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.
Growing numbers of dedicated Christians are taking a critical look at what they believe. The turbulent conditions around the world likely has something to do with this. Christians, like everyone else, need assurance and hope. If they cannot find it in their faith, then they are cast adrift in a sea of despair.
But what happens when these disciples of Jesus Christ discover that what the Bible says is not exactly what they thought was right? They experience a crisis of faith. Surprisingly this crisis is not driving Christians away from their Savior, but it is dramatically reorienting their faith walk. They still embrace Jesus as their Savior, but call Him by His Hebrew name and title: Yeshua the Messiah. Moreover, they begin to honor and follow the Torah (Law) of Moses, the same godly standard of conduct which Jesus/Yeshua taught and modeled in His life.
In other words, these Christians are transforming into Hebrews through what has become an accelerating Torah Awakening.
This crisis of faith is the focus of Repairing the Breach, the first book by former pastor Peter G. Rambo, Sr. Having weathered the crisis himself, Rambo offers helpful observations from his experience. It is not a journey he undertook on a whim, and in fact he was not looking for any kind of faith-altering investigation. As he explains, his quest for understanding of End Times prophecies turned into an exploration of the “false traditions of Christianity”.
This is where it gets interesting – and potentially dangerous. “False traditions” could be interpreted to mean fraudulent origins. If that is the case, then perhaps Christianity is just another manifestation of what Karl Marx called the “opiate of the masses”. That, however, is not what Rambo means. He is referring to the traditions which have crept into Christianity from a number of directions (including pagan religions), and which have diluted, diverted, and obscured the original faith contained in the Bible.
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.
One of the most significant developments in the Hebrew Roots movement this past year has is the production of a movie that explains this phenomenon. Those who have seen The Way: A Documentary know that it is a quality production that imparts an entertaining, moving, and reasonably balanced presentation of the Torah Awakening among Christians. This debut work by young filmmakers Luke and Kayte Abaffy has had an expanding impact since its release in August 2016, and likely will receive international attention thanks to a recent screening at the Second B’ney Yosef National Congress in Israel.
In this article, originally published in Torah Sisters Magazine, producer Kayte Abaffy shares her experience and idea on how to present this Torah walk to the people we care about the most – and who often are not very receptive to this message. Perhaps it is not the message that is the problem, but the manner and timing of the presentation. That is a central point Kayte makes in this honest and delightful piece.
Originally published on Torah Sisters Magazine
Two years ago, I was driving on the Paciﬁc Coast Highway with my husband, sparkling blue ocean to our left and golden mountains to our right, coming home to Los Angeles from a transformative conference in San Diego. Torah keepers had gathered for a weekend of learning stuff and worshipping and hanging out by the pool till 2am sharing our stories. And that weekend wasn’t just an awesome conference – it was the start of us ﬁlming for The Way documentary, and our ﬁrst real deep dive into the experiences of people walking in The Way.
Even after we’d only interviewed our ﬁrst handful of people, something had already become clear: sharing your new walk with friends and family is … well … a thing. When we asked interview subjects how people reacted to their new walk (siblings, children, spouses, parents, pastors, lifelong friends), lots of interesting body language things would happen – eyes would well up with tears or dart to the ﬂoor, or there’d be a great big sigh, or laughter, or a look of searching for the right words to make a tough situation sound positive.
Of course, some people’s families or friends had taken instant interest, or tried hard to understand what their loved one was learning in the Word. And some even quickly came to the same understanding. But for lots of others, the reactions ranged from cold shoulders to confusion, awkwardness to outright hostility.
So how do you share your walk (and enthusiasm for the Torah) with people you love, when there seems to be so much baggage surrounding a conversation that hasn’t even begun yet?
One thought that’s really helped me is to make the fruit of your life available to people who’re actually hungry. Trees that throw their apples at people are scary, like in The Wizard of Oz. But in life, a person walks by and picks an apple from the tree when they’re hungry.
So often we try to jam a feast down the throat of a person who’s perfectly full. And then we’re frustrated when they don’t receive it and wonder why they resent us. But God works with hunger. And we should too. Remember what Yeshua said? “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be ﬁlled.” It’s hard to convince someone of how great the solution you’ve found is, when they don’t even think there’s a problem. But the great news is that there are plenty of hungry people out there, we just need to be there to minister to them!
Here are a few other ideas I’ve come up with to share Yeshua and your walk with others, as I’ve marinated on this question over the last two years:
Shabbat (Sabbath) in a Jewish community in Israel is different from Shabbat at home in America. What we have experienced in Israel may be similar to what one would encounter in an American Jewish community, but it is new to us. We non-Jewish Sabbath keepers, even those of us who have been keeping Shabbat for many years, are still finding our way. What we know is that Messiah Yeshua kept it, that He taught His disciples to continue obeying the commandments, and that we want to do as He did because we love Him so much.
