Sunday, February 6, 2011

HE LIVED

Dec 1999
This week’s letter and the next, will deal with portions of the last parasha of the book of Genesis “Vayechi” (Gen.47:28-50-26). For some of you who are not yet familiar with what a parasha is, it is the weekly portion of the Torah being read in the synagogues.

“Vayechi” (“and he lived”) is one of the most prophetically loaded parashot (plural of parasha) in the entire Tanach, and quite appropriately ends the book of Bereshit (Genesis). The title itself describes God’s sovereign intentions regarding the fulfillment of His covenant with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Thus, not only did they live, but also became fruitful and multiplied: “and they (Israel) had possessions there (in Egypt) and were fruitful (from the same root as the name “Ephraim”) and multiplied exceedingly” (Gen. 47:27). Many years later Moses, observing the multitude, exclaimed: “YHWH your God has multiplied you, and here you are today as the stars of heaven in multitude. May YHWH God of your fathers make you a thousand times more numerous than you are, and bless you as He has promised you!” (Deut. 1:10-11). One of the interesting things to note about the fruitfulness of God’s chosen nation was that it always took place outside the land of Israel. Jacob propagated his family (Goy-nation) (all except for Benjamin) while in Haran. In Egypt he became as numerous as the “stars of heaven”, and of course later, being dispersed into all the nations and lands on the face of the earth, became “as the sand of the sea” or the “fullness of the nations”. A simple mathematical equation would be as follows: Israel came out of Egypt somewhere between 1.5 million and 3 million souls, multiplied by a thousand yields the figure 1.5 to 3 billion souls. Who knows how many out of 6 billion people living on the earth today are a fulfillment of that prophecy?! As we know, “with God everything is possible”, especially when it comes to keeping the covenant that He swore to the patriarchs.

God’s plan of fruitfulness or multiplicity is laid out prophetically in this parasha. Right from its beginning verses we see a Torah, or life, principle in action. Laying on his deathbed Jacob calls for Joseph. The meaning of the root of the name Joseph is “to add to,” in accordance with his mother’s prayer at his birth (to have another son). Joseph’s presences alongside of his dying father is a foreshadowing of the promise “to add to”, or to multiply the life of the one dying (Jacob-Israel). Thus, even under these natural conditions it may be said: "O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?" (Hos. 13:14).
Our Messiah also said: “Truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain (John 12:24). Wheat was one of the biblical symbols that described the House of Joseph.

The years of Jacob’s troubles and sorrows were over. Only the memory of a blood stained garment of his beloved son would linger, as a prophetic picture of what price it would cost the Heavenly Father to redeem these sons of promise (Israel). In those few fleeting moments of Jacob’s life he approached Joseph with reverence and honor as the government of the entire world of Egypt was upon Joseph’s shoulders (“shechem) but yet he was not the king.

Joseph was known as a dreamer and an interpreter of dreams. But far surpassing these attributes was Joseph’s understanding of the faithfulness of the God of his fathers through the very situations of his life. The Torah was being written on Joseph’s heart through his tribulations. The testing of his faith produced wisdom, humility and compassion which then qualifying him to hold the position that he was now in. His life exemplified the prophetic destiny of his entire household. For as a people they were to pass under the rod of God’s judgments, which afterwards would prepare them for their irrevocable call to become a part of a nation of kings and priests.

When Jacob knew he was drawing nigh to death, his first line of business was to strike up his final deal by making Joseph swear to bury him with his fathers. The transaction was for Joseph to put his hand under his (Jacob’s) thigh, just like Eliezer did to Abraham when sealing the oath. This meant that the strength and power of life represented by the thigh, will find expression through the hand of another, who swore or promised to be faithful to the oath. Israel then bowed at the head of his bed, signifying, as it were, having completed the work that God had sent him to do. However, there was still one more thing left for this chosen servant of God, and that was to pass on, by the laying on of his right hand, the most coveted of all blessings that are recorded in the Scripture. This blessing was reserved for a son, a son who has shown himself faithful and trustworthy in the eyes of his father. The son who would now step into the role of his father, and take upon his shoulders (shechem) the right to be the redeemer in the family. In order to have the means to redeem, this son would receive a double portion of the inheritance. However, that was not all that was to be passed on in that solemn moment in history. Jacob, holding the positions of a prophet and a king-priest after the order of Melchizedek in God’s kingdom on the earth, was now obligated to pass on this highest of all positions to his beloved; the right to govern, with the dual role, or the authority of a king-priest. But is that what happened?

Jacob, as he lay upon the bed of his departure from this life heard the announcement: “Behold, your son Joseph has come to you” (Gen. 48:2). There probably was not a more comforting, nor a sweeter word that Jacob could have heard than those spoken by that faithful servant attending him on that final day. With those words, heralding the arrival of his beloved son, he gathered up whatever strength he had left, for he knew he had one last task to perform. But just before doing that, he recalled to Joseph the covenant promise that he had received from God Almighty in Luz (Bet El). “Behold, I will make you fruitful and multiply you, and I will make of you a multitude of people, and give this land to your descendants after you as an everlasting possession” (Gen. 48:3-4). Jacob was not just telling Joseph this for the purpose of reminiscing. He wanted his son to know that the birthright included the land of Canaan and the covenant of fruitfulness. But please keep in mind that Jacob left out one little part of this covenant reminder, “and kings shall come out of your loins” (Gen. 35:11). Everything that was happening in those moments was under the guiding hand of YHWH. Jacob’s prophetic anointing was working with keen clarity. It was not because of old age that he forgot this portion of the verse. He knew and understood the statutes and ordinances of God’s kingdom government, suggesting that to him the term “kings” was not referring to the kingdoms of men, but to the kings after the order of Melchizedek.

Leaving out that portion of the blessing, he now concentrates on the prophetic destiny and significance of Joseph’s two sons, Ephraim and Menashe. Because Israel’s eyes were so dim from age, he apparently was not aware that they were present with Joseph; although, he did speak to Joseph very directly about them saying: "And now your two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, who were born to you in the land of Egypt before I came to you in Egypt, are mine; as Reuven and Simeon, they shall be mine” (Gen. 48:5). Notice Joseph did not argue this point with his father, as he knew the old patriarch had the right to adopt his sons.. “May they be like Reuven and Simeon”, Jacob declared. It was no coincidence that Jacob put Ephraim’s name before Menashe’s, even though Menashe was the firstborn. Thus in the positioning of the lads, he compared Ephraim to Reuven Leah’s firstborn and not Menashe. Joseph was totally unaware of what was happening, as later he questioned the way Jacob placed his hands upon their heads.

