An Havdallah Experience, by Angus and Batya Wootten

via An Havdallah Experience – B’ney Yosef North America 

[Editor’s note: Did you ever consider the connection between mercy and sacrifice? Messiah Yeshua did, as we know from this exchange with the spiritual leaders of His day:

When the Pharisees saw this, they said to His disciples, “Why does this Teacher of yours eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when He heard this, Yeshua said, “Those who are healthy have no need for a doctor, but those who are sick do. Now go and learn what this means: ‘Mercy I desire, and not sacrifice.’ For I didn’t come to call the righteous, but the sinful.” (Matthew 9:11-13 TLV)

This is an interesting and complex contrast between two very different concepts. When Angus and Batya Wootten wrote this article in 1995, they provided a piercing observation about that contrast, saying, “those who concentrate on ‘sacrifice’ are looking to ‘the letter of the Law.’ . . . However, the man who makes ‘mercy’ his focus, that man is directing himself – and others – toward ‘life.” They came to that beautiful conclusion through a series of encounters with Jewish families in Jerusalem. That is the background of the wise counsel they present here.]


An Havdallah Experience
By Angus and Batya Wootten – July 1995
We want to share an experience with you. It took place in Jerusalem years ago, and it changed our lives. It is a story about Believers, a Jewish family, a Jewish tradition, and a hope.It begins as we are on our way to Israel, to finalize plans for an upcoming House of David tour to the Land. We had been to Israel several times, taking small groups that joined with other tour groups, but now we wanted to host our own tour. And so there we were, flying on El Al Airlines, going back to our “homeland.”

Batya: “Father, I ask that You please lead and guide us on this trip,” I was praying silently. “With all my heart I want You to do a work in and through us. And while we have a lot of ideas about our tour itinerary, we have no set plan for this ‘planning’ visit. . . . ”

The prayer in my heart trailed off. I felt a little anxious, a little foolish. We had no real itinerary, we were just going to Israel, our primary purpose being, so we thought, to work out a tour that would be “different.” So I went back to my prayer, to almost pleading, “Please Father, I really want You to do a work in us. I really want You to guide us. . . . ”

I had plenty of time to get lost in my quiet time with the Father because Angus, who was sitting next to me, was totally engrossed in conversation with the man seated next to him. And so I sat there praying, and rejoicing in the fact that we were having the opportunity to return to Israel.

After a bit, Angus introduced the man to me, “Sweetheart, this is Uzi Wexler,” he said, “He lives in Jerusalem.”

“Hi,” Uzi said, “Let me be the first to officially welcome you to Jerusalem.”

“Thank you,” I replied. I also commented on his exquisite gold lapel pin, a lion poised on hind feet, as if taking a stand, ready to defend if necessary. My comment about his “lion” led him to explain that it was an “official logo” and that he was the Treasurer of the City of Jerusalem.

“Well, Angus certainly got an interesting seat mate,” I thought. However, it was hard for me to enter into their conversation because of the noise on the plane, and so l just tried to keep my excitement at getting closer to Israel at a reasonable level, and watched the Orthodox men as they gathered together on the eastern side of the plane to pray.

When we arrived at the Ben Gurion Airport, Uzi invited Angus and me to join his family in a few days, in what he called, their “little family Havdallah celebration.” We readily accepted the invitation.

Uzi also said he Wanted to help us to see a bit of Israel, so he arranged for us to join a brief tour that was being hosted by none other than the Israeli Minister of Tourism.

So it is that the next day we joined a private group of very wealthy Jewish people who were helping to fund the State, and, among other things, were being given a private showing of some new excavations in Jerusalem, such as the Tower of David. They also were meeting with the current Prime Minister, Yitzhak Shamir.

“Wow! Talk about getting a Tour Guide.” I said to Angus after we left the group. “This sure is the way to see the City!”

The short tour had had been both inspiring and lots of fun with nice people. “And,” I thought, poster tube in hand, “The Tourism Minister gave each of us some decorative posters as mementos.”

The next day, Uzi arranged for us to meet one of the leading artists in Israel, Yossi Stern, a man who had been painting pictures in Jerusalem for more than a quarter of a century. As Yossi said, he painted portraits of the Prophets, and of “The people of the Book.”

“I cannot escape a constant recognition of the great heritage of this place and our people. It cries out from every corner of this City of David and the Prophets,” he told us.

Angus Wootten as “Gabriel,” by Yossi Stern.

Yossi really liked Angus, joking that he looked like one of the Prophets, or like a great Angel that had come to make an announcement from on high. Jokingly, he nicknamed Angus “Gabriel.” In addition, Yossi also painted as he said, “With the people of Israel.” Meaning, at his art shows he would have an individual unknowingly scribble on a piece of paper, then he would amaze them as he turned their scribbling into a caricature of the individual. And, he graciously did caricatures of both of us, after he told us to, “Just scribble something on a piece of paper.”

That day, Yossi also blessed us with complimentary autographed gift copies of books of his artwork, some black and white prints, and that night he even had an employee hand deliver autographed prints of two of his pictures of Jerusalem, with a little note to “Gabriel and Mrs. Gabriel.” Since we had shared briefly with him about the “two houses of Israel” and about how “Ephraim also needed to come home,” Yossi encouraged us to “Come and be his neighbor” and to, “Make Israel your permanent home.”

Batya Wootten as “Mrs. Gabriel,” by Yossi Stern.

That particular trip to Israel was filled with unusual experiences and wonderful encounters, but the most moving experience was celebrating Havdallah with the Wexler family.

In Jewish tradition, both the beginning and the end of the Sabbath day is celebrated. Havdallah is an end of Sabbath ritual that consists of a brief ceremony wherein blessings are recited over a cup of wine (to be shared), over a braided candle (to be lit) and aromatic spices (to be passed and sniffed). In Hebrew, Havdallah, means, “division, distinction.” Used as a rite of separation, it serves to separate the holy from the mundane, marking the end of the holy Sabbath and the beginning of the commonplace workweek.

During the service, some fill the wine cup to overflowing, to symbolize their hope of a coming week that is overflowing with blessings. For this reason, goblets that are especially designed for Havdallah usually come with a small saucer.

The Havdallah candle is a braided candle, having more than one wick, to correspond with the plural “lights” in the proscribed benediction. Woven in colorful strands, the most popular color combination is blue and white.

The spicebox (hadas) used in the ceremony is often an object of decoration, some being very ornate, and crafted in silver, brass, ceramic, wood, etc. Frequently, these spice boxes are family heirlooms. Whether passed down from generation to generation, or brand new, these boxes usually are filled with a mixture of cloves, nutmeg, and bayleaf.

According to the Dictionary of the Jewish Religion, by Isaacson and Gross, “Spices were used extensively in ancient times,” and, “It was customary to burn spices after a meal and recite a blessing before smelling them,” which they say, “Is the probable origin for sniffing spices at the Havdallah service” (page 153).

Also, in The Jewish Book of Why, by Alfred J. Kolatch, we are told that, “The origin of this ceremony is attributed to the fourth and fifth century B.C.E. Men of the Great Assembly (Berachot 33a)” (page 178).

To this ancient tradition, some add their own touches. Such as, during the celebration the wife may utter a farewell to the Sabbath in the form of an old Yiddish hymn:

Dear Sabbath Day doth now depart-

May the coming week be blessed

With good fortune and good deeds.

And, since our particular Sabbath in Jerusalem was quickly departing, Angus and I hurried to Uzi’s, or rather, to what we later learned was the Wexler family compound.

You see, Uzi’s father had commanded the Israeli Army forces in Jerusalem during the War of Independence in 1948. And the majority of his family lived on the very hill that he had battled for, and taken. There, Mr. Wexler and family had built their family compound. Further, the elder Mr. Wexler, who, along with his wife, also was present for the Havdallah celebration, had since become one of the leading publishers of Judaica in the State of Israel.

Uzi’s wife, too, was present, she being a Supreme Court Justice for the State. His sister likewise was there, minus her husband, a Texas oil developer who had to be away on business. Also present was Uzi’s youngest brother, who was being groomed to take over the family publishing business. And then, there was Uzi’s other brother. The one who greeted us at the door. He was one of the leading brain surgeons of the world – and also a painter – one who specialized in stark, telling, painful, black and white Holocaust paintings.

This week, Havdallah would take place at Dr. Wexler’s place, and it seemed that almost immediately we were in his lower level studio. There, he was showing me his brutally frank Holocaust paintings.

Looking around, I could feel both his anger, and his desire to be polite, even hospitable, to one whom he regarded to be a “Christian.”

“How would you explain the Holocaust?” he asked me after viewing some of his lithographs.

I could feel his inner turmoil. I also felt as though he were almost “baiting” me. “I believe words fail when one tries to explain the Holocaust.”

I answered quietly. I really wanted this man to know that I felt I did not have a right to speak in this matter. I had not been there. I had not lost family members. I did not have a favorite aunt that had been forced to be a “field whore,” and then to be hung when drunken, pawing men tired of her. I did not have little cousins that had been forced to help dig a mass grave, only to be shot and thrown in with hundreds of others. None of my family had been forced to wear the “yellow star” that marked millions for incarceration and death.

Wexler Holocaust prints presented by the artist to Angus and Batya Wootten.

Dr. Wexler watched me go through the fifteen piece set several times, each time being no less shocking, no less telling, than before.

“Would you like to have a set of the prints?” he asked me.

It touched me that this man who had experienced so much grief seemed to be reaching out to me. “I would be very honored to have them,” I said.

He put the prints in their printed packet and handed them to me. “Let’s go up for Havdallah,” the Doctor said, pointing up the steps.

I could feel his change in demeanor, and followed him up to the living room, carrying a package that spoke volumes under my arm.

There, we all chatted for a while, getting acquainted. Everyone was asking us questions, about our faith, and our family.

Since Angus and I had years before put our two families together, I told them, “We came home from our honeymoon to a house full of seven children, and the fireworks started.”

“Yes. But so far, we’ve survived.” Angus chimed in.

