Friday, December 30, 2016

Idolatry

In the days of Eli the High Priest and his two sons Hophni and Phinehas, who were officiating in the Mishkan in Shilo, the Philistines were at war with Israel.   Shmu’el who had joined that family as a child, grew up in the proximity of the Mishkan, and when just a lad he heard the voice of YHVH declare the demise of Eli’s family.  Idolatry was running rampant in Israel at that time, including in the priesthood.  As a result YHVH caused the Philistines to make war on Israel. Over time, the Israelites had lost a number of their cities to the enemy.  On this particular occasion, Eli’s sons decided to carry the Ark of the Covenant to the battlefield, as Israel was being defeated by the enemy.  They had in mind that this holy article would bring them ‘good luck’ in the war.  Thus, the Ark itself had become an idol; just another of the gods, or an object that the Israelites were putting their trust in.  Our forefathers seemed to be prone to idol worship, adulterating their relationship with their Spiritual husband, Elohey Israel.
Is it any different today? Do we still serve idols, even as believers in the New Covenant?  Idol worship during those times was external and tangible in nature; objects that could be seen, like the Ashtarot, Baals and the many foreign gods of the nations.  In his letter to Timothy, Paul describes other types of gods that would become prevalent in the latter days: “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come:  For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good,  traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:1-4 emphasis added).  The one most common idol in today’s world is humanism, which is the result of worshiping oneself and exulting in pride and self-righteousness manifested in the works of the flesh. This is illustrated in the book of Daniel by Nebuchadnezzar, who was the representative head of the statue which epitomized humanity and its achievements (ref. Daniel 2:36-38).
But this of course does not apply to us, believers in the Gospel of the kingdom… or does it?  In our day idol worship is seen as a thing of the past, definitely not pertaining to those who worship the God of the bible.  We attend church, synagogue, congregation, or a home fellowship, study the Word and give praise, honor and glory to Whom it is due.  This all seems well and good, but do we still have idols in our lives that we are concealing in our hearts?  To the New Covenant believers it is written:  Therefore put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is [oopsss..] idolatry! (Colossians 3:5 emphasis added).   Have you ever considered that when entertaining the “works of the flesh” (see Galatians 5:19-21) you were actually serving an idol and adulterating your relationship with Yeshua?  In the days of Shmu’el, the enemy was allowed to make war against Israel because of idolatry.  Is it not written: “Now all these things happened to them [Israel] as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come” (1 Corinthians 10:11)? 
We read in the scriptures: “Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves servants to obey, you are that one's servant whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?” (Romans 6:16)  “Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts” (Romans 6:12), which is idolatry Yeshua spoke a truth that not only pertained to Him and the Father, but can also be applied to our relationship to Sin:  "Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him” (John 13:16).  Satan is the prince and power of the air, which is the spirit realm of the kingdom of darkness. Thus Satan, who is the “strong man” of his kingdom, sends his underlings to carry out his will – killing, stealing and destroying. These lesser entities are the ones that tempt us to cooperate with their fallen nature.  If we submit our will to their dominion, we become their servants, and in actuality we are worshiping the one who is greater than they, “Satan”.  Many are led to believe that Satan worship is some grotesque occult practice (which it is), but the evil one also masquerades as an angel of light, and his subtle tactics can fool even the most mature believers.  We need to realize that when we cooperate with the nature of sin, we are actually worshiping Satan and will experience the consequences by being defeated by our spiritual (and natural) enemies, as did Israel of old, unless we repent.  
After the loss of the Ark of the Covenant and the ensuing death of Eli and his sons, YHVH raised up Shmu’el to bring the nation to repentance.  “Then Shmu’el spoke to all the house of Israel, saying, ‘If you return to YHVH with all your hearts, put away the foreign gods and the Ashtarot from among you, and prepare your hearts for YHVH, and serve Him only; He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines’" (1 Samuel 7:3 emphasis added).  The Spirit of YHVH warns us throughout the Word that, if we entertain idols we will not inherit the Kingdom of Elohim (see Galatians 5:21; 1 Corinthians 6:9).  We cannot serve two masters.  When Yeshua was casting out demons, He was accused by the religious leaders for invoking Beelzebub. Yeshua’s response to them is also very important for us, helping to gain an understanding about YHVH’s Kingdom:  "But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of Elohim, surely the kingdom of Elohim has come upon you” (Matthew 12:28).  The evidence of YHVH’s Kingdom is our ability to cast down every evil thought and imagination that exalts itself against the knowledge of Elohim and His righteousness, peace and joy (see 2 Corinthians 10:4-5).