Why was Jacob so interested in Ephraim and Menashe? Let us go back to parashat (=”parasha of” ) “Miketz”, where their names are given. “And Joseph called the name of the first-born Manashe: 'for God has made me forget all my toil, and all my father's house.' And the name of the second he called Ephraim: 'for God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction'” (Gen. 41:51-52).
Hidden in these two names is God’s prophetic plan to bless and multiply while in a state of forgetfulness. God intended to bless all the families of the earth through the Abrahamic covenant. Thus YHWH, being faithful to His word, laid the foundations for the fulfillment of this part of the plan of redemption, in (and through) the House of Joseph.

Jacob now gets down to his prophetic ‘business’, and so does the God of Abraham. “And Israel beheld Joseph's sons, and said: 'Who are these?'” (Gen. 48: 8). Now why would Israel be asking Joseph that question when he had just proclaimed them to be his own, unless he was testing Joseph? Well, if he was, Joseph failed the test by still declaring that those two little ones belonged to him. There is another interesting point in the above scripture. Looking closely we find a very interesting switch. It does not say “Jacob beheld”, but “Israel”. From now on, throughout these next couple of chapters, when Jacob blesses, he does so in his God-given name of Israel.

The above question seems to be eternally on the heart of Jacob, as even later the prophet Isaiah says of him (Israel) that he doesn’t recognize his own children (see Isa. 63:16). Again in another scripture: “Therefore thus says YHWH, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob: ‘Jacob shall not now be ashamed, nor shall his face now grow pale; but when he sees his children, the work of My hands, in his midst, they will hallow My name, and hallow the Holy One of Jacob, and fear the God of Israel. These also who erred in spirit will come to understanding, and those who complained will learn doctrine’" (Isa. 29:22-24).
If we gain an understanding of what is going on here, in the tent of Jacob, so many years ago, we will not err nor complain about God’s order or instructions. Maybe we should hear again the voice of our father when he says: "Assemble yourselves, that I may tell you what shall befall you in the last days. Gather together and hear (from the root “sh’ma”), you sons of Jacob, and listen (also from the root “sh’ma”) to Israel your father” (Gen. 49:1-2)!!!

1. "Assemble yourselves, that I may tell you what shall befall you in the last days. 2. Gather together and hear (from the root “sh’ma”), you sons of Jacob, and listen (also from the root “sh’ma”) to Israel your father” (Gen. 49:1-2)!!!

Before continuing, please note the prophetic tone of the above exhortation.
In verse 1, “assemble”(the root letters a.s.f , ref. last week’s letter), means to “gather together” as at harvest time. The same word is used twice at the end of chapter 49, when Jacob “gathers up his legs”, and “is gathered to his people”. In verse 2, the word translated “gather” is from the Hebrew root k.v.z., like “kibbutz” - a modern day collective and is used more for gathering up people.

Continuing from where we left off last week, Israel takes the two lads in his arms, hugs and kisses them. Then, with tears streaming down his face, he looks into Joseph’s eyes and says, "I never thought I would see your face again, but now God has also shown me your seed!" (Gen. 48:11). Joseph then bows with his face to the ground, yielding to divine authority and order. Next, he places his second born, Ephraim, on his right side and Menashe, the firstborn, on his left, thinking that in this way the lads will be standing in their proper places, ready for Israel’s impartation of the blessing. With all the cast in place, prepared for the scene to be played out according to a given script, the protagonist suddenly changes the rules. Much to his son’s bewilderment, Israel crosses his hands, placing his right upon Ephraim’s head, and the left on Menashe’s. Here is how the Bible depicts this scene: “So Joseph brought them from beside his knees, and he bowed down with his face to the earth. And Joseph took them both, Ephraim with his right hand toward Israel's left hand, and Manasseh with his left hand toward Israel's right hand, and brought them near him. Then Israel stretched out his right hand and laid it on Ephraim's head, who was the younger, and his left hand on Manasseh's head, for Manasseh was the firstborn” (vs. 12-14). Israel’s action was no accident, nor did he ‘slip’ because he could not see. He had already set the order when he adopted them earlier on, announcing that Ephraim was to be like Reuven (who was the first born) and Menashe like Simeon (ref. v.5). The meaning of the boys’ names also provided a ‘prophetic clue’ as to what that order ought to be; that is to say that “doubly fruitful” was to be blessed over “forgetfulness”. It just so happened that later on in history, when they were apportioned their lots in the land, Menashe’s territory included Mount Eval (curse), and Ephraim’s included Mount Gerizim (blessing), with the city of Shechem between the two.

But even though Israel’s hands rested on the lads’ heads, he was actually blessing Joseph. “And he blessed Joseph, (emphases mine) and said: ‘the God, before whom my fathers Abraham and Isaac walked, the God who has been my shepherd all my life to this day, the sent one [angel] who has redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; let my name [Israel] be named upon them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth" (Gen. 48:15-16). The first aspect of the blessing was an acknowledgment of the One who will carry out the blessing. The God of his fathers, his shepherd, his redeemer would bless and be that same faithful, loving provider that he had come to know. Through the anointing that was upon this chosen one, God himself was continuing to order and establish His Kingdom in the earth. Jacob holding the offices of king-priest, was simply carrying out his divine duty as a bond servant of the God of his Fathers. Because of years of faulty replacement doctrines there is a vast ignorance of these statutes and ordinances of the Kingdom of God. This is like is like a curse on Israel. May the lesson of Balaam and Balak be learned, by those thus engaged (ref. Num. 22-24, especially the inferences to the blessings of Judah and Joseph in 24:8-9)!

In this portion of the blessing we notice that Jacob is being referred to as Israel, “and Israel laid his hands...” (v. 16), thus passing on the name “Israel” to Joseph and his sons. “May my name live on in them and in their seed”. Could this be the reason that the House of Joseph (Ephraim) came to be known mostly as the House of Israel?

“Now when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on the head of Ephraim, it displeased him; so he took hold of his father's hand to remove it from Ephraim's head to Manasseh's head. And Joseph said to his father: ‘Not so, my father, for this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head’" (vs.17-18). Here is another instance where the firstborn does not receive the blessing of the inheritance.

