Picture of the Week 12/23/16

Those “Son of David” prophecies come into perspective when we remember that Solomon was also a son of David – and the first one to rule Israel.

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© Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog, 2016-17.  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.

A Jewish Question for All of God’s People: “We were given the Torah, but have we received it?”

The Sermon of the Beatitudes James Tissot
The Sermon of the Beatitudes
James Tissot

Jesus was perhaps the greatest Torah teacher of his day.

Think about that for a moment.  We do not often consider the fact that Yeshua haMashiach (Jesus Christ) taught from the Torah, and that he was recognized by Jewish leaders as a great teacher.  It began in his youth, when at the age of 12 he astounded the doctors of the Law (Torah) in the Temple (Luke 2:41-52).  When he entered into public ministry, the teacher of Israel himself came to inquire of Yeshua about spiritual matters (John 3:1-21).  His greatest oration, the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:1-7:29), was in fact an extensive midrash on the Torah and its application in daily life.  That is why Yeshua stated early in that sermon that he had not come to abolish the Law, but to fulfill it – meaning to teach it correctly and live out its full meaning (Matthew 5:17-20).

This should lead us to the conclusion the Torah was given not only to the Jews, but to all of God’s people.  In fact, the Torah applies to every person on earth, or at least it will when Messiah reigns from Jerusalem.  How else are we to understand such passages as this one from Isaiah?

Now it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it.  Many people shall come and say, “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, and we shall walk in His paths.”  For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.  He shall judge between the nations, and rebuke many people; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.  (Isaiah 2:2-4 NKJV, emphasis added)

Notice the key to Isaiah’s oft-quoted prophecy:  universal peace does not happen until after the nations of the earth submit to the judgment of YHVH’s Messiah and learn and obey the Law (Torah) which he shall teach.

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Fox Byte 5775 #48: Shoftim (Judges)

שֹׁפְטִים

The Senate as a Court of Impeachment for the Trial of Andrew Johnson, by Theodore R. Davis. Illustration in Harper's Weekly, April 11, 1868.
“The Senate as a Court of Impeachment for the Trial of Andrew Johnson”, by Theodore R. Davis. Illustration in Harper’s Weekly, April 11, 1868.

What does it take to remove a head of state?  This question concerns situations in which a nation finds cause to remove a leader before the established time.  A survey of history informs us that such circumstances usually involve war and upheaval.  The incumbent, whether a king or a prime minister, is not inclined to surrender power, and therefore must be compelled to give it up, often on pain of death.  In consideration of this state of human affairs, the Founding Fathers of the United States established a procedure by which presidents might be impeached, or removed from office.  The product of their deliberations appears in Article II, Section 4 of the Constitution:

The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

And that is all they have to say on the matter – which is why jurists for nearly 230 years have debated exactly what they meant.

The Founders certainly understood the seriousness of the question.  They had just gone through a lengthy and painful process of removing King George III as head of state over the American colonies by the extreme measure of extricating the colonies from the king’s domain and establishing a separate sovereign nation.  Their attempts at less drastic measures had not sufficed, leaving them no option but the usual method of war and upheaval.  That is why they sought to limit the power of the president, providing a method of removal by legislative and judicial means.  The grounds for removal would have to be well established, which is why the Constitution specifies the obvious transgressions of treason and bribery.  But what exactly are “high crimes and misdemeanors”?  This is where it gets interesting, and frustrating to those who desire to remove an incompetent, unpopular, or abusive president.

The Founders sought not only to prevent abuse of power in the Office of the President, but also to protect the dignity of the office and ensure continuity of government.  Succeeding generations have understood this, which is why only three presidents have been the subject of impeachment proceedings.  President Richard Nixon resigned before Congress could vote on articles of impeachment for his abuse of power.  Had he not done so, it is likely he would have been the only president ever removed from office.  Congress did impeach Presidents Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton on charges stemming from their obstruction of Congress and abuse of power, but acquitted both men – not because the charges were unfounded, but because of the political motivations behind the impeachment proceedings.  Under such circumstances, their removal would have brought immense harm to the Office of the President and its foundation in the organic law of the United States.

One might wish that the Founding Fathers had been more specific in the standards they expected of people holding high office.  Then again, how much more specific did they need to be in a Christian culture based on the rule of law derived from the Bible?  Their understanding of God’s requirements for public leaders shaped their creation of the Government of the United States, leading them to do as YHVH did:  provide just enough detail to establish wise government under the principles of justice and mercy.

