Tag Archive | God

Today I Am A Hebrew: An Address to the B’ney Yosef North America Summit

B'ney Yosef North America Articles of Declaration presented by Elder Barry Phillips (r) and Executive Director Albert McCarn (l) upon affirmation on March 5, 2016.

B’ney Yosef North America Articles of Declaration presented by Elder Barry Phillips (r) and Executive Director Albert McCarn (l) upon affirmation on March 5, 2016.

Those who have attended a birth understand the chaos involved.  It is no easy process, and not accomplished without pain.  As in everything else, the Scripture gives us a helpful perspective:

Whenever a woman is in labor she has pain, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy that a child has been born into the world.  (John 16:21 NASB)

A child was born into the world on the shore of Tampa Bay on March 6, 2016.  After 2,730 years of non-existence, a portion of the long-lost tribes of the northern kingdom of Israel have declared themselves to be a people again.  This is the North American assembly of the House of Joseph, known prophetically in Scripture by the name of Ephraim, the tribe that led them into rebellion against the House of David (I Kings 12).

Does that sound radical?  Fanciful?  Foolish?  Perhaps, but then so also were the declarations of provincial English colonists to be a nation distinct from the mighty empire that ruled them; or of a collection of European Jews to call the Jewish nation back into existence at the First Zionist Congress; and of another generation of ordinary Jewish people to establish Israel as an independent state in the face of certain annihilation.

If the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were not in these things, why do we look to them now for inspiration and example?  And if God is not in this process of restoring the people He long ago said would one day be a people again, then why did the assembly in St. Petersburg, Florida on March 6, 2016, occur in the midst of such a weighty presence of the Lord?

In days to come much will be shared about the birth of B’ney Yosef North America.  Already it is in the international press, thanks to Breaking Israel News.  What I can share is that the signing of the Articles of Declaration which tell the world who we are was a holy undertaking.  One who was there signing these articles shared with me that there are no words to describe holy things; putting words to them brings them down to the realm of the common.  She is right; there are no words to do this justice.

The words I can share are those which opened the B’ney Yosef North America Summit on March 4.  It was my honor to deliver the keynote address to the 200 people assembled there from Canada and the United States, with observers from Israel and the Netherlands.  This address explains the purposes of the gathering.  We accomplished those purposes.  What more we accomplished is yet to be seen.


 

Today I Am A Hebrew
Albert Jackson McCarn
presented at the B’ney Yosef North America Summit
St. Petersburg, Florida
March 4, 2016

 If you have not realized it by now, let me explain why we are assembled in St. Petersburg, Florida today.  We are here to welcome the birth of a new nation.  It is no coincidence that our gathering is happening at the time that another nation is marking nearly two centuries since its birth.  I speak of the place I now call home, the place our brother Hanoch Young calls the Nation of Texas.

The Fall of the Alamo, or Crockett's Last Stand, by Robert Jenkins Onderdonk. Although flawed, this iconoclastic rendition of the Battle of the Alamo depicts the heroic image of the Alamo's defenders as it has come down through history.

The Fall of the Alamo, or Crockett’s Last Stand, by Robert Jenkins Onderdonk. Although flawed, this iconoclastic rendition of the Battle of the Alamo depicts the heroic image of the Alamo’s defenders as it has come down through history.

Two days ago, on March 2, Texans observed the 180th anniversary of the birth of the Republic of Texas.  On March 2, 1836, the Texas Declaration of Independence was adopted in convention at Washington-on-the-Brazos.  News of that declaration did not have time to reach the 200 men besieged in an old Spanish Catholic mission in San Antonio de Béxar before the great battle that claimed their lives.  Today, 180 years ago, March 4, 1836, those men knew only that they faced the stark choice between surrender or death at the hands of an enemy that outnumbered them 12 to 1.  Two days hence, as we conclude our gathering on March 6, Texans will honor the memory of those 200 who laid down their lives at the Alamo fighting for a cause they did not fully understand and a nation they did not really know, but which their selfless sacrifice helped to bring into existence.

