Tag Archive | South Africa

The Best Decision I Ever Made: Delighting in the Wife of My Youth

Charlayne and me on our wedding day, August 15, 1987.

The last thing I thought I needed in the fall of 1986 was a girlfriend. When the Army had assigned me to Germany three years earlier, I half expected that I might find the woman of my dreams there. A few fun-but-fruitless relationships later, I realized that this process was more complicated that I thought, and far more difficult. And so, when I made my way to Fort Huachuca, Arizona, at the beginning of November for the next phase of my military career, I determined that it would be better to get a dog than find a girlfriend. Oddly enough (seeing that God has quite the sense of humor), it was nearly thirty more years before I would get a dog, but the woman of my dreams was only days away from walking into my life.

It happened on Sunday, November 9, 1986, at the First Baptist Church of Sierra Vista, Arizona. Charlayne was among the single young adults in the Sunday School class that morning, but her presence didn’t register with me until that evening, when I joined the church at the evening worship service. That’s when this vision of loveliness came bounding down the aisle to give me a hug and welcome me into the congregation. She also invited me to go out with all the singles to the Village Inn for pie. It was an unexpected, but very agreeable, invitation. What was more unexpected, and even more agreeable, was how quickly we became good friends. Within days we were dating, and within six weeks we were engaged.

I tell people that we were engaged by decree of my mother-in-law, and it’s true. Both of us had plans for our lives that a serious relationship would disrupt. As we grew closer and closer, the thought of those disruptions caused us no end of distress, until one Sunday afternoon they brought us to the brink of panic. We asked her parents to come over and talk with us. They sat in her apartment listening to us talk things out for about an hour and a half, and then her mother said the last thing I expected: “Well, it seems to me you kids need to get married.”

Many times in my life, a sense of peace has settled over me, indicating that God’s answer in the present predicament had been revealed. That moment in Charlayne’s apartment was one of the first, and is still one of the most profound, of those occasions. When her mother said the one thing we had dared not consider, we knew it was right, and it was holy. We were married some months later, and after 31 years we remain true to the covenant that established our household when we were young.

I do not recall whether any woman other than Char has ever captured my attention in any way that might cause her to be a rival to the wife of my youth. I have had many female friends and coworkers, some of whom have been quite attractive, but in all those years, I cannot remember a time when any of them attracted me in any inappropriate way. Perhaps I am peculiar in that regard; I have known many situations when such attractions severely damaged and even ended the marriages of people I knew. In our culture, we do not look favorably on unfaithfulness to the marriage covenant. For reasons grounded in Scripture, we in the West have, since time immemorial, taken seriously and literally the words of Moses and Yeshua (Jesus) that a man must leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife as one flesh. Even King Henry VIII of England could not get around those words. When his first wife, Catherine of Aragon, could not produce a male heir, he annulled the marriage and took Anne Boleyn. When she produced no male heir, he found a reason to have her executed (one can do that if one is a king), and replaced her with Jane Seymour. She became mother to his only son, but died only days later. Henry’s next wife, Anne of Cleves, was so young and innocent that he chose to annul the marriage rather than consummate it. In her place, he married Catherine Howard, a young-but-not-so-innocent woman whose flirtatious behavior eventually cost her her head. That left Catherine Parr, the wife who outlived the old king.

I learned the tale of Henry VIII as a boy, thanks to a classic BBC miniseries about his life. It struck me as odd that Martin Luther himself had stated his preference that the king commit bigamy and marry Anne Boleyn rather than divorce the first Catherine. Henry did not adopt Luther’s prescription as far as I can tell, but chose annulment instead. It helped that Catherine was Spanish and Catholic; in one stroke, he ended a cumbersome political entanglement and its attendant religious fetters. When the Roman Church refused to grant the annulment (perhaps because the reigning pope was at that time a prisoner of Catherine’s nephew, Emperor Charles V), Henry simply declared England separate from Rome and established the Anglican Church.

