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.
Super Bowl LI has passed into the history books as one of the greatest games of the series. It ranks as that in my opinion, with the New England Patriots staging the greatest comeback in the history of the game. That, however, is not what made the event so monumental for me. It was one of those much-anticipated but often disappointing Super Bowl commercials that surprised me by grabbing my heart and wrenching it into an emotional mess. Oddly enough, it was an automobile commercial.
This jewel of an ad from Audi of America addressed an issue often considered a progressive or liberal cause. Christian and Messianic conservatives tend to relegate this issue to a lesser status than sanctity of life, sanctity of marriage, or even national defense. The issue is equal pay for equal work, the call to end wage discrimination against women. The National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) explains the problem this way:
American women who work full time, year round are paid only 80 cents for every dollar paid to men — and for women of color, the wage gap is even larger. It’s long past time to close the gap.
According to my favorite Super Bowl commercial, Audi agrees. The ad ends with the words, “Audi of America is committed to equal pay for equal work. Progress is for everyone.” Yet it is not the end of the ad that captured my attention, but the beginning.
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.
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.
The Jerusalem Debate – Objection Number 7: Keep the feasts outside of Jerusalem! | The Lamb’s Servant
Response by Bob Parham
Deut 30 – (1) When all these blessings and curses I have set before you come on you and you take them to heart wherever the Lord your God disperses you among the nations, (2) and when you and your children return to the Lord your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today, (3) then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you.
What a beautiful passage! What does this passage have to do with whether it is good to keep the Pilgrimage Feasts outside the land or not? Very much! But what is it telling us: To keep the feast outside the land, or to NOT keep the feast while outside the land?
It was (erroneously) explained to me that when we keep the Pilgrimage Feasts outside the land, we show Yah that we are returning to Him and that we want to keep His commandments fully. Therefore, we should do the feasts in any of our cities that we choose, to show Him that we are doing our best to keep His commands, relying on Him to honor our obedience and ultimately bring us home (with the implication that when we come home we will be able to do ALL the commands).
But what are the commands concerning the Pilgrimage Feasts that would tell us whether we are or aren’t being obedient to Yah’s commands when we observe the feasts outside of Jerusalem?
Here are a few verses that might give you a hint as to one of them:
Deut 12:18 – But thou must eat them before YHWH thy God in the place which YHWH thy God shall choose, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite that is within thy gates: and thou shalt rejoice before YHWH thy God in all that thou puttest thine hands unto.
Deut 14:23 – And thou shalt eat before YHWH thy God, in the place which he shall choose to place his name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear YHWH thy God always.
Deut. 16:5-6 – You must not sacrifice the Passover in any town the Lord your God gives you except in the place he will choose as a dwelling for his Name.
See also (Deut 15:20) (Deut 16:2) (Deut 16:5-7) (John 4:45; John 11:55); regarding the Pilgrimage Feasts, see (Deut 16:11, Deut 15-16) (Deut 17:10) (Deut 31:10-12) (Joshua 9:26-27) (2 Chro. 7:11-16) (Psalms 122:1-6) (Isaiah 18:7).
If you took time to read any of these verses, you found that the Pilgrimage Feasts are only to be observed “at the place YHWH your God will choose”! Scripture only gives us ONE place in which He wants us to observe the Pilgrimage Feasts, and that place is JERUSALEM! So are we really ‘keeping His commands’ if we are breaking parts of them that we could keep?
Response by Bob Parham
The first thing that came to my mind when I heard this teaching was the scripture that tells us about King Jeroboam’s politically-motivated betrayal of YHWH:
I Kings 12:26-29 – [Jeroboam speaking] If this people [the Israelites] go up to do sacrifice in the house of YHWH at Jerusalem, then shall the heart of this people turn again unto their lord, even unto Rehoboam king of Judah, and they shall kill me, and go again to Rehoboam king of Judah. Whereupon the king [Jeroboam] took counsel, and made two calves of gold, and said unto them [the people of Israel], IT IS TOO MUCH FOR YOU TO GO UP TO JERUSALEM: behold thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And he set the one in Bethel, and the other put he in Dan.
Bethel was only a few miles from Jerusalem!! Jeroboam’s teaching had nothing to do with making life easier, and it obviously had nothing to do with obedience to God’s commands – it was inspired by the enemy and was effective in drawing the people AWAY from meeting with YHWH in His appointed place at His appointed times.