“But his father refused and said, ‘I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great; but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his seed [descendants] shall become the fullness of the nations’"(v. 19). In this one verse we have a beautiful and powerful prophetic picture of the destiny of the House of Joseph (Israel); as Menashe, they would be a great people (“am”), singular, like in “am Israel”, but forgetfulness (Menashe) would cause them to be oblivious to that fact. This is the mystery of the blindness of Israel. In 722 BC God cut them off (Mount Eval) from the olive tree of Israel by scattering and banishing them. He sowed them into all the nations, but not without first labeling them prophetically: “Jezreel” (God will sow), “Lo Ruchama” (no mercy), and “Lo Ami” (not my people), (Hos.1). Returning to the blessing… Israel continues by turning his attention to Ephraim, upon whom he pronounces fruitfulness, to the degree of becoming the “fullness of the nations”. Here the covenant blessing of multiplicity is being unveiled; God intended on multiplying the seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This would not be fulfilled by the House of Judah, but through the house that was called Jezreel. The testimony of how great that sowing was going to be would have to wait for the harvest time. Once the harvest is gathered (a.s.f. or k.v.z), to the place chosen by God, we will know and understand “how great the day of Jezreel” had been. "Yet the number of the sons of Israel will be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said of them, `you are not My people,' there it shall be said to them, `you are sons of the living God.' Then the sons of Judah and the sons of Israel shall be gathered (k.v.z.) together, and appoint for themselves one head; and they shall come up out of the land, For great will be the day of Jezreel” (Hos. 1:10-11)! Because the people (Am Israel) are “forgetful” regarding their identity, their hearts would have to be turned to their fathers (the patriarchs) by the same prophetic anointing that was on Elijah. “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the YHWH. And he will turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the earth with a curse"(Mal. 4:5-6).

“So he blessed them that day, saying: ‘by you Israel will bless, saying, `May God make you as Ephraim and as Manasseh!' And thus he set Ephraim before Manasseh” (v. 20). Here Jacob seals the relationship between these two aspects of their prophetic future (that is, “fruitfulness” and “forgetfulness”). This blessing is recited over the children on Friday evening, during the welcoming-of-the-Sabbath meal - “kabalat Shabbat”.

Ephraim
“Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity” (Ps. 133).

LIKE A MIST

Dec 2, 1999
This morning as my son and I went out for our morning walk, the dawn was just breaking over the Mount Garazim (Blessing) and Mount Eval (Curse). The clouds were beginning to reflect the deep purple and violet colors of the morning’s glory. As we continued walking, these hues and colors were lending a greater measure of brightness to the clouds, until the light they were emitting illumined the earth below. It was a spectacular sight. But as soon as the sun’s orange rays peaked over the horizon, shining directly on the earth, the clouds began to change and turn a dark gray. Within a few minutes these same clouds actually blocked the sun’s light, casting only their shadow upon the landscape.

My thoughts focused on the Scripture’s description of us, humans, as a mist that appears like these morning clouds; the “cloud of witnesses” (Heb.12:1), so to speak, that for a few fleeting moments embody the incredible testimony of the dawning day. Some of you may recall, from a previous letter, the meanings of the Hebrew words for evening and morning - erev and boker. The meanings of "boker", like "erev", can point to conditions, or interactions between light and darkness. Some of these means are: split, penetrate, rip, divide, reflect, inquire, seek, visit, consider. "Boker" brings with it the joy of the end of the darkness, and the full expression of the light (ref. letter a-39).

In these days of extreme drought here in Israel, clouds are welcome. But if their sole function is to paint the morning sky with glorious colors, they will be of no benefit to the earth, which will remain parched and barren. These are clouds that hold no rain, and have no water (Prov.25:14; Jude 1:12), and while they may be a precursor to the coming day, that day will be none the better for them. In fact, they may even block the “Son’s” light.

Many of us who have seen the dawning of the kingdom in our earthen vessels, glow with the excitement of the new creation life within, but at the same time can become so heavenly minded, or spiritual, that we are no earthly good, as the saying goes. Yes, we are the people of faith, but without works (rain), we will produce no fruit. Just as James, “a bond servant of the Lord”, writes to the twelve tribes: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces or works patience [a fruit]. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing…. Therefore lay aside all filthiness and wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; but he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed [fruitful] in what he does” (James1:2-4, 21-25). “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (James 2:17). What are these works and how are they connected to “Torah”?

Since the multiple mercies of the Creator and sustainer of life work within the creation, especially in man, and as “He is working all things out after the counsel of His own will” (Eph. 1:11), we must take heed to His “word” that He laid down in the Torah. The statutes, laws, commandments, ordinances and principles are all part of His “judicial” system. His kingdom is governed by “law”, it is not a lawless kingdom. Ignorance of His legal order is certainly no substitute for an ‘anything-goes grace’. “Those whom he loves he disciplines” (Heb. 12:6). Disciplining is a result of disobedience. Disobedience to what? Had there not been any standards or commandments, there would have been no need for discipline. The Kingdom of His beloved Son is a place of divine righteousness, divine justices, peace and divine order.

The great controversy over “grace versus law” mushroomed into religious doctrines that have left the redeemed community impotent, like clouds without rain. It is very easy to be deceived by the religious spirits of this world, as they lead the way into the rational knowledge of good and evil, where axioms such as ‘grace is good and law is evil’, are believed. If we are to know our God, through Yeshua, we must learn of “Him” and “His ways”. He is not only full of grace and truth, but also of justice. The judgments that have come, and are coming upon the earth are a consequence of law (God’s judicial order) and known as the “wrath of the Lamb” (see Rev. 6:16-17). A waving of the proverbial magic wand, of so-called grace, will not make His justice (laws) disappear. Yeshua spent a great deal of His time teaching us about these laws; reaping and sowing, forgiving and being forgiven, being merciful and receiving mercy, etc. For He said: "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not one jot or one title will pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 5:17-19). Many are trying to live today as if heaven and earth have passed away. But by keeping, doing and becoming God’s commandments “word” in the earth, is a matter of “LOVE”. “To love YHVH with all your heart and with all your soul and all your strength and your neighbor as yourself”(see Deut. 6:5, Matt.22:37-39), is no small commandment to be ignored and covered over by religious clich├ęs. “If you love Me you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15) By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.” (1 John 5:2).


The words for grace in Hebrew are “chen“ and chesed”. The latter is translated mercy or loving-kindness. Mercy cannot be understood without law or justice. Grace and law go hand in hand. This is why we pray: “in wrath (which is a result of God’s judgments) remember mercy.” (Hab.3: 2). This has been the case throughout history, as the Torah records. “Remember, YHVH, Thy compassions and Thy mercies; for they have been from of old” (Psalms 25:6). The Tanach introduces us to a beautiful inseparable blend of “law and grace” in the lives of our forefathers, and especially in “their seed”; Israel, as a nation which continues to be the testimony of this dynamic duality. “But let him that glory, glory in this, that he understands, and knows Me, that I am YHVH who exercise mercy, justice, and righteousness, in the earth; for in these things I delight, says YHVH” (Jer. 9:24).

If we view ourselves as these high and lofty beautiful colored clouds and forget that our true nature is more like that of a mist, we might also forget why we are here. The purpose of a mist is to water the earth, so that the seed can grow. “A mist went up from the earth and watered the whole face of the ground” (Gen. 2:6). Let us pray that we be not clouds without rain, but a mist that becomes the morning dew or an afternoon shower. “And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many peoples, as dew from YHVH as showers upon the grass, that are not looked for from man, nor awaited at the hands of the sons of men” (Micah 5:7). “Your dead shall live, their dead bodies shall arise--awake and sing, you that dwell in the dust--for your dew is as the dew of light, and the earth shall bring to life its shades” (Isaiah 26:19). May we be, “like the dew of Hermon, that comes down upon the mountains of Zion; for there, YHVH commanded the blessing, even life forever” (Psalms 133:3).

