Tag Archive | Florida

Not Satisfied with Half the Picture: My Quest for Truth Beyond Tradition

In April 2017, Dr. Rivkah Lambert Adler sent out invitations to participate in a book project with the working title, Ten From The Nations: Exploring the Torah Awakening Among Non-Jews. Her motivation is to increase awareness of the fact that we are witnessing the gradual fulfillment of Zechariah 8:23. She did so by compiling testimonies from non-Jews who have experienced a Torah awakening of some sort, and from Jews who are actively building relationships with those who are stepping forward from the nations. Her book includes the voices of Christian Zionists, Bnei Noach, Ephraimites, Gerim and more.
It is an honor to be one of those invited to submit a testimony. What follows is the story of my journey into an appreciation of Torah and the Hebraic roots of my Christian faith.
For more information on Ten From The Nations, visit http://www.tenfromthenations.com/.

For the first few years of my life, people fell into one of two categories:  white, or black.  Then the rules changed and the world got complicated.

Scenes of my formative years. Left: going to church in Pensacola, Florida, with my father and older sister in 1962. Right: Dawson Memorial Baptist Church (with Pastor Edgar M. Arendall) and Briarwood Christian School in Birmingham, Alabama.

The world into which I was born was white, Southern, and Baptist.  That was in 1961, when the requirements of my father’s career in insurance caused my parents to depart from their native Alabama and take up temporary residence in Pensacola, Florida.  As we moved back to Alabama in 1963, the Civil Rights Movement entered its most active stage.  Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote his Letter from Birmingham Jail, sit-ins and marches defied segregationist strongholds, and the Federal Government took steps to correct a longstanding injustice.  Little of this turmoil impacted me until 1968, when a Federal judge ordered the desegregation of Birmingham’s public schools.  One day I went to school with my all-white third grade class of about 20 students; the next day the class had swelled to over forty, half of whom were black.

I cannot say whether the addition of so many new playmates of color caused any trauma to myself, but I know that it shook my parents to their core.  At the end of that academic year, they removed my brother and me from the public school, opting to make the financial sacrifice of placing us in the sanctuary of a Christian academy where we could receive a better education.  It also had the advantage in their eyes of being an all-white school.

Well, almost.  What may have escaped their notice was that Briarwood Christian School had a non-discrimination admissions policy.  That explains the presence of one black child in the kindergarten – the only black child enrolled there during my years at Briarwood.  My education was hardly interracial, and yet this turn of events triggered inexorable alterations to my worldview.  By the age of 8, I learned that the antiseptic white society into which I had been born was less utopian than I had been taught.  There was a world of color awaiting my exploration, and a host of questions that the scripted answers could not begin to satisfy.

What I had been taught was not all wrong.  Much of it was right, but it was incomplete.  So was the worldview of my black counterparts –much of it quite right, but incomplete.  Our combined worldviews formed a far more complete picture, with the white perspective filling gaps in the black perspective, and vice versa.  Thus my education proceeded along two parallel tracks:  a formal track provided by the teachers and preachers at school and church; and an informal track hidden in the recesses of my heart and soul and mind.  The hidden track evaluated everything presented to it, often reaching conclusions at odds with the accepted norms.  Hence the reason it remained hidden.

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Kingdom Power in Context: A Review of The Restoration and the Gifts of the Spirit by Dr. David E. Jones

BFB160717 Jones - Restoration and Gifts of the SpiritA pendulum swing is taking place in the Hebrew Roots movement in America.  Many followers of Yeshua haMashiach (Jesus Christ) who have sought to embrace the Torah walk He modelled have moved beyond traditional Christianity.  In practical terms, that means they have left the organized church in its various denominations and moved into something that looks sort of Jewish (as in keeping Sabbath and observing the biblical Feasts), but retains faith in Yeshua as Messiah.  Now that this process has been going on for almost a generation, many are beginning to wonder if we might have left some very important things behind in the church.  Things like fellowship, unity, brotherly love, and the Holy Spirit.  This does not necessarily mean that Messianic and Hebrew Roots believers are ready to return to the church, but rather that we are beginning to realize the same thing about Christians as we have come to understand about Jews:  the things we hold in common are far more numerous and more important than the things which divide us.  Consequently, Hebraic believers are now reexamining once again what they believe, taking steps to mend broken bridges and restore precious things which we may have jettisoned too quickly in our zeal to put distance between ourselves and the traditions of man.

