Friday, December 25, 2015

My People (Ami)

Shalom Fellow Israelite,

As we know from the first chapter of Hosea, YHVH told Northern Israel that they would become for a time “not My people”, but that at the same time they would also increase in numbers and become nations.  It is there that YHVH does not only call them “My people”, He also adds an additional qualification to their identity: “sons of Elohim” (Hosea 1:10).  But what about the writings of the New Covenant? Do they attest to these ‘Old Testament’ prophecies? Did the apostles, for example, know who the faith people from the nations were?  Did they view them as being the same “My people” who have been destined by the Word to become the “sons of Elohim”?  Is YHVH actually bearing witness to His own words and words and faithfulness to keep covenant?


For millennia YHVH hid the faith people in the nations, blinding them to their true Israelite identity while, as pointed out above, multiplying them.   But now, in our day, He is connecting the dots of His truth and is raising a witness based on the words of the Tanach, which is also confirmed by the Brit Chadasha, so that the world might know that He is still the Elohim of Israel and that the Spirit-led believers from the nations are those same “My people” who are called “sons of the living Elohim”. “And because you are sons, Elohim has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, ‘Abba, Father!’  Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of Elohim through Messiah“ (Galatians 4:6-7).  


If, as many believe, we are in the “last days” then we should take note that it is these days that YHVH is referring to, when He says that He will turn the hearts of the children of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob back to the knowledge of their ancestral heritage (see Malachi 4:5-6), and therefore to their identity.  According to Jewish understanding, only the true Messiah can bring the lost (“My People”) back to their Elohim and to the covenants and restore them to the land of promise.  Are there today those who are having this experience of knowing their true identity, and at the same time are holding to the witness as to who their Messiah is?  Yes, every day out of the Christian world there are those who are discovering their “Hebrew” roots and are claiming to be “His People”.  But this is only the beginning.


“My people”, or “My people Israel”, is repeated over 240 times in Scripture, as YHVH is very emphatic about identifying those who belong to Him.  But as such, how are we to conduct ourselves and express this identity? According to Elohim’s instructions we are to have an intimate knowledge of Him, walking out His ways and commands, believing what is true about His faithfulness and righteousness.  First and foremost we are to have “yir’aht YHVH” (fear of YHVH), reverence, respect and yes, even fear (as this word can also mean “terror”).  “Yir’aht YHVH”, as expressed in Proverbs 9:10 is "…the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One will bring understanding”.  How much of this fear, wisdom, knowledge and understanding of the Holy One do we have in our lives?  We must keep in mind at all times that we are His people and the sheep of His pasture and that we do not belong to ourselves, and take stock of how well do we know this One whom we call our Elohim, or even our Father.  Isaiah 26:3’s message tells us that “perfect peace have those whose eyes are on YHVH”.  It appears that the most important knowledge that we are to seek and obtain is the knowledge of the Almighty, Creator, Shephard and Father of us all, and our kinsman redeemer Yeshua. Even though knowledge of the creation, the world, and of the human condition increases, it seems that just the opposite is taking place among some of “My people” (as was pointed out last week).  If we lack the wisdom, knowledge and understanding of Who He is, and why He calls us “My people”, we may have to face severe consequences.   We can take our lesson from our forefathers: “Now all these things happened to them [My People] as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come” (1 Corinthians 10:11).


Often when Bible teachers seek to emphasize the importance of their teachings, two scriptures are brought up.  I would like to combine these two into one message, as I believe these verses are referring to the descendants of the same “My people” today. This, therefore, is my combined rendition of Isaiah 5:13-14 and Hosea 4:6: “My people have gone into captivity and are destroyed because they have rejected knowledge of Elohim and have forgotten the instructions of their Elohim’s Torah.  Thus YHVH has rejected them as His priests, as well as forgetting their children.   Their honorable men are famished and multitudes of His people are dried up from thirst.  Therefore Sheol has enlarged itself and opened its mouth beyond measure.   Their magnificence [glory] and multitude in jubilant pomp and ceremonies shall descend into it” (Isaiah 5:13-14; Hosea 4:6).  


The above-quoted pronouncement against His people is not a diminishing word, but one that stands before all of us in every generation of those who claim to be identified as “His people”.   We cannot always rely on His great mercies to carry us along while we rebel against His instructions in the Tanach and in the New Covenant writings.  Some of “My people” are still sitting in Babylonian institutions with shepherds who are leading them up their own mountains in an effort to keep them well fleeced.  But when “My people” (regardless of where they are ‘siting’) realize that they are parched from thirst, even though their knowledge has increased, they must ask:  what kind of knowledge (nourishment) are we being served? 


Our ancestors were called Hebrews by the other nations, but YHVH only recognized them as “My people” and the Children of Israel – B’ney Yisrael.  “Thus says YHVH, ‘Israel is My son, My firstborn.  So I say to you, let My son go that he may serve Me’” (Exodus 4:22-23).  Notice that those words were referring to over a million Hebrews whom YHVH was recognizing as His “son” (not sons) - one son, one firstborn, one nation, one people.   They were one nation in the womb of Rebekah, and they are still one nation today, even though temporarily divided into two and scattered throughout the world.   Nonetheless, the Father through the Spirit of Yeshua (see Galatians 4:6), is working in a faithful remnant to reconstitute and restore the stick/goy of Yosef.  But it takes the renewing of the mind to accomplish this task, because in our host nations we have been totally enculturated and have taken on national identities that are not ours. Let us pick up the challenge that was put forth by Paul when he addressed the non-Jewish Ephesians, saying to them: “formally you were of the nations…“ If that also applies to us, then what, or who are we now?

Shabbat Shalom,


Ephraim

Friday, December 18, 2015

Drunk on Knowledge

Subsequent to last Friday’s letter a few more thoughts came to me.  You will probably remember the Isaiah 29 scripture that we looked at last week:Pause and wonder! Blind yourselves and be blind! They are drunk, but not with wine; they stagger, not with intoxicating drink.  For YHVH has poured out on you the spirit of deep sleep, and has closed your eyes… “ (v. 9). As I was pondering what it is that is putting people in this condition today, I realized that it is an over-dose of knowledge. Not that knowledge is bad in itself, but it is the usage or misusage of “knowledge” which may be deceiving people. While thinking that being well-informed is keeping them alert and in the “know”, the very opposite may be the case.   

Daniel’s prophecy, concerning the end of days, where it says that many will run to and fro and knowledge will increase (Daniel 12:4) should make it clear to us that this increase of knowledge is not necessarily the knowledge of the Creator, Yeshua the Messiah, the Gospel of the kingdom, or the Word of YHVH. If it were, it would humble a person very quickly.  But knowledge that stems from the Tree of Knowledge will, as Paul wrote to the believers in Corinth, have a very negative effect:  “Now concerning things offered to idols: We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies.  And if anyone thinks that he knows anything, he knows nothing yet as he ought to know” (1 Corinthians 8:1-2).  The ‘food’ or ‘fruit’ from this kind of knowledge can produce pride and self-righteousness, morphing into idols in our hearts (see Ezekiel 14 )

With the advent of the computer and cyber possibilities, we can now store knowledge and in an instant it can be at our finger tips.   In some ways the enticement for this knowledge can mesmerize a person to the point of “drunkenness” and addiction, leading ultimately, as one community leader observed, to emptiness.  What’s more, it can also turn into a source of entertainment.  But enjoyable as it might be, it has no lasting benefit and causes one to seek/surf for more.  None of the knowledge from the Tree of Knowledge edifies. On the contrary, it will do what it did in the Garden of Eden, “when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate” (Genesis 3:6 emphases added), and ultimately fell victim to the inevitable separation from the Creator.  Again Scripture warns about the idol of knowledge that can corrupt the mind:  But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Messiah” (2 Corinthians 11:3). 

