Tag Archive | seed of Abraham

Fox Byte 5775 #40: Balak

בָּלָק

General George S. Patton, Jr., one of America's greatest - and most flawed - military leaders.  (Photo:  US National Archives, via Wikimedia Commons)

General George S. Patton, Jr., one of America’s greatest – and most flawed – military leaders. (Photo: US National Archives, via Wikimedia Commons)

The great military leaders of World War II include nine who attained the highest rank awarded by the United States of America.  Those five-star leaders are Generals of the Army George C. Marshall, Douglas MacArthur, Dwight D. Eisenhower, and Omar Bradley; Fleet Admirals William D. Leahy, Ernest King, Chester W. Nimitz, and William Halsey, Jr.; and General of the Air Force Henry H. Arnold.  Each man accomplished great things for his nation, and all deserved the honors bestowed on them, yet some students of history would say there is a name missing from the list.  Where is George S. Patton, Jr.?

Patton died too soon, losing his life as the result of an automobile accident in December 1945.  Had he lived he might eventually have become a five-star general.  Might, that is, had he been able to refrain from the controversy that followed him throughout his very public military career.  By the time World War II erupted he had proven his worth at home and abroad, including combat operations in Mexico and France.  Less than a year after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Patton commanded the only all-American force in Operation Torch, the Allied landings on North Africa in November 1942.  His Western Task Force conducted the longest amphibious operation in history, sailing from Hampton Roads, Virginia, to the shores of French Morocco.  From there he went on to a stunning series of battlefield successes in Tunisia, Sicily, France, and Germany.

Along with Patton’s skilled leadership came his shortcomings:  a volatile temper, and a tendency to speak indiscreetly.  Twice in Sicily he encountered soldiers suffering from battle fatigue; both times he slapped them and accused them of cowardice.  For that he was reprimanded and kept from a field command for nearly a year.  When he returned to combat in command of the Third Army, he engineered the breakout from the Normandy beachhead and raced across France at astonishing speed.  December 1944 witnessed his greatest battlefield accomplishment:  the relief of Bastogne at the height of the Battle of the Bulge.  Patton’s troops remained on the offensive thereafter, advancing across Germany and into Czechoslovakia.  After the war, as an occupation commander, he continued to generate controversy by retaining former Nazi Party members in positions of authority in the belief that they were best qualified to restore and run Germany’s shattered infrastructure.  While he had good reason, Patton chose to defend his decision by saying that membership in the Nazi Party in Germany was no different than membership in the Democratic or Republican parties in the United States.  His remarks came at the time when the heinous crimes of the Third Reich were becoming public knowledge.  As a result, he was relieved of command of Third Army and assigned to the less prestigious post he occupied at the time of his death.

As with all people it is impossible to separate Patton’s strengths from his weaknesses.  Patton could “read” an enemy, understanding not only his opponent’s capabilities, but also his state of mind.  That ability made him one of the greatest battlefield commanders of modern warfare.  What kept him from true greatness was his inability to control himself – or, more accurately, what came out of his mouth.  In that sense George Patton was very much like Balaam, a man who aspired to greatness, but whose inability to match his words with his deeds ensured that he would never attain it.

Please click here to continue reading

The Shemitah and The Yovel:  Examining The Relevance of God’s Appointed Times, Part VIII

Walking Through The Open Gate

The Vision of the Dry Bones is the most graphic illustration of God's promised restoration of the Kingdom of Israel.  The establishment of the State of Israel opened the way for Judah (the Jewish portion of Israel) to return to the land, but to the way for Ephraim (Northern Israel) is only now beginning to open.  (Ezekiel's Vision, The Coloured Picture Bible for Children, available on Mannkind Perspectives.)

The Vision of the Dry Bones is the most graphic illustration of God’s promised restoration of the Kingdom of Israel. The establishment of the State of Israel opened the way for Judah (the Jewish portion of Israel) to return to the land, but to the way for Ephraim (Northern Israel) has remained closed until now. (Ezekiel’s Vision, The Coloured Picture Bible for Children, available on Mannkind Perspectives.)