Hebraic believers with backgrounds in the Pentecostal or Charismatic branches of contemporary Christianity understand this question in regard to the Holy Spirit (Ruach HaQodesh).  At first glance, the Torah observant lifestyle does not seem compatible with what is generally believed to be the gifts and manifestations of the Spirit.  Yet a deeper study of the Person and purpose of the Spirit reveals something astounding:  living by Torah is impossible without Him.

This is the thrust of The Restoration and the Gifts of the Spirit, a new book by Dr. David E. Jones, Senior Pastor of Ruach Ministries International in Brandon, Florida.  The book grew out of conversations he held with Brad Scott of Wildbranch Ministry.  As Scott writes in his Foreword:

We believe that these gifts were ignored, tossed away, changed or otherwise corrupted just as the feasts and the sabbaths were. . . All of the gifts of the Spirit are from the beginning and all of them are a testimony and revelation of the end.

What follows is a thorough examination of the Holy Spirit from a Hebraic viewpoint.  Starting with Genesis 1 and moving forward through the Scriptures, Jones establishes two very important points.  The first is that the Holy Spirit is YHVH God, nothing less.  This may seem contrary to the common Jewish understanding of echad, or one, which for centuries has held that God is an indivisible entity – One and only One.  That is not necessarily the sense of the Shema, the watchword of Judaism and Hebraic faith, which states, “Hear, O Israel:  The Lord our God, the Lord is one!”  (Deuteronomy 6:4 NKJV)  Jones explains that echad in that verse and elsewhere in the Bible means, “’one’ as something that is unified as one, not necessarily only.”  In other words, “the One True God is in perfect unity as one.”  Therefore, He can express Himself in multiple ways and still be the same YHVH.
The second point is that the Holy Spirit has been active in the world and in human beings from the very beginning.  This is contrary to a common Christian understanding that the “outpouring” of the Holy Spirit did not happen until the events recorded in Acts 2 at the Feast of Pentecost following Yeshua’s ascension.  Jones cites several examples of people in the Tanakh (Old Testament) filled with the Holy Spirit and empowered to do the works of YHVH.  This brings us to the ministry of the Holy Spirit:

We see a common theme throughout all of Scripture in testifying concerning a “spirit-filled” man of YHVH.  This testimony is three fold, it consists of:  wisdom, knowledge and understanding.  Looking at many of the great people of faith, we can see these three things being shown in their lives.

In his examination of Scripture, Jones illustrates these three elements of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding evident in every move of the Spirit in both the Old and New Testaments.  He makes his most powerful argument in presenting the parallels between the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, and the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost.  What he reveals is the continuity of the Holy Spirit’s work in the people of YHVH, both before and after the coming of Messiah Yeshua.

This is perhaps the most powerful and greatest contribution of Jones’ work.  It is an understanding that neither traditional Christianity nor traditional Judaism could uncover in that both of them start with the perception that they are separate entities rather than two expressions of the same covenant-keeping YHVH.  It takes a Hebraic believer, with an appreciation of both the Christian and Jewish perspectives and an understanding of the Old and New Testaments, to grasp this essential truth.  Yet he does not stop there.  In the latter chapters, he investigates those controversial questions always present in discussions of the gifts of the Spirit.  How are we to account for and deal with such things as the gifts of prophecy and tongues?  What role do they and other gifts play in the life of a Hebraic follower of Yeshua?  What have we missed by avoiding them?  What do we gain by embracing them in the context YHVH intended all along?  Jones does well in addressing these questions.  The answers he provides may not be complete, but they are an essential component to this ongoing discussion of how the power of the Holy Spirit is to be evident in the lives of YHVH’s people.

The Restoration and the Gifts of the Spirit is a much-needed work on a component still lacking in Messianic/Hebrew Roots understanding of the Scripture.  It is also a powerful addition and enhancement of the Christian and Jewish treatments of the subject.  David Jones has done a great service to the believers of all traditions by his balanced and scholarly investigation of the Spirit of the Living God.

The Restoration and the Gifts of the Spirit is available through Ruach International Ministries, and on Amazon.com.


© Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog, 2014-2016.  Permission to use and/or duplicate original material on The Barking Fox Blog is granted, provided that full and clear credit is given to Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Walking in Torah While Filled With the Spirit

Here’s what is coming up on The Remnant Road on Hebrew Nation Radio for Monday, June 20:

160620 Jones - Restoration and Gifts of the Spirit

One of those overlooked connections in Scripture is that both Moses and Paul – two of the greatest men of YHVH – prayed that all of God’s people would prophesy (Numbers 11:29; I Corinthians 14:1). Moses wrote the Torah, and Paul wrote about how to live it out as a follower of Messiah Yeshua. It would seem, therefore, that both of them would agree that Spirit-filled disciples of Yeshua should be walking in the gifts and the power of the Ruach HaKodesh (Holy Spirit). But how? And what does that mean anyway?
These are the questions we will explore with Dr. David E. Jones, Senior Pastor at Ruach Ministries International in Brandon, Florida. His latest book, “The Restoration and the Gifts of the Spirit”, is a Hebraic investigation of the Ruach’s identity, purpose, and presence in the lives of YHVH’s people from the earliest biblical accounts to the present day. As one might expect, David addresses the “hot button” topics of tongues and prophetic words, but those are only a small part of this study of the Ruach HaKodesh as an indispensable manifestation of YHVH’s Presence in the lives of His people. Join us for a groundbreaking discussion!
David’s book is available for pre-order at http://www.ruachministriesshop.com/.

Remnant Road 01The Remnant Road, with co-hosts Al McCarn and Daniel Holdings, is the Monday edition of the Hebrew Nation Morning Show.  You can listen live at 11:00–1:00 EST, 8:00-10:00 PST at http://hebrewnationonline.com/, and on podcast at any time.


© Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog, 2016.  Permission to use and/or duplicate original material on The Barking Fox Blog is granted, provided that full and clear credit is given to Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Out of Time? The End Times Prophecy Series on The Remnant Road and Prepare the Way

In March and April 2016, Al McCarn and Daniel Holdings co-hosted a series of discussions on End Times Prophecy on Hebrew Nation Radio.  The forums for these discussions were The Remnant Road, the Monday edition of the Hebrew Nation Morning Show, and Prepare the Way, Daniel’s Wednesday evening podcast on current and prophetic events.  Each guest on these programs brought a paradigm-shifting perspective on the End Times indicating not only that the people of YHVH are out of time, but that the events Christians and Jews have expected for millennia may be transpiring before our eyes in ways no one has yet expected.  The links to the podcasts of each show are collected and presented here (grouped by topic rather than chronological order) in the hope that these discussions will be a help to those who have eyes to see and ears to hear in these Last Days.

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Can These Dry Bones Live? A Report from the Bney Yosef Congress of North America – Israel News

BFB160317 BYC from BINAfter less than two weeks of life, B’ney Yosef North America has begun to receive international attention. Breaking Israel News published the article reposted here on March 17, 2016. The writer, Laura Densmore of Hebrew Nation News, was present at the BYNA Summit in St. Petersburg. Her comprehensive account explains the proceedings and provides links to many other sources of information on what our friend Hanoch Young calls “an earthquake in Florida”.


Breaking Israel News

Can These Dry Bones Live? A Report from the Bney Yosef Congress of North America

By March 17, 2016 , 11:00 am

The Bney Yosef North America Summit took place on March 4-6, 2016  in Tampa, Florida. What is this assembly of people? It is a network of North Americans who have heard the call to join together for the common purpose of the restoration and reconstitution of the people of Northern Israel, also known as the House of Yosef/Ephraim.

The purpose of this Summit was twofold:

*to discuss and affirm a statement of identity and purpose AND
* to get a biblical leadership structure in place, consisting of a Council of Elders to guide and lead BYNA and an Executive Council, to be the administrative arm.

Why this Summit now?  There is an ever increasing awakening of Ephraimites in North America who are looking for their long-expected reunion with Judah.

Read more at Can These Dry Bones Live? A Report from the Bney Yosef Congress of North America – Israel News.


© Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog, 2015-2016.  Permission to use and/or duplicate original material on The Barking Fox Blog is granted, provided that full and clear credit is given to Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

When History and Prophecy Come Together

BYNA White

What would it have been like to be at the signing of the Declaration of Independence?  Or at the First Zionist Congress, or the first meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, or at any great event that changed history?

