Tag Archive | Genesis

The Best Decision I Ever Made: Delighting in the Wife of My Youth

Charlayne and me on our wedding day, August 15, 1987.

The last thing I thought I needed in the fall of 1986 was a girlfriend. When the Army had assigned me to Germany three years earlier, I half expected that I might find the woman of my dreams there. A few fun-but-fruitless relationships later, I realized that this process was more complicated that I thought, and far more difficult. And so, when I made my way to Fort Huachuca, Arizona, at the beginning of November for the next phase of my military career, I determined that it would be better to get a dog than find a girlfriend. Oddly enough (seeing that God has quite the sense of humor), it was nearly thirty more years before I would get a dog, but the woman of my dreams was only days away from walking into my life.

It happened on Sunday, November 9, 1986, at the First Baptist Church of Sierra Vista, Arizona. Charlayne was among the single young adults in the Sunday School class that morning, but her presence didn’t register with me until that evening, when I joined the church at the evening worship service. That’s when this vision of loveliness came bounding down the aisle to give me a hug and welcome me into the congregation. She also invited me to go out with all the singles to the Village Inn for pie. It was an unexpected, but very agreeable, invitation. What was more unexpected, and even more agreeable, was how quickly we became good friends. Within days we were dating, and within six weeks we were engaged.

I tell people that we were engaged by decree of my mother-in-law, and it’s true. Both of us had plans for our lives that a serious relationship would disrupt. As we grew closer and closer, the thought of those disruptions caused us no end of distress, until one Sunday afternoon they brought us to the brink of panic. We asked her parents to come over and talk with us. They sat in her apartment listening to us talk things out for about an hour and a half, and then her mother said the last thing I expected: “Well, it seems to me you kids need to get married.”

Many times in my life, a sense of peace has settled over me, indicating that God’s answer in the present predicament had been revealed. That moment in Charlayne’s apartment was one of the first, and is still one of the most profound, of those occasions. When her mother said the one thing we had dared not consider, we knew it was right, and it was holy. We were married some months later, and after 31 years we remain true to the covenant that established our household when we were young.

I do not recall whether any woman other than Char has ever captured my attention in any way that might cause her to be a rival to the wife of my youth. I have had many female friends and coworkers, some of whom have been quite attractive, but in all those years, I cannot remember a time when any of them attracted me in any inappropriate way. Perhaps I am peculiar in that regard; I have known many situations when such attractions severely damaged and even ended the marriages of people I knew. In our culture, we do not look favorably on unfaithfulness to the marriage covenant. For reasons grounded in Scripture, we in the West have, since time immemorial, taken seriously and literally the words of Moses and Yeshua (Jesus) that a man must leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife as one flesh. Even King Henry VIII of England could not get around those words. When his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, could not produce a male heir, he annulled the marriage and took Anne Boleyn. When she produced no male heir, he found a reason to have her executed (one can do that if one is a king), and replaced her with Jane Seymour. She became mother to his only son, but died only days later. Henry’s next wife, Anne of Cleves, was so young and innocent that he chose to annul the marriage rather than consummate it. In her place, he married Catherine Howard, a young-but-not-so-innocent woman whose flirtatious behavior eventually cost her her head. That left Catherine Parr, the wife who outlived the old king.

I learned the tale of Henry VIII as a boy, thanks to a classic BBC miniseries about his life. It struck me as odd that Martin Luther himself had stated his preference that the king commit bigamy and marry Anne Boleyn rather than divorce the first Catherine. Henry did not adopt Luther’s prescription as far as I can tell, but chose annulment instead. It helped that Catherine was Spanish and Catholic; in one stroke, he ended a cumbersome political entanglement and its attendant religious fetters. When the Roman Church refused to grant the annulment (perhaps because the reigning pope was at that time a prisoner of Catherine’s nephew, Emperor Charles V), Henry simply declared England separate from Rome and established the Anglican Church.

