Those who have leprosy might as well be dead. Never mind that the disease we call leprosy today may or may not be one of the skin diseases meant by the Hebrew word tzara’at (צָרַעַת). The fact is, whoever had it was cut off from the community:
Now the leper on whom the sore is, his clothes shall be torn and his head bare; and he shall cover his mustache, and cry, “Unclean! Unclean!” He shall be unclean. All the days he has the sore he shall be unclean. He is unclean, and he shall dwell alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp. (Leviticus 13:45-46 NKJV)
Think about that for a moment. Lepers could not go home. They could not have any kind of normal relationship with their family members, friends, business associates, or anyone else with whom they interacted before the cursed condition fell upon them. It did not matter what station of life the leper occupied; whether peasant or king, the disease cut them off from the life of the nation. Even mighty King Uzziah of Judah learned that. Although he reigned for 52 years in Jerusalem, the leprosy he contracted in the midst of his reign meant that he was king in name only:
King Uzziah was a leper until the day of his death. He dwelt in an isolated house, because he was a leper; for he was cut off from the house of the Lord. Then Jotham his son was over the king’s house, judging the people of the land. (II Chronicles 26:21 NKJV)
How can a person shepherd the people of God when he is cut off from the House of God? Is there any hope for him, or for the people he is anointed to lead?
Yes, there is hope. That is why the Torah portion Metzora (The Leper; Leviticus 14:1-15:33) provides elaborate detail on the procedures for cleansing lepers. Once healed, the priests help them through this process to restore them to their place in society. In a certain sense, this is a resurrection from a type of death, and thus it is a symbol of what Messiah will do.
The Dilemma of the Ger: Commentary on “Has an Ancient Biblical Status for Non-Jews Reemerged After 2500 Years?”
The Torah Awakening among Christians is creating something the world has not seen for two thousand years: a growing body of non-Jewish people who are doing the best they can to live by God’s eternal standards (His Torah – Law, Teaching, Commandments), but who do not intend to convert to Judaism.
What is the world to do with such people? Perhaps the more immediate question is, what are the Jewish people and the State of Israel to do with such people?
Dr. Rivkah Lambert Adler explored these questions recently in an article for Breaking Israel News. Her article, “Has an Ancient Biblical Status for Non-Jews Reemerged after 2500 Years?”, presents the biblical concept of ger, (גָּר, Strong’s H1616), or foreigner, as a possible status for Torah-keeping non-Jews. Dr. Adler and I have shared some correspondence on this question, and hopefully will be able to continue that conversation in a point-counterpoint discussion. Here is my initial offering.
According to Strong’s Concordance, a ger is a “sojourner; a temporary inhabitant, a newcomer lacking inherited rights; of foreigners in Israel, though conceded rights”. The implication is that such people are not Israelites, not Hebrews, and not members of the nation or commonwealth of Israel.
This is where we run into several issues. The easy path is to argue these points, but that is not necessarily the wisest path. What we all need is the path of wisdom and reconciliation, and that is what I hope to investigate.
There is a joke from World War II that no longer makes sense without some explanation. It is said that a foreign student at an American university wrote an essay about General Douglas MacArthur. In the early months of 1942, as MacArthur presided over a doomed defense of the Philippine Islands, he was ordered to leave his command and go to Australia, there to organize the multinational Allied force that would halt Japanese expansion in the South Pacific. At his departure, MacArthur reportedly promised the people of the Philippines and his Filipino and American troops that he would one day come back with an army to liberate them – which he did two years later. On that momentous day in 1942, though, all he could do was promise, “I shall return.”
Those were inspiring words to Americans about to lose their forward bases and their largest military force in the Far East, and who could not bear to lose with them one of the most senior officers of their Army. MacArthur’s words inspired this young foreign student as well. However, his knowledge of English being imperfect, he conducted his research in his native tongue, and therefore committed an unfortunate faux pas when he presented his paper. Standing proudly in front of his peers, the young man said, “I write about Douglas MacArthur, who said those famous words, ‘I’ll be right back!’”
What is the proper response in such a situation? If there is no offense, then laughter erupts. However, if the hearers take offense, then they respond in anger.
It may be that neither is the proper response. If the one who made the error is trying to communicate in good faith, then the audience should give grace, seek to understand the true message, and help the author overcome the error. That is the point behind King Solomon’s wise words:
Solomon’s observation is rooted in a Torah principle:
You shall not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling block before the blind, but shall fear your God: I am the Lord. (Leviticus 19:14 NKJV)
Jewish sages understand that this principle refers not only to the physically deaf and blind, but also to people who cannot hear or see things clearly. Perhaps they are not present when something is said, or perhaps they do not have the language or experience to grasp the intricacies of a subject under discussion. Consider, for example, a man who is brilliant in his native language, but struggles to order a cup of coffee in English, and is laughed to scorn by those who do not realize the importance of being kind to strangers (another Torah principle).