That is a question our grandchildren will ask in years to come about the great events happening right now as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob fulfills this long-expected promise:

This is what the Sovereign Lord says:  I am going to take the stick of Joseph—which is in Ephraim’s hand—and of the Israelite tribes associated with him, and join it to Judah’s stick.  I will make them into a single stick of wood, and they will become one in my hand.  (Ezekiel 37:19 NIV)

The B'ney Yosef North America Summit is March 4-6, 2016, in Tampa, FL. Register at www.bneyyosefna.com/2016-north-american-summit/.

The B’ney Yosef North America Summit is March 4-6, 2016, in Tampa, FL. For more information go to www.bneyyosefna.com.

One of those historic events is happening in Tampa, Florida.  At the B’ney Yosef North America Summit, March 4-6, 2016, followers of Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ) who have returned to the Torah He practiced and embraced their Israelite identity will assemble to reestablish the North American portion of the formerly Lost Ten Tribes of Israel.  Now is your chance to be part of this convergence of history and prophecy.  Come to Tampa and let your voice be heard!  Registration is open now, but space is limited and time is short.

The B’ney Yosef North America Summit will convene at the St. Petersburg Marriott Clearwater, just outside Tampa.  Keep these dates in mind:

  • The Summit convenes on Friday, March 4, and ends on Sunday, March 6.
  • Registration deadline is Friday, February 26.
  • Special rates for rooms at the Marriott are available through Friday, February 19.

To register, please visit the B’ney Yosef North America website at:

http://bneyyosefna.com/2016-north-american-summit/

Email info@bneyyosefna.com for more information. 


© Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog, 2014-2016.  Permission to use and/or duplicate original material on The Barking Fox Blog is granted, provided that full and clear credit is given to Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Predestined Identity?

James Arminius (Jakob Hermanszoon) and John Calvin, two highly influential figures of the Protestant Reformation whose opposing doctrinal positions illustrate the fact that we still see YHVH's plans imperfectly.

James Arminius (Jakob Hermanszoon) and John Calvin, two highly influential figures of the Protestant Reformation whose opposing doctrinal positions illustrate the fact that we still see YHVH’s plans imperfectly.

Among the many things for which I frequently thank YHVH is that I got to grow up in a Southern Baptist church and a Presbyterian school.  From an early age I came to appreciate the doctrinal positions of both and their roots in Arminianism and Calvinism.  Concerning the key elements of free will and predestination, I concluded long ago that they are not mutually exclusive.  I do not understand exactly how they work, but I do know that both are part of God’s operation in human affairs.  God’s sovereignty and human responsibility intertwine in very complicated and intricate ways to produce outcomes that YHVH declares from the beginning, but which finite mankind must play out in faith and obedience – or in ignorance and despair, depending on one’s perspective.

But what if predestination means something different from what we suppose?  What if it refers to the fate of a nation rather than individuals?  Consider this:  YHVH has promised from ancient times to establish permanently the seed of Abraham on the Promised Land in the form of a nation called Israel.  Moreover, He has promised to open the way for people of all nations to come into that holy nation and be part of His eternal covenant of peace.  What if predestination refers to YHVH’s intent to do this thing just as He said?  If “nation” is the real object of predestination, then we have no need to speculate about whether God has chosen certain individuals for salvation and others for damnation.  The way of salvation is open to all individuals through the nation He has predestined as His vehicle of salvation.

This line of thinking requires far more development than is possible in a short blog post.  However, it is unquestionable that God, through Messiah Yeshua, has opened the way for every person on earth to exchange his or her identity of birth for an identity as Abraham’s children, and therefore as Israelites.  This is a point Ephraim Frank explores in the following commentary.


BFB150909 Etz Bney Yosef

Predestined

Ephraim Frank

Etz B’ney Yosef

October 16, 2015

Shalom Fellow Israelite,

Trust you all had a wonderful Succot celebration.  I’m sure you have heard about the various happenings here in the land, with the spirit of violence manifesting again through Israeli Arab citizens, Arab residents of Jerusalem, and others, in the Palestinian territories and Gaza (while this spirit is not totally sidestepping Israelis either).  Thank you for your prayers during these troublesome times.

As we continue into the unpredictable future (a phrase that some may take exception to), our faith and confidence in a faithful covenant keeping Elohim should reach new heights of revelation-understanding.  Yeshua’s purpose in returning to the heavens was to send the Spirit of the Kingdom into the hearts of those elected and predestined for the promise of this Spirit, as is evidenced by the following:  “In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will…”  (Ephesians 1:11).  “For whom He [the Father] foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified” (Romans 8:29-30).  He also “predestined us to the adoption as sons by Yeshua the Messiah to Himself [the Father], according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He has made us accepted in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:5-6).