Everyone laughed as we told story after story about our children.

After a time, Uzi called the grandchildren in from their play for Havdallah. Excitedly, they all gathered around their Grandfather, each one vying for a spot closer to him. Shotglass size servings of wine were poured for all, including the children. The senior Wexler lifted his glass and said the Barucha. Again, he said a blessing and lit the candle. Another blessing and he passed the spices for all to smell.

I watched as this beautiful, lively, family blessed the God of Israel, thanking Him for giving them the blessing that is the Sabbath. Then, at the Grandfather’s leading, everyone lifted their glasses, drank, and then shouted, “Shavu’a Tov!”

“Yes,” I thought, “This fine family will have a ‘Good Week!’”

I was truly moved by their “family faith.” I knew that, while they did not know Messiah, they were praying to the same Father God to whom I prayed. And I could feel His pleasure in the closeness of their family.

After their brief “ceremony,” in true Orthodox fashion, all the men began to gather around the dining room table, and the women to moved toward the living room.

As we were taking our seats, everyone was talking at once. The men were asking Angus questions, and the ladies wanted me to tell them more about Angus’ third daughter, Linda.

“Linda is our ‘miracle child,’” I said, taking a seat on the sofa. Then I told them how she who had so little hope – in having to face the many battles that came with her very premature birth and resultant cerebral palsy – had experienced many answers to prayers that so many had been made in her behalf to the God of Israel.

For one thing, Linda had met Marsden, a big, good looking guy, who happened to work in the hospital she stayed in when she had to have yet another of her more than twenty operations. Though the need for another operation appeared to be a curse, the Father used the opportunity for Marsden and Linda to meet.

“Linda always had to wear leg braces and a lift on her shoe,” I said “And she was asking God to heal her so that she wouldn’t have to wear them any longer. And, at her wedding to Marsden, the pastor tried to get her to come in the back door, by the altar. ‘So she won’t have very far to walk,’ the pastor said.”

“But Linda said ‘No. All my life I’ve dreamed of walking down the aisle on my Father’s arm,’ she told the pastor. ‘And nothing is going to steal that dream from me.’”

“Believe me,” I told the Wexler ladies, “When Linda walked down that long aisle, holding onto her Father’s arm, there was not a dry eye in the place. Because they all knew her story.”

Now I must admit that while I was very happy to be able to share about all the wonderful things that had happened to Linda, truthfully, I must say that I have never been so double-minded in my life:

I found that I wanted to both talk and listen at the same time! Because, when I began to talk about Linda, at the same time, I could hear Mr. Wexler saying to Angus, “Now Angus, tell us. . . .”

Angus: “Angus, tell us what the House of David is all about.”

This is the question put before me by the Patriarch of the Wexler clan. Personally, as a retired Army Colonel, I appreciated this man who, in the 1948 War of Independence, had commanded the forces of Israel that had battled to keep a portion of the City of David in Jewish hands, and, at the end of the ’67 war, had seen the entire city once again in the hands of the descendants of David.

As I searched for an answer to give this orthodox Jew, and his sons, a multitude of thoughts raced through my mind. To begin with, I felt presumptuous even being in this place and talking to these men about restoring David’s fallen tent. I was well aware of the deep division between Christians and Jews, and here, in the City of David, I, a son of Joseph, he being the son who had received the birthright and the double portion, I was talking to sons of Judah, the son who had received the promise of the “scepter,” the son who became the progenitor of David, the king, from whom came Yeshua, the Messiah. I also knew of the chasm that was created when Yahveh divided Israel into the northern and southern kingdoms of Israel, the Kingdom of Judah and the Kingdom of Israel. Almost three thousand years had passed since that fateful division, and over twenty-seven hundred years had passed since the last vestige of Israel, or the Lost Ten Tribes as they are popularly known, had been absorbed into the Gentile nations, in fulfillment of the punishment of which the Prophet Hosea had forewarned: “You will become a people who are not a people.”

While the punishment of Israel, meaning of not knowing who they were, and of not understanding their roots, had been extremely effective over these long centuries, it was obviously coming to a close. We knew first-hand that there were now people around the world who were having the blindness removed from their eyes: They were beginning to see and understand their own heritage as part of the people of Israel, and to experience a “knowing” like the “knowing” one has of their personal relationship with the God of Israel.

And so now, here, a son of Joseph, through his son Ephraim, an Ephraimite, one who knew who he was, had just finished celebrating the close of the Scriptural Sabbath with men of Judah, men who knew very well who they were as sons of Judah. And, this had taken place in the City of David.

I thought back to the time when all Israel had gathered at Hebron to turn the kingdom of Saul over to David, in fulfilment of the word of the Lord. I remembered that of the 300,000 plus men of Israel who gathered at Hebron to make David king of all Israel, only 6,800 were from Judah. So I was confident that in the restoration of David’s kingdom and the return of His Greater Son, the other tribes (other than Judah) would once again play a significant role. And, I perceived that the playing out of that role had commenced.

I also knew that even though my Grandmother was Jewish, because I believed in Yeshua, the Wexlers saw me as a Christian, though not the run-of-the-mill tract distributor whose mission was to convert Jews to their particular denomination. Further, on the plane, in my conversation with Uzi, I had made it clear that we were not missionaries, at least not in the usual sense. “Our mission is not to convert Jews,” I told him, “Our mission is to restore relationships between the two houses of Israel. Not by having one house convert to one of the many doctrines of the other house, but rather, by reestablishing the fact that we are ‘family.’ And, as a united family it will be much easier to have a united belief in the Holy One of Israel as He is revealed in the fulness of His Glory.”

Uzi had seemed to receive what I said on the plane, but now, I wondered, “How do I convey all of my thoughts in my answer?” The elder Wexler’s question, “What is the House of David all about?” hung in the air. Drawing a deep breath, and asking the Holy Spirit to speak through me, I answered: “We believe that Scripture clearly shows that there were and still are two houses of Israel, Ephraim and Judah. Further, remnants of these two houses exist today not only among the Jewish people, but also among those who are called Christians. The mission of House of David is to identify that remnant, especially among Christians, and to encourage them to return to their Hebraic roots, which we believe is a prelude to the reunion of all Israel into one united house. Last, but certainly not least, we seek to encourage members of both houses to have the personal relationship with the God of Israel that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob had.”

The smiles on their faces, and comments like, “We certainly agree with that” told me the Wexler men had no problem with my answer. They also were in agreement that many from the Northern Tribes of Israel had been scattered among the nations, and would, one day, in fulfillment of Scripture, be regathered. They applauded the goal of modern-day Israelites having the same relationship with the God of Israel as did the Patriarchs. Additionally, they appreciated our interest in, and participation in, the Havdallah celebration that closed out the Sabbath day.

“It seems that, rather than man-ordained feast days that once honored pagan gods, the members of the family of Israel should keep the feasts of Israel. Especially since they are the feasts given them by the God of Israel,” I told them.

The bottom line of how they felt was that House of David had a “more challenging” job in trying to present its message to the Christian community, than it did to the Jewish people.

After a while, Batya and I thanked the Wexler family for an enjoyable evening and began to make our way to the front door.

Uzi followed us. “Feel free to call on me if ever you need me for anything,” he told us as we were leaving. “I’m not just saying this to be polite, I really mean it. Call me if I can ever help you.”

“Thanks, Uzi. Thank you very much. We’ll be in touch.”

“Wonderful evening,” I told Batya as we made our way down the walkway.

“Wonderful people,”  Batya replied.

Batya: “I felt the Spirit of God there when we were praying,” I told Angus, as we were driving back to our hotel.

“It was encouraging,” I continued, “Their whole family gathered together and thanked the God of Israel for the gift of the Sabbath.”

“What we experienced is very precious to me. So precious that I hardly want to talk about it. Because sometimes, words fall short,” I said softly. Deep in thought, I almost mumbled, “Right now it’s hard to describe what’s in my heart.”

“I know what you mean,” Angus said. But he was really trying to concentrate, since he was driving in a strange country.

“Slow down, sweetheart, this is where we turn for the hotel. . . .”

Havdallah Celebrations: A Treasured Time of Fellowship

Our visit with the Wexler family is something we cherish to this day. It left a precious, lasting impression on our beings. However, we also cherish our present-day Havdallah celebrations. They are special to us because they are times that we spend with very special friends.

On most Saturday evenings we gather with friends for a “pot-luck” supper, and for a short Havdallah celebration. We use our own Havdallah Hagaddah, or a shortened, or sometimes a lengthened, version thereof. Or we use the Hagaddah of a friend, or a shortened or lengthened version of his Hagaddah, or a combination of both, or . . . (this list goes on ad infinitum). The point is, we are not ritualistic at our Havdallah gatherings.

When we gather with our friends, we do not gather because of the Havdallah ceremony. Rather, our celebration is an outgrowth of the most important thing that is happening, and that is our fellowship. True fellowship is the ingredient that makes Havdallah special, and for that matter, all “religious” celebrations a treasure. Without true fellowship our gatherings become dead tradition. This remains true whether the origins of the celebration are Christian or Jewish.

And, speaking of the origins of celebrations. . . .

A Philosophical Mistake

In one of our Newsletters, entitled, “Who Told You?” Angus points out how, in his book Ten Philosophical Mistakes, Mortimer J. Adler, America’s foremost philosopher, explores ten major errors in the development of modern thought.[1] Adler also examines the serious consequences these errors have on our everyday lives.

The bottom line of Adler’s conclusion is that the most common, disastrous mistake of modern man is that he invents new kinds of wisdom, only to use that wisdom to continue building on a faulty foundation! In other words, he fails to go back to ground zero and to begin to build on ancient and original truths!

Armed with this truth, as Messianic Israelites who truly desire to put an end to all our “religious” mistakes, and to begin building on ancient and original truths, we ask an all-important question:

How then, should we celebrate?

To answer this vital query, we look to the Early Believers, to see how they celebrated.

The Meaning of “The First Day of The Week”

We know the Early Believers got together at the end of the Sabbath day because in Acts 20:7 we read that: “On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread, Paul began talking to them, intending to depart the next day, and he kept on talking until midnight.”