We have to acknowledge that our minds have been corrupted by this world’s knowledge, largely without us even knowing or being aware of it, and thus as YHVH’s people we have to be cautious and keep our minds in check.  “If then you were raised with Messiah, seek those things which are above, where Messiah is, sitting at the right hand of Elohim. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Colossians 3:1-2).  Notice it does not say “of the earth”, but “on the earth”, which Paul then elaborates on, in a following verse: “fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5). And there is more that can be added from Romans 1:29-31, and Galatians 5:19-21.  Thus exhorting us to not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of Elohim” (Romans 12:2).  

Paul, in his letter to the Thessalonians, makes a strong indication of what the will of Elohim is for those who are in the Messiah and have His Spirit: For this is the will of Elohim your sanctification that… each of you should know [have the knowledge and understanding] of how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor… For Elohim did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-4a, 7). Therefore, in this way “our hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attain to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of Elohim, both of the Father and of Messiah, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:2-3).  Thus, it is in the fruit of Tree of Life i.e. the Word of YHVH (the Scriptures) that the nourishing knowledge of Elohim and Messiah Yeshua is to be found.

Last week we took note of the label that YHVH had given to Israel, calling them an “undesirable [or undesired] nation” (Hab. 2:1). Interestingly, the same word for “desired” (“nichsaf”) is used in the two main Hebrew translations of the New Covenant, in Luke 22:15, where during the seder meal, prior to His execution, Yeshua said to the disciples: “With desire I have desired [nichsof nichsafti] to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; for I say to you, I will no longer eat of it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of Elohim." Notice the duplication of the verb for the purpose of accentuating the point. Isaiah 62 addresses Zion’s vindication and acceptance with glorious descriptions and adjectives. Among them is “heftzi-ba” – my desire is in her”. Although not identical with “nichsaf”, it conveys the same idea.

And so, what is to transpire on the road from being “an undesired nation” to becoming “my desire is in her”? One main station on our journey was when we partook of Yeshua at Passover, in accordance with His great desire to “eat with us”. But where to from there? As we saw above, knowledge and the incessant pursuit thereof may not only intoxicate us and set us off course, but it can also have the effect of puffing up, while the command “to be gathered” and “to gather” goes unheeded. (Zephaniah 2:1-3). As voiced by Zephaniah (again from last week), to be gathered together can only take place when the gathering, of the low-laying branches and twigs, occurs while in a stooped posture of lowliness, humbleness, and the knowledge of the Truth. 

Friday, December 11, 2015

In Face of the Odds


The other day I had to go and buy myself a new study bible, as the old one was falling apart.   Upon arriving home and opening it, I started reading a text that caught my eye.  At first I didn’t know where this excerpt was from but the following is what captured my thoughts:  Pause and wonder! Blind yourselves and be blind! They are drunk, but not with wine; they stagger, but not with intoxicating drink.  For YHVH has poured out on you the spirit of deep sleep, and has closed your eyes, namely, the prophets; And He has covered your heads, namely, the seers.  The whole vision has become to you like the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one who is literate, saying, ‘Read this, please.’ And he says, ‘I cannot, for it is sealed.’  Then the book is delivered to one who is illiterate, saying, ‘Read this, please.’ And he says, ‘I am not literate.’ Therefore YHVH said: ‘Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men. Therefore, behold, I will again do a marvelous work among this people, a marvelous work and a wonder; For the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the understanding of their prudent men shall be hidden’" (Isaiah 29:9-14).

Where are the true prophets today?  Where are the seers?  YHVH is fulfilling His word even in the midst of this world’s chaos.  But because YHVH is looking at the heart and not at external behavior, we cannot fool Him into thinking that all the loud or even contemplative forms of worship are pleasing to Him.  In Ezekiel 14 the prophet warns of the idols that Israel has set up in their hearts and then come before Him to worship Him.  This is why in many Shabbat or Sunday gatherings you will hear very little prophecy read from the Tanach, and if it is read many will not understand because it is sealed.  Preachers want to call people to repentance and revival etc. Yet many are not just sleeping, but are “drunk”, and when in that state it is almost impossible to shake them out of their stupor. 

With such a grim picture before us, the question may arise in our hearts and minds: Is YHVH really in the process of waking up and raising a nation that’s been lost, scattered, in oblivion as to its identity, and what’s more, according to the promise, is supposed to be not only great in numbers but also in its spiritual stature and become YHVH’s kingdom nation here on earth? What’s more, how ‘on earth’ is the gathered and identified part of the family (namely Judah), who is in oblivion as to its brother’s existence, going to become one with the former? Common sense would say, “Totally impossible”; “highly unlikely”; mere “pipe dream”.  Those “settled complacently on their dregs say in their hearts, ‘YHVH will not do good or evil’”. Further they murmur:   “It is useless to serve YHVH; what profit is it that we have kept His ordinance, and that we have walked as mourners before YHVH of hosts?”; "Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation” (Zephaniah 1:12; Malachi 3:14; 2 Peter 3:4).

Zephaniah goes on to say that these skeptics will be visited by YHVH and they will be held accountable (the verb being “pakod”) for these statements of unbelief, and continues with a description of the Day of YHVH being “a day of wrath, a day of trouble and distress, a day of devastation and desolation, a day of darkness and gloominess, a day of clouds and thick darkness” (1:15), being only a partial list.

What a dilemma? How are we to respond to these words, while at the same time we are also facing the world’s fast deteriorating conditions? If we go back to Zephaniah, in chapter 2, verse 1 Elohim is addressing an “undesired nation”, telling them to… yes…. “be gathered together”, using a double verb (hitkoshashu vekoshu) which means that He is driving a hard and emphatic message, as we can see from the warning that follows:   “Before the decree is issued,  or the day passes like chaff, before YHVH's fierce anger comes upon you, before the day of YHVH’s anger comes upon you!” (verse 2).  But there are more instructions, with hope imbedded, which follow: Seek YHVH, all you meek of the earth, who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek humility. It may be that you will be hidden in the day of YHVH's anger” (verse 3)

The humility mentioned above is right in line with the verb for being gathered (k.sh.sh). This is the only instance where this verb is used for gathering people. Normally it refers to gathering sticks and twigs lying low on the ground. It was used to describe our ancestors’ stooped position (and condition) when they gathered straw (which is, not coincidentally,”kash”) in Egypt, just before their deliverance. It was used in 1Kings 17:12 regarding the widow from Zarephath who in her destitute “gathered” two sticks in order to prepare the last meal for herself and her son, just before Elijah came in and saved the day.