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Distractions

Have you noticed that in the past few years, since the Media has given everyone a voice through the cyber entertainment world, there are more distractions, confusion, and mesmerizing influences, even to the point of gender mix-up?   However, what is more disconcerting is that multitudes of distractions are also operating in the Christian world, especially in the so- called Hebrew Roots movement.  The cyber world is full of teachers (rabbis, prophets, etc.) who are taking shots at what is happening, or will happen in the future. Some are even trying to take actions that they deem may help fulfill or advance their ideas of end time interpretations. 
The fascination and interest regarding the timing of Yeshua’s return is at epidemic proportions.   Sadly all of the above, and more, could create false hopes, accompanied by fears of apocalyptic destruction.   Instead of coming to know the Creator and Sustainer of life, these seekers reach for doctrines of escapism or knowledge that is even supposed to bring about (or hasten) Yeshua’s appearing on the Mount of Olives (Who will then ‘take care of everything’ for them, and ‘bring an end’ to all their troubles). 
One example of this kind of fascination and involvement is the building of the Third Temple. This being so because the Temple/Tabernacle/altar has to be in place so that the anti-Christ can come and set up his rule in Jerusalem (there is more to this scenario), as this is supposed to precede Yeshua’s stepping down on the Mount of Olives.  Here enters another factor: Are the individuals who are caught up with this really interested in the deep and sincere yearnings of the Jewish people for the rebuilding of the Temple, or are they propagating the idea (and perhaps even helping with this endeavor), just so that “anti-Christ” or a false messiah can (supposedly) deceive the Jews who will then suffer the consequences? This is a critical heart matter that has to be examined by those ‘to whom it may concern’. 
With all this activity, commotion, and goings on, one can miss the Spirit of prophecy (Yeshua) who is being made manifest (or “trying to”) in and through His presence in us, individually but more so corporately, in what we call His “body”.  Not to mention the fact that He is also fulfilling His promises and prophecies pertaining to and in the House of Judah - remember what YHVH said to that house in Hosea 1:7. 
The prophets of old always reminded YHVH’s people of Who Elohim is, and ‘quoted’ His own descriptions of Himself, such as in the following:   “For thus says YHVH, Who created the heavens, Who is Elohim, Who formed the earth and made it, Who has established it, Who did not create it in vain, Who formed it to be inhabited: ‘I am YHVH, and there is no other. I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth; I did not say to the seed of Jacob, 'Seek Me in vain'; I, YHVH, speak righteousness, I declare uprightness [truth/justice]’” (Isaiah 45:18-19).
Isaiah goes on to prophesy against the (religious) daughters of Babylon: “Therefore evil shall come upon you; You shall not know from where it arises. And trouble shall fall upon you; You will not be able to put it off. And desolation shall come upon you suddenly, which you shall not know.  Stand now with your enchantments and the multitude of your sorceries, in which you have labored from your youth -- Perhaps you will be able to profit, perhaps you will prevail. You are wearied in the multitude of your counsels; Let now the astrologers, the stargazers, and the monthly prognosticators stand up and save you from what shall come upon you” (Isaiah 47:11-13 emphases added).  These words may be applicable to some among us who are looking to “prophets” or “prognosticators” for the purpose of calculating when Yeshua will appear and what will be the signs of His arrival.*  Yeshua left us with examples of such, regarding His “appearing” in Mathew 24.  For over two thousand years some of these signs have been occurring in many of the generations (which only shows that His unseen presence has been present in all the generations).  However, He also said to His inquiring disciples, regarding His “coming” (though the term used there is, again, “perousia” – presence):  "But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, but My Father only” (v. 36).  So why do we spend so much time trying to figure out what the Father will not reveal until His determined time?
Many (spirit filled) believers have their eyes turned to these external signs and so have inadvertently strayed from the knowledge of His (Yeshua’s) Spirit that is now present in their own bodily mishkan/tabernacle.  The distraction of having to know the day and time of His appearing on the Mount of Olives, and all the accompanying signs which are supposed to take place before this happens have become an obsession, taking away from the believer the knowledge and purpose of His indwelling spiritual presence.  “And because you are sons, Elohim has sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father” (Galatians 4:6). “For as many as are led by the Spirit of Elohim, these are sons of Elohim. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption [Spirit of Yeshua] by whom we cry out, ‘Abba, Father’" (Romans 8:14-15).  Paul again stresses the meaning of “Christ” or “anointing” in the following statement:   “For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Yeshua the Messiah” (Philippians 1:19 emphasis added).  
Much of the strife and contention that is rife among believers, as well as personal inner conflicts, actually originate from an “anti-Christ” spirit which is working in their bodily ‘mishkan’, that being so because they are  blinded to Yeshua’s presence in them (read 1 John 2:18-29; 1 John 4:2-4).  The evidence of His indwelling Spirit is the manifestation of Elohim’s righteousness and our love one for another.  Yeshua makes several emphatic exhortations in regards to being watchful and preparing for His coming (e.g. Matthew 25:1 ff.), but none of those point to end time determinations or calculations.

So let us ask ourselves: Which is more important, to prepare for His coming so that His “perousia” presence in us will be revealed more and more, or to try and calculate and busy ourselves with endless end time predictions, especially when the latter is at the expense of the former?

Personally let me say that it has not been easy writing this, but since this issue has been weighing heavily on my heart, I felt that it had to come to the light, particularly as it seems to be a distraction taking away from the most weighty matter, which is “the Spirit of Yeshua in us the hope of glory” – to be displayed and made manifest in a most real and authentic way as a witness to the reality of our Creator “Father” and His more-abundant life.

The verb used in many of Yeshua’ references to His “return” is “erchomai” – arrival, whereas in 2nd Thessalonians Paul uses “parousia” – the Presence (shekina), being also the term found in the disciples’ question in Matthew 24:3

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Servant Priesthood

“YHVH sent a word into Ya’acov and it fell on Israel, and all peoples know it” (Isa. 9:8-9). Although this scripture is interposed in a negative context, its truth is doubtlessly applicable to everything that YHVH ever spoke to our forefathers. In spite of the fact that His word was imparted to them thousands of years ago, a historical perspective, as well as present day reality, both reveal that, “His word has fallen on the entire nation of Israel as a testimony to all peoples”.  Historically YHVH divided the Israelite nation into two, Judah and Joseph/Ephraim.  This in order that He would have two witness nations for a time, until He would join them again in His hand and in the land (see Ezekiel 37:19-21).

One of the many roles that Israel plays in being a witness nation. Is that of YHVH’s priesthood.  One of the “words which fell on Israel”, is, ”to be a kingdom of priests” (Ex 19:6). However, this proclamation may be read in a number of ways. The Hebrew word used in this text for “kingdom” is “mamlacha”, which can mean “priests who are under a kingly authority”, or “priests who themselves have dominion, sovereignty or royalty”. The Apostle Peter, in his letter addressing “the aliens scattered abroad” within the Gentile nations, refers to his addressees as “a royal priesthood and a set apart nation” (1 Pet. 2:9).  The noun “aliens”, or “strangers”, is translated from the Greek word, “parepidemos” which literally means “a people living alongside the heathens” (ref. 1 Pet. 1:1). It behooves us to ask, then, whom is Peter referring to? Who was the nation that was not residing on its own real-a-state?  It appears then that the Apostle is writing to Israelites who are not in their own land, but are scattered among the other nations.