Ephraim
“Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity, IT IS LIKE THE DEW”(Ps. 133).

THE VISIT

Nov. 29, 1999
The recent weekly Torah readings (the “parashot”) of Vayetze (“And went out”) and Vayishlach (“And he sent”), present several points that I would like to reflect on. The first is the birth of Joseph (Gen. 30:23-25), and the second is Jacob's prayer in Gen. 32:11-12.

“And she conceived, and bore a son, and said: 'God has taken away my reproach.'
And she called his name Joseph, saying: 'The Lord add to me another son.'
And it came to pass, when Rachel had borne Joseph, that Jacob said unto Laban: 'Send me away, that I may go unto mine own place, and to my country'” (Gen.30:23-25).

During this past week, as I and three Ephraimite guests visited with a couple from one of the settlements in the heart of Israel, our hostess pointed to the importance of the visit “at such a time as this”. She then referred us to the above passage. Tears welled up in everyone’s eyes, as the dust from many generations of blindness was being washed off. The return of the house of Joseph, or Ephraim, to the land was not a threatening proposition to this pioneering lady, in this small town in the heart of Samaria. She had insight into the prophetic picture, in which Joseph’s appearance on the scene is a signal for Jacob to “go out” from the land of his exile. Thus, Joseph’s birth does not only signify the removal of reproach and shame off the wife who had been barren, but also marks the end of “galut” (diaspora) for Jacob, who returns to the “place” that he called his own “country”. At this point we are reminded of Jeremiah 31:15-17: “Thus says the Lord, ‘a voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping, Rachel weeping for her children, refusing to be comforted for her children, because they are no more.’ Thus says the Lord: ‘Refrain your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears; for your work shall be rewarded, says the Lord, and they shall come back from the land of the enemy. There is hope in your future, says the Lord, that your children shall come back to their own land’”.

Rachel named her first-born “Joseph” (from the root y.s.f.), so that God may add another son to her. But interestingly, just before she pronounced his name, she exclaimed with relief that God had removed her reproach (a.s.f.). In this context the meaning of this latter word, which sounds much like the former, y.s.f, actually constitutes its opposite. Rachel’s wish ultimately came true, but at the cost of her life. With her dying breath she named her second son Ben Oni - “the son of my strength” (it took all of her strength to give birth to him), but Jacob renamed him Benyamin (“son of the right hand”). This one was the only son to be born in the land, while the rest were all born in Haran. Benjamin was also the only one to be named by his father.

Our fellowship over potato pancakes (latkes) - a traditional treat for the up coming festival of lights (Hanukah) - was for those few fleeting moments a divinely appointed experience, as this very orthodox Zionist family welcomed long lost gentile-looking brother and sisters into their home, bringing to “light” a hidden mystery. The women were all weeping when we left, as if we were close family. Our hostess’s name happened to be Leah. And so, it was Leah from the House of Judah, who was welcoming Joseph the son of Rachel, who is truly being re-born.


Is it be possible that after so many generations of wounded hearts in the house of Jacob, between Leah’s family and Rachel’s, healing is taking place by the love and acceptance shown by the unloved older sister towards her once-despised younger sibling? Is that what were we experiencing in the home of Leah, as she reached out and welcomed into her home the Josephites? Are we beginning to see in today's reality the true working of the Spirit of the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac? Could it be that the kingdoms of this world, with its religious and political institutions, are being challenged, as Joseph's emergence means that Jacob is to leave his land of refuge with his whole family intact (“and Jacob came “shalem” – whole, complete or unharmed– to the city of Shechem…”, Gen. 33:18), and to return to “the place”, Beit El (the house of God), the land that God had promised to him when he lay upon the stone (ref. Gen. 28:10-17)?

This brings us to another point. Jacob's quick departure from his wives' family did not allow time for their father to bless them, and to say his good bye. So Laban pursued Jacob until he caught up with him, only to remind him that everything that he had obtained was actually his. It was after making a covenant that each of them went his own way. Following this episode, Jacob sees angels and names the site “Mahanaim”, which means “two camps” (Gen. 32:2). Having seen the angels and being divinely inspired to name the place as he did, Jacob came to realize, that his own household was divided by God into two camps. So as his brother Esau was coming to meet him, he proceeded to split up his family (as a precautionary measure which also turned out to be prophetic), according to the wives and their children.

Upon dividing his camp Jacob says: "O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, the Lord who said to me, `return to your country and to your family, and I will deal well with you'. I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies and of all the truth which You have shown Your servant; for I crossed over this Jordan with my staff, and now I have become two camps. Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, lest he come and attack me and the mother with the children. For You said, `I will surely treat you well, and make your descendants as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude'" (Gen. 32:9-12).

Jacob's dilemma is not unlike the one facing us today. The situation appeared grave, as Jacob was engulfed by fear of the reprisal of a brother, whom he thought hated him, and who was now advancing with four hundred armed men. His rational mind went into gear and he came up with a very interesting plan; appease the enemy by giving away one's own belongings. Or maybe put a few fleeces out there to check if God is party to the plan. We, as individuals, resort to these means almost automatically, but what is worse is that this approach does not stop here. We are also acting in this manner on a national level today. This is especially true in Israel, as we continue, stage after stage, to give up more and more land, with the expectation of preserving our life and deflecting the true intent of our brother, thus hoping to enjoy a better future.

Jacob’s prayer to the God of his fathers is quite revealing. On the one hand he fears his brother and asks God for deliverance, but on the other he is reminding God of His promise 20 years hence. He was now trusting in the faithfulness of a God that has yet to become his God. Remember the 'deal' (in Gen. 28:20-22)? In order for God to 'qualify' as Jacob's God, there were several conditions He had to meet, such as bringing Jacob back to "this place". Jacob, praying to the God of his fathers, not his own, is much like Eliezer, Abraham's servant who called upon “the God of my master Abraham”. God was not yet a personal God to Jacob. Many believers today are worshiping the God of the Bible, or the God of the Jews, or perhaps a Christian God, or some faith preacher's God, but yet lack, in their personal experience, a reality which allows for confidence in the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and one's own. We need to come to know Him personally through our God-given experiences in life. Returning to Torah and learning of the faithfulness and the love, which He intends to reveal through and to this generation of the "seed", is a good beginning. Like Jacob we pray, "deliver me"; "heal me"; "watch over me", but ultimately we will cease from the 'me prayers', and worship Him for His faithfulness as a covenant keeping God, especially when He brings us back as one family - "shalem" - to "Beit El", to the land.

