Connecting the dots in Scripture can be lots of fun – and challenging. The fun part is the “Aha!” moment when something finally makes sense. The challenging part is when that “Aha!” moment presents a different picture from what we have learned all our lives. Do we take that new revelation and run with it, knowing it can make waves, or do we set it aside and hope that it never comes up again?
This second offering of Pictures for Pondering may be a challenge. As with thefirst edition, posted last spring, these are images from Bible passages prepared originally for posting on YouVersion (the Bible App). The first edition presented some interesting perspectives on the Kingdom of Heaven, Law and Grace, and prophecy, but also some whimsical illustrations. This time there is an attempt at a unifying theme. Part of the challenge is identifying that theme. The other part is investigating it from Scripture to see if it is so.
The First B’ney Yosef National Congress convened nearly a year and a half ago, at the end of May 2015. That means it is about time that we should hear news of the Second Congress. Since the beginning of this year we have known that the Second Congress would take place October 26-31 at the Eshel Hashomron Hotel in Ariel, Israel. Now, at last, planning has begun! The following post is from Etz B’ney Yosef, the official site of the Congress. Here are details on the direction this historic gathering will take as Ephraimites from around the world assemble to consider the next steps in the global awakening of Israel’s northern tribes.
Second B’ney Yosef National Congress
Wednesday evening, October 26, through Sunday evening, October 30, 2016
The purpose of last year’s (our first) B’ney Yosef National Congress was to explore ideas on how to reconstitute ourselves as the nation (stick) of Yosef (Ephraim) prior to attempting to unite with Judah. (See Ezekiel 37:15-38) If you attended last year’s Congress, then you can attest to the fact that YHVH was certainly present at the gathering and that we were all greatly blessed by the experience. Although there were many outcomes from the meeting, two of the most important were:
For the restoration of the House of Yosef to proceed, we must first have a change of heart. Ephraim must repent of the desire to rule the house of Jacob; he must humbly return as a servant and not aspire to a kingly position. His role is a New Covenant “priestly” one, to bring righteousness to the House of YHVH/Jacob through the New Covenant established by his High Priest and Redeemer, Yeshua the Messiah.
We must approach one another as well as our brother Judah in true humility, recognizing our position as the Prodigal Son who is being graciously received by his Father (Luke 15:11-32). We need to see our position through the eyes of our brother, who has a long list of grievances against us which need to be forgiven.
The ripple effect of last year’s Congress cannot be ignored. As mentioned above, there were very positive responses and outcomes, but also negative ones which came to the fore, accentuating real problems that exist within the Ephraimite community. Hence, we believe that during this coming gathering we should examine our hearts through the lenses of relevant scriptures, and hear what the Spirit is saying to the “kehila of Israel’s Northern house” regarding those matters that historically and currently are still at work, as well as discover together where Abba is at in the process of the re-gathering. We definitely do not want to lag behind, but also not to run ahead of Him.
The theme of this year’s Congress is:
Last year we met many of our brothers from the House of Yosef for the first time and found out we were related! God has miraculously called us to be part of His family. This year, we need to get to know our family members better and strengthen our personal relationships so that we can begin to come together as a nation.
Here is a list of some of the topics we will explore at the Second B’ney Yosef National Congress:
Ephraim’s history that led to their expulsion from the land and their divorce from YHVH
Trace the path that led to the Northern Kingdom’s sin and examine the root cause
Discuss how to repent of these acts and if necessary do it
Examine defining moments in the life of Israel as a nation and as a people
Examine Ephraim’s role as a priesthood
Learn about our relatives spread throughout the world
Hear reports of B’ney Yosef activities from the various countries represented
Compare notes, learning what works and what doesn’t
There will be presenters for each main topic and then breakout round table discussion and/or prayer sessions.
If you sense that Elohim is calling you to be an active participant in the restoration of the northern kingdom of Israel, the House of Yosef, this Second B’ney Yosef National Congress may be beneficial and meaningful for you.
After less than two weeks of life, B’ney Yosef North America has begun to receive international attention. Breaking Israel News published the article reposted here on March 17, 2016. The writer, Laura Densmore of Hebrew Nation News, was present at the BYNA Summit in St. Petersburg. Her comprehensive account explains the proceedings and provides links to many other sources of information on what our friend Hanoch Young calls “an earthquake in Florida”.
Can These Dry Bones Live? A Report from the Bney Yosef Congress of North America
The Bney Yosef North America Summit took place on March 4-6, 2016 in Tampa, Florida. What is this assembly of people? It is a network of North Americans who have heard the call to join together for the common purpose of the restoration and reconstitution of the people of Northern Israel, also known as the House of Yosef/Ephraim.
The purpose of this Summit was twofold:
*to discuss and affirm a statement of identity and purpose AND * to get a biblical leadership structure in place, consisting of a Council of Elders to guide and lead BYNA and an Executive Council, to be the administrative arm.
Why this Summit now? There is an ever increasing awakening of Ephraimites in North America who are looking for their long-expected reunion with Judah.