To be honest, Jews are strangers to me, and I am a stranger to Jews. Although I identify as a Hebrew Roots follower of Messiah Yeshua, I have yet to grasp the intricacies of Judaism. The more Jews I meet and get to know, the more I begin to understand, but always what I say and do is tempered with the fear that I may give offense in some way that I had never anticipated.
Israel 2016: Family In Twelve Languages – The Conclusion of the Second B’ney Yosef National Congress
In some ways the Second B’ney Yosef National Congress was actually the Second First B’ney Yosef National Congress. This emerging people of the House of Joseph (Yosef) is still a long way from transacting business as one would expect from cohesive people groups such as the Armenians, Kurds, Assyrians, Lakota, Navajo, or Ibo. We still have much to discover about ourselves and much historical division to overcome before we can speak with a unified voice. Nevertheless, the seeds have been sown, both in the First Congress and in this Second Congress. The fruit is not yet ready, but it is becoming recognizable as fruit, and that in itself is a major step forward.
My earlier report on the first half of the Congress (see Picking Up Where We Left Off: A Report on the Second B’ney Yosef National Congress) covered most of the formal business on the schedule. When we arrived at Shabbat on the evening of Friday, October 28, we had already heard from visionaries and scholars such as Iris Bouwman, Ron Campbell, and Ephraim Frank. They focused us on:
- Our identity as the returning children of Yosef/Ephraim
- Our hope in restoration by YHVH and reunification with our brethren of Judah
- Our responsibilities in moving with the Almighty as He directs and empowers this process.
What happened over the next two days did not bring anything new or different, but instead imparted greater depth to what we had already heard and shared.
The formal meetings on Shabbat did not commence until late in the afternoon. As with any such gathering, the real business took place not in the formal presentations, but in the quiet conversations among two or three huddled in the common room, or sitting at table for a meal. It seemed that these informal meetings took on a heightened importance during and after Shabbat. After breakfast, many delegates gathered to read the Torah portion Beresheet (In the Beginning), another simple activity which enhanced the bonding already taking place among these diverse Ephraimites from so many different places and cultures. Others who did not participate in the Torah reading continued in quiet relationship-building conversation, or in private prayer and Bible study. All partook of considerable rest during the day, the feature of Shabbat which has become precious to us all.
Two months ago the world received notice that The Barking Fox is on the move. The relocation to North Carolina is complete, but our transition is still in progress. We set up housekeeping in Charlotte on September 4, and thanks to tremendous help from Pete Rambo and his family, we finished unpacking and had most of the place in order within a week. We had to get settled in a hurry so we could go to Virginia and see our oldest daughter married at the end of the month – just in time to prepare for the High Holy Days!
Even now the Fall Feasts are upon us. The sun is setting in Charlotte, which means the new Hebrew year 5777 is here. This weekend we enjoyed Shabbat with the Rambo family at their home in South Carolina, and with them entered into the season of Yom Teruah (the Feast of Trumpets, celebrated by our Jewish brethren as Rosh Hashanah). While there we joined with Tommy and Dorothy Wilson, fellow leaders of B’ney Yosef North America, in prayerfully planning our upcoming trip to Israel for Sukkot (the Feast of Tabernacles) and the Second B’ney Yosef National Congress.
Our expectations are very high that this season will bring the climax to many of the prophetic events connected with Messiah’s return. Whether we will see Him coming this year is something no one can say for certain, but as we watch the signs of the times we can’t help but conclude that the current world order, which has been in place for 100 years, is rapidly giving way to something new. Although we cannot know exactly what we will encounter in Israel, we anticipate that as Ephraimite delegates from around the globe gather for the Congress, YHVH will provide direction for this coming year. Those of us who have blogs and other media outlets will be covering the events as best we can, so look for some exciting reports!
And after that? We will continue learning who we are as Hebrews awakening to our identity as part of the covenant people of YHVH. Our transition from Texas to North Carolina is part of that. In my book, Give Me A Place Where I May Dwell, I share thoughts about what it will take for us to develop this sense of being a people – Hebrews and Israelites of the House of Joseph/Ephraim who are preparing to be reunited with our brethren of Judah (the Jewish people) at the coming of Messiah Son of David. Here are some of those thoughts:
There are already many gatherings of like-minded believers at Sukkot in various places. This is a very good start, but it is time to consider how to transform these virtual communities into actual communities. That means many of us will have to relocate so that we can live near fellow Ephraimites. Initially this relocation and community building should happen in the lands we now call home. We should look for places where we can congregate as neighbors and learn to live together as a distinct people. Perhaps this means establishing new villages and towns in rural areas, or perhaps moving into neighborhoods in cities and suburbs where housing is available. When we look we will find many possibilities. The important thing is to look, to make a concerted effort to find one another, associate with one another, live next to one another, and together create the meaning of the Ephraimite people.