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Fox Byte 5776 #4: I’m Still Here

Jim Hawkins (voice by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) learns about the stars from John Silver (Brian Murray) in Treasure Planet, the 2002 Disney adaptation of Treasure Island. (Photo: Rotton Tomatoes)

Jim Hawkins (voice by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) learns about the stars from John Silver (Brian Murray) in Treasure Planet, the 2002 Disney adaptation of Treasure Island. (Photo: Rotten Tomatoes)

If Treasure Island is any indication, a young person’s transition to adulthood has always been awkward and painful.  At least it was so in the 1880s when Robert Louis Stevenson wrote his story for boys.  Stevenson’s adolescent hero, Jim Hawkins, has resonated with youth ever since.  What boy does not dream of adventure, travelling to exotic places, deciphering mysteries, and overcoming danger?  Such dreams have motivated boys for millennia in the hope that they can find their courage and discover their place in life.  If the opportunities are not forthcoming then boys will invent them, if for no other reason than to establish a place for themselves in their own minds and, hopefully, in the minds of their peers.

So it is with Jim Hawkins.  As the son of an innkeeper he has little hope of adventure until a strange turn of events sets him on a hazardous sea voyage in search of hidden pirate gold.  Jim proves to be the hero, thwarting the mutinous plot of rebellious sailors led by Long John Silver, saving the lives of the captain and loyal crew members, and discovering the treasure.  Not bad for an 18th century version of an underprivileged wayward teen.

Stevenson could not have envisioned the retelling of his story as a space travel adventure in which his hero is not merely underprivileged, but rebellious, sullen, introverted, and destined for a life at odds with society.  That is the Jim Hawkins of Treasure Planet, the 2002 animated feature by Walt Disney Pictures.  This space age Jim reflects the jaded, self-absorbed youth of the post-modern world.  We follow Jim’s transformation from wide-eyed, joyful toddler to embittered youth.  It is not a transformation he undertakes willingly.  It is not his fault that his parents quarrel, but he suffers incalculably on the morning his father walks out.  In an instant Jim is abandoned by the one person who could set him on the right course, leaving him to cast about for someone or something to give him purpose.  In time Long John Silver the pirate fills that role as the two of them develop a relationship that proves redemptive for them both.  There is a happy ending after all, but not without anguish along the way.

Jim’s angst is the subject of I’m Still Here, a song written for the film by John Rzeznik.  It is an anthem for an alienated generation which does not know its identity.  Cast adrift to find their own answers, these young people feel (with some justification) that their elders would rather they remain silent and invisible until they are able to join the adult world.  Yet how are they to do so if no one makes the effort to guide them?  Thus the youth have only two alternatives:  either despair and end their miserable lives, or hang on in defiance against all expectations.  Rzeznik’s lyrics tell us the option Jim Hawkins selects:

And you see the thing they never see,
All you wanted, I could be,
Now you know me, and I’m not afraid,
And I wanna tell you who I am,
Can you help me be a man? ,
They can’t break me,
As long as I know who I am.

The song ends with Jim’s defiant, yet hopeful, refrain, “I’m still here!”  His defiance is not unlike Job’s defiance in the face of what he perceives to be unjust accusations by his friends:

Teach me, and I will be silent; and show me how I have erred.  How painful are honest words!  But what does your argument prove?  Do you intend to reprove my words, when the words of one in despair belong to the wind?  (Job 6:24-26 NASB)

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Fox Byte 5776 #3: Questionable Consolation

The arrival of Ko-Ko, Lord High Executioner of Titipu. From the 2008 production of The Mikado by the Seattle Gilbert & Sullivan Society.

The arrival of Ko-Ko, Lord High Executioner of Titipu. From the 2008 production of The Mikado by the Seattle Gilbert & Sullivan Society.