The one element of Steven Spielberg’s movies which has remained just beneath my consciousness for nearly thirty years is not his stunning cinematography or compelling drama. It is a song; a simple Welsh melody which carries us through Empire of the Sun. We first hear Suo Gân (Lullaby) as the movie opens. British choir boys sing it in church in the compound reserved for foreigners living in Shanghai. The soloist is Jamie (Christian Bale), a boy of about 10. He is British by birth, but he has never set foot on his parents’ homeland. Jamie’s family live as privileged foreigners have lived ever since China capitulated in the First Opium War a century before. They take no notice of the Chinese except where their own wants and needs are concerned. Jamie, a son of privilege, knows no other way than to lord it over the natives beneath his station.
Change comes quickly when the Japanese attack. China and Japan have been at war for years, but Shanghai is undisturbed until December 8, 1941. As America’s Pacific Fleet burns in Pearl Harbor, Japan’s legions occupy Shanghai. Jamie’s family flees, but in the confusion he is separated from his parents and left to fend for himself, eventually landing in an internment camp adjacent to a Japanese airfield.
By 1945 he is no longer Jamie, but Jim, a rough lad learning to survive among the mixed multitude in captivity. Jim can hold his own, having grown accustomed to lying, stealing, cheating, and other mischief. His innocence dies bit by bit, not only through the tribulations of war, but through betrayal by men he trusts. Yet Suo Gân remains with him. One morning he awakens to see Japanese aviators participating in the ceremony of the kamikaze. Jim comes to attention, salutes, and sings the lullaby in tribute to these men who will soon die in the service of their Emperor. Their deaths come more quickly than expected. At that instant, American P-51 Mustangs, the “Cadillac of the sky”, attack, rapidly transforming the airfield into a smoking ruin. In their wake Jim pauses to consider the dreadful price he has paid to survive. With despair he confesses, “I can’t remember what my parents look like.”
At war’s end Jim finds himself in an orphanage among children awaiting reunion with their parents. Tears of joy flow, but he stands in shocked silence. His father passes by, not recognizing the hardened youth as the beloved, if rebellious, child he knew. It is his mother who sees him, first as the Jamie she loved, then as the Jim she does not know how to love, and finally as a young man with gaping wounds in his soul who desperately needs the healing that only a parent’s love can bring. He looks into her face and four years of pain and death wash away in peace beyond hope – the peace promised in the strains of Suo Gân.
All Jim can remember is the song, but it is enough to set him on the path of healing and reconciliation. So it is with the exiled, destitute people of YHVH. He also gave a song to them – a song that would carry them through time to peace beyond hope:
Then it shall come about, when many evils and troubles have come upon them, that this song will testify before them as a witness (for it shall not be forgotten from the lips of their descendants); for I know their intent which they are developing today, before I have brought them into the land which I swore. (Deuteronomy 31:21 NASB)
Isaac Asimov could have written I, Robot without Karel Čapek’s help, but he would have needed a different word for the artificial life forms featured in his writing. Asimov’s robot stories shifted the paradigms of science fiction by exploring the unintended consequences of creating something smarter and stronger than a human, but without a human’s ethical configuration. For over half a century he probed dark and difficult territory, asking questions and spinning scenarios that remain disturbingly applicable to our present reality. Yet Asimov neither invented the word “robot”, nor initiated the inquiry into the potential nemesis of unbridled technological innovation.
Bad things happen when man plays the role of God, as Mary Shelley demonstrated in 1818 with her first novel, Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus. Shelley brought the question into the modern era, but it was Karel Čapek who mechanized it. Čapek’s play R.U.R. (Rossumovi univerzální roboti; Rossum’s Universal Robots) was a success from its first performance in 1920. The play introduced international audiences to the Czech word robota, meaning hard work, a word rendered into English as robot. The play is not a comedy; in Čapek’s imaginary world the robots are manufactured life forms designed to assist humans, but eventually they rebel and extinguish all human life.
Čapek revived this scenario in War with the Newts, a novel published in 1936 as satire on the hypocritically self-serving international system which enabled Nazi Germany’s dismemberment of Czechoslovakia two years later. It is a humorously dark tale about a race of sentient amphibian creatures discovered in the waters of Indonesia. The newts prove to be swift learners and adept at a multitude of tasks, making them ideal candidates for exploitation not only as workers, but also as undersea warriors. In time the newts, like the robots, rebel, destroying the dry land and turning it into shallow waters suitable for their environmental needs. The nations of the earth find themselves in a war for survival against a global amphibian army. It is a war humanity will not win, but Čapek reveals that the victorious newts will turn on themselves and become the instruments of their own destruction, leaving a remnant of mankind to rebuild the planet.
It is frightful to contemplate the end of one’s world, particularly when the end is justly deserved. Asimov, Shelley, and Čapek relate scenarios of judgment resulting from mankind’s own selfish shortsightedness – playing God, if you will. The element of terror they invoke lurks in the revelation that the instruments of judgment are the works of our own hands. As usual, art imitates life. YHVH renders judgment on those who disregard His standard of righteousness and set up standards of their own – playing God, if you will. Judgment brings a sentence of destruction and death, which is terrifying enough. What makes it more chilling is to learn the name of the one who will bring about the anticipated death and destruction. About 35 centuries ago, the doomed Canaanite civilization experienced that very thing shortly after Moses spoke these words:
It is the Lord your God who will cross ahead of you; He will destroy these nations before you, and you shall dispossess them. Joshua is the one who will cross ahead of you, just as the Lord has spoken. (Deuteronomy 31:3 NASB)