It is the stuff of soap operas, but it is our history. So also are the tales of the patriarchs and many great men of the Bible. Abraham, Jacob, Elkanah, David, Solomon, and the kings of Judah and Israel seemed to have no trouble taking multiple wives. After all, there is no Scriptural prohibition against polygamy. The closest thing to a prohibition that appears in the Bible is Paul’s advice to Titus and Timothy that congregational elders should have but one wife. I surmise that Paul’s wise counsel came not merely from his extensive knowledge of the Torah and the traditions of the elders, but his experience in guiding the many congregations forming in the Mediterranean world of his day. Perhaps that experience is what motivated him to write what I believe is the best word on this matter:

All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything. (1 Corinthians 6:12 NASB)

Lawful, but not profitable. Is that not the lesson of the Patriarchs? King Henry VIII may have been thinking about the woeful consequences in the households of those men – consequences that included incest, murder, extreme sibling rivalry, jealousy, and all manner of dysfunction. I saw the same phenomenon when I studied the Ottoman Empire. No prince who attained the sultanate was safe as long as his half brothers from his father’s other wives were still alive. King Abdul Aziz of Saudi Arabia understood this quite well, which is why he arranged for his sons from his many wives to rule sequentially so that none of them would be the father of a new dynasty. The last of those sons is on the throne in Riyadh today, sixty-five years after his father’s death.

I do not know much about the wives of these polygamous kings, whether of ancient Israel, Ottoman Turkey, or modern Saudi Arabia. The best commentary I heard came from a Saudi amir whose hospitality I enjoyed in 1990, while I served with the army deployed there to defend his country from Iraqi aggression. Over the course of our conversation, the question of Muslim views on marriage came up. Multiple wives entered into the religious culture of Islam because it was already a cultural institution in Arabia. Muhammad seems to have endeavored to regulate the practice, which is why the custom is to limit a man to four wives. What the life of those wives is like, I do not know, but I have heard some terrible things. What I do know is that this kindly amir who had invited us into his home told us that, for some reason which he confessed he did not understand, his sons wanted to depart from the precedent of his household. They believed, he said, that it would be better to marry only one wife, and that only for love.

This is an interesting perspective when compared with something I heard from an American friend of mine. He lives in close proximity to polygamous families of the Mormon faith. They are nice people, he says, but the practice of polygamy has served only to oppress the women and disrupt the families. Is that a consistent result of multiple wives in one family? Or is it the result of imposing such a model on a culture that is accustomed to one man marrying one woman for life? This I cannot say.

What I can say is that many cultures do have marriage practices that differ from my own. This came to my attention in an unusual way in 2009 upon the election of former president Jacob Zuma of South Africa. Another friend of mine, founder of an influential prayer ministry, sent out a notice asking prayer for Mr. Zuma and his wives (four at the time). She did not issue that notice in a judgmental way, but rather in the same way as she had done when asking prayer for other heads of state. It just so happened that this one was polygamous. It was merely a statement of fact: this particular president of this particular country needed prayer for himself in his new role, and for his family, which happened to include several wives and children by them.

I think my friend did well in asking for such prayer in the usual way. Another friend of mine tells me that we will encounter many followers of Yeshua in Africa and other places who genuinely love God and love their many wives. It is their culture. He, himself, comes from a native culture in America that is matrilineal, and whose marriage norms are different from those of my Scottish, Irish, and English ancestors. I do not understand such a culture, nor do I desire to adopt it, nor is there a need to do so. At the same time, there is no need to impose my culture on his. Such a thing would be unhealthy at best, and genocidal at worst (another sad fact I cannot ignore from our history).

Where, then, does this leave me? It leaves me with the wife of my youth. Charlayne has satisfied me in every way. Why would I seek another to take her place, or to share me with her? It is not my culture. It is not right to her, to our children, and to the many people whom we have enriched through our example as man and wife. Neither is it consistent with the vows we both took to establish our marriage covenant. When I married her, my father said to me, “We McCarns marry for keeps.” Now, over 30 years later, I know the great wisdom of his words.


© Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog, 2018.  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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Israel 2016: Family In Twelve Languages – The Conclusion of the Second B’ney Yosef National Congress

Dorothy and Tommy Wilson teach from the Torah portion Beresheet (In the Beginning), applying insights from the creation of man and woman to the process of restoring the people of Joseph/Ephraim.

Dorothy and Tommy Wilson teach from the Torah portion Beresheet (In the Beginning), applying insights from the creation of man and woman to the process of restoring the people of Joseph/Ephraim.