Pompous people lend themselves so readily to ridicule.  Unconsciously, of course.  By their very nature they would not stoop to the indignity of common humor since it punctures the mirage of superior respectability they strive to maintain.  That is precisely what makes it so easy (and so much fun) to lampoon such persons – albeit usually without their knowledge since they generally are the ones who wield power.  Whether it is the official in high office, the wealthy heir, or the elderly matron, such people disapprove of anything or anyone that upsets their self-imposed definition of what is right and proper.  Such definitions tend to be myopic at best, as well as inflexible, brittle, and hilariously easy to dispel.  Doing so brings amusement and some measure of relief to the oppressed even though it likely will not result in appreciable change, or perhaps even notice by the butt of the joke.

Which explains why the operas of W.S. Gilbert and Sir Arthur Sullivan are still appealing.  The best of their works feature masterful caricatures of England’s increasingly ossified Victorian society of the late 19th century.  Perhaps the best of the best is The Mikado, a farce set in Imperial Japan, but featuring decidedly English characters and situations.  This is apparent from the opening scene when a chorus of Japanese gentlemen strut haughtily about the stage singing of their lofty status.  We soon learn that Ko-Ko, the Lord High Executioner of the town of Titipu, has a dilemma:  the Mikado, Japan’s emperor, has decreed that since there has been no execution of a criminal in Titipu for quite some time, an execution must take place within a month.  It just so happens that Ko-Ko is himself a condemned criminal on reprieve from execution and is next in line for the chopping block.  He is “consoled” by two noblemen, Pooh-Bah and Pish-Tush.  Pooh-Bah explains that his family pride calls on him to take Ko-Ko’s place, but his desire for self-preservation prevents him from doing so.  Pish-Tush takes a different approach with this empathetic offering:

I heard one day a gentleman say
That criminals who are cut in two
Can hardly feel the fatal steel,
And so are slain, are slain without much pain.
If this is true, it’s jolly for you,
Your courage screw to bid us adieu.

Ko-Ko is not amused with either man’s offering, which leads Pish-Tush to confess the truth:

And go and show
Both friend and foe how much you dare.
I’m quite aware it’s your affair.
Yet I declare I’d take your share,
But I don’t much care.

That is not unlike the lamentable comfort of Job’s friend Eliphaz:

Remember now, who ever perished being innocent?  Or where were the upright destroyed?  According to what I have seen, those who plow iniquity and those who sow trouble harvest it.  (Job 4:7-8 NASB)

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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 5776 #2: Uncomplicated Good, Unrelenting Evil

Rocky, Bullwinkle, Boris, and Natasha. © Jay Ward Productions. Illustration accessed on Dishonest John's T.V. Toons.)

Rocky, Bullwinkle, Boris, and Natasha.  (© Jay Ward Productions. Illustration accessed on Dishonest John’s T.V. Toons.)

Great art retains its appeal through time.  This is true even with works created for children – including cartoons such as The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.  The success of this cartoon classic is due to the things children appreciate:  outrageous characters, simple story lines, a make-believe world that mirrors real life, and just enough irreverence to entice the mischievous streak in every youngster.  And yet those who grew up with Rocky the flying squirrel and his friend Bullwinkle J. Moose continue to appreciate the show because of its sophistication.  As children we could not possibly understand the clever references to the Cold War then raging between the United States and the Soviet Union, nor the endless puns and jabs at politics, literature, and popular culture. 

As children we did not need to know those things.  All we needed to know was that Bullwinkle and Rocky were funny.  Even the villains were funny.  Boris Badenov and Natasha Fatale, along with their Fearless Leader, soon acquired fame that rivalled the title characters.  As caricatures of Soviet spies and political figures they were the perfect foils.  Moreover, they established a clear line between good and evil for young viewers.  Every child knew that Boris and Natasha were bad.  Their ceaseless efforts at killing Bullwinkle to advance their evil country’s fortunes originated from nothing else than pure meanness (as explained by Fearless Leader himself in the story “Goof Gas Attack”).  If the plot were exceptionally evil the spies would receive orders not only to deal with Bullwinkle, but to kill moose and squirrel.  Even when they received a note from Fearless Leader saying, “DO NOT kill Moose and Squirrel”, we knew that this apparent kindness occurred only because at that point the evil plans would best be served by keeping Rocky and Bullwinkle alive.

