Where Is Ephraim? And Where Is He Going?, by Angus and Batya Wootten

via Where Is Ephraim? And Where Is He Going? – B’ney Yosef North America 

[Editor’s note: What greater purpose in life could there be than laboring to see the Kingdom of Heaven fully manifested on earth? This is in accordance with our Messiah’s instructions in His model prayer for us:

Our Father in heaven, sanctified be Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. (Matthew 6:9-10 TLV)

This is the goal and hope of God’s people, but few think about how the Kingdom will come about, or what it will look like when it is here. One thing that is clear according to Scripture is that there is only one Kingdom, and it is called Israel. This is the foundational understanding of everything Angus and Batya wrote. In this article, first published in 1995, they briefly outline what Scripture says about the structure of the Kingdom, and what we can do to see its prophesied restoration come to pass.]


Where Is Ephraim? And Where Is He Going?

By Angus and Batya Wootten – July 1995

Jacob, when on his deathbed, blessed Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. In that blessing, the Patriarch prophesied that Ephraim’s descendants would become a “melo ha goyim,” or, “fullness of the Gentiles” (Genesis 48:19). Many centuries later, when Jacob’s sons had become the Twelve Tribes of Israel, the nation divided into two houses: Ephraim and Judah, Israel’s Northern and Southern Kingdoms. Both kingdoms disobeyed Yahveh, but Ephraim even went so far as to become nearly indistinguishable from the surrounding nations (“gentiles”). The disobedience of both houses brought on Yahveh’s sentence of judgment: exile into the nations.

Before scattering the “gentilized” Ephraimites, Yahveh sent the prophet Hosea to them, through whom He declared that the Ten Tribes would be scattered among all the nations (Jezreel), and thus lose their identity as Israelites (Lo-Ammi). However, He also said that one day they would “respond to Jezreel,” meaning their scattering. Like seed, they would experience a second birth that would make them once again the people of Israel. Even as the prophets prophesied, countless numbers of these scattered sheep have been found by the “Shepherd,” and so have “become sons of the Living God” (Amos 9:9; Hosea 1-2; Ezekiel 34:6-23; Romans 9:26).

Further, Yahveh has a plan for “reborn” Ephraim. It is a three-fold plan that will reunite the two houses of Israel: Ephraim and Judah. He will use this reunited people to fulfill His ultimate goal: that of bringing heaven to earth. To accomplish this task, Yahveh Elohim will –

    • Identify Ephraim
    • Reunite Ephraim and Judah
    • Restore the Kingdom to a reunited Israel, and usher in Messiah’s return (John 17; Romans 11:25-26, Jeremiah 31:18-19. Isaiah 8:14; 11:11-14; Ezekiel 37:15-28).

Who will Yahveh use to execute this plan? Scripture and history are clear. Yahveh uses and works with man in fulfilling Biblical prophecy. In the matter of reuniting His nation, He has placed the responsibility of reconciliation on Ephraim, who is the wild olive branch (Jeremiah 2:18, 21; 11:10, 16, Isaiah 11:13; Romans 11:11, 15:25-26).

Therefore, Yahveh is issuing a call to the Ephraimites: He is “whistling” for Ephraim. He is strengthening those who answer His call by removing the blindness regarding their identity – that they may again be like mighty men. Yahveh is giving these Ephraimites a “knowing” deep within their being that they are Israelites. This “knowing” is like the “knowing” they have regarding their personal relationship with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And, this “knowing” is changing their lives. It is causing them to see the need to walk in righteousness as Israelites, and it is giving them an even deeper love for their brother, Judah (Zechariah 10:7-12, Hosea 11:10; Romans 11:25; Isaiah 27:9).

In the forefront of this regathering are those who realize the Father would use them to accomplish His Divine Mandate for Ephraim. Thus, they seek to instruct others whom the Father is awakening about their identity and about their responsibility – as “watchmen” for the whole house of Israel (Hosea 9:8; Ezekiel 3:17; Habakkuk 2:1).