In some ways the Second B’ney Yosef National Congress was actually the Second First B’ney Yosef National Congress.  This emerging people of the House of Joseph (Yosef) is still a long way from transacting business as one would expect from cohesive people groups such as the Armenians, Kurds, Assyrians, Lakota, Navajo, or Ibo.  We still have much to discover about ourselves and much historical division to overcome before we can speak with a unified voice.  Nevertheless, the seeds have been sown, both in the First Congress and in this Second Congress.  The fruit is not yet ready, but it is becoming recognizable as fruit, and that in itself is a major step forward.

My earlier report on the first half of the Congress (see Picking Up Where We Left Off:  A Report on the Second B’ney Yosef National Congress) covered most of the formal business on the schedule.  When we arrived at Shabbat on the evening of Friday, October 28, we had already heard from visionaries and scholars such as Iris Bouwman, Ron Campbell, and Ephraim Frank.  They focused us on:

  • Our identity as the returning children of Yosef/Ephraim
  • Our hope in restoration by YHVH and reunification with our brethren of Judah
  • Our responsibilities in moving with the Almighty as He directs and empowers this process.  

What happened over the next two days did not bring anything new or different, but instead imparted greater depth to what we had already heard and shared.

The formal meetings on Shabbat did not commence until late in the afternoon.  As with any such gathering, the real business took place not in the formal presentations, but in the quiet conversations among two or three huddled in the common room, or sitting at table for a meal.  It seemed that these informal meetings took on a heightened importance during and after Shabbat.  After breakfast, many delegates gathered to read the Torah portion Beresheet (In the Beginning), another simple activity which enhanced the bonding already taking place among these diverse Ephraimites from so many different places and cultures.  Others who did not participate in the Torah reading continued in quiet relationship-building conversation, or in private prayer and Bible study.  All partook of considerable rest during the day, the feature of Shabbat which has become precious to us all.

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Israel 2016: Picking Up Where We Left Off – A Report on the Second B’ney Yosef National Congress

A remarkable thing happened seventeen months ago, when the First B’ney Yosef National Congress convened in Ariel, Israel.  At that time a people who had not existed as a people for over 2,700 years came back from the ash heap of history.  The people of the House of Joseph (Yosef) – Ephraim, those “Lost Tribes” of Israel’s northern kingdom – assembled in Samaria, the territory of their ancient ancestors, and acknowledged their belief in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to accomplish His Word to bring their people back as a nation and join them with the Jewish part of Israel (the House of Judah) in fulfillment of His covenant.

Delegates gather at the Second B'ney Yosef National Congress, October 26, 2016.

Delegates gather at the Second B’ney Yosef National Congress, October 26, 2016.

It was a modest beginning; only a little over 130 people attended, representing 12 countries.  We made no bold declarations, but humbly whispered to one another and to the world that we were ready to answer the Father’s call and walk out the return of the Prodigal.  Humble indeed, but astounding nevertheless.  Certainly no less astounding than the reestablishment of the State of Israel in 1948 after 1,900 years of dissolution.

The momentum of that First Congress has carried into the Second B’ney Yosef Congress, which is now in its third day.  The Congress convened on the evening of October 26, 2016, and will continue until Monday, October 31.  The venue once again is the Eshel Hashomron Hotel in Ariel.  The numbers of delegates are about the same, but this time there are some significant differences. 

For one thing, the number of nations has grown to 15.  Not surprisingly, the United States has the largest number of delegates, comprising about half of the total.  What is surprising is that the second largest contingent is from one of the world’s smallest countries:  the Netherlands.  Over 20 Dutch Ephraimites are here, imparting a beautiful Dutch accent to all the proceedings.  Also represented are Australia, Belgium, Canada, England, Fiji, Germany, Indonesia, Israel, Jordan, Peru, South Africa, Sweden, and Switzerland.  A central feature of the Congress has been reports from each of these countries, as well as video and proxy reports from Finland, Pakistan, Uganda, and India. 