An Enduring Standard

We see from Scripture that the Creator’s processes are lengthy, thorough, and often completely different from what humans desire or expect.  This should not be a surprise.  YHVH says quite plainly that His ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts.  Nevertheless, He does tell us what we need to know, and He reveals things at the appointed times to those who bother to seek Him.  What we often learn is that the answer has been there all along, but we have never understood it correctly until the right time and until we approach with the right heart.  When it comes to the purpose of the Lord’s processes regarding His people Israel, the answer has been staring at us for about 3,000 years.  He spoke it through Moses to prepare the people for their first great meeting with Him at Sinai:

In the third month after the sons of Israel had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that very day they came into the wilderness of Sinai.  When they set out from Rephidim, they came to the wilderness of Sinai and camped in the wilderness; and there Israel camped in front of the mountain.  Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob and tell the sons of Israel:  You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself.  Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.”  (Exodus 19:1-6 NASB, emphasis added)

Please click here to continue reading

The Shemitah and The Yovel:  Examining The Relevance of God’s Appointed Times, Part VII

Managing Expectations:  Case Studies in God’s Processes

The Scriptures tell us that God designated two men to be Nazirites from the womb:  Samson and John the Baptist.  The engraving Samson and Delilah, by Gustave Doré, features Samson's uncut hair, the sign of a Nazirite.  Their hair indicated their special status as set apart to God, and in the case of the Bible's two most famous Nazirites, that the Holy Spirit rested on them for similar purposes of judging the nation of Israel and proclaiming the Lord's salvation.  In John, the Spirit's presence manifested in uncompromising preaching; in Samson the Spirit imparted supernatural strength.

The Scriptures tell us that three men were designated to be Nazirites from the womb: Samson, Samuel, and John the Baptist. The engraving Samson and Delilah, by Gustave Doré, features Samson’s uncut hair, the sign of a Nazirite. Their hair indicated their special status as set apart to God.  In the case of the Bible’s famous Nazirites, the Holy Spirit rested on them for purposes of judging the nation of Israel and proclaiming the Lord’s salvation. In John, the Spirit’s presence manifested in uncompromising preaching; in Samuel it was unquestioned authority to anoint the kings of Israel; and in Samson the Spirit imparted supernatural strength.

Ancient Hair Care

One of the most colorful characters in the Bible is Samson, the Judge of Israel from the tribe of Dan.  His story is in Judges 13-16.  It begins like this:

Now there was a certain man from Zorah, of the family of the Danites, whose name was Manoah; and his wife was barren and had no children.  And the Angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, “Indeed now, you are barren and have borne no children, but you shall conceive and bear a son.  Now therefore, please be careful not to drink wine or similar drink, and not to eat anything unclean.  For behold, you shall conceive and bear a son.  And no razor shall come upon his head, for the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.”  (Judges 13:2-5 NKJV, emphasis added)

Please click here to continue reading

Fox Byte 5775 #4: VaYera (And He Appeared)

וַיֵּרָא

During Operation Desert Storm, the 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized) executed the famous "Left Hook" around the Iraqi army positions defending that nation's border with Saudi Arabia.  (Peter G. Varisano, On Guard at Sunset, U.S. Army Center of Military History.)

During Operation Desert Storm, the 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized) executed the famous “Left Hook” around the Iraqi army positions defending that nation’s border with Saudi Arabia. (Peter G. Varisano, Victory Division Soldier On Guard at Sunset, U.S. Army Center of Military History.)

On a certain winter’s day early in my Army career a distinguished visitor stopped by our office.  This gentleman was Chief of Staff of 24th Infantry Division, the third highest ranking officer of the division and our senior supervisor.  His rank of colonel, his position as Chief of Staff, and his 30 years of service as a warrior of the United States conferred on him a high degree of honor and respect.  The occasion of his appearance in our office was his farewell visit to the staff.  Not only would he be leaving us, he would be retiring from the Army.  As usual with such events, we had received word ahead of time that the Chief would be in the area.  When he arrived we jumped to our feet, stood at attention, and waited patiently as he made his way around the room, shaking hands and speaking to every person.  Whether we had known the man long or not, all of us understood the protocol required to honor a person of his rank and position.

Except for one soldier.  For some reason it never occurred to her to stand up and come out from behind her desk when the colonel approached her.  She sat there and allowed him to reach over the desk to shake her hand, and then returned to her work when he walked away.  In all fairness, she was very young – not more than 19, and accustomed to the easy standards of her rural upbringing that regarded all people as social equals.  The rigid rank structure of the Army, with its pomp and circumstance, was yet foreign to her.  Nevertheless, her carefree demeanor and lack of respect for the colonel horrified me as the officer responsible for her conduct, and my warrant officer, the man who supervised our younger soldiers.  We knew that the fault lay not with this ignorant young soldier, but with us who should have taught her better.