It is the stuff of soap operas, but it is our history. So also are the tales of the patriarchs and many great men of the Bible. Abraham, Jacob, Elkanah, David, Solomon, and the kings of Judah and Israel seemed to have no trouble taking multiple wives. After all, there is no Scriptural prohibition against polygamy. The closest thing to a prohibition that appears in the Bible is Paul’s advice to Titus and Timothy that congregational elders should have but one wife. I surmise that Paul’s wise counsel came not merely from his extensive knowledge of the Torah and the traditions of the elders, but his experience in guiding the many congregations forming in the Mediterranean world of his day. Perhaps that experience is what motivated him to write what I believe is the best word on this matter:

All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything. (1 Corinthians 6:12 NASB)

Lawful, but not profitable. Is that not the lesson of the Patriarchs? King Henry VIII may have been thinking about the woeful consequences in the households of those men – consequences that included incest, murder, extreme sibling rivalry, jealousy, and all manner of dysfunction. I saw the same phenomenon when I studied the Ottoman Empire. No prince who attained the sultanate was safe as long as his half brothers from his father’s other wives were still alive. King Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia understood this quite well, which is why he arranged for his sons from his many wives to rule sequentially so that none of them would be the father of a new dynasty. The last of those sons is on the throne in Riyadh today, sixty-five years after his father’s death.

I do not know much about the wives of these polygamous kings, whether of ancient Israel, Ottoman Turkey, or modern Saudi Arabia. The best commentary I heard came from a Saudi amir whose hospitality I enjoyed in 1990, while I served with the army deployed there to defend his country from Iraqi aggression. Over the course of our conversation, the question of Muslim views on marriage came up. Multiple wives entered into the religious culture of Islam because it was already a cultural institution in Arabia. Muhammad seems to have endeavored to regulate the practice, which is why the custom is to limit a man to four wives. What the life of those wives is like, I do not know, but I have heard some terrible things. What I do know is that this kindly amir who had invited us into his home told us that, for some reason which he confessed he did not understand, his sons wanted to depart from the precedent of his household. They believed, he said, that it would be better to marry only one wife, and that only for love.

This is an interesting perspective when compared with something I heard from an American friend of mine. He lives in close proximity to polygamous families of the Mormon faith. They are nice people, he says, but the practice of polygamy has served only to oppress the women and disrupt the families. Is that a consistent result of multiple wives in one family? Or is it the result of imposing such a model on a culture that is accustomed to one man marrying one woman for life? This I cannot say.

What I can say is that many cultures do have marriage practices that differ from my own. This came to my attention in an unusual way in 2009 upon the election of former president Jacob Zuma of South Africa. Another friend of mine, founder of an influential prayer ministry, sent out a notice asking prayer for Mr. Zuma and his wives (four at the time). She did not issue that notice in a judgmental way, but rather in the same way as she had done when asking prayer for other heads of state. It just so happened that this one was polygamous. It was merely a statement of fact: this particular president of this particular country needed prayer for himself in his new role, and for his family, which happened to include several wives and children by them.

I think my friend did well in asking for such prayer in the usual way. Another friend of mine tells me that we will encounter many followers of Yeshua in Africa and other places who genuinely love God and love their many wives. It is their culture. He, himself, comes from a native culture in America that is matrilineal, and whose marriage norms are different from those of my Scottish, Irish, and English ancestors. I do not understand such a culture, nor do I desire to adopt it, nor is there a need to do so. At the same time, there is no need to impose my culture on his. Such a thing would be unhealthy at best, and genocidal at worst (another sad fact I cannot ignore from our history).

Where, then, does this leave me? It leaves me with the wife of my youth. Charlayne has satisfied me in every way. Why would I seek another to take her place, or to share me with her? It is not my culture. It is not right to her, to our children, and to the many people whom we have enriched through our example as man and wife. Neither is it consistent with the vows we both took to establish our marriage covenant. When I married her, my father said to me, “We McCarns marry for keeps.” Now, over 30 years later, I know the great wisdom of his words.


© Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog, 2018.  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.
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Counting the Omer 5778/2018 #47

Counting the Omer is keeping the commandment to count 50 days (seven Sabbaths plus one day) between the offering of the first fruits of the barley harvest (often called First Fruits) until the feast of Shavuot (Pentecost) (Leviticus 23:15-21). This year The Barking Fox is counting the omer with modern pictures of places named in the Bible.


© Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog, 2018.  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.

Counting the Omer 5778/2018 #43

Counting the Omer is keeping the commandment to count 50 days (seven Sabbaths plus one day) between the offering of the first fruits of the barley harvest (often called First Fruits) until the feast of Shavuot (Pentecost) (Leviticus 23:15-21). This year The Barking Fox is counting the omer with modern pictures of places named in the Bible.


© Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog, 2018.  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.

Counting the Omer 5778/2018 #20

Counting the Omer is keeping the commandment to count 50 days (seven Sabbaths plus one day) between the offering of the first fruits of the barley harvest (often called First Fruits) until the feast of Shavuot (Pentecost) (Leviticus 23:15-21). This year The Barking Fox is counting the omer with modern pictures of places named in the Bible.


© Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog, 2018.  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.

Counting the Omer 5778/2018 #10

Counting the Omer is keeping the commandment to count 50 days (seven Sabbaths plus one day) between the offering of the first fruits of the barley harvest (often called First Fruits) until the feast of Shavuot (Pentecost) (Leviticus 23:15-21). This year The Barking Fox is counting the omer with modern pictures of places named in the Bible.

 


© Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog, 2018.  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.

Counting the Omer 5778/2018 #9

Counting the Omer is keeping the commandment to count 50 days (seven Sabbaths plus one day) between the offering of the first fruits of the barley harvest (often called First Fruits) until the feast of Shavuot (Pentecost) (Leviticus 23:15-21). This year The Barking Fox is counting the omer with modern pictures of places named in the Bible.


© Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog, 2018.  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.

Counting the Omer 5778/2018 #5

Counting the Omer is keeping the commandment to count 50 days (seven Sabbaths plus one day) between the offering of the first fruits of the barley harvest (often called First Fruits) until the feast of Shavuot (Pentecost) (Leviticus 23:15-21). This year The Barking Fox is counting the omer with modern pictures of places named in the Bible.


© Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog, 2018.  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.

Picture of the Week 11/21/17

God wants us to love our neighbors as we love ourselves. He created laboratories for us to learn how. They are called families.

 


© Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog, 2017.  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.

Looking Like Joseph

Enrique Simonet, Flevit super illam (He wept over it). (Prado Museum, via Wikimedia Commons)

How do we evaluate dreams and visions? Like everything else, we test them to Scripture.

There is no question that God sends these Divine communications to people. There is also no question that there are alternative sources of dreams: satanic influences, mind-altering drugs, wild imaginations, or even the aftermath of a wrestling match with disagreeable food. That is why we evaluate everything according to the standard of Scripture to see if it is consistent with the Word of God. Not everything will stand up to that standard, which is why we must be careful to sift the legitimate messages from the deceptive, the irrelevant, and the just plain loony. This is important because we now live in the time when the words of the prophet Joel are coming to pass:

It will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days. (Joel 2:28-28, NASB)

It has been nearly two thousand years since the Apostle Peter verified that humanity had entered the era when Joel’s prophecy was coming into fulfillment (Acts 2:14-21). Where are we now on the timeline of fulfillment of all prophecy – especially the ultimate redemption of Israel, YHVH’s covenant nation? That is something addressed in this vision related by my friend Jesse Jury (Jesse ben Yosef).

I first heard Jesse’s account of this vision while recording an interview of him and his wife, Amy, for the B’ney Yosef North America radio program, Reunion Roadmap. The podcast of that interview is available at this link:

https://bneyyosefna.com/2017/08/14/byna-radio-reunion-roadmap-august-12-2017/

It is worth hearing, not only for Jesse’s vision, but for the insights he and Amy share on a life of walking in Torah with Yeshua, and for the other enjoyable elements of the show. What you will read below is Jesse’s full account of the vision which he posted recently on his blog, Torah Driven Life. You will see that he has attempted to evaluate the vision according to Scripture in the interest of finding an interpretation, and understanding its validity. Maybe you will be able to find more meaning as you do your own testing of this word by the Word of God.


Looking Like Joseph

Jesse ben Yosef
Originally posted on Torah Driven Life, August 9, 2017

As Shabbat started on Av 13, in the Gregorian year 2017, the Ruach HaKodesh came over me, and I began sobbing uncontrollably with joy over the restoration of the sons of Joseph. What I am about to share was so overwhelmingly “real” to me that I cried not only in the evening, but in the early morning of Shabbat as well. It was as if the Father cracked the door, ever so slightly, to share with me a portion of His grief, as well as His excitement, over the separation of Ephraim from the flock of Israel, as well as our coming restoration. One thing in particular that stood out from this prophetic “download” was an emphasis on “looking like Joseph,” which I will explain as follows.

It began with a vision of the heavenly throne room, in which the angels had assembled themselves before the Father. He commanded them, “Go, and bring Me My firstborn son Ephraim, for I long to see his face yet again.”

And the angels left, and searched over the face of the whole earth, and returned back to the throne room, empty handed. They said to the Father, “We cannot find Your son.”

But He would not accept it, and He sent them out many more times, saying to them each time, “Go, and find My son, and bring him back to Me, that I may look upon his face yet again.” But each time, they came back more confused than they were the time before.