Ephraim
"Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity"
(Ps. 133:1).

MOUNT OF BLESSING AND CURSE

Nov 19, 1999

This past week has been quite a full one, as almost every day we have taken people and groups into the heart of Samaria. We have traveled along the Jordan Valley to Gilgal, up the steep slopes of the Ascent of Ephraim to the Mount of Blessing and the settlement of Har Bracha, to Joshua’s altar on the Mount of Curse, east to Mount Kabir and to the settlement of Elon Moreh and then over to Itamar a settlement, one of the largest, area wise, which includes a mountain whose view spans the three seas in Israel, then back to Jerusalem via Shilo. It is hard to express what one sees or feels, as this experience penetrates the very depth of one’s soul. Listening to the young and old residents of these Jewish settlements tell of their lives, their hopes and their dreams in these places is certainly a rewarding and educational happening. All I can say is, come, see and touch this piece of Zion.

Yesterday, as a group of about 20 of us stood on Har Bracha looking west over most of the territory of Ephraim and Menashe all the way to coastal plain out into the Mediterranean sea, this scripture came to mind: “And Joshua spoke to the house of Joseph, to Ephraim and Manasseh, saying, ‘You are a numerous people and have great power, you shall not have one lot only, but the hill country shall be yours. For though it is a forest, you shall clear it and to its farthest borders it shall be yours’” (Josh. 17:17-18).

It was hard to imagine that the bare heights all around us were at one time filled with forests, but as we looked to the north we saw the Mount of Curse looming ominously above the Mount of Blessing, it served as a reminder of a Torah scripture which says: "Now the generation of your children who come, your sons who rise up after you, and the foreigner who comes from a far land, when they see the plagues of that land and the sicknesses which YHVH has laid on it, will say: `The whole land is brimstone, salt, and burning; it is not sown, nor does it bear, nor does any grass grow there, like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim, which YHWH overthrew in His anger and His wrath.' All nations would say, `Why has YHVH done so to this land? What does the heat of this great anger mean?' Then people would say: `Because they have forsaken the covenant of YHVH God of their fathers, which He made with them when He brought them out of the land of Egypt; for they went and served other gods and worshiped them, gods that they did not know and that He had not given to them. Then the anger of YHVH was aroused against this land, to bring on it every curse that is written in this book. And YHVH uprooted them from their land in anger, in wrath, and in great indignation, and cast them into another land, as it is this day.' The secret things belong to YHVH our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this Torah’” (Deut. 29:22-29).

The settlers of these areas are keenly aware of these fulfilled prophecies, and that is why they are zealous for the Torah and its strict observance. As far as they are concerned, their obedience will result in YHVH’s blessings, as promised by the prophets of Israel: “Again shalt thou plant vineyards upon the mountains of Samaria; the planters shall plant, and shall have the use thereof” (Jer. 31:5). “Behold, the days come, saith YHVH, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt. And I will turn the captivity of My people Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be plucked up out of their land which I have given them, saith YHVH thy God” (Amos 9:13-15). “And they shall build houses, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and eat the fruit of them. They shall not build, and another inhabit, they shall not plant, and another eat; for as the days of a tree shall be the days of My people, and Mine elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands” (Isa. 65:21-22). “But now I will not be unto the remnant of this people as in the former days, saith YHVH of hosts. For as the seed of peace, the vine shall give her fruit, and the ground shall give her increase, and the heavens shall give their dew; and I will cause the remnant of this people to inherit all these things. And it shall come to pass that, as ye were a curse among the nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel, so will I save you, and ye shall be a blessing; fear not, but let your hands be strong” (Zech. 11:11-13).

Are we in the day that YHVH is revealing things that He has hidden, those “dark sayings that were only expressed in parables” (Psa. 78;2). Is it us, who constitute the living, revealed, secret testimony of the covenant keeping God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? Remember: “Therefore thus says YHWH, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob: ‘Jacob shall not now be ashamed, Nor shall his face now grow pale; But when he sees his children, The work of My hands, in his midst, They will hallow My name, And hallow the Holy One of Jacob, And fear the God of Israel. Those also who erred in spirit will come to understanding, And those who complained will learn doctrine’"(Isa. 29:22-24). "Thus says YHVH: `Behold, I will bring back the captivity of Jacob's tents, and have mercy on his dwelling places; The city shall be built upon its own mound, and the palace shall remain according to its own plan. Then out of them shall proceed thanksgiving, and the voice of those who make merry; I will multiply them, and they shall not diminish; I will also glorify them, and they shall not be small. Their children also shall be as before, and their congregation shall be established before Me….’ The fierce anger of YHVH will not return until He has done it, and until He has performed the intents of His heart. In the latter days you will understand this” (Jer. 30:18-20,24).

I think it is obvious which days we are living in, and why it is important to come and see for yourselves, the testimony, both the blessing and the curse, which remain here as a testimony of YHVH’s faithfulness in the heart land of Israel.

Ephraim
“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together (shevet achim) in unity” (Psa. 133).

Thursday, February 3, 2011

SOUL AND SPIRIT

Nov 12, 1999 revised 27/06/03

This week I was forwarded a newsletter from a well-known Messianic leader. Not unlike the message we listened to a short while ago in Jerusalem, the writer of this newsletter also makes the categorical statement, that the heathen gentile nations replaced the ten lost tribes. In his words: "In the prophetic language of scripture, Judah naturally speaks of the Jewish nation, while Ephraim stands for the entire Body of born again believers from the nations. These ex-heathen wild olive branches were plucked out of wild pagan nations and, through faith, were grafted into Israel's cultured tree, taking the place and fulfilling the spiritual promises of the ten lost tribes of Israel's Northern kingdom, Ephraim." He then promises to expound more on the subject in the future. One may ask, "what prophetic language of scripture is he referring to?"

In addition to the (rather common) doctrine that the Jews of today make up all of the twelve tribes, this new 'theory', alleging that the Jews are from Judah but that those of the other tribes are lost and have been replaced by the gentile church, seems to be gaining ground now. As to the first of these two premises, indeed, there has been a mixing of the tribes over the centuries, in both Houses of Israel (that is, Joseph and Judah). But this fact, in and of itself, is not a sufficient fulfillment of all that is prophesied about of the reunion of the two sticks. To dismiss YHVH’s prophetic plan, regarding the "natural" House of Joseph, and to replace it with a 'spiritual' Ephraim or with the Jews only, is to bear false witness to the faithfulness of the covenant-keeping God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It is practically the same as calling YHVH a liar, thus taking away the anchor for our soul (see Heb. 6:13-20). There is a vast difference between a person who believes he is a 'spiritual Ephraimite' functioning within the church system, and a redeemed natural "lost sheep of the House of Israel", who lives, or is longing to live, in the land promised to him in the covenant of his now-rediscovered forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (see Mal. 4:6)!

