The history of humanity is filled with mothers in all eras and all cultures saying to their children the equivalent of, “I don’t care if you don’t like how that tastes. Eat it; it’s good for you.” In my case, it was broccoli, but I can imagine children around the world sitting glumly in front of their food as their mothers tell them they won’t grow up big and strong unless they finish their borscht, ceviche, pho, or ugali. God created mothers to be right about such things, which is why each generation survives and (depending on the degree to which they listen to Mom) thrives.
This principle works just as well regarding nourishment for the mind, soul, and spirit as for the body. That is why those who persevere in reading and studying even when the subject matter is uncomfortable tend to come out much better in the end – smarter, wiser, more tolerant, and better able to cooperate with others in the interest of a greater good. Rivkah Lambert Adler has provided rich nourishment of this sort in her book, Ten From the Nations: Torah Awakening Among Non-Jews.
The groundbreaking aspect of Ten From the Nations is that Adler is among the first (perhaps the first) Jewish scholars to document the global phenomenon of Christians coming to an appreciation of Torah. She describes the phenomenon this way:
All over the world, current and former Christians are becoming aware of Torah. They are learning about, and implementing, what most of the world thinks of as Jewish practices, including celebrating Shabbat [Sabbath] and the Biblical holidays. They are refraining from eating pork and shellfish. They are studying Torah and seeing the Land of Israel, and especially the return of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel, in a new light. They are building positive relationships with the Jewish people.
What is the most significant indication that the Torah Awakening among Christians is becoming mainstream? How about when the founder and CEO of the world’s largest Christian web site publicly proclaims and acts on his opinion that the Torah (law, teaching, commandments) of God still apply to Christians?
That is the precisely what is happening with Joseph Farah, founder and CEO of WordNetDaily.com, the internet’s largest independent news site. He has even written a book about it called The Restitution of All Things: Israel, Christians, and the End of the Age. Farah’s book will be featured in an upcoming review on The Barking Fox. For now, consider this piece Farah recently wrote about another well-known person with a surprising faith journey.
Exclusive: Joseph Farah identifies key to unraveling the mystery of famed songwriter Joseph Farah Published in WorldNetDaily, July 6, 2017
I was blinded by the devil, Born already ruined, Stone-cold dead as I stepped out of the womb. By His grace I have been touched, By His word I have been healed, By His hand I’ve been delivered, By His spirit I’ve been sealed. I’ve been saved by the blood of the lamb …
— Lyrics to “Saved” by Bob Dylan
It’s amazing to me how Bob Dylan’s faith is still so misunderstood. Thirty-seven years after he wrote and recorded the words above, I still hear people talking about this superstar songwriter’s spiritual beliefs as if there is some ambiguity about them.
Maybe, some suggest, Dylan went through a Christian “phase” in which he wrote and recorded dozens of fiery gospel songs and then moved on to other pursuits.
Yet, only those who have not really followed his career since could possibility come to such a conclusion, because those songs have continued to be part of his performance repertoire for the last four decades, during which he has continued to produce dozens of new songs that leave little doubt about where he stands.
As an admitted Dylan-phile, it had been a source of frustration for me for years that while there are many enigmatic qualities to America’s troubadour, there has been a rock-solid consistency to his publicly expressed view of God and man since 1979 when he released – to the shock of many of his fans – his “Slow Train Coming” album along with one of his biggest hit songs ever, “You Gotta Serve Somebody.”
And it was true, as the author of the new spiritual biography on Dylan shows, before that album. Dylan was searching for truth. Just look at the lyrics of one of my favorite, and shortest, Dylan songs before his “Christian period.” It’s called “Father of Night,” and he recorded it in 1970.
Father of night, Father of day Father, who taketh the darkness away Father, who teacheth the bird to fly Builder of rainbows up in the sky
Father of loneliness and pain Father of love and Father of rain Father of day, Father of night Father of black, Father of white
Father, who build the mountain so high Who shapeth the cloud up in the sky Father of time, Father of dreams Father, who turneth the rivers and streams
Father of grain, Father of wheat Father of cold and Father of heat Father of air and Father of trees Who dwells in our hearts and our memories
Father of minutes, Father of days Father of whom we most solemnly praise
Dylan has written some of the most touching and powerful hymns of the 20th and 21st centuries – and people still don’t understand him.
Here’s the key to unraveling the mystery, in my opinion: Dylan was, is and always will be, a Jew. That’s the way he was born. He was, in the tradition of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, circumcised. He studied Hebrew so he could be bar mitzvahed. And, of course, he never renounced his Jewishness, nor did he need to.