Children may not understand such things completely, but they grasp them instinctively.  Understanding comes later, after they have become adults and acquired years of knowledge and experience, not all of which is good or pleasant.  Children in their innocence discern good and evil, but they take as established fact that there is no gray area between the two.  After a few significant encounters in the real world they begin to learn that people and things can be confusing mixtures of good and evil.  Some appear to be good, but are evil at the core.  Some may do evil things, but for good reasons – or so they maintain.  Some do good for selfish reasons.  The sad reality is that children soon learn there is no absolute good among human beings, which makes navigation of this world exceedingly hazardous.  It is easier to revert to childhood innocence and attempt to stay there as long as possible.

The childlike place is comforting and safe.  There we recognize that good and evil exist, but all we need do is cling to the one while avoiding the other.  We need not seek the origins of evil, nor try to understand why evil and good seem to be intertwined in every heart.  A child will take the word of its parents in faith and act accordingly.  If they say a thing is good or bad, the child will act on that.  It is only later that the child begins to inquire into the nature of good and bad.  In time that path of inquiry leads to a line that should never be crossed:  the point of defining good and evil on his own terms.  Unfortunately, it seems that this very line has marked the boundary between childhood and adulthood since the time of Adam and Eve.  That may be why Messiah Yeshua said this:

And He called a child to Himself and set him before them, and said, “Truly I say to you, unless you are converted and become like children, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven.  Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”  (Matthew 18:2-4 NASB) Please click here to continue reading

Fox Byte 5776 #1: When Good is Not Enough

The Barking Fox just completed the annual Torah Cycle and is ready to embark on another year of Bible commentary.  Rather than embark on another systematic journey through the Torah and Haftarah, in this Hebrew year 5776 Fox Bytes will focus on selected books and topics, starting with the book of Job.

Marlon Brando as Marc Antony in the 1953 film version of Julius Caesar. (Photo: 451 Years of William Shakespeare, The Telegraph

Marlon Brando as Marc Antony in the 1953 film version of Julius Caesar. (Photo:  “451 Years of William Shakespeare”, The Telegraph)

A sad commentary on human nature is that people who stand for what is right rarely are the people with whom one would prefer to be seen in public.  We may honor such saintly persons as Mother Theresa, Billy Graham, or William Wilberforce, but we do not want to be close friends with them – or at least not let such relationships be known.  Our preference is to hang out with “good old boys”, friends who like the things we like, sympathize with our problems, and make us feel better about ourselves without actually causing us to change.  That, of course, is the problem with those saintly people:  they uphold high standards of right living which make us feel uncomfortable.  It does not matter how blessed they appear to be, or the peace they seem to enjoy in any situation, or that they give the authorities no cause for alarm.  The truth is that they are righteous, and their righteousness interferes with our desire to live comfortably and indulge whatever pleasure seems good.

Shakespeare understood this fact of human nature.  He made use of it in his masterful manipulation of the Roman public through Marc Antony’s speech in Julius Caesar.  Caesar’s assassins justify their murderous act by saying the great man was ambitious and that his ambition would have been the death of Roman freedom.  Antony seems to agree, saying “The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones”, a statement that indicates whatever good Caesar would have done has died with him.  Then he turns the tables, calling the assassins honorable men – good men whom the good citizens of Rome should trust, and with whom they should be glad to associate.  Yet their honorable good pales in comparison to Caesar’s selfless ambition:  an ambition that enriched Rome through his military service, that wept for Rome’s poor, and that refused a kingly crown thrice offered.  In other words, any honor that may have accrued to Caesar’s assassins was as nothing compared to the great man’s righteousness in life and legacy in death.