These reports build a mosaic of the Hebrew Awakening happening across the globe.  In Pakistan, for example, Pastor Qaiser Ilyas shared by video his work in building Hebrew language and Torah teaching programs in Urdu for children and adults.  Valerie Bulkunu, representing the Aboriginal people of Australia, shared the revival that is beginning among the youth of her people, and the awakening among Aboriginals to their Hebrew roots and Israelite identity.  A similar phenomenon is happening among the Mizo people of northeast India, as Margot Crossing related in her report about the descendants of exiled Israelites who migrated across the Silk Road into South Asia.  These developments are happening simultaneously with the better-known Torah awakenings in Europe and North America, and in time will have an even more significant impact as tens of millions of Ephraimites come into the understanding of their covenant identity.

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Israel 2016: Days of Transition

imageComing to Jerusalem at the invitation of the Almighty for one of His feasts means stepping into a bubble of time and space.  It is holy and joyous, but like all good things is must end at some point.  My friend Pete has written about the last day of the Feast of Tabernacles our families shared in the moshav (village) of Gi’vat Ye’arim.  I cannot improve on what he shared in his post called Embraced!  (To read it, please go here:  https://natsab.com/2016/10/24/embraced/)

Our farewell to Gi’vat Ye’arim arrived on October 25.  We travelled from there in three cars to Ariel, site of the Second B’ney Yosef National Congress.  The plan as to take the highway to the coast and drive up Route 2 along the Mediterranean, then stop at Mount Carmel where Elijah defeated the prophets of Ba’al (I Kings 18), and from there go to Ariel.  We did not count on Tel Aviv traffic!  Before long we became separated, leaving my wife, Charlayne, our daughter Katie, Pete’s son Jeremiah, and myself to make our own way.

It turned out to be a very pleasant journey.  We did dip our feet in the sea at Caesarea, where the old Roman aqueduct still stands.  The calm blue of the water captured our admiration, but could not keep me from remembering that the ships of at least five navies were playing games of cat-and-mouse not that far away in the deadly dance over Syria.  Such thoughts are never far away when one is in Israel.  And yet they did not diminish our enjoyment of Caesarea that day.

As we resumed the journey, we drove to and through the Mount Carmel National Park.  The views are splendid, the roads wind up and down the hills, and sometimes large trucks slow the journey.  Driving through the Druze town on the slopes of the Carmel Range was a cultural experience – made more interesting by a wrong turn down a side street.  (Hint:  never, ever, ever do that in the Middle East!)

Eventually we arrived at the Carmelite monastery which is the traditional site of Elijah’s victory.  There we were reunited with our friends, thanks to the timely arrival of several tour busses why I blocked their cars in the parking lot for an hour!  We had time to take in the stunning views of the Jezreel Valley and of the imposing statue of Elijah on its tall pedestal before continuing on to our final destination:  the Eshel Hashomron Hotel in Ariel.

Since arriving here we have enjoyed continuous fellowship with old and new friends from 15 countries and six continents.  The Congress convened last night, October 26, with a review of the First Congress by Ephraim and Rimona Frank, and reports from delegates of the participating countries.  Mike Clayton provided a short exhortation from Scripture which set the tone for these five days.  He pointed out that Judah’s returning exiles in the days of Nehemiah celebrated Sukkot (Tabernacles) after building Jerusalem’s wall, and then assembled on the 24th day of the seventh month to fast, pray, read the Torah, and declare their repentance and allegiance to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and to His covenant (see Nehemiah 8 and 9).  As Mike pointed out, we returning Ephraimites just happen to have assemble on the 24th day of the seventh Hebrew month to convene our Congress for the same purpose.  As in all things of YHVH, that is not a coincidence.

The evening ended with a time of worship and dance, featuring a powerful dance presentation by the Dutch group Mahanaim (Two Camps).  They depicted two brides – Judah in white and Ephraim in red – who separated, fought with one another, and in the end were reunited by the same Bridegroom they both love.  Their performance established a worshipful tone which introduced Andrew Hodkinson of South Africa to lead us all in song and dance.  Those of us who joined the dance circle had come from Holland, England, Fiji, Australia, Sweden, South Africa, the USA.  Together we danced as one people, brought near by the Messiah we adore to the brother we have longed to embrace here in this land of Israel.  At the of the evening, Ed Boring of the USA led us all in singing Hatikvah – Israel’s national anthem.  It could not have been a better ending to these days of transition.

The Roman accused the at Caesarea.

The Roman aqueduct at Caesarea.

image

On the beach at Caesarea.