That’s because Jesus was and is the Jewish Messiah. All of Jesus’ original disciples remained, throughout their entire lives, Jews. Some of them, including Simon Peter, were surprised to learn fairly late in their lives that this messianic faith they followed could be shared with non-Jews. All of the early “Christians” were Jews. And they were only “Christians” in the literal sense of that Greek term – which means followers of Messiah.
I have to admit that even I had doubts about Dylan’s spiritual journey back in 1983 when he saw his son, Jesse, bar mitzvahed in Jerusalem. At the time, many speculated that Dylan had “gone back” to Judaism.
It was only years later, as I studied the Jewish roots of my own Christian faith, that I realized this was a perfectly natural and appropriate thing for a messianic Jew to do. No Jew needs to embrace the “Christian” traditions and culture to follow their Messiah. In fact, I’ve come to believe those traditions and that culture can actually be a barrier and stumbling block for non-Jews who seek to follow the Jewish Messiah. They certainly were for me.
While he doesn’t like to give many interviews and he doesn’t seem entirely comfortable speaking publicly, I’m convinced Bob Dylan gets it.
Scott Marshall has done an amazing job comprehensively tracing Dylan’s performances, albums and interviews through the decades and showing there is a consistency in his devotion to God and His Son that cannot be denied. If you’re a Dylan-phile like me, you will find this book hard to put down. You will be surprised at how Dylan was treated by the church. And you will be appalled at the way he was treated by his fans when he embraced Messiah.
Joseph Farah is founder, editor and chief executive officer of WND. He is the author or co-author of 13 books that have sold more than 5 million copies, including his latest, “The Restitution of All Things: Israel, Christians, and the End of the Age.” Before launching WND as the first independent online news outlet in 1997, he served as editor in chief of major market dailies including the legendary Sacramento Union.
Those who have leprosy might as well be dead. Never mind that the disease we call leprosy today may or may not be one of the skin diseases meant by the Hebrew word tzara’at (צָרַעַת). The fact is, whoever had it was cut off from the community:
Now the leper on whom the sore is, his clothes shall be torn and his head bare; and he shall cover his mustache, and cry, “Unclean! Unclean!” He shall be unclean. All the days he has the sore he shall be unclean. He is unclean, and he shall dwell alone; his dwelling shall be outside the camp. (Leviticus 13:45-46 NKJV)
Think about that for a moment. Lepers could not go home. They could not have any kind of normal relationship with their family members, friends, business associates, or anyone else with whom they interacted before the cursed condition fell upon them. It did not matter what station of life the leper occupied; whether peasant or king, the disease cut them off from the life of the nation. Even mighty King Uzziah of Judah learned that. Although he reigned for 52 years in Jerusalem, the leprosy he contracted in the midst of his reign meant that he was king in name only:
King Uzziah was a leper until the day of his death. He dwelt in an isolated house, because he was a leper; for he was cut off from the house of the Lord. Then Jotham his son was over the king’s house, judging the people of the land. (II Chronicles 26:21 NKJV)
How can a person shepherd the people of God when he is cut off from the House of God? Is there any hope for him, or for the people he is anointed to lead?
Yes, there is hope. That is why the Torah portion Metzora (The Leper; Leviticus 14:1-15:33) provides elaborate detail on the procedures for cleansing lepers. Once healed, the priests help them through this process to restore them to their place in society. In a certain sense, this is a resurrection from a type of death, and thus it is a symbol of what Messiah will do.
If most of the events prophesied in the book of Revelation had already taken place, would we live our lives differently? That is the question at the back of the reader’s mind while processing the wealth of data presented by Christine Miller in her book, The Revelation of Jesus Christ Revealed.
Another question one might ask is why the world needs yet another book on prophecy. The answer, like the book, is logical and straightforward: we need an understanding of how the symbols in Revelation correspond to real events and people in the history of the world since the Apostle John wrote Revelation in the year 96 CE. In other words, Miller cuts through the hyper-sensationalized end-of-the-world drama to examine what Revelation really means in a way that readers not only can understand, but can use as a starting point for their own study.
