Tag Archive | Shema

Picture of the Week 11/28/17

Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His godly ones. (Psalm 116:15 NASB)


© Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog, 2017.  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.
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For the times they are a changin’ – UNITED 2 RESTORE

Our expectation of dramatic Divine intervention often prevents us from recognizing the miracles God works through human beings in less spectacular ways, such as when He inspired Nehemiah to direct the rebuilding of Jerusalem's wall. (Gustave Doré, Nehemiah Views the Ruins of Jerusalem's Walls.)

Our expectation of dramatic Divine intervention often prevents us from recognizing the miracles God works through human beings in less spectacular ways, such as when He inspired Nehemiah to direct the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s wall. (Gustave Doré, Nehemiah Views the Ruins of Jerusalem’s Walls)

There is no doubt that God works in big, dramatic ways.  The problem for most of us is that we are so inclined to expect Him to do so that we miss the miracles happening right in front of us.  For example, consider this prophecy we read about in Jeremiah:

“Therefore behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord, “that it shall no more be said, ‘The Lord lives who brought up the children of Israel from the land of Egypt,’ but, ‘The Lord lives who brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north and from all the lands where He had driven them.’  For I will bring them back into their land which I gave to their fathers.”  (Jeremiah 16:14-15 NKJV)

This is the Second Exodus.  It is so important that YHVH had Jeremiah record it twice (see Jeremiah 23:7-8).  In fact, this restoration of the entire nation of Israel is the largest single prophetic topic in all of Scripture.  Yeshua’s disciples asked Him about it just before He left them (Acts 1:6).  The reason they asked was that He had accomplished so many other Messianic prophecies, but since He had not restored the Kingdom to Israel, and so they wanted to know when He would do so. 

By the way, that is also a question our Jewish brethren have – if Yeshua of Nazareth really is Messiah, why is Israel not completely regathered from the nations with a son of David ruling over them from Zion?  It’s a valid question.  Those of us from the Christian side of the house are satisfied with the answer that Messiah comes twice:  first as the Suffering Servant (Messiah son of Joseph), and then as the Conquering King (Messiah son of David).  Our Jewish brethren are not satisfied with that answer, which is why the greatest test before us all in this day is whether we can still get along on terms of mutual acceptance and respect in the expectation that God Himself will reveal the full answer to all of us in His timing.

As for the Second Exodus, we are prone to expect that it will unfold in ways similar to the First Exodus.  You know:  the prophet and his brother confront the mighty dictator, supernatural judgments rain down from heaven, the seas split, and the people are delivered.  That sort of thing.

But what if the Second Exodus happens differently?  What if it’s not so dramatic?  Would we still recognize it as a miracle?  Would we praise God because He had done something even greater than the Exodus from Egypt?

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Kingdom Power in Context: A Review of The Restoration and the Gifts of the Spirit by Dr. David E. Jones

BFB160717 Jones - Restoration and Gifts of the SpiritA 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.

The Restoration and the Gifts of the Spirit is available through Ruach International Ministries, and on Amazon.com.


© 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.

Fox Byte 5775 #45: Va’etchanan (And I Pleaded)

וָאֶתְחַנַּן

Left to right: Vittorio Orlando (Italy), David Lloyd George (Great Britain), Georges Clemenceau (France), Woodrow Wilson (United States).In a sense one might say that this present global system is Woodrow Wilson’s fault.  The Armistice that ended the hostilities of World War I on November 11, 1918, took shape after the German Empire embraced President Wilson’s Fourteen Points as the basis for negotiating peace with the Allies.  Wilson had presented the Fourteen Points in a speech to Congress at the beginning of 1918 as his proposal for ending the war and reshaping the world so that such a massive conflict could never happen again.  A better world might have been the outcome had his plan been adopted in its entirety, but, sadly, it was not to be.  Wilson personally led the American negotiating team to the Paris Peace Conference at Versailles in 1919, but during the lengthy proceedings he became gravely ill.  The other Allied leaders took advantage of his illness to turn the peace conference into a revenge conference.  Many of Wilson’s principles found their way into the Versailles Treaty and subsequent agreements, but not as he intended.  The fruit of Versailles was a vindictive dismemberment of the German, Austro-Hungarian, and Ottoman empires, along with a humiliating disarmament of Germany and assessment of a war reparations debt that the German nation finally finished paying 92 years later.  The Versailles Treaty did incorporate Wilson’s vision of a League of Nations, the predecessor to the United Nations, but the President’s own people rejected it.  When the US Senate refused to ratify the Treaty of Versailles, the United States turned away from an active role in managing the community of nations, thereby ensuring that the League of Nations would be nothing more than a hollow shell.

It is easy to summarize the Fourteen Points.  They call for open negotiations among nations, freedom of the seas, free trade, disarmament to the greatest extent possible, evacuation and restoration of territories occupied during the war; “autonomous development” (a fancy way of saying independence) of peoples under the rule of the world’s great empires, readjustment of borders to reflect lines of nationality, and establishment of the League of Nations to oversee this new international order.  The summary, however, does not convey the enormity of the tasks involved in implementing each point.  Consider just one point:  establishment of an independent Poland.  That single act required dismemberment of three empires; creation of a Polish government with power and resources to run the country; international recognition and assistance; and a host of other actions to ensure Poland’s unhindered reentry into the community of nations after nearly 120 years of foreign occupation.  It would be foolish to think that Wilson’s Fourteen Points were the only items under consideration in the Allies’ peace deliberations.  In truth, they were only the beginning of the process, not the end.

