Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Woman of the Hour

Woman of the Hour
The Redemptive Value of Obeying the Call

In recent weeks, an existing phenomenon that has plagued the Jewish People for a long, long time has once again come to our attention, and that is defeatism, self-hatred, or brotherly-hatred. Whether we look back to the time of the destruction of the Second Temple, which is purported to have occurred because of “causeless hatred” within the Jewish Nation, or to the Jews in the Diaspora, where too often the victims identified with their victimizers, and all the way to the Return to the Land in the course of the past century and to the sometimes appalling treatment of new immigrants, not to mention the denial of the Jewish identity by assimilation in the past and present, this observable fact remains a brutal reminder that something is sorely missing.  Even now, there are individuals or groups of Jews within the Land, or outside of it that are acting in ways that are harmful and potentially dangerous to themselves and their compatriots. We could fill up a whole book outlining and detailing the various historical incidents that prove this sad reality in the house of Judah.

In view of the call of the Jewish Nation – Judah – as it is defined and expressed in the Bible, the above-described condition is very sad, or worse… tragic! Yet as we search the book of Genesis, we find that some of what has taken place in the life of Judah, who returned from his self-imposed exile to the land of his ancestors, is parallel to the return to the Land of the Jewish people. This leads us to draw hope from the rest of Judah’s life and expect a similar fulfillment, on a large scale, over the entire body of the Nation of Judah.  

Judah, as we know, not only took part in the scheme to harm Joseph, the hated and envied sibling, but also led his brothers in finding a ‘solution to the brother problem.’ “Why just get rid of the guy, when we can also pocket some shekels in the process?” Judah also agreed to the diabolical idea of deceiving their father as to Joseph’s whereabouts, knowing full well the degree of pain and grief that they were inflicting on the Patriarch.

Shortly thereafter we hear that Judah “departs,” or literally “goes down,” leaving his home and family for the purpose of “visiting” his friend Hirah. Apparently, guilt-ridden Judah could no longer face his father and found a way out; it is called denial. By leaving his family, inheritance, people, and calling, he thought he would be free from the heavy burden (possibly coupled with self hatred) that was wearing him down. Assimilating among the people of the land, he married a Canaanite woman who bore him three sons. The fruit of this marriage was not sweet… YHVH found the firstborn to be evil, so He killed him. The second son was not any better than his sibling, as when he had an opportunity to raise seed for his deceased brother he refused to do it (knowing that should a son be born to him, the former would obtain all the rights of the firstborn, denying him of those privileges). Therefore, he too was evil in YHVH’s sight, and soon after died. Judah himself did not keep his word to his daughter in law, Tamar, to give her as a wife to his youngest son. In fact, after Judah’s wife died, he had no compunction about going to a harlot, and leaving with her as a guarantee his seal, cord and staff, items that signified his position and identity. Oh, how similar are his descendants, who so often were willing, and still are in many situations, to hand over their most precious inherited treasures to today’s harlot of the world system - Babylon!

On the other hand, the “harlot,” the disguised daughter in law, was willing to go to no end, even to the point of degrading herself and beyond that, risking her very life for the sake of fulfilling the Order of Redemption. Tamar’s noble action ended up inspiring her father in law to take on, for the first time in his life, the role and calling for which he had been destined!  Thereafter (following the birth of the twin boys that Tamar bore him) he returned home and the next time that we meet him, he is seen acting in a manner worthy of a firstborn redeemer. The convicted Judah was willing to take his younger sibling, Benjamin, under his wing when he and his brothers had to go to Egypt to procure supplies, taking full responsibility for him to the point of willing to give up his life, if need be. The test was not late in coming, when Joseph’s cup was found in Benjamin’s sack.  Judah became his brothers’ spokesperson, advocating the case as a genuine firstborn (though fourth in line of birth), and taking full responsibility for Benjamin (ref. Genesis 44:32-34). It was this stand that Judah took that eventually allowed Joseph to reveal himself to his family members.

Through the years, many among the Israel/Judah-loving believers have identified with Ruth. However, history points to a Tamar-company of people, especially to those who were known as the ‘Restorationalists’ in Britain and in other parts of Europe. For hundreds of years different ones, mostly in the British Isles, were set ablaze by the knowledge that the Jews were supposed to return to their ancient homeland. So motivated were they to bring this about, that more often than not they found themselves having to convince the Jews as to the importance of this venture. They continued acting on behalf of Judah, preparing him for his return home. Even Theodore Hertzel had an enthusiastic Christian counterpart, Rev. Hechler.