On the beach at Caesarea.

Statue of Elijah's Victory over the prophets of Ba'al at Mount Carmel.

Statue of Elijah’s Victory over the prophets of Ba’al at Mount Carmel.

Enjoying the view at Mount Carmel.

Enjoying the view at Mount Carmel.

The Jezreel Valley as seen from Mount Carmel.

The Jezreel Valley as seen from Mount Carmel.

Delegates from 15 countries assemble for the Second B'ney Yosef National Congress at the Eshel Hashomron Hotel in Ariel.

Delegates from 15 countries assemble for the Second B’ney Yosef National Congress at the Eshel Hashomron Hotel in Ariel.


© Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog, 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.

Israel 2016: Breakfast with King Saul

 

Sunrise at Gi'vat Ye'arim

Sunrise at Gi’vat Ye’arim

And Saul also went home to Gibeah; and valiant men went with him, whose hearts God had touched.  (I Samuel  10:26 NKJV)

Is there a better way to wake up that with a beautiful sunrise?  It was a surprise to find such a view of the hills to the west of Jerusalem from the house we are staying, but a welcome surprise after a very long day of travel. 

We are staying in Gi’vat Ye’arim, a town in the hills west of Jerusalem.  In ancient times this was Gibeah, the home town of King Saul and a city with an interesting (and not that pleasant) history (see Judges 19-21).  We are sharing the house here with very good friends, and today will set out on our first full day of seeing the Land.  Our travel yesterday from North Carolina through Germany to Israel was relatively uneventful, although I would recommend patience in dealing with Israeli rental car agencies!  Our friends the Rambos and Wilsons travelled separately, coming through Toronto to Tel Aviv, but we all arrived at about the same time and are now sharing this beautiful house for the next week.  (You can see Pete’s account of their travels on his blog, natsab.com).

View of the hills west of Jerusalem from Gi'vat Ye'arim

View of the hills west of Jerusalem from Gi’vat Ye’arim

We are in Israel for two momentous occasions:  the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot), and the Second B’ney Yosef National Congress.  Expectations and excitement this year as the prophetic developments on many fronts indicate the world has entered a very special year on YHVH’s timeline.  That is why all of us who have blogs, radio programs, video channels, and other outlets will do our best to share our experiences as they occur.  We do not know exactly what will happen, but we expect to have a number of divine encounters that as our God continues the work of bringing His people together for His Kingdom purposes.

Regarding bringing His people together, there is already an exciting development to report on the Second Congress.  With nearly 150 people registered from 14 different countries, this Congress is already bigger and more diverse than the First Congress.  New countries represented include Australia, Belgium, Indonesia, New Zealand, Peru, and South Africa.  There are also several Indigenous Peoples from some of these countries who will be contributing of their special gifts and callings to this process of Israel’s restoration.

There is an opportunity for those who are not going to the Congress to take part in a meaningful way.  As always, prayer is essential – for unity among the brethren, for safety in travel, for clarity in hearing the Holy Spirit communicate the Father’s intent, and for wisdom in making the right decisions. 

There is also a way to contribute directly to help restore the Native voices to the House of Israel through the B’ney Yosef Indigenous Peoples Scholarship Fund.  Contributions to the fund initially will be applied to the costs of Indigenous representatives to the Second B’ney Yosef National Congress in Israel, October 26-31, 2016, and for related purposes as the people of the House of Yosef come together across the globe.  If you are interested in making a contribution, please click on this link:

B’ney Yosef Indigenous Peoples Scholarship Fund

This is a very exciting time to be alive!  Whether you are able to come to Israel or celebrate the Feast at home, expect this year to be unlike any other!

bfb161014-givat-yearim-morning-03

 


© Albert J. McCarn and The Barking Fox Blog, 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.