The people of God should also be taught better about our attitudes toward the Creator Who breathed life into us.

Please click here to continue reading

The Shemitah and The Yovel:  Examining The Relevance of God’s Appointed Times, Part VI

No Idle God

Since Messiah is the Bridegroom for Israel, His Bride, it is fitting that Yeshua's first recorded miracle occurred at a wedding.  (James Tissot, The Wedding at Cana.)

Since Messiah is the Bridegroom for Israel, His Bride, it is fitting that Yeshua’s first recorded miracle occurred at a wedding. (James Tissot, The Wedding at Cana.)

Fast, Cheap, or Good?

Let us step back a bit and consider why the Creator of the Universe would allow this people He has chosen to languish in exile for a seemingly indeterminate period of time.  Better yet, let us consider why the Creator created the people on this earth in the first place.  Judging from the numerous references in Scripture about God taking a bride it would seem that He is seeking a co-regent to help Him run the universe.  At the very least, the Bride of our King has a destiny to have dominion over the earth.  That, after all, was the first instruction YHVH gave to our ancestors in His Garden.  Beyond that, there is very little to tell us what He really wants.  We know quite a bit about this seven thousand year experiment called human history, both how it has unfolded in the six millennia that have preceded us, and how it is to take shape in the last millennium under Messiah’s direct rule.  But then comes eternity, with a new heavens and a new earth.  What would God want us to do in eternity?  Sit around and play harps, stuffing our mouths with whatever tastes good and with no fear of consequences?  Probably not.

Please click here to continue reading

Fox Byte 5775 #3: Lech Lecha (Get Yourself)

לֶךְ־לְךָ

The Man in the Iron Mask (l'illustration Européenne 1872, no.15 page 116, via Wikimedia Commons.)

The Man in the Iron Mask (l’illustration Européenne 1872, no.15 page 116, via Wikimedia Commons)

It is quite possible that the greatest literary accomplishment of the year 1844 was the publication of The Three Musketeers.  The swashbuckling adventures of Athos, Porthos, Aramis, and D’Artagnan penned by Alexandre Dumas have delighted readers and audiences ever since, inspiring dozens of stage and film adaptations.  Not quite so popular is the trilogy Dumas published as a sequel, which concluded with The Man In The Iron Mask.  The story has been told in film, with such notables as Richard Chamberlain and Leonardo DiCaprio in the title role, but it does not come close in popularity to its predecessor.  Perhaps the subject matter is the cause.  The tale concerns a man sentenced to life in prison behind a mask so that no one may know his identity.  Dumas based his novel on an intriguing footnote of French history, but with much literary license.  The mysterious man in Dumas’ story was Philippe, twin brother of King Louis XIV of France.  As the king’s identical twin his very existence posed a threat to Louis.  Therefore he was doomed by royal decree to live out his life anonymously behind a mask.  This Baroque version of identity theft constitutes a fate worse than death.  Not only is the man denied his rights as a member of the royal house, his very personhood is stripped from him, so that in time even he forgets who he is.  No wonder The Man In The Iron Mask is so disturbing; this prince of the royal house suffers a fate none of us would ever wish to share.

And yet most Christians and Jews labor under precisely such an identity disability.  We have all forgotten who we really are.

Please click here to continue reading

The Shemitah and The Yovel:  Examining The Relevance of God’s Appointed Times, Part V

Is The Time Now?

It Is Finished, by James Tissot, follows  the standard Christian depiction of Messiah's work on the cross.  He did indeed complete the work of redemption, which is cause for great rejoicing among the prophets of Israel who foretold it.  However, the world continues to wait for the promised fulfillment of His work of restorating all things.

It Is Finished, by James Tissot, follows the standard Christian depiction of Messiah’s work on the cross. Yeshua did complete the work of redemption, which is the cause for great rejoicing among the prophets of Israel who foretold it. However, the world continues to wait for the fulfillment of His work of restoring all things.