Our Christian traditions have forbidden us from keeping Shabbat ever since the days of Emperor Constantine, and many of the Jewish traditions seem to make Shabbat incomprehensibly complicated. Even so, we know that Shabbat is a bubble in time which occurs once in seven days. When we enter that bubble, we come into a place where YHVH is waiting. America continues at its frenetic pace around us, with its Saturday football games, festivals, work opportunities, soccer matches, and all the myriad other things we deemed important for much of our lives. For us that world drifts into the shadows as we turn our attention inward toward home, family, gathering with friends, and meeting with the holy, loving, and kind God Who has invited us to be still and know that He is indeed God.
This is not to say that our Shabbat observance is perfect. We live in a world where Shabbat is not even a word most people recognize, nor a concept they understand. We juggle our schedules as best we can to avoid any normal business, work, travel, or other things which keep us from this divine appointment. That in itself strains relationships with family and friends who do not esteem the day as we do. Then there are the constant temptations to bend the rules: to finish that one last bit of work just after the sun sets, or to check up on the scores when our favorite teams are playing, or to compromise by meeting our non-Shabbat-keeping family at a restaurant early on Saturday evening. We do our best not to be legalistic, but to manage these competing requirements of life in Babylon while obeying our King.
This is where we begin to identify with our Jewish brethren. They have been living this balancing act for millennia, and it is logical that we look to them for inspiration. Thus we have come to Gi’vat Ye’arim, not even knowing that we have come here for reasons the Almighty had determined before we even heard of the place.
Kingdom Power in Context: A Review of The Restoration and the Gifts of the Spirit by Dr. David E. Jones
A pendulum swing is taking place in the Hebrew Roots movement in America. Many followers of Yeshua haMashiach (Jesus Christ) who have sought to embrace the Torah walk He modelled have moved beyond traditional Christianity. In practical terms, that means they have left the organized church in its various denominations and moved into something that looks sort of Jewish (as in keeping Sabbath and observing the biblical Feasts), but retains faith in Yeshua as Messiah. Now that this process has been going on for almost a generation, many are beginning to wonder if we might have left some very important things behind in the church. Things like fellowship, unity, brotherly love, and the Holy Spirit. This does not necessarily mean that Messianic and Hebrew Roots believers are ready to return to the church, but rather that we are beginning to realize the same thing about Christians as we have come to understand about Jews: the things we hold in common are far more numerous and more important than the things which divide us. Consequently, Hebraic believers are now reexamining once again what they believe, taking steps to mend broken bridges and restore precious things which we may have jettisoned too quickly in our zeal to put distance between ourselves and the traditions of man.
Hebraic believers with backgrounds in the Pentecostal or Charismatic branches of contemporary Christianity understand this question in regard to the Holy Spirit (Ruach HaQodesh). At first glance, the Torah observant lifestyle does not seem compatible with what is generally believed to be the gifts and manifestations of the Spirit. Yet a deeper study of the Person and purpose of the Spirit reveals something astounding: living by Torah is impossible without Him.
This is the thrust of The Restoration and the Gifts of the Spirit, a new book by Dr. David E. Jones, Senior Pastor of Ruach Ministries International in Brandon, Florida. The book grew out of conversations he held with Brad Scott of Wildbranch Ministry. As Scott writes in his Foreword:
We believe that these gifts were ignored, tossed away, changed or otherwise corrupted just as the feasts and the sabbaths were. . . All of the gifts of the Spirit are from the beginning and all of them are a testimony and revelation of the end.
What follows is a thorough examination of the Holy Spirit from a Hebraic viewpoint. Starting with Genesis 1 and moving forward through the Scriptures, Jones establishes two very important points. The first is that the Holy Spirit is YHVH God, nothing less. This may seem contrary to the common Jewish understanding of echad, or one, which for centuries has held that God is an indivisible entity – One and only One. That is not necessarily the sense of the Shema, the watchword of Judaism and Hebraic faith, which states, “Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one!” (Deuteronomy 6:4 NKJV) Jones explains that echad in that verse and elsewhere in the Bible means, “’one’ as something that is unified as one, not necessarily only.” In other words, “the One True God is in perfect unity as one.” Therefore, He can express Himself in multiple ways and still be the same YHVH.