The following is a passage that I recently heard used to teach this idea that “if Jerusalem is too far (not practical) for you to go, then celebrate the feasts (and by implication, the sacrifices) in any of your towns where you live.” Where does this concept come from? It comes from a misunderstanding of passages in Deuteronomy 12:
Deuteronomy 12 – (20) When the Lord your God has enlarged your territory as he promised you, and you crave meat and say, “I would like some meat,” then you may eat as much of it as you want. (21) If the place where the Lord your God chooses to put his Name is TOO FAR AWAY FROM YOU, you may slaughter animals from the herds and flocks the Lord has given you, as I have commanded you, and in your own towns you may eat as much of them as you want. (22) Eat them as you would gazelle or deer. Both the ceremonially unclean and the clean may eat. (23) But be sure you do not eat the blood, because the blood is the life, and you must not eat the life with the meat. (24) You must not eat the blood; pour it out on the ground like water. (25) Do not eat it, so that it may go well with you and your children after you, because you will be doing what is right in the eyes of the Lord.
Now, when you take a look at this passage and give special attention to the bold underlined verses (vs. 21 & 22), it could at first appear to some that Yah is giving an alternative to going to Jerusalem for the feasts. But what does the passage actually say?
Response by Bob Parham
So far, reasons 1 and 2 are facts: There is no temple and there is no peace with Israel’s enemies. Objection Number 3 is an indisputable fact, too. The Land is (and has been) defiled. But a couple of really good questions would be: “When did the land become defiled?” and “Has the Land’s defilement ever made a difference in Yah’s expectations that we would obey His commands?”
When did the land become defiled? Obviously it was defiled before the Israelites ever entered it. (Yet they DID enter it.)
Leviticus 18 – (25) And the land is defiled: therefore I do visit the iniquity thereof upon it, and the land itself vomiteth out her inhabitants. (26) Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you: (27) (For all these abominations have the men of the land done, which were before you, and the land is defiled.)
It is clear that the Land had been defiled as early as the book of Leviticus. I believe that Scripture would prove it out that the Land has continued to be defiled through the time of the Prophets, through the time of Yeshua, and even up to today!
Jeremiah 2 – (7) I brought you into a fertile land to eat its fruit and rich produce. But you came and defiled my land.
Jeremiah 3 – (8) And I saw, when for all the causes whereby backsliding Israel committed adultery I had put her away, and given her a bill of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah feared not, but went and played the harlot also. (9) And it came to pass through the lightness of her whoredom, that she defiled the land, and committed adultery with stones and with stocks. (10) And yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah hath not turned unto me with her whole heart, but feignedly, saith the Lord.
And a second very important question would be: “Because the land has pretty much always been defiled, did that cause the commands concerning the pilgrimage feasts to end as quickly as they were given?”
When Yeshua was in Jerusalem, was the land defiled? YES!
When He went to the temple, was it defiled? YES!
Matthew 21 – (12) Jesus entered the temple courts and drove out all who were buying and selling there. He overturned the tables of the money changers and the benches of those selling doves. (13) “It is written,” he said to them, “‘My house will be called a house of prayer,’ but you are making it ‘a den of robbers.’ (14) The blind and the lame came to him at the temple, and he healed them.
Yeshua walked right over, through and past the defilement to complete His mission.
Aren’t we told to walk as He walked? (1 John 2:6)
Yeshua understood that the land being defiled (or even the Temple being defiled) has never had the POWER to change or end YAH‘s commands! Remember Yah’s promise to Solomon that Yah’s heart and eyes would be there forever?
1 Kings 9:3 – And YHWH said unto him, I have heard thy prayer and thy supplication, that thou hast made before me: I have hallowed this house [the Temple], which thou hast built, to put my name there for ever; and mine eyes and mine heart shall be there perpetually.
2 Kings 21:7 – … in Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all tribes of Israel, will I put my name for ever: (See 1 Kings 11:36, etc)
2 Chron 33:4 – . . . YHWH had said, In Jerusalem shall my name be for ever.
It strikes me as rather odd (not to mention illogical) that the very same people who believe we should NOT observe the feasts in Jerusalem ‘because the land is defiled’ or because Israel’s government is ‘satanic’ WILL observe the feasts in countries like the USA that regularly and even proudly defy YHWH and His Torah.
