Tag Archive | grafted in

Fox Byte 5775 #3: Lech Lecha (Get Yourself)

לֶךְ־לְךָ

The Man in the Iron Mask (l'illustration Européenne 1872, no.15 page 116, via Wikimedia Commons.)

The Man in the Iron Mask (l’illustration Européenne 1872, no.15 page 116, via Wikimedia Commons)

It is quite possible that the greatest literary accomplishment of the year 1844 was the publication of The Three Musketeers.  The swashbuckling adventures of Athos, Porthos, Aramis, and D’Artagnan penned by Alexandre Dumas have delighted readers and audiences ever since, inspiring dozens of stage and film adaptations.  Not quite so popular is the trilogy Dumas published as a sequel, which concluded with The Man In The Iron Mask.  The story has been told in film, with such notables as Richard Chamberlain and Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role, but it does not come close in popularity to its predecessor.  Perhaps the subject matter is the cause.  The tale concerns a man sentenced to life in prison behind a mask so that no one may know his identity.  Dumas based his novel on an intriguing footnote of French history, but with much literary license.  The mysterious man in Dumas’ story was Philippe, twin brother of King Louis XIV of France.  As the king’s identical twin his very existence posed a threat to Louis.  Therefore he was doomed by royal decree to live out his life anonymously behind a mask.  This Baroque version of identity theft constitutes a fate worse than death.  Not only is the man denied his rights as a member of the royal house, his very personhood is stripped from him, so that in time even he forgets who he is.  No wonder The Man In The Iron Mask is so disturbing; this prince of the royal house suffers a fate none of us would ever wish to share.

And yet most Christians and Jews labor under precisely such an identity disability.  We have all forgotten who we really are.

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Fox Byte 5775 #2: Noach (Rest)

נֹחַ

Darren Aronofsky made a valiant effort to tell the story of Noah in a fashion worthy of Hollywood.  His 2014 film, starring Russell Crowe as Noah, certainly has its flaws.  No one would dispute that the filmmakers took considerable liberties with the biblical account.  Nevertheless, this telling of the story captures something that people often overlook:  Noah, like all the rest of us, walked hesitantly through life trying to understand what he had been created and commissioned to do.  With the hindsight of four millennia we assume that our Creator held a conversation with Noah at the start of the project in which He explained everything that Noah needed to know about the task of saving humanity in a giant boat.  And yet Russell Crowe’s portrayal is something entirely different.  He shows us a very human Noah who, like us, hears from the Lord only imperfectly, and must move forward one step at a time as he receives additional information through various means, including the wise counsel of his elders.  And there is something else:  we learn that Noah and the people with him were active participants in the story, and that the outcome very much depended on their decisions and actions.  The Lord God indeed had a plan, and an ideal way for that plan to be implemented, but then, as now, it is imperfect human beings who shape and carry out that plan.

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Fox Byte 5775 #1: Beresheet (In The Beginning)

בְרֵאשִׁת

This is the first Shabbat (Sabbath) of a new Torah cycle.  Each year, Jews and Messianic believers in Yeshua go through the Torah (the Books of Moses) and the Haftorah (selected passages from the other books of the Tanakh (Old Testament)) in weekly portions.  The portion for this week is Beresheet, “In the Beginning”.

After losing the French and Indian War, France chose to trade all of Canada and Louisiana for the small island of Guadeloupe.

After losing the French and Indian War, France chose to trade all of Canada and Louisiana for the small island of Guadeloupe.

The world’s first truly global conflict, known in Europe as the Seven Years’ War and in America as the French and Indian War, was a disaster for France.  By the war’s end in 1763, France had ceded the vast territories of Canada and Louisiana to England and Spain.  And yet it was not a complete disaster; the Treaty of Paris which ended the war left France with its most prized possession:  the Caribbean sugar island of Guadeloupe.  Great Britain had won control over both Guadeloupe and Canada during the war, and in the peace negotiations the British deemed Canada more strategically valuable to their empire.  But Guadeloupe had proven more valuable economically, producing more income for France than all the fur collected by trappers and traders in Canada, and all the sugar produced by Britain’s own island colonies.  King Louis XV, therefore, was quite willing to trade a vast empire for this small island.

A similar transaction appears in Scripture, when the Lord explains what He is ready to do to redeem a people He deems more valuable than all the nations of the earth:

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When Empires Die: Thoughts on the Centennial of World War I

When Empires Die was originally published June 28-July 28, 2014, as a six-part series.  The original six part format is accessible here.