“We cannot find Your son.” they said to the Father yet again. “We have searched over the top of the highest mountain, and in the depths of the deepest valleys, and Your son is nowhere to be found.”

“Of course you can’t yet find him,” the Father said, “Because he no longer looks like Joseph. When the time comes when he looks like Joseph, then you will be able to find him.”

The final word that I received from the Father was that the time of the ingathering would be very soon.

An Explanation

After the vision had ended, the first Scripture which came to mind was Matthew 24:30-34, “And then will be seen the signal of the Son of Man in heaven: and then will all the tribes of the earth mourn, when they see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory. And He will send His angels with a great trumpet and they will collect together His elect from the four winds, from one extremity of heaven to the other. Now learn an illustration from the fig tree. As soon as its branches become tender and its leaves shoot forth, you know that summer is coming on. So also, when you perceive all these things, you know that He is near, even at the door. Truly, I say to you, that this generation shall not pass away, until all these things shall come to pass.”

First, we see that it is not Yeshua directly who gathers in His lost sheep, but that the Father sends forth His angels to do the ingathering in the last days. This is literally what I saw in my vision, with the angles assembled, looking for Ephraim, but unable to see him, because he did not yet look like Joseph.

Secondly, Yeshua then compares the ingathering to branch of the fig tree, which– when it begins to bud and bear fruit– is the sign that the harvest is approaching. The branch is used here as a euphemism for Ephraim, and specifically recalls the stick of Joseph in Ezekiel 37. When the stick of Joseph becomes tangible, visible, and identifiable– when the wheat and the tares are distinctly known from one another– this is when the Messiah returns and sends out the gathering angels.

And lastly, Yeshua says that “this generation shall not pass away until these things shall come to pass.” I believe He is referring to the generation of the fig tree, the budding branch of Ephraim, the stick of Joseph. And I believe that WE are that generation.

When I shared the vision with my wife, she brought to mind the parable of the Wheat and the Tares from Matthew 13:24-30, “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field. And while people were asleep, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat, and went away. And when the plant shot up and bore fruits, then the tares also appeared. And the servants of the householder came, and said to him, ‘Our lord, did you not sow good seed in your field? Where did the tares that are in it come from?’ And he said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Is it your pleasure that we go and gather them out?’ And he said to them, ‘No, lest while you gather out the tares, you also eradicate the wheat with them. Let them both grow together until the harvest; and at the time of harvest, I will say to the reapers, “Gather out the tares first, and bind them in bundles to be burned; but gather the wheat gather into my granary.”’”

In this parable, it is seen that “the wheat” and “the tares” are indistinguishable from one another for a long course of time, where they will “both grow together until the harvest.” And at that time, “the servants of the householder” are commanded to separate the two, and bring the wheat into the granary. Now what makes this parable fascinating is when it is examined from an agricultural perspective. The similarity between these two plants is striking; the tares, called “false wheat” in some regions, resemble the wheat nearly identically throughout its growth cycle, and is only discernible from it at the end, when the wheat bears fruit, but the tares do not. And because of its fruit, the heads of the wheat become heavy, and literally “bow down” due to the weight of the grains, indicating a metaphoric resemblance of humility, as opposed to the tares, which stand proud, bearing no fruit.

What does it mean to “look like Joseph?”

As mentioned above, the time of the ingathering would come very soon. He did not give me a tangible date, but the impression I had was that these were events that He was putting into motion in the relatively immediate future. And in the meantime, our calling is to “look like Joseph” with every ounce of our being, by exhibiting good fruit, by showing humility, and by living the fruit of the spirit: “love, joy, peace, endurance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, and patience,” (Galatians 5:22) not only as individuals, but also in our families, our communities, and our Ephraimite nation. For me, the ultimate picture of Joseph’s character, revealed in the Torah, is his response to his brothers in Genesis 45 for having sold him into slavery. He did not respond with judgment, nor malice, nor a will for vengeance; but rather with forgiveness, with love, with compassion, and with sincere concern for the well being of his family– that same family which had betrayed him twenty-two years prior.

So when the Father tells me that we need to “look like Joseph,” this is what that means to me. I look forward to hearing what this means to you in the comments below.

Source: Looking Like Joseph. If you like what you’ve read, drop by Jesse’s blog and leave a comment.


© Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog, 2017.  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.

Picture of the Week 07/18/17

If we are more focused on doing what God says, then we’re less focused on gratifying our own desires.

 


© Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog, 2017.  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.
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