The second point is that the Holy Spirit has been active in the world and in human beings from the very beginning. This is contrary to a common Christian understanding that the “outpouring” of the Holy Spirit did not happen until the events recorded in Acts 2 at the Feast of Pentecost following Yeshua’s ascension. Jones cites several examples of people in the Tanakh (Old Testament) filled with the Holy Spirit and empowered to do the works of YHVH. This brings us to the ministry of the Holy Spirit:
We see a common theme throughout all of Scripture in testifying concerning a “spirit-filled” man of YHVH. This testimony is three fold, it consists of: wisdom, knowledge and understanding. Looking at many of the great people of faith, we can see these three things being shown in their lives.
In his examination of Scripture, Jones illustrates these three elements of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding evident in every move of the Spirit in both the Old and New Testaments. He makes his most powerful argument in presenting the parallels between the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai, and the outpouring of the Spirit at Pentecost. What he reveals is the continuity of the Holy Spirit’s work in the people of YHVH, both before and after the coming of Messiah Yeshua.
This is perhaps the most powerful and greatest contribution of Jones’ work. It is an understanding that neither traditional Christianity nor traditional Judaism could uncover in that both of them start with the perception that they are separate entities rather than two expressions of the same covenant-keeping YHVH. It takes a Hebraic believer, with an appreciation of both the Christian and Jewish perspectives and an understanding of the Old and New Testaments, to grasp this essential truth. Yet he does not stop there. In the latter chapters, he investigates those controversial questions always present in discussions of the gifts of the Spirit. How are we to account for and deal with such things as the gifts of prophecy and tongues? What role do they and other gifts play in the life of a Hebraic follower of Yeshua? What have we missed by avoiding them? What do we gain by embracing them in the context YHVH intended all along? Jones does well in addressing these questions. The answers he provides may not be complete, but they are an essential component to this ongoing discussion of how the power of the Holy Spirit is to be evident in the lives of YHVH’s people.
The Restoration and the Gifts of the Spirit is a much-needed work on a component still lacking in Messianic/Hebrew Roots understanding of the Scripture. It is also a powerful addition and enhancement of the Christian and Jewish treatments of the subject. David Jones has done a great service to the believers of all traditions by his balanced and scholarly investigation of the Spirit of the Living God.
© Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog, 2014-2016. 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.
Many dry bones lie scattered across Tennessee. Tens of thousands of them found their resting places during the tumultuous years of the American Civil War. Perhaps it is fitting, therefore, that Tennessee served as the place where the dry bones of the House of Yosef (Joseph) began to come back to life in North America.
This is a prophesied event, of course. More accurately, it is a prophesied process – the single greatest topic of prophecy in the entire Bible. Israel, the nation Almighty God established in covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, split into two pieces and died many hundreds of years ago. Judah, the part of that nation which we know now as the Jewish people, retained knowledge of its identity, and in 1948 returned to life as the State of Israel. The other part of the nation, however, has never come back to life.
On December 4, 2015, the B’Ney Yosef Region 35 Conference convened at Camp Copass in Denton, Texas, for the purpose of bringing together people in the central part of the United States to seek YHVH’s direction about His Kingdom work at this time. The initial concept was to continue in the spirit of the First B’Ney Yosef National Congress in the interest of building Ephraimite (Israelite) identity among believers in Messiah Yeshua. The Holy Spirit quickly expanded that concept into a call for repentance within the Hebrew Roots/Two House movement and reconciliation with other parts of the body of Messiah, particularly with our Christian brethren. That was the motivation for this address which opened the conference.
The best boss I ever had was the man under whose supervision I served the last time I was in Iraq. He was also the most profane man I have ever met. The name of Jesus Christ was for him but one weapon in a formidable arsenal of expletives. Not a single day passed that some outrage did not fall from his lips, causing my ears to burn and my heart to wonder how long I would have to endure such offense. And yet I continued in his service, not merely because I had no choice (both of us, after all, were soldiers assigned to serve together), but because God gave me grace to look beyond the offense to see and benefit from the substantial qualities he possessed. Those qualities included an encyclopedic knowledge of intelligence functions and procedures based on decades of hard experience. He possessed as well a dogged determination to persevere through all opposition and achieve success in whatever goal he or his superiors established. That determination sprang from his undying loyalty to the United States of America, and to his belief in the ultimate good of our mission in Iraq. Yet none of that would have mattered in the least had this man lacked the greatest quality of all: he regarded every person as having intrinsic value, and as a potential ally in achieving the goals set before him. He may have spoken roughly, and even in private moments vented his frustration and anger, but he never diminished the value of the human beings in his charge, nor of those under whom he served.