I.  THE ROAD TO SARAJEVO

Archduke Franz Ferdinand and Duchess Sophie with their three children in 1910

Archduke Franz Ferdinand and Duchess Sophie with their three children in 1910

The world took a giant step toward death on June 28, 1914.  On that day a young atheist shot and killed a prominent Catholic and his wife in an obscure Southeast European city.  Within five years, four world empires were dismembered and two new ones arose in their place.  Within 40 years, three more global empires breathed their last as the new world system spawned in 1914 grew to maturity.  Today, one hundred years later, that world system wheezes with its own death rattle, soon to expire in the process of giving birth to yet another global system which may be the last – and worst – of its kind.

As a historian, a political scientist, a soldier, and an intelligence professional, I cannot let the centennial of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s assassination pass without pausing to remember what his life and death meant to the world.  The circumstances that brought the Archduke and his wife, the Duchess Sophie, to Sarajevo, Bosnia, are not difficult to explain, but to understand the significance of their deaths, both in their day and in ours, requires a detailed explanation.  If that explanation seems too focused on Europe, the simple reason is that Europe in 1914 ruled the entire world.  No nation outside Europe – neither ancient India, nor populous China, nor even the rising powers of America and Japan – was immune to events that shook the state system of the Continent.  If we are to know why the world went to war in 1914, we must look at the major players of that state system.  Only then can we begin to discern what happened to the world in the summer of 1914, and what is happening to the world now in the summer of 2014.

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“Poking God’s Eye”: A Jewish Perspective on Christian-Jewish Relations

The Good Samaritan, by James Tissot.  This parable remains one of Yeshua's most powerful lessons in cross-cultural compassion and cooperation.

Yeshua provided a powerful lesson in cross-cultural compassion and cooperation in His Parable of the Good Samaritan.  (James Tissot, Le bon samaritain, Brooklyn Museum online collection)

What keeps Jews and Christians from getting along?  That is a primary question addressed on The Barking Fox.  The view here is that we are two parts of the same people, the Kingdom of Israel.  Jews are the basis of that Kingdom, the remnant of ancient Israel to whom God committed His oracles, and through whom He brought forth salvation through His Messiah, Yeshua (Jesus) of Nazareth.  Christians are people of the nations (Gentiles) who, by the grace of God and their belief in Yeshua as Messiah, cease being Gentiles and join with Jews in the Commonwealth of Israel.

The Apostle Paul wrote much about this, particularly in Romans 9-11 and Ephesians 2.  So did the ancient prophets of Israel.  Ezekiel saw a vision of Two Sticks, the House of Judah (Jews) and the House of Ephraim (non-Jewish Israelites) coming together in the Messianic Age to be one people again.  Hosea spoke of this in his words of judgment and restoration.  John the Revelator even mentioned it when He saw the 144,000 saints of God from Israel’s Twelve Tribes sealed with the sign of God during the Tribulation.

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“It’s Time to Get on God’s Calendar”: An Exhortation by Pastor Don Finto

“We have been robbed of a significant part of our godly heritage through a calendar that was intentionally removed from the biblical one.”

That is how Pastor Don Finto begins his excellent discourse published recently in Charisma Magazine on the purpose of the Biblical calendar and its applicability to all of God’s people – not just Jews, but Christians as well.  This is a subject Messianic believers have understood for quite some time, but which the church as a whole is only now beginning to suspect.  Finto continues:

“The early believers in Jesus were all Jewish. Not until Cornelius were the Gentiles received into the fellowship without converting to Judaism. But even these early Gentile followers observed the biblical feasts as a prophetic statement of their newly found faith in the Jewish Messiah who is also Redeemer of the nations. When Paul wrote to the predominantly Gentile believers of Corinth, he spoke of “Christ, our Passover lamb (who) has been sacrificed. Therefore let us keep the Festival …” (1 Cor. 5:7-8). The biblical feasts had become the feasts of the Gentile believers as well.”

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Trumpets For All Israelites: Why the High Holy Days Are More than Just “Jewish” Feasts

Blowing the Shofar is the central observance of the Feast of Trumpets (Yom Teruah) is the "Jewish New Year" (Rosh HaShanah).  (Blowing the Shofar - The Nahmias Cipher Report.)

Blowing the Shofar is the central observance of the Feast of Trumpets (Yom Teruah) is the “Jewish New Year” (Rosh HaShanah). (Blowing the Shofar – The Nahmias Cipher Report.)

