Another of the common Christian misperceptions of Scripture is that the Holy Spirit (Ruach HaKodesh) does not appear in the Old Testament (Tanach) in the same way he appears in the New Testament (Apostolic Writings). One manifestation of this is the misunderstanding that believers in ancient Israel did not experience the Presence and outpouring of the Holy Spirit at all. Another is the belief that the whole purpose of Yeshua’s death on the cross was to make it possible for the Holy Spirit to come to believers, and that everything about the way God deals with humanity changed at the cross.
There is some truth in these Christian positions, but they do not take into account the full counsel of God available to us in the entire body of Scripture. It surprises some Christians to learn that the Holy Spirit was very much present in the events of the Tanach, and did indeed indwell righteous men and women. There was indeed a change at the cross in that the Spirit was poured out on the entire body of Yeshua’s followers at Shavuot (Pentecost), but His operation within believers now is not so different from His operation within the righteous saints of old.
Something else that will surprise Christians is that Jewish sages have understood the work of the Holy Spirit for centuries. In fact, the Jewish understanding of the Spirit’s work is very close to the Christian understanding. That is one of the points David Nekrutman covers in his recent presentation, Ruach HaKodesh in Tanach – Divine Concealment. Nekrutman is Executive Director of the Center for Jewish Christian Understanding and Cooperation, based in Efrat, Israel. In January 2015 he and others took part in a Symposium on Jewish and Christian Reflections on Worship in Broward County, Florida, sponsored by the Broward Pastors Network and the Jewish Federation of Broward County. His 30-minute teaching on Jewish understanding of the Spirit’s work and God’s dealings with humanity is eye-opening and even astounding for those who are not expecting to find that Christianity and Judaism have so much in common. To listen to David Nekrutman’s presentation please click on the link below.
 The presentations from the Symposium are available on the CJCUC main page, and also at the video archive (click here).
© Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog, 2015. 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.
It has been more than 500 years since Christopher Columbus mistakenly identified the indigenous peoples of the Americas as “Indians”, and yet that name has remained the popular collective label for the many hundreds of nations more accurately identified by their own names, such as Arawak, Pequot, Lakota, Yaqui, Quechua, and Navajo. Many of these nations have ceased to exist, the victims of disease, war, enslavement, and cultural genocide. Others have come into existence as dispersed and diminished peoples have merged to make new nations. Still others have persisted in their identity to this day, enduring beyond hope as distinct peoples. All of those things describe the Seminole Nation, which now resides in the states of Oklahoma and Florida. The Seminoles did not become a distinct people until late in the 18th century, when remnants of the Muskogee (Creek) and other peoples of Florida and what is now Georgia and Alabama combined to form a new nation. The Spanish called them cimarrones, meaning runaways, or free people. This term referred to the fact that the tribe included many escaped slaves, both African and Native American, who had joined with others from broken, scattered tribes. In the Muskogee tongue, cimarrones became semulon-e, and eventually Seminole.
This people who originally were not a people soon developed a strong sense of national identity which compelled them to resist all efforts to conquer them. They fought against the Spanish, the English, the Creeks, and, inevitably, the Americans. Three bitter wars from 1817 to 1858 left the Seminole Nation broken and divided, but still unconquered. Most of the surviving Seminoles were removed by the United States government to Oklahoma, but a remnant remained in the swamps of southwestern Florida, where they remain to this day. The Florida Seminoles are unique among Native American peoples in that they alone have never signed a treaty of peace with the United States. Those who were removed to Oklahoma may have agreed to peace with the U.S., but they maintained a fierce independence in their new land. Efforts to integrate them into the Creek Nation of Oklahoma met with determined resistance. In time the Seminole remnant in Oklahoma reestablished their tribal identity, and today exist as a separate and distinct nation.
It may come as a surprise, but the greatest story in the Bible is about a nation created from a people who were not a people. The tale begins with the account of Joseph and his brothers, but the story as yet has no ending.
And suddenly another beast, a second, like a bear. It was raised up on one side, and had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. And they said thus to it: “Arise, devour much flesh!” (Daniel 7:5 NKJV)
The stirring rendition of Russia’s national anthem during the closing ceremonies of the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi continues to echo through my mind. And yet the image of eager, innocent Russian children singing the praises of their Motherland, carries with it a haunting question: why must the best national hymns belong to the world’s most aggressive empires?
As if the world needed more proof of this, the Olympic athletes had hardly left Sochi before Russia was pressing its weight on neighboring Ukraine in support of a popularly-elected, but corrupt, president. As events of the past week have shown, the issue now is not whether Russia will intervene in Ukraine, but when or if Russia will leave Ukraine to work out its own problems. Speaking as a historian and student of such things, it seems that there are only a few key questions facing the international community: Please click here to continue reading
This is the third in a three part series that addresses the implications of Christian support for Israel.
The Commonwealth and the Symbol of Godly Marriage.
In Matthew 7:21-23, Yeshua says that in the Kingdom of Heaven He will declare that those who practice lawlessness, or Torahlessness, must depart from Him. That is a sobering message, but consider it from another perspective. God went through every conceivable obstacle to win his people back to Himself, even when we were not willing to acknowledge him. The clearest picture we have of this is in marriage. Here is what God said regarding marriage and divorce:
When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some uncleanness in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house, when she has departed from his house, and goes and becomes another man’s wife, if the latter husband detests her and writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house, or if the latter husband dies who took her as his wife, then her former husband who divorced her must not take her back to be his wife after she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before the Lord, and you shall not bring sin on the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance. (Deuteronomy 24:1-4, NKJV, emphasis added) Please click here to continue reading