These “forerunners” realize this most important of jobs will be accomplished one Ephraimite at a time. They also know their seemingly unimportant accomplishments will ultimately result in the reunification of the two houses of Israel. These “forerunners” realize this integral reunion will only be accomplished by a people who are being led by the Spirit of Yahveh, and that a people truly walking in accord with His Spirit will result in Messiah’s return and the restoration of the kingdom to Israel.

We are on a journey toward the Kingdom of our Heavenly Father. That journey begins with a single step – but there are many more after that. Are you willing to keep taking one step after another until we reach our destination?

It only takes one little step. Perhaps that of asking the Father how this message should change your personal walk. Perhaps sharing with a friend. It just takes little steps. But, they will prove to be steps that will result in the return of our King!

Where will these steps ultimately take us?

Back to our Land.

We will return to our Land because He who scattered Israel also has promised:

“I will give her . . . the valley of Achor [from the root word for “trouble”] as a door of hope. And she will sing there as in the days of her youth, as in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt. ‘And it will come about in that day,’ declares Yahveh, ‘That you will call me Ishi [Husband] and will no longer call Me Baali [Lord]. For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, so that they will be mentioned by their names no more. In that day I will also make a covenant for them . . . and I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war form the land, and will make them lie down in safety. And I will betroth you to me forever; Yes I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, in loving kindness and in compassion, and I will betroth you to me in faithfulness.’ Then you will know Yahveh. ‘And it will come about in that day that I will respond,’ declares Yahveh. . . ‘And they will respond to Jezreel. And I will sow her for Myself in the land. I will also have compassion on her who had not obtained compassion, and I will say to those who were not My people, ‘You are My people!’ And they will say, ‘Thou are my God!’” (Hosea 2:16-23; also see Romans 9:15-26).

Yes! We will yet return to the Land of our forefathers! But to do so, we must take our first step. . . .

Read Through the Bible with the Barking Fox – Reading Plan for 5781 (2020-2021)

A Statenbijbel (States Bible), Paulus Aertsz. van Ravesteyn, Leiden, 1637. The Word of God – the Bible – is at the heart of the Dutch Reformed faith. In 1619 the States General, the Netherlands’ highest governing body, commissioned a new, ‘pure’ translation, which for use in every church. That is why this Bible is called the “States Bible.” The translation took eighteen years, with every word is subject to lengthy debate, before publication in in 1637. (Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, item NG-536.)

What is the longest running and largest Bible study in human history? That is one way to describe the Torah reading cycle that Jews around the world have followed for many centuries. Every year, Jewish families and congregations read through the five books of Moses (Torah), along with selected portions from other books of the Hebrew scriptures (the Tanakh, or Old Testament).

There are many advantages to this way of studying the Bible, such as creating the identity of a “global Jewish congregation” that transcends national, doctrinal, cultural, and ethnic barriers. Any Jew from any country can enter a synagogue in any other country on any Shabbat and know what Torah portion they are studying. Imagine what that has done to preserve Jewish identity during the centuries of exile to every corner of the earth – and how it has strengthened the nations as the scattered Jewish people have returned to the Promised Land of Israel!

Why can’t Christians, Messianic, and Hebrew Roots believers do the same? Why not adopt the Jewish Torah reading cycle, and add to it all the Apostolic Writings (New Testament) and other portions of the Tanakh not included in the cycle? What would it do to our unity as followers of Messiah Yeshua, and to our shared spiritual heritage with our Jewish brethren?

That is the motivation behind this reading plan. Starting with the Torah and Haftarah annual cycle, this plan for the Hebrew year 5781 (2020-2021) incorporates readings from  the rest of the Tanakh and Apostolic Writings into a daily plan that covers the entire Bible over the course of the year. If you are in search of an organized approach to the Word of God, maybe this can help.  Whatever you do, please do get into the Word so that it can get into you!

Is God Really With Us?

This article was originally published in 40 days of Repentance: A Companion Guide to The LIST – Persecution of Jews by Christians Throughout History. To learn more about this subject, visit The Nations 9th of Av at https://9-av.com/.


German Wehrmacht belt buckle from World War II, with the insciption “Gott Mit Uns” (God with us), via Wikimedia Commons.