That is the purpose of our transition. Already we count ourselves part of a vibrant and growing Hebrew community in Western Carolina (the western counties of North and South Carolina). We were much blessed to be connected with similar communities in Texas and hope to remain connected with them. However, if we have heard YHVH correctly, our place at this particular time is in the Southeastern United States, and here we look forward to making a real contribution to the developing regional network of Hebrew communities.
This brings us to the fun part of this post. Our move from Texas to North Carolina was perhaps the easiest relocation we have ever had thanks to our God’s provision. The pictures below illustrate this transition through the eyes of our dog, Blue. This was a strange experience for her, but she seems to have come through it quite well and adjusted quickly to her new home.
L’shana tova from all of us to all of you!
What would it have been like to be at the signing of the Declaration of Independence? Or at the First Zionist Congress, or the first meeting of the United Nations General Assembly, or at any great event that changed history?
That is a question our grandchildren will ask in years to come about the great events happening right now as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob fulfills this long-expected promise:
This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I am going to take the stick of Joseph—which is in Ephraim’s hand—and of the Israelite tribes associated with him, and join it to Judah’s stick. I will make them into a single stick of wood, and they will become one in my hand. (Ezekiel 37:19 NIV)
One of those historic events is happening in Tampa, Florida. At the B’ney Yosef North America Summit, March 4-6, 2016, followers of Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ) who have returned to the Torah He practiced and embraced their Israelite identity will assemble to reestablish the North American portion of the formerly Lost Ten Tribes of Israel. Now is your chance to be part of this convergence of history and prophecy. Come to Tampa and let your voice be heard! Registration is open now, but space is limited and time is short.
The B’ney Yosef North America Summit will convene at the St. Petersburg Marriott Clearwater, just outside Tampa. Keep these dates in mind:
- The Summit convenes on Friday, March 4, and ends on Sunday, March 6.
- Registration deadline is Friday, February 26.
- Special rates for rooms at the Marriott are available through Friday, February 19.
To register, please visit the B’ney Yosef North America website at:
Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
© Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog, 2014-2016. Permission to use and/or duplicate original material on The Barking Fox Blog is granted, provided that full and clear credit is given to Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
Many dry bones lie scattered across Tennessee. Tens of thousands of them found their resting places during the tumultuous years of the American Civil War. Perhaps it is fitting, therefore, that Tennessee served as the place where the dry bones of the House of Yosef (Joseph) began to come back to life in North America.
This is a prophesied event, of course. More accurately, it is a prophesied process – the single greatest topic of prophecy in the entire Bible. Israel, the nation Almighty God established in covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, split into two pieces and died many hundreds of years ago. Judah, the part of that nation which we know now as the Jewish people, retained knowledge of its identity, and in 1948 returned to life as the State of Israel. The other part of the nation, however, has never come back to life.
Are we living in the time of the end that humanity has anticipated for millennia? It seems so, at least according to the wars and rumors of war and all the other signs students of prophecy have expected. Yet it is also the time of the beginning. In Messiah Yeshua’s discourse recorded in Matthew 24 and Mark 13 He spoke of these things as birth pangs. What is being born? Isaiah helps us understand:
Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Can a land be born in one day? Can a nation be brought forth all at once? As soon as Zion travailed, she also brought forth her sons. “Shall I bring to the point of birth and not give delivery?” says the Lord. “Or shall I who gives delivery shut the womb?” says your God. (Isaiah 66:8-9 NASB)
Isaiah and Yeshua speak of the birth, or rebirth, of the nation of Israel, YHVH’s chosen people through whom He will work redemption for all nations. Part of that nation has already come into being: the Jewish part known as the State of Israel, which is the restored House of Judah. What the world is awaiting now is the restoration of the rest of the nation: the non-Jewish tribes of the House of Joseph, also called the House of Ephraim, who have had no national existence since the Assyrian Empire annihilated the Northern Kingdom of Israel over 2,700 years ago. And yet Scripture addresses the rebirth of Ephraim and their reunification with Judah more than any other prophetic topic. The Almighty Himself even stakes His own Name and reputation on fulfilling this mighty act (Deuteronomy 7:7-8; 9:5-6; Jeremiah 16:14-21, 32:41-42; Ezekiel 36:22-32). The “time of the end” therefore must really be a “time of the beginning” as these children of Joseph (in Hebrew, b’ney Yosef) awaken to their identity and begin to come together as a nation once again.