The House of Joseph was to bear witness to the faithfulness and mercies of the God of Israel. Joseph's prophetic "tree" in the hand of Ephraim (see Ez 37:16) was to become a multitude in the midst of the earth, "the fullness of the nations" (Gen.. 48:19). However, as a single people (Menashe) they were to be blessed in their forgetfulness and thus were 'relegated' to a heap of scattered bones in the Valley of Jehosaphat ("God's judgments"). But in spite of living under the "rod of God's judgment", or the blessings and curses, as prophesied by Moses before their ancestors even went into the Land of Israel (see Deut. 29 and 30), YHVH declares (in these same prophecies) that He will not forget the covenant, and will establish it for "His own name sake" (see Ez. 36:22-32).

The great religious deception of the spirit of this world, is the same one that was made manifest in the beginning. While the natural man was, and still is, "a living soul", he was beguiled by the serpent, dwelling in the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, who told him: "You can become like God", who is Spirit. What that subtle creature was in effect saying to man was that he, in his soul, could become a spiritual entity. In 1 Cor. 15, Paul the apostle expounds on that mystery from the Torah. We, as sons of Adam and as sons of Abraham, must keep this issue in perspective. Abraham did not descend from God; he was a descendent of Shem, Noah, and Seth, the latter having been born in the image of his father Adam – “a living soul” (ref. Gen. 5:3). Again “The first man Adam was a living soul” (1 Cor. 15:45).

This 'spiritualization' tactic, which was introduced very early on into the Church by those who were nurtured by Greek philosophy, taught that the natural man was worthless and that only the spiritual man (which to them was god like) had any eternal value (reminiscent of what Satan told Eve); thus deceiving the soul into believing that it was a spirit-being. The religious system has embraced this same idea in a “one new man”, thus presenting the Body of Messiah as only spiritual. However, there are not “many” spirits that make up this body. The apostle wrote over and over that there is only one Spirit in the multi-membered Body of Messiah (see 1 Cor. 6:17), but the expression of the One Spirit is manifest through multitudes of souls that are yielded to His presence and sovereignty in them. “Each individual member (soul) has its unique spiritual anointing, or calling and gifting, according to the will of the Spirit of Holiness. But even though each has this anointing it does not make the soul a spirit. If we believe otherwise, the word of YHVH is made of none effect, (see Heb. 4:12). It also launches the believer onto a premise, which distorts his understanding of the God of the Bible and His covenant with a very natural man (Abraham) and his progeny, not to mention the believer’s understanding of his own identity, as one of those seed, as well as what it means to be a “new creature” in Messiah. This spiritualization also tears apart the temple of YHVH’s Spirit and the prophetic fulfillment of a nation of kings and priests that rule and reign here in earthen vessels, on this earth. “For YHVH, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of YHVH in the face of Yeshua the Messiah. Thus we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of YHVH, and not of us” (2 Cor. 4:6-7).

A firstfruit redeemed Israelite, is called by scripture a tabernacle or temple of the Spirit of Holiness (see 1Cor 3:16). The Spirit of YHVH has taken up residence in the Holy of Holies at the believer's personal feast of Pentecost (Shavuot). This experience marks the beginning of the restoration of YHVH’s relationship with the soul of man in the Holy Place. Scriptures say that the spirit of man is the candle of YHVH’s Spirit (Pro. 20:27). We are thankful that when YHVH separated Himself from man at the so called “Fall”, that “He did not quench the smoldering wick” (Isa. 42:3; Matt 12:20). This smoldering candle is revived by the presence of the Spirit of YHVH, but remains hidden in His Spirit. Therefore Col. 3:3-4 exhorts: "set your mind on things above….." That is to say, the soul, in a posture of worshiping in spirit and in truth, is to face the narrow gate that leads into the Holy of Holies, and to bathe in the Light that is now emanating through the torn veil. But the warning: not to set the mind "on things that are on the earth", tells the soul not to look out, through the wide gate which opens towards the proverbial east, in the direction of "the spirit of this world." Verse 3 continues saying: "For you have died (spiritually) and your (spirit) life is hidden with Messiah in God". Where? In the holy of holies. But in verse 4 we find out that the "Messiah, who is your life (spiritually), when He is revealed, then you also are revealed with Him in glory". Does this make the soul a spiritual entity? No! However, the soul does begin to die to immorality, to impurity, to passion, to evil desire, to greed etc. (see v. 5). Moreover, if the soul sits, walks, and stands in the Light of the Holy One, it will begin to reflect the nature of His Spirit through obedience. It will begin to put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience etc, . Has it now become a spirit? Again, no! But it will - eventually - merge fully with the Spirit of Holiness. "Behold I tell you a mystery, we shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable and we shall be changed; for this perishable must put on the imperishable and this mortal must put on immortality" (1Cor. 15:51-54). There is no need therefore to be in too big of a hurry to put on the imperishable, especially to do so by looking out the wide gate, as it were, into the religious systems of this world. The latter would be only too glad to cover us with the cloak made up of their spirituality, which is none other than the "beautiful garment of Shinar"-Babylon (see Joshua 7:21).

"It is the Father's good pleasure to reveal His Son in me", (Gal. 1:15-16) wrote the apostle. And it was out of the mouth of one of the least in the kingdom that the following words came: "He must increase, but I must decrease" (John 3:30), to become a temple filled with His glory and a people for His namesake.

Ephraim

"Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together (shevet achim) in unity…" (Ps. 133:1).

1976 HIGH ADVENTURE

November 5, 1999

Back in February of 1976, I had a life changing experience. At the time I was a special education teacher, working with parents of multi-handicapped children between the ages of 6 months to 3 years. I was 33 years old, single, living in California, and a believer only about 3 years. The Catholic charismatic group that I belonged to decided to go on a trip to Israel. I was trying to make excuses, so that I would not have to go to ‘look at a bunch of holy relics’, but nothing seemed to work out, in favor of my staying home. Eventually, I found myself on an El-Al flight heading toward the Middle-East with about 1,300 others, who would be joining us there. The name of the tour was “High-Adventure”. Little did I know it would be a ‘high’ from which I would never come down.

It all started, as the El-Al flight was taxing in over the Mediterranean Sea. I looked out of the window while the people sang “Hevenu Shalom Alcheim” (Peace Unto You). As my eyes caught the little sliver of land out on the horizon, I suddenly started to weep and cry; everything inside of me was saying, “I’m home, I’m home, I’m home.” I thought to myself, “this is crazy,” but what was happening to me was very real and somehow uncontrollable. Later I found out that many Gentiles and Jews were having this same experience as prophesied in Jer. 31:9: “They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them; I will cause them to walk by rivers of waters, in a straight way wherein they shall not stumble; for I am become a father to Israel, and Ephraim is My first-born.” During the ten days of touring the Land, I felt as though I had been living here all my life; everything seemed so familiar, especially Jacob’s well, Joseph’s tomb and Shechem, in the heart of Israel.