To fully understand this verse we must remember that, according to Hebrew reckoning, the day begins at evening: “Elohim called the light day, and the darkness He called night. And there was evening and there was morning, one day” (Genesis l:5). In Hebrew thought, the day begins in the evening. Thus, when the Early Believers gathered together “on the first day of the week,” they were gathering on what Westerners would call “Saturday night.”

Why did they choose this time to get together?

The Word speaks of “Peter and John” going “up to the temple at the ninth hour, the hour of prayer.” And of an angel of the Lord who told the Apostles to, “Go and speak to the people in the temple the whole message of this Life.” Also, the Apostle “Paul took men, and . . . purifying himself along with them, went into the temple, giving notice of the completion of the days of purification, until the sacrifice was offered for each one of them” (Acts 3:1-8; 5:18-25, 42; 21:26).

In all probability, the Apostles were busy during the Sabbath, “going to the Temple,” that they might be witnesses to those who had not yet heard the “good news of the restoration of the Kingdom of Israel.” To be “recharged” in their efforts, they got together with other Believers at the end of the day, in the evening, at what technically was called, “the first day of the week.”

Also, at that time, they “gathered together to break bread.” This means they were literally sharing a meal, and/or, they were “breaking bread” even as Yeshua “broke bread,” meaning, partaking in some fashion of what has come to be known as “communion.”

There, the Apostle Paul was “talking to them,” and he “kept on with” his “speech,” or “logos” until midnight (he talked for so long that some poor fellow, apparently overcome with fumes from the “many lamps” (Havdallah?) burning in the room, fell out the window, dying from the fall – but was raised from the dead (Acts 20:8-10).

However, the Greek word used to describe Paul’s “talking,” is dialegomai, which means, to discuss, as in argument or exhortation, to dispute, to preach, and to reason with.[2] It also is said that Paul was delivering a “logos,” which can mean he was giving a speech, preaching, teaching about a doctrine (or any combination thereof), or that he was reasoning, questioning, or, just plain “talking.”[3]

These words well describe that which took place, and still takes place, when disciples gather[ed] around their rabbi. It describes the animated, “everyone speaks his opinion,” Jewish Yeshiva.

A System That Prevents Growth

In contradistinction to this ancient “discussion” format for hundreds of years the organized “Church” has functioned in a “one man speaks and all the others listen” format. Sadly, this system has led to a Church that is filled with weak little sheep that have never learned how to flex their spiritual muscles. For the most part, they have not had the opportunity to argue, nor to exhort, nor to dispute, nor to be able to reason with, the “leadership.” In most Church Services they do not dare question what is being taught from the pulpit.

Certainly there must be a place in the Body of Messiah for leadership to teach. And, disciples must “appreciate those who diligently labor among” them, “and have charge over them in the Lord” and “give them instruction” (1 Thessalonians 5:12).

However, there also must be a place for disciples to grow. Somehow, disciples must be allowed to fulfill their Divine command to, “Speak the truth in love,” and thus “to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Messiah” (Ephesians 4:15). Somewhere, they must be allowed to follow the Biblical command: “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from Yahveh; because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). They must be encouraged to “put to the test those who call themselves apostles, but are not.” They must learn to discern between real and false apostles (Revelation 2:2). This is especially true as we enter into these latter days, when “false Messiahs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:24). In this latter-day, all Believers need to have their spiritual senses sharpened. And this will happen only when they are allowed to exercise their spiritual muscles in the ancient pattern of Godly, growth-inspiring, Yeshiva-type discussions.

The Solution

The solution is for us to go back to ground zero and to begin building on ancient, original truths. And, if we hope to follow in the footsteps of the Apostles, then the most appropriate time for us to gather together is, Saturday night And, the most appropriate program is the “talking, debating, Yeshiva” approach portrayed in Scripture.

For those who do choose to gather on Saturday night, and do desire to see the reunion of the two houses, and full restoration of the fallen booth of David, the Havdallah celebration – which can serve as a “bridge” between two warring peoples – can be especially meaningful, and that, for several reasons:

An Opportunity to Grow Up In Messiah

To begin meeting at the end of the Sabbath gives us time during the day to spend with our family. And, all Believers need to concentrate on “being a family,” because the unspoken testimony of a healthy family is one Of the most powerful testimonies known to man.

Also, meeting late in the day gives us time to rest, and when we truly rest, desisting from all labor, the truth that our Provider is caring for us in all things becomes self-evident, in that we do not have to work. It is an amazing principle: The Father teaches us about His love and provision for us, by allowing us to rest – as is defined in Isaiah: “If because of the Sabbath, you turn your foot from doing your own pleasure on My holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of Yahveh honorable, and shall honor it, desisting from your own ways, from seeking your own pleasure, and speaking your own word, then you will take delight in Yahveh, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; and I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of Yahveh has spoken” (Isaiah  58:13-14).

When we gather, and, like the Bereans of old (Acts 17:10-12), discuss the Word, many things can happen: We can both exhort others, and if necessary, be exhorted. When we hear something that we feel opposes the full truth of Scripture, we can dispute it. However, what we say also can be disputed. In other words, we can, and should, question one another. Further, we should learn how to reason with one another and not be quick to discard someone because they do not believe exactly as we do. In fact, if we force ourselves to reason with the individual, it causes us to hone and sharpen the truth of what we believe (or, we may be honed). Additionally, if a point in Scripture becomes alive to an individual, they have an opportunity to teach and/or preach about it to their group.

In essence, when we get together without an emphasis on structure, and pursue a Yeshiva-type, question and answer format, we give the Spirit the opportunity to use each of us in marvelous ways. If we will but trust the Ruach haKodesh (Holy Spirit), He will see that all get to use their spiritual muscles, regardless of size. And the marvelous result is: spiritual growth in all!

Speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Messiah, from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by that which every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love. (Ephesians 4:15-16)

The Trouble With Tradition. . . .

Regarding any “traditions” that we follow at our Havdallah celebrations, or for that matter, at all our Messianic Israel celebrations, we note that it has been our experience that (all of?) man’s religious traditions are tainted. For example: Yeshua’s name was not Jesus, and He was not born on December 25th. Nor is Rosh Hashanah, the “head of the year,” as is claimed. For Yahveh declared that “Abib” shall be the head of the months for us. Further, to celebrate the “Exodus” Passover, is not equivalent to celebrating Messiah’s Resurrection. Therefore, it is not accurate to have a “Passover versus Easter” war. Passover is a celebration of both our “deliverance,” and of Messiah’s “death.” To celebrate His Resurrection, however, one would celebrate the “day of First-fruits.” So it is that the “Christian versus Jewish war of traditions” is full of such untruths and misunderstandings.[4]

It also has been our experience over the years that Believers very often go “tilt,” when they become enamored with Jewish people, and Judaism. Needless to say, many “Christians” also go “tilt” when it comes to “Israel.” Not understanding how they fit into the plan – and the Father’s plan, according to Isaiah 8:14, includes “both the houses of Israel” – they enter into the sin of Replacement Theology.

On the other hand, those who are infatuated with “Jewishness” often declare that “The Church has nothing to offer” Jewish people. (But, what they offer is the fact that, between the two houses, they alone have been declaring that “Jesus” is the “Christ” for the past two thousand years – and even though their message is distorted, still, Yeshua is the most important “offering” of all time.) Further, these Believers seem to think all “Jewish” traditions are Biblically acceptable.

The heart motivation of these “pro-Jewish” Believers may be to try to right a terrible wrong the Church has perpetrated against the Jewish people. However, these too must realize that the Father has declared that “both the houses of Israel, stumble over the Sanctuary.” Both stumble over the “Sanctuary,” for, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Isaiah 8:14; John 2:22; Romans 3:23).

Havdallah: An Ancient Tradition

Because it is the desire of those of Messianic Israel to return to ground zero, and to build on original truths, we point out the following regarding the traditional Jewish Havdallah celebration:

Again, according to The Jewish Book of Why, by Alfred J. Kolatch, “The origin of this ceremony is attributed to the fourth and fifth century B.C.E. Men of the Great Assembly (Berachot 33a)” (page 178). Thus, the Havdallah tradition began several hundred years before the time of the Apostles. And, it very well may be that that is what the apostles were celebrating the night the gentleman fell out the window.

This is not to say that everything about the traditional Havdallah celebration is untainted, for, Kolatch, when he answers the question, “Why is the Havdala cup of wine filled to overflowing?” says, “Filling the cup to overflowing is considered a good omen, an expression of hope that the week to follow will bring with it goodness in abundance. The origin of the custom is rooted in the belief, common in early societies, that the spilling of wine is a safeguard against evil spirits. These spirits, it was believed, could be bribed with a bit of wine (Eruvin 65a)” (pg 178).

We agree, such superstitious beliefs were “common in early societies.” This is confirmed in the book, The Star of David: “Superstition flourished in both circles [Jewish and Christian], because people simply did not have the same access to the Scriptures that we have today. Therefore, their understanding was darkened.”[5]

Since man’s traditions are just that, “man’s traditions,” and since we are seeking for the truth of the matter, we again ask the question: How then, do we celebrate?

Mercy

The following may not at first appear to be the answer, but it is:

Once, when Messiah was chastening some Pharisees, He said to them: “Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, more than sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:11-13)

The point behind Messiah’s declaration: “I desire mercy, more than sacrifice” (note the correct translation: “more than,” and not, instead of), is that, those who concentrate on “sacrifice” are looking to “the letter of the Law.” And that “kills” (2 Corinthians 3:6). However, the man who makes “mercy” his focus, that man is directing himself – and others – toward “life.”

As those of Messianic Israel, as those who seek to be delivered from all “religious” bondage, we will have to walk where no man has walked before. To get there, we must travel a road that is paved with “mercy.” To find our way there, we must focus on “life.”

“Mercy,” and not the fine details of “sacrifice,” is the answer to our “how do we” quest: For Yahveh’s mercies are new every morning. He is always doing a new thing. And, in this latter day, if we will walk aright, He will do a new thing in and through us. But first, a golden road of mercy must be made to run through our hearts.

