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.

Friday, August 19, 2016


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,


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. 


Sunday, August 7, 2016

Rooted and Grounded

Shalom Fellow Israelite,

I think most of you know Hanoch Young, an orthodox Jew, who has been working to help restore the nation of Yosef/Ephraim for over 20 years.  Here is a link to a recent interview that was done with him:

In the past week our mail box was flooded by many forwards from individuals and organizations with prayer alerts because of a happening called Tomorrowland, which has now come to the shores of Israel and was to take place in Jerusalem on Shabbat. The number of flagrant sins that are displayed unashamedly in the public arena is growing daily. Like us, you too must have received the links to the tunnel opening ceremony in Switzerland, the gay parade in Jerusalem, the said Tomorrowland event, and the list just goes on and on. No doubt the fields are ripe with… thorns and tares. But while Abba desires that we grieve with Him over those who are caught in these enemy-instigated impudent and defiant activities and at the same time desires us to help snatch out some of those hell-bent individuals (see Prov. 24:11-12), we also need to pray for the wheat (the sons of the kingdom) who are growing up alongside these tares (see Matthew 13:24-30).  Yeshua explains this parable, saying: "The field is the world, the good seed are the sons of the kingdom, but the tares are the sons of the wicked one” (Matthew 13:38).  Thus at the end of the growing season we will begin to see the wicked becoming more wicked, while the righteous are supposed to become more righteous (see Revelation 22:11).  Then, when the harvest comes, the tares are removed first and the righteous are left in the field to be harvested and taken into YHVH’s ‘granary’.   
In the previous parable of Matthew 13 (vs. 3-23), that of the sower, Yeshua points out that the cares and the riches of this world (in this case the thorns or thistles) can cause the righteous (the sons of the kingdom) to be choked off and not come to maturity.  But if during the growing season the good seed takes root in good soil and is nurtured by the water of the Word, then when the time comes for the harvest it will bear the fruit of righteousness.  If the word of the kingdom has not taken firm and deep roots (‘Hebrew roots’) in the soil of the heart (especially the Word called Torah), the roots and stalk of the thorns, which grow very rapidly, will draw the moisture and sustenance out of the ground and choke off the seed of the word before it can bear its fruit.  

In Paul’s prayer to the Father of Yeshua, he asks that the believers would be “…strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man,  that Messiah [the Word] may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love,  may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height --  to know the love of Messiah which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of Elohim” (Ephesians 3:16-19).  Notice, “rooted and grounded in love.”  Again, in another scripture:  “As you have therefore received Messiah Yeshua the Master, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving” (Colossians 2:6-7).  These key scriptures, if assimilated into the core and heart of our being, are helpful in the nurturing and watering of our ‘plant’ in order to bring us to full fruition at the end of the season, before the tares (sons of the wicked and lawless) and their fruit get taken out of the field (this world) and burned.  During the ripening season the conditions are hot and dry.  So if your experiences seem to be getting more difficult, and it is not so easy to walk through them in love or in righteousness, this could be the opportunity that YHVH is giving you to press into Messiah Yeshua, the indwelling Spirit of the Word (all scripture) and to be rooted and grounded in love. All of that so that His kingdom of righteousness, peace and joy may be fulfilled in you/us, so as to bring to fruition the purpose and calling of His redeemed Israelite nation. “Those who come He shall cause to take root in Jacob; Israel shall blossom and bud, and fill the face of the world with fruit” (Isaiah 27:6).
Shavua Tov,


Friday, August 5, 2016

Good Ground

Shalom Fellow Israelite,

“For as the earth brings forth its sprouts, and as a garden causes the things sown in it to spring up, so YHVH Elohim will  cause righteousness and praise to spring up before all the nations” (Isaiah 61:11)

This letter is kind of a P.S. to one of my previous letters, “Rooted and Grounded”. 

While reading the two parables in Matthew 13, “the sower” and “the wheat and tares”, I kept thinking that somehow there was a connection between the two, and that it had to do with the condition of the heart.  The first of the parables is about the sowing of the “word of the kingdom” (Matthew 13:19).  The apostles were the first of those sowers (that is if you don’t count the prophets of old as well as Yeshua).  Paul and the other apostles declared the “word of the kingdom” from the Torah of Moses and the prophets (see Acts 28: 23-31).  Notice that Paul quotes Isaiah 6:9-10, which Yeshua used in the parable of the sower, as it had to do with the ability of the heart of our forefathers to see, hear, and understand the Torah and the prophets.

Yeshua pointed out that the Word, like a seed, can fall on a variety of places in one’s heart. I can use my own life as an example of how the word at times was sown, but then stolen, or didn’t take root, or that the cares of this world choked off the growing plant.   However, some of these righteous seeds fell on “good ground” and sprouted, and fortunately by His grace were watered and cultivated through circumstances and by learning obedience.  "But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands [from the heart] will indeed bear fruit and produce: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty" (Matthew 13:23).

The next parable that follows the first, is about a seed sown on the good ground. Here is where I thought the connection might be made between the two parables, that is the connection being the “good ground”.  Just about the time we think that we have overcome the  birds, thistles and thorns, and the good seed of the kingdom starts growing in the good soil of our hearts, an enemy comes along and sows another seed/tare that may look just like the wheat, but its fruit is deadly.  In this parable, Yeshua told the servants not to pull out the tares, but to let them grow together until the harvest, "…lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them.  Let both grow together until the harvest...”  (Matthew 13:29-30).  We cannot do anything about the tares, as they are maturing alongside the wheat (YHVH’s seed).  If I may alter the interpretation of the second parable, and ask: Could these tares be what we call the “flesh”, and its fruit - the “works of the flesh”?   “Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of Elohim” (Galatians 5:19-21).

The good seed of the kingdom that is sown in the “good ground” of our heart is evidence by its fruit of righteousness (Galatians 5:22), and is proof that we are “the sons of the kingdom”.  But having the word growing in the good soil doesn’t mean that we are not in danger, as the enemy knows that his unrighteous seed can grow in the same soil and appear and look like the wheat, but its fruit is unrighteousness and all unrighteousness is sin.  “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:8-9).  

Another example of having received the “word of the kingdom” and thus being defined as the “children of the kingdom”, is that we love one another and are keeping His commandments. “Now by this we know that we know Him [the Father], if we keep His commandments.  He who says, ‘I know Him,’ and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.  But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of Elohim is perfected in him.  By this we know that we are in Him” (1 John 2:3-5).  The greatest challenge before us as a restored people from the House of Yosef is to build up and strengthen family relationships within our communities and congregations.  “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another…” (1 John 1:7a)    “He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him” (1 John 2:9-10).