A few weeks ago, Dr. Rivkah Lambert Adler sent out invitations to participate in a book project with the working title, Ten From The Nations: Exploring the Torah Awakening Among Non-Jews. Her motivation is to increase awareness of the fact that we are witnessing the gradual fulfillment of Zechariah 8:23. She is doing so by compiling testimonies from non-Jews who have experienced a Torah awakening of some sort, and from Jews who are actively building relationships with those who are stepping forward from the nations. The book will include the voices of Christian Zionists, Bnei Noach, Ephraimites, Gerim and more.
It is an honor to be one of those invited to submit a testimony. What follows is the story of my journey into an appreciation of Torah and the Hebraic roots of my Christian faith.
For more information on Ten From The Nations, including notice of when it will be available, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For the first few years of my life, people fell into one of two categories: white, or black. Then the rules changed and the world got complicated.
The world into which I was born was white, Southern, and Baptist. That was in 1961, when the requirements of my father’s career in insurance caused my parents to depart from their native Alabama and take up temporary residence in Pensacola, Florida. As we moved back to Alabama in 1963, the Civil Rights Movement entered its most active stage. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote his Letter from Birmingham Jail, sit-ins and marches defied segregationist strongholds, and the Federal Government took steps to correct a longstanding injustice. Little of this turmoil impacted me until 1968, when a Federal judge ordered the desegregation of Birmingham’s public schools. One day I went to school with my all-white third grade class of about 20 students; the next day the class had swelled to over forty, half of whom were black.
I cannot say whether the addition of so many new playmates of color caused any trauma to myself, but I know that it shook my parents to their core. At the end of that academic year, they removed my brother and me from the public school, opting to make the financial sacrifice of placing us in the sanctuary of a Christian academy where we could receive a better education. It also had the advantage in their eyes of being an all-white school.
Well, almost. What may have escaped their notice was that Briarwood Christian School had a non-discrimination admissions policy. That explains the presence of one black child in the kindergarten – the only black child enrolled there during my years at Briarwood. My education was hardly interracial, and yet this turn of events triggered inexorable alterations to my worldview. By the age of 8, I learned that the antiseptic white society into which I had been born was less utopian than I had been taught. There was a world of color awaiting my exploration, and a host of questions that the scripted answers could not begin to satisfy.
What I had been taught was not all wrong. Much of it was right, but it was incomplete. So was the worldview of my black counterparts –much of it quite right, but incomplete. Our combined worldviews formed a far more complete picture, with the white perspective filling gaps in the black perspective, and vice versa. Thus my education proceeded along two parallel tracks: a formal track provided by the teachers and preachers at school and church; and an informal track hidden in the recesses of my heart and soul and mind. The hidden track evaluated everything presented to it, often reaching conclusions at odds with the accepted norms. Hence the reason it remained hidden.
Here are some questions for all those Hebrew Roots believers out there: What caused you to begin digging into the Hebrew roots of your Christian faith? What tools did you find to help you in this journey? Did you have any trouble finding someone or something that could answer your hard questions? Do you suppose there are others who are coming along this same path a few steps behind you who are just as desperate for some help?
Remembering my own journey is what motivated me to help my friend Pete Rambo put together his book, Repairing the Breach. He did such a good job that I had no hesitation writing a positive review of his work. (If you want to know what Repairing the Breach is all about, check out my review on Amazon.com.)
Now Pete has responded to another nudge by the Holy Spirit to get this important work out to a much wider audience. The opportunity is with World Net Daily’s affiliate, World Ahead Press, but he needs our help to do it. That’s why Pete has launched a Kickstarter campaign to help raise funds for the publication.
Why is this important? And why should you consider taking part? Read this testimony of the impact Repairing the Breach has already had on one family –
I listened a few minutes and realized his wife was ‘all in’ and he, not understanding even basic Hebraic thought, was here to protect her. Later, I found out she was fervently praying for him and was happy that he had even come to dinner. His plan, as I understood it, was to not participate at all.
My passion is to compassionately and clearly explain what we believe, and why, from the Scriptures. I have a Masters of Divinity and ten years of experience in the pulpit of a Presbyterian church, yet the Father opened my eyes and showed me much more than the Reformed traditions I was reared with. When this gentleman we were providentially seated next to mentioned his Presbyterian background, I had my opening.
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.
Thinking is hard. If it were not hard, then more people would do it.
In truth, all of us prefer to remain in our comfort zones, where familiar things surround us – including familiar answers to questions and familiar solutions to familiar problems. Most likely this preference for the familiar, the things we know and can deal with well enough, is a big reason few people take an active role in making the way for Messiah to come.
That last statement is bound to generate opposition. Those who view it from the Christian side (including Messianic and Hebrew Roots believers) will say that Yeshua of Nazareth (Jesus Christ) is the Messiah (Christ means Messiah, by the way), that he has come once, and that he will be coming back. Those who approach from the Jewish side say that Messiah is yet to come. The point of this article is not to address either perspective, but to consider something both have in common: the faithful expectation that Messiah Son of David is coming as King of Israel to rule the nations from Zion.