When it was time to leave and go back to the United States, my heart did not respond to the ‘idea’, it wanted to stay. But I knew that I had to go back. Upon arriving at the Ben Gurion Airport we discovered that there was not enough room for everyone on the flight. Some of us had to wait and catch a later flight. Being single, and not wanting to go anyway, I volunteered to stay behind. Well, twelve hours later we found ourselves on the next available flight back to NY.

I was assigned an isle seat somewhere in the middle of the plane, next to a very new believer and an enthusiastic young lady who was busy handing out tracks to folks on the plane. But I was too overwhelmed with my own thoughts to take much notice. It just so happened that the whole middle section of the plane was full of Jewish businessmen from New York, who had been on an investment trip to Israel. After about an hour in flight, as I was relaxing back in my chair, pondering my feelings about Israel, I noticed suddenly a pair of pants standing next to me. As I glanced up, a very angry-looking man was glaring down at me. As a matter of fact, he was so livid that his whole body was shaking. With his finger pointing right between my eyes, the words he growled with clenched teeth were: “Get up I want to talk to you!” I didn’t exactly know what to say, so I gestured at myself, asking, “Who me?” When he confirmed that I indeed was the object of his attention, I sort of slid out of my seat and stood next to my new acquaintance. The man’s stature towered about 5 inches above my height, and he was about fifty pounds heavier. He looked to his left and then to the right, and as our eyes met, upon their return, he ‘gave’ me a white knuckled fist with the thumb of a hitchhiker, and growled again: “Let’s go to the back of the plane!” He whirled and strutted back to the tail of the aircraft. As for myself, I wanted to sit back down and forget this whole thing, but I found my legs carrying me to the rear. When I arrived at our ‘destination’, I scooted behind the last two seats. I saw the exit door to my right and the bathroom door to my left. A thought ran hurriedly through my mind: “I wonder which one of these doors he is going to throw me through.” Just then He took a step and we were positioned toe to toe, and nose to nose. My ‘friend’ then proceeded to put his finger up in the space left between our respective noses, and said the following words to me: “Why is it that you Christians are always trying to proselytize and change we Jews, when all that we want to be is loved?”

There wasn’t a sound in my head, nothing in my mind. But out of my mouth came these words: “Could you forgive us for not understanding?” Tears began to come into his eyes; tears came to my eyes. We embraced. Saying nothing more he went back to his seat, and I to mine. As I sunk down into the chair I asked in prayer: “Lord what was that all about? What do You mean, can they forgive us for not understanding? What aren’t we understanding?” Well, I didn’t get an answer to that question right then. But a few days later I woke early one morning, and posed that same question before the Lord again. I felt He gave me this answer: “When My people see the love that manifested itself for you, in all of its fullness on Calvary, come forth from your heart to theirs, I will rent the veil and they will see Me as their Lord and Messiah.”

Later, as I was reading Romans 11: 28 which says: “As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sake: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers' sake,” In that little verse I seemed to discover what we are not understanding. God Himself made the Jews enemies of the Gospel! It does not say that God has replaced or abandoned His divine prophetic plan for them, but just that for a period of time they would be enemies of the Gospel for the sake of those who are from the wild side of the family (Ephraim, known as the “fullness of the Gentiles”). Later they too would be grafted into their own root of Judah, which is natural to them. “Whoso is wise, let him understand these things, whoso is prudent, let him know them. For the ways of the LORD are right, and the just do walk in them; but transgressors do stumble therein” (Hos. 14:9).

Ephraim Frank

“The fear of YHVH is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the holy is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10).
“How much better is it to get wisdom than gold! Yea, to get understanding is rather to be chosen than silver” (Proverbs 16:16).

INTERESTING WEEKEND

October 29, 1999

I ended last week's letter with a request to pray with me as I went to Elon Morah - Shechem to participate in a weekend of celebration. Every year for the past four years the settlement of Elon Moreh has hosted those who wanted to bring their families to read the parasha Lech-Lechah and remember Abraham our father's journey into the land of promise. From Friday afternoon to Saturday evening YHVH had some very interesting experiences for me, both from the personal point of view and from the two houses perspective. I will try and recount for you some of those highlights.

The first thing that happened was the amazing trip from our settlement into the heart of the valley of Shechem. Normally it takes about an hour and fifteen minutes to drive. But for some reason it only took me 45 minutes, which gave me some time to see a friend on another Settlement in the area of Elon Moreh. While this friend took me around the area, to show me how much land there is available for settling and planting even vineyards. My heart was longing for the return of Ephraim to his own mountains to live and work the land and to begin to plant the vineyards. “Again shalt thou plant vineyards upon the mountains of Samaria; the planters shall plant, and shall have the use thereof” (Jer. 31:5).

We went to the highest point from which, on a clear day, one can see the three bodies of water, the Meditrainian sea, the sea of Galilee and the Dead sea. I shared with him about the two houses and especially the return of the House of Joseph. This was not new to him as he responded very positively to the possibility of these Gentile (Ephraimites) returning to the land of their forefathers. But he said it with a big cautious exclamation mark.

I left there and drove to Elon Moreh, just in time to catch the bus to Joseph's Tomb. Because it was Friday the streets of Shechem where empty of people. The only ones that where seen were the Palestinian Soldiers with their Kolashnikov weapons. As the bus came into the area of the Tomb. Palestinian flags greeted us along with large cement blocks stacked up to form a formidable fortress around the Tomb area. Israeli soldiers drove up in a jeep and took position around the buses as the Palestinian soldiers looked on. The bus then drove up as close to the opening as possible and we all disembarked. The inside of the area was like a synagogue with a court area outside and piles of sandbags making little bunkers. We went into pray for about 15 minutes, I stayed a little after to look at pictures and to read about Joseph making his brothers swear to bring his bones back to the land. All of a sudden a settler came in with his two little boys, one about 5 and the other 3 years of age. He walked up to me gave me a pair of scissors and took his youngest son and asked me to cut off some of his long hair. They do not cut the hair of the boys until their third birthday. My interpretation in those moments while standing next to Joseph's tomb, was like little Menashe the 5 year old and Ephraim the three year old were returning to their father Joseph. The cutting of Ephraim's hair was like his first experience in knowing what it is like to have Hebraic roots. I saw this as picture of where Ephraim is today as a nation.

Arriving back to Elon-Moreh, I was surprised to find that instead of staying in a large room with 20 young people and eating peanut butter sandwiches, I was invited into the home of one of the settlers to spend that weekend with them. It was a great blessing to walk through the weekend with him and his six children. We had great fellowship together as YHVH knitted us together through the experiences of the weekend.