Shortly before deliverance from dire straits in Egypt and a rescue in Zarephath (which means “smelting”, “refining”, “purifying”) by Elijah, we find the protagonists “stooping in humility”, and if this is not clear enough, we go back to the direct address in Zephaniah 2:3, that we looked at above. Let’s read it again:  “Seek YHVH, all you meek of the earth, who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek humility. It may be that you will be hidden in the day of YHVH’s anger.” Be encouraged, as the long account of the impending judgment segues into:  “In that day you shall not be shamed for any of your deeds in which you transgress against Me; For then I will take away from your midst those who rejoice in your pride, and you shall no longer be haughty in My holy mountain.  I will leave in your midst a meek and humble people, and they shall trust in the name of YHVH. The remnant of Israel shall do no unrighteousness and speak no lies, nor shall a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth; for they shall feed their flocks and lie down, and no one shall make them afraid" (3:11-13).  The rest of this chapter, all the way to the end of Zephaniah, crescendos into a joyful portrayal of the days to come.                                                                 

Shabbat Shalom,


Ephraim and Rimona

Friday, November 27, 2015

The Lady of Kingdoms

After the Paris terrorist attacks, President Obama announced that this war is being waged against "universal values".  I think his choice of words could not have been more appropriate in describing, in particular, the city of Paris.  For decades France’s capital has been the bastion of the modern world’s decadence, where the lust of the eyes, lust of the flesh, and the pride of life excelled above many other cities.  She rightly could have earned the title of the “virgin daughter of Babylon” and be called “the Lady of Kingdoms” (see Isaiah 47:1, 5).  Certainly the reaction of the western world, along with that of the United Nations, to her wound is still vibrating through their council chambers.
  
The four major kingdoms mentioned in Daniel 7:3-7, are all represented in the metropolis that is nicknamed the City of Lights (perhaps “glitter” would have been more appropriate). In Paris is also found the bedrock of modern democracy, and thus in 1886 the People of France gifted the United States with the Statue of Liberty built by the Eiffel Tower engineer.  This liberty, governmentally proclaimed, typically tends toward “doing what is right in your own eyes”, but herein lays the deception.  

The eyes of Man’s heart have been darkened by Sin and the nature of Satan’s kingdom.  The powers and the laws of sin and death are actually ruling not only Paris, but the rest of the world.  The values that Obama is speaking about are none other than Satan’s dictates to his slaves.  How can such a kingdom stand when YHVH has set in motion laws which govern “Sin”?  

No matter how ‘good’ sin tries to appear, through its religious and justice systems, the result, according to law, is death; there is no life in any of its good works.  Nowhere in the entire bible will you read about being blessed by sin, law is law.  Just a side note: we can never understand grace without law.  YHVH does not even have to bring judgment - it is a natural consequence of His law.  A very simple equation is, sin = death.  I might add, even for believers.

The western world’s civilization and culture have been labeled “Judeo-Christian”.  But in all fairness, European Christianity took on much of the Greco-Roman culture, in all of its aspects, and looked up to it to the point of even allowing it to influence Biblical interpretation. Both Judaism and Christianity by the mere definition of “religion” produced, at best, the “good fruit” which grows from the branch of religion, on the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Had Western Christianity’s values been sound and eternal, it would have produced a civilization of righteousness and justice (yet history has judged Europe for countless evils committed against the rest of humanity). Thus, instead, both Christianity and even Judaism, which is not untainted either, have actually left a legacy of moral bankruptcy. YHVH said that if His people go astray, and certainly many of the shepherds have led them that way, He would send the hunters (Jeremiah 16:16).  Thus it was only a few short decades ago that Paris was one of the greatest of all prizes given to Hitler by his mighty men, almost in a form of reenactment of Titus marching into Rome after destroying Jerusalem.   Now Islam’s jihadist hunters are descending on Paris and on the rest of Europe, US, Canada, Australia etc.  With the permission of the Almighty One of Israel they will establish sharia law, some of which Mohamed actually stole from the Hebrew bible.  

Will Judah and Ephraim now again experience what the Egyptians, Assyrians, the Babylonians, and the Romans committed against their ancestors?  Or will we repent as a nation and turn from our iniquity and sin? The only ones given the mandate to destroy the works of darkness is a united Israel and Judah.  But as long as jealousy, envy, strife and contention (and a lot more) continue to divide the two-house nation the hunters will continue to advance their YHVH-given mandate.   

The jihadists are knocking on the doors of many nations.  These are not “terrorists”, as the news media would like you to believe.  They are the hunters that carry out the curse promised by YHVH in (Malachi 4:5-6). They have a mission and commission from the Almighty Elohim.  Unless we see Who is actually behind them and the reason why they are in our midst, we will continue to rely on our own strength in order to try and defeat them.  Our warfare is not against flesh and blood.  But we do have to leave and flee from the kingdoms of this world (read Isaiah chapters 47 and 48), but live and be in Yeshua’s Kingdom here on earth (Colossians 1:13). 


Ephraim

Friday, November 6, 2015

Sarah Lives

Shalom Fellow Israelite,

This week’s Parasha title, Cha’yey Sarah (“Sarah’s Life”), has a greater significance than what may meet the eye.  You have heard the saying “Am Israel Chai” - “the people of Israel live”.   In recent years a new sound has been resounding – “Yosef Chai” - “Yosef is alive”.  Both Israel and Yosef’s lives are a declaration that “Sarah lives” as well.   A momentous scripture that always stands out when discussing the identity of the ‘seed’ of Abraham is found in Isaiah:  "Listen to Me, you who follow after righteousness, You who seek YHVH: Look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the hole of the pit from which you were dug.  Look to Abraham your father, and to Sarah who bore you; for I called him “one” [echad], and blessed him and increased him" (Isaiah 51:1-2).  Notice that even though YHVH multiplies him, he still is “one”. Often the “oneness” suggested here is overlooked as a point of identity in this generation, as do the traits of ‘following after righteousness’ and ‘seeking YHVH’ which characterize the ‘chip off the old rock’ (Abraham and Sarah’s).  
  
Around 20 years ago or so, a man from India literally chanced by our house and told us that he had a school in his native land, where they taught the “Gospel from Abraham”.  We could hardly believe our ears!  It was a joy to encounter someone who understood the connection between Romans eleven’s “fullness of the nations” to the “fullness of nations” in Genesis 48:19.  But the identity message in Romans does not start there.  It actually begins in Romans 4 with Abraham, who was declared righteous because he believed that YHVH would bring forth life from a dead womb and that this life would be multiplied exceedingly. But the nation and the multitude of nations, which would be the staggering outcome of the promise, would still have but ‘one life’ - echad.  More specifically the life of the son, who was promised to Abraham through Sarah’s non-fertile womb – Isaac (see Romans 9: 6-9) - is mostly still hidden in the field of this world’s humanity. 

Why was YHVH so interested in a dead womb that could not produce an unfertilized egg/seed?  What did YHVH mean when He declared to Abraham, “I will return and Sarah will have a son” (Genesis 18:14; Romans 9:9).  Did He miraculously create an egg in the womb of Sarah?  Did He “give life to the dead and call those things which do not exist as though they did” (ref. Romans 4:17)?  Was Sarah a surrogate mother (i.e. ‘Sarah’s gate’, meaning her womb)? Is this why Elohim calls Israel His firstborn?  “Thus says YHVH: ‘Israel is My son, My firstborn’” (Exodus 4:22).   

YHVH promised Abraham in a covenant, a one sided agreement I might add, that He would watch over this life and sow it, as a seed, in the earth.  In the eyes of YHVH this “life” had great significance, so much so that He compared it to a special treasure:  "For you are a holy people to YHVH your Elohim; YHVH your Elohim has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth” (Deuteronomy 7:6 emphasis added).   YHVH’s hidden treasure is the “one” pearl of great price that Yeshua spoke about in his parable (see Math 13:46).  The writer of Revelation 21:21 confirms to whom Yeshua was referring, when he identified the twelve pearly gates of the city as the twelve tribes of Israel.  But in order to get His treasure, YHVH had to purchase the whole field, i.e. all humanity.   

