extending even to allegations that in 1483 he ordered the deaths of his two nephews, the 12-year-old King Edward V and his younger brother Richard, Duke of York.  Their uncles’ guilt has never been proven, but it is plausible that he removed them so they would not stand in the way of his quest to seize the throne of their father, the late Edward IV.

Richard III is not the only Shakespearian villain to usurp a throne and seize the inheritance of a rightful heir.  Two others that come to mind are MacBeth of Scotland and Claudius of Denmark.  Although not historical plays, MacBeth and Hamlet have roots in actual events.  The central action of MacBeth occurs when the warrior of that name murders King Duncan of Scotland.  Duncan’s sons, fearing they will be blamed for the murder, flee the country, allowing Macbeth to take the throne.  In Hamlet, we do not see the murder of Denmark’s king; when the play opens his brother Claudius has already seized the throne by killing him and marrying his queen.  The plot follows Prince Hamlet as he learns the truth of his father’s death and his uncle’s guilt. 

As was necessary for Richard III, MacBeth and Claudius must deal with the heirs to the murdered kings.  MacBeth prepares to defend Scotland against the exiled princes Malcolm and Donalbain, and Claudius concocts a plot to have Hamlet killed in a duel by an opponent wielding a poisoned blade.  In the end all three villains meet violent deaths.  Richard and MacBeth fall in battle as their own countrymen rise in revolt against them, and Claudius is slain by Hamlet himself just before the young prince dies.

Shakespeare’s works have remained popular for over 400 years because they really do imitate life, even to a disturbing degree.  In these plays we see that an inheritance is not secure even if there are sons ready to claim their fathers’ legacy.  What worse things might the villains have done had there been no sons and heirs?  Who would ensure that the bereaved family retained their place in the nation?  That very question prompted the tribe of Manasseh to ask Moses for guarantees not only for their brethren who had no sons, but for the entire tribe’s legacy in the Promised Land.

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Church as we know it is over…

San Fernando Cathedral in San Antonio, Texas, is the oldest cathedral in the United States.  It is a fitting symbol of institutional Christianity in America, which is being shaken to its foundations by the radical changes sweeping America.

San Fernando Cathedral in San Antonio, Texas, the oldest cathedral in the United States, is a symbol of institutional Christianity in America, which is being shaken to its foundations by the radical changes sweeping America.

Once again Pete Rambo has raised some interesting questions and opened the way for serious discussion on what the people of God should be doing in these very strange times.  His post, “Church as we know it is over. . .”, is a follow-up to “…the land thou abhorrest shall be forsaken…”, which The Barking Fox reposted last week.  The catalyst, of course, is the June 26 announcement of the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell vs. Hodges which made same-sex marriage the law of the land.  This is but the latest, and perhaps greatest, in a series of developments considered disturbing by those who hold to the Bible as the standard of conduct for humanity.  Consequently, Americans of faith are asking serious questions about what to do now, with an expectation of increasing persecution of those who cannot compromise on God’s established order.

One of the first comments on this in a national forum comes from Rod Dreher, whose article, “Orthodox Christians Must Now Learn to Live as Exiles in Our Own Country”, appeared on Time.com on the day the Supreme Court’s decision was announced.  Another is Kevin DeYoung, who wrote “40 Questions for Christians Now Waving Rainbow Flags”, published July 1 on The Gospel Coalition.  Still another is from Michael Payne, a good friend and fellow blogger who has posted several bold observations on the spiritual state of our nation and the church at his new blog, A Call to Order.  And yet another is from Rabbi Jonathan Cahn.  On July 5, Leo Hohmann of World Net Daily reviewed Cahn’s Independence Day address at Messiah College in Pennsylvania in which he declared that the end of Christian America is here.  These commentaries address the condition of the American church, and all point out to some extent that this building crisis of faith is largely a result of God’s people failing to live like God’s people. 

One might consider this commentary an indictment of Christianity, particularly American Christianity.  In part it is, but there is much more to it than that.  Everyone who claims to be a follower of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob shares the blame.  All of us have fallen down on the job, whether we identify ourselves as Christian, Jewish, Messianic, Hebrew Roots/Ephraimite, or any other tradition claiming to uphold the standards of righteousness established by YHVH.  Mostly the problem comes from our stated willingness to defend and even die for a Bible which we do not bother to read.  If we would do as our God commanded, and as Yeshua reminded us, we would make His commandments the focus of our daily lives and ensure our families live by them (Deuteronomy 6:4-9; Matthew 22:34-40; Mark 12:28-34; Luke 10:25-28).  That, however, is a very hard thing.  It requires effort to read, study, internalize, and live out the principles of Scripture, and for that reason we have tended to out-source this aspect of human existence to spiritual professionals – rabbis, priests, and ministers whose job is to study the Bible and tell people what it says.  The result is what we see today:  an increasingly irrelevant professional clergy, and an increasingly worldly people of God.  Clearly we cannot continue this way, which is why Pete ponders whether church as we know it is over.


Church as we know it is over….

Pete Rambo

Posted on natsab, July 5, 2015

“Church as we know it is over.  And, maybe for the best…. “

In a recent post, I wrote the above quote as part of my thoughts concerning the recent Supreme Court ruling.  I have been pondering a number of aspects and this weekend, one of them came into sharp focus.

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Shooting Ourselves in the Foot….

BFB150617 Shot in FootBy one of those Holy Spirit coincidences, in a recent blog post my good friend Pete Rambo addressed a topic I have wanted to cover.  His post, ”Shooting Ourselves in the Foot”, is a call for God’s people to start acting according to the principles we say we believe.  In other words, instead of trying to convince one another who is right and breaking off fellowship when we can’t, let us humble ourselves before one another so YHVH can do what He wants to do among and through all of us.  This is sound advice to everyone who professes to follow the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, regardless of our particular Jewish, Christian, Messianic, or Hebrew Roots alignment.  The only one who benefits from division is the enemy, which is why we should consider finding common ground so we can move forward in the expectation that the Lord will bring correction at the time of His choosing.

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)


"Say NOTHING!!"

Shooting Ourselves in the Foot. . .

Pete Rambo

Posted on natsab, June 12, 2015

 

Perhaps the very warmest memory I have of our recent trip to Israel was the incredible peace and unity at the First B’ney Yosef Congress.  I really do not remember a single theological debate or discussion.  Surely, between 135 people, Jew and non-Jew, representing 12 different nations from all over the planet, there had to have been some theological differences, but I saw zero manifestation of disagreement.  Our focus was how to be used of Abba to begin taking steps to bring the Kingdom back together.

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