The question that arises from the above scriptures is, who are the predestined ones that have been called, foreknown and chosen beforehand, justified, glorified and adopted for His purposes?  The apostle states very clearly in Romans 9:4-5a, when he makes reference to those “…who are Israelites, to whom belong the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the Torah, the service of Elohim, and the promises; of whom are the fathers…

Most of the Israelites (those who are not Jewish) have lost their identity, but as prophesied have become multitudes in many nations.  Those from among them who are still lacking the knowledge or realization of their true identity will not fully understand the New Covenant, their destiny and the reconstitution of nationhood, nor the above-cited predetermined characteristics, even though what is written in Ephesians 2:11-13, concerning those who were “once far off”, but who are now part of the “commonwealth of Israel” should cause them to at least question their present (“gentile”) identity.

However, through Yeshua the Kinsman Redeemer, and the working of the Holy Spirit many are now embracing Torah, and as a result their hearts are turning back to the forefathers and to the identity (or, conversely, for others, the discovery of the identity is what restores them to the forefathers and the Torah).  The light of this revelation points to the importance of reconciliation within the House of Jacob (which is the whole House of Israel).  Hence efforts are being made toward the re-gathering of our nation.  One such meeting took place last May in Ariel, Israel, in the form of the “B’ney Yosef National Congress”, and now follow-up summits are due to occur in Texas, Germany, and Florida.  The next B’ney Yosef National Congress will be held, Yah willing, once more in Ariel Israel October 26-31, 2016.

Shabbat Shalom,

Ephraim


© Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog, 2015-2016.  Permission to use and/or duplicate original material on The Barking Fox Blog is granted, provided that full and clear credit is given to Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

Fox Byte 5775 #38: Korach (Korah)

קֹרַח

Duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr.  After the painting by J. Mund.  (Illustration from Beacon Lights of History, Vol. XI, "American Founders.", John Lord, LL.D., London, 1902).  Accessed on Wikimedia Commons.)

Duel between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr. After the painting by J. Mund. (Illustration from Beacon Lights of History, Vol. XI, “American Founders.”, John Lord, LL.D., London, 1902).  Accessed on Wikimedia Commons.)

What would happen if the Vice President of the United States committed murder and got away with it?  It is not a rhetorical question; such a thing happened long ago, in the early days of the American Republic.  On July 11, 1804, Vice President Aaron Burr shot and killed fellow New Yorker Alexander Hamilton.  The two had been adversaries for several years, and eventually their enmity resulted in a duel at a neutral site in Weehawken, New Jersey.  It is unclear who fired first, but it is certain that Hamilton fell mortally wounded, dying the next day in New York City.  Burr fled, facing charges of murder both in New York and New Jersey, but later returned to the city of Washington to complete his tenure as Vice President.  In time the charges of murder were dropped, but Burr’s political career was over.  Thoroughly disgraced and out of favor with President Thomas Jefferson, he moved to the West in search of new opportunities.

The American frontier in those days separated the United States from the Empire of Spain in Florida and along a continental-sized line from Louisiana to what would become the Oregon Territory.  It did not take long for an enterprising man like Aaron Burr to create opportunities for himself, whether legal or not.  It is said that he intrigued with Spanish and American officials on a scheme to separate Mexico from Spain and the western territories from the United States and establish a new empire with himself as its chief.  Although the full extent of Burr’s plans will never be known, there was enough truth to the allegations of intrigue to result in his arrest and prosecution by the Jefferson Administration on charges of treason.  The Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, John Marshall, personally presided over the famous trial in August 1807.  The Chief Justice had instructed the jury that conviction required testimony by two witnesses to a specific, overt act.  When the prosecution could not meet that standard, the jury declared Burr not guilty.

Aaron Burr, 3rd Vice President of the United States, by John Vanderlyn.

Aaron Burr, 3rd Vice President of the United States, by John Vanderlyn.