We learn through Shakespeare’s theatrical Marc Antony a truth written centuries earlier to a real Roman audience by a man who also understood something about human nature:

For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die.  (Romans 5:7 NASB)

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Fox Byte 5775 #53: Ha’azinu (Give Ear)

הַאְַזִינוּ

In this scene from Empire of the Sun, Jim (Christian Bale) sings the Welsh lullaby Suo Gân in tribute to Japanese kamikaze pilots. The song of hope and of peace carries him through the tribulation of war. (Video via YouTube)

In this scene from Empire of the Sun, Jim (Christian Bale) sings the Welsh lullaby Suo Gân in tribute to Japanese kamikaze pilots. The song of hope and of peace carries him through the tribulation of war. (Video via YouTube)

The one element of Steven Spielberg’s movies which has remained just beneath my consciousness for nearly thirty years is not his stunning cinematography or compelling drama.  It is a song; a simple Welsh melody which carries us through Empire of the Sun.  We first hear Suo Gân (Lullaby) as the movie opens.  British choir boys sing it in church in the compound reserved for foreigners living in Shanghai.  The soloist is Jamie (Christian Bale), a boy of about 10.  He is British by birth, but he has never set foot on his parents’ homeland.  Jamie’s family live as privileged foreigners have lived ever since China capitulated in the First Opium War a century before.  They take no notice of the Chinese except where their own wants and needs are concerned.  Jamie, a son of privilege, knows no other way than to lord it over the natives beneath his station.

Change comes quickly when the Japanese attack.  China and Japan have been at war for years, but Shanghai is undisturbed until December 8, 1941.  As America’s Pacific Fleet burns in Pearl Harbor, Japan’s legions occupy Shanghai.  Jamie’s family flees, but in the confusion he is separated from his parents and left to fend for himself, eventually landing in an internment camp adjacent to a Japanese airfield.

By 1945 he is no longer Jamie, but Jim, a rough lad learning to survive among the mixed multitude in captivity.  Jim can hold his own, having grown accustomed to lying, stealing, cheating, and other mischief.  His innocence dies bit by bit, not only through the tribulations of war, but through betrayal by men he trusts.  Yet Suo Gân remains with him.  One morning he awakens to see Japanese aviators participating in the ceremony of the kamikaze.  Jim comes to attention, salutes, and sings the lullaby in tribute to these men who will soon die in the service of their Emperor.  Their deaths come more quickly than expected.  At that instant, American P-51 Mustangs, the “Cadillac of the sky”, attack, rapidly transforming the airfield into a smoking ruin.  In their wake Jim pauses to consider the dreadful price he has paid to survive.  With despair he confesses, “I can’t remember what my parents look like.”

At war’s end Jim finds himself in an orphanage among children awaiting reunion with their parents.  Tears of joy flow, but he stands in shocked silence.  His father passes by, not recognizing the hardened youth as the beloved, if rebellious, child he knew.  It is his mother who sees him, first as the Jamie she loved, then as the Jim she does not know how to love, and finally as a young man with gaping wounds in his soul who desperately needs the healing that only a parent’s love can bring.  He looks into her face and four years of pain and death wash away in peace beyond hope – the peace promised in the strains of Suo Gân.

BFB150926 Suo GanAll Jim can remember is the song, but it is enough to set him on the path of healing and reconciliation.  So it is with the exiled, destitute people of YHVH.  He also gave a song to them – a song that would carry them through time to peace beyond hope:

Then it shall come about, when many evils and troubles have come upon them, that this song will testify before them as a witness (for it shall not be forgotten from the lips of their descendants); for I know their intent which they are developing today, before I have brought them into the land which I swore.  (Deuteronomy 31:21 NASB)

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Fox Byte 5775 #52: Vayelekh (And He Went)

וַיֵּלֶךְ

Concept art for an upcoming Czech film adaptation of Karel Čapek’s War with the Newts. (Photo: The Fish People Attack! Amazing Concept Art For Czech Creature Feature WAR WITH THE NEWTS (VALKA S MLOKY) on twitch, via Topzine.cz; © 2014 Salamander syndicate)