Miller’s premise is that Revelation constitutes the history of the world as it unfolds between the first and second comings of Jesus Christ (Yeshua the Messiah). She bases this premise on the precedent set elsewhere in Scripture, particularly in the book of Daniel, which presents the prophetic history of the world from the end of the Babylonian exile of the Jewish people to the first coming of Messiah. In a lengthy appendix Miller relates the well-known histories of the wars over the Holy Land between the Seleucid (Greco-Syrian) and Ptolemaic (Greco-Egyptian) kingdoms in the centuries following the death of Alexander the Great. Those wars produced the Abomination of Desolation, in which the Seleucid king Antiochus IV desecrated the Temple in Jerusalem and banned the Jews from every aspect of worship of YHVH. As the Jews responded in the War of the Maccabees, YHVH intervened on their behalf to bring the victory memorialized in the festival of Hanukkah. Yet Miller does not stop there; she continues her analysis of Daniel’s prophecies all the way through the ministry of Yeshua and his apostles, making a convincing argument about how they fulfilled the cryptic statement in Daniel 9:27 –
And he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week, and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the offering to cease; and on the wing of abominations shall be one which makes desolate; and even to that full end, which is determined, is poured out on that which makes desolate.
What Miller does with Daniel in an appendix of her book is a microcosm of what she does with Revelation in the body of the work. She begins with this explanation:
The view that all the events of Revelation are future to us is a relatively new view in the history of the church. Traditionally, Revelation was seen as an unfolding prophecy of the things which will take place between the first and second comings of Jesus Christ. This unfolding historical prophecy is in the same manner as Daniel, which set the precedent.
With that introduction, she takes us on a whirlwind tour of two millennia of Roman history.
A motif running through J.R.R. Tolkien’s fiction works is the exile of the Elves from Valinor, the Blessed Realm of the Valar, the gods of Tolkien’s world. Those who read The Lord of the Rings first encounter the exiles as the High Elves who aid Frodo and his companions in their flight from the Shire. Readers who venture into The Silmarillion learn that the High Elves are the Noldor, one of three Elven clans who answered the Valar’s invitation to leave Middle Earth and live in Valinor. The Vanyar and Teleri – the other two clans – remained in Valinor, but the Noldor rebelled against the Valar and returned to Middle Earth to fight against Morgoth, Tolkien’s equivalent of Satan.
The Noldor had justification for their actions. Morgoth had stolen the Silmarils, the matchless jewels fashioned by Fëanor, greatest of the Elven craftsmen, and had killed Finwë, Fëanor’s father and king of the Noldor. Nevertheless, their rebellion under Fëanor’s leadership incurred a sentence of exile and separation from any help the Valar could offer. Over the next several centuries the Noldor and their allies among the Elves and Men of Middle Earth proved unable to defeat Morgoth, and they suffered a long defeat. At the end of their strength, the humbled remnant repented and begged help from the Valar. When help came, Morgoth was defeated and the Valar granted clemency for the Noldor to return to the Blessed Realm, bringing with them the remaining Elves of Middle Earth who had never seen Valinor.
This is the unseen backdrop for the Elves appearing in Tolkien’s later and more popular works. Those who pick up the story with The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings meet wise Elrond, stern yet kindly Thranduil, and gentle Galadriel, but they have no understanding of their history. Galadriel, for example, was Fëanor’s niece, and along with his sons and her brothers led the Noldor in rebellion. Upon passing the test of refusing the Ring of Power when Frodo offers it to her, she proves that she, the only surviving rebel leader, is indeed ready to return home as a humble penitent.
In Galadriel’s story we see the stunning panorama flowing through the body of Tolkien’s works. Yet there is one missing detail: he never tells us what happens when the exiles return. It is a significant omission. We can imagine the scenes of reconciliation as the Noldor made amends with the eternal Valar, but we do not know what happens when they encountered the brethren they had wronged. At the beginning of their flight from Valinor, the Noldor demanded of their kin, the Teleri, use of their ships. The Teleri refused, resulting in a terrible battle known thereafter as the Kinslaying. As Tolkien describes it, “Thus at last the Teleri were overcome, and a great part of their mariners that dwelt in Alqualondë were wickedly slain.” If that were not enough, when they arrived on the shores of Middle Earth, Fëanor gave orders to burn the wondrous Telerian ships, craft of great beauty the like of which could never be made again.
What happens when the prodigal Noldor return home is a tale we do not know. We hope they are reconciled with their brethren, but achieving reconciliation requires conscious effort to overcome the debt of blood between them. Until that debt is paid or forgiven, the bliss of the Blessed Realm remains unbearably diminished.
Tolkien’s epic thus becomes a parable for us, the returning exiles of the House of Yosef (Joseph). Like the Noldor, we are guilty not only of rebellion against our God and the king He had anointed, but also of an endless Kinslaying of our brethren of Judah.