Peter continues to identify these people by quoting the prophet Hosea. He addresses those he is writing to as “not My people”, being a reference to Israel of the House of Ephraim, or Yoseph (Hos. 1:10).  He goes on to say that through the redemptive work of the Messiah they are now “a royal priesthood”.  But as we know, Levi was the tribe that was selected temporarily to serve the Tabernacle and Aaron their firstborn maintained the priesthood. However, it is not that priesthood that Peter is referring to as fulfilling the divine call conferred upon the nation as a whole (ref. Ex. 19:6). Hosea already hints at this priesthood when he says to Ephraim: "Hear this, O priests! Take heed, O house of Israel! Give ear, O house of the king! For yours is the judgment…though I rebuke them all. I know Ephraim, and Israel is not hidden from Me; for now, O Ephraim, you commit harlotry; Israel is defiled” (Hos.5:1-3). Why did YHVH refer to Israel (Ephraim) as a “priest”?

There was a priestly office in Israel before the Torah was given, other than the Levitical one, which is mentioned shortly before the latter order came into being.   In Exodus 19, which is one of the most dramatic chapters in the entire bible, Israel, YHVH’s national first born, arrives at the mountain of His presence in the third month. “I bore you on eagles wings and brought you to Myself” (Ex 19:4), is YHVH’s description of that part of their journey. He then goes on, elaborating on the special status they are to have among all the other nations.  And although all the earth was and is YHVH’s, these children or seed of Ya’acov were to belong to Him as His special treasure, or possession, and thus were not “their own”. Immediately following these declarations, YHVH identifies them as “a kingdom of priests”

Before YHVH descended upon the mountain in the cloud and fire, He gave orders for the consecration of the people, so as to enable them to stand before Him and hear His voice indicating their priestly role. When all of this is said and done, the people gather on the third day around the mountain, which YHVH had warned them not to touch. But they were to be present there, before Him, in order to hear His Word. One of the conditions for becoming YHVH’s kingdom of priests was to “obey His voice and keep covenant” (Ex. 19:5).

Because of man’s inherent weakness and tendency to worship that which he sees with His eyes and touches with his hands, YHVH had to send Moshe down the mountain a second time to warn the people not to touch the mountain, or break through the set boundary.  At this point YHVH commands Moshe to go down and to tell the priests to consecrate themselves (ref. Ex 19:22), repeating this charge twice. "Away! Get down and then come up, you and Aaron with you. But do not let the priests and the people break through to come up to YHVH, lest He break out against them" (Ex. 19:24).

Who are these pre-Levitical priests?  Let us take a look at the ordination of the Levites. "Now behold, I Myself have taken the Levites from among the children of Israel instead of every firstborn who opens the womb among the children of Israel. Therefore the Levites shall be Mine” (Num. 3:12). The Levites had replaced the firstborn’s position and role as priest. However not all Levites were to be the priest, only Aaron (the firstborn in Levi).  What made YHVH change the priesthood.  As is noted it occurred almost immediately after the Torah was given.
So with the coming of the Torah of Sinai, something changed in the heart of the people.  Paul in his commentary to the believers in Rome, he explains what happened.     Therefore by the deeds of the Torah no flesh will be justified in His sight, for by the Torah came the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20).  With the conviction of sin and its results “death” and separation from a Holy Elohim and Father.  YHVH immediately gave Moses the Mishkan and an officiating priesthood to this day in the Nation of Judah.  However, with the New or renewed Covenant, YHVH through the death of Israel’s Messiah Yeshua gave to not just Israel, but for all the Adamic family a future and a hope.  

Let us venture back now to the day on which YHVH took the sons of Israel out of Egypt. One of the first things that He did was to take the first fruit unto Himself.  "Consecrate to Me all the firstborn, whatever opens the womb among the children of Israel, both of man and beast; it is Mine." (Exodus 13:2).  These firstborn of man and beast did not belong to themselves, rather they were YHVH’s for His purposes. These were the priests and the animals that were set aside, or separated, holy unto YHVH.

By scriptural definition a priest is a firstborn who does not belong to himself; he is YHVH’s special treasure and possession through whom YHVH will do His work.

After Messiah fulfilled His redemptive role as the Lamb that takes away the sin of the Cosmos (the present sin and death world in humanity), YHVH, in the form of the Holy Spirit, began to draw out of the progeny of Avraham a first fruit of the New Cosmic order (ref. Rom. 4:16; James 1:1,18, Heb 2:16). Ever since the initial outpouring upon the disciples on the Feast of Shavuot –Pentecost - in the third month, He has been germinating a remnant of the Abrahamic seed, which is to grow and become an expression of a Servant Priesthood after the Order of Malchizedec.  “To Him (Yeshua our high priest), who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and made us kings and priests to His Elohim and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen” (Rev.1:5-6).

Ephraim


Friday, November 4, 2016

Overview of the Second Bney Yosef National Congress

Overview of the Second Bney Yosef National Congress

The dedication of the First Temple in Jerusalem took place on the 7th month, during Succot, and beyond, with additional seven days of celebration (ref. 1 Kings 8:65, 66). Similarly, the celebration of Succot was restored in the days of Ezra and Nehemiah, but following that celebration, on the 24th day of the 7th month the returning remnant from Babylon donned sackcloth and ashes and took stock of their disobedience to YHVH and His Torah (ref. Nehemiah 8:16 ff).

These two monumental events in the lives of our forefathers were echoed in some small way in the 2nd Bney Yosef National Congress which commenced immediately after Succot (on the 24th day of the 7th month), on the hills of Ephraim in the town of Ariel. Yes, the event was almost an overflow of the joy of the Feast, and went on for the next 5 days. Yet, it was also a time of humbling and repentance for the Israelite family gathered from 14 countries; from as far as the islands of Indonesia and Fiji, to the southern tip of Africa and all the way to North and South America and other continents and countries in between. Fourteen representatives gave brief reports on their countries of origin, and thus we were privileged to meet and hear from lesser known people groups, such as an Australian Aboriginal lady, Indonesian Papuans, and a Peruvian sister, not to mention videos and reports from Uganda, Pakistan, Finland (whose representatives were not able to attend this time), Mizoram and Kashmir in India, and some relevant historical data regarding China and Myanmar (Burma). However, we were exhorted by the moderator of the Congress to drop the ‘hyphen’ from our national description. In other words, we were not to see ourselves as Indonesian-Israelites, South-African-Israelites, Swiss-Israelites etc. but rather as all belonging to the one nation Israel, irrespective of current national origin.