Concept art for an upcoming film adaptation of Karel Čapek’s War with the Newts. (Photo: “The Fish People Attack!” on twitchfilm.com, via Topzine.cz; © 2014 Salamander syndicate)

Isaac Asimov could have written I, Robot without Karel Čapek’s help, but he would have needed a different word for the artificial life forms featured in his writing.  Asimov’s robot stories shifted the paradigms of science fiction by exploring the unintended consequences of creating something smarter and stronger than a human, but without a human’s ethical configuration.  For over half a century he probed dark and difficult territory, asking questions and spinning scenarios that remain disturbingly applicable to our present reality.  Yet Asimov neither invented the word “robot”, nor initiated the inquiry into the potential nemesis of unbridled technological innovation.

Bad things happen when man plays the role of God, as Mary Shelley demonstrated in 1818 with her first novel, Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus.  Shelley brought the question into the modern era, but it was Karel Čapek who mechanized it.  Čapek’s play R.U.R. (Rossumovi univerzální roboti; Rossum’s Universal Robots) was a success from its first performance in 1920.  The play introduced international audiences to the Czech word robota, meaning hard work, a word rendered into English as robot.  The play is not a comedy; in Čapek’s imaginary world the robots are manufactured life forms designed to assist humans, but eventually they rebel and extinguish all human life.

Čapek revived this scenario in War with the Newts, a novel published in 1936 as satire on the hypocritically self-serving international system which enabled Nazi Germany’s dismemberment of Czechoslovakia two years later.  It is a humorously dark tale about a race of sentient amphibian creatures discovered in the waters of Indonesia.  The newts prove to be swift learners and adept at a multitude of tasks, making them ideal candidates for exploitation not only as workers, but also as undersea warriors.  In time the newts, like the robots, rebel, destroying the dry land and turning it into shallow waters suitable for their environmental needs.  The nations of the earth find themselves in a war for survival against a global amphibian army.  It is a war humanity will not win, but Čapek reveals that the victorious newts will turn on themselves and become the instruments of their own destruction, leaving a remnant of mankind to rebuild the planet.

It is frightful to contemplate the end of one’s world, particularly when the end is justly deserved.  Asimov, Shelley, and Čapek relate scenarios of judgment resulting from mankind’s own selfish shortsightedness – playing God, if you will.  The element of terror they invoke lurks in the revelation that the instruments of judgment are the works of our own hands.  As usual, art imitates life.  YHVH renders judgment on those who disregard His standard of righteousness and set up standards of their own – playing God, if you will.  Judgment brings a sentence of destruction and death, which is terrifying enough.  What makes it more chilling is to learn the name of the one who will bring about the anticipated death and destruction.  About 35 centuries ago, the doomed Canaanite civilization experienced that very thing shortly after Moses spoke these words:

It is the Lord your God who will cross ahead of you; He will destroy these nations before you, and you shall dispossess them.  Joshua is the one who will cross ahead of you, just as the Lord has spoken.  (Deuteronomy 31:3 NASB)

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Fox Byte 5775 #51: Nitzavim (You Are Standing)

נִצָּבִים

Famous literary figures with identity issues. Top row: Oedipus Rex (Bénigne Gagneraux, The Blind Oedipus Commending his Children to the Gods), Beauty’s Beast (illustration by Walter Crane), The Frog Prince (illustration by Paul Meyerheim), Rapunzel’s prince (illustration by Johnny Gruelle). Bottom row: Hansel and Gretel (illustration by Arthur Rackham), Sleeping Beauty (illustration from Childhood’s Favorites and Fairy Stories), Snow White (illustration by Alexander Zick), Cinderella (illustration by Anne Anderson).

Famous literary figures with identity issues. Top row: Oedipus RexBeauty’s BeastThe Frog Prince, Rapunzel’s prince. Bottom row: Hansel and Gretel, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Cinderella.