“Doubtless You are our Father, though Abraham did not know us, and Israel does not recognize us. You, O YHVH, are our Father; our Redeemer from everlasting is Your name” (Isaiah 63:16).  YHVH has made a new covenant with His firstborn nation through which He will adopt them into son-ship by the working of His Spirit in the inner man.  The apostle, quoting from the prophets of old, repeated YHVH’s words:  "And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them, 'You are not My people,' There they shall be called ‘sons of the living Elohim’. Isaiah also cries out concerning Israel: ‘Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, the remnant will be saved’. For He will finish the work and cut it short in righteousness, because YHVH will make a short work upon the earth" (Romans 9:26-28; Hosea 1:9-10; Isaiah 10:22).

In looking into scriptures this week, while writing this article, I made an amazing discovery in the epistle of Yaacov (James):  “For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer (a maker, producer, author, doer, performer, one who obeys or fulfills the Torah) he is like a man observing his natural (genesis in Greek) face in a mirror;  for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind/type of man he was” (James 1:23-24).   The word that is translated “natural” is “genesis” in Greek, meaning origin, birth, and is used as birth, genealogy, or life.  When we look into the mirror of the Word of Elohim, do we see the origin of our birth/life?  Or do we walk away and forget who we are and the purpose, calling, and destiny that YHVH has ordained via covenant with our ancestor? As it is written, "But My covenant I will establish with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you at this set time next year… Is anything too hard for YHVH? At the appointed time I will return to you, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son" (Genesis 17:21; 18:14).

Ephraim

Friday, October 30, 2015

Raised to be an Army

In one of the most frequently used end-time scriptures (Ezekiel 37), an entire nation is described being raised from graves of nonexistence and transformed into a mighty army. For what purpose has this army been resurrected? Who does this army consist of?  What kind of war is it to be fighting?  Is it standing on its feet today, being clothed again with its own identity as the prophet foretold?  “So I prophesied as he commanded me, and the breath came into them [the dry bones of the whole house of Israel], and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army (Ezekiel 37:10).

There is a phenomenon happening in the earth today, the lost tribes of Israel known by their generic name of Ephraim, are reappearing out of every nation, tribe and people group in the earth.  This is just a very small remnant of the multitudes that are still waiting in the wings, or should I say still under YHVH’s prophetic wing.  As far as I know, at this point in time they are all coming out of some kind of Christian background although according to the prophets they are hidden in every nation.  They are carrying birthmarks of the faith of their father Abraham, their Messiah is Yeshua/Jesus and the anointing (breath) of the Spirit of Holiness is upon them.  But why “an army”?  Who have these ones been sent to fight?  Paul the Apostle gives some clear instructions to this army, when he tells them that: “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through Elohim to the pulling down of strong holds; casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of Elohim, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Messiah” (2 Cor 10:3-5). And,  “For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places”  (Eph 6:12).

This Army is to be suited with armor, a sword and shield: “Therefore take up the whole armor of Elohim, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts [thoughts] of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of Elohim” (Eph 6:13-17).  This army’s Captain, Leader and King has come to destroy the works of the Devil and all his hosts: “For this purpose the Son of Elohim was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8), and now He is preparing this army to accomplish this mission.  Each soldier must respond by likewise preparing himself for the battle for dominion in the heavenlies. 

Satan knows YHVH’s kingdom order in the family of Adam and Noah, as it has already been laid out in the first book of the Tanach (Old Testament).  This Israelite army from the House of Judah and from the House of Israel/Ephraim, will be his main target, as the enemy knows that if they come together as one nation with one King, he will be defeated globally and YHVH’s dominion through this one nation will be over all of humanity. 

The Ephraimites are the priesthood of the Melchizedec army and their sanctification unto holiness is essential.  This is the first step into a corporate responsibility to rule in the heavenly places in and through our Messiah Yeshua. Here is what Yeshua says to the seven congregations:

"And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations -- 'He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter's vessels' -- as I also have received from My Father; and I will give him the morning star” (Rev 2:26-28).

 "To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne” (Rev. 3:21).

 These scriptures were written to the congregations living outside the Land, but the qualifying mark is "He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the all seven congregations" (Rev. 3:21-22).

We need an ear to hear like never before. “Hear oh Israel” is not just for the Jews, but also for all Israel, especially for the Redeemed Ephraimites.  We are given a window of time to consecrate ourselves as His priests, cleansing ourselves from all filthiness of flesh and spirit.Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of Elohim” (2 Cor 7:1).  Who are we waiting for in order to accomplish this sanctification?  Peter says that YHVH has already given to us everything for life and godliness: “As His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2Pet. 1:3-4).

Perfecting holiness is not some abstract and distant scriptural concept.  He is already in us, as His life is our life. The Spirit of the Holy One is just waiting for us to defeat our enemy by repenting from cooperating with it, and resisting it by believing and obeying the Truth.

We are not in basic training - we are in “on the job training” as Yeshua’s soldiers. Our weapons are not carnal, but we need to learn to use them. Ignorance is no excuse as - we have His military manual.  This warfare does not have to be sought for; it will come to you and is right in our own backyard where lust and various other thoughts gather to play.  As we head into this Shabbat remember “Let [us] the set apart ones, be joyful in glory; let them [us] sing aloud on their [our] beds [a resting place].  Let the high praises of Elohim be in their [our] mouth, and a two-edged sword in their [our] hand…” (Ps. 149:5-6).


Ephraim

Friday, October 23, 2015

In My Opinion

Shalom Fellow Israelite,

I’m sure most of you have been keeping up with the news from Israel and the ongoing terrorist attacks occurring on a daily basis.  Some are calling this a ‘third intifada’.  But whether it is or not, it is much different than the previous ones.  There are a number of factors that are present today that did not exist just a few years ago.  Even though the overall objectives of Islam toward Israel and the western world have not changed, what has are conditions and world situation - dramatically so.  If you have not seen the DVD “Farewell Israel”, then I would highly recommend getting a copy.  One cannot even begin to understand what is going on without studying the history of Islam and its world view. 

Even though Israel has a powerful army, it has lost its just cause in the war waged in the diplomatic arena, and has been defeated by the “Islamic Justice".  The successful strategy of convincing the world that Israel doesn’t deserve to exist is backed up chiefly by a spirit of accusation.  The leaders of the Palestinians are calling this barrage of violence, the “settlers’ Intifada”. They would have the non-informed and na├»ve believe that they mean the Israeli residents of the settlements in Judea and Samaria (whose presence they say is obviously the ‘root of all evil’), but in reality that is not the case at all – by ‘settlements’ they mean the entire area of Israel, as was so clearly declared a few days ago by Arab students of Tel Aviv University.

 The situation in Syria with Russia and its allies, among whom are Cuba, Iran, and Hezbollah, coming in to help Assad has given the Palestinians new hope in their fight against Israel.  Russia is no longer troubled by the United States’ presence, as the U.S. have backed out of their support for Israel.  Sometime ago Obama announced that he ‘would do something about Israel’ before he leaves office.  And since Israel did not go along with the timetable that he set up for the formation of a Palestinian State, nor did Israel support the agreement that Kerry negotiated with Iran (to put it mildly), the payback has been the withdrawal of American support. 