This should remind us of something in Scripture.  The analogy dawned immediately on President Georges Clemenceau of France.  On hearing of the Fourteen Points, he is reported to have said,

Quatorze?  Le bon Dieu n’a que dix.  (Fourteen?  The Good Lord only has ten.)

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Fox Byte 5775 #29-30: Achrei Mot (After the Death); Kedoshim (Holy Ones)

אַחֲרֵי מוֹת / קְדֹשִׁים

Dustin Hoffman's Oscar-winning performance in Rain Man introduced audiences to the world of autism.  (Photo:  Amazon.com)

Dustin Hoffman’s Oscar-winning performance in Rain Man introduced audiences to the world of autism. (Photo: Amazon.com)

How do we love the unlovely?  That is one of the questions Dustin Hoffman and Tom Cruise explore in Rain Man.  Hoffman earned an Oscar as Best Actor for his portrayal of Raymond Babbitt, a man with autism whose family had chosen to place him in an institution after he had accidentally harmed Charlie, his younger brother.  Because of that, Charlie (played by Cruise) never learns of his brother’s existence until after his father’s death.  Charlie is surprised to learn that his father had left most of his fortune to a trust fund that paid for Raymond’s expenses.  Determined to obtain a share of the money, Charlie entices Raymond out of the mental institution and takes him on a road trip to his home in California, where he intends to file a lawsuit for custody of his brother.  The rest of the movie is a journey on many levels as Charlie begins to see Raymond not as an easily exploitable asset, but as a remarkable human being, and as the loving and lovable brother he has missed all his life. 

The audience shares that journey thanks to Hoffman’s masterful performance.  By the end of the movie we are still a bit awkward and uncomfortable around Raymond, but we no longer think of him as something less than ourselves.  He is brilliant in his own way, far more capable with computations and connections than most of us could ever be.  In an odd way he is charming, affectionate, and even adorable.  Once we look beyond his peculiar mannerisms and grow accustomed to his unique forms of expression, we begin to see a person of great value.  Indeed he has special needs that prevent him from functioning on his own, but we learn from Rain Man that Raymond Babbitt and others like him do have a place in society.  One example of this was reported recently in The Times of Israel, in an article explaining how the Israel Defense Forces have recognized the special gift of persons with autism, and have found a way for them to make a valuable contribution to the defense of their nation.  Yet even those who are not able to make such a contribution have value.  They teach us about ourselves – what it means to be human.  We are enriched when we get to know them.

Indeed, they are our neighbors, the very people we are to love as ourselves.

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Fox Byte 5775 #18: Mishpatim (Ordinances)

מִּשְׁפָּטִים

Even hell must abide by the Laws the Creator has established for the seasons.  (It's so cold that now HELL has frozen over:  Michigan town falls victim to record cold temperatures, Daily Mail, January 8, 2014)

Even hell must abide by the Laws the Creator has established for the seasons. (“It’s so cold that now HELL has frozen over: Michigan town falls victim to record cold temperatures”, Daily Mail, January 8, 2014)

How would one describe hell?  Dante does a nice job in his Inferno, depicting levels of escalating unpleasantness corresponding to the earthly misdeeds of the unfortunate sufferers.  It is important to note that Dante’s descriptions, however grotesque, are not without a certain order.  In other words, hell is not complete chaos.  There is an organization, a hierarchy, and a supreme authority that keeps it functioning.  If there were no order then hell would splinter into a million pieces and never cause harm to another soul.  And thus Dante reflects something that Yeshua explained about the infernal realm:

And knowing their thoughts Jesus said to them, “Any kingdom divided against itself is laid waste; and any city or house divided against itself will not stand.  If Satan casts out Satan, he is divided against himself; how then will his kingdom stand?  (Matthew 12:25-26 NASB; see also Mark 3:23-27 and Luke 11:17-22)

This principle of diabolical organization is something C.S. Lewis explains as the rationale for his masterful work, The Screwtape Letters:

I live in the Managerial Age, in a world of “Admin.”  The greatest evil is not now done in those sordid “dens of crime” that Dickens loved to paint.  It is not done even in concentration camps and labour camps.  In those we see its final result.  But it is conceived and ordered (moved, seconded, carried, and minuted) in clean, carpeted, warmed, and well-lighted offices, by quiet men with white collars and cut fingernails and smooth-shaven cheeks who do not need to raise their voice.  Hence, naturally enough, my symbol for Hell is something like the bureaucracy of a police state or the offices of a thoroughly nasty business concern.  (C.S. Lewis, 1961.  The Screwtape Letters with Screwtape Proposes a Toast.  New York:  MacMillan.)

If Yeshua and these literary masters are correct, our conclusion is that hell must be organized and lawful, to some extent at least.  But why is that so?  One would think that Satan, the enemy of the Most High God, would do everything opposite what God does.  That would mean he would preside over a completely lawless, chaotic realm.  Yet that cannot be so for a fundamental reason that Satan knows only too well:  without Law, nothing can function.

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