While we are not called to ignore, nor be oblivious to the kind of “sacrifice” being made, we are called to focus on “mercy.” We must remember that is Yahveh’s “kindness” that leads us to repentance (Romans 2:4). Thus, we must ask of ourselves: Do we parade ourselves as a (self-)righteous “sacrifice,” as one who is “sacrificing” their life to God by doing everything “right”? Or, do we simply try to do “justly,” and thus to issue a humble call to the sinner? The latter must be our intent, because: “He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does Yahveh require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your Elohim” (Micah 6:8).

Restated, all who hope to enroll in and graduate from, the School of Reunion of The Two Houses of Israel, will have to “major” in mercy.

The solution is for us to go back to ground zero and to begin to build on the faith of the Apostles. And that means that, like them, the restoration of the Kingdom to Israel will be of utmost importance to us (Acts l:6). Further, to reunite two peoples, who for so long have been so bitterly divided, then, rather than the letter of “sacrifice,” we will have to be more concerned with living a life of “mercy.”

A Prophetic Declaration

Jerusalem, by Yossi Stern (1923-1992). Presented by the artist to Angus and Batya Wootten. (All rights reserved.)

Again, we gather every week with friends to celebrate Havdallah. But our celebration is different. It varies in that, before the meal, we relight the Sabbath candles and we have one person to represent “Ephraim” and one to represent “Judah.” Then, they each use their candle to light the braided Havdallah candle. Afterward, they extinguish their individual candles, symbolizing the end of their “separateness,” and, together, they lift high the one, braided, and brightly lit, Havdallah candle, while declaring their unity in Messiah.

We celebrate this way because, for all of us, the braided Havdallah candle represents our hope in the full reunion of the two houses of Israel. To us, it represents Ephraim and Judah as they become “one stick” in the Father’s hand (Ezekiel 37:15-28).

Additionally, we added “two sticks” of cinnamon to our spice box, praying a two-fold prayer as we pass it: that our lives be as “a fragrant aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to our God” (Philippians 4: l8), and that He might use us in the coming week to help make the “two sticks” one in His hand.”

For us, Havdallah is a very prophetic, hope-filled celebration. In our hearts we are declaring to the spirit realm, and to all the world, that we believe the Father’s glorious promises: We believe that we all truly will grow up in Messiah, and that our God will keep the promise He made in Ezekiel 37:

He will yet make us “one” people on the mountains of Israel.

There, we all will live an unending, Shavu’a Tov!


[1] See Angus and Batya Wootten, “Who Told You?,” House of David Herald 5-10, October 1993.

[2] Strong’s Greek word # 256.

[3] Strong’s Greek word # 3056.

[4] See Batya Wootten, “Restoring the Fallen Booth of David: The Tabernacles Celebration,” “Yaveh’s Calendar Versus Compromise With Babylon and Rome,” “The Father’s End-Time Passover Plan for Ephraim,” and “Shavuot and the Two Leavened Loaves,” House of David Herald 5-9 (September 1993), 6-8 (August 1994), 9-2 (February 1997), and 9-5 (May 1997)

[5] Batya Ruth Wootten, The Star of David, House of David, 1965.

Fishers of Men! How Many Fish Must We Catch? by Angus Wootten

[Editor’s note: James the Apostle provides us with a simple test to determine whether we really believe God’s promises –
But someone may well say, “You have faith and I have works; show me your faith without the works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” (James 2:18 NASB)
That is the point Angus Wootten emphasizes in this brief article first published in September 1998. Either we believe what God’s promises to restore all of Israel – the Jewish and the non-Jewish portions – or we don’t. If we do, and if we take seriously the scriptural assertions that Messiah Yeshua’s disciples are adopted into Abraham’s family, not to replace the Jewish people, but to join with them so “all Israel will be saved” (Galatians 3:29; Ephesians 2:8-21; Romans 11:25-26), then this will become our motivation in seeking God and His will for our lives.
So is it true? You be the judge. In 1897, only dreamers like Theodor Herzl believed Israel would be reborn as an independent nation, yet it happened 50 years later. When Angus wrote this article, no one would have believed that Arab nations would drop their demands for a Palestinian state before normalizing relations with Israel, and yet the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain have done just that. What new realities are before us? Those who believe the promises of God should be the ones who make those realities come to pass.]


Fishers of Men! How Many Fish Must We Catch?

By Angus Wootten – September 1998

Walking by the Sea of Galilee, Yeshua saw two brothers. Simon who was called Peter. and Andrew, his brother. casting a net into the sea; for they were fishermen. And He said to them. “Follow Me. and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:18)

We who follow Yeshua. like Peter and Andrew, also must be fishers of men! We must gather the number of “fishes” needed to fill the “fullness” Paul establishes for the salvation of all Israel (Romans 11:25-26)!

How big is that job?

It’s really big! In this century alone we have seen the great effort required to return some five million Jews to their own soil – Jews who for two thousand years were, at best, second class citizens in the lands in which they were scattered. And now, having returned to their land. they are first class citizens of one of the most powerful nations on the planet.

So we ask, what would happen if thirteen million more Jews, and, one hundred and thirty million non-Jewish Israelites (Ephraimites), also were returned to their own soil? How big would that job be? Moreover, is one hundred and thirty million a realistic number for the Ephraimites?

John M. Stembridge. former Mayor of North Miami and current President of Aliyah and United Zionists International, in a recent letter to the Miami Herald, commented on a front page article by Martin Merzer. In it, Merzer said Zionism’s new mission is to unite the world’s Jews. But, Stembridge replied that Merzer did not go far enough, and that Zionism’s new mission is to educate and unite all Zionists: Jew and “Gentile” alike. Also, Stembridge defines a Zionist as anyone who believes God gave the land of Israel to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and to their descendants, as an inheritance forever.

Interestingly, this man also says the world Jewish population outside Israel is thirteen million, with nine million being in the United States. And. as for “Gentile” Zionists [his name for Ephraimites], Stembridge gives a figure of one hundred thirty million, with forty million being in the United States.

He further believes the problem with Zionism today is, ignorance to the nearly 1000 Biblical prophecies in which God calls all these Zionists back from the nations – and to their promised land of Israel. Stembridge says, without this knowledge, it is impossible for secular leaders, whether political, industrial, labor, management, media, religious, etc., to understand the intricacies involved in healing the breach in Abraham’s family.

Stembridge writes:

From now forward, world Peace and Economic stability is dependent upon Israel’s Peace and regathering. Israel will never be at peace until its neighbors can accept the regathering of the world’s Jewish and Gentiles Zionists as brothers rather than as enemies that they want to drive into the sea or whose blood they want to spill on its Holy soil. Therefore it behooves every government, industry, religious. and cultural leader, locally and worldwide, to become actively involved in establishing Justice with Peace in the Middle East and around the world. Failure in this mission will bring nothing less than a Nuclear, Chemical, and Biological Holocaust as never experienced in human history. Mankind that survives this Holocaust will, at best, start from the dark ages once again.

John Stembridge surely has a vision. And, he closes his letter by asking that God grant us the knowledge, wisdom, and empowerment to succeed.

Likewise, each of us should have a God-given vision, one filled with the knowledge, wisdom and empowerment required to succeed. Further, a key ingredient to our success must be action. For, action is required to accomplish one’s vision!

A Vision of the regathering of Israel without action is but a dream. Yet, action without a vision can be a task of drudgery and futility. But, a vision coupled with action can result in the regathering of all Israel.

What is our task?

To insure that each of those thirteen million Jews and one hundred and thirty million “Gentile” Zionists (or whatever the true number) realize who they are. For, to get the job done, they need not only to love the God of Israel, the land of Israel, and the Jewish people, but they need to understand that they too are Israel. They also need to return to their own soil to complete fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy about the regathering of all Israel. For Yahveh has sworn:

Fishermen on the Bank of the Amstel near the Pauwentuin, Amsterdam, Arent Arentsz, c1625-1630, Rijksmueum, Amsterdam.

I Myself shall gather the remnant of My flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and shall bring them back to their pasture; and they will be fruitful and multiply . . . they will no longer say, “As the Lord lives, who brought up the sons of Israel from the land of Egypt,” but, “As the Lord lives, who brought up and led back the descendants of the household of Israel from the north land and from all the countries where I had driven them.” Then they will live on their own soil. (Jeremiah 23: 1-8)

In that great day of regathering, Ezekiel’s two sticks will have been made one in the Father’s hand (Ezekiel 37:15-28). Predictions that Ephraim will once again “be a mighty man,” that he will “return to the lands promised Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in such numbers that there is no more room for him” will all be but history (Zechariah 10:10.17).

Fishermen arise! Prepare your nets! For a great and glorious fishing expedition lies before us!

Our Hope of Glory and the Mystery of the Gentiles, by Angus Wootten

[Editor’s note: Did you know that there are people in Israel right now who know that they are living out the fulfillment of prophecy? The world calls them Jewish settlers in the “occupied territories of the West Bank. They do not see things in the same way. What they see is that the so-called West Bank of the Jordan River is the biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria, and that the God of Israel has made promises to restore His people to those lands. Promises like this one:

“From afar Adonai appeared to me.” “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love. Therefore I have drawn you with lovingkindness. Again I will build you, so you will be rebuilt, virgin Israel! Again you will take up your tambourines as ornaments, and go out to dances of merrymakers. Again you will plant vineyards on the hills of Samaria—planters will plant and use them. For there will be a day when watchmen will call out in the hill country of Ephraim, ‘Arise, let us go up to Zion, to Adonai our God.’” (Jeremiah 31:2-5 TLV)

That is why Jews have answered the Lord’s call to move into Judea and Samaria to rebuild the ancient towns and bring the land back to life. What they have done is astounding, as you will see when you go there. What you should remember when you see it is that these Jewish pioneers have walked out their faith by taking God at His word and partnering with Him in fulfilling prophecy..[1]

This is the same challenge to our faith that Angus Wootten issued in this article, first published in October 1997. In essence the question is, if we believe what the Bible says about the restoration of all Israel, and of the identity of Yeshua’s followers as part of that restored covenant nation, what do we do to walk out that belief? Our answer may determine how soon the world sees this Divine Promise come to pass.]