The worst fate a person can endure?  That would be loss of self.  It is not the same as selflessness, a desirable state of humility which YHVH honors.  Loss of self means removal of what defines a person as a person.  We see this in loved ones who slip slowly away through the ravages of progressive dementia.  Little by little they forget who they are until in the end there is nothing left of them but the memory carried in the hearts of those who once knew them.  It is a tragedy as old as humanity. 

Some of our best stories spring from this loss of identity.  Nearly 2,500 years ago Sophocles dramatized this phenomenon in Oedipus the King, a tale of a man whose birth was accompanied by a prophecy that he would kill his father and marry his mother.  The parents attempt to circumvent the prophecy by ordering the infant slain, but to no avail.  Oedipus is saved and brought up by foster parents, completely ignorant of his identity.  Eventually he fulfills the prophecy.  When at last the secret of his identity is revealed, his mother commits suicide and Oedipus puts out his own eyes.

This motif of hidden identity and forgotten knowledge manifests not merely in classic Greek drama, but in every literary form.  It appears even in fairy tales, where protagonists like Beauty’s Beast and the Frog Prince lose their humanity.  Rapunzel’s prince retains his identity, but he wanders in blindness.  Similarly, Hansel and Gretel lose their way in the forest despite their best efforts.  Princesses also succumb to identity loss, as we learn from Sleeping Beauty and Snow White.  Even Cinderella’s true station in life is a mystery to her prince.

The fairy tales generally have happy endings, or at least the Disney renditions make them so, but that is not the case in every tale of this sort.  One might say this identity issue is a perpetual human condition.  We make it worse by ignoring our history, severing the connection with our fathers and mothers of ages past.  This ignorance, whether self-inflicted or imposed by other forces, is the foundation of George Santayana’s famous warning, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it”.  It is also a reflection of prophetic truth uttered by two men of God in the 8th century BCE:

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.  Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being My priest.  Since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.  (Hosea 4:6 NASB)

Therefore My people go into exile for their lack of knowledge; and their honorable men are famished, and their multitude is parched with thirst.  (Isaiah 5:13 NASB)

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About That Second Stick: Positive Harbingers

IsraelAre we really about to see the restoration of all Israel?  And what exactly does that mean?  If the Bible says that it means all twelve tribes descended from the sons of Jacob constituting a national entity in the Land YHVH promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, then perhaps we should be looking for that very thing.  That is what the apostles meant when they asked Yeshua when He would restore the kingdom to Israel.

The restoration means both Houses of Israel – the House of Judah, whom we know today as the Jewish people, and the House of Ephraim, also known as the House of Israel or House of Joseph.  Ephraim consists of the Ten Tribes of Israel’s northern kingdom which never returned from exile.  Most of the Bible is incomprehensible if not viewed in the context of the Two Houses.  Who they were in ancient times, how they separated, and the promise of their restoration form the framework of the Gospel of the Kingdom which is supposed to be preached to the whole world before Messiah comes.

Would it be a surprise to realize that the end of the world as we know it means the beginning of the reign of Messiah over His reestablished Kingdom of Israel?  Christians have anticipated the Great Tribulation and the end of this age, but have seldom considered what is on the other side of that Tribulation.  Jews have considered what is on the other side, but have seldom considered that much of the nation of Israel would be coming from Christendom.  And yet that is just what we are seeing today:  the beginning of the reconstitution of Ephraim, largely through the awakening of Christians to their identity as Israelites based on the covenantal promises of YHVH and the redemptive work of Messiah Yeshua.  The “Torah Awakening” is a major component of this process as Christians are beginning to realize that the entire Bible, including the Feasts of the Lord and the Sabbath (Shabbat), are still applicable to all of God’s people.