FOR EXAMPLE, here in Aqaba, Jordan, do you know what the Muslim people were doing just before the feast of Sukkot? They were making animal sacrifices all over Jordan – in their yards or driveways – while facing Mecca. According to Torah, the people in this land were participating in sacrifices to goat demons when they sacrificed anywhere they wanted! (Lev 17:7) Surely this would and did defile the land, right?
Or how about the U.S., where a baby is aborted every 26 seconds (over a million American babies every year), and as hazardous waste, the babies are literally passed through the fire, just as the children were passed through the fire to Molech in the Bible. Surely this defiles the land there, as well.
In Jerusalem, on the other hand, almost the entire city is shut down in observance of each Feast and Shabbat, and the people quite literally dance in the streets in joy because they are free to worship the Living God in His Own City!
May we be like our King Yeshua, who walked right over, through and past the defilement to complete His mission: the loving and obedient worship of the Father and the unity of the brethren.
When you obey my commandments, you remain in my love, just as I obey my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. John 15:10 NLT
© Bob Parham, Sue Wyatt and The Lamb’s Servant Blog, 2016. Permission to use and/or duplicate original material on The Lamb’s Servant Blog is granted, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sue Wyatt and The Lamb’s Servant Blog, as well as to the original author (in this case Bob Parham) with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
There is a joke from World War II that no longer makes sense without some explanation. It is said that a foreign student at an American university wrote an essay about General Douglas MacArthur. In the early months of 1942, as MacArthur presided over a doomed defense of the Philippine Islands, he was ordered to leave his command and go to Australia, there to organize the multinational Allied force that would halt Japanese expansion in the South Pacific. At his departure, MacArthur reportedly promised the people of the Philippines and his Filipino and American troops that he would one day come back with an army to liberate them – which he did two years later. On that momentous day in 1942, though, all he could do was promise, “I shall return.”
Those were inspiring words to Americans about to lose their forward bases and their largest military force in the Far East, and who could not bear to lose with them one of the most senior officers of their Army. MacArthur’s words inspired this young foreign student as well. However, his knowledge of English being imperfect, he conducted his research in his native tongue, and therefore committed an unfortunate faux pas when he presented his paper. Standing proudly in front of his peers, the young man said, “I write about Douglas MacArthur, who said those famous words, ‘I’ll be right back!’”
What is the proper response in such a situation? If there is no offense, then laughter erupts. However, if the hearers take offense, then they respond in anger.
It may be that neither is the proper response. If the one who made the error is trying to communicate in good faith, then the audience should give grace, seek to understand the true message, and help the author overcome the error. That is the point behind King Solomon’s wise words:
Solomon’s observation is rooted in a Torah principle:
You shall not curse the deaf, nor put a stumbling block before the blind, but shall fear your God: I am the Lord. (Leviticus 19:14 NKJV)
Jewish sages understand that this principle refers not only to the physically deaf and blind, but also to people who cannot hear or see things clearly. Perhaps they are not present when something is said, or perhaps they do not have the language or experience to grasp the intricacies of a subject under discussion. Consider, for example, a man who is brilliant in his native language, but struggles to order a cup of coffee in English, and is laughed to scorn by those who do not realize the importance of being kind to strangers (another Torah principle).
To be honest, Jews are strangers to me, and I am a stranger to Jews. Although I identify as a Hebrew Roots follower of Messiah Yeshua, I have yet to grasp the intricacies of Judaism. The more Jews I meet and get to know, the more I begin to understand, but always what I say and do is tempered with the fear that I may give offense in some way that I had never anticipated.
It takes a conscious effort for me to bless an elderly person whose slow, feeble steps are impeding my progress. The default position in my mind is to examine possibilities for hastening the moment when I can get them out of my way. Much though I am reluctant to admit it, that default position amounts to a curse aimed at removing an obstacle to my own selfish definition of happiness. That is why I am cultivating the habit of blessing the gray head. I have lived enough years to know that each of those gray hairs was purchased at great cost, both in joy and in sorrow. Who am I to ridicule those transactions in time and sweat and blood and tears, seeing that I, too, engage in those same transactions every moment of every day?
This is the way of all flesh, and it scares us. We do not like to consider the fact that we all are destined to grow old – provided something does not take us out before our time. That reality first dawned on me as a teenager, watching my once-vigorous grandfather lie helpless in a hospital bed, swollen with the fluids that would eventually crush his heart. Then there was my mother, whose loud and lively voice was silenced in the last weeks of her life by the feeding tube the doctors inserted in a desperate attempt to help her recover. And my father? The pain there was watching his brilliant mind lose its ability to remember, until at last he could recall nothing more than the blissful sleep of eternity.