Our Hope of Glory and the Mystery of the Gentiles

By Angus Wootten – October 1997

The Declaration of Independence of the United States, made in 1776, gives us the hope of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. All of which we receive by being a citizen of the United States.

Comparatively, Yahveh our God gives us the Hope of Glory: the hope of eternal life, liberty, and happiness – a promise made before the foundation of the world. And we receive these hopes by being a citizen of His Commonwealth of Israel.

What is hope?

It is a feeling, a desire that what is wanted or expected, will happen. And we all want life, liberty, and happiness. The question is: How do we realize those hopes, both in this world and in the world to come?

For our answer we look to the Apostle Paul’s response to life’s most important question:

Brethren, it is by understanding the mystery of the Gentiles, which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, and which has now being manifested to His saints, that you will understand that it is Yeshua in you, that is your hope of glory. . . However, to realize the hope that Yeshua has given you, you must be a citizen of the commonwealth of Israel and a partaker of the covenants of promise. (Colossians 1:25-28; Ephesians 2:12, Author’s Personal Paraphrase)

Salvation: Being born again, accepting Christ, being saved, call it what you may. It is this crucial message of personal salvation that the Church has heralded to the remotest comers of the earth for two millennia. Undeniably, it is the greatest, and most important message anyone could ever hear because – it gives one the hope of glory!

The Church started with the right message: personal salvation. However, they did not go far enough. Thus they lost sight of the solution to the mystery of the Gentiles, and consequently lost sight of their own ultimate mission: that of the restoration of the Kingdom to Israel.

Make no mistake, it is the resolution of this mystery that will equip the elect to understand, and thus to complete the mission that will ultimately tum our hope into glory!

The Holy Spirit, speaking through Paul, in his letter to the Ephesians, emphasizes a requirement for both individual and national relationships. For Paul says, “Remember that you were at that time separate from Yeshua, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” (Ephesians 2:12)

Paul gives three reasons why the Ephesians previously had been without hope, and without God in the world:

    1. They were separated from Yeshua: They were not saved. However, while we all can agree that not having obtained individual salvation is any individual’s greatest problem, it was, according to Paul, not their only problem.
    2. They were excluded, or alienated, from the commonwealth of Israel. In other words, in addition to not having individual salvation they did not have national salvation. They were not part of a people set apart for the Holy One of Israel.
    3. They were strangers to the covenants of promise. Paul speaks of the covenants that will one day culminate in the fulfillment of the Messianic Promise – which is the hope of glory, that the fulness of our eternal inheritance will be consummated at Yeshua’s promised coming.

Before we make a more detailed examination of Paul’s three points, we first need to go back in history to determine why the Ephesians had been without hope and without God in this world. For, we need to know the root cause of a problem if we are to solve it. Further, if we will not learn from the mistakes of the past, we are doomed to repeat them. And history reveals that we have not learned. For generation after generation, and even in our generation, the majority of the people in the world have continued to be without hope and without God.

Why do the problems of hopelessness and Godlessness continue to plague the world? Prior generations of Believers have run their lap of the race with limited success, while in effect passing on this problem to the next set of runners. Now, we have been given the baton, and it is our tum to run. The question is, will we pass the baton in the same way as did our forefathers? Or, do we have a unique opportunity to actually finish the race?

Could we be the forerunners that cross the finish line? The signs of the times say yes – the signs being fulfilled Biblical prophecy in this century (Matthew 16:3).

Yes, we are being given the extraordinary opportunity to serve as vessels of mercy – vessels the Holy Spirit can use to help gather the lost sheep of Israel to the Shepherd of Israel – thus giving them the hope of glory (Romans 9:23). And in this way, these found sheep will no longer be excluded, or alienated, from the commonwealth of Israel. Rather than being strangers to the covenants of promises, they will partake of the eternal pledges of assurance, which will give them the everlasting glory – Which is the realization of their hope.

How Can We Meet This Challenge?

If ours is the last leg of the race, what are we to do? To best answer this question, we first need to answer two basic questions: Who are we? And why are we here?

Who Are We?

The Scream, painted in 1893 by Edvard Munch, is a depiction of the anxiety of the human condition – an anxiety linked to humankind’s search for identity, for purpose, and for meaning in life. (National Museum of Norway, Oslo.)

Hopefully our answer to this question will not be like that of the pessimistic philosopher Schopenhauer, who, sitting all disheveled on a park bench, when asked who he was, said to the attendant, “I wish to God I knew.”

This answer, along with one that is an even more pitiful cry, haunts all humanity. The other is a cry that is uttered by all who have lost their way, and it is, “I wish I knew God.”

Why would any man question who he is? And why do they question who is God?

Why? Because the modern world with all its advancements in science, technology, and philosophy, seems in many ways to have done away with a need for both God and man. Newton dismissed God by his theory of a mechanical universe. Darwin, by his view of evolution, dismisses man. Freud dismissed a reasoning mind by his insistence that man was but an animal, motivated not by reason but by hidden unconscious animal drives and instincts.

In the past century, we have quarreled, not over whether man is an animal, but as to what type of animal. Is he motivated by his collective ancestral impulses and manners (Darwin), by economic necessity and his stomach (Marx), or by his libido (Freud)?

Modern man, being told on one hand that he is but an animal, and on the other hand that he is a god, does not have a satisfying answer to the questions of what, where, and why. By his own confession, he is lost in a meaningless and hopeless moment between two eternities. He is lost and hopeless because the enlightenment from these great advancements in science, technology, and philosophy has led him to see his origins as being the chance multiplication of amoebas. His destiny is but to return to cosmic dust.

Those who reject the modern meaninglessness of a life without hope have turned, as man has done throughout history, to an ideology: a system of beliefs that provide the social needs and aspirations for an individual, a group, a culture, a people. And, the key to every ideology depends upon its genesis (beginning or origin). In other words, every system of thought that attempts to explain the origins and destiny of man is dependent upon an original conviction regarding the nature of man. And, whether or not the system has any hope of being correct, first and foremost, depends on whether the original assumption is correct. Therefore, the continued failure of modern ideologies, and of many ideologies of the past, can undoubtedly be attributed to wrong assumptions as to man’s genesis.

The Judeo-Christian ideology of man’s genesis has him being created in the image of the One God of Israel, and, he is created with the hope of eternal life.

Yet, the proliferation of theology, doctrines, denominations and cults to which these ideologies have given birth all serve to bear witness to the confusion that still exists regarding who we are, and where we are going!

The Truth Is . . .

We have all questioned the theologies and doctrines with which we were nurtured. Further, on a daily basis, we make decisions based on our current ideology. And these decisions have eternal consequences. So, we need to cut through the mass of divergent denominational and cultic theology and doctrines that represent “Christian” thought today, and we need to get to the truth. Especially, we need to get to the truth of who we are!

What is Truth?

Truth is Yahveh’s reality behind our perception.

Further, the truth may frequently seem unreasonable; it may at times be depressing; sometimes it may appear to be wrong; but it has an eternal advantage: it is Yahveh’s reality. And, what is built on His truth neither brings, nor yields to, confusion.

As stated in a previous House of David Herald article,[2] “We must be concerned about the consequences of being deceived by errors and misconceptions, for lies bring captivity and death, while truth brings freedom and life (John 8:21,32,44; 2 Timothy 2:26). Thus, with such high stakes riding on what we believe, we must ask ourselves: Is what we believe true? Is the foundation on which we are building our understanding of who we are, why we are here, and where we are going, one of truthfulness?”

This edition of the Herald also pointed out that the post-16th-century philosophers who were responsible for the development of modern secular thought devised new kinds of wisdom. And then, with their innovations began to build on faulty structures. Thus they made a disastrous mistake. For, they did not tear down their faulty structures to the point of a solid foundation; they did not go all the way down to ancient and original truths!

Even so, Christian theologians of the reformation, in their attempts to correct errors made by the early Roman Church, suffered from the same disastrous mistake: Instead of retracing the faulty steps all the way back to a solid foundation of original truth, modern theologians have tried in other ways to circumvent the result of the initial errors. And thus, they often compound their difficulties rather than overcome them.

It is because they have not dug down far enough that the church[3] has yet to recover from many of its early doctrinal divisions and theological mistakes. Especially crippling are the mistakes made over the identity of Israel. For they blind us to a full understanding of Yahveh’s plan for the whole house of Israel, of which “whole” we are a part.

The truth is, initially, all of Messiah’s followers were physical Israelites who belonged to a sect of Judaism (Acts 28:32). Undoubtedly, these Israelites had children. But somehow, somewhere along the way, the Church ceased to consider their physical descendants as physical Israelites. Then, she further distanced herself from unbelieving Judah when she began to admit “Gentiles,” who in turn were not seen as being physical Israelites (Acts 21:28-30). Ultimately, the ties between the two were completely broken, and the followers of Yeshua became a “Gentile Church.” And now, we forerunners, those who have been commissioned to pick up the pieces and to put Israel back together again, we are faced with an age-old question: “Who is Israel?”[4]

Am I An Israelite?

An even more pressing question that each of us should answer is: “Am I an Israelite?”

These questions, Who is Israel? Who is an Israelite?, have been asked for thousands of years without a definitive answer. Since the exodus of a mixed multitude from Egypt, Israel has harbored the simultaneous convictions that: first, Israel was an entirely unique and separate community – a peculiar people – being descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; and secondly, Israel is a people, linked by faith in a common ideology. And, both of these convictions have one commonality, they both require that Israel had to be set apart from the world, and yet, they were to remain in the world, both at one and the same time.

Like our forefathers, we continue to be faced with the apparent hopeless dilemma of two contradictory opposites. The solution, which the Church, Judaism, and Messianic Judaism, have bought, and which they in turn attempt to sell, is to see these two convictions as the coexistence of two complementary, incompatible viewpoints – which can be successfully harmonized and united.