Remnant Road 01If this is so, then how far along is this restoration?  Well, within the past year we have seen the Torah Awakening accelerate around the world, and we have seen people begin to identify themselves as Ephraimites in a very public way.  That was the purpose of the First B’ney Yosef National Congress held in Israel in May 2015.  The process has continued throughout the summer, and it promises to continue and expand in the coming months.  That was the subject of a conversation on The Remnant Road, the Monday edition of the Hebrew Nation Morning Show.  In a broadcast that aired on September 7, David Altman from the Alliance of Redeemed Israel (ARI) talked about the awakening of Believers to their identity as returning Israelites according to the promises of Scripture.  The conversation started with developments since the Congress, and then covered ideas on how to strengthen the ties among individuals, congregations, and communities now identifying as Ephraimites.  David also discussed the upcoming North American Ephraimite Summit, planned for March 4-6, 2016, in Orlando, FL.  To listen to the broadcast and learn how you can get involved please click here.

Another perspective on this process comes from Ephraim Frank, a key organizer of the B’ney Yosef Congress.  In a recent post on his blog, Etz B’ney Yosef, Ephraim provided some interesting and encouraging observations about what we are seeing even now.


BFB150909 Etz Bney Yosef

Positive Harbingers

Ephraim Frank

Posted on Etz B’ney Yosef September 6, 2015

Shalom Fellow Israelite,

On 12th of May 1948 a decision on the name the newly formed State of Israel had to be voted on by ten council members.  The choices were Yehuda, Tsyion, Tsabar, and Erets Yisrael.  Most assumed that it would be Yehuda, but a divine harbinger manifested in a last minute suggestion by David Ben Gurion, and that was the name “Yisrael”.  Seven of the council members voted for that name, which was a prophetic sign of the future return of all the tribes of Israel. The order of the restoration and return in Ezekiel 37 places Yehuda/Israel first, and thusly Yehuda’s dry stick became at that time a nation once again.

Perhaps you are not aware that also in 1948 a contest was held by the temporary government for a national emblem.  One hundred and sixty-four individuals submitted 450 ideas.  The one chosen, which the State of Israel adopted, on February 10th 1949, was designed by two brothers, Gabriel and Maxim Shamir.  Their suggestion included the seven candle branch Menorah with two olive branches on each side.  The final draft, however, did not totally resemble the brothers’ original design, as the committee decided to incorporate a few other features into it and changed the shape of the Menorah to the one depicted in the Arch of Titus (in Rome).  The two olive branches which flank the Menorah, were meant as peace symbols, and only later were associated with Zechariah 4:11.  I believe that this design was another harbinger of the restoration of the two sticks of Ezekiel 37:16.

BFB150909 Emblem of Israel

In his book The Harbinger, Jonathan Cahn makes mention of the significance of trees in the Bible.  He specifically notes the two cited in Isaiah 9:10 – the sycamore and the cedar, both in relationship to the 9/11 terror attack in New York, as being symbolic of judgments upon the United States.  In an interview about his latest book, The Mystery of the Shemitah Unlocked, he noted how Shemitah years are associated with judgments and changes, both positive and negative.  The rise and fall of nations in connection to Shemitah is one example he brings up in this book.  Hence, if the USA is indeed spiraling down, and if that began in a Shemitah year (2001), what about the rise of the nation of Yehuda in 1917 (another Shemitah), or the reconstitution of the second stick/nation of Yosef/Ephraim in the current Shemitah?  Is the latter also a harbinger of this eventuality, with the first Yehuda-Yosef “United 2 Restore” group marching in the Jerusalem Succot parade last year and then with the convening of the first B’ney Yosef National Congress on Shavuot?  Is this the Shemitah year in which the second stick/nation of Joseph/Ephraim is beginning to bud?  By the same token, should many of the harbingers of judgment be also interpreted positively, in that YHVH is going to bring back and restore the whole House of Israel?  The branch of Yehuda in the national emblem is fully leafed, but what about the second branch in that national emblem, what should it look like at this time?  Here is my rendition:

Yehuda’s stick has become a nation.  Yosef’s is just beginning to bud.

Yehuda’s stick has become a nation. Yosef’s is just beginning to bud.


© Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog, 2014-2015.  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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