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The Purpose of the Holy Spirit

A French farmer sows wheat in his field in the aftermath of World War I, bringing new life where there was death. This timeless action has instructed us for millennia of the work of God in bringing life to and through the kingdom of Israel which He sowed into the world. (Photo reproduced from Forward-March! The Photographic Record of America in the World War and the Post War Social Upheaval, Disabled American Veterans of the World War, Chicago, 1934)
A French farmer sows wheat in his field in the aftermath of World War I, bringing new life where there was death. This timeless action has instructed us for millennia about the work of God in bringing life to and through the kingdom of Israel which He sowed into the world. (Photo reproduced from Forward-March! The Photographic Record of America in the World War and the Post War Social Upheaval, Disabled American Veterans of the World War, Chicago, 1934)

Not that long ago, the men’s Bible study I am blessed to attend spent several months going through the Gospel of Mark.  One morning we looked in depth at the Parable of the Sower (Mark 4:1-25).  Our leader astutely pointed out the words of Yeshua:  “Do you not understand this parable?  How will you understand all the parables?” (Mark 4:13 NASB)  His conclusion, with which I agree, is that this parable is the key to understanding all of Yeshua’s parables, and thus everything He taught.  Yet for all our analysis of this parable over the centuries, it seems that we may have missed something very important.  What we have been missing dawned on me as we discussed Mark 4 on that day, and as we parted company I asked, “What if this parable is about the restoration of the entire Kingdom of Israel?”

We were not able to investigate that question at that time, but I have pondered it ever since.  The applicability of the Parable of the Sower to the Lost Tribes of Israel comes into focus when we consider the prophecy of Hosea.  We learn in Hosea’s first chapter that he speaks to the House of Israel, the Northern Kingdom which became the Lost Tribes.  Because of their unfaithfulness to YHVH, He judged them by removing them from His Presence and scattering them into the nations.  Yet He promised to bring them back to the Land as His people once again, as He said through Hosea:

 “It will come about in that day that I will respond,” declares the LORD.  “I will respond to the heavens, and they will respond to the earth, and the earth will respond to the grain, to the new wine and to the oil, and they will respond to Jezreel [“God sows”].  I will sow her [Israel] 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, ‘You are my God!’”  (Hosea 2:21-23 NASB, emphasis added)

Ephraim [Israel] is a trained heifer that loves to thresh, but I will come over her fair neck with a yoke; I will harness Ephraim, Judah will plow, Jacob will harrow for himself.  Sow with a view to righteousness, reap in accordance with kindness; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord until He comes to rain righteousness on you.  (Hosea 10:11-12 NASB)

There is much to investigate regarding this connection of the restoration of Israel with the Parable of the Sower.  My friend Ken Rank of United2Restore has made a good start by looking at the role of the Holy Spirit in this process.  His article is reproduced here from a recent post on Facebook.

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Fox Byte 5775 #20: Tetzaveh (You Shall Command)

תְּצַוֶּה

Chuck Connors as Jason McCord, a man unjustly accused of cowardice and drummed out of the Army.  From the 1960s  NBC TV Western, Branded.  (Photo:  riflemanconnors.com)
Chuck Connors as Jason McCord, a man unjustly accused of cowardice and drummed out of the Army. From the 1960s NBC TV Western Branded. (Photo: riflemanconnors.com)

One of the compelling images I recall from childhood is the opening scene of Branded.  This Western TV drama starred Chuck Connors as a United States Army officer unjustly charged with cowardice.  Week after week the series opened with Jason McCord, Connors’ character, being drummed out of the service at a remote post in the American West.  As the garrison assembles, McCord is marched to the front and center of the formation, where his commander removes from him every vestige of his connection with the Army – his hat, rank insignia, and even the buttons on his coat.  Last of all the commander removes McCord’s sword from its sheath, breaks it over his knee, and tosses the broken hilt out of the fort’s gate.  The shamed officer then walks out of the fort as the doors close behind him.  Now on his own, branded for life with the mark of a coward, he must find a way to clear his name.

What if someone had exonerated Jason McCord?  Such things have happened before.  There is provision in the law to excuse an offender, either when the accusation is proven unjust, or when a duly constituted authority bestows clemency in an act of mercy.  The law, however, remains in effect.  Should another man, or even the same man, desert his post in an act of cowardice, he would be guilty of the same offence.  Even if the entire United States Army deserted, requiring the President to recruit an entirely new force, the deserters would still be guilty according to the statutes and regulations governing the military service.  And should the law change somehow, perhaps refining the definition of cowardice and clarifying the penalties, the law would still be in effect, and those subject to it would be wise to learn the changes lest they find themselves inadvertently in error.

How interesting that such a principal gleaned from a 1960s TV Western is actually a principal of the Word of God.  While some may argue that the Law of God has no application at all in an age when Messiah Yeshua has won forgiveness for all who believe on Him, in actuality His work of redemption secured a prophesied change in the Law, not its abolition.

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