We need museums to teach us what we do not know and to reveal to us what we should have known. The Virginia War Museum in Newport News did that for me. This institution exists to educate the public about the American military experience and to honor those who have borne the burdens of it. Its exhibits cover every phase of my birth nation’s conflicts from the Revolutionary War to the Global War on Terrorism, but as one might expect, many of those exhibits are devoted to the Second World War.

The disturbing thing about all wars, including World War II, is that they never bring permanent solutions to anything. The same evils overcome in one generation take shape again in the next, requiring renewed effort to keep them at bay. The evils overcome in the Great Patriotic War, as our erstwhile Soviet allies called it, were not foreign to us. They were, and remain, an integral part of the civilization the Allies struggled to preserve.

One exhibit made that abundantly clear to me. In a well-illuminated display case there hung the tunic of a German soldier. The buckle of the belt fastened around the tunic depicted an eagle of the Third Reich grasping in its claws the swastika of Hitler’s National Socialist Party. That was not surprising, but the inscription above the eagle was a surprise. In capital letters it proclaimed boldly –

GOTT MIT UNS

“Gott mit uns” means “God with us.” German soldiers have worn it on their uniforms for three centuries, long before the Prussian kings began uniting the separate German states into the cohesive empire that eventually became the instrument of Nazi aggression. The Third Reich had ample reason to continue the tradition, not only for many of its soldiers, but also for certain civil servants. Adolf Hitler, after all, believed he was doing the work of God in creating space for God’s “master race” to rule the world. Such work required the enslavement or elimination of all those who were considered lesser beings according to Hitler’s ideology: Communists, homosexuals, Gypsies, Slavs. . .

. . . and especially Jews.

Jews of Germany understood the inscription on the belts of police officers who enforced the decrees that robbed them of life, liberty, and property. Jews of Poland and Russia had no trouble deciphering Gott mit uns on the belts of soldiers who rounded them up and marched them away to an uncertain fate. Jews of France, Holland, Greece, and Italy would have recognized the message as Wehrmacht soldiers handed them off to SS Totenkopf (Death Head) units that staffed the camps where their lives became solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.

What would those Jews have been thinking? Some surely wondered which god these Nazis thought was with them. That this was a Christian God seemed to be certain. The Germans were, after all, Christians. Protestants and Catholics alike embraced Nazism. Many of those same soldiers and policemen who efficiently eliminated 6,000,000 Jews faithfully attended church and chapel services, and almost all of them enjoyed the festivities of Christmas. The Christian God, then, was the one served by those who sought to make themselves masters of the earth over the bones of Jews and other supposedly lesser beings.

Why do we wonder that Jews have a hard time accepting the Christian message? If Christians – even nominal or cultural Christians – like the soldiers of the Third Reich did what they did in the belief that their crimes faithfully served their God, why would any Jew want to have anything to do with that God? If the experience of the Shoa (Holocaust) was the only evidence they had, then it follows that Jews might perceive the Jesus those German soldiers praised on Sunday must be a cruel god indeed, or perhaps a demon from hell.

Gott mit uns. God with us.

How arrogant. How dare they believe God would sanction such crimes? Surely the Nazi era was an anomaly. No other Christian nation would do such things. Surely none would believe that God’s chosen people, the Jews, would be so deserving of His anger that they should be eliminated from the face of the earth. Surely the Germans were led astray. It could never happen to anyone else. Or could it? The sad truth is that the same refrain, “God with us,” echoes through the corridors of history.

God with us –

– on the lips of Crusaders marching under the banner of the cross, ravaging Jewish communities across Europe long before they ever set eyes on the Holy Land.

God with us –

– in the minds of Inquisition agents searching for Jewish houses in the cities of Spain. It was easy. Since the Torah prohibited Jews from kindling a flame on the Sabbath, all they had to do was wait until Saturday and look for the smokeless chimneys. Once identified, the Jews were given opportunity to embrace the Savior. If they refused, the best fate they might hope for would be deportation. Even descendants of Jews who converted were not immune. Those who aspired to a privileged position in society required a certificate of limpieza de sangre (purity of blood) to prove several generations of Christian heritage. Unwary applicants might find, to their horror, that they had a Jewish grandfather, making them subject to the mercies of the Inquisition courts.

