Dying in the Wilderness

In The Brazen Serpent, James Tissot illustrates one of the many ways the Lord God cared for our fathers even as they lived out their sentence of death in the wilderness.
In The Brazen Serpent, James Tissot illustrates one of the many ways the Lord God cared for our fathers even as they lived out their sentence of death in the wilderness.

There is this problem among the people of God:  the expectation that He will come along and fix everything that is wrong in the world in an instant.  I suppose that perspective comes from the hope that one day we get to live happily ever after in some kind of undefinable paradise where the biggest problem we have for all eternity is deciding what we would like to eat.  For time immemorial, Jews and Christians of all varieties have engaged in this hope, expecting that Messiah will make everything all better without us having to do much of anything.  Messiah will indeed make everything all better, but the belief that it requires little if any effort on our part, or that it will be a pleasant experience, is nothing more than wishful thinking.  Such is the warning to ancient Israel, both the Jewish and non-Jewish parts of the nation:

Woe to those who drag iniquity with the cords of falsehood, and sin as if with cart ropes; who say, “Let Him make speed, let Him hasten His work, that we may see it; and let the purpose of the Holy One of Israel draw near and come to pass, that we may know it!”  (Isaiah 5:18-19 NASB)

Alas, you who are longing for the day of the Lord, for what purpose will the day of the Lord be to you?  It will be darkness and not light; as when a man flees from a lion and a bear meets him, or goes home, leans his hand against the wall and a snake bites him.  Will not the day of the Lord be darkness instead of light, even gloom with no brightness in it?  (Amos 5:18-20 NASB)

The Apostle Paul issued the same warning to followers of Messiah Yeshua in his day, noting the direct linkage of those believers – both Jewish and non-Jewish – to the people of ancient Israel:

For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and all ate the same spiritual food; and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ.  Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness.  Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved.  (I Corinthians 10:1-6 NASB)

This is the same apostle who admonished his readers to work out their salvation with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12-13).  The application of his words is not limited to the ancient Mediterranean world, but to followers of Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ) down through the ages to this very day.  It is important to understand that Paul is not advocating a gospel of works for salvation, but is instead issuing an exhortation for us to take responsibility for what YHVH has given us freely by virtue of faith in Him and His Messiah.  From the very beginning our Creator has intended this to be so.  Consider His first recorded words to our first ancestors:

God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them.  God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”  (Genesis 1:27-28 NASB)

To put it another way, we are intended to rule with God over the part of creation He has placed under our jurisdiction (Exodus 19:5-6; Revelation 5:9-10, 20:4-6; I Peter 2:9-10; II Timothy 2:11-12).  More importantly, we are to rule with God as His bride (Isaiah 62:4-5; Revelation 19:7-8). 

What does one call the bride of a king?  Is it not a queen?  The question, then, is this:  does the King of the Universe desire a queen who is fully capable of ruling in His Name and whom He trusts to do so, or is He content with a fat, lazy queen who screams at her servants if her food is not cooked to her definition of perfection?

If we think of our eternal destiny in these terms, we begin to see the necessity of trials and tribulations to make us ready for our Creator’s ultimate purposes.  As we mature in our relationship with Him we should grow ever more eager for the test rather than building ever more elaborate schemes to avoid it.  The eager ones who seek to please their Master will prevail, but those who seek to avoid pain most likely will succeed neither in avoiding pain, nor in prevailing over anything.

This is the subject Ken Rank addresses in his article, “Dying in the Wilderness”, recently published on United2Restore.  Be careful!  Ken makes some paradigm-shifting observations here.  Reading this may cause you to question everything you have been taught about the End Times.


Dying in the Wilderness

Ken Rank  
January 6, 2016 
Originally published on United 2 Restore

We are part of Israel; we are children of the Most High God.  He loves us, He will care for us, He will sustain us . . . and He will leave us in the wilderness with our spiritual baggage intact unless we learn how to get beyond the minutia that we allow to divide us.

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The Most Interesting Thing I Have Learned This Month

Abraham and Isaac Anthony van Dyck
Abraham and Isaac
Anthony van Dyck

Having walked this path of faith for several decades, I have come to understand that the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob does not require His people to do anything that He Himself is not prepared to demonstrate by example.  In other words, whatever requirements He places on us in the form of commandments will have some corresponding requirement He has placed on Himself.  For example, in the famous Akedah, the Binding of Isaac (Genesis 22:1-19), YHVH calls on Abraham to take his only son Isaac and offer him as a sacrifice.  Abraham obeys, and on the way to the place Isaac asks him where the lamb for the burnt offering is.  Abraham answers, “God will provide for Himself the lamb for the burnt offering” (Genesis 22:8).  Many centuries later, we find that Messiah Yeshua fulfills that role of the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29-36, Revelation 5:1-14), just as prophesied in Isaiah 53.  The holy example is that God Himself gave the His very own Son, withholding nothing to redeem mankind, and therefore demonstrating that those who choose to follow Him must hold nothing back in their obedience to His will.