This family reunion required of us to stretch the tent pegs of our hearts and minds in order to encompass our brothers and sisters whose culture, mentality, language, customs etc. were vastly different from ours.  “How does a global family walk together as one?” was one of the last subjects addressed and discussed. What are some of the prejudices we still cling to and how do we get rid of them? In order to get to our desired destination we had to trace the steps of our people by examining their/our history, and its defining moments. We also had to ask ourselves how those defining moments may define our present and future. This session led to a deep time of collective repentance, following a survey which probed deeply into some of the origins of Israel’s sinful ‘tendencies’.  Later we learnt that as repentant Israelites, the Gospel’s accomplishments are fully available to us if we only make ourselves ‘available’ (open and receptive) to It’s benefits.

The magnificent Presence of the Almighty during the periods of worship, led to impromptu prayers even during these times, with His spotlight shinning brightly into the recesses of the hearts, there to touch each of us at the core. The historical process of YHVH’s relationship with Israel, as His Bride, was well demonstrated by a two part ‘epiphanic’ dance of two brides; each looking for her Messiah in her own way, while at the same time the one (the ‘church’) tries to coerce the other (Judah) to become like her. The beautiful reconciliation of the two demonstrated a glorious oneness with the emergence of a single, ‘golden’, bride. The participation of several from Judah during the Congress, and especially our beloved Hanoch, and several more visiting and having meaningful dialogs (on the last day), signals the hope that the day of union is already in the foreseeable future.

The second part of the dance, performed at the going out of Shabbat, demonstrated both the wedding and the coming down of the heavenly Jerusalem, now in the form of an open Hupa that until then was covered up. This expression of the wedding feast and union with the Bridegroom, followed in the footsteps of Shabbat’s presentation on the man-woman/husband-wife relationship.  Here we had more than a teaching. The Spirit was seeking to convey to us the intimacy that we have (or ought to have) with our Bridegroom, and hence, for the married couples, with one another as husband and wife. An opportunity was given for a time of restoration of relationships, of rekindling the love – the Hupa was made available for individuals and couples to go in and rededicate themselves, and even seal it off with wine and bread. “Dance with Me Oh Lover of My Soul” was sung and played as a very appropriate finale, especially when it was repeated the next night, upon the closing of the Congress, at which time most of the couples took the opportunity to ‘apply’ the heart’s lesson of intimacy and closeness of “bride” and “groom”, as they danced with each other being locked in an embrace of arms or eyes.

And as if that were not enough, another ‘cherry’ on our ‘wedding cake’ was ending the hotel’s Biblical Gardens tour by the Mishkan replica, where an awesome sense of worship enveloped all.

We stand in awe at how the Spirit directed and led both the planning of the Congress, and then the procedures during the event. It was nothing short of our Bridegroom’s wooing His Bride (His Israelite family) to follow after Him, AND also to meet Him unashamedly eye to eye, as He is retracing our steps back to the Garden of His delight, whether it be in our hearts and/or in our relationships, while our task is to "prepare the way of YHVH; Make straight in the desert a highway for our Elohim” (Isaiah 4:3).



Friday, October 14, 2016

Succot's Seventh Day Mystery

Have you every wondered why Succot’s seventh day is not a day of rest, while ‘Shmini Atzeret,’ (Eighth Day) the day that follows the Feast, is a Shabbton which seems to be actually separate from the seven days of the Feast. “Also on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the fruit of the land, you shall keep the feast of YHVH for seven days; on the first day there shall be a sabbath-rest, and on the eighth day a sabbath-rest” (Leviticus 23:39).  Why, contrary to Pesach for example, is Succot’s seventh day not a Shabbaton?   As the feast days are prophetic of things yet to come, (see Colossians 2:17) Succot, being the last mo’ed, is symbolic of the Last Days and it therefore behooves us to seek YHVH for a clearer understanding of this Shabbaton discrepancy.  The answer to this question may also give us a better handle on the restoration of the Kingdom to Israel and the millennial reign of Messiah.

The Israelites were commanded to live in a “succah” for seven days.  What does the succah represent?   The imagery used in Psalm 139:13, as applied to us, humans, may help us discover the meaning of the “succah”: “You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother's womb.”  The Hebrew term which is used for “covered” (“te’sukeni”) in this instance is more like “you have made a succah of me,” that is, ‘You formed me as an outwardly temporary dwelling.’  If we take this idea one step further, adding it to Succot’s seven days, “You shall dwell in succahs for seven days. All who are native Israelites shall dwell in succahs” (Leviticus 23:42), it could imply that man was destined to live in his succah - “flesh body” - for seven days. Bearing in mind the concept of a day being as a thousand years (ref 2 Peter 3:8), what would the seventh day, and then the eighth, represent?

As pointed out above, if we are still in our ‘temporary dwellings’ on the seventh day of Succot, then 1 Corinthians 15:51-57 (“But we shall all be changed --  in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet... death is swallowed up in victory”), for example, would not be applicable. If we are still in our flesh bodies, then death has not yet been swallowed up.  So how are we to view Succot’s seventh day? Could it represent the Millennial Kingdom, when Yeshua the Messiah of Israel will rule the nations with a rod of iron (Revelation 19:15) through the united House of Jacob and set up His everlasting Kingdom for a thousand years?   

As we know, Elohim declared the seventh day of Creation to be a day of rest. It may be assumed that when creation (all that has been created) comes to its full rest then, Yeshua and the Father also cease from all their work. Yeshua, however, pointed out that He and the Father are (presently) at work (ref. John 5:17).  This would indicate that we are still in the sixth day of Creation.  But if that is the case, with Adam having been around for over 5777 years (according to the Jewish calendar, so what does that say about the sixth day?  We must conclude, therefore, that there are seven thousand-year ‘eras’ within the sixth day of Creation, which means that the seventh millennium is just ahead of us.  If that indeed is so, it would explain why the seventh day of Succot is not a rest day, as Yeshua and the Father will still be working during the seventh millennium, which is within the sixth day (of Creation). 