God with us –

– in the decrees of Christian kings across Europe as they expelled Jews from their realms. Spain, England, France, Italy, Belgium, Switzerland, Hungary, Austria, Lithuania, Holland, Portugal, and the German states all did so. After, of course, expropriating whatever Jewish wealth might be available to aid the crown in its “divine work.”

God with us –

– moving the hands of Russian Orthodox magistrates as they authorized pogroms that made the Motherland uninhabitable for the Czar’s Jewish subjects.

God with us –

– in the hearts of American Protestants as they excluded Jews from their professional organizations and social clubs, insulted them with derisive jokes and demeaning names, and complained fearfully about Jewish bankers who supposedly controlled the world’s wealth. It’s not that these American Christians objected to the blessings of Jewish achievements. They appreciated the financial innovations of Marcus Goldman and Samuel Sachs, the scientific advances of Albert Einstein and J. Robert Oppenheimer, and the creativity of George Gershwin and Leonard Nimoy. It wasn’t so bad that they were Jewish, but it would have been better if they could have been Jewish somewhere else.

Come to think of it, the German Nazi experience was not so unique after all. We might think of it more correctly as the culmination of two millennia of Christian holy arrogance. Such arrogance seems to have overlooked the solemn word of God:

“If the heavens above can be measured
And the foundations of the earth searched out below,
Then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel
For all that they have done,” declares the Lord. (Jeremiah 31:37 NASB)

If God can break His promises to the Jewish people, and to the rest of scattered Israel, then what prevents Him from breaking His promises to Christians? How, then, do we dare presume that we act for God by relegating Jews to the status of lesser human beings?

Or what do we make of these words of our Savior, the Messiah of Israel?

They will make you outcasts from the synagogue, but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God. These things they will do because they have not known the Father or Me. (John 16:2-3 NASB)

It is customary to consider this as a prophecy of persecutions coming upon Christians, but we rarely consider that these words were spoken by a Jew to His Jewish disciples. Did He, perhaps, have in mind the persecutions that would happen to all His Father’s covenant people, Jewish and non-Jewish alike?

Do we truly desire to heal this breach between Christians and Jews? If so, the first thing we should do is to let our Heavenly Father restructure our thinking. It is, after all, His Kingdom we profess to serve. Perhaps He should have the last word about who is in it.

Repentance prayer ~ Our Father and our King, truly the revelation of Yeshua (Jesus) the Messiah is an awesome gift You have given. Your prophet Isaiah identifies Him as Immanuel, God With Us (Isaiah 7:14). The redemption of all Israel and the world through Him is the greatest message of life. Yet we who profess His Name have all too often turned the message of “God with us” into an authorization to persecute those we should be embracing and honoring. Forgive us, Father, for our arrogance. We do not understand how Your mercy and grace work with our Jewish brethren, but the testimony of history demonstrates that You are not finished with them. Judgment belongs only to You. We want to leave it in Your hands, and instead be Your instruments of peace and reconciliation. Help us, Father. We ask in the Name of Yeshua, Amen.

Why Care About Israel? Part 2: Because Redemption Does Not Happen Without Israel – Current Events Simplified

We Christians have some understanding that we are connected to Israel through Messiah Yeshua, but often we don’t realize that the Jewish people are still the heart of the nation of Israel. That’s why God has gone to great lengths to preserve them as a people – even through all the efforts of the world to eradicate them over the centuries. Another thing we don’t realize is that those efforts to eradicate the Jews have often occurred with participation of, or at least acquiescence by, the church in its many forms. 

via Because Redemption Does Not Happen Without Israel – Current Events Simplified – YouTube

Why Care About Israel? Part 1: Because You Are Israel – Current Events Simplified

What is the big deal about Israel, and why should Christians care? Those are questions this new series seeks to address. In this opening episode, we take a brief look at what the Bible says. This is more than an issue of supporting the Jewish people and the state of Israel; it’s actually a question of identity. 

via Why Care About Israel? Part 1 – Current Events Simplified – YouTube