In the election of 1800 Aaron Burr had come within a whisker of winning the presidency.  By 1808 he was a political outsider living in exile.  By 1812 he had returned to the United State, but he never returned to power.  His family, his law practice, and his health deteriorated over the remaining years of his life as he watched his nation grow in size and power without him.  Although endowed with considerable gifts and abilities to govern, his grasp for power ensured that his legacy would not be as one of America’s great men, but as a byword, a legal precedent, and a footnote in history.  Yet from him, perhaps, we can learn something more about what Yeshua of Nazareth meant by His cryptic observation:

From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence, and violent men take it by force.  (Matthew 11:12 NASB)

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Fox Byte 5775 #11: VaYigash (And He Drew Near)

וַיִּגַּשׁ

Billy Bowlegs and Chiefs of the Seminole Indians Gleason's Pictorial, Boston, Saturday, October 23, 1852 (Source:  "Billy Bowlegs and Suite", Seminole Nation, I.T.)

Billy Bowlegs and Chiefs of the Seminole Indians
Gleason’s Pictorial, Boston, Saturday, October 23, 1852 (Source: “Billy Bowlegs and Suite”, Seminole Nation, I.T.)

It has been more than 500 years since Christopher Columbus mistakenly identified the indigenous peoples of the Americas as “Indians”, and yet that name has remained the popular collective label for the many hundreds of nations more accurately identified by their own names, such as Arawak, Pequot, Lakota, Yaqui, Quechua, and Navajo.  Many of these nations have ceased to exist, the victims of disease, war, enslavement, and cultural genocide.  Others have come into existence as dispersed and diminished peoples have merged to make new nations.  Still others have persisted in their identity to this day, enduring beyond hope as distinct peoples.  All of those things describe the Seminole Nation, which now resides in the states of Oklahoma and Florida.  The Seminoles did not become a distinct people until late in the 18th century, when remnants of the Muskogee (Creek) and other peoples of Florida and what is now Georgia and Alabama combined to form a new nation.  The Spanish called them cimarrones, meaning runaways, or free people.  This term referred to the fact that the tribe included many escaped slaves, both African and Native American, who had joined with others from broken, scattered tribes.  In the Muskogee tongue, cimarrones became semulon-e, and eventually Seminole.

This people who originally were not a people soon developed a strong sense of national identity which compelled them to resist all efforts to conquer them.  They fought against the Spanish, the English, the Creeks, and, inevitably, the Americans.  Three bitter wars from 1817 to 1858 left the Seminole Nation broken and divided, but still unconquered.  Most of the surviving Seminoles were removed by the United States government to Oklahoma, but a remnant remained in the swamps of southwestern Florida, where they remain to this day.  The Florida Seminoles are unique among Native American peoples in that they alone have never signed a treaty of peace with the United States.  Those who were removed to Oklahoma may have agreed to peace with the U.S., but they maintained a fierce independence in their new land.  Efforts to integrate them into the Creek Nation of Oklahoma met with determined resistance.  In time the Seminole remnant in Oklahoma reestablished their tribal identity, and today exist as a separate and distinct nation.[1]

It may come as a surprise, but the greatest story in the Bible is about a nation created from a people who were not a people.  The tale begins with the account of Joseph and his brothers, but the story as yet has no ending.

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Fox Byte 5775 #8: VaYishlach (And He Sent)

וַיִּשְׁלַח

Florida State University, where the seeds of my first great crisis of faith matured.  (FSU Westcott Building, Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

Florida State University, where the seeds of my first great crisis of faith matured. (FSU Westcott Building, Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons)

There was a time I wrestled with God.  The wrestling match began in my teenage years, when I detected certain inconsistencies in the instruction handed down from my elders.  From my Southern Baptist church and family I learned that God had given free will to every human being, and that we could choose whether to follow Him or not.  From my Presbyterian school I learned that God had foreordained everything, and that a process called predestination somehow influenced the choices we make.  This was not the only inconsistency encountered in my Christian upbringing; there were and still are many.  The question of free will and predestination, however, shaped the context of my wrestling with God from the beginning.  I had no reason to doubt the sincerity of my elders, nor had I reason to question the truth of what they taught me.  What I questioned was how these seemingly incompatible truths fit together.  I still do not have the answer, but a very wise man helped me find a way through the dilemma.  He was my Bible teacher.  One day in class someone asked him to explain which was correct, free will or predestination.  He may have been the only person in the school qualified to answer that question.  He was an ordained Baptist minister, and had had ample opportunity to consider the subject as he taught Bible in our Presbyterian academy.  His answer was surprisingly Hebraic, both imminently satisfying and frightfully frustrating:  he asked us if both concepts were present in the Bible.  When we said yes, he said, “Then they both must be true.”  And that was the end of the matter.

And the beginning.

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