Bruises in Perspective

BFB211120 Galaxy You Are Here
Panoramic view of the entire sky as seen by Two Micron All-Sky Survey. (Original image: NASA/JPL photo PIA04250). 

Being all alone in the universe is scary. The good news is that we are not alone: there is a Creator Who wants to dwell with us. However, it’s still scary when we realize there’s a long, painful process involved in becoming the precious vessels He designed for His dwelling.

Genesis 32:3-36:43; Psalm 118:22-29; Isaiah 8:14-15; Daniel 2:31-45; Obadiah 1; Matthew 21:41-44; Hebrews 11:6

Click here to listen to the podcast: Bruises in Perspective

Click here to download the transcript: Bruises in Perspective.pdf

Music: “The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy,” 100 Greatest TV Themes, Silva Screen Records Ltd. 2002.

Our Part of the Story

BFB201213 Tolkien at Tree
JRR Tolkien, shortly before his death in 1973. Image by © The Tolkien Trust 1977

CWe live in the present, but we are linked inextricably with those who have come before – just as those who come after are linked with us. What do we remember of our fathers and mothers of old? Do we want our sons and daughters to remember us in the same way?

Psalm 34:16-23; Hebrews 11:13-16, 32-40, 12:1-3; Acts 7

Click here to listen to the podcast: Our Part of the Story

Click here to download the transcript: Our Part of the Story.pdf

Music: “Into the West,” by Annie Lennox, Fran Walsh, and Howard Shore, performed by Peter Hollens, Misty Mountains: Songs Inspired by The Hobbit and Lord of the Ring, Peter Hollens, 2016.

The Faith of Abraham, by Angus and Batya Wootten

[Editor’s note: What happens when we learn who we are? This is a question of identity beyond our present reality, but who we are stretching back through time to the peoples and places our or origins? Could it be that ignorance of our ancestral past contributes to the rootlessness and angst so common in the lives even of Yeshua’s followers?
This is a line of thinking that Angus and Batya Wootten investigate in one of the first articles published in the House of David Herald. In this piece from 1989, they are bold enough to ask what it really means to be adopted into God’s family, what it means to be the see of Abraham, and how the two parts of Abraham’s seed, identified most commonly as Jews and Christians, are to join one day to complete the covenant nation God established through Abraham.]

The Faith of Abraham

By Angus and Batya Wootten – February 1989

What did Abraham believe? Furthermore, what must we, his heirs, believe?

We know that when Abram did believe the Lord, “God credited it to him as righteousness.” (Genesis 15:6)

The importance of Abraham’s faith, and his resultant righteousness, cannot be over emphasized.

The promises made to Abraham were so important that God confirmed them on eleven different occasions: to Abraham seven times, to Isaac twice, and to Jacob twice. These three were “fellow heirs of the same promise.” (Hebrews 11:9)

Abraham believed the Lord when He said: “I have made you a father of many nations. I will make you very fruitful; I will make nations of you, and kings will come from you. I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants after you for the generations to come, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you.” (Genesis 17:5-7, NIV)

With Abraham there began a new birth in the history of mankind. For, he is “the father of all who believe.” (Romans 4:11)

Only With Us

Abraham’s faith had a powerful impact upon history. However, in regard to the great men of faith, we are told: “These were commended for their faith, yet . . . only together with us would they be made perfect.” (Hebrews 11:39) The covenant promises made to Abraham are imperfect without us! It is only in and through us that the faith of all generations will be realized (Hebrews 11:39, 40)!

We are part of the promise when we “walk in the footsteps of the faith our father Abraham had before he was circumcised.” (Romans 4:12) Then, we are his children. It is not enough to simply be Abraham’s physical child. We also must have the faith of Abraham! But, to have the faith of Abraham, we first must truly understand what Abraham believed! Then, we will know what we, his heirs, must believe.

When God told Abraham that He was going to bless him, God said: “Do not be afraid Abram, I am your shield, your very great reward. But Abram said, ‘O Sovereign Lord, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?’ And Abram said: “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.’ Then the word of the Lord came to him: ‘This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir. He took him outside and said, ‘Look up at the Heavens and count the stars – if indeed you can count them.’ Then He said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’ Abram believed the Lord, and He credited it to him as righteousness.” (Genesis 15:1-6, NIV)

Abraham, childless at the age of 85, had a 75 year old wife. Still, looking down the corridors of time, he believed that he would not have to adopt an heir! Rather, Abraham believed that his heir would come from his own body! Furthermore, he believed that through this heir, his seed would be multiplied until it was as numerous as the stars! And, he believed God would be a personal God to these children.

If we have the faith of Abraham, we too must believe what he believed! But we must believe it from a different perspective.