The Global Hebrew Roots Phenomenon

FlagsJust how big is this Messianic/Hebrew Roots movement?  It is hard to say, but it is most definitely not an American phenomenon.  As with so many things, much of the public expression of this movement generates from the United States due to the wealth, power, and cultural impact this nation has had on the entire world for the last hundred years.  However, this move of God in reestablishing His nation of Israel and reconnecting Christians and others to their Hebrew roots is something that spans the entire planet.  Here are a few examples:

  • During the Shabbat services at El Shaddai Ministries in Bonney Lake, Washington, USA, Pastor Mark Biltz routinely welcomes visitors who have tuned in to the livestream web broadcast from Australia, South Korea, and other nations, and often welcomes visitors from Canada, Israel, and elsewhere who are there in person.
  • BFB150325 Pentecost to the Ends of the EarthThe thriving Hebrew Roots community of Australia will be hosting a conference at Shavuot (Pentecost), May 22-24, 2015, near Sydney called “Pentecost to the Ends of the Earth”. The theme of the conference, “Finding the Lost Sheep of the House of Israel at the ends of the earth”, reflects the purpose of the First Ephraimite/Northern Israel National Congress in Israel, which is occurring at about the same time.  For more information on the Australian conference please click on the links below:

AUS – Pentecost to the ends of the earth Brochure New

AUS – Pentecost to the ends of the earth POSTER 1

  • Etz Bney YosefThe First Ephraimite/Northern Israel National Congress in on track to convene May 25-27, 2015 in Samaria with over 100 people planning to attend from 12 nations: Canada, Finland, France, Germany, India, Israel, Jordan, Netherlands, Sri Lanka, Sweden, United Kingdom, and United States.
  • Recently Pete Rambo, my friend and author of the Hebrew Roots blog natsab, connected with readers of his blog from Canada and South Africa, receiving very encouraging responses in an effort to open a dialogue and ensure they have a voice in the Ephraimite Congress. Pete has also publicized an opportunity to assist Baraka International Ministries, a Messianic teaching ministry based in Meaford, Ontario, Canada, in providing materials for a pastors’ conference in Uganda in April.  At this conference, nearly 100 pastors from Uganda and Kenya will meet to learn more about Torah and Messiah Yeshua’s central place in it.
  • After 15 months of publication, The Barking Fox has acquired an international readership as well. The greatest number of visits by far is from the United States, but it is exciting to see regular visitors from South Africa, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Israel, South Korea, New Zealand, the Philippines, and Brazil, and many other countries and territories (130 to date).
  • Recently I have connected with the Facebook group Messianische Gemeinschaft Deutschland und Welt (Messianic Community in Germany and the World), a group based in Germany and including nearly 1,000 members from many nations.
  • One of the largest Messianic congregations in the world is in Kiev, Ukraine. The Kiev Jewish Messianic Congregation (KJMC), founded in 1994, is a very active and effective congregation with a membership of over 1,600 (as of 2013).
  • Beit Yaaqov 01Another vibrant Hebrew Roots ministry is Beit Yaaqov (House of Jacob) of Hyderabad, India. Beit Yaaqov has the mission of raising awareness of Torah and Israelite identity among the peoples of India who have long cultural traditions indicating their descent from the Lost Tribes of Northern Israel.

Clearly the Torah Awakening expressed in the Messianic/Hebrew Roots Movement is a global phenomenon, although it is difficult to say how big.  Perhaps that is a good thing; YHVH has always preferred that His people look at Him alone, not at numbers, wealth, resources, or other traditional measures of strength and effectiveness.  Nevertheless, we can take much encouragement from the fact that this global movement is growing, and with it an awareness of our identity as Israelites and of the imminent fulfillment of our King’s promises to restore His Kingdom.

With this understanding in mind, consider the blog post reproduced below from Tegenhetlich:  Terug naar de Oude paden. (“Against the Light:  Back to the Old Paths”).  Hadassah Dee, author of this Dutch Hebrew Roots blog, is a frequent contributor to the United2Restore Facebook community.  In this post, “Match:  Romans 11:25/Genesis 48:19/Melo hagoyim”, she investigates the reason behind Paul’s reference to the “fullness of the gentiles”, or “fullness of the nations” in Romans 11:25, drawing a connection with the prophecy made by Jacob over his grandson Ephraim in Genesis 48:19.  This is something The Barking Fox has addressed before (see “Fox Byte 5775 #12:  VaYechi (And He Lived)”), but Hadassah presents the teaching much better in English than I could ever do in Dutch!

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When Empires Die: Thoughts on the Centennial of World War I

When Empires Die was originally published June 28-July 28, 2014, as a six-part series.  The original six part format is accessible here.