And, if this solution does not leave you confused, then you don’t understand the situation.

Admittedly, we do not have all the answers today. “However, there is a God in heaven who reveals mysteries,” and He promised to reveal them in the latter days (Daniel 2:28). Even so, the Father has begun to remove the blindness to the mystery concerning the identity of Israel – as well as the mystery surrounding the Gentiles. On a one by one basis, He is revealing to non-Jews that they are Israelites: descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And, it is a conviction, a knowing that we know, that is not unlike the conviction and knowing we each have concerning our personal salvation.

What About The Others?

What about those who have not been convicted of the truth regarding their salvation? Most will answer: “I know I am saved, and I pray that my witness will lead others to salvation.”

What about those who have yet to see the truth about our heritage?

Our answer should be: I know who I am, and I pray that my witness will bring others to a knowledge of their heritage.

What about those who do not see us as we see ourselves?

We need to know in our hearts that the Holy One of Israel sees us as a full-fledged member of His people Israel, even though the Church at large, and many of our brothers and sisters in Messianic Judaism, do not recognize us as such. Instead, in their eyes we are “adopted Gentiles” who in some mysterious way have become “Spiritual Israelites.” However, their misunderstanding should not dictate our image of ourselves, nor should it shake our faith in the fact that we are who Yahveh says we are! Remember, “If you belong to Yeshua, then you are Abraham’s offspring (sperm), heirs according to promise” (Galatians 3:29).

Just as Yahveh saw Levi in the loins of his father Abraham, He also saw us in our father Abraham’s loins!! For when the God who foreknew us before the foundation of the world said to Abraham that his seed would be as the stars of heaven, the sand by the seashore, and the dust of the earth, He was not speaking of a future event, but rather of an event that had taken place before the foundation of the world! (Ephesians 1:4, Hebrews 4:3, Genesis 15:5, 22:17, 26:4, 28:14, 32:12).

A People For His Own Possession

This world is not the result of chance. Rather, it was deliberately created by Yahveh for His good pleasure, which was, and is, to have a people for His own possession (Isaiah 46:10; Deuteronomy 4:20, 7:6, 14:2; Titus 2: 14;1 Peter 2:9). His desire was, and is, that these people, whom He would call, would of their own free will, choose Him to be their God, and they would choose to be His people!

But, there is a difference between choosing Yahveh to be our God, and choosing to be His people.

The Church has placed emphasis on their choosing of God, meaning on individual salvation, but they have put little or no emphasis on choosing to be His people, or on national salvation. For the most part, the Church has taken the attitude that all, even if they might be descendants of generations of Believers, everyone starts at ground zero in their relationship with Yahveh. No. It does not even occur to them that they may be descended from those who have been in the Olive Tree of Israel for generation upon generation.[5]

On the other hand, the Jewish people have placed their emphasis on national salvation – on being God’s chosen people. And, it is this attitude that flames the fires of jealousy in the non-Jew – Ephraim. However, rather than be jealous, Ephraim needs to get with the program. He needs to realize that he will only attain the fulness of his hope when he recognizes that he too is an integral “part of” the Kingdom of Israel. (To be “part of” does not mean to be “all,” nor does it mean to “replace” those of Judah.)

We need to understand that our names are not added to the Book of Life, rather, names are erased from the Book of Life (Psalm 69:28; Revelation 13:8, 17:8). Moreover, branches are broken off the Olive Tree of Israel for unbelief. And, those who are “(re)grafted” into the root that is Messiah are “olive” branches that became “wild.” However, they are nonetheless “olive” branches, and “Israel” is the “olive tree” (Jeremiah 11:10,16; 2:18,21; Romans 11:17-24).

No Hope And Without God In The World

Let us now look in greater detail at the message the Holy Spirit, speaking through Paul, gave to the Ephesians. For Paul’s message emphasizes the requirement for both individual and national relationships:

Remember that you were at that time separate from Yeshua, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. (Ephesians 2: 12)

Paul gives three reasons why the Ephesians previously had no hope and had been without God in the world. Let us again look at the first two reasons:

1. Separated From Yeshua. They were separated from Yeshua: They were not saved. Again, we can all agree that not having obtained individual salvation is any individual’s greatest problem. But, it was, according to Paul, not their only problem.

2. Alienated From The Commonwealth of Israel. They were excluded from the commonwealth of Israel. The King James translates this as being aliens rather than excluded from. However, Vincent’s Word Studies of the New Testament says, apallotriow (ap-al-lot-ree-o’-o), rather than being translated alien, would be better translated if given the force of the verb alienated; as if they had once been otherwise. They were once in a condition other than that of being alienated or being aliens.

If we use alienated rather than excluded, the verse reads: “Remember that you were at the time (prior to having hoped in Yeshua)[6] separate from Yeshua, alienated (withdrawn or detached)[7] from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.”

Truly, the translation of one word can make a profound difference in our belief structure.

The Mystery Is Solved! We Are A “Returning” People!

Another example of how mistranslation of one word can make a profound difference in what we believe is found in the Greek word epistrepho, which word James uses when delivering the conclusions of the only recorded meeting of the Jerusalem council: “Therefore it is my judgment that we do not trouble those who are epistrepho to Yahveh from among the Gentiles.” (Acts 15:15-19)

Most translate this Word as “turning,” which translation indicates a process, rather than an accomplished fact.

James is referring to Gentiles who are in the process of epistrepho to Yahveh. The King James translate this as, are turned, which indicates an accomplished fact rather than a process. However, epistrepho, could just as well be translated returning, or returned! Strong defines “epistrepho (ep-ee-stref’-o) as “to revert (lit., fig. or mor.): – come (go) again, convert, (re-) tum (about, again).”

What a difference between turning, turned, and returning! Surely it would rock the doctrines of Christianity if they accepted the translation, “Therefore it is my judgment that we do not trouble those who are returning to Yahveh from among the Gentiles.” Then they would see that through James the Holy Spirit is solving the “mystery of the Gentiles.”

Another Scriptural nail that can be used to hammer home the truth that these so called Gentiles were descendants of those who formerly were members of the commonwealth of Israel and were thus returning is found in Romans Chapter Eleven, which deals with the retrieval of branches from the Olive Tree of Israel that had become wild, but were being grafted back into the cultivated tree.

For Paul, speaking to these formerly wild branches, recalls Isaiah’s prophecy, foretelling the day when Yahveh would deliver Israel and forgive Jacob’s iniquity (Isaiah 27:1-9; Romans 11:27). Then Paul says the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable, and that, even though you wild branches were once disobedient to God, you are now being shown mercy (Romans 11:29-30).[8]

If Paul lumps the Wild, or formerly disobedient branches, and the cultivated, branches together as being those on whom the Father is having mercy, then he is in fact saying they all are part of Israel. After all, to be disobedient to Yahveh one had to have known, at some time in the past, His standards – which standards they were expected to obey.

Who better fits this bill than the lost, dispersed sheep of Ephraim, those once alienated from the commonwealth by being swallowed up among the nations, and yet in Paul’s day were being regathered – returning to Yahveh from among the Gentiles (Hosea 8:8; Amos.9:9; Acts 15: 15-19; Ephesians 2: 12). Who better fits this description than Ephraim, the “fulness of Gentiles” (Genesis 48: 19)?

So why has the church missed the truth of the mystery of the Gentiles and the importance of being part of the Commonwealth of Israel?

Ephraim’s Lo Ammi Punishment

Because these returning so-ca1led Gentiles were being punished! And their punishment was: “You are not My people and I am not your God”(Hosea 1:9).[9] Yet the day would come when He would end their punishment and would once again consider them as His people and He would be their God (Hosea 1:10).

To understand the importance and difference between a corporate relationship and an individual relationship with Yahveh, we briefly recount His relationship with Abraham’s descendants. For, from Abraham’s descendants He choose Isaac, and from Isaac’s descendants Jacob was chosen, then Jacob had twelve sons whom Yahveh called Israel (2 Kings 17:34). These twelve tribes served as the physically identifiable presence of Yahveh’s corporate people on earth until the seventh century B.C. In that fateful century, ten of the tribes were slowly absorbed into the nations and were no longer physically identifiable as part of the corporate people of the God of Israel. Then the fifth century drew to a close, the Southern Kingdom, Judah, was scattered among the nations; but a remnant of Judah maintained their identity during their seventy year exile in Babylon, and they have been known as Jews to this day.

However, these few Jews are not all Israel! Even today, with the establishment of a secular Jewish state, we do not have the promised restoration of the Davidic Kingdom. Having the tents of Judah go up first is the beginning, but not the end of the restoration process (Zechariah 12:7)! The fulness of the restoration will only be experienced when all Israel is once again physically identifiable, and physically occupying the land promised to the Patriarchs. It will be fulfilled only when all Israel is ruled by the King of Kings.

When did Ephraim’s punishment start? No later then 722 B.C., which year marked the final fall of the last physical vestige of the Northern Kingdom. When will it end? When the descendants of those lost ten tribes are no longer lost, but are once again recognizable as the people of Israel!

Understand that this punishment meted out to the Northern Kingdom was a corporate punishment. Scripture records that Yahveh came to a point that His corporate relationship with the Northern Kingdom of Israel was such that, for a period of time, He would not recognize them as His people, and He would not be their God. They would be alienated from the commonwealth of Israel for a season. And, until our generation, the day when Yahveh would end this corporate punishment was future.