On Shabbat morning I went with him to one of the six meeting places on the settlement for the morning service. At the end of the Torah reading they invited me up to pick up the scroll and sit with it while they put back on its covering. As I sat in the chair holding this large parchment against my left shoulder my hands griping the two sticks that it was rolled up on. I could feel the weight of the Torah as it pressed against my heart, and was struck by the meaning of how it must felt for the Jewish nation to carry the scepter of Torah for all these generations. My compassion was stirred in love and appreciation that the house of Judah had to walk through years of persecution for the sake of Torah. Another thought came to me as my sweaty hands griped the two sticks that the Torah was wrapped in, could these two sticks be the sticks of the two houses rapped in Torah. For without those two stick working together in harmony with one another the word of Elohim written on the skin of a lamb or sheep, would be unusable.

As we walked back to the house I felt to begin to share with my host about how I saw the return of the ten lost tribes and who they might be. How it was at Shechem that the break took place between those two nations and if there was any spot in all Israel that the breach would be restored, it would have to be in Shechem the orginal spot that it was torn apart. As we entered into his house and just before we set down to eat he looked at me with tears in his eyes. And said: "Now you are beginning to understand why we are here." I could not say another word, as we set down at the table (altar) for the shabbat meal.

Later that afternoon the guests were divided into groups and we walked up to a high look out point on the settlement and the guides shared with us about the area and its history.

A couple points that were very interesting was that not only did Abraham first come into the promised land just below were we were standing, but also Jacob returning from Heran with his family came to Elon Moreh-Shechem. Joshua leading Israel out of the wilderness, came to this same place. Another observation from that point, as we looked at all the Mountains round about, is that never have vineyards been replanted on those hills after our forefathers were cast out in 722 BC. Not even Herod, nor any of the occupiers over the thousands of years planted those grapes vines, those bare hills still weep silently for their beloved redeamer watchmen to come and plant and call out “Let us go up to Zion to YHVH our Elohim”.

Ephraim
“Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity” (Ps. 133).

SETTLERS

October 22, 1999

As you know, from one of our most recent letters, on Elon Moreh, our connection and involvement with the settlements in the heart of Samaria has been growing. But the most amazing part of this adventure, beyond involvement with the heart of our land, is the insight into the heart of the Orthodox Jewish Zionist settlers. In coming to know them and their way of life, I believe I have seen the faith of Abraham manifested on a level quite different from what I had observed in other circles of the faith community. In these settlers I detect what may be defined as the Shadrack, Meshach, and Abednego type of faith. We must remember that the faith of Abraham is still apparent in his progeny. YHVH blinded the eyes of the members of the House of Judah to the Gospel's message, for the sake of the other House of faith (Joseph's). But that does not mean that their faith and trust in Elohim is not genuine.

Let us pause, and recall the story of Shadrack, Meshach, and Abednego. They were Jews living in Babylon during the days of Daniel and Nebuchadnezzar. These three were not willing to compromise Torah, nor to bow down to foreign gods. Their faith life style was not just based on tradition but rather on a genuine walk, in obedience to the Word of Elohim. They trusted in the Elohim of Israel, the Elohim of their forefathers and in His Torah. But what was remarkable about their faith, is that they seemed to know the sovereignty of their Elohim and the limit of man's authority and control. Listen to their straight forward conversation with the king of Babylon: "Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, that you do not serve my Elohims or worship the gold image which I have set up? Now if you are ready at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, and you fall down and worship the image which I have made, good! But if you do not worship, you shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. And who is the Elohim who will deliver you from my hands?"

"Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, 'O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our Elohim whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your Elohims, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.'" (Dan. 3:14-18).

The three Hebrews did not deliver to the king a theological treatise, or charged him with injustice; neither did they make claims to human rights, and nor did they try and finagle their way out by calling on some religious or political leader. Their unequivocal answer was simple and direct: "We have no need to answer you in this matter, our Elohim is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and from your hand. But…" please note this next statement, "But if not…" Many would say, 'well that’s not faith! They have to keep that positive confession that Elohim will deliver, and thus armed with that confession, that is what He will do.' However, as far as they were concerned that little "but if not", was a recognition in Elohim's absolute sovereignty in all of life's circumstances. They were safeguarding their faith, regardless of the outcome. This rendered them confident and able to address the king with the boldness of a faith that entrusted their lives to the unseen Elohim of Israel. "Let it be known to you, O king that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up." In other words, "you may put us into the furnace".

Now back to the settlers. The other day I was given a map of the latest partitioning of the land, following the Sharm el Sheik agreements. What I saw was shocking, to say the least; what is left of the heart of our country are but a few trails to three or four settlements, Elon Moreh being one of them. I spoke over the phone with a couple from one of the settlements, and I asked them a straight forward question about the decisions that were being made by our political leaders, along with the United States and the United Nations. Their answer astounded me: "Have you not read the word of Elohim? We see our lives here in accordance with Elohim's covenant! This land is ours and we do not recognize any other plan. We must trust, even with our lives, the Elohim of Israel." I began to realize that this is not just a "mere" Zionistic ideal. These people are genuinely living out of their sustaining faith, even to the point of entrusting the sovereign unseen Elohim of Israel with their lives and the lives of their children.

This past week's Torah portion was the story of Noah, who was also a man of faith. He did not have to walk through fire, but through water. Later YHVH would comfort Zion by assuring her that just as He swore to Noah, that He would not flood the earth again, so would He not remove His loving kindness from her (Zion), nor would His covenant of peace be shaken, or His compassion. (see Isa. 54) He did not say it would be easy for her; nevertheless, His faithfulness to His bride would be unchangeable. The Haftarah reading from Isaiah 54 spoke volumes about the Holy One of Israel; as a husband, Redeemer, and Maker of Israel (Zion). Let us keep in mind this concluding verse, as we walk ("Lech Lechah") with our Father Abraham to Elon Moreh (Shechem) in the land that was given for our inheritance. "No weapon that is formed against you shall prosper; and every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants (Israel) of YHVH" (Is. 54:17). May those who are out in the Golah (diaspora) begin to return to the inheritance, not just by lip service, but by seeking YHVH on how we (especially the Ephraimites) can walk with our brother Judah in the land. For YHVH said in Ezekiel 37 that He would make us ONE IN THE LAND. In conjunction with the Torah portion Lech-Lechah, there will be a prayer rally weekend in Elon Moreh. It will begin at the tomb and property that Jacob bought Joseph. I will be going on Friday to walk and be with them on this special Shabbat. Please join us in prayer, as a prophetic statement of the faithfulness of our covenant-keeping Elohim.

Ephraim

"Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unit." "But you, Israel, are My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, The descendants of Abraham My friend. You whom I have taken from the ends of the earth, And called from its farthest regions, And said to you, `You are My servant, I have chosen you and have not cast you away: Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your Elohim. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand" (Ps. 133:1; Isa.40:8-10).