If this principle of “heavenly reciprocity” is true, then there should be some equivalent to the Lord’s requirement of His people to love Him and love one another.  Yeshua identified these as the two greatest commandments, and the authorities who questioned Him had no disagreement on that point:

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Calling All Kiwis!


BFB151022 Kiwi SilhouetteNew ZealandOne of the best things about blogging is connecting with people from all over the world.  This week I had the pleasure of meeting via email Sonya Wilson of New Zealand.  She contacted me asking if I could help her find other Messianic/Hebrew Roots believers in her country.  The reason is a very big dream:  Sonya hopes to bring Brad Scott to New Zealand’s North Island for a teaching tour in 2016!  

Now I am doubly blessed:  not only do I now have a connection in New Zealand, but I can help Sonya get the word out about this very important initiative.  Please take a look at the information she has provided.  If you are a Kiwi, please get in touch with her.  If you’re not a Kiwi, please pass this information on in expectation that YHVH will get it to the people who need to know.

(As an added public service, 119 Ministries has a Hebrew Roots Map which helps believers returning to Torah to connect with one another.  One look at the map will amaze you at the global reach of this move of the Holy Spirit!  To access the map, and to put your contact information on it if you choose, please go to this link:  http://119ministries.com/hebrew-roots-map.)


Calling All Kiwis!

Help Bring Brad Scott to the North Island in 2016


Restoration Down UnderWildbranch Ministy 01
Auckland believer Sonya Wilson is planning (at this stage!) a North Island Tour for Brad and Carol Scott of the Wildbranch Ministry for late 2016, in collaboration with Restoration Down Under Ministries in Australia.

At this stage, Auckland, Hamilton, Rotorua, and Tauranga are being seriously considered, but other NZ cities/towns may be included, depending on interest.

She has been getting in touch with individuals and groups around Auckland, Hamilton, Whangarei, Tauranga, and elsewhere to get their thoughts on her plans.  If you are interested, Sonya asks that you fill out and share a survey which you can access by clicking  here, or cut and paste the following link into your browser: 

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1EoWC8XhQoSwQVKulWHCtQSBe04HvYWcES4qzNXWnAPw/viewform?edit_requested=true

Results of the survey will be taken seriously and will be most helpful in planning Brad and Carol’s visit.

To contact Sonya directly about this, or to get in touch with other believers in the North Island, email her at dancingviolagirl@gmail.com.

BFB151022 NZ North Island

 


© 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.

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 5775 #26: Shmini (Eighth)

שְּׁמִינִי

Marvin the Paranoid Android (voice by Alan Rickman) escorts Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman) and Ford Prefect (Mos Def) to the bridge of the Heart of Gold, a prototype ship powered by the Infinite Improbability Drive in the 2005 film adaptation of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.  (Photo:  TheGuardian.com)
Marvin the Paranoid Android (voice by Alan Rickman) escorts Arthur Dent (Martin Freeman) and Ford Prefect (Mos Def) to the bridge of the Heart of Gold, a prototype ship powered by the Infinite Improbability Drive in the 2005 film adaptation of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. (Photo: TheGuardian.com)

The problem with great satire is that it can be so irreverent.  Then again, that is the strength of satire:  using humor and ridicule to point out something (usually a shortcoming, hypocrisy, or vice) often overlooked in the routine of living.  Satire can be cruel, and thus must be used with great caution.  If employed properly, it moves the audience to laugh loudly in genuine humor at their own or their society’s expense, and plants seeds for reflection that hopefully will bloom into motivation for positive change.

Or perhaps not.  Sometimes humor exists only for humor.  That is one way to consider the works of Douglas Adams, the late English author best known for his satirical science fiction works, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  It is quite possible that Adams and I could have been good friends, although our worldviews would have generated a continuous wrestling match between us.  To the end of his life he remained utterly convinced in the nonexistence of a Creator, even as I am utterly convinced that there is no god but YHVH.  And yet I can appreciate his masterful use of the English language, his clever story lines, and his penetrating wit, all of which he employed to point out things worthy of our consideration.  Here is one example from the first Hitchhiker’s Guide novel:

The History of every major Galactic Civilization tends to pass through three distinct and recognizable phases, those of Survival, Inquiry and Sophistication, otherwise known as the How, Why and Where phases.  For instance, the first phase is characterized by the question How can we eat? the second by the question Why do we eat? and the third by the question Where shall we have lunch?.

This is Adams at his best, using seemingly trivial questions with simple answers to provoke a deeper level of inquiry on the very nature and meaning of human existence.  Perhaps he would be surprised to learn that the Lord God does the very same thing.  The small, simple, seemingly insignificant things are what He uses to test our hearts, to discipline us, and to mature us so we can exercise greater responsibility, and all the time He magnifies His glory through us and through these processes.  Thus, when it comes to distinctions between believers in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the differences usually are much smaller than we may think.  Consider, for example, the attitudes of believers in Messiah Yeshua (Jesus Christ) regarding the Law, or Torah, of God.  To define this difference, we can use the same pattern Douglas Adams used by asking three simple questions:

When are we to worship God?

How are we to worship God?

What does God say is food?

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