To reiterate: If we look at the seven days of Succot from the perspective of “a day is as a thousand years,” then Messiah’s millennial reign would start in the last day, or in the seventh millennium of the sixth day of Creation, which would not be a rest day. Thus the Father and Son will complete their work through the restored nation of Israel, and bring all things into subjection to Messiah’s dominion.  Therefore, like Succot’s seventh day, it will not be a day of rest. The following day, however, called the Eighth Day, is a Shabbaton and would actually represent, or be the fulfillment of the seventh day of Creation (the “Shabbat”). It is on that day that Yeshua will return everything back to the Father.  How will He do this?  As the High Priest He must offer up this present creation as a burnt offering.  “But the day of YHVH will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up" (2 Peter 3:10). Thus on the eighth day we will see the fulfillment of the following scripture "For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; and the former shall not be remembered or come to mind" (Isaiah 65:17). 

Friday, September 23, 2016

Gather or Scatter


Shalom Fellow Israelite,

That Scriptures’ quality of freshness never ceases to amaze me.  Their timelessness, just like that of their author’s, is full of life’s beauty.   Regardless of the number of times read, there is always something hidden within its pages waiting to be revealed or understood in a different way, depending on what the Spirit of the Word (Yeshua) happens to be enlightening to the heart at a particular moment. 

One such passage hidden in the pages of a “minor prophet” suddenly became “major” for this time:

“The one who scatters has come up against you. Man the fortress, watch the road; strengthen your back, summon all your strength.  For YHVH will restore the splendor of Jacob like the splendor of Israel, even though devastators have devastated them and destroyed their vine branches” (Nahum 2: 1-2).

For thousands of years the heartland of Israel, Samaria, testified to the reality of the devastation of its inhabitants and of the destruction of their vineyards.   But today there is a different reality that stretches across the hills of Menashe and Ephraim.  The vineyards are back and the farmers are on the mountains again gathering the grapes at the time of the Fall harvest and feasts. 

As we know, the scriptures have a very literal meaning, but not without a spiritual counterpart.  The words may have a message for us individually, and/or corporately.  The above word from Nahum, spoke to me a warning, namely that when YHVH is in a season of restoring and gathering His people, the enemy will work in opposition, in order to scatter them or keep them scattered.  We can see this very plainly in the recent history of the house of Judah (the Jews).   The Hebrew Roots Movement within the Christian world is YHVH’s declaration that He is gathering the House of Joseph while turning them back to their forefathers (see Malachi 4:6), and writing the Torah on their hearts (see Jeremiah 31:33).   However, the scatterer has been working overtime to prevent this ingathering from taking place.  Yeshua warned:  “He who is not with Me is against Me, and he who does not gather with Me scatters”.  

Some of those causes for scattering and shattering are enumerated by Paul in his warnings to the congregations, and they are:  pride, jealousy, envy, strife, and contention, fear etc., all of which are contrary to “love”, and could result in maintaining and even adding to the devastation.  Therefore encouragement is a much needed commodity. So, with this in mind, I would like to rephrase Nahum’s words:   

Even though devastators have devastated us and destroyed our vine branches, YHVH is restoring the splendor of Jacob and the splendor of Israel. However, the one who scatters has come up against us. Therefore man the fortress, watch the road; strengthen your back, summon all your strength.   

Yom T’ruah is coming soon. May we hear the same clear sound of the T’ruah that our ancestors heard as they/we stood before the burning mountain in the Sinai desert.

Shabbat Shalom,


Ephraim

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Star of David

Regretfully over the past several years subtle anti-Semitism has been creeping into, and growing within the Hebrew Roots movement (being a self-defeating oxymoron). One of these expressions, which directly affects the Jewish people and the State of Israel, is the interpretation or meaning given to the Star of David (the “magen David” as it is called in Hebrew, “the Shield of David”).  Among the numerous symbols used in the world there are, for example, the symbols of the written languages, that is the letters, but what renders each of them its meaning? 

So let’s view the “Shield of David.” It is made up of two equilateral triangles that were joined together in days of long ago. Later it was used by other people or groups who took to that geometric shape, and may have given it their particular interpretation.  But what is a symbol or any given object?  In and of itself it has no intrinsic meaning.  A five year old could look at the six pointed star and it would mean nothing to him, other than being an object to handle.  He could play with it all day and it would still remain a play thing to him.  But a parent may come by and tell the child that this star is what King David inscribed on the shields of his mighty men.  A little while later another person may come by, declaring to the child that this object, with its particular shape, came from the devil and is very dangerous to look at, or touch.  So now the child puts the two together and decides that king David and his mighty men were evil, as would be anyone else who associates himself with this hexagonal shape.
 
The Scriptures discuss how symbols and objects can become idols.  Paul states, “We know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other Elohim but one” (1 Corinthians 8:4).  In other words, it doesn’t matter what we call an object. Even if we attribute to it divine and supernatural characteristics, it is still just an object which cannot give life or anything else, and as such it will never animate itself, as it states:  “They have mouths, but they do not speak; eyes they have, but they do not see; they have ears, but they do not hear; nor is there any breath in their mouths. Those who make them are like them; so is everyone who trusts in them (or attributes any capabilities to them. Psalm 135:16-18 emphasis added).  Hence if man applies his knowledge to that article (Paul called this knowledge “food” given to an idol), and then believes that it can somehow give back to him some kind of edification or information – good or bad - then the object becomes that idol, for good or bad.  YHVH further chides Israel for such stupidity: 

“He cuts down cedars for himself, and takes the cypress and the oak; He secures it for himself among the trees of the forest. He plants a pine, and the rain nourishes it.  Then it shall be for a man to burn, for he will take some of it and warm himself; yes, he kindles it and bakes bread; indeed he makes a god and worships it; he makes it a carved image, and falls down to it.  He burns half of it in the fire; with this half he eats meat; he roasts a roast, and is satisfied. He even warms himself and says, ‘Ah! I am warm, I have seen the fire.’  And the rest of it he makes into a god, his carved image. He falls down before it and worships it, prays to it and says, ‘Deliver me, for you are my god!’  They do not know nor understand; for He [YHVH] has shut their eyes, so that they cannot see, and their hearts, so that they cannot understand.  And no one considers in his heart, nor is there knowledge nor understanding to say, ’I have burned half of it in the fire, yes, I have also baked bread on its coals; I have roasted meat and eaten it; and shall I make the rest of it an abomination? Shall I fall down before a block of wood?’" (Isaiah 44:14-19, see also Jeremiah 10:1-50).