Four thousand years later, we must believe that Abraham did have an heir from his own body (Isaac). And, through that heir, his seed has become as numerous as the stars! This faith requirement is the keystone of all Scripture!

According to Hebrews 6, it is the acceptance of this promise that leads the Believer from the elementary teachings of Messiah, and on to maturity!

Hebrews also tells us a mature Believer needs a diet of meat. For, “Anyone who lives on milk, [or, elementary truths], being still an infant is not acquainted with the teachings about righteousness.” (Hebrews 5:13) Obviously, we will be righteous if we believe the same thing Abraham believed! When we digest the meat of the Word promised to Abraham – we will perceive our physical inheritance and identity – even as we have perceived our spiritual inheritance and identity. Then, we will realize the full truth of the Scripture: “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” (Galatians 3:29)

The Spirit of Adoption

Nowhere in Scripture are we told we are adopted as Abraham’s sons. Rather, of the five times adoption is mentioned in Scripture, each speaks of our adoption as “the sons of God.” It is God’s family that we are adopted into – not Abraham’s!

Why should we believe we are physical, rather than adopted sons of Abraham?

First, we must believe it because Abraham was told he would not adopt – rather, he was told his heirs would come from his own body.

Secondly, nowhere in Scripture are we told we are adopted as Abraham’s sons! Rather, of the five times adoption is mentioned in Scripture, each speaks of our adoption as “the sons of God.”[1] It is God’s family that we are adopted into – not Abraham’s! God said myriads of physical descendants would be born into Abraham’s family.[2] However, this is only an earthly promise. In order for us to live eternally, we must be adopted into God’s family. We must believe that God is a personal God to us, even as He promised He would be. This occurs when we experience the second birth, which is a birth by faith. When we are born from above, then we receive the Spirit of adoption, and thus we become a member of God’s family.[3] Furthermore, all must receive this adoption: Jew, Gentile, bond or free!

Last, but not least, there is an inherent danger in denying our birthright! “Esau despised his birthright,” then could find “no place for repentance, though he sought for it with tears.” Because Esau disregarded his birthright, he is called “godless” and was “hated” (Genesis 25:34; Romans 9:13; Hebrews 12:16,17).[4]

We must realize that great numbers of physical descendants were promised to Abraham! Whole nations were to come forth from him! Abraham was specifically told: “None but him that shall come forth from within you shall be your heir.” (Genesis 15:4, ArtScroll Tanach Series) If we cannot believe this promise of God, how can we believe any other promise?

For too long, we have not rightly divided the truth about Abraham’s descendants. For too long, “Gentile Believers” have been crippled by the lie that they are his adopted heirs.

Our Roots

Kunta Kinte Alex Haley Memorial in Annapolis, Maryland, Preservation Maryland, January 16, 2003, via Flickr.com.

The fact that Roots was the most watched television series ever speaks of the importance mankind gives to a knowledge of their roots.[5] People want to know from whence they came. Our roots give us a sense of belonging – a feeling that we are part of history. Our roots tell us about ourselves – who and what we are. Through them we discern our inheritance.

The world is full of stories of adopted people who have sought long and hard to find out from whom they were descended. Most adoptees have difficulties with feelings of rejection, abandonment, not being wanted.

No amount of worked-up self-esteem, fortitude, or tenacity will cover for the feeling of being a rootless, adopted, second class, citizen.[6] Further the feeling of being adopted can produce resentment toward the child that was fortunate enough to be “natural born.” (Could this be one of the sources of anti-semitism?)

Speaking to those who call themselves “Gentile Christians”: What if Jesus Himself told you that you were a direct descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? Would not the Bible be more alive to you? What if, when reading the Scriptures, you knew for a fact that these were your forefathers? What if you realized that God foreknew you before the foundation of the world – saw you in Abraham’s loins – called you in Isaac – predestined you to be one in Him, through the Messiah! Would it not add to the glory of what God has already done in your life through the Messiah?

Yes, it would. And therefore, your identity as a descendant of Abraham is important.[7] The fact is, the truth about your roots tells you about your Biblical inheritance. It tells you about the destiny God has planned for you and what He has planned for you to become. It is Abraham’s children who will rule with God. It is his descendants who will “possess the gates of their enemies.” (Genesis 22:17) It was “In Isaac that his seed was called.” (Hebrews 11:18) And, it was Isaac’s son, Jacob, that was called to be Israel, meaning: A powerful, prevailing prince, a soldier of God, one who rules with the Almighty!

But, if we are Abraham’s descendants, and thus, Israel what about the Jewish people? Are they also Israel?