Fortunately, we have the unmerited opportunity to be living in the day when Messianic Israel – the restored Davidic Kingdom – is being formed. Daily, the numbers of Believers, many of whom themselves, or their forefathers, returned to Yahveh from among the Gentiles, are now understanding their heritage in ever growing numbers. And they are seeing themselves as: “A chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for Yahveh’s own possession, that will proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called them out of darkness into His marvelous light.” (l Peter 2:9)

Strangers to the Covenants of Promise

Let us now examine Paul’s third reason why the Ephesians previously had possessed no hope, and had been without God in the world:

3. Strangers to the Covenants of Promise. They were strangers to the covenants of promise. Fortunately, there seems to be universal agreement that the Covenants of Promise are the several renewals of Yahveh’s covenant with the Patriarchs, which covenant will culminate in the fulfillment of the Messianic Promise, which is the basis of all the covenants. For, receiving the manifestation of Yeshua in our lives is not the fulness of our hope of Glory! Rather, His presence gives us the hope that one day we will realize the fulness of our inheritance, which will be consummated at His promised coming.

It is to this divine Messianic perfection of all things that we look for fulfillment of our hope. For, at Yeshua’s return, the prophecy He gave Ezekiel so long ago will no longer look to a future event. Rather it will be a record of an accomplished fact:

“Behold, I have taken the sons of Israel from among the nations where they had gone, and I have gathered them from every side and brought them into their own land; and they are now one nation in the land, on the mountains of Israel; and one king is king for all of them; and they are no longer two nations, and they are no longer divided into two kingdoms. And they no longer defile themselves with their idols, or with their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions; but I have delivered them from all their dwelling places in which they have sinned, and I have cleansed them. And they are My people, and I Am their God. And My servant David is King over them, and they have One Shepherd; and they walk in My ordinances and keep My statutes and observe them. And they live on the land that I gave to Jacob My servant, in which their fathers lived; and they will continue to live on it, they, and their sons, and their sons’ sons, forever; and David My servant is their prince forever And I have made a covenant of peace with them; it is an everlasting covenant with them. And I have placed them and multiplied them and have set My sanctuary in their midst forever.” (Fulfilled rendering of Ezekiel 37 21-27)[10]

Obtaining Our Messianic Hope

At this juncture in history what can we forerunners reasonably expect that the Church, and the Jewish people, will do to hasten Yeshua’s return and the restoration of the Kingdom to Israel?[11] The Church at large doesn’t see the restoration of a Davidic Kingdom as their goal. They are headed for a Kingdom in heaven, and not to one that will be established on this earth.[12] On the other hand, the overwhelming majority of the Jewish people do not envision a Messiah who is the Son of God. So, an intelligent answer to the question of what we can reasonably expect the parties to do to advance the cause of restoring the Kingdom to Israel, is: Without the injection of dramatic change – not much.

Yet it is the Church and the Jewish people whose ranks contain the remnant of Israel, the remnant whom Yahveh is once again placing in the Promised Land.

As Forerunner We Face . . .

By default, the ball is in our court.

What are we to do with it? What are we forerunners who have been given the Hope of Messianic Israel – the reunion of Ephraim and Judah and the restoration of the Kingdom to Israel – to do? What can we realistically accomplish toward these age ending goals? After all, we are pitifully few in number, financially challenged [poor], already overworked and over-committed, and, our vision is rejected by “the Church,” Judaism, and by most Messianic Jews – who should be our co-workers in this restoration process.

Let’s face it, there are giants in the land, and we are but grasshoppers in their sight. But most unfortunately, we are grasshoppers in our own sight.

Maybe we should go back to Egypt?

Does this account sound familiar? Is not our problem the same one our fathers faced in the desert when Yahveh placed before them the promised land?[13]

Giants In The Land!!!

You remember the story.

Yahveh said to Moses, “Send out for yourself men so that they may spy out the land of Canaan, which I am going to give to the sons of Israel; you shall send a man from each of their fathers’ tribes. . . .”

So, Moses sent a representative from each tribe to spy out their destination, the promised land of Canaan. Unfortunately, ten spies came back with a bad report:

“We went in to the land where you sent us; and it certainly does flow with milk and honey…Nevertheless, the people who live in the land are strong, and the cities are fortified and very large; and moreover, we saw the descendants of Anak there.”

Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, “We should by all means go up and take possession of it, for we shall surely overcome it.” But the men who had gone up with him said, “We are not able to go up against the people, for they are too strong for us.”

So they gave out to the sons of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone, in spying it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants; and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great size . . . and we became like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.”

Then all the congregation lifted up their voices and cried, and the people wept that night. And all the sons of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron; and the whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! And why is Yahveh bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become plunder; would it not be better for us to return to Egypt?” So they said to one another, “Let us appoint a leader and return to Egypt.”

Then Moses and Aaron fell on their faces in the presence of all the assembly of the congregation of the sons of Israel. And Joshua the son of Nun and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, of those who had spied out the land, tore their clothes; and they spoke to all the congregation of the sons of Israel, saying, “The land which we passed through to spy out is an exceedingly good land. If Yahveh is pleased with us, then He will bring us into this land, and give it to us – a land which flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against Yahveh; and do not fear the people of the land, for they shall be our prey. Their protection has been removed from them, and Yahveh is with us; do not fear them.”

But all the congregation said to stone them with stones. Then the glory of Yahveh appeared in the tent of meeting to all the sons of Israel. And Yahveh said to Moses, “How long will this people spurn Me? And how long will they not believe in Me, despite all the signs which I have performed in their midst? I will smite them with pestilence and dispossess them, and I will make you into a nation greater and mightier than they.”

Fortunately, Yahveh honored Moses’ intercession for the people and did not destroy them; however, He would punish them, for He said to Moses, “I have pardoned them according to your word . . . Surely all the men who have seen My glory and My signs, which I performed in Egypt and in the wilderness, yet have put Me to the test these ten times and have not listened to My voice, shall by no means see the land which I swore to their fathers, nor shall any of those who spurned Me see it. But My servant Caleb, because he has had a different spirit and has followed Me fully, I will bring into the land which he entered, and his descendants shall take possession of it.”

So Yahveh meted out two fates to Israel. For those who had grumbled against Him . . . “your corpses shall fall in this wilderness, even all your numbered men, according to your complete number from twenty years old and upward, who have grumbled against Me. Surely you shall not come into the land in which I swore to settle you . . . Your children, however, whom you said would become a prey – I will bring them in, and they shall know the land which you have rejected. But as for you, your corpses shall fall in this wilderness. And your sons shall be shepherds for forty years in the wilderness, and they shall suffer for your unfaithfulness, until your corpses lie in the wilderness. According to the number of days which you spied out the land, forty days, for every day you shall bear your guilt a year, even forty years . . . I, Yahveh, have spoken, surely this I will do to all this evil congregation who are gathered together against Me. In this wilderness they shall be destroyed, and there they shall die.” (Numbers 13:l-14-35)

Yahveh told our forefathers that He would give them the land of Canaan. The problem was the bad report of 10 men – which bad report caused 599,988 men of Israel to lose faith and not believe in His promises! The solution to the problem was – 2 men of Israel did believe Him! The 10, plus the 599,988, or 599,998 unbelievers, died in the wilderness. The 2 believers entered the promised land!

Grasshoppers Or Good Witnesses?

Yahveh has promised that He will restore the Kingdom to Israel. “They were asking Him, saying, ‘Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?’ He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority”’ (Acts 1:6-7).

It has been almost two thousand years since Yeshua spoke these words of promise, and, millions of Israelites have walked this earth and have died in the wilderness. Now it is our turn to walk this earth. The question is, will we too die in the wilderness? Our only hope to avoid this fate is the hope that we are the generation that has been foreordained to receive the restored Kingdom.

Admittedly, we do not know whether or not we are that generation. However, we have, as did our forefathers in the wilderness, a freewill choice to make:

We can believe or not believe our Father’s promises! We can be grasshoppers or good witnesses!

Yes. We can elect to live our lives as if we are that chosen generation that will see the return of the Greater Son of David and the restoration of the Kingdom to Israel. And, if our lamps are filled with oil, and it turns out that we have labored to accomplish the right tasks in the wrong generation, we are far better off than having labored to accomplish the wrong tasks in the right generation.

By laboring to accomplish those tasks, which Scripture requires be completed prior to the Messiah’s return and establishment of His kingdom, we will, at the very least have been an example. We will have been an example that will help prepare the next generation to be on the alert and ready for the return of the Bridegroom. But, if our lamps are not filled, and the Bridegroom returns, we, like our forefathers who did not believe, will die in the wilderness.

We’ve Circled The Mountain Long Enough

IDF officer helping Ethiopian immigrants out of the C-130 Hercules transport during Operation Solomon, May 25, 1991. National Photo Collection, Israel, #D205-116.

After forty years in the wilderness, a time came when Yahveh said to Moses: “You have circled this mountain long enough. Now turn north.” (Deuteronomy 2:2-3)

We too have circled our mountain long enough. It is time to turn east, time to answer the Father’s whistle as He calls Ephraim to come trembling from the west. It is time to return to the land promised to our forefathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Isaiah 11:11; Hosea 11:11; Zechariah 10:7-10).

How do we answer the whistle? Obviously, at this time we can’t climb on a plane and in a mass move to Israel. For the most part, we can’t afford such a move, and we wouldn’t be welcomed in Israel. But, these obstacles are the giants that Yahveh will overcome at the appointed time. Our job is to prepare for our appointed time. How do we do that?

Many of you will undoubtedly remember Operation Solomon from a few years ago. In it, the Israelis, ahead of a rebel horde marching on Addis Abba (the capital of Ethiopia), airlifted out some 15,000 Falashas (Black Jews) in thirty-six hours. Quite a feat. But an even greater feat was having 15,000 Falashas at the airport. Where did they come from? Why were they there? How did they get there?

In the early sixties, two Israelis (shades of Joshua and Caleb – two witnesses) were sent on a mission to Ethiopia to investigate the Falashas, who claimed to be descendants of King Solomon. Why? Because if they were Jews, then they should have the opportunity to return to the land of Israel.

These two witnesses were the initial link in a chain that, over thirty years later, would have 15,000 Falashas at the Addis Abba airport, who would in turn be airlifted out in an astounding thirty-six hours.