Surely growing old is not for the faint of heart. Solomon understanding of this led him to a very wise conclusion:
Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth, before the difficult days come, and the years draw near when you say, “I have no pleasure in them”:
While the sun and the light, the moon and the stars, are not darkened, and the clouds do not return after the rain;
In the day when the keepers of the house tremble, and the strong men bow down;
When the grinders cease because they are few, and those that look through the windows grow dim;
When the doors are shut in the streets, and the sound of grinding is low;
When one rises up at the sound of a bird, and all the daughters of music are brought low.
Also they are afraid of height, and of terrors in the way;
When the almond tree blossoms, the grasshopper is a burden, and desire fails.
For man goes to his eternal home, and the mourners go about the streets.
(Ecclesiastes 12:1-6 NKJV)
Careful reading of Solomon’s poetry reveals his references to weak and aching muscles, brittle bones, dim eyes, deaf ears, rotting teeth, jaded spirit, and broken heart. It is enough to drive one to desperation – which is why Solomon begins this passage with an exhortation to remember the Creator while we can. Without the Creator and the hope He imparts, we face a terrifying descent into debility before we cease breathing.
Which explains why each generation since Adam has wished so intently for the resurrection.
Those who have attended a birth understand the chaos involved. It is no easy process, and not accomplished without pain. As in everything else, the Scripture gives us a helpful perspective:
Whenever a woman is in labor she has pain, because her hour has come; but when she gives birth to the child, she no longer remembers the anguish because of the joy that a child has been born into the world. (John 16:21 NASB)
A child was born into the world on the shore of Tampa Bay on March 6, 2016. After 2,730 years of non-existence, a portion of the long-lost tribes of the northern kingdom of Israel have declared themselves to be a people again. This is the North American assembly of the House of Joseph, known prophetically in Scripture by the name of Ephraim, the tribe that led them into rebellion against the House of David (I Kings 12).
Does that sound radical? Fanciful? Foolish? Perhaps, but then so also were the declarations of provincial English colonists to be a nation distinct from the mighty empire that ruled them; or of a collection of European Jews to call the Jewish nation back into existence at the First Zionist Congress; and of another generation of ordinary Jewish people to establish Israel as an independent state in the face of certain annihilation.
If the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were not in these things, why do we look to them now for inspiration and example? And if God is not in this process of restoring the people He long ago said would one day be a people again, then why did the assembly in St. Petersburg, Florida on March 6, 2016, occur in the midst of such a weighty presence of the Lord?
In days to come much will be shared about the birth of B’ney Yosef North America. Already it is in the international press, thanks to Breaking Israel News. What I can share is that the signing of the Articles of Declaration which tell the world who we are was a holy undertaking. One who was there signing these articles shared with me that there are no words to describe holy things; putting words to them brings them down to the realm of the common. She is right; there are no words to do this justice.
The words I can share are those which opened the B’ney Yosef North America Summit on March 4. It was my honor to deliver the keynote address to the 200 people assembled there from Canada and the United States, with observers from Israel and the Netherlands. This address explains the purposes of the gathering. We accomplished those purposes. What more we accomplished is yet to be seen.
Today I Am A Hebrew
Albert Jackson McCarn
presented at the B’ney Yosef North America Summit
St. Petersburg, Florida
March 4, 2016
If you have not realized it by now, let me explain why we are assembled in St. Petersburg, Florida today. We are here to welcome the birth of a new nation. It is no coincidence that our gathering is happening at the time that another nation is marking nearly two centuries since its birth. I speak of the place I now call home, the place our brother Hanoch Young calls the Nation of Texas.
Two days ago, on March 2, Texans observed the 180th anniversary of the birth of the Republic of Texas. On March 2, 1836, the Texas Declaration of Independence was adopted in convention at Washington-on-the-Brazos. News of that declaration did not have time to reach the 200 men besieged in an old Spanish Catholic mission in San Antonio de Béxar before the great battle that claimed their lives. Today, 180 years ago, March 4, 1836, those men knew only that they faced the stark choice between surrender or death at the hands of an enemy that outnumbered them 12 to 1. Two days hence, as we conclude our gathering on March 6, Texans will honor the memory of those 200 who laid down their lives at the Alamo fighting for a cause they did not fully understand and a nation they did not really know, but which their selfless sacrifice helped to bring into existence.