I.  THE ROAD TO SARAJEVO

Archduke Franz Ferdinand and Duchess Sophie with their three children in 1910

Archduke Franz Ferdinand and Duchess Sophie with their three children in 1910

The world took a giant step toward death on June 28, 1914.  On that day a young atheist shot and killed a prominent Catholic and his wife in an obscure Southeast European city.  Within five years, four world empires were dismembered and two new ones arose in their place.  Within 40 years, three more global empires breathed their last as the new world system spawned in 1914 grew to maturity.  Today, one hundred years later, that world system wheezes with its own death rattle, soon to expire in the process of giving birth to yet another global system which may be the last – and worst – of its kind.

As a historian, a political scientist, a soldier, and an intelligence professional, I cannot let the centennial of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand’s assassination pass without pausing to remember what his life and death meant to the world.  The circumstances that brought the Archduke and his wife, the Duchess Sophie, to Sarajevo, Bosnia, are not difficult to explain, but to understand the significance of their deaths, both in their day and in ours, requires a detailed explanation.  If that explanation seems too focused on Europe, the simple reason is that Europe in 1914 ruled the entire world.  No nation outside Europe – neither ancient India, nor populous China, nor even the rising powers of America and Japan – was immune to events that shook the state system of the Continent.  If we are to know why the world went to war in 1914, we must look at the major players of that state system.  Only then can we begin to discern what happened to the world in the summer of 1914, and what is happening to the world now in the summer of 2014.

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When Empires Die: Thoughts on the Centennial of World War I, Part VI

TO SURVIVE THE COMING NIGHT

"Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse" Viktor M. Vasnetsov

Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse
Viktor M. Vasnetsov

Is the Apocalypse Nigh?

If this truly is the beginning of the end of this age, then we should expect wars and rumors of war to increase until the entire globe is consumed, just as it was in the Great War of 1914-1918, and again in the Second World War of 1939-1945.  Depending on one’s perspective, the Tribulation either begins with or is immediately preceded by this period of escalating war.  This is the time of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the rider of a White Horse going out to conquer, the rider on the Red Horse who takes peace from the earth, the rider on the Black Horse bringing famine, and the Pale Horse bearing Death and Hades.  In short order these Horsemen bring an end to the lives of one fourth of the population of the planet.  The Horsemen are followed by the revelation of multitudes of martyrs slain for their adherence to the Word of God who ask how long before the Lord will judge the world and avenge their blood.  They are told to wait until the number of martyrs yet to die is complete.  Then comes a great earthquake and many signs in the heavens, followed by the selection of the special servants of God (12,000 from each tribe of Israel, 144,000 total) and the deliverance of multitudes from the Great Tribulation.  After that comes silence in heaven for a short time, and then the judgment of God begins in earnest.

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When Empires Die: Thoughts on the Centennial of World War I, Part V

THE LAST SUMMER OF THE WORLD

"Interview Between Jesus and Nicodemus" James Tissot Brooklyn Museum

Interview Between Jesus and Nicodemus
James Tissot
Brooklyn Museum

A Matter of Life and Death

In truth God has placed the choice of life or death in front of every person from the beginning of time.  Consider what He said to our ancestors.  In the Garden of Eden there was the stark choice between the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, which brought death (Genesis 2:8-16).  When the Lord spoke through Moses to explain His standards of righteousness to our fathers and mothers on the edge of the Promised Land, He said,

I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live; that you may love the Lord your God, that you may obey His voice, and that you may cling to Him, for He is your life and the length of your days; and that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.  (Deuteronomy 30:19-20 NKJV, emphasis added)

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When Empires Die: Thoughts on the Centennial of World War I, Part IV

BABYLON AT THE ABYSS

The reverse of the Great Seal of the United States of America proclaims the "New Order of the Ages" approved by Providence.

The reverse of the Great Seal of the United States of America proclaims the “New Order of the Ages” approved by Providence.

The Not-So-New World Order

What are we to make of the upheaval happening around us in this centennial summer since World War I began?  There are only a few possibilities.  Either it is a restructuring of the current world order to some new equilibrium, or it is the destruction of the current world order and the establishment of something new, or it is the end of the world as we know it.  If asked which of these is correct, my answer is, “Yes”.

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