The answer is yes. Because in Scripture there were, and still are, two houses of Israel (Isaiah 8:14; Ezekiel 37:15-Z8). The two houses are called Ephraim and Judah. Both serve God’s purposes – as His two witnesses in the earth. They are His two olive branches. Also, both of these houses have experienced the “partial hardening” that is spoken of in Roman’s 11:25.

Judah is the house of Israel that God has used to uphold His Law. For, “where there is no law, there is no transgression.” (Romans 4:15, NIV)

Furthermore, “The Law is our tutor to bring us to Messiah.” (Galatians 3:24) Judah knows their roots as Israelites – but they have been hardened to a knowledge of the Messiah.

Ephraim, on the other hand, has been used to establish the principle of “salvation by faith.” They know, and have a personal relationship with, the Messiah of Israel. However, they have been hardened as to their roots as Israelites. They do not realize that they too are descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. They do not realize that Judah is literally their brother.

The Revelation of the Sons of God

These two brothers are likened to the Cherubim over the Ark in the Tabernacle. One day they will recognize each other. They will reach out to touch each other even as the wings of the Cherubim touch each other. Then, and only then, will we see the Glory of God. Then, His Presence will be made manifest in us.[8]

When these two reach out to one another – when they repent of their sins toward one another – and forgive one another – then the world will in truth see the sons of God!

The whole world “waits expectantly and longs earnestly for God’s sons to be made known.” (Romans 8:19, AMP) But these sons will not be fully made known until they realize their identity as sons of Abraham – and unite in the Messiah!

The Apostle Paul speaks of “a mystery” in Romans 11:25. He says, “a hardening in part, has happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.” The fullness of Gentiles is the “melo goyim,” promised to Ephraim (Genesis 48:19). This “hardening” was to remain until the fullness of the Gentiles was brought in. Thus, it is our Father’s plan to save all Israel!

Many believe “the times of the Gentiles” are over. If that is so, then it is time for the veil to come off the eyes of all Israel! It is time for Ephraim to recognize his roots! It is time for the two houses of Israel to unite in Messiah! Only in this way will all Israel be saved!

Eating Meat Is Doing

Jesus said, “My meat is to do the will of Him that sent Me.” (John 4:34, KJV) To eat meat is to do the will of the One who sent us. Likewise, Abraham’s seed was sent forth and commanded to “be fruitful, and multiply.” In other words, they were to increase, to be made great, to excel-exceedingly, and to be in positions of authority. That is the call of the physical, faith-filled seed of Abraham!

Hebrews six warns us not to be sluggish about understanding our inheritance as Abraham’s children. Rather, we are to change our diet to one of meat. We are to be like Isaac, faith-filled children of the promise, having a sure and steadfast hope (Galatians 4:28; Hebrews 5:13-20).

O Father, we ask You to lift the veil from the eyes of all Israel.

Amen and Amen


[1] See Romans 8:15, 23; 9:4; Galatians 4:5; Ephesians 1:5. Note that the Spirit of adoption as sons of God belongs to the sons of Israel. In other words, it is the Israelites who receive the invitation to come into God’s family!
[2] See Genesis 15:5; 17:4; 26:4; 24:60; 28:3, 14; 48:4, 16, 19.
[3] See John 1:13; 3:3; Galatians 3:22, 26, 29; 1 Peter 1:3, 23; 1 John 3:9.
[4] The right of the first born belonged to Joseph, whose heir was Ephraim, who is called the Firstborn. Ephraim is one of the two houses of Israel. This house of Israel was to be scattered among “all the nations.” Ultimately, their descendants were to become the “sons of the Living God.” Thus, as the people of Ephraim – or, the Congregation of the Firstborn – we must not despise our birthright. (See 1 Chronicles 5:1-2; Genesis 48:5, 13, 14, 19; Jeremiah 31:9; Isaiah 8:14; Amos 9:9, Hosea 1:10; Ezekiel 37:15-28; Genesis 48:19; Hebrews 12:23.)
[5] Roots is a 1977 TV miniseries adapted from the book of the same name by Alex Haley. It is his novelization of the story of his family, which is descended from Kunta Kinte, a slave taken from his homeland in Gambia in the mid-18th century. The miniseries remains one of the most popular productions ever made for television not only because of its quality, but because, as the Woottens’ say, it appeals to the desire of people to identify with their places and peoples of origin. Haley’s work about his African family made the book and the film adaptation groundbreaking achievements in the years immediately following the Civil Rights era. For more information, see the IMDB article at https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0075572/.
[6] This is not to imply that adopted people are second class. However, adoption is not the normal way one becomes a member of a family. Thus, being adopted makes one a different member of the family.
[7] We are in no way suggesting that anyone should attempt to trace their genealogy. In fact, it is ludicrous to try. Because of the sin of adultery, no one can be certain of who their forefathers are. Furthermore, no one can trace their genealogy back 4,000 years to Abraham. Still, God knows exactly where Abraham’s seed is, and who they are! Physical descent as an Israelite is not something that can be proven. Even as “circumcision is of the heart and our praise [confirmation] comes from God” (Romans 2:29) – so it is with our confirmation as the sons of Abraham. We cannot prove it. But, for that matter, no man can prove that we are not!
[8] See Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, “Introduction,” What Christians Should Know About Jews and Judaism (Waco, TX, Word Books, 1984).