Thus the momentum and tactics have changed to the point that there will be no one to support or stand by Israel.  How was this made possible? Simply by psychological warfare.  The focus has shifted from the number of deaths or wounded incurred by Israelis due to Palestinian terror, to how Israel is dealing with an individual Palestinian child, woman, or youth who was ‘shot dead’ for ‘allegedly’ carrying a knife, by an Israeli civilian, police, or soldier.   The international news media is almost in a frenzy to see an end to the ‘occupation’. They will therefore show endearing photos of a 13 year old Palestinian boy or girl, or any other young person’s face who was ‘shot dead’, thereby mindlessly demonizing Israel.  Three international TV news stations, for example, posted pictures of these youths with subtitles of “shot dead by Israel”.  This was followed by a repost about 120 who were killed in Nigeria by a bomb planted by jihadists. What do you think would have a greater impact on the viewers?  While among the victims there could have been 50 children, 50 mothers and many elderly, the impression left in most people’s minds is that of the innocent child, gunned down or shot dead by a Jew or an Israeli.  The imprint of a suicide bomber is nothing compared to a “child shot dead” or, as some put it, “executed”.  Isis’ decapitations of hundreds of men, women and children, Muslim and Christian, does not stimulate the passing of resolutions at the United Nations, and only very faint outcries, especially so in the Muslim world.  The big demonstration are always against Israel.   


The United Nations is poised to vote for a Palestinian State, the only thing holding it back is the political situation in the United States.  Canada just went down and now we wait to see what will happen in America.  If it looks like the right-center wing of the Republican Party will be able to pull off a victory over Obama and his successor, Obama will pull all the strings necessary in the United Nations to declare Gaza, Judea and Samaria an official state and give Israel an ultimatum to withdraw within a certain date.  This will be backed up by the present coalition in Syria.   We have to remember that even as far back as 1967 and 1973, the main interest that the United States had in helping Israel was their arms’ race against Russia (then Soviet Union) over strongholds in the Middle East.  That is no longer the case.   (Ezekiel 36)

Friday, September 18, 2015

Blood

Shalom Fellow Israelite,

The shofar and the trumpets have sounded and now we are on our way to Yom HaKippurim.  When we think of “Kippur” we mostly think about afflicting our souls with fasting, prayer, or reading scriptures all day.  Most do not like or tend to think about sacrifices and blood. But this is what the atonement is really all about - “blood”!   We don’t have a Temple and a Levitical Priesthood to give us a graphic example of what would have taken place on that day, being the only day in which the High Priest was allowed to enter the Holy Holies and be before the Presence of YHVH, but not without blood.  It is the atoning blood that appeased the Creator, propitiating and thus allowing a human being into His presence.  But why blood?  Leviticus 17:14 points out: "For it is the life of all flesh. Its blood sustains its life. Therefore I said to the children of Israel, 'You shall not eat the blood of any flesh, for the life of all flesh is its blood’”. 
  
Why does Elohim need to be propitiated?  He is Spirit, sovereign, all -knowing, all-powerful and has created everything.  Why would He need to be appeased?  Or is there something else being placated?  Perhaps it can be found in Paul’s words when he uses the term “justified” or “vindicated”.  Both words point directly to “Law”.  Sin is a violation of Divine Law, thus it is actually Elohim’s Law that has to be satisfied, as we see over and over in both the Tabernacle and the Temple - the true usage of a sacrifice and the need for the blood to be placed before YHVH.  When He saw the blood, He forgave the guilty party and in the case of Israel, the entire nation. 

At Mount Sinai, at the “giving of the Law”, the nation stood before the awesome presence and saw and heard the words.  They agreed with those words and so intoned: “we will hear and do”.  From then on they were bound to the blessings and the curses, and became aware of the “laws of sin and death” and “guilt and shame”. 
  
How was it possible to live with a conscience that condemned us every time we violated one single aspect of the “thou shalts” or “thou shalt nots”?   We, as a nation, now became totally depended on the mercy of the Law Giver. But how did we experience this Law Giver at Sinai?  It was with fire, loud sounds, mountain quaking, lighting flashing, along with knees buckling under us from fear.   We could not even touch the Mountain, let alone the awesome Presence.
     
The Bible is one book that is full of YHVH’s interventions in the life of humanity and the creation.  Every day Man has face to face encounters with a living Elohim, but due to his blindness (actually not blindness, just looking in the dark), he is ignorant of YHVH’s presence and reality.  Job understood the darkness, and also the Psalmist when he wrote:     “If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there…  Indeed, the darkness shall not hide from You, but the night shines as the day; the darkness and the light are both alike to You” (Psalm 139:8; 12).

Our spiritual enemy knows just how important blood is for the atonement of humanity.  And so he took it upon himself to make blood detestable, and irrelevant to redemption, using throughout history a variety of philosophical techniques and graphic images of blood, for example, war, violence and terror, in order to instill fear.  The consequence of that being that the shedding of blood solely means death not life.  Modern religions have tried to move as far away from anything that smacks of blood, especially tagging as outdated, immoral and inhuman blood sacrifices, pointing especially at the “Old Testament” covenants and Feast Days, all of which required blood sacrifices.  Modern man being still steeped in his own pride and self-righteousness, reels at the thought of God requiring a human sacrifice and blood.  He wants to appease God by some kind of good works that will remove the guilt of violating Elohim’s great Commandments and Laws, and also Elohim’s very words in regards to how He views “blood”.   There would be no “New Covenant” (or Renewed Covenant) without the “Torah of Moses” pointing out the requirement of blood for its implementation, nor would we have knowledge of “Sin” and its consequences. We would have no understanding of how YHVH sees “Sin” and what is required when His Laws are violated, and why blood is necessary for Him to grant forgiveness that leads to reconciliation and life.

Perhaps all the “blood moons” that we have been witnessing during the Feast Days are to remind us of “blood”, and the importance it has in the economy of the Almighty Creator of this world, and in our relationship to Him.  As “Hebrew Roots” believers, perhaps Yom Kippur makes for an opportune time to reading about and considering the “blood”, with special emphasis on Hebrews Chapters 9 and 10. 

I pray that we will be given more revelation-understanding about the blood that is required on the 10th day of the 7th month, called Yom HaKippurim.   

In His Unmerited Mercy and Love,  

Ephraim

Friday, September 11, 2015

Standing Before Entering

Shalom Fellow Israelite,

In this week’s Torah reading of NITZAVIM (Deut. 29:10 – 30:20) we find the chosen people “standing” before YHVH.  They have just received a reminder of the covenant and the awesome commands which enumerated the consequences of obedience and disobedience (the blessings and the curses).  But were they ready for the final commitment, which would catapult them into something so fearful, yet so promising as this covenant with the Elohim of their fathers?  The conditions were clear, and so was their inherent weakness (which would actually make meeting the requirements almost impossible).

How could YHVH subject these second generation wilderness men, women and children to such laws, when He already knew that they were born of the “sin nature”, and would obviously miss the mark of Torah and suffer the consequences, just like their parents?  Moses said to them:  “Yet to this day YHVH has not given you a heart to know, nor eyes to see, nor ears to hear” (Deut. 29:4). How unfair it all seemed, or was YHVH concealing His plan in the darkness of the “mystery of iniquity” (2nd Thes.2:7, also Eph.2:1-2)? 

“YHVH has not yet given you...” In this short phrase we see that YHVH holds Himself responsible for the future success, or failure, of His plan.  Even after the flood YHVH declared that, “man’s heart is evil from his youth” (Gen. 8:21).  Because of this inherent condition, Moses, under the anointing of the Holy One, begins to prophesy the destiny of the Hebrew people:  “And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon you, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations, where YHVH your Elohim has driven you…” (Deut. 30:1). Before the Children of Israel had a chance to prove themselves or even make any kind of free will choice, YHVH already knew what would happen to them, because of the condition of their heart.