We had occasion to work with military and civilian officials from a number of services and agencies. Whether they were Army like us, or Marines, Air Force, or Navy, they were all “great Americans” in my boss’s opinion – if for no other reason than because they had volunteered to wear the uniform and be deployed to a Middle Eastern war zone. He could not call our British, Australian, and German colleagues “great Americans”, but he did hold them in high esteem – while at the same time recognizing that the highest priorities for each of them were the interests of their own nations, not those of the United States. The true professionals among us, regardless of nationality, recognized this. We knew that at times there would be questions we could not ask and answers we could not give, but whenever and wherever possible we helped one another.
That “great American” description did extend to the civilian intelligence professionals we encountered. Those men and women represented nearly all of the 16 agencies of the U.S. Intelligence Community. The ones you would expect were all there: each of the agencies of the military services, the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the National Security Agency (NSA), the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGIA), the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and the State Department. Our office dealt mostly with the CIA, whom my boss lovingly called, “Klingons”. Like our foreign counterparts, they, and all the other intelligence agencies, had their own priorities which were not necessarily the same as ours in the Department of Defense. Their vision of how to support the national interests of the United States sometimes clashed with ours, and the means and resources at their disposal often put them at an advantage over us. We had much reason to distrust them, but we had even more reason to work with them – just as the Start Trek heroes found reason to cooperate with the Klingons to defeat their common enemies.
We laugh at the description of the CIA as Klingons, but long before I arrived in Iraq I understood exactly what my boss meant. Early in my tenure in Washington, DC, I had occasion to work with the CIA on a joint project. Most of the people with whom I worked were intelligence analysts, people not very different from myself. They were well educated, often from privileged backgrounds, highly academic (a reflection of the CIA culture), and professionally courteous. As part of our project we had to consult with a different type of CIA employee. This person was not an analyst. Intelligence analysts look at information from various sources and put it together in different ways to understand what it means. They are the friendly face of the CIA. There is another face, however, and it is not very friendly. That face belongs to the operators, the men and women who go about the difficult business of collecting the information. They are consummate professionals, very good at what they do, but they are not the kind of people you would want in your social circle. Quite often the name by which they introduce themselves is not the name their parents gave them at birth. In the course of their duties they will have to do some questionable things, and perhaps even some very unpleasant things, to acquire information their agency has commissioned them to gain.
This was the kind of person with whom we met in that office on the CIA campus in Langley, Virginia long ago. He was an impressive man, and one whom I admired for his courage and devotion to his country. I could tell without asking that he had suffered much personal loss in service to the nation, and that my own poor service paled in comparison to his. Yet we could not be friends, and we would have difficulty working together as colleagues. His world was one I could not enter, and my world was one he would not find comfortable. Nevertheless, my work could not continue without him, and without me his work would have no meaning. That is why I have never forgotten the man, although our paths have never crossed since that day.
What would happen if this vast intelligence community in the service of the United States of America ceased to function as designed? What if the various individuals and organizations within it forgot that they were all Americans, and instead placed their own personal agendas, or the name and reputation of their own agencies and services, above the interests of the country? That is not a rhetorical question; I can tell you what would happen. I have seen it. What happens is a fragmentation of the national intelligence establishment.
For the most part that establishment consists of good, honest people trying to do the best they can with limited resources and time. They have a tendency to focus exclusively on the work right in front of them, whether it is office administration, counterterrorism analysis, national technical means of information collection, the number of tanks in the Russian Far Eastern Military District, or poppy production in Afghanistan. They forget that there is a wider world out there, and that their work is but one small piece in a very, very big puzzle. It does not take much to convince them that their piece is the most important. Once convinced, it is but a small step toward competing with others to gain a greater share of attention and resources. Having entered that arena, it is nothing to begin pushing others aside in ever more aggressive ways, taking resources and people away from them so that one’s own piece of the puzzle grows in size and importance, and the competitors’ pieces shrink, or disappear altogether. In time the picture that emerges is distorted at best, magnifying certain things to the extreme, diminishing others, and ignoring important bits that would otherwise tie together the seemingly contradictory reports from various sources. That is the picture which goes before high level decision makers like the commanders of our forces in the Middle East, and even the President himself. Is it any wonder, therefore, that we have national disasters such as the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001?
My lesson from this should be clear. National defense is a team effort. I know my part of the effort, and my job is to do it to the best of my ability. I do not know most of the millions of others involved in the effort, nor do I understand what they do. I could not do what most of them do, nor could most of them do what I do. Very few of them could be considered my friends, and most of them would probably never want to associate with me anyway. Nevertheless, we need each other: every warrior, every clerk, every mechanic, every technician, every lawyer, every cook, every aviator, every logistician, every sanitation worker. If we do not find a way to cooperate, then this living, breathing organism we call the National Defense Establishment will fail, and with its failure the United States of America fails.
Is this any different from the living, breathing organism known as the Body of Messiah?