Astrology is one of those disciplines that attach knowledge to inanimate objects; someone ascribes to the heavenly bodies certain characteristics, making it known to others who, in turn, believe this ‘information’ which originated in that someone’s imagination, or from a spiritual influence exercised upon that imagination.

As mentioned above, Paul calls this knowledge “food” that is offered to an object or symbol (idol), and then goes on to warn his readers not to partake of this so-called knowledge.  Nowadays the computer is a case in point. All the source of the knowledge it contains had to originate from man, but it is so easy to forget that fact and ascribe the data it holds, to this technological device. Thankfully we do not worship the computer, although it is possible to become dependent on it and to trust it to the point of being unable to function without it (as if it will “never leave or forsake” us). 

All this was in order to bring us back to our original subject. At present some ‘ministries’ are engaged in propagating what Elohim calls “foolishness” (see 1 Cor. 3:19). One, for example, put out a long occultic dissertation on the meaning of the symbol on the flag of Israel, with its associations being akin to the Protocols of the Elders of Zion (a foul and contrived publication that helped fuel the Holocaust).  

If I may, I would like to give another definition to that symbol, with a more positive outlook.  When David conquered Jerusalem he united the two Israels (the northern tribes with Judah, located in the southern region).  But after the reign of Solomon YHVH, in accordance with His word and will, divided the kingdom in two.  And so, if we separate the two triangles, by taking the one that is pointing down, raising it up until its tip is touching the tip of the other triangle, so that it looks like an hour glass.   Label the one above Ephraim and the one below Judah.  An hour glass just might be a good description of this symbol, as the two separate sticks/nations are showing that YHVH has the destinies of Ephraim and Judah as His time schedule for the fulfillment of His prophesied plans.  The Apostles preached what is called the Hope of Israel, which is the reunification and restoration of the Kingdom of Elohim to the whole House of Israel. So let us use this Shield of David as a symbol of that future hope, when the Messiah son of David (who we believe is Yeshua) fulfills His mandate as our kinsman redeemer (see Acts 3:19-21).

Ephraim

Friday, September 9, 2016

Scriptures to Contemplate

Something I try to do on a daily basis I called "scriptural contemplation".  I find two or three scriptures that may have a similar theme or connect in a certain way, and then each day during the week I read them together and contemplate or think on them, in expectancy of what the Spirit would want to accentuate.  Perhaps you are already doing something similar, or would like to use the following example to start with:

“For the love of Messiah compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.  Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Messiah according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer.   Therefore, if anyone is in Messiah, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:14-17).
 
“For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.  For he who has died has been freed from sin.  Now if we died with Messiah, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Messiah, having been raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.  For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to Elohim.  Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to Elohim in Messiah Yeshua our Master.  Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.  And do not present your members as instruments of unrighteousness to sin, but present yourselves to Elohim as being alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to Elohim” (Romans 6:5-13).


“Therefore, brethren, by the mercies of Elohim, present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to Elohim, which is your reasonable service.  And do 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 12:1-2). 

Have a great week!
Ephraim

Friday, September 2, 2016

The Prodigal Daughter

   This is the story of a certain woman, who like the well-known Prodigal Son became desolate and impoverished after resorting to ‘lovers’ for her sustenance and well-being.  Although married, she loved her adulterous ways so much that she even sold herself to harlotry.  The consequence of her sin put her on the road to destruction (see Micah 2:10).

Under the pressure of life’s circumstances this adulteress reached an unfathomable level of desperation. She found herself without lovers, and without sustenance, much like the Prodigal Son. So in desperation she decided to repent and return. From that lowly place she cried out:  “I will go and return to my first husband, for then it was better for me than now” (Hosea 2:7b). 

But how could her (former) husband even think twice about forgiving her and taking her back? Thankfully, YHVH’s great mercies are entwined in the laws that govern sin and rebellion, even adultery combined with harlotry, which to us seem the worst of the worst. And so in His great compassion the Elohim and Husband of Israel gave her a certificate of divorce, in order that she would not have to face the death penalty as a consequence of her rebellion, and would still have an opportunity to repent.  

The prophet Hosea allows us to take a close look at the relationship between YHVH and Northern Israel.  It is not only a prophetic declaration of YHVH’s destiny for her, but also a revelation of His sovereignty and faithfulness to redeem and restore this wayward one back to Himself.   

"Therefore, behold, I will allure her, will bring her into the wilderness, and speak to her heart. I will give her her vineyards from there, and the Valley of Achor as a door of hope; She shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, as in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt” (Hosea 2:14-15).  YHVH banished the faithless wife to the wilderness of the nations in 722 BC, but has left her a door of hope in, of all places, the valley of Achor.  What is this valley and why there the door of hope?

When Joshua and the Children of Israel first entered the land and witnessed the miracle of the collapse of the walls of Jericho, they were told by the Elohim of Hosts (Elohey Tzvaot) that, “The city shall be under the ban, it and all that is in it belongs to YHVH” (Joshua 6:17).  The Israelites were not to be tempted by the silver, gold, garments or anything else in that doomed city. However, one man violated the ban and took the silver, gold and a Babylonian garment and hid it in his tent. That one violation brought on all Israel a defeat when attempting to take the next city of Ai.  YHVH eventually revealed the culprit and sentence was passed, but not before Joshua and the elders went on their faces before YHVH and repented.  Then in the valley Achor, Achan and his family were stoned and then, together with all their belongings they were burned.  Notice that all of Israel was indicted by Achan’s sin, and until the “accursed” thing was removed all of Israel stood guilty because of the sin of the one man (Joshua 7:1, 11). (All of Israel were rid of the guilt of sin by virtue of the act of the one man – Yeshua).

What are the traits shared by Achan, the Prodigal, and the unfaithful wife? Achan coveted the Babylonian garment, the silver and the gold (Joshua 7:21), the son coveted his inheritance, while the adulteress was much easier to please. She only went after bread, water, wool, linen, oil, and drink (Hos. 2:5), even though YHVH maintains that He had provided her with much more: grain, new wine, oil, silver and gold (v. 8). But being blind to His love, she couldn’t see what was available to her, and was willing to settle for much less and get it from other sources. But whereas for Achan the valley of Achor was a place of total annihilation, YHVH was willing to turn that lowland of death into a gateway of hope for His repentant wife.