But the story does not come to an end there. In our day and age, we are looking for Tamar to rise up and to be willing to ‘groom’ Judah, at any cost, for their call, because to do so is her call. Among us there are those who already appear to be functioning in this way, whether they are fully aware of it or not. Yet many more are to become part of the “Tamar company” or the Tamar calling, until Judah’s eyes begin to open to his full identity which is bound up in his mission and destiny, and to the path that he is to take in order to get there. When Judah becomes cognizant of his destiny, he will see the need for his brother Ephraim and for their joint operations and oneness in the future.

Should Ephraim at this time, while still unrecognized by Judah and seen as a “gentile Christian harlot,” follow up in the footsteps of Tamar, the “woman of the hour”?

Further insight into Tamar’s identity is found in Chapter 32 – Judah’s Lesson - of our book Firstborn Factor in the Plan of Redemption


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Our forefather's example

When writing to the Believers in Corinth, the apostle Paul turned back the pages of history and asked those who accepted the New Covenant if they had learned anything from the Torah of Moses: “Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come” (1 Corinthians 10:11).  In the above instructions, what is Paul referring to when pointing back to the forefathers and their testimony? What kind of witness were they, and why is it so important for us too to take note of their experiences and mistakes?

The apostle did not want his addressees (and us by inference) to be ignorant or unaware of possible parallels or similar situations in their/our lives, as iniquity can be passed on from generation to generation.  He explains the connection between his contemporaries and the old biblical events, but first makes mention of the presence of Messiah in those situations that the ancient Israelites faced in the wilderness: “They were all under the cloud and passed through the sea.  They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink, as they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them and that Rock was Messiah” (ref. 1Cor 10:1-4). 

Yes, in spite of the (above described) spiritual realities, which met our ancestors in their circumstances, they failed to respond in accordance with faith. Thus YHVH was not pleased with them. Let us glean more details about their waywardness from Paul’s instructions to the Hebrews: “Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those, who came out of Egypt with Moses, who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness?  And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey?  So we see that they could not enter in because of disobedience” (Hebrews 3:17-19 emphases added).  They turned a deaf ear to the Word of Elohim and to the instructions that were first uttered at Mount Sinai, and later imparted to them through Moses.  It seems that there was a major obstacle that hindered their hearing, seeing, and understanding and that was the ‘heart issue’ which was the core of the matter. Paul warns us as well: “Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, in the day of trial in the wilderness, where your fathers tested Me, tried Me, and saw My works forty years.  Therefore I was angry with that generation, and said, 'They always go astray in their heart, and they have not known My ways’” (Hebrews 3:8-10). 

As the above scripture tell us, our fathers saw YHVH’s “works” in the course of those forty years in the wilderness. Similarly, what are the works that YHVH accomplished through the “New Covenant” that we, by the obedience of faith, are to embrace and walk in? These works have been recorded by the apostles by means of the Spirit’s inspiration.  These messengers of YHVH warn us by comparing us with our ancestors.  It is not a ‘given’ that we will succeed in our attempt at obedience, because we face the same temptations by our own lusts, as well as from the kingdom of darkness as did they.  Hence we are addressed by the following warning: “Lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness, of sin” (Hebrews 3:12).  Yeshua pointed out to His disciples the source of the problem: "For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, "thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lewdness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness.  All these evil things come from within and defile a man" (Mark 7:21-23).  Paul is referring to the same issue when describing our forefathers in the wilderness. Even in the presence of YHVH the latter were still overcome by their lusts, which is why they did not enter His rest. “Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. And do not become idolaters as were some of them.   As it is written, ‘The people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play.’  Nor let us commit sexual immorality, as some of them did, and in one day twenty-three thousand fell;  nor let us tempt Elohim as some of them also tempted, and were destroyed by serpents; [as we see in this Shabbat’s Parasha reading]  nor complain, as some of them also complained, and were destroyed by the destroyer” (1 Cor. 10: 6-10). 

As for us, even though we have the Spirit of Messiah and have died to sin, nevertheless “lust” is still resident and operative in our hearts and minds.  Paul warns us that we are still able to serve sin.  If you noticed in Romans 6:12, it says: Do not let sin reign, [rule or have dominion] in your mortal bodies” (emphasis added). It is therefore our choice, even though “the power of sin still works in me, it is no longer I who do it but sin that dwells in me,” as Paul confessed in Romans 7:20.  We, who now possess “the light of the knowledge of Elohim in the face of Messiah” (2 Corinthians 4:6), which is the power of the Spirit of Holiness, have no excuse for not coming to rest by the obedience of faith.

“Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear lest any of you seem to have come short of it” (Hebrews 4:1).