Expectations of Messiah

Let’s think for a moment why the disciples would ask Yeshua if the time had come for Him to restore the kingdom to Israel.  This question does not even enter the consciousness of the average Christian.  That is because Christian theology over the last 1,700 years has taught that Jesus Christ completed the work of the promised Messiah by dying for the sins of the world and returning to life on the third day after His crucifixion.  This is a standard feature of Christian belief across the entire spectrum of traditions, from Catholic to Orthodox to any of the thousands of Protestant permutations, whether conservative or liberal.  At the heart of this interpretation are the words of Yeshua just moments before He died:

After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, “I thirst!”  Now a vessel full of sour wine was sitting there; and they filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on hyssop, and put it to His mouth.  So when Jesus had received the sour wine, He said, “It is finished!”  And bowing His head, He gave up His spirit.  (John 19:28-30 NKJV, emphasis added)

A person who had no knowledge of the rest of Scripture might assume from these words that Yeshua meant He had accomplished everything He had been sent to earth to do, and thus would conclude that everything Yeshua did as recorded in the Gospels was all that Messiah was supposed to do.  Yet that is clearly not the testimony of the Prophets, nor does it match the expectations of the Apostles.  Messiah Yeshua did indeed accomplish the crucial tasks of salvation and redemption, but He did not complete the work of restoration.  Even though Christian traditions teach that Messiah will return at the end of the present age to rule the world, for the most part the teaching is scanty on details.  The emphasis usually is on the events leading up to Messiah’s return, but skips over the extensive prophecies regarding how Messiah will rule from Jerusalem, and about life under His rule.  Moreover, the typical Christian perception is that those prophecies have little relevance to the church, being only for Israel (meaning the Jews), or having already been fulfilled somehow.

Please click here to continue reading

The Shemitah and The Yovel:  Examining The Relevance of God’s Appointed Times, Part IV

A Habitual Rebellion

Restoring What We Never Knew We Lost

The return of Ephraim and reunification of all Israel has taken a key place in Jewish thought since ancient times.  In fact, a key identifying feature of Messiah would be that He would end the exile of all the tribes, reunite Judah and Ephraim, and initiate a period of peace and prosperity sitting on the throne of David.  Consider, for example, Hosea 11, which begins with a well-known reference from Matthew 2:13-15 cited as one of the proofs of Yeshua’s Messiahship.  Yet the remainder of the chapter very rarely gets any notice in Christian circles.  Here is the full chapter:

“When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My sonAs they called them, so they went from them; they sacrificed to the Baals, and burned incense to carved images.  I taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by their arms; but they did not know that I healed them.  I drew them with gentle cords, with bands of love, and I was to them as those who take the yoke from their neck.  I stooped and fed them.  He shall not return to the land of Egypt; but the Assyrian shall be his king, because they refused to repent.  And the sword shall slash in his cities, devour his districts, and consume them, because of their own counsels.  My people are bent on backsliding from Me.  Though they call to the Most High, none at all exalt Him.  How can I give you up, Ephraim?  How can I hand you over, Israel?  How can I make you like Admah?  How can I set you like Zeboiim?  My heart churns within Me; My sympathy is stirred.  I will not execute the fierceness of My anger; I will not again destroy Ephraim.  For I am God, and not man, the Holy One in your midst; and I will not come with terror.  They shall walk after the Lord.  He will roar like a lion.  When He roars, then His sons shall come trembling from the west; they shall come trembling like a bird from Egypt, like a dove from the land of Assyria.  And I will let them dwell in their houses,” says the Lord.  “Ephraim has encircled Me with lies, and the house of Israel with deceit; but Judah still walks with God, even with the Holy One who is faithful.  (Hosea 11:1-12 NKJV, emphasis added)

Please click here to continue reading

The Shemitah and The Yovel:  Examining The Relevance of God’s Appointed Times, Part III

Diaspora Does Not Mean Destruction

The Assyrian conquest of Israel (Ephraim) began under Tiglath-Pileser III and ended with the destruction of Samaria under Sargon V.  Engravings by Henri Faucher-Gudin from a sketch of Tiglath-Pileser III by Eugène Flandin and of Sargon V by Austen Henry Layard, in G. Maspero, History of Egypt, Chaldea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, Vol. VII, Part B.

The Assyrian conquest of Israel (Ephraim) began under Tiglath-Pileser III and ended with the destruction of Samaria under Sargon V. (Engravings by Henri Faucher-Gudin from a sketch of Tiglath-Pileser III by Eugène Flandin and of Sargon V by Austen Henry Layard, in G. Maspero, History of Egypt, Chaldea, Syria, Babylonia, and Assyria, Vol. VII, Part B.)