The covenant He made with the Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, obligated YHVH to be accountable to His promises of blessings of land, and the fruitfulness that would multiply and spread to all nations through their seed. This “seed”, the people of Israel, were now in a position to be the recipients of the promises to their forefathers. But before entering the land YHVH is stating the conditions for the promises’ fulfillment.  Standing before YHVH, the Israelites were looking toward the land that they were about to enter, the land of milk and honey that was promised to their forefathers.  The said conditions for remaining in the land were now going to hang over their heads like a seething prophetic refining pot. "But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them, I announce to you today that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go in and possess” (Deut. 30:17-18).  YHVH was using these conditions as a tool to fulfill the original promises to the Patriarchs, and preparing the way for an even greater promise.

History reveals that YHVH was true to His word, even though the potential consequences of the covenant may be interpreted as negative and even disastrous (abounding in curses and not blessings).  Some may even venture to condemn the generations of our forefathers for failing to live up to the righteousness of the Torah.  YHVH, aware of these weaknesses, built into His covenant the sacrificial system for atonement and forgiveness of sin to be in effect year after year throughout the cycles of the feasts, in order to enable Him to fulfill the original covenant with the Patriarchs.  But did this present form of the (expanded) covenant take care of the condition of the heart?  Obviously we would have to answer: “no, it did not”. In fact, it did the very opposite, revealing the corruptness of the heart.  Yeshua pointed out this condition, as recorded in the Gospel of Mark: “For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness; all these evil things come from within, and defile the man” (7:21-23).  This is why Yeshua describes the religious man as a white washed tomb: Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which indeed appear beautiful outwardly, but inside are full of dead men's bones and all uncleanness.  Even so you also outwardly appear righteous to men, but inside you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Mat. 23:27-28).

How then was YHVH going to have a people that would become a holy nation (Ex. 19:6), and be His witness (Isa. 43:10,12), and for that matter, how were the promises to the fathers going to be fulfilled? As Moses continues to prophesy we are given one of the first glimpses into the mystery of the will of YHVH (ref. Eph. 1:9-10), and into a covenant that would once and for all deal with the condition of the heart:  “YHVH your Elohim will circumcise your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, so that you may love Him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live” (Deut. 30:6).  A door of hope was left open; the destiny of the people was sealed by the prophetic word. The irrevocable calling upon them as YHVH’s people could not fail.  YHVH said: “I WILL”, thus leaving no doubt that it was not going to be by the will of man, nor by might, nor by power but by the Spirit of the infallible Word/Torah of YHVH.

YHVH’s feast of Yom Teruah is ‘standing’ before us, ‘trumpeting’ the coming days of repentance.  However, without the laws given at Sinai we would not know what we are to be repenting of.  Paul writes in Romans: “Do we then make void the Law through faith? Certainly not! On the contrary, we establish the Law” (Romans 3:31).  How does a New Covenant believer establish (validate) the Law given at Sinai? The Greek word for establish (histemi) means: to make to stand, to stand. Thus not only were the people “standing”, “nitzavim”, but the Torah also was ‘standing’, right alongside them.  They could not enter the land promised without the Torah of Moses. So too, a New Covenant believer cannot fully enter into its promises without the Torah written on their hearts.

Without understanding the reason for YHVH giving us laws we will not know how we are to establish them.  Paul continues in Romans 3, explaining: “…for by the Law is the knowledge of sin” (v. 3b).  This sets the stage for true repentance.  Here is the example the apostle uses:  “What shall we say then? Is the law sin? Certainly not! On the contrary, I would not have known sin except through the law. For I would not have known covetousness unless the law had said, ‘You shall not covet’" (Romans 7:7).  This absolute and invariable reality (as we noted above) makes us desperate for YHVH’s goodness that leads to repentance (see Romans 2:4) and the need for the ultimate atonement which was wrought through Messiah Yeshua, Who made it possible for the Torah to be etched into hearts of flesh.

Hag Same’ach and Shabbat Shalom,
Ephraim


Sunday, September 6, 2015

Positive Harbingers

Shalom Fellow Israelite,
On 12th of May 1948 a decision on the name of the newly formed State of Israel had to be voted on by ten council members. The choices were Yehuda, Tsyion, Tsabar, and Erets Yisrael.  Most assumed that it would be Yehuda, but a divine harbinger manifested in a last minute suggestion by David Ben Gurion, and that was the name “Yisrael”. Seven of the council members voted for that name, which was a prophetic sign of the future return of all the tribes of Israel.  The order of the restoration and return in Ezekiel 37 places Yehuda/Israel first, and thusly Yehuda’s dry stick became at that time a nation once again. 


Perhaps you are not aware that also in 1948 a contest was held by the temporary government for a national emblem.  One hundred and sixty four individuals submitted
450 ideas. The one chosen, which the State of Israel adopted, on February 10th 1949, was designed by two brothers, Gabriel and Maxim Shamir. Their suggestion included the seven candle branch Menorah. The final draft, however, did not totally resemble the brothers’ original design, as the committee decided to incorporate a few other features into it and changed the shape of the Menorah to the one depicted in the Arch of Titus (in Rome).  The two olive branches which flank the Menorah, were meant as peace symbols, and only later were associated with Zechariah 4:11. I believe that this design was another harbinger of the restoration of the two sticks of Ezekiel 37:16.                                     


                            
In his book The Harbinger, Jonathan Cahn makes mention of the significance of trees in the Bible.  He specifically notes the two cited in Isaiah 9:10 - the sycamore and the cedar, both in relationship to the 9/11 terror attack in New York, as being symbolic of judgments upon the United States.  In an interview about his latest book, The Mystery of the Shemitah Unlocked, he noted how Shemitah years are associated with judgments and changes, both positive and negative.  The rise and fall of nations in connection to Shemitah is one example he brings up in this book.  Hence, if the USA is indeed spiraling down, and if that began in a Shemitah year (2001), what about the rise of the nation of Yehuda in 1917 (another Shemitah), or the reconstitution of the second stick/nation of Yosef/Ephraim in the current Shemitah?   Is the latter also a harbinger of this eventuality, with the first Yehuda-Yosef “United 2 Restore” group marching in the Jerusalem Succot parade last year and then with the convening of the first B’ney Yosef National Congress on Shavuot?   Is this the Shemitah year in which the second stick/nation of Joseph/Ephraim is beginning to bud?  By the same token, should many of the harbingers of judgment be also interpreted positively, in that YHVH is going to bring back and restore the whole House of Israel?  The branch of Yehuda in the national emblem is fully leafed, but what about the second branch in that national emblem, what should it look like at this time?  Here is my rendition:



Shabbat Shalom,

Ephraim

Saturday, August 15, 2015

The Cost of a Vision

Shalom Fellow Israelite,

We all know that Yeshua came as a kinsman redeemer to restore the house of Jacob and set up the everlasting kingdom in that house (Luke 1:31-33).  In order to do that he has to bring back the “lost tribes of Israel”, known prophetically as the “stick of Joseph in the hand of Ephraim” (ref. Ezekiel 37:16).  Thus if we are to be his disciples, we must hold to this vision and then to be about His business.

 “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not sit down first and count the cost, whether he has enough to finish it --   lest, after he has laid the foundation, and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him,  saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.' Or what king, going to make war against another king, does not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand?  Or else, while the other is still a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks conditions of peace.  So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all that he has cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:28-33).