The root letters of “Achor” (ayin, kaf, resh) make up a verb which means “to trouble” or “to stir up”. At most times this troubling involves breaking a status quo, compromising someone else’s situation, even to the point of bringing upon them a taboo, excommunication, or a curse, and there are many scriptural examples of what this kind of “troubling” can cause another, or has the potential to do (e. g. Gen. 34:30, 1st Kings 18:17,18).

As mentioned, all of Israel stood guilty of Achan’s act before YHVH, and hence forfeited their ability to defeat their enemies (Joshua 7:12). Therefore He told Joshua to sanctify the people and then have them remove from their midst that which was under the ban (7:11, 13).  It was only when the people as a whole were gathered, having taken corporate responsibility toward one another and faced the issue at hand, that YHVH revealed the root cause of their predicament. Notice the order of the procedure; first the nation as a whole, then the tribes, the families, and lastly the individuals (7:14, 16-18).

How does the valley of Achor then become a door of hope?  In Joshua 7:26, it says that after the stoning, the burning, and the raising of a heap of stones over the remains of Achan and his family, “YHVH turned from the fierceness of His anger”. But then it adds, “The name of that place has been called the valley of Achor to this day”. Even though YHVH’s anger has been “appeased”, at that time the place itself has not become a “door of hope”.

What makes for the reverse? Why in the case of the woman/Israel this valley is no longer named “Achor”, but instead is named a door of hope? Listen to the words of Joshua to Achan: "My son, I beg you, give glory to YHVH the Elohim of Israel, and make confession to Him, and tell me now what you have done; do not hide it from me" (Joshua 7:19).

It was not the gold, silver or the garment that were accursed, but it was the covetous and disobedient heart of Achan (and the heart of the wayward wife) that were not right before YHVH.  The hope of Israel is embedded in learning that YHVH is holy and everything that is His is holy, including us as His people. When the wife returns to Her Husband she must do so in total holiness (k’dusha), as there is no other way to come to Him. Has the door of hope started to crack open in what was the valley of Achor, a valley that now spells a future and a hope? Are these words meant for now, for those who after repenting have been cleansed and redeemed by the blood of the Lamb, and who have also regained their identity as Israel?  If it is now that Israel is to be that repentant wife in accordance with Hosea’s description? Will she be willing to follow His prescribed protocol?   
Ephraim and Rimona

Friday, August 26, 2016

Lost and Found

Shalom Fellow Israelite,
The so named prodigal son of Luke 15:11-32, who left his home, and by squandering his inheritance lost it (and with it also his identity), makes a very interesting statement upon “coming to himself”.
Remembering his father’s house and seeing the result of his actions, he decides to repent and return to what he left behind. And so he is found thinking to himself: “How many of my father's hired servants have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! I will arise and go to my father, and will say to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you, and I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Make me like one of your hired servants’" (Luke 15:17-19). 
This prodigal had become completely impoverished, so much so that he had nothing to live for or on, and his only recourse was to come back to his father. Please note that in his remorse and repentance he does not make any reference to his family, and that includes his older brother, but only to his father. He was fully convicted regarding what he needed to do, and so upon arrival he makes the following confession to his father: “Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight, and am no longer worthy to be called your son” (Luke 15:21).  Would the father have accepted him back without this open confession?  Absolutely! The mere fact that when the father saw his son coming from a distance and ran out to welcome him, shows the latter’s heart attitude. Additionally, that he was returning was already an indication of the son’s repentant and humble stance. 
I wonder what would have happened if his brother would have met him first.  He might have not even recognized him.  Should the returnee have also made the same confession to his brother?  Did the older brother have the same heart attitude as the father?   This firstborn has worked hard in the fields of his father for the “bread” that the impoverished sibling needed, but again, was he ready to receive his now-humbled kin? 
In a similar fashion, we could ask: what is available at this point for those who have recently discovered their Ephraimite identity and desire to return to the land, after over a hundred years of Judah giving their lives, literally, to have what is now their land and nation? Is the older brother ready to welcome the long lost sibling?
If this story truly pertains (at least in part) to the relationship between Judah and Ephraim, there is still something very important that needs to happen to both of them.  Ephraim, of course, has to wake up to his condition, humbly repent and return with a servant’s heart.  Judah, for his part, will have to continue working in the fields of his father, until the father does the welcoming of the prodigal back to the house. Once Judah hears the sounds of celebration and comes to investigate, will he not hear from the father, and not the brother, these very important words: “Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours; It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found”? (Luke 15:31-32 emphasis added)  
My dear Ephraimite friends, when the time comes the Father will speak to our brother Judah, conveying these truths, and then the light of revelation will dawn on the Jewish people that by the return of the House of Yosef resurrection life has come to the family.
Blessings,
Ephraim

Friday, August 19, 2016

Trump

Shalom Fellow Israelite,

These days the airways resonate with one particular name, “Donald Trump”. Without belittling that which is beyond comparison to the said person, I cannot help but take note of the “trump” part as it is greatly appropriate for this season, when we need to be especially attuned to the sound of YHVH’s “trump” – t’ruah.  Last week we wrote about Tish’a Be’av and the reasons for the destruction of both the first and second temples.  I also want to remind the Northern Israelites that the Tabernacle, which stood in Shilo in the mountains of Ephraim for over 350 years, with a city built around it, which was ultimately destroyed for the same reasons; rebellion (sin and iniquity) against YHVH and his testimonies, statutes and commands.    

“Yet they [Northern Israelites] tested and provoked the Most High Elohim, and did not keep His testimonies,  but turned back and acted unfaithfully like their fathers; They were turned aside like a deceitful bow.  For they provoked Him to anger with their high places, and moved Him to jealousy with their carved images.  When Elohim heard this, He was furious, and greatly abhorred Israel” (Psalm 78:56-59).  (So much so that the House of Yosef lost his inheritance.) “Moreover He rejected the tent of Joseph, and did not choose the tribe of Ephraim, but chose the tribe of Judah, Mount Zion which He loved” (Psalm 78:67-68).  But now grace has been extended to us again through faith in the resurrected life of our Messiah Yeshua, to the glory of our Father (Romans 4:18-24).  Thus the following scripture seems most appropriate as we prepare for the fall feasts: "Cry aloud, spare not; lift up your voice like a trump; Tell My people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins” (Isaiah 58:1 emphasis added).