The “Jewish” High Holy Days begin at sundown on September 24, 2014[1], with Yom Teruah, the Feast of Trumpets.  It is also called Rosh HaShanah, the Head of the Year.  Many people call it the “Jewish New Year”.  But what exactly is this festive day?  And should Christians even care about this “Jewish” holiday?

According to Hebrew understanding, Yom Teruah is the day God completed His work of creation by making human beings, the crowning achievement of His work.  In the agricultural cycle of the Ancient Near East, where the Bible was written, this day points toward completion of the growing season when the long-expected “latter rains” come.  It is the completion of the civil year, a tradition even the United States government has adopted.  These are all good reasons for God to command His people to set this day apart by blowing trumpets and observing a special Sabbath day of rest.

Yet there are some confusing things about Yom Teruah.  This “Head of the Year” happens on the first day of the seventh month in the Hebrew calendar.  One would expect that the New Year would be in the first month, but God Himself directed that the first month would be in the spring (Exodus 12:1-2).  That month, called Nisan or Abib in Hebrew, is the month of three great feasts of the Lord:  Passover, Unleavened Bread, and Firstfruits.  In that time long ago God delivered His people Israel from bondage in Egypt.  Yet the First Month is not the same as the Head of the Year in the Seventh Month, Tishrei.  Both months have prophetic significance according to God’s plan for the redemption and restoration of His creation.  Through the Feasts celebrated in these months the Lord tells a prophetic story.  In the First Month He redeems and delivers His people, and in the Seventh He restores them.  One might say He is pressing the reset button to get things back to the way they were before sin caused all this trouble.  But why is this “Jewish” feast of Yom Teruah, or any of these “Jewish” feasts, important to Christians?

The answer to that is quite simple:  These are not Jewish feasts.

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When Empires Die: Thoughts on the Centennial of World War I, Part VI

TO SURVIVE THE COMING NIGHT

"Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" Viktor M. Vasnetsov

Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
Viktor M. Vasnetsov

Is the Apocalypse Nigh?

If this truly is the beginning of the end of this age, then we should expect wars and rumors of war to increase until the entire globe is consumed, just as it was in the Great War of 1914-1918, and again in the Second World War of 1939-1945.  Depending on one’s perspective, the Tribulation either begins with or is immediately preceded by this period of escalating war.  This is the time of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the rider of a White Horse going out to conquer, the rider on the Red Horse who takes peace from the earth, the rider on the Black Horse bringing famine, and the Pale Horse bearing Death and Hades.  In short order these Horsemen bring an end to the lives of one fourth of the population of the planet.  The Horsemen are followed by the revelation of multitudes of martyrs slain for their adherence to the Word of God who ask how long before the Lord will judge the world and avenge their blood.  They are told to wait until the number of martyrs yet to die is complete.  Then comes a great earthquake and many signs in the heavens, followed by the selection of the special servants of God (12,000 from each tribe of Israel, 144,000 total) and the deliverance of multitudes from the Great Tribulation.  After that comes silence in heaven for a short time, and then the judgment of God begins in earnest.

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When Empires Die: Thoughts on the Centennial of World War I, Part V

THE LAST SUMMER OF THE WORLD

"Interview Between Jesus and Nicodemus" James Tissot Brooklyn Museum

Interview Between Jesus and Nicodemus
James Tissot
Brooklyn Museum

A Matter of Life and Death

In truth God has placed the choice of life or death in front of every person from the beginning of time.  Consider what He said to our ancestors.  In the Garden of Eden there was the stark choice between the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which brought death (Genesis 2:8-16).  When the Lord spoke through Moses to explain His standards of righteousness to our fathers and mothers on the edge of the Promised Land, He said,

I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.  (Deuteronomy 30:19-20 NKJV, emphasis added)

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What We Missed About Pentecost

"The Numbering of the Israelites" Henri Félix Emmanuel Philippoteaux

The Numbering of the Israelites
Henri Félix Emmanuel Philippoteaux

Here are some things that seldom come together in the same sentence:  genealogy, Israel’s tribes, Apostle Paul, Moses and Aaron, Ruth and Boaz, the Holy Spirit, and Torah.  What could these all have in common?  They all come together in the Feast of Weeks, known in Hebrew as Shavuot, and in Greek as Pentecost.  Together they reveal to us is God’s plan to bless every family and nation on earth.

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