Fox Byte 5775 #46: Eikev (Because)

עֵקֶב

Since the first stage production of Of Mice and Men in 1937, the play has gripped audiences and readers for its deep and disturbing probe into human nature. It has also spawned innumerable parodies and references in popular culture that have diluted the power of the piece. (Photos: Lon Chaney Jr & Burgess Meredith in the film 'Of Mice and Men' in 1939, Chris O'Dowd & James Franco in 'Of Mice and Men' in 2014 on Broadway, from "Dogs, Bromance & James Franco: 12 Things Your English Teacher Didn’t Tell You About Of Mice and Men", by By Pete Croatto, April 12, 2014, Broadway.com)
John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men has gripped audiences with its disturbing probe of human nature since 1937.  (Photos: Lon Chaney Jr & Burgess Meredith in the 1939 film version; Chris O’Dowd & James Franco in the 2014 Broadway production, from “Dogs, Bromance & James Franco: 12 Things Your English Teacher Didn’t Tell You About Of Mice and Men”, by By Pete Croatto, April 12, 2014, Broadway.com)

What is this tendency of human minds to discard unpleasant things and cling to what is pleasant, nice, and amusing?  This can be useful in remembering loved ones who pass from this earth.  Whatever annoyances or difficulties they presented us in life fade from our memories, leaving only the glow of happy moments – of childhood kindnesses, of good smells and kind voices, of triumphant moments when a cooperative effort and patience brings victory over a harsh trial.  This is good, but in truth these happy things have no meaning if not set apart by the unhappy things.

This truth of life has its reflection in art.  Consider, for example, Of Mice and Men, a tragedy penned in 1937 by John Steinbeck to portray the pain of American society in the midst of the Great Depression.  It is the tale of George and Lennie, two migrant farm workers in California with a dream of owning a farm of their own one day.  From the opening of the play we see that Lennie labors under mental challenges that make him unable to care for himself.  He depends on George to keep him out of trouble and think for both of them.  All he knows is that he likes to pet nice, soft things with his fingers, and that one day when he and George have a place of their own, he can tend the rabbits they will raise.  Lennie is simple, kind, trusting, and hardworking, but he does not know his own strength.  The soft things he pets often end up dead.  At first it is a mouse, then a puppy, and finally a flirtatious woman who invites him to stroke her hair.  This last “bad thing” is something George cannot fix except by ensuring Lennie will never hurt anyone again.  The play ends as George tells Lennie one more time about the rabbits, and then takes his life.

The quintessential parody of Of Mice and Men appeared in the 1961 Looney Toons short, The Abominable Snow Rabbit". (Photo © Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc., used by permission of the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity)
The quintessential parody of Steinbeck’s work appeared in the 1961 Looney Toons short, “The Abominable Snow Rabbit”. (Photo © Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc., used by permission of the Chuck Jones Center for Creativity)

Steinbeck lived to see his sublime tragedy dismembered and parodied in superficial popular culture, beginning with animated cartoons.  As Of Mice and Men became an Oscar-nominated film in 1940, Warner Brothers gave birth to a new American icon, Bugs Bunny.  It did not take long before Lennie’s simpleminded fixation with furry rabbits became a standard feature in Looney Toons shorts, reaching a climax in 1961 with “The Abominable Snow Rabbit”.  In the cartoon Lennie becomes an Abominable Snowman in the Himalayas who encounters Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck.  Mistaking Daffy for a rabbit, the snowman picks him up and utters these now-famous words:

Just what I always wanted.  My own little bunny rabbit.  I will name him George, and I will hug him and pet him and squeeze him and pat him and pet him and rub him and caress him.

With these lines, this absurd cartoon illustrates how distorted shadows supplant what is unpleasant and tragic, leaving only a form of the truth, but lacking its power.  Those who have no knowledge of Steinbeck’s story will laugh at the cartoon, but they remain ignorant of the full context, and are thus robbed of the life lessons Steinbeck sought to impart.  The same is true of those who take the Bible in sound bites rather than in its full context, including these words of Moses:

And He will love you and bless you and multiply you; He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your land, your grain and your new wine and your oil, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flock, in the land of which He swore to your fathers to give you.  (Deuteronomy 7:13 NASB)

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