Last week’s article ended with: “O house of Jacob, come and let us walk in the light of YHVH” (Isaiah 2:5b). When we walk into His light and righteousness, the darkness of sin will be revealed.  (By the way, one of the very first Zionist organizations, which was formed in the Ukraine in 1882, used part of this verse – O House of Jacob come and let us walk…- for their name. Combining the first Hebrew letter of each of those words formed the acronym BILU).

For the past few months, planning of the 2nd Bney Yosef National Congress, we have been seeking the Father for direction. The above scriptures confirmed the course in which He has been leading: repentance, and reconciliation, without which there can be no unity, no nation, and no return.

“Then your light shall break forth like the morning, your healing shall spring forth speedily, and your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of YHVH shall be your rear guard” (Isaiah 58:8).

Last week we focused on Isaiah 60, and this week verse 8 of chapter 58 caught my attention, especially the last half. “…your righteousness shall go before you; the glory of YHVH shall be your rear guard”.  “Go before you” is “halach le’fane’cha”.  “Halach” is “walking, going”, with reference to the righteousness which makes up the Light.  In a figurative way “halach” can mean “manner of life” or “behavior”.  “Lefa’ne’cha” is literally “before your face”, thus your righteousness is seen in your actions; it goes before you or marks your presence, it is your spiritual face - “panim”.  The last word in this sentence is “rear guard”, in Hebrew “asaph”, with its main meaning being “to gather, assemble, collect”.   It is also the root of the name Yosef. Do these few words hint at the incumbent conditions upon the sons of Yosef, in order for their/our ingathering to take place?  

We pray that each and every day will afford us opportunities to be more sensitive to the still small voice telling us to “walk” on the paths of righteousness (which leads to our inheritance) for His name sake.

Shabbat Shalom,


Ephraim

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Out of Darkness

 “Arise, shine; for your light has come! And the glory of YHVH is risen upon you. For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but YHVH will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you.  The nations shall come to your light, and kings to the brightness of your rising” (Isaiah 60:1-3). 

This glorious description is generally understood to refer to Israel, as a nation rising out of the darkness and into the Light of YHVH.  But the dawning (and donning) of this illumination seems to occur only at a time or situation of deep or gross darkness.  What is this darkness? The chapter just prior to the above quote offers a description of the darkness (Isaiah 59).

Additionally, what light is the prophet talking about and where and how does Israel obtain this light and glory?  Obviously only from one source: “This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that Elohim is light and in Him is no darkness at all” (John 1:5).  “It is Elohim who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of Elohim in the face of Yeshua the Messiah” (2 Corinthians 4:6).  Aside from talking about the light, this scripture also points out very clearly where the darkness is located - “in the heart”.  But the heart also becomes the place where the light may be revealed. “Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Master comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one's praise will come from Elohim” (1 Corinthians 4:5 emphasis added).   It is extremely important to grasp, as the above verse points out, that it is only YHVH’s Spirit that can reveal the things that are in someone’s heart.  We have to acknowledge and admit that our conflicts with our brothers and sisters often originate from peering at the speck in their eye, while having a log in our own (see Luke 6:42).

I am always amazed at the rate at which many who may have had a mostly positive experience at any given event, are quick to respond if there is a slight disagreement on any issue, and to take offense that looms larger than anything and everything else. This is then generally followed by criticism and break up of fellowship and relationships.  And what is even more disconcerting, is that such a skewed viewpoint will be shared with others.  It seems that in most cases (and I’m guilty of it myself) the negative, the offense, will take precedence over everything else and the tongue will live up to its reputation of causing division, misunderstanding, separation and further offense (see James 3:5-8).  Yeshua’s answer to this is plain and simple: "Judge not, that you be not judged. For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you... (Matthew 7:1); “…Condemn not, and you shall not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven” (Luke 6:37). (For additional scriptures on the topic see Romans 14:4,10-13; James 4:11). Please note, these are Torah principles.

Instead, we should be “giving thanks to the Father who has equipped us to be partakers of the inheritance of the holy ones in the light.  He has delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of His beloved Son” (Colossians 1:12-13). Thus the following declaration should cause us to rejoice: “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous Light” (1 Peter 2:9).

The question that arises, therefore, is: If we are to be a nation dwelling in His marvelous Light (and the definition of a nation is families living together under one government), it only stands to reason that the families must also have this Light. There is a beautiful illustration of this in Exodus, just prior to leaving Egypt, when for three days the Egyptians were plagued by total darkness and they “did not see one another; nor did anyone rise from his place for three days. But all the children of Israel had light in their dwellings (Exodus 10:23 emphasis added). 
  
Today there is a spiritual darkness over the hearts and minds of humanity, causing them to be so self-seeking and morally corrupt that they cannot see others, for their hearts have been darkened by pride and self-righteousness. "And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19).  The life issues of a nation are also the life issues of the families that make up that nation.  In the next B’ney Yosef National Congress we will be addressing these life issues in our Ephraimite family.  Ephraim and Menashe grew up in Egypt, and were influenced by the spiritual powers of that kingdom.  We are in the Egypt of this world, while these same traits can still be detected in Israel’s present progeny. “But all things become visible when they are exposed by the light, for everything that becomes visible is light. For this reason it says, ‘Awake, sleeper, and arise from the dead and Messiah will shine on/upon you’" (Ephesians 5:13, see also 1 Corinthians 15:34).  “You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober” (1 Thessalonians 5:5).

“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Messiah. Walk as children of light” (Ephesians 5:8). “O house of Jacob, come and let us walk in the light of YHVH” (Isaiah 2:5).  We, the redeemed Israelites have one of the most incredible opportunities to bring this light into our homes, as mentioned above, so that just as there was light in the Hebrew homes in Egypt during the three days of gross darkness, we too can have that light in our homes, even while still in the Egypt of this world. 


Ephraim