These words of Yeshua state very clearly that the price for following Him is inestimable; it may cost anyone of us our life, and He certainly requires, in the very “least”, the “self-life”, that is that one’s faculties would be at His disposal and for His use. Thus, it is no small matter stepping into His Kingdom purposes. In order to follow the beckoning of this vision one has to count the cost.

But what about the converse? What if one ignores the kingdom vision, and thus, by default, makes a decision not to follow it? Or worse yet, what if one decides consciously and willingly to lay aside and reject what he or she had known as a “vision” at some point? Proverbs 29:18 reads: “Where there is no vision, the people cast off restraint”. The word for “people” in this verse is “am”, that is a unit of people, a nation. This (NKJ) translation happens to be accurate regarding the verb “casting off restraint” – which is “yi’pa’ra” – root pey, resh, ayin. In most other instances this root is used in a similar fashion, that is, “unruly”, “disheveled”, “loosen”, in other words “lawlessness” (see, for example, Exodus 32:25).

Thus, as much as it costs to follow the vision, the opposite (i.e. forsaking it) does not promise a release, or relief; quite the opposite – there may be an even higher price to pay, which is confirmed by the meaning of this verb in Modern Hebrew: “payment of debt” or “getting even”. Thus, when a vision goes unheeded the demand for “payment” will be there, at a great cost and at a great price.

To cite one example - YHVH sent prophets and visionaries to the Jews in the 1800’s, declaring a message of restoration and return to Zion and the land.  At the time the affluent Jewish communities in Germany and other western European countries (and the U.S) were building beautiful synagogues.  Many despised the poor persecuted Jews of the East (Eastern Europe).  Even though there were warnings of “Jew hatred” in publications and newspaper articles (and news of vicious Anti-Semitic incidents and pogroms in various places) the majority of Jews felt that there was no need to pay attention to the Jewish Zionist zealots.  Likewise, most in the Christian world were blind to the literal fulfillment of prophecies that pertained to the Jews returning to the land, which was viewed at most as a silly idea, for the church had replaced them as God’s people.

There were, however, Christian visionaries and prophets who foresaw the (need for the) return of the Jews to the Promised Land, but their voices also went unheeded.  What was the price the Jews and the Christians paid for ignoring the vision of YHVH’s literal fulfillment of His promises to His natural family?  Very few interpret history in light of the sovereignty of the Almighty.  Where there is no vision the people are casting off restraint, which may even border on anarchy.  Nevertheless, as we saw, the debt that the vision demands from its opponents may be incremental.  The events that took place in the course of the 50 years prior to YHVH establishing a nation for the Jewish people, saw millions of Jews and Christians exterminated, suffering loss and displacement, and living in fear for their lives.

During that same time period, however, a remnant of Jews did return and YHVH gave them their land, fulfilling the first part of the famous Ezekiel 37:16 scripture. Shortly after 1967, the year when the nation of Judah took back Jerusalem, the words of the prophets began to rise again, declaring YHVH’s intention to restore the second stick of Joseph/Ephraim. A spiritual anointing, similar to the one that was on Elijah, began to turn the hearts of the sons back to their forefathers - Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  There was even a song that that came forth, which became very popular: “These are the days of Elijah”. The non-Jews who were awakening to their roots began to identify themselves as “Ephraim” or “sons of Joseph”, with others labeling them “two house believers”.
However, the majority of Christians and the Messianic Jewish leadership openly opposed this “VISION” of the return of the “lost tribes of Israel”, and have not changed their minds thus far.  What will be the consequence of denying, rejecting, and casting aside this present move of YHVH’s Spirit to turn the hearts of the sons of Joseph back to the heart of their forefathers?  According to Malachi, YHVH will lay a curse, or a hunters’ net (see Malachi 4:5-6).  We are already seeing the hunters doing what they are called by the Almighty to do (ref. Habakkuk chapter 1)    What more will happen in the future if the people do not have, or worse, ignore YHVH’s vision of present truth? Will there be a debt to pay when the Almighty, for His part, chooses to loosen and no longer restrain the evil forces?
The second part of our scripture in Proverbs 29:18 says the following: “But happy is he who keeps the Torah”.  Apparently following the vision is construed as “keeping the Torah”. The vision is within the Torah’s precincts and gives direction and guidelines to those who are faithful to walk in its Torah pathway, while those who do not are preparing the way, not of YHVH, but of the lawless one (see 2nd Thessalonians 2:7-12).    

Shabbat Shalom,

Ephraim and Rimona

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Passover and Nationhood

Letter 221 (Passover and Nationhood)                                                             02/04/04

It was over 3,800 years ago when the God of Jacob sent His family down into Egypt to make them into a single nation.  Speaking to His servant Jacob, He said: “I am YHVH, the Elohim of your father; do not fear to go down to Egypt, for I will make of you a great nation [goy] there’” (Genesis 46:3). One of the Hebrew words for “nation” is “goy”.  It is first used in the Tanach in the Covenant that YHVH made with our forefather Abraham, “I will make you a great nation [goy]; I will bless you, and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing” (Genesis 12:2).   One man, one God, one Covenant, one national identity; this was at the heart of YHVH’s plan for the redemption of the creation.  The God of Abraham set apart a man, and swore by His own name that his seed/sperm would become a great and holy (set-apart) nation.

When Jacob and his band of seventy souls arrived in Egypt, he found another family member already down there - Joseph.  As we can see from the story recorded in Genesis, Joseph and his progeny had lost their identity and connection with their family of origin, and thus in a sense were a prophetic type of the second family (the so called Gentiles, the company of nations) of the house of Jacob.  Perhaps this is why Jacob had to adopt Joseph’s sons (ref. Gen 48:5), even though they were of the same bloodline. The adoption was significant for the restoration of the governmental order and unity of the clan. If they were to become a nation, they had to have their own land, and so since Joseph was in a position to do so, he gave them the land of Goshen, where they multiplied profusely. The Creator blessed them with fruitfulness, as they dwelt in one of the most fertile areas of the land of Ham. 

However, eventually Jacob’s family became slaves to their Egyptian overlords. And while in that state, they lost their vision of being a nation, a family and a people with a purpose and a Divine call.  This is portrayed quite vividly in the scene of the two Hebrew slaves who (much like today’s ‘two houses’) were fighting one another much to their own demise. The seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was now characterized by individualism.  This was only natural, since they were living under extreme conditions where self-preservation became their means of survival.  So where was this great nation that was promised to Abraham?  His seed, now turned slaves, were cursing the day they were born on.  They had become nothing more than dead dry bones in the desert sands of Egypt. So helpless were they that they could not even respond to Moses, when he came to them preaching the good news of their deliverance (ref. Exodus 6:9)!

The Passover story is replete with pestilence, famine and one disaster following another.  But when gross darkness covered the land, there was still light in the tents of the Hebrews (ref. Ex.10:23), as the anointing of YHVH’s covenant word (which “is a light”, ref. Ps. 119:105) was still upon them to become a great nation. How was this going to be made possible?  It certainly was not going to happen by the nation’s own strength. This was going to take a miracle, a Divine intervention. YHVH, therefore, dispatched a man with a message:  “Let My people go”.  Moses was faithful to bring that word to the ruler of the slaves, but YHVH hardened the heart of Pharaoh, just to make sure that His people would know that their deliverance was not going to come by the way or the authority of man. Had Pharaoh given his permission, these Hebrews would have been forever indebted to their slave owner. They would have never been free and could never have taken up their divinely ordained position as the head of all the nations. In this manner, they would have been legally bound to Egypt.

YHVH had another plan to restore these slaves to freedom and to their national identity.  He told His servant Moses to have each family take a lamb: "Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying: `On the tenth day of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb, according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household.  And if the household is too small for the lamb, let him and his neighbor next to his house take it according to the number of the persons; according to each man's need you shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats…. Pick out and take lambs for yourselves according to your families, and kill the Passover lamb….then you shall take a bunch of hyssop, dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and strike the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. And none of you shall go out of the door of his house until morning…. Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt ” (Exodus 12:3-5; 21-22; 13). 

The moment the elders applied the blood and struck the lintels and the doorposts of the Hebrews’ homes with it, the latter were all sealed into their deliverance, freedom and destiny, but even beyond that - their individualism had just ceased to exist.  They were now united behind the one sacrifice, totally dependent upon the powerful right arm of the Almighty to bring them out. “Let My people go!” YHVH had already announced to all the rulers of Egypt who these people belonged to. These were a people who did not belong to themselves, they were and still are today  My people, [“ami” -singular] says YHVH”.  But now, through the blood of the lamb they were set apart to enter into the next phase of His plan.  “’And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel" (Exodus 19:6).     

As we, Ephraim and Judah, YHVH’s two families, the two nations, gather together to honor Him during this year’s Passover, let us leave our individualism and lift the cup of unity. Remember that we were all once slaves to sin and death and bound to the principalities and powers of this world’s (kosmos) dominion. It behooves us to, “purge out therefore the old leaven, that we may be a new lump, as you are unleavened. For even Messiah our Passover is sacrificed for us.   Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Cor. 5:7-8).  May we walk together through the Door that is splattered with the blood of the Lamb, out of the houses of our bondage and into the liberty of the new corporate life of  the restored nation of Israel! 

May you all be blessed during this Passover and Feast of Matzot (unleavened bread) with a sense of national unity!  May the eyes of our hearts be opened anew to the fact that we are “My people Israel” in this generation.

Shabbat Shalom and Hag Same’ach
Ephraim and Rimona

 “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!

 It is like the precious oil upon the head, running down on the beard, the beard of Aaron, running down on the edge of his garments. It is like the dew of Hermon, descending upon the mountains of Zion; for there YHVH commanded the blessing--Life forevermore” (Ps. 133).  

Friday, March 20, 2015

The Hunters

Once again this week those whom the world calls terrorists have been at it again.  Last year they only left over 300,000 people dead and far more maimed.  Why?

We all believe that YHVH is sovereign over all the affairs of man, so what is the Almighty saying at this season of the fulfillment of His prophetic timetable?  

We, along with others, have been warning for years that YHVH is raising up the hunters (Jeremiah 16:16).  We have to keep blowing that shofar of warning to His faith people (Israel) as well as those who are “of the Law” (Judah) (see Romans 4:16).  The Words that stand out in the “blowing” are the following:  "Remember the Torah of Moses, My servant, which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.  Behold, I will send you (all Israel) Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of YHVH.  And he will turn the hearts of the fathers/forefathers to the children, and the hearts of the children [of Israel] to their fathers/forefathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse" (Malachi 4:4-6).   As I have pointed out in previous letters the word used here for “curse” is also used in Habakkuk where it is translated as “a hunter’s net”.   Please note the red above: the 3 verses form one unit; the all Israel is connected to the “children” and to the “forefathers” of Israel.  

The re-identification and reconstitution of the whole house of Israel back to becoming a nation again ranks high in the priority list of the Almighty One of Israel.  We know from previous restorations that the enemies (both natural and spiritual) will do everything to oppose this prophetic fact.  Religious spirits of Babylon will be at the forefront along with the Prince of Greece, just as they did in the days of Daniel.  Some have observed that the enemy will be using our past to keep us from moving forward. For this reason and other ones our backs must be protected. The following is a dream that was sent to us by Constance Fischer pertaining to the protection of the rear, but as she states “it is also multi-faceted”.
Shabbat Shalom,
Ephraim
Constance Fischer’s prophetic dream – again, multi-faceted. 
 ‘REAR GUARD’
 He had me in this dream – actively part of the dream. This took place in the desert of the Middle East.  Looked like possibly American and/or Israeli military forces, but definitely also represented His own.  
The look was of American, GI Joe forces with that same camo paint on the humvees, or military vehicles we were in.  There was a small convoy of these vehicles in the desert and they had come to a stop.
 I was in a leadership position but not in front, but adjacent to the small convoy.  It was clearly a picture of ‘coming beside’.
 I was standing outside of my vehicle as it seemed we had stopped for some purpose, not revealed to me in the dream – could have been to get our bearings.
 He had me looking back behind us...  it did not appear like that was something I had particular wisdom to do, but He had drawn me to simply look at the rear.  But He also gave me ‘eyes to see’. Right then He showed me something that caused a literal shudder to run over me when the dream ended...
Suddenly He showed me invisible entities – their big boot prints were the only things making any visible manifestation as they pounded unheard onto the desert floor kicking up dust... There were a number running up behind us – very swiftly with deadly, targeted intent – again, kicking up dust as their boots pounded the ground of the desert as He allowed me to clearly see the imprints and depression of their feet/boots... They were moving very FAST and were quickly and precisely descending upon their prey from the ‘rear’. They were invisible, unseen with the natural eye, with the exception of theirdeep boot prints and the dust they were kicking up.  They were large...

Let me interject here that one facet of this is to not let our past stop our move forward... by the invisible entities of the enemy coming to stop His own.  The enemy wants to ‘kick up the dust’ of the part of us that is but dust.  The hour is late. Selah 
Hos 2:14  “Therefore, see, I am alluring her, and shall lead her into the wilderness, and shall speak to her heart,
Hos 2:15  and give to her vineyards from there, and the Valley of Akor(‘disaster’) as a door of expectation...” 
This points to the sin of Akan (‘trouble’ – how He has spoken to us so often now “Let not your heart be troubled”)... the trouble that comes from trying to hold onto the ‘covering/garment’ of ‘Babylon’... ‘how long will you hop between two opinions?’... He knows... time to ‘come out of her My people’... time to go forward.  
Then before us will be the open door of HATIKVAH... ‘attached to Him in expectation, hope’ of all the good He will do.

Back to the prophetic dream.  Know this is also a clear warning about praying for those in military positions in the Middle East.  We are aware that the enemy is surrounding the position where US Military are currently stationed to train Iraqi troops. The entities attacking were invisible by the natural eye but by His Spirit He showed that they were darkly clad (I think we know what this represents regarding the evil one and those who are killing wantonly in the desert... that blood is crying out to Him) and they were carrying dark weapons – automatic, deadly guns.  (We also know that US military arms and munitions ‘left behind’ have now been confiscated and are being used by these darkly clad ones). They were well trained and again, running swiftly, descending on their prey... targeted and precise.

If not for Him causing me to look back at the rear they would have arrived at their goal unseen and unperceived unless He had given sight.  He must be our REAR GUARD, but that also means praying and allowing Him to show what is coming. Because He had me looking back, behind to the rear, I saw them and then I yelled with a loud voice and in His authority:

‘GET IN THE CAR!’  And I did, with the intent to get out of there!  To keep going!  Most were in the vehicles but the one who He had sent to come beside and was out of the vehicle as ‘watchman’ also needed to move now.  Selah


End of dream – and then full awakening and that shudder and I knew that this was very real