Ephraim:  Still Enduring the Exile

By the time of Nebuchadnezzar’s first conquest of Jerusalem in 605 BC, the Ephraimite (Northern) Kingdom of Israel had been in exile for over a century.  As with Judah, the exile of Israel by the Assyrian Empire proceeded in stages, beginning with the invasions of Tiglath-Pileser III (Pul) in 734 BC, and concluding with the siege and conquest of Israel’s capital, Samaria, by Shalmaneser V and Sargon II from 724 to 722 BC.  The account of II Kings 17 contains the summary of the conquest, as well as an explanation of why the exile took place:

Now the king of Assyria went throughout all the land, and went up to Samaria and besieged it for three years.  In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria took Samaria and carried Israel away to Assyria, and placed them in Halah and by the Habor, the River of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.  For so it was that the children of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them up out of the land of Egypt, from under the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt; and they had feared other gods, and had walked in the statutes of the nations whom the Lord had cast out from before the children of Israel, and of the kings of Israel, which they had made.  Also the children of Israel secretly did against the Lord their God things that were not right, and they built for themselves high places in all their cities, from watchtower to fortified city.  They set up for themselves sacred pillars and wooden images on every high hill and under every green tree.  There they burned incense on all the high places, like the nations whom the Lord had carried away before them; and they did wicked things to provoke the Lord to anger, for they served idols, of which the Lord had said to them, “You shall not do this thing.”  Yet the Lord testified against Israel and against Judah, by all of His prophets, every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways, and keep My commandments and My statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by My servants the prophets.”  Nevertheless they would not hear, but stiffened their necks, like the necks of their fathers, who did not believe in the Lord their God.  And they rejected His statutes and His covenant that He had made with their fathers, and His testimonies which He had testified against them; they followed idols, became idolaters, and went after the nations who were all around them, concerning whom the Lord had charged them that they should not do like them.  So they left all the commandments of the Lord their God, made for themselves a molded image and two calves, made a wooden image and worshiped all the host of heaven, and served Baal.  And they caused their sons and daughters to pass through the fire, practiced witchcraft and soothsaying, and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the Lord, to provoke Him to anger.  Therefore the Lord was very angry with Israel, and removed them from His sight; there was none left but the tribe of Judah alone.  Also Judah did not keep the commandments of the Lord their God, but walked in the statutes of Israel which they made.  And the Lord rejected all the descendants of Israel, afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of plunderers, until He had cast them from His sight.  For He tore Israel from the house of David, and they made Jeroboam the son of Nebat king.  Then Jeroboam drove Israel from following the Lord, and made them commit a great sin.  For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they did not depart from them, until the Lord removed Israel out of His sight, as He had said by all His servants the prophets.  So Israel was carried away from their own land to Assyria, as it is to this day.  (II Kings 17:5-23 NKJV)

Please click here to continue reading

The Shemitah and The Yovel:  Examining The Relevance of God’s Appointed Times, Part II

Consequences of Missed Appointments

Why Do These Things Matter?

As with everything else that comes from the Torah, there is the question of whether this principles of the Shemitah and the Yovel apply to anyone but the Jewish people.  The answer is yes, on several counts.  First, the people who received the Law included the Jews (mostly the tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and Levi), but also included the other Ten Tribes of Israel now scattered among the nations, as well as a large collection of foreigners who had attached themselves to Israel at the time of the Exodus.  Thus the Torah was and is not exclusively a “Jewish thing”, but something that is instructive to everyone who is part of Israel.  And who is Israel?  According to the Apostle Paul, Israel includes anyone who has professed faith in Messiah Yeshua and, by virtue of the grace of God, become part of the Commonwealth of Israel and Seed of Abraham (Ephesians 2, Romans 11, Galatians 3:26-29).

Second, when the Lord God gave His final instructions to Moses regarding the Shemitah in Deuteronomy 31, he specified that at the Feast of Tabernacles at the end of each Shemitah every single person in Israel was to assemble at the place He designated (Jerusalem) and hear the entire Law read to them.  That included all men, women, and children of both the native-born Israelites and the foreigners.  Why?  So that, “they may hear and that they may learn to fear the Lord your God and carefully observe all the words of this law, and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the Lord your God as long as you live in the land which you cross the Jordan to possess.”  (Deuteronomy 9:13 NKJV)

Please click here to continue reading

%d bloggers like this: