The Holy and the Profane

 

 

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

The holy and profane cannot coexist together. Either the holy consumes the profane, or if the holy is not a result of inner peace, the profane could corrupt one who appears to be holy. The mere existence of both in the same location often causes a violent reaction. This could be dangerous to your existence.

Consider some examples given in Scripture. In Numbers 16 the story of Korah is given. Korah had rallied a group of men together to oppose Moses. If someone is trying to bring together a group to oppose a man, they are showing that they lack inner peace. Something has riled them, and this turmoil in their soul will cause them an incredible amount of trauma if they attempt to touch something holy. This was Korah’s intent. They not only desired to usurp some God given authority from Moses claiming that all Israel is holy, they accused Moses of presumptively lifting himself above Israel, indicating that God had not set him there. Moses’s reaction was quite different from the normal. Rather than rallying people to his cause and attempting to defend his position, he fell on his face before God. Moses’ power and authority did not stem from the actions of the people. Instead they were based on revelation from God through miraculous events prior to leading this group of slaves out of Egypt. If Moses had no inner peace concerning who had put him there and depended upon the rest of Israel to come to his defense, then he may have received an equal reaction from the Holy, but Moses was secure that God had placed him where he was and his help was going to come from God Almighty.

Due to the security that Moses had in God and the peace he showed from the relationship that had developed, Moses’ response was, “Tomorrow morning the LORD will show who is His and who is holy, and will cause him to come near to Him.” Insufficient inner peace would have made him rally the troops, defend his position, expose Korah and his friends as rebels, and tell how unjustly he had been treated. Moses’ reaction was simply, “So you say I am the wrong man for the job, okay, let’s let God decide.” (paraphrased)

Moses points out the lack of inner peace in his contenders. He begins with showing that they considered God’s call on their life, a light matter. Moses reveals their envy for the position that he had been given, even though Korah and his company had been given a special and even holy position of their own. This is evidence of being discontent, another manifestation of lacking inner peace. When Moses called Dathan and Abiram forward, they refused and complained about the circumstances through which Moses had led them. Then they pointed the finger at Moses and spoke of how he was “acting like a prince” over them. This again is showing discontentment, anger toward God for the way He had delivered the Israelites. Moses then revealed some anger, but the anger was not toward God or the situation that God had set Moses in, but the attitude of those who had come to challenge him.

The next day they returned with their holy censors, and their holy incense, but possibly with their personal fire. Their profane methods came before the holy God of Israel, and it says, “the Glory of the LORD appeared to all the congregation.” While this would normally be considered a wonderful manifestation, this is a bad omen when there is a good deal of unholiness going on. Moses gave a scenario concerning how God would reveal His purpose, but left the decision on who is holy up to God. The earth opened up and swallowed all the families of the rebellion. Soon after that, the Levites became real conscientious about proper procedure and following the instructions of Moses.

Leviticus 10 tells of another time when profane fire was brought before the Lord. Nadab and Abihu, Aaron’s sons brought incense lit with profane fire. They did not follow the instructions of the Lord. They touched a holy thing without showing proper protocol which revealed a lack of respect for the holy and YHWH. They mixed the holy and the profane. In doing so, the holy consumed their profane actions and got them in the process. Holy fire came from the altar and toasted the profane which included Nadab and Abihu. The holy and the profane do not coexist. One overtakes the other depending on the spirits of those involved. We must be clean vessels if we wish to draw near to a holy thing.

When I was in Israel last year for the B’ney Yosef Congress, we made a trip to the tabernacle in Shiloh. The tabernacle was not there, but there was great evidence that it had been there at one time. The hills were literally littered with pottery shards. People brought offerings to the tabernacle in clay pots. Since these pots brought an offering, they were considered holy, just as the offering would be holy. This meant that the pot could no longer be used for a common purpose. They could no longer use it to carry water to their house, or store flour for their daily sustenance. To make sure one did not accidentally place a holy pot in for common usage, they would break the pots where they camped. These broken pots cover these hills for miles in every direction. The pot shards represented that the children of Israel at one time considered this important. They took holiness seriously. The nation of Israel has no prohibition for taking these shards as souvenirs. My question is, do we want to take something that was holy 2000 years ago and use it for our own pleasure? Has holiness diminished over time? Maybe we would be putting something that was holy back into common usage if we brought it home to entertain our churches or family.

This leads me to why it is important to clear one’s conscience on a regular basis by restoring relationships. It is not good for us to be at odds with our brethren, our family members or even those unrepentant reprobates who live among us. As people of God, we need to properly represent him before man. Consider Yeshua’s words:

NKJ 1 John 4:20 If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love God whom he has not seen?

Ouch! We could argue that this is specifically speaking about a natural brother in the flesh. We certainly would present such an argument if we had little problems loving our natural brother but had dramatic problems loving those other believers in our congregation or in congregations that do not do things like ours. One of the easiest ways to follow this verse is to limit those who we call brothers. If our brothers are only those who believe exactly like ourselves, then we have it made. We don’t have to straighten out our relationship with anyone. Verse 15 in this chapter indicates that maybe this is speaking of our fellow believers in Messiah since it states, “confesses that Jesus is the Son of God,…” That might make it more difficult, since it probably already includes people we disclaimed years ago. Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Bahais, and Catholics claim Yeshua is the Son of God. It is truly difficult enough to have our relationship right with those of like beliefs. I don’t want to set the sights too high, so we should at least get started on relationships with those in our immediate fellowships. As we grow in maturity, we probably need to expand until we include those in churches that we were removed from when we first found this new information. I’m sure we made many errors in our approaches to old friends who now could use some apologies to mend the wounds. Let’s further explore the words of our Messiah.

NKJ Matthew 5:21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old,`You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ 22 “But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother,`Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says,`You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire. 23 “Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, 24 “leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. (emphasis added)

If we do not have our relationship with our brethren in proper alignment, we cannot have sufficient inner peace to deal with the holy. Our relationships are the greatest reason for us to have insufficient inner peace. If we are bickering in our families or in our assemblies, we cannot be about the work of God. Notice that this instruction of Yeshua doesn’t limit your actions to when you have done something to someone else. It speaks of when your brother has something against you. You could be innocent and completely without blame. Still He states that you should go to your brother. He knows that we often never see our own flaws and if He had worded it so that it only included those you knew you had harmed, very little clearing of the air would ever happen. We usually see ourselves as innocent, so Yeshua took an innocent person and asked him to go to the brother who may have falsely accused him. This is difficult. It requires great humility.

The Shema has been translated in many ways, but there is one word that clearly has a better, but less used English word to translate it. It is the word that gives us the name for the passage, “Shema.” In most translations this word is said to be “hear,” i.e. “Hear O Israel….” Our English word, “hear,” is not a direct equivalent. Hear can be just the result of the sense, not indicating any action resulting from the sense. In Hebrew the word shema does not only mean to hear a noise, word, or instruction. There is a distinct indication of action from what is heard. In other words, it could be translated as hear and do. Yet, there is one less used English word that indicates this nuance. It is the word “heed.” I believe a better understanding would be gained if we translated the shema to say, “Heed O Israel, the LORD your God, the LORD is one.” In this case we should act as though He is one and that He is our God. Actions speak much louder than words. If we believe the holy writ, it is important that we act accordingly. The words of the Tanakh are quite clear that the holy and the profane should not be mixed together. The words of our Messiah are clear that we should get our relationships straightened out or we shouldn’t even bring our gifts to God. It is profaning his name to ignore our relationships with each other and continue to claim we are His followers. “By this all will know we are His disciples if we have love for one another?” (NKJ John 13:35)

This work concerning a unity between Yehudah and Yosef, which God has proclaimed and Bney Yosef highlights, will happen, but it requires a people who are willing to lay down their pride and take up a holy assignment. It cannot be exercised with envy, greed, an ego, a need to be the most visible, the most in control, the one who is always in the forefront. Neither can it be manifested if we have relationship problems with each other. This job description requires a group of people who are willing to humble themselves because they see a higher goal that is more important than feeding their ego, or making them famous. This requires humility and a willingness to take the blame even when you may not be responsible. When we see the plan of God, it diminishes our self-importance. He can and will do what He has proclaimed through the prophets. The question is not whether He is capable, the question is whether we will be His servants who accomplish the task before us. He is looking for a few humble men and women. He will find them. Maybe not in America where we lean on ourselves more than on Him, but maybe we can humble ourselves and submit to His desires. He will provide the holiness when we are clean enough vessels to not explode because of our profane nature. Only He can clean us, but only we can allow Him the opportunity. We study Torah. It gives instructions. We know what to do. Shema Israel.

Written by Frank Houtz, former B’Ney Yosef North America Elder Originally published 9-20-16

The Great Commission and its Relationship to Judaism

 

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

In the article “Evangelism, Historically and Hysterically,” we discussed our methods of gaining vocabulary and learning definitions to our words. This learning starts in the sub-conscious by us hearing and imitating our parents. Our skills develop in more complex methods later as we learn the need for a dictionary and how to use it. Our development for understanding words should not cease with an English dictionary if we desire to be good Bible students. The Bible is not a plain English document written a few days prior to our present time. We must learn to consider that the book originally was written in a language dramatically different from our own in a time period that few of us can even understand.

We might even have a difficult time agreeing on the original language of a particular passage. We have several options for the specific passage in Matthew that this article will address. A good number of Christian pastors assume that it was written in Greek because that is the source text for most of our Bibles. Digging further we might discover that historical evidence states that Matthew was written in the language of the Hebrews, 1 indicating to us that the original was Hebrew, but later translated into Greek for the surrounding Greek speaking culture. And then there is the third option. Matthew could have been written in Aramaic since many Jews spoke Aramaic at the time and Aramaic could have been known as the language of the Jews. 2

Some of you may wonder why time has been spent in discussing the language of origin. There are various nuances of a language that hint at the meaning of certain phrases. Depending on how the document was translated, those nuances may become a determining factor on what was meant by the passage. The following discussion will be based on the belief that the book of Matthew was originally written in Hebrew, not Greek or Aramaic. While I acknowledge that Aramaic was a language of the Galilee region, there are a few lines in Matthew that seem to indicate a Hebrew origin over that of Aramaic. The naming of Yeshua is a classic example and an article “The Use of the Messiah’s Name” concerning that explanation and to why this indicates Hebrew rather than Aramaic can be read in full at http://drybonesrestorationcompany.com/articles/Individual/Messiahs_Name.pdf. The article is an explanation as to why I will often use Yehoshua rather than the shortened form Yeshua.

Language is not the only clarifying topic we should consider when reviewing a passage. The context including the prevalent culture, grammatical nuances, time period in which it was written, to whom it was written and what purpose was the focus of the author are just a few of the additional tidbits of information that will help give a clearer understanding of this ancient and very important document.

With expanding our analysis in considering more things than just the English translation of the Bible, we need to reevaluate the meaning of a passage that is believed by many to be a command. It is the instigator that caused us to head in the direction of making all conform to a particular belief. This passage is referred to as the Great Commission. Here, a portion of Matthew 28:19 is quoted from the New King James Version, “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations,…” For now, we will examine the source language of this translation. The New King James was translated from the Textus Receptus, a Greek text of the New Testament. Reviewing the first word “go” starts our journey to discover a clearer understanding of the text in its ancient framework.

“Go” is the Greek word, πορευθέντες (poreuthentes), meaning to transfer or go. 3 This particular usage has some grammatical nuances that may confuse the English speaking reader since we truly do not have an equivalent English form of the word. The Greek word is a participle. 4 To clarify this grammatical analysis for those of us who speak English but are not skilled in grammar, a participle in English often but not always ends in “ing.” 5 It has the characteristics of both a verb and an adjective. Hence it is a verb describing what the noun is doing. Clarity would not be increased on this subject by just inserting a participle form of go, “Going therefore and make disciples…,” doesn’t make much sense. To further complicate this, the Greek word is passive, not active. 6 This means that it is an action in process that is referring to the subject of the sentence. In this case, the subject is not even mentioned but assumed. The noun in question is the person to which the sentence addresses. So maybe a better way to indicate its passive participle nature would be to say, ‘As you are going….” It is a state of being. You are in the process of going as a part of your daily routine. You are being assumed to be a going person.

Let’s hold that thought for a moment and combine it with a second phrase that will begin to reveal the intent of this passage, “make Disciples.” Maybe the word disciple will be too foreign for most people, so a more common term in English would be, students. This phrase, “make Disciples.” is taken from one Greek word µαθητεύσατε (mathateyusate). 7 It’s grammatical analysis is as follows; a verb, imperative, active 2nd person plural. This means among other things that it is in the command form. This nuance is problematic, because we cannot make students. We can become a student and sit under a teacher to learn, but we cannot force an individual to sit under our teaching. They are free to go where ever they like and if they are being treated in a manner they do not like, then they are sure to leave. Making a disciple would require force, so I think we are misunderstanding the intent of the text to assume such. The force used in new movements to gain adherents is usually their downfall. Force indicates what today is called “cultish behavior.”

The teachings of Messiah tend to remove force from the picture. We cannot force anyone to sit under our teaching. Forced conversion does not work either since force can only cause compliance of action, not submission of the mind. You can have a compliant individual, but not a sincere one. Our history has been full of us using force to gain our desired end. History indicates that we truly believe the end justifies the means. Force takes on different forms in different centuries. During the Holy Roman Empire, we used Roman Law to influence people to follow Christ. Certain national laws were made to change Jewish behavior in regards to keeping Torah. Constantine, made a Roman law indicating that the Sabbath was Sunday, the first day of the week. While this actually was a change in Roman practice as well since prior to that time the seventh day was Friday (Venus Day) in the Roman count according to the Planetary week, 8 it effectively shows how Roman law was used to counteract Jewish teaching. Many other such laws were made to force Jews to follow Christian tenets. In the middle ages we participated in the crusades. It was mainly a dispute between Christians and Muslims, but the Jews often got the brunt of our dispute. The carnage of force colored the deserts. So, the actions of Isis in this day were common in Christian and Muslims communities in that day. Youthful zeal often causes much harm and gives birth to uncontrolled use of force. Youthful zeal does not always dissipate with age. Proper aging will distill zeal into contemplated resolve. Without proper aging, it manifests as militaristic force over the will of an unprepared people.

But the question remains, did Yeshua incite the passion to teach people who did not want to be taught? Does this one word, translated as, “make disciples” demand that His followers stop a person on the street or at their front door to demand they hear the saving message? I do not believe that Yeshua was that ignorant of human nature. Did He not know about personal boundaries? 9 Did he not say, “seek and ye shall find?” 10 I suspect He did know about human nature and personal boundaries. So his command to teach is only in the context of the first phrase. Please allow me to paraphrase a bit to give a more clear intent of the Great Commission. “As you are going … live in such a manner that people come to you and ask about why you act the way you do.” That was a lot of paraphrasing, and without some additional textual support, I could be taking it way too far. This concept is echoed in 1 Peter.

NKJV 1 Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;
(emphasis added to clarify the conditions under which this is done)

Our life is suppose to cause someone to ask about the hope we exude. Our response is to be one of meekness and fear, not of arrogance and causing others to fear God’s damnation. I would like to propose, the model of conversion that we have been given in the church is one of failure. Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses have taken the church model and perfected it. If that method worked, every person in America would either be a Mormon or Jehovah’s Witness. Instead, the Jehovah’s Witnesses usually only have a very small congregation similar in size to most Hebrew Roots Congregations. We have taken a modern evangelism method and incorporated it into the Hebrew Roots/Messianic movement. It has failed to produce any large change in the Jewish world toward Christianity and I suspect it will continue to fail for all those who persist to use it. The reason it will fail is that it is not the meaning of the texts. We are following failed methodologies rather than Scripture’s instructions.

Consider Deuteronomy and how God planned on His word going out to the nations.

NKJV Deuteronomy 4:6 “Therefore be careful to observe them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes, and say,`Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ 7 “For what great nation is there that has God so near to it, as the LORD our God is to us, for whatever reason we may call upon Him?
(emphasis added to clarify the methods under which this is done)

The way the message gets out is to carefully keep the commandments. It is to impress the people as to how wise we are shown by our actions. It says nothing about going to the people and claiming they should be keeping them. It is “live and do” rather than, “go and demand.” There is no manipulation, verbal coercion or condemnation. Just plan proper behavior and letting those around recognize it. Pride contains the message, “see how holy I am.” Only humility without the “see how holy I am” message can reveal the truth of God. This Deuteronomy passage is comparable to the Great Commission, “As you are going, make students…”

Another nuance in the Great Commission that should be considered is that it makes a distinction of who or where these disciples should be found. The phrase, τὰ ἔθνη (ta ethno), 11 “the nations” is translated somewhat randomly by the translators depending on the paradigm to which they hold. In the New King James it is translated as, all nations, the nations, or the gentiles. It is a good equivalent to hagoyim in Hebrew. If a Jew read this verse and it used hagoyim in Hebrew, 12 he would immediately feel relieved. Hagoyim would be recognized as the heathen by a Jew because that is the way it was used in the first century and the Tanakh. 13 A Jew would never consider himself a heathen. When considering the Greek in this passage, the form of ethnos used, is in a plural form with a definite article in front of it. This pattern is usually exclusive of the Jews. 14 Yes, goy is a Hebrew word that means nation and in a singular form could refer to the nation of Israel. But when used in a plural sense and especially when combined with the definite article i.e. hagoyim or ta ethno, it is typically exclusive of self or the Jews. Hence this would likely read, in a New Testament reflecting its Hebrew nature, “As you are going, make disciples of all the heathen….”

I agree that Israel is a nation. So if the nations, in context, is discussing every nation on earth, all nations might be an appropriate translation. However, I’m not too certain we should take that liberty with its general usage. Ha goyim and ta ethno both are pre-dominantly used to designate a group exclusive of those Jews using the term. The Great Commission was spoken by a Jew. His native tongue was likely Aramaic or Hebrew, but it seems he was fluent in each. Therefore the idiomatic usage of hagoyim being exclusive is likely the cultural norm in Yeshua’s surrounding society. Therefore, in absence of any clear distinguishing context to the contrary, it would be appropriate to translate it as common usage. Historically, Christianity has considered their mission to be to anyone who moves, so in context of our current society, this has been translated as it is. This is a bias introduced by our modern culture, not a historical analysis of the text. Considering this, it is probable that the Great commission is not even suggesting that one should evangelize a Jewish believer in YHWH. 15 It may not be a command to convince anyone of who Messiah is, rather to introduce them to the God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob. Notice what is to be taught, “Teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you….” This connects right back to Deuteronomy 4, where the wisdom that “the nations” were to understand was the commandments.

In closing, the mistaken notion that has been taught over several centuries is that it is our responsibility to explain everything we know concerning Yeshua to everybody we meet and that the complete Gospel message must be preached to all by us. Instead it seems that Yeshua was teaching us to behave properly and was saying that our behavior was the proper method of spreading the news about His work in our lives. There are further terms that we need to explore in order to fully understand Scripture versus dealing with this topic. Each of us may have received from our youth a definition to many of these words and now impose that understanding each time we read the passage. In following papers we will discuss other terminology and false methodologies. Hopefully this will give us a clearer understanding of the will of our Messiah. Israel has had a partial blindness put upon them. We cannot be certain that the term Israel here includes the Jews, but from our present paradigm we can be sure that it includes us. So we must look at the manner in which this blindness has been put on us and recognize that it was the plan of God. We now have the job of removing the blindness because the times of the nations has come to an end.

.

Footnotes

1 Eusebiusʼ Ecclesiastical History, translated by C. F. Cruse, Hendrickson Publishers second printing Jan 2000, p 164 (quote from Irenaeus) “Matthew, indeed,” said he, “produced his gospel written among the Hebrews in their own dialect,…”, p166 quote from Pantaenus indicates that the Gospel of Matthew had traveled as far as the Indies and “Bartholomew, one of the apostles, had preached and had left them the Gospel of Matthew in Hebrew, which was also preserved until this time.” p 106 (quote from Papias) “Matthew composed his history in the Hebrew dialect, and everyone translated it as he was able.” p215 (Origen is quoted speaking about the gospels) “The first is written according to Matthew, the same that was once a publican, but afterwards an apostle of Jesus Christ, who having published it for the Jewish converts, wrote it in Hebrew.” p89 (Clement is quoted) Matthew also having first proclaimed the gospel in Hebrew, when on the point of going also to other nations, committed it to writing in his native tongue and thus supplied the want of his presence to them by his writings.”

2 (Possible alternative understanding of “Hebrew”) The above quotes of many early Christians all use the term Hebrew, but each could have been speaking of Aramaic a close sister language. The Clement quote illustrates this best because he claims to be writing in his native tongue. Judging from an assumption that Matthewʼs origin was in the Galilee region since he was a tax collector in Capernaum, Aramaic is believed to have been the lingua franco of that area.

3 πορευθέντες from poreuomai to lead over, carry over, transfer.

4 πορευθέντες verb, participle, aorist, passive, nominative, masculine, plural form of poreuomai

5 (The Random House Dictionary of the English Language, second edition) Participle: an adjective or complement to certain auxiliaries that is regularly derived from the verb in many languages and refers to participation in the action or state of the verb; a verbal form used as an adjective.

6 πορευθέντες verb, participle, aorist, passive, nominative, masculine, plural form of poreuomai Passive denotes the form or voice of the verb whose subject is the receiver of the action. it is carried is an example where the action is upon the subject, rather than an active form, “he carried the ball” where the subject does the action.

7 μαθητεύσατε verb imperative aorist active 2nd person plural from μαθητεύω
[GING] μαθητεύω – 1. intrans. act. and pass. deponent be or become a pupil or disciple Mt 13:52; 27:57 (both pass.); 27:57 v.i. (act.) – 2. trans. act. make a disciple of, teach Mt 28:19; Ac 14:21.*[Cf. μάνθανω, μαθείω.] [pg121]

8 For studies on the planetary week Oxford Companion to the Year is a wonderful source.

9 I recommend Barry Phillips teaching on this subject given at the Bney Yosef North American summit in Tampa 2016. Video footage of this teaching will be available soon.

10 Matthew 7:7-8

11 1484 εθνος ethnos (eth-nos) Meaning; 1) a multitude (whether of men or of beasts) associated or living together 1a) a company, troop, swarm 2) a multitude of individuals of the same nature or genus 2a) the human race 3) a race, nation people group 4) in the OT, foreign nations not worshipping the true God, pagans, Gentiles
Usage: Gentiles 93, nation 64, heathen 5, people 2 total 164

12 In the Hebrew New Testament the translators saw fit to translate this as haamim, “the people” rather than hagoyim, the Gentiles. The translation into Hebrew most likely used an English source and translated it with a modern evangelical bias.

13 1471 גוי gowy {goʼ-ee} rarely (shortened) גי Meaning: n m 1) nation, people 1a) nation, people 1a1) usually of non-Hebrew people 1a2) of descendant of Abraham 1a3) of Israel 1b) of swarm of locusts, other animals (fig.) n pr m 1c) Goyim? = “nations”
Usage: AV nation 374, heathen 143, Gentiles 30, people 11: total 558

14 τα ετηνο is used in 44 verses in the New Testament. Luke 24:47 is one of the few times that τα ετηνο might be considered to include the nation of Israel because of its translation as, “all nations” instead of “the gentiles.” Luke 24:47 “and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.” The word ἀρξάμενοι (beginning) in this verse is a form of αρχω meaning to rule. The word “at” would more accurately be translated as “from.” It seems this phrase would better be translated as, “beginning from Jerusalem” as a source not as a subject. Here the English seems to uses τα ετηνο as referring to Israel, but a closer look reveals that the source is from Israel rather than being to Israel. The American Standard Version, Youngʼs Literal Version both agree with this interpretation and the Peshitta clearly indicates it by using מן as the Aramaic word indicating “from.” Matthew 25:32, Acts 14:16, Romans 16:26, Galatians 3:8, in the NKJV translates the phrase as all nations, but again would be better understood as exclusive of Israel, rather than inclusive. Revelation constantly translates the phrase as all nations. The massive usage of all nations in Revelation stems from an ignorance that Israel rules with Messiah during the Millennial kingdom. So of the 44 verses only 5 in the NKJV attempts to be inclusive of Israel outside of the book of Revelation. I think every time it is used, it should be exclusive including the book of Revelation because it is based on a false paradigm from eschatology.

15 NKJV Mark 2:17 When Jesus heard it, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

Written by Frank Houtz, former B’Ney Yosef North America Elder

Evangelism, Historically and Hysterically – How We Learn to Walk

 

A few months ago, I saw a 2-year-old on YouTube. He was reported to be a preacher’s son. They gave him the mic up on the stage behind the pulpit and he paced back and forth across the stage yelling like a Pentecostal preacher. It was cute. He couldn’t really talk yet, but he had the sounds and inflections down. He sounded just like many Pentecostal ministers except without comprehensible words. After watching it I read some of the comments. One lady said, “Doesn’t he have the Spirit of God upon him? God has big plans for this boy.” I knew he was just imitating his father. This is not credentialing for the indwelling of the Spirit of God. I was somewhat surprised that this adult seemed to judge the Spirit of God by the fact that he could scream at the age of two. It was the manner in which he screamed that seemed to indicate the Spirit to her. He did so in the manner of her preacher.

The facts are that the first way we gain information is through subconscious learning. This is where we imitate those to whom we are closely connected. No child is truly taught to walk, they merely observe and imitate. All language is learned this way too. Children don’t open up a dictionary to discover the meaning of a word. When we were children our parents used the word in our presence and we learned how to apply its meaning in sentences. Children only use words the way their parents have used them, they learn to talk, subconsciously. All native language is learned this way. Babies and toddlers hear and imitate. This means that one may be able to use a word properly and get the results he desires, but may not be capable of defining the word to another person. This is due to his level of thinking on language. A toddler will not have discovered there are multiple languages and that there may or may not be relationships between them. He certainly does not know grammar or have any understanding of etymology.

As we grow, we slowly and systematically add additional procedure and skills which enable us to take in more abstract concepts like grammar and linguistics. A dictionary isn’t even necessary until some formal learning is introduced and a person comes to the understanding that there may be a right or a wrong answer. A dictionary is of no value to someone who does not read, cannot say the alphabet in order or comprehend that there may be several meanings to a word. To understand that there is a right and wrong answer is actually first grade level. It isn’t until several grades later that we discover that there can be multiple answers to some questions and all of them be right. Algebra is a math that teaches a person how to answer more than one question in a problem. It is decidedly more complex than addition and subtraction, but it uses those disciplines as a base. So Language, Math, Science and all subjects, including Biblical Study, progress along similar paths as one’s skills develop into a more and more complex analysis.

Returning to the use of words, it is evident that most people don’t get far beyond the subconscious learning in language. Most have no knowledge of the grammar in their native language. They speak it fluently, but grammar is not necessary to conduct day to day communication. We use proper grammar because we have heard it said properly and imitate what we have heard. We also break grammatical rules because we have heard it wrong. I probably could not interest most of you in an English grammar class. Have you ever been asked to define a word and found it difficult to get the right definition even though you have used the word correctly for years? I’m sure many of you have. Once we learn to use a word and get the results we want by using it, there is little incentive to dig further and gain skills that seem to us to be useless. This is where we have problems today with our discussion of biblical topics. Our definitions may vary, but we are all using the same words.

Paul is a good Baptist boy of about 6 years of age. His mother talks to him about something that is going to happen at church this Sunday, “There is going to be a baptism Paul and you will get to watch.” Paul has no clue what his mother is talking about. Paul is used to not knowing words his mother uses and he never asks for her to define the words. A good portion of every sentence his mother has said since he was a baby, he has not understood. I suspect that “define” is not yet in his vocabulary. Paul just says yes to mom and goes on playing with his toy car. When Sunday rolls around, he goes to his church and witnesses a baptism. The preacher calls forward a family and tells the church that the Barber family want to join South Hill Baptist Church. “They come with a letter of good standing from Oak Grove Baptist Church,” he says. “They have moved to Russellville because of a job opportunity.” The congregation takes a vote on allowing them to join. Upon being accepted, the family is immersed in water in a baptistry behind a curtain on the stage and accepted as a member of South Hill. Now Paul has a definition that he can depend upon. Paul knows what is meant by the term “baptism” and is ready to use it in a sentence on his own.

Mary is a little girl about 6 years of age and her mother is talking to her about something that is going to happen at Mass this week. She exclaims, “Mary, you are going to witness a baptism. It’s only the third one since you were baptized.” Mary could care less even though her mother seems to be excited. Mary does not know what a baptism is and really her dolls are much more interesting at the moment. When Sunday comes around her priest takes a baby from the arms of his parents and holds him over what appears to be a birdbath. The priest then sprinkles water on the baby and gives it a Christian name. Mary now has a visual for the meaning of Baptism.

Mary and Paul attend 1st grade together at Belmont Elementary. They both come to school on Monday with a story for show and tell about baptism. Paul starts sharing his story and quickly Mary finds he is taking her story. When Paul describes the baptism, Mary quickly knows that Paul didn’t see a real baptism. When she gets up to tell her story she begins to correct Paul on all he said. Paul takes offense and says she doesn’t know what she is talking about. The teacher intervenes, but both go home knowing they are right and the other is wrong.

We understand that both attended something that each called a baptism, but we also know that different churches do baptisms differently. We each have a personal preference and know the other is really wrong, but we have at least become aware that there may be more than one way a church practices this rite. The problem is, after we have this subconsciously defined in our mind, when we read the Bible, the term baptism in the Bible is defined by what we saw. Scripture is defined by our experience. We are told, this passage is why we do what we do. So our practice defines Scripture rather than Scripture defining our practice.

Most of the specialty terms in the Bible are defined by what we observed early in our religious training. We all have a degree of the Christianese language in our life. We say things that have meaning to us because our congregation uses them in a certain way. “Praise the Lord” is often understood as an act of praise rather than a command to praise. “I’m saved” means that you believe you have the gift of eternal life and not that your life was spared from peril. There is quite a vocabulary of Christianese and few even know they possess it. They don’t realize these specifically religious terms have meaning in the real world and may mean something else to those who are not a part of their spiritual society. Consider the question, “Are you saved?” In English this is probably an incoherent sentence. You have to be saved from something. In Christianese it has important meaning.

Just putting any verb and noun together does not necessarily make a sentence. Ran is a verb in a past tense form like “saved” is also a past tense verb. Asking, “Are you ran?” makes no sense. I realize that we are using “saved” as a participle, making it a description of a state of being for the individual, but in Scripture, the term isn’t used in this fashion. It is a verb. So, we have forced a verb into an adjective to communicate a category of people. We unfortunately, eisegete this understanding back into the Scripture making it difficult to understand. Added to the difficulties of us not knowing grammar or how to use it to analyze a sentence, language changes over time and meanings of words change too.

Definitions Do Change Over Time

Clear definitions to words are crucial in order to have an open dialogue on any topic. If our society uses a word in a particular fashion, it will give meaning to that word in our minds by the way it is used. Often the usage in a culture is somewhat different from the dictionary definition. The ambient usage allows us to impose a new definition on the dictionary meaning. If our actions indicate that it means something other than what it does by written definition, the actions usually prevail in the way society understands the meaning. Hence, terms tend to migrate in meaning taking on new subtleties as they are used over time. Dictionary definitions change in the process.

Modern technology that enables communication over long distances instantly has quickened the rate by which words change. One hundred years ago, it would have been unusual for a definition to completely change in a person’s lifetime, but today we have seen several words take on new meanings, making the older definition completely disappear. The word ‘gay’ is a classic example of change, going from a meaning of happy and cheerful, to a discussion of sexual preference. The sexual terminology and social taboo quickly made the joyous connotation fall into disuse. More recently the sexual connotation has begun to take a second place to the idea of a misfit. In the approximately 60 years of my life, I have known 3 different definitions to the same word. That is rapid change.

Stephen Foster, a mid-19th century folk songwriter, has already begun to receive the brunt of the change in meaning. He was the author of “My Old Kentucky Home,” the state song of my home state, Kentucky. This ballad was written as an anti-slavery song, yet in today’s politically correct environment, it is thought to have racist terminology. The second line of the song is sometimes changed today because the meanings of the words have changed. The line states, “And the darkies are gay.” 1 Some now associate the term darkie as being a racial slur, but when Foster penned these words, it had no negative connotation whatsoever. It merely was distinguishing a group of people. Frederick Douglass, the famed Afro-American abolitionist promoted the song because it portrayed the plight of a slave who could be sold to another owner further south and loose his comfortable life in Kentucky. Frederick Douglas did not consider the song to be demeaning in any way. Secondly, the word gay meant joyous or happy. So, Foster’s intent may be clarified in modern English to read, “and the Afro-Americans were satisfied and happy.” As soon as my generation dies out, the old connotations will be forgotten. Then, it may be taken to mean that all dark-skinned people are homosexuals, or maybe all dark-skinned people are misfits. This shows when we look at that line from a later time period with new connotations added to the words, it becomes offensive. I doubt one person in Stephen Foster’s time would have considered the line to be offensive. Afro-Americans of that day appreciated the statement against slavery. Today when the song is sung, the word “darkies” is sometimes being replaced with “people.” This obscures the intent of the song as an anti-slavery ballad. Time and context make a difference.

Another word that has changed in our present-day language is the word “evangelize.” In our recent history it had two distinct meanings, but in this day, one has begun to disappear. Dewitt and Dolly Garrett, my wife’s grandparents, were missionaries to Rhodesia. When they went to Rhodesia, an automobile was a rare machine. Roads had been designed for pushcarts and animal drawn transportation, not a motorized anything. They went to Africa to start a new life with a completely different culture among a completely different people. They went to be servants to these people as well as teach them about their relationship with God. Dolly Garrett, after raising six children of her own in Africa, started an orphanage to take care of orphaned African children. There was a tragic cultural situation in Africa that even further clarifies the differences of language in diverse parts of the world.

Rhodesia at this time had English as their national language, but the words may not have been used in a similar manner as we used them in the United States. In Africa there were the native Africans that were usually called “black people” or “Negros.” Then there were the British colonists who were called “white people” or “Europeans.” A third group arose from these two who were a mixture of the black and the white residents. These people in Africa were called “colored.” The same term was used in America, but it had a completely different connotation. Colored in America meant anyone of African descent and often included Jews, Native Americans, Orientals and other darker skinned groups. In Africa it meant only those who were a mixture of the two colors. These “colored” Africans were hated in their culture. Colored children were often abandoned by their parents and it was rare for anyone to even give them the basic necessities of life. The coloreds were treated horribly. Dolly, seeing this tragic treatment of God’s precious people, decided to do something about it. She started an orphanage opened only to abandoned “colored” children. This was a part of their work in Africa and a part of their presentation of who they were and the character of the God they served. In that day, it would have been called evangelism. As a result, I think all of those children believed in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob because they knew they were valued by those people who followed Him. Dolly lived to be 100 years old. Prior to her 100th birthday we had to request that her adopted children not fly in from all over the world to celebrate her birthday. She just could not have handled all the attention at that time.

Today, the terms have changed. Dolly Garrett’s work might be seen as evangelism, but a person without religious beliefs may also do the same thing. So, the idea of living the life may have given way to a secular practice and only the work Dewitt did in the planting of churches would now be considered evangelistic. I have often heard Christian people criticize Christians who go to a people in need with the plan of only offering aid and not preaching a sermon. Doctors volunteer to offer medical services to seriously devastated societies, while facing criticism from evangelicals because they do not give daily sermons. Some of these doctors share when they are asked why they give of their time, but they recognize their profession of Medical Arts takes precedence at that specific time. They served the people and periodically got opportunity to share their faith to curious beneficiaries of their work. Their service speaks volumes of their life and will influence more people than constant preaching.

My brother-in-Law’s wife, Candy Garrett, grew up in the jungles of Brazil. Her parents Dawn and Steve worked with the natives of Brazil. Dawn was a nurse, so she set up a medical clinic in the jungle. She helped with their physical needs and her husband learned the language and translated the Bible into their language. In their missionary organization, the teaching about God always was a part of the life of the people who came to minister to the native’s physical needs. They lived with the people, incorporated into their society and met the needs of those people while they shared their understanding of God. They worked with these people for over 30 years. That is integrating into the society to share one’s life.

Print media, television, and the Internet have caused dramatic changes in human society and how we view evangelism. In particular, for example, ‘television’ has been combined with the term “evangelist” and we have the “television evangelist” or even “televangelist.” A television evangelist cannot share his life with his audience. He cannot serve any of their material needs. He is only an image on a screen. He can only deliver a message. This reality has divorced all concept of action from the message. The audience does not know the evangelist’s life. They only see him on television. The message may be condemning or it may be uplifting, but a general tendency to bring a mostly lifeless message has often resulted in a presentation of a basic message of salvation from hell and a list of rules that supposedly define a Christian walk. The more we dwell on what we think should be required of others, the more we demand that they be just like us. So, the mere invention and marketing of television has shifted the meaning of evangelism from a message of God’s love and righteousness mixed with respect for all people, to a message of edicts determining who is saved and who is damned. The concept of living with and among a group of people to convey the message has largely disappeared.

Another way to distribute your message without having to share your life is to distribute tracts. The ease of passing out, to total strangers, a message that you agree with, but do not live in their presence allows us to remove the personal aspect of living a life in the presence of another and that life being a testimony for God’s work. Evangelism has divorced itself from being a daily life of walking with God, and has become simply a desire to change other’s beliefs to mimic one’s own.

History has been too full of people who wished to make the world exactly like them rather than to serve those people and tell of their reason for their love. History is full of manipulation and force done in the name of God. Television evangelists tend to pull the hell card out to scare you into obedience, or the feel-good card to let you know anything is alright. Many churches in our area do nothing but talk about how everyone is going to hell if they do not conform to the supposed life presented by their narrow interpretation of the Scriptures. Hell has become no more than a manipulative term to bring about the desired conformity to their interpretation of Scripture. This is bigoted, narrow-mindedness and requires people to conform to a culture, rather than to live a life of guidance from an omnipotent God. We have changed from bringing people to the one true God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to bringing them to our American life in an American culture following our specifically chosen rules. To the present-day non-Christian, evangelism has become the spreading of a culture and a message of imposing one’s religious beliefs on others. To the present-day Christian, evangelism has become spreading the news that if you believe in Jesus you will get to play in our eternal club house, but only if you conform to our set of rules.

Hysterical Evangelism

The propensity to demand obedience from those outside your belief system is not new. In medieval Europe, evangelism took on the connotation of conquering the pagan by sword and imposing your rule over him to facilitate the rule of Christ. Augustine had laid down a few qualifications for a just war. Pope Urban II at the Council of Clermont made way for the first crusade in 1095. In order to justify such actions, he added a couple more statements. 1) Violence and its consequences-death and injury-are morally neutral rather than intrinsically evil, and whether violence is good or bad is a matter of intention. 2) Christ is concerned with the political order of man, and intends for his agents on earth, kings, popes, bishops, to establish on earth a Christian Republic that was a single, universal, transcendental state’ ruled by Christ through the lay and clerical magistrates he endowed with authority. 2 Pagan began to mean, anyone who did not follow orthodox Christian beliefs including Muslim, Jew and even sometimes Eastern Orthodox Christians. This new understanding coupled with an Amillennial view of eschatology that the kingdom is in our hearts and will only manifest as a dominion when it is set up by Christ’s followers, 3 caused medieval Europe to participate in forced conversion. It was thought reasonable for people who believed in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to impose their particular practice over other people who believed in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. So, the term “evangelism” took on new connotation in that time. A connotation which was never intended in the biblical narrative. Since our terminology has changed throughout the years, it becomes necessary for us to reconsider the directions given in Scripture to see if we are following the Bible or some imposed interpretation of it based on new definitions from our modern era and eschatological paradigm.

In the late 20th century a teaching emerged called “Evangelism Explosion.” In it many of the conservative Christian denominations were taught to stop people on the street and share with them a certain plan of salvation. People were encouraged to walk up to cars at stop lights and give them a short explanation, asking predetermined questions to lead a person to say the sinner’s prayer and ask Yeshua/Jesus into their lives. They handed out tracts which said nicely what their denomination wanted to share. The evangelist could walk away from a car with another notch in his belt for saving another soul. I have actually heard people state, “I saved 14 souls tonight.” There was less than two minutes spent with this individual. The spiel ended by giving them a card telling them where their church was located or a tract trying to scare them into the church. Maybe this technique had some success, but I doubt it really did much good. Few people who mouthed the sinner’s prayer ever showed up at the church. Without dramatic discipling, this process would have no effect whatsoever on an individual, except give that person the false notion that he had done what was necessary. He is told that God accepts him as he is, that salvation is a free gift, and all they have to do is believe in Jesus. Keep in mind there are no definitions to these terms while the person is being led through this memorized sales pitch. This type of thinking now permeates our society and evangelism has become totally removed from a life. No living the life in front of your audience and no requirement for change in the life of the convert is required.

In a much earlier time of Christianity, tradition tells us that Constantine embraced the faith and forced his army to convert to Christianity. Mass baptism doesn’t produce sincere believers. Constantine then got involved in Church disputes and it depends on your theological paradigm as to whether he was benevolent to Christianity or was the worst thing that could have happened. This began a long time of the Church being bed partners with the state. The church began to enforce Christian doctrine by legal edict from Rome. Ultimately the Holy Roman Empire was formed and civil law became a mandate of the church. Here the idea of forcing doctrine upon society at large through legal edict became another tool of evangelism. The definition of evangelism takes on a new connotation of civil legal edict. Such notions developed like a marriage was illegitimate unless conducted by a priest in a Roman Catholic Church. Jewish marriages were considered to produce bastard children according to Roman law. This legal mandate ruled until the Puritans sought freedom in America. This continued up into the 20th century. Germany did not recognize Jewish marriages in the 1940s. A Jewish friend of mine, who with his parents fled Nazi Germany when he was five, enjoys telling that he was the best man in his parents wedding. One of the first things they did when arriving to England was to get a legal marriage. England recognized Jewish weddings. Force, through legal edict was not much better than force by the sword or force by manipulation. Force on the will of man is evil whether it is perpetuated by a loving Christian denomination or a radical Muslim terrorist. I certainly prefer former over the latter, but we need to recognize the principle that should not be broken. God gave man free will and He intends for him to exercise it. He did not give man dominion over the consciences of other men.

The following is a list of connotations associated with Evangelism over the millennium that have nothing to do with the job of a first century evangelists.

  1. Legal edicts promoting Christian doctrines
  2. Forced conversion by Sword or any threat of harm
  3. Bill boards that claim to speak God’s message
  4. Handing out of tracts.
  5. Attempts to conform others to our own walk or religious belief.
  6. Television messages totally separated by a life off screen.

Article Eight’s Non-evangelize Clause

Now let’s discuss evangelism and article 8 in the Articles of Declaration in the B’ney Yosef North America document. A few people are concerned that we are contradicting the commands of the New Testament by including this article. We have been sent numerous quotes from Scripture that they believe support their claims that we are headed in a wrong direction. I want to thank each one of these individuals for their concern. I appreciate your heart in not wanting to offend the Lord and being willing to share your concerns with you. Please know that your concerns, even those that may indicate we are doing something wrong will be welcomed.

We have been assured by most people bringing their concerns that they have heard this from the Holy Spirit. This presupposes that the Elders have not heard from the Holy Spirit. Each person believes he is hearing from the Holy Spirit when he forms his beliefs. To not understand this indicates we have not matured in our understanding of our brothers and will constantly seek to elevate our opinion above theirs. This is not conducive to the mission of B’ney Yosef. Respect includes an understanding that other people believe they hear from God and learns to give the benefit of the doubt even when you believe you are correct. The question remains, who determines what is from the Holy Spirit and what is not.

Emotions seem to be on the same mental wave length as the Holy Spirit. Both are somewhat intangible and where the Holy Spirit shows up there seems to be a lot of emotional experience. It becomes very difficult to determine what is from God and what is from emotion. If you have not learned to question if you are hearing from the Spirit or just want it badly, you probably judge that every idea you have is from the Holy Spirit. This invalidates your discernment. This requires a commitment to spiritual mentors who can share their concerns about your personal flaws, to give a check and balance for your own spirit. Until we learn to operate in this fashion, we cannot have iron sharpening iron.

So, some want the Elders to remove the 8th Article forbidding the evangelizing of the Jews. Can I ask what definition one wishes to use so he can evangelize? Does he want to use the 5th and 6th Century model where we force them by law? Would he prefer the definition that was used during the crusades and use the sword as a means of conversion? Would he prefer to tell them they are going to Hell if they do not conform to the manner in which he believes. Maybe he wants to confront them in a public place and tell them the Gospel message. This brings us to what his definition is for the Gospel. It will depend on how long he has been in the movement, since the definition of the Gospel changes as he studies. It might be one thing initially and become something else later. We have no certain standard as to what people will be presenting as our view, so maybe it is best not to have anyone presenting their view in our name. Maybe he desires to send a bus out to pick up Jewish children and teach them against the teachings of their parents. What is your preferred definition for evangelization that you wish to exercise in the name of B’ney Yosef? I know, which definition most people will use. It will be the one taught to them in their youth from their church. The question is, which definition above is correct? The answer is none of them. No definition so far has been a biblically based definition for the term evangelism. So, there may be good reason for the Elders of B’ney Yosef to have an article discouraging evangelism. There is no standard definition that lets us know what we would be allowing; however, there is ample definition to let us know that what most people do, does not work. If you have a relationship with someone and have lived a life that has caused them to ask, then you should answer their questions. If you have not invested enough time with a person to get to know them well, you should keep quiet. This is as applicable to everyone as it is to the Jews. Let’s review article 8 as in the document.

Article 8 is as follows: “We will stand ready to give an answer for the hope of our calling, willing to share what we believe with anyone who desires to hear, this is our responsibility. Yet we acknowledge there is a difference between giving answers to questions asked and trying to convert another to our way of understanding and practice. Therefore, B’ney Yosef North America cannot and will not support or defend any attempts to evangelize the Jewish people.”

This begins stating that we will stand ready to give an answer for the hope of our calling… I am curious what is desired to be done beyond this. Maybe people think they should initiate the conversation. Does it in some way make it more righteous to be the initiator? People who answer questions that are not being asked falsely assume they are letting people know the facts of the matter. Their false assumptions lead them to make great mistakes. A question cannot be answered until the question is asked. Some want to shortcut the process and blurt out the answer before anyone even has the question. Such actions lead to anger, frustration, needless debate and endless contention. We do not desire to support such behavior or actions. This article says nothing about keeping people from stating that Yeshua is their Messiah. In fact, maybe we should revisit paragraph six sentence two, in the opening statements. “Being drawn to the Torah, to the Land, and to the people of the Land, while retaining the testimony of Yeshua, we believe ourselves to be the ‘B’ney Yosef…’” Our statements about not evangelizing the Jewish people doesn’t state that we ditch the testimony of who brought us to this conclusion. It even states this as our purpose in the document. We are merely asking that people refrain from what their past denominations have taught or by example have perpetuated as evangelism. This is an extra biblical term that has much baggage, carnage and harm attached to it. We believe our example to be much more biblical.

Consider the term evangelist and look at Scripture to see who is called to be one. Ephesians 4:11 4speaks of evangelists. It is in a list of offices. The word “some” is in each category and it is evident that not everyone got to hold one of those offices listed. So contrary to modern teaching, not everyone is given to be an evangelist. In the last few centuries, it has been taught that everyone who believes is to be an evangelist. This is a false portrayal of the desire of God. We have our definitions formed concerning evangelism, based on the teachings of the people that have misrepresented that everyone is required to be an evangelist. An evangelist is one who shares the good news. Was it good news that Christianity took over civil government and forced their interpretation of God’s law upon all in that dominion? Considering how the rulers acted, (not that everything was bad) I do not believe that to correctly represent the good news I find in Scripture. Was it good news that Christianity was going to take back Jerusalem and kill everyone who tried to get in their way? I do not believe that to have been the good news. Was the good news that you can go to heaven for eternity if you follow all the interpretations of Scripture that our denomination teaches, and you are going to Hell if you don’t? I don’t believe that would be received as good news. Is the good news that you don’t have to do anything to get eternal life but believe, and if you do anything that God commanded in the Old Testament, you may go to Hell for it? I don’t believe that. I know some of these definitions of the good news do not represent what was intended by their adherents, but that was the message they gave through their actions.

To clarify.

  1. Only a specific few are called to be Evangelists, not every believer.
  2. The English term evangelism is never mentioned in the New Testament. It is a term used by later teachers to instigate an action they wished for all believers to do.
  3. Evangelists were to share good news, not condemning judgment or lists of changes a person needs to make.
  4. The good news has been misrepresented by the actions of those who have taken on the mistakenly imposed job. Hence the actions understood today as evangelism misrepresent the intent of Scripture.

Jews and Evangelism

Can we even put ourselves in our brother Judah’s shoes? One of the most difficult parts of maturing in relationships is being able to understand those who are from a totally different perspective, culture and paradigm. In order to be able to properly analyze any subject to find truth, we must learn to properly judge in matters with people who are not like us. Judah has suffered greatly from Christian evangelization. Many Jews consider evangelism to be the second holocaust. What Hitler could not do by gas chambers and firing squads, the Christians try to finish by conversion. While I certainly do not agree that all evangelism is akin to Hitler’s extermination, it is obvious that they feel violated by Christian attempts to save them. I have heard a Jewish prayer several times from my Jewish friends, “Lord save us from those who wish to save us.” The Jews have endured the legal edicts made specifically about their practices perpetuated from the Holy Roman Empire. The Jews have been in the Holy Land when Christian troops came to Jerusalem to conquer it for God. The Jews were there when Martin Luther, a previous Christian Friend wrote the book, “The Jews and Their Lies.” The Jews were there when lies were told about them sacrificing Christian babies for sacrifices. The Jews were there when few Christians stood up for them while Hitler made his edicts to wipe them out.

Today we fault the Muslims for not distancing themselves from ISIS or Al Qaeda. How many Christians spoke up when Hitler started his pogroms? We think we would have. Hind sight is much clearer. It is interesting that Corrie ten Boom and her father are thought to be heroes– righteous gentiles. They and Detrick Bonhofer were some of the few who put their lives on the line to rescue Jews. Their actions spoke much louder than their preaching. The Jews have been harmed by mistaken notions under the guise of evangelism. Even Hitler is thought to be a Christian by them. They will not recover from this quickly. If we desire to speak peace into a Jew’s life, we must learn to act like Corrie ten Boom, not someone who states a lot of words informing them where they are wrong. We need to repent from our mistaken actions in evangelism toward the Jew.

Jews believe they are called by God to do certain things, one of which is to remain true to Torah. So when a Jew converts to Christianity, he is told to deny that Torah applies to him today. This takes him from the community and is considered to be equivalent to killing another Jew. Scripture also clearly forbids them to do this, 5 so it is no wonder that someone who is left in Judaism would think his brother to have followed after other gods. From a Jewish perspective, evangelism is their enemy. I recognize that Hebrew Roots believers are not trying to pull the Jew away from the Law, but from their perspective, history has shown evangelists tell them they do not have to do as God has instructed. The only way they will understand that you will not do this is to humbly keep the law in their presence. When you can keep your mouth shut and behave properly, they may be convinced that you are different. Expect this to take about 20 years.

We are dealing with damaged brothers. They have been harmed in the name of Christ Jesus and even Yeshua HaMashiach. When I was young, I was instructed by Messianic Jews that we should not say Jesus, because Jews have had such a bad experience with that name, instead we should say Yeshua. That will cause them to listen to your beliefs so you can share Yeshua with them. We were taught to go into synagogues and do as they do, to enable us to share Yeshua. We were to start Messianic synagogues so that they would feel comfortable when they came to visit. This would bring them to Messiah. All of these teachings are seen as deception by a Jew. Posing as something you are not, just to gain acceptance. Our history is not good. Their experience with evangelists is not good. How do we heal this wrong?

We cannot understand their view without having a similar experience. I believe our thoughts of Mormon evangelism and Jehovah Witness visits could give us a little understanding of what they experience from Christians and Hebrew Roots people. Most Christians have been taught not to even let someone from those organizations into your house. Isn’t it funny that we do not see our own attempts in like manner? We have been trained to revile these people and they haven’t even tried to kill us, outlaw our religious practice, or conquer us in the name of their God. Is it difficult for us to understand why Judah might revile us when our group has killed and manipulated by legal mandate? If you have a relationship with some Jewish friends, and they ask you to share your beliefs, then it is evident that this is not what we are trying to stop. If you go up to strangers and just announce that you are followers of Yeshua and then try to give them tracts or teach them about changes that they need to make in their lives, this is what we do not want to be associated with.

The leaders of B’ney Yosef do not want to get between you and what you believe God has called you to do. If you believe that your calling from God is to be an evangelist, we would encourage you in that. However, if you feel compelled by the teaching of the church you grew up in, I suspect you need to be freed from misplaced guilt and responsibility. If you believe you have been called to be an evangelist then your actions may be contrary to the work of B’ney Yosef, so we consider it to be necessary to separate in a loving and amiable fashion. We do not wish you harm, but desire God’s best for you. B’ney Yosef is not an evangelistic organization and does not want to be associated with such actions. Some of you work in organizations that require their people to not evangelize while at work and many sign documents agreeing not to participate as a condition of their employment. Historical evangelism, where loving people went to a pagan culture and lived their life in a righteous manner sharing the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob has developed into the largest religion in the world. Hysterical evangelism where some of those people used force to impose their beliefs, has done much harm. The leadership of B’ney Yosef does not want the name of B’ney Yosef North America to be associated with attempts to evangelize. It is contrary to the mission of B’ney Yosef and if you consider the various definitions to that term that have been presented historically, you might understand why we think it is misguided.

Footnotes

1 “The sun shines bright in the old Kentucky home, ’Tis summer, the darkies are gay.”

2 From Age of Chivalry and Faith at the United States Naval Academy. (c) 2009

3 Amillennialists do not believe in a literal millennium where Yeshua/Jesus reigns on this earth. They teach that Yeshua/Jesus is reigning in heaven at this time, sitting on His throne at the right hand of the Father and He will never set foot on this earth again. So, all kingdom teaching from the Bible is applied as if we are in the kingdom now with Yeshua/Jesus reigning in Heaven. This means that His kingdom reigns through us following His example and teachings. It has also historically has spurred, the Holy Roman Empire, and the crusades.

4 NKJV Ephesians 4:11, “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers…”

5 NKJV Deuteronomy 13:5, “But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has spoken in order to turn you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of bondage, to entice you from the way in which the LORD your God commanded you to walk. So, you shall put away the evil from your midst.”

Dealing With Those Unwanted Sales Calls: A Perspective on Evangelism

Don’t you just love the telemarketers who call at supper time? It seems like I cannot sit down at the table without the phone ringing prior to our first bite. I have added our number to the do not call registry, but there are still some brave salesmen, or automatic dialers that do not believe that “do not call” applies to them. It is so frustrating to get up from the table, while everyone is waiting for the prayer to finally be said, to answer the nagging phone just to find out it is a sales call, trying to sell us pork chops at a cheap price. Organic, healthy pork chops, delivered directly to your door step, only $4.95 a pound. Words that should not be uttered cross my mind. I try to politely bring the call to an end, but too often I am interrupted by another attempt to tell me how good these pork chops are. My benevolence is mistaken for a real desire for their sumptuous product, when in reality I eat Kosher and am repulsed by the thought. So much for being nice! But still, it is my responsibility to properly represent God to these people. Why does it matter? It’s the congregation phone that I answer and the congregation is labeled by the way in which the one who answers the phone behaves. When the caller ID is displayed on the modern devices we call telephones, it shows “Congregation Beit Minorah,” so my actions represent the whole group, whatever it is.

How bad is this sales call phenomenon affecting our society? Do you love to get those sales calls? What makes these sincere salespeople so loathed by the general populace? They just have a message they wish to give to a people they perceive need their product. Do they make you desire their product? I have placed my number on the “Do Not Call Registry,” but they still keep calling. The numbers evidently fall off of the list after a period of time and you have to reenlist for the “Do Not Call Registry” if sales calls resume. Is there anything we can do to rid ourselves of this pestilence? I believe there is.

At one time I owned an automobile service garage. Since every call may have been a paying client, I was conditioned to answer every ring. That was how I paid the bills. This was before caller ID, so we just needed to talk to everyone who called. Often, I was on my back under a car attempting to fix a problem just to hear the ringing of the phone. The previous owner of this business had a body shop which supplied a continuous drone of loud running tools. To offset the din, he had installed a bell for the phone that sounded like the public-school fire alarm. It was right in the bay where I most often worked. The decibels were incredible, and I could never get used to its sudden intrusion into my peace. One day, while I was laying under a car checking the CV boots, the phone’s alarm bell sounded. I was startled and my head hit the undercarriage. Blood began to flow down my forehead. I had just a short time to get to the phone to take care of that possible needy customer. I made it to the phone to discover it was the AT&T phone rep who called at least twice a month, asking if I wanted him to share how I could increase my incoming phone calls. He wanted me to spend $1500.00 on a yellow page. My patience spent, I informed him that if he called again, I would have the phone removed. I had too much interruption already and I didn’t need any more.

The other day I was trying to contact a local concrete company to order a truckload of concrete. I called and got an answering machine that requested I leave a message, only to then declare that the message machine was full. I thought they must have closed for the evening and I would try in the morning. I called in the morning and got the same problem. I continued until about 9:30am and then thought, “has the place closed?” I got in the car, drove to town to the concrete plant, and found three people sitting in the office discussing the ballgame. I asked if they were having phone problems. They said they’d had many calls already this morning. I told them I was calling and they asked if I had my phone number blocked. I said, “not that I know of,” since I didn’t know if one of my children had done that at some time, but I assured him I didn’t even know how to block my phone number. They said they do not answer calls from blocked phone numbers. They don’t have time for all the sales calls. Then it hit me, Beit Minorah. Nobody knows what Beit Minorah is. It is a church, but who has ever heard of a church with a Hebrew name? They probably think it is a sales call. So, sales calls have gotten so bad that they were ignoring a call from someone who was wanting to spend over a thousand dollars with them. Wow, have we ever been badly trained! It is a subconscious training, but training just the same.

Don’t you just hate these unwanted calls? Is there any way to stop it? Yes, there is! We are told we cannot change what other people do, but we can change our own behavior. As you continue reading, you will discover how you can have a hand in stopping this intrusive behavior, one person at a time. The first step given in Scripture is to treat others the way we wish to be treated.

Some of you don’t work in sales so the decision to stop unwanted sales calls is easy, but you might also be a salesperson and already be making your living this way. For you it is tougher, but surely you don’t believe you are loved for these actions. How many times, do people act rudely or threaten salesmen who call a home or drop by without first being asked to come? I suspect most just hang up before the salesman gets more than 25 words said. Wow! What a way to make a living. If this is your profession, you must have emotions of steel.

I have been in sales most of my life. At the risk of losing all my credibility, I will lower my guard and share that I once sold Volkswagens, Mazdas, Porsches and Audis. I know car salesmen are less respected than the “oldest profession,” but when I was selling cars, I held a high degree of integrity as a rule for my life, just as I do now. In spite of the supposed disadvantages of an honest presentation, I still broke many sales records for the firms I represented. I was rewarded with banquets and honors from the manufacturers and importers. While, I made a name for myself selling the product I believed in, I believed it a waste of time to do cold calls. For the sake of clarification, a cold call is to systematically go through the phone book and dial phone numbers to ask random people if they want to buy a product I sell. In my thinking, that is a futile, laborious attempt to find a customer. How many calls would you have to make to find one person who wanted to buy a new car, let alone one specific kind of automobile? If you found one, what would his disposition be after getting an unsolicited call on the phone? Few people like phone salesmen. How can you present a car on the phone and how could this ever be profitable and efficient? Maybe 1 in 1000 calls could bring about success, but wouldn’t your efforts be better served by talking to people who came in to see your cars because they were interested in them? It was such a ridiculous notion to do cold calls, or worse yet, go door to door to find a person looking for a car, that I refused to do that. I had one manager suggest I do this. I thought he was crazy. I better managed my time and worked with people who came to me because of a recommendation from a client or showed their interest by walking in the door.

My sales philosophy is as follows: If you respectfully listen to someone’s needs, show them products that fit those needs, and service them well after the sale, you will get lots of repeat business and loyal customers. I thought integrity made a difference, and considering the awards, I think I was right.

Wouldn’t you just love it if car salesmen came to your door or called you at suppertime? I cannot think of anything more universally hated than the interruption and intrusion of the unsolicited sales call. Yes, I do have a plan in which you can participate and will solve at least one aspect of this problem. One last story will help you understand your part in the plan.

While I was sitting in the den of my boss’s house one evening, listening to the newly released “Star Wars” soundtrack album, the door-bell rang (yes, this was “The Empire Strikes Back,” and yes, this dates me). The owner of the Volkswagen dealership had just seen the movie and wanted me to hear the soundtrack. I had not gone yet since the Grace Brethren Church I attended at the time did not approve of movies and I was new in town and didn’t want to endanger my credibility by breaking their rules. Jack, my boss, knew I loved classical music, and John Williams, the composer, had done a fantastic job with this movie score. I was enthralled. Jack’s speakers were top of the line. There were at least four of them. It felt like I was sitting in the orchestra pit. I knew what that felt like since I had played in a symphony band for most of my youth.

While enraptured in the music, I heard the conversation at the door. It was a student from the local Christian college asking if she could have some of his time to conduct a survey for a class she was taking. He was being charitable to the student. He also had been a college student who had to do crazy projects, and was a devout Catholic, identifying somewhat with her Christian heritage. First, he was asked if he considered himself a Christian. He replied that he was. She continued with, “Where do you go to church?” He replied with his church’s name. As the survey progressed it became evident that it was not a survey at all. It was a veiled attempt at evangelism. The student ended the survey asking if she could return to conduct a Bible study in his home so that he could have the saving knowledge of Jesus.

My Catholic boss was livid. He had generously given of his time to answer these questions just to find out is was a scheme to pass off their particular brand of Christianity. He was a Christian and had told them so, but since this was a Protestant college, they believed he needed to be introduced to Christ the Protestant rather than Christ the Catholic. In fact, they believed Catholics were not even saved. He returned to the den sounding like maybe they were right, at least to my naive Protestant ears. He ranted about the deception these kids had perpetrated. He asked how they could believe they were doing God’s work while lying about their intentions. He felt totally scammed, having wasted at least 10 minutes being magnanimous to these little deceivers. I saw his point. I knew what was going on. They were attending evangelism class at the local college. The college was sponsored by my church. This is why I knew. I was hearing about their character from the other side. It was embarrassing and revealing. I couldn’t defend them. This was not only ineffective, it was dishonest. After that evening I understood why people so resented this technique. Will they have to answer to God for their lying as Jack suggested? They didn’t exactly testify falsely. However, didn’t it misrepresent the God we serve? This was truly a sales technique, not an act of obedience. My eyes had been opened to be able to distinguish the difference.

People who evangelize without first building relationships and waiting to be asked are sincere loving people. They have no malice and really want what they view as best for their listener. They just do not understand boundaries and the negative effects produced when they are ignored.

The world who does not agree with our religious beliefs has a name for this sales technique. It is called “evangelism.” This, of course, does not cover the large scope of practices that we may consider to be evangelism. It is merely the form with which they are most familiar and hate as bad as the cold sales calls on the phone. Their response is based on a feeling that they are not being respected as individuals. I have heard many from Judah state that Messianics are dishonest, deceptive, and untrustworthy. This thinking is spawned from the desire to evangelize, using a variety of techniques much like the visitor to my boss’s home. Through evangelism, they feel condemned for walking a life as they believe correct. In Article Seven of the Articles of Declaration we discuss the need to build trust. Trust cannot be gained overnight.

We will consent to the need to walk before our brother Judah in a manner that builds trust, opens doors of communication, and displays godly character. We further acknowledge the need to repent for centuries of hostility, unfair treatment, and religious overzealousness directed at Judah in the name of Christianity, and to seek forgiveness from Judah and our heavenly Father.

This kind of evangelism does not share “good news.” Rather it shows disrespect to their intellect and infringes upon their personal space and time. Throughout the world, there has been a groundswell of distaste for evangelical beliefs. At first, I was offended, even though I had understood the problem from my youth. After some study of the topic, I understand this is not what we are encouraged to do in Scripture. This is a technique taught by our churches and read into Scripture by eisegesis (that is, reading the word according to our own ideas, attitudes and beliefs).

The Jews put themselves on a “do not call” list years ago, but people refuse to respect that decision. I have personally considered legal action against firms that refuse to obey the do not call register. A few years ago, the Jewish community strongly reacted to Mormons who were being baptized for dead Jews who were not saved according to Mormon theology. This was a charitable act as far as a Mormon was concerned, but from the Jewish perspective, it was an intrusion and worse. One man said. “I live my life in an honorable way following the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, only to die and then have someone make me a Mormon.” I personally do not think their status changed in the eyes of God because of something a person did without their permission after they died, but I do understand their perspective. How disrespectful of their life! Such techniques, where the individual’s desires are not considered and honored, are harmful to relationships and destructive in the purpose they attempt to accomplish.

If you appreciate those calls during supper, or really want to hear about the price of pork chops even though you eat Kosher, then maybe you can defend evangelism as it is known by the non-evangelical world. However, if you do defend this, I know you have not understood how the target of your evangelism feels. Maybe you should consider how to apply, “Do unto others as you would have them do to you.” Many in this movement want nothing to do with a Jew who does not believe in Messiah because they think they will lead people away from Yeshua. They say we cannot listen to a Rabbi because he will convince us we don’t need Yeshua. In truth, many have converted to Judaism, denying Yeshua, so I understand their concern. Nevertheless, if we do not want to allow Judah to evangelize us, we also shouldn’t try to evangelize him.

I know the cold call technique may be reinforced when that one person in literally thousands seems to respond to the message. Many people never see that one person, but continue on because they feel compelled by their interpretation of Scripture. I suspect the one in thousands who responded was hearing a call that would have been answered with or without the self-proclaimed evangelist. He may think the personal worker is responsible, and so might the one passing out tracts, but God may know you both are mistaken. Yet, He is willing to allow you to see it as you want.

This one in one thousand event does not support the process; it only perpetuates a myth that some want to believe. Some will insist this technique is a legitimate way, or even the best way, to follow God’s commands. I admit that a door to door salesman is still a salesman. Yet to think that this is the only, or even the best way to do the job is mistaken. However, to infer that the prohibition of this technique is against Scripture is worse. The question maybe should not be, “How many have been drawn to God with this technique?” but, “How many have been completely driven away from God?” The anger against Christianity being expressed in the American community right now indicates more are being repelled than being wooed. We can either learn from our mistakes, or develop a persecution complex, claim to be unjustly treated, and promote our technique as superior holiness.

The specific method I am writing about is a sales technique of those who wish to sell our religious beliefs to others, not a biblical command to share of the hope we have within. I don’t want to make the sales technique evil as if to say a person is sinning when practicing it, only that they are mistaken in believing that this is a method commanded in the Bible.

Article 8 in BYNA’s the Articles of Declaration clearly states that it is our duty to share the hope of our calling when asked.

We will stand ready to give an answer for the hope of our calling, willing to share what we believe with anyone who desires to hear; this is our responsibility. Yet we acknowledge there is a difference between giving answers to questions asked and trying to convert another to our way of understanding and practice. Therefore, B’ney Yosef North America cannot and will not support or defend any attempts to evangelize the Jewish people.
(1 Peter 3:15 “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear…”)

This is no different from the Volkswagen salesperson who has a duty to share the information on the product he sells to anyone who walks in the showroom and asks. It would be unwise for him when he asks if someone needs help and they reply, “No thanks, I’m just looking,” then to proceed to make himself a nuisance by continuing on with his sales pitch. If a salesman hears through a friend of someone seeking a VW, he has an invitation to call. They do get paid for doing just that when people have made their desire known. But there is no responsibility for them to obnoxiously go through a neighborhood knocking on doors in a desperate search for someone who wants to buy a new car. That is disrespectful of people’s personal space. Let’s learn how to respect people before we attempt to unite with them for any common purpose. It is time we quit setting ourselves up as judge over who we believe will be saved. Let God sort all that out. He is capable; we are not.

Only a few people have responded to us negatively about Article 8 of the Articles of Declaration, but as of now, it is the only article with which anyone has declared disagreement. An Elder has explained to each who has expressed concern that they are misunderstanding the intent of the wording, and need to read the whole article in context. We are not contending with a command of God. No, we are contending with a technique taught in evangelical churches that does not have its root in the biblical text and is very offensive to other groups with different beliefs.

I hope this analogy to the unwanted intrusion of telephone marketers helps us see what we have done from a Jewish perspective in our attempts to sell the need for our Messiah. Marketing is a mistaken notion of our mission. If we don’t like these undesirable telephone intrusions in our life, we must first stop doing similar activities to others. We must develop our abilities to understand those not exactly like us, to be effective in beginning dialogue with those people.

We are gaining in understanding, but we have much more ground to cover before we can see results. Nobody likes to be forced in anyway. This is the reason Galatians 5:20 includes heresies in the list of those who will not inherit the kingdom of God. Heresy is the use of force to accomplish a goal. This action will not bring about the kingdom of God. Using respect to develop trust in relationships will enable us to have those opportunities where we are asked about the hope we have. Then we can honestly share without infringement or deceit.

Written by Frank Houtz, former B’Ney Yosef North America Elder

Embracing an Earthquake in Florida

 

We all get to read history, and we all get to study the Prophets. But, how many people actually get to participate in making history? And, how many not only get to witness prophecy being fulfilled, but get to participate in it? Now, THAT is what occurred in Florida, at the B’ney Yosef North America Summit. For all intents and purposes, it was an earthquake of dramatic proportions. One, I believe will help lead to changing history.

Now, this isn’t the first time in history that people have thought about the reunification of Judah & Ephraim (which is THE predominant theme across all of the prophecy in the Tanach – the Hebrew Bible). It’s not even the first time that people have prayed fervently for it to happen, either. But, it IS the first time, that Ephraim/Yosef (Joseph), being awakened in the exile, has stood up for the unity of descendants of the Northern Kingdom of Israel…

B’ney Yosef North America is the outgrowth, in the Western Hemisphere, of the groundbreaking B’ney Yosef Congress that was held in May of 2015, right after Shavuot in Ariel, Israel. That event was a remarkable gathering of 135 representatives from 12 different nations around the world. In less than a year since that initial Congress meeting, B’ney Yosef North America has formed and developed organically. From a handful of like-minded men and women, focused on the realization that they too, are part of Israel, it has It has been a grassroots movement from its inception.

And what they have been doing has very few precedents. Their focus has been on ‘rising up’ to address the challenge of recreating and restoring the national identity of the masses of scattered Israel, around the world. Avoiding the doctrinal issues that plagued those who have been awakened to who they truly are; they shifted the efforts from building new ‘denominations,’ to rather focusing on the restoration of the Nation of Israel.

For me, personally, this has been nothing less than the absolute beginning of the fulfillment of the prophecy of Yehezkel (Ezekiel) 37 of the two sticks, becoming organized (which precedes both sticks becoming one in His hand). It was first in 1994, that I began meeting people who had been awakened to the realization that they were part of the people of Israel. But, the struggle has been to have people stop thinking of themselves as individuals on this particular path, or walk, or just being part of some new religious denomination.

This is the first, real effort, for Ephraim/Yosef (Joseph) to begin organizing themselves in such a manner. The B’ney Yosef National Shabbat initiative has already brought together many people from various congregations in the states of Georgia and South Carolina with many more planned in other states, as well. But, it’s not just coming together in mutual respect that is happening – even though, that – in and of itself, would be a major accomplishment.

It is the coming together to discuss what it means to reconstitute the national presence and identity that disappeared from the world stage more than 2,700 years ago, that is amazing. The various discussions which deal with not only what the implications of that are, but, how to actually begin the preparation for it and its implementation. The plans to create an Ephramite National Fund to deal with the financial aspects, the plans to learn Hebrew and to train and prepare the younger generation. Those are only a few of the topics that have come up for consideration; and so much more…

As the only traditionally believing Jewish person in attendance, it generated emotions in me that are hard to capture in mere words. It was truly being able to witness what had been words of prophecy for thousands of years becoming real, right in front of my eyes. For many years I have prayed, three times a day for the ingathering of the exiles – but, to actually SEE it begin to happen? Well, that is more then I ever could have dreamed of… I just kept asking what I had ever done to deserve to have been able to be a witness to all of this…

And, of course – this is merely what is happening in North America. The European B’ney Yosef has already had their meeting, and other affiliated groups are in formation around the world. This is NOT an “American movement,” but, rather – just the branch of it, on this continent. People are being ‘called’ to it, and are being called out of the national identities that they were raised within.

Yeshayahu (Isaiah) 43:6 tells us of the promise: “…I will bring your seed from the east, and gather you from the west; I will say to the north, give up and to the south, keep not back.” Well, all who attended the B’ney Yosef Summit saw that begin to be fulfilled. Now is the time to get involved; now is the time to stand up and return to your heritage. This is a call to action, not just a nice statement. It is the time to get involved. Today, not tomorrow…

Written by Hanoch Young

Originally published on United 2 Restore 03/14/16

Position on the Articles of Declaration

 

The Elders and Administrators of B’ney Yosef North America at the presentation of the Articles of Declaration.

B’ney Yosef is a diverse nation of Torah observant believers who have been alienated from our brother Yehuda for the greater part of two millennia. Coincidental with this alienation, we have been fragmented in our own doctrines and our dispersion among the nations of the world. We should not lose sight of the fact that our dispersion is a direct result of the fallacies of those very doctrines and attempts to impose our misguided beliefs on our brethren. With the understanding that none of us walks in perfection of doctrine or theology, it is necessary for each and every one of us to respect the differences and boundaries of our brethren and trust that our Father in heaven will ultimately carry out the work that He has begun in restoring the whole house of Israel. It is in this context that the B’ney Yosef North America (BYNA) Articles of Declaration are written. For the prodigal sons of Yosef, as we return home and seek unity with our elder brother Yehuda, it will behoove us to understand and remember that all healthy relationships have boundaries. Many of those boundaries are established around our religious belief system. It is imperative that we respect the boundaries of our brethren just as we would desire for our own boundaries to be respected. It will be of great value for all involved if we can learn from the mistakes of our father Yosef. Yosef had revelation from Adonai with regard to his future authority over his father’s household. In his enthusiasm to share the dreams that he had been given, he further alienated his brothers with whom his relationship was already compromised. Because he chose to cross the boundaries of what his brothers were willing or able to hear at that point in their lives, the fire of their animosity toward him was fueled into hatred. His own misguided enthusiasm ultimately brought him into alienation from his entire family and to assimilation into a culture that was in complete contrast with that of his forefathers. It was only through the intervention of Adonai that restoration was brought to the whole house of Israel. We should see that in this day it will not be of our own volition that the kingdom of Israel is restored. Restoration will only come at the hand of our creator.

The Articles of Declaration of B’ney Yosef North America were prepared with much prayer and reflection. Several key points were incorporated with the intent of honoring the boundaries of our brother Yehuda while at the same time protecting our own with the realization that the will of our Father in heaven will ultimately be done in His timing.

It is in the spirit of recognizing our own personal boundaries that we have established in the sixth paragraph of the articles that (emphasis added):

“We believe this promised awakening began over the last few decades and that we are not only witnesses to this awakening but participants as well. Being drawn to the Torah, to the Land, and to the people of the Land while retaining the testimony of Yeshua, we believe ourselves to be the “B’ney Yosef”—the “Children of Joseph”—prophetically called “Ephraim,” a people who are being called out of the nations, now and once again part of the Commonwealth of Israel. And as part of this “called-out assembly,” we stand on the promise that God will one day join us to the House of Judah (the Jewish People) to become one united Israel, never again to be divided.”

Having recognized the importance of establishing and protecting our own personal boundary in the sixth paragraph of the Articles, it is incumbent on us to provide the same protection to our brethren whether they be of the house of Yehuda, denominational Christianity or our own sister congregation in the next community. It is in the seventh paragraph that we intentionally establish this protection with the following words (emphasis added):

B’ney Yosef North America is a network of North Americans who have heard the call to join together for the common purpose of the restoration and reconstitution of the people of northern Israel—the House of Yosef/Ephraim. We are in awe of the quick work our Lord has done; yet we proceed in tentative optimism because of the divisive nature of our people. Knowing that reconciliation with Judah will not become reality until we stand together as one, we are humbled by the great task ahead of making the necessary personal sacrifices to unify our house. To exist as the nation God intends, and knowing we have a part to play before God completes His work, we pledge this day to promote unity, peace, and harmony among those who belong—and who will belong—to our House and to the House of Judah. In addition to understanding the need for personal sacrifice for the good of the body at large, we accept the following principles in order to establish ourselves as a unified people:”

The principles have been established in the spirit of unity and order. Each of us who chooses to identify with BYNA agrees to adhere to the bulleted principles that follow paragraph seven:

“We will submit to the will of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and also to those whom God has raised to positions of trust and authority in our local assemblies and within the body of B’ney Yosef North America. We will also commit to lifting these servants up continually in prayer, knowing they face a difficult task.”

In the first bullet we acknowledge and support the established authority.

“We will remain teachable, humble, accountable, and open to correction while seeking to renew ourselves daily through prayer and commitment to God, His Messiah, His Torah, and one another.”

In the second bullet we affirm that we as individuals and as a nation have much to learn and that we should humbly stand accountable and open to correction as we present ourselves as servants of His kingdom.

“We will live in a manner that stands opposed to those things that cause division and strife within the body, being mindful that our walk should always reflect the character attributes of the God we serve.”

The third bullet is clear with regard to division and strife within the body of BYNA and the whole house of Israel. Those who would cause division and strife within the body will ultimately alienate themselves from BYNA.

“We will promote peace, harmony, love, and stability within and between our families, our local assemblies, the communities in which we live, and all of God’s Israel.”

The fourth bullet recognizes the requirement for active promotion of peace, harmony, love and stability within the kingdom of Israel beginning with the most basic division as revealed in the family unit. If we choose to focus on our differences at the family level, we should surely recognize that we will never aspire to the unity of a nation.

“We will remain aware that knowledge and understanding are gifts from God and that the misuse of these gifts profanes both the gift and the Gift Giver. Therefore, we will refrain from using our knowledge and understanding as a litmus test to determine who does and does not belong to God.”

This fifth bullet should humble us all. How often have we brought profanity to fruition through our own misguided enthusiasm with regard to a gift that Adonai has chosen to bestow upon us?

“We will acknowledge that currently most Ephraimites are not yet aware of their identity and that until Messiah comes, it is not realistic to expect we will stand in agreement regarding all facets of understanding and practice. We will also acknowledge that the work God is doing is happening over a progression of time. Therefore, we will commit ourselves to showing mutual respect and understanding, being quick to extend grace and slow to criticize, knowing this “last days” call will reach into all nations, cultures, peoples, and tongues in God’s timing and not our own.”

It is imperative that each and every one of us personalize this sixth bullet. We are not all in the same place with regard to our understanding or practice. But that does not make us or those around us any less a part of the work that Adonai has begun in His restoration of His kingdom. Failure to recognize and respect the diversity of those being called will serve only to perpetuate the division that has existed for these past millennia.

“We will consent to the need to walk before our brother Judah in a manner that builds trust, opens doors of communication, and displays godly character. We will further acknowledge the need to repent for centuries of hostility, unfair treatment, and religious overzealousness directed at Judah in the name of Christianity and the need to seek forgiveness from Judah and our heavenly Father.”

For two millennia the sons of Yosef have been building walls of division that we have attempted to justify through isolated perceived victories of evangelization. To date we have only succeeded in following in the footsteps of our father Yoseph by alienating those whom we would desire to have a relationship with. It is recognition of our own error of overzealous attempts to evangelize our brothers to walk in our own footsteps that has necessitated the wording of this seventh bullet.

“We will stand ready to give an answer for the hope of our calling, willing to share what we believe with anyone who desires to hear; this is our responsibility. Yet we acknowledge there is a difference between giving answers to questions asked and trying to convert another to our way of understanding and practice. Therefore, B’ney Yosef North America cannot and will not support or defend any attempts to evangelize the Jewish people.”

This eight bullet attests to our willingness and obligation to share the hope and calling of our beliefs with anyone who “desires to hear”. The wording intentionally protects the boundaries of our brethren who may not be at the same point in their walk as we may find ourselves. This eighth bullet recognizes the grievances that have been incurred through our lack of sensitivity to the boundaries of others within the house of Israel. The word “evangelize” is used in the modern and historical sense of the whole of this document and is in no means intended to deter the open and honest dialogue between two consenting parties. However, BYNA is adamant that evangelization in the modern sense of the word, not be carried out in our name.

“We will not force Judah or anyone else to accept that we are who we believe ourselves to be. Instead, we will wait patiently on God to do His work. In the interim, we will actively assume the roles of bridge builders, peacemakers, and repairers of the breach; a people who understand why the community at large —the nation to which we belong—is greater than self.”

The seventh and eighth bullets are inseparable from this ninth bullet in that the intent of this document is to build bridges of peace, to repair the breach and ultimately restore the community, restore the nation that is greater than the needs or ideals of any individual within it. For this to ever come about, we will first have to put aside our personal doctrines and offenses. When we are finally able to walk as our brother’s servant, we will begin to see reconciliation and healing that will allow us to walk as one stick in the hand of our maker.

It is in the context of paragraph seven and its associated bullets that the last two paragraphs of the Articles of Declaration of BYNA are written with these words (emphasis added for clarity):

“As a people who currently remain scattered among the nations, it is imperative that we unite through these declared principles and our deference to God-ordained leadership in order to ensure the tranquility of the House to which we belong. The forming of a civil body of governance will allow us to establish and administer our national affairs and settle disputes that cannot be dealt with on a local level. This will stave off those things that would otherwise create additional division and strife within our House.”

“Beyond whatever small part we each play in this process, we rest knowing that God will do all He has promised through His everlasting covenant made with Israel. Ultimately God is the one Who will make Judah and Ephraim one stick in His handwe cannot do His work for Him. Before that time, however