What would happen if all the people who claim to have pledged allegiance to Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ) actually cooperated with one another? The operative word is “cooperate”, not “agree”. Total agreement has never been possible, even among the prophets and apostles of old (Numbers 12:1-16, Mark 9:38-40, Acts 15: 36-41, Philippians 1:12-18).
Nevertheless, there should be a unifying factor of some kind among godly people to distinguish them from the rest of the world and ensure they get on with YHVH’s business rather than their own.
Finding that unifying factor is the purpose of the B’Ney Yosef (Sons of Joseph) Region 35 Conference. The conference will take place December 4, 5, and 6, 2015 at the Tally Retreat Center on Camp Copass in Denton, Texas
The conference grew from an idea discussed at a Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles) celebration on the Red River near Wichita Falls, Texas, early in October. Some of the participants at the feast had been delegates at the First B’Ney Yosef National Congress in Ariel, Israel, late in May 2015.
The Congress served as the launching point for a concerted effort to follow YHVH’s lead in the long-anticipated restoration of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, the Ten Tribes of the House of Joseph (House of Ephraim). In discussing what could be done to advance the work of the Congress, particularly in view of recent initiatives by the State of Israel and by Jewish organizations to identify non-Jewish groups that have an affinity with Israel.
For a comprehensive discussion of these initiatives, see two recent posts on Pete Rambo’s blog, natsab:
Pete Rambo blog post #1, JPost Bney Yosef Advertisement
Pete Rambo blog post #2, Yosef is Alive!
That discussion developed into a plan to hold a the conference in Denton, not far from Dallas, to bring together Hebrew Roots believers in Texas and Oklahoma in the interest of sharing the vision of the B’Ney Yosef Congress and organizing for a B’Ney Yosef North American Summit planned for the first weekend of March 2016 in Orlando, Florida.
It did not take long for this idea to grow as the Holy Spirit provided further direction. Before leaving the Sukkot celebration, organizers Larry Ferguson, Al McCarn, and Akpene Torku realized the need to include like-minded brethren from the central part of the United States, meaning the region around the Interstate 35 Corridor.
That was the genesis of B’Ney Yosef Region 35. It is not yet an organization, but a concept embracing the states of Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, Louisiana, Arkansas, Nebraska, South Dakota, and North Dakota. An invitation letter sent out in mid-October produced sufficient response to beginning conference preparation. Now, just a month after the initial idea was proposed, the Region 35 conference is already on its way to reaching the maximum registration of 300 participants.
As the conference concept took shape, it became clear that this was to be more than merely a Hebrew Roots/Two House event. To reflect the Holy Spirit’s direction, it has developed into a forum at which all who love Israel are welcome, not only from among Torah-keeping Hebrew Roots believers, but also Christians and Messianic Jews. The unifying theme is that all who have a testimony of following Yeshua are part of the Commonwealth of Israel and the seed of Abraham.
According to the testimony of Scripture (Isaiah 56:1-7; Ezekiel 37:1-28; Romans 11:11-32; Ephesians 2:11-22), these believers share with Jews an Israelite identity that distinguishes them from the rest of the nations (gentiles), regardless of their ethnic or national identity of birth. This identity is firmly grounded in the covenantal promises of YHVH to our fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and to the work of Messiah Yeshua in opening the way for the lost sheep of the House of Israel to return (Genesis 12:1-3, 15:1-6, 26:1-5, 28:13-15; Matthew 15:24).
Sadly, this identity question is something that eludes many believers. Moreover, the different terms used by Messianic, Hebrew Roots, and Christian believers amplifies misunderstanding, leading to further division. These are the things the Region 35 Conference is designed to address.
Speakers confirmed thus far include:
Pastor James Sterling of Christ’s Community Fellowship in Wichita Falls, Texas
David Altman of the Alliance of Redeemed Israel; and
Al McCarn, co-host of The Remnant Road on Hebrew Nation Radio and author of The Barking Fox blog
A centerpiece of the conference will be a panel discussion on Shabbat (Saturday) focused on the question of how Christian, Hebrew Roots, and Messianic Jewish believers can work together as members of the Body of Messiah. At the heart of the event is a desire to seek the will of the Father regarding His Kingdom purposes. For that reason there will be emphasis on prayer and repentance, as well as praise and worship, from the start on Friday evening.
Registration is still open for all who sense a leading to participate. Ministry partners are also encouraged to register to set up displays of the resources they can provide in the process of educating the Body of Messiah to their identity, and supporting our Jewish brethren and the State of Israel.
This article was originally published as a Hebrew Nation News Alert, November 12, 2015.