What did these two witnesses do? They instructed the Falashas as to their true identity, and they informed them about their inheritance: they planted a seed.[14]

The Forerunner’s Mission

As forerunners, we too are links in the chain the Father is forging that He might deliver Ephraim from the nations and reunite him with Judah. So, let each of us be a strong link in that chain, and let us link-up with others. Let us begin to instruct other Ephraimites as to their true identity, and to inform them of their inheritance. For, in this manner, we will help fulfill Jeremiah’s prophecy concerning the instruction of Ephraim (Jeremiah 31:19). Or at least, we will plant a seed.

Admittedly the task of instructing Ephraim holds the hope of advancing the future goal of Kingdom restoration. And, many have a problem of relating a future goal to everyday life and with the ever-present goal to love one another as Yeshua has loved us (1 John 4:10-19). So they concentrate their efforts and resources on the present, often at the expense of the future. Yet the day will come when the future becomes our present.

Can we at the same time pursue our present and future goals? Are these two goals compatible?

Yes we can. Yes they are. Indisputably, the solution to all this world’s ills is for the kingdoms of this world to become the Kingdom of Our Messiah! Therefore, any and all efforts to further the cause of Kingdom restoration can surely be counted as acts of loving one another.

For example, in France it is a crime not to help someone you see in distress. Without a doubt Yahveh’s compassion exceeds that of the French. And surely He expects us to help those we see in need and distress. For this is the theme of the parable of the judgment of the sheep and goats, and it is the very heart of love (Matthew 25:31-46; 1 Corinthians 13).

There is no shortage of those in need and distress. Daily we see a lost and hopeless world, suffering from the ravages of depraved men, groaning in futility under the sting of death (Romans 2, 8; I Corinthians 15:55-56). What can we do to help? What does Our Father expect from we forerunners?

A lot! Why? Because we have been given the key: That key being the key of David. For it is the return the Greater Son of David, of He who holds that key, of He who will, at His return to a united people of Israel, reveal His sons, and thereby deliver creation from its futility, and destroy our final enemy – which is death – and thus, He will restore the Kingdom to Israel (Romans 8:18-20; I Corinthians 15:26; Revelation 3:7-8; Ezekiel 37:22-28).

Admittedly the task of uniting Israel is by our standards an impossible task. Which, according to Watchman Nee assures us that it is a task from Yahveh, based on the fact that we cannot accomplish it without Him. What is our part? What is Yahveh’s part? And, how do we tell the difference?

One well known evangelist gave a good answer to these questions when he said, “The more l show my faith by my works the more I see the works of God accomplished.” This should not surprise us. because Yahveh has a track record of working through men.

Passive or Involved?

Again the question: What can we do to help? We can be passive, and limit our involvement to prayer, and let the Holy Spirit accomplish the actual instruction of those Ephraimites that He wants returned to an understanding of their heritage and purpose. Or, we can pray and get involved. If we do get involved, we will find, that the more we witness, the more people will be led by the Holy Spirit into an understanding of their heritage and purpose.

We can try. Therefore, let us take full advantage of every opportunity to help restore the Kingdom. At the very least, let us put as much of our energies and resources in attempting to attain our goals as did those who had a part in the building of great cathedrals and halls of learning, placing a church on every corner, and carrying the Gospel of personal salvation throughout the earth. After all, can we be critical of them and accomplish less?

If You Had A Million Dollars

One last thought. If you had a million dollars, and a whole year completely free to devote to Yahveh’s purposes, what would you do with your time and money?

OK, you don’t have a million dollars and a year. But you do have a dollar and an hour. And, Yahveh’s rewards are not based on what we have, but rather on what we do with what we have (Matthew 25: 14-30).


[1] One excellent way to see prophecy in action is to go to Israel with people who have helped Jewish farmers harvest their crops for years. Hayovel is a Christian organization that has acted on these same promises, bringing volunteers to Israel to labor in the vineyards and fields to help bring prophecy into fulfillment. For a more complete explanation, visit https://www.hayovel.com/about/why.
[2] See Angus and Batya Wootten, “Who Told You?” House of David Herald 5-10, October 1993.
[3] “Church,” like “Israel,” is a multi-faceted name/title, and often one has to know what the author means with their use; and so we state that we realize there is an organized ecclesiastical “Church System” that ultimately will “persecute” true Believers (Rev 3:16; 2 Tim 3:1-12); and that there is a true church, an eternal ekklesia, a body of Believers who seek to follow the God of Israel (Acts 7:38; 2 Thes 1:1; 2:13). Also, there is a “Synagogue of Satan” that opposes Messiah’s claims (John 8:44; 10:33; Rev 2:9; 3:9). In this document, the term “Church” is used loosely, sometimes including those who “claim” to be part of “the church” (the true Body). This same loose standard is applied in references to “Jews/Judaism.” We trust that in the end, the Holy One Himself will decide who among both peoples is acceptable to Himself (Mat 7:23). However, because the word “Church” is derived from the Germanic word, kirke, and was first used to speak of a ritualistic circle (see Church, Smith’s Bible Dictionary, Fleming Revell), we prefer the Greek, ekklesia when referring to the true called out ones (Strong’s word #G1577).
[4] See the books In Search Of Israel, and The Olive Tree of Israel, both by Batya Ruth Wootten. In Search of Israel is available through Key of David Publishing (https://www.keyofdavidpublishing.com/product/in-search-of-israel/). The Olive Tree of Israel is currently out of print.
[5] In saying this, we do not mean to deny the need for each individual to be born from above, and thus to enter into a personal relationship with Messiah Yeshua. Instead, we speak for the need to begin to see ourselves as a “corporate,” even national, people; that people being the chosen people of Israel (1 Pet 1:1; 2:9).
[6] See Ephesians 1:12-15.
[7] Alienated: To cause to be withdrawn or detached, as from one’s society, Webster ‘s New World Dictionary.
[8] See The Olive Tree Of Israel by Batya Ruth Wootten.
[9] See Angus Wootten, “Ephraim, Free At Last,” House of David Herald 8-04, April 1996. Republished by B’ney Yosef North America at this link: https://bneyyosefna.com/ephraim-free-at-last-one-again-a-mighty-man/.
[10] See Angus and Batya Wootten, “From Roman Roads to the World Wide Web,” House of David Herald 9-07, July 1997.
[11] See Angus Wootten, “The Messianic Vision,” House of David Herald 9-01, January 1996. Republished by B’ney Yosef North America at this link: https://bneyyosefna.com/2643-2/.
[12] See Batya Wootten, “Rapture or Transformation? Escape or Victory?” House of David Herald 7-04, April 1995, and Bob Fraley, “Should I Believe In The Pre-Tribulation Rapture?” House of David Herald 7-05, May 1995.
[13] See Michael Arnold, “Overcoming Religion – Possessing The Land,” House of David Herald 9-09, September 1997.
[14] The author, having served in Ethiopia in the early sixties as a US Army staff officer, and as an advisor to the Ethiopian Army, can attest to these facts – having met and talk with the two Israeli witnesses.

Resurrection of the Leprous Prodigal

Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, The King Uzziah Stricken with Leprosy  (Wikimedia Commons)

Those who have leprosy might as well be dead.  Never mind that the disease we call leprosy today may or may not be one of the skin diseases meant by the Hebrew word tzara’at (צָרַעַת).  The fact is, whoever had it was cut off from the community:

Now the leper on whom the sore is, his clothes shall be torn and his head bare; and he shall cover his mustache, and cry, “Unclean!  Unclean!”  He shall be unclean. All the days he has the sore he shall be unclean. He is unclean, and he shall dwell alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp.  (Leviticus 13:45-46 NKJV)

Think about that for a moment.  Lepers could not go home.  They could not have any kind of normal relationship with their family members, friends, business associates, or anyone else with whom they interacted before the cursed condition fell upon them.  It did not matter what station of life the leper occupied; whether peasant or king, the disease cut them off from the life of the nation.  Even mighty King Uzziah of Judah learned that.  Although he reigned for 52 years in Jerusalem, the leprosy he contracted in the midst of his reign meant that he was king in name only:

King Uzziah was a leper until the day of his death.  He dwelt in an isolated house, because he was a leper; for he was cut off from the house of the Lord.  Then Jotham his son was over the king’s house, judging the people of the land.  (II Chronicles 26:21 NKJV)

How can a person shepherd the people of God when he is cut off from the House of God?  Is there any hope for him, or for the people he is anointed to lead?

Yes, there is hope.  That is why the Torah portion Metzora (The Leper; Leviticus 14:1-15:33) provides elaborate detail on the procedures for cleansing lepers.  Once healed, the priests help them through this process to restore them to their place in society.  In a certain sense, this is a resurrection from a type of death, and thus it is a symbol of what Messiah will do. 

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The Dilemma of the Ger: Commentary on “Has an Ancient Biblical Status for Non-Jews Reemerged After 2500 Years?”

James Tissot, The Return of the Prodigal Son.
The Return of the Prodigal Son, by James Tissot.

The Torah Awakening among Christians is creating something the world has not seen for two thousand years:  a growing body of non-Jewish people who are doing the best they can to live by God’s eternal standards (His Torah – Law, Teaching, Commandments), but who do not intend to convert to Judaism.

What is the world to do with such people?  Perhaps the more immediate question is, what are the Jewish people and the State of Israel to do with such people?

Dr. Rivkah Lambert Adler explored these questions recently in an article for Breaking Israel News.  Her article, “Has an Ancient Biblical Status for Non-Jews Reemerged after 2500 Years?”, presents the biblical concept of ger, (גָּר, Strong’s H1616), or foreigner, as a possible status for Torah-keeping non-Jews.  Dr. Adler and I have shared some correspondence on this question, and hopefully will be able to continue that conversation in a point-counterpoint discussion.  Here is my initial offering.

According to Strong’s Concordance, a ger is a “sojourner; a temporary inhabitant, a newcomer lacking inherited rights; of foreigners in Israel, though conceded rights”.  The implication is that such people are not Israelites, not Hebrews, and not members of the nation or commonwealth of Israel. 

This is where we run into several issues.  The easy path is to argue these points, but that is not necessarily the wisest path.  What we all need is the path of wisdom and reconciliation, and that is what I hope to investigate.

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