If we all have this common expectation, then it would be wise to consider what that future Messianic realm will look like. Maybe we should even consider what we have to do to make it happen.
This is where we run into the hard part. We have to think about it, and that is scary and uncomfortable. Those of us who have come from the Christian side have lived our lives expecting Messiah to return and fix everything. According to our expectations, there is no effort required on our part to bring him here; he just shows up one day according to some predetermined timetable God established from the beginning. To think, like our Jewish brethren, that we have responsibility for creating the conditions for Messiah’s coming (or return) requires a major paradigm shift. It means we must step out in faith and do things that we usually leave up to God alone.
But then, that is the consistent testimony of Scripture –
- Noah had to do things to secure the salvation of his family (such as think about how to follow the instructions God gave him to build that very large boat, and then actually do the work).
- Abraham had to do things to receive the promises God gave him (such as pack up and leave comfortable, civilized Mesopotamia, and go to a hostile foreign land – first in Syria, and then in Canaan).
- Moses had to do things to receive God’s instructions for the nation of Israel (such as walk to Egypt, then convince the elders of the people that God had spoken to him, and then seek an audience with Pharaoh – and that was only the beginning of the work he had to do!)
There are many more examples summarized in Hebrews 11. The people in that “Hall of Faith” chapter deserve praise not because they sat around waiting for God to move, but because they got up and did the moving themselves in response to God’s promises. As they moved, He provided direction, resources, help from others, and miraculous intervention when necessary. Yet would YHVH have done so if they had not invested their own blood, sweat, treasure, and intellectual effort?
Probably not. In fact, when God’s people sat around waiting for Him to move, He had to take extreme action just to get them off their backsides and into motion! We see that in the record of the apostles. Even though Yeshua had told them to be his witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth, they were content to remain in Jerusalem until God raised up a man named Saul of Tarsus who forced them out (see Acts 8).
Which brings us to the dilemma of the present day. Are we really at the “end of the age”, when Messiah is about to show up? If so, what does that mean? More importantly, what are we to do about it? How do we prepare for Messiah’s reign in what will be a very real Kingdom centered in a very real place called Jerusalem? What will this Kingdom look like? How will it resemble what we know today in the modern nation-state system? How will it be different?
Recently The Barking Fox posted a series on “The Jerusalem Debate”, which exhorted followers of Messiah Yeshua to consider seriously the commandment to go up to Jerusalem three times a year for the Feasts of YHVH (Passover/Pesach, Pentecost/Shavuot, and Tabernacles/Sukkot). This is not the first word on the subject, and certainly not the last. Several months ago Kimberly Rogers of BeastWatch News released a short video commentary about this question. In it she suggests that the division within the House of Israel/Joseph/Ephraim and between Joseph and Judah can only be healed when we all begin to go up to Jerusalem, regardless whether there is a Temple there or not. Watch this video and judge for yourselves:
If you will be in Jerusalem for Pesach this year, consider coming early to hear Kimberly at the Reconciliation of Israel conference – Pesach17 on March 28, 2017. The purpose of the conference is to consider how rebuilding the Temple can be an impetus between the two Houses for reconciliation.
Always remember to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, and be intentional about going there and sending others to see the city of the Great King as soon and as often as you can!
© Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog, 2017. 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.
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.
The Bible contains so many comforting words of assurance that everything will be all right in the end. It contains a number of frightening words as well, but our preference is to avoid those, thinking that they must apply to someone else. Consider, for example, this familiar passage by the Apostle Paul:
But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. (I Thessalonians 5:1-6 NKJV)
We like to think of ourselves as those who will not be caught off guard. After all, what would it mean if we are among those caught unaware when sudden destruction comes?
But what if the apostle’s words are intended to warn those among God’s people who are not paying attention? Paul seems satisfied that his correspondents in Thessalonica are sufficiently alert, but can he say the same about their brethren elsewhere – or perhaps us today, two thousand years removed from his personal instruction? His friends in Thessalonica probably understood that his words about those who say, “Peace and safety!” referred to prophecies Jeremiah and Ezekiel had spoken about the people of God who paid no attention to the signs of the times and refused to repent when YHVH sent them warning (see Jeremiah 6:9-15, 8:8-12, and Ezekiel 13:15-16).
Surely the apostle was also aware of Messiah Yeshua’s parable about the Ten Virgins – all of whom went to sleep while waiting on their Bridegroom (Matthew 25:1-13). The difference between the wise and the foolish was not their degree of vigilance, but their degree of preparation. That, too, is something we should heed.
Consider what happened on December 23, 2016 (23 Kislev 5777 in the Hebrew calendar). That was the day United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 declared illegal anything Israeli that exists beyond the 1967 borders of Israel. That means not just the communities that have grown up on unoccupied and unowned land in Judea and Samaria (commonly called the West Bank), but neighborhoods in the neighborhoods of East Jerusalem where friends of mine live. It means as well the Temple Mount and the Kotel (Western Wall), the holiest sites in Judaism and the places God Himself has established as His own.
There is no doubt that God works in big, dramatic ways. The problem for most of us is that we are so inclined to expect Him to do so that we miss the miracles happening right in front of us. For example, consider this prophecy we read about in Jeremiah:
“Therefore behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord, “that it shall no more be said, ‘The Lord lives who brought up the children of Israel from the land of Egypt,’ but, ‘The Lord lives who brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north and from all the lands where He had driven them.’ For I will bring them back into their land which I gave to their fathers.” (Jeremiah 16:14-15 NKJV)
This is the Second Exodus. It is so important that YHVH had Jeremiah record it twice (see Jeremiah 23:7-8). In fact, this restoration of the entire nation of Israel is the largest single prophetic topic in all of Scripture. Yeshua’s disciples asked Him about it just before He left them (Acts 1:6). The reason they asked was that He had accomplished so many other Messianic prophecies, but since He had not restored the Kingdom to Israel, and so they wanted to know when He would do so.
By the way, that is also a question our Jewish brethren have – if Yeshua of Nazareth really is Messiah, why is Israel not completely regathered from the nations with a son of David ruling over them from Zion? It’s a valid question. Those of us from the Christian side of the house are satisfied with the answer that Messiah comes twice: first as the Suffering Servant (Messiah son of Joseph), and then as the Conquering King (Messiah son of David). Our Jewish brethren are not satisfied with that answer, which is why the greatest test before us all in this day is whether we can still get along on terms of mutual acceptance and respect in the expectation that God Himself will reveal the full answer to all of us in His timing.
As for the Second Exodus, we are prone to expect that it will unfold in ways similar to the First Exodus. You know: the prophet and his brother confront the mighty dictator, supernatural judgments rain down from heaven, the seas split, and the people are delivered. That sort of thing.
But what if the Second Exodus happens differently? What if it’s not so dramatic? Would we still recognize it as a miracle? Would we praise God because He had done something even greater than the Exodus from Egypt?
There is a children’s story about a Little Red Hen who worked diligently to feed her chicks and keep her house in order. One day she found some grain, which she decided to plant. She asked the other barnyard animals to help, but each of them refused for one reason or another. The same thing happened each time she asked for help in tending the plants, harvesting the wheat, taking it to the mill to grind into flour, and bake the flour into bread.
At the end of this lengthy process, as the Little Red Hen pulled the fresh bread hot from the oven, all of the animals came running to help her eat it. But before any of them could come near, she said, “Not one of you helped me plant the grain, nor tend it, nor harvest it; none of you helped me take it to the mill, and you did not help me bake it into bread. Why should I share the bread with you now? It is for my chicks and I, and we will eat it ourselves.” Whereupon she shut the door, leaving her neighbors to watch longingly as her family enjoyed the fruit of her labors.
This story contains a moral for Hebrews who are debating whether the commandment to go up to Jerusalem for the Feasts of YHVH applies to them. Quite simply, if we are to enjoy the benefits of a restored Temple of the Living God, and of the nation that will be restored around it, then we had best be doing all we can to help in the process now.
Stop and ponder this for a moment. Step back from the paradigm which says that the structure on top of Mount Moriah in Jerusalem is a “Jewish Temple”. It is indeed very Jewish in the sense that only Jews have bothered to rebuild, care for, worship in, pray toward, and long for the restoration of the Temple since the days of the Babylonian Conquest. For 2,500 years, all that has existed of Israel has been the Jewish people, descendants of the Kingdom of Judah. It is understandable and logical that the world and the Jewish people themselves believe that the Temple and everything associated with it and with the nation of Israel is now, has always been, and ever will be Jewish.
Yet that is not what Scripture says. And that gets to the central question in this Jerusalem Debate: Can the Temple be rebuilt by Judah alone, or is it a project that requires some measure of restoration of Israel’s Lost Tribes – the House of Joseph/Ephraim?
By Bob Parham
I understand that my responses to the Eleven Objections against going to Jerusalem for the Pilgrimage Feasts still leave some HUGE questions for every one that is still in the Diaspora.
What SHOULD we do? Do we still celebrate the feasts as though we were in Jerusalem? Should we not meet at all? Are we sinning if we do or don’t do the feasts outside of Jerusalem?
Wow, these are some major questions! I’m not sure that I have perfect answers for them, either. First and foremost, you need to take this to your Father and ask Him to reveal truth to you. Second of all, maybe I can give you some ideas to consider.
If I were still in America instead of being in The Land, I don’t think I would want to participate in a glorious celebration like I would if I were in The Land. I think:
- I wouldn’t have a big ‘production’ or pay a lot of money for a celebration elsewhere.
- If I were to meet with a group of people it would be to teach about the feasts and call the people to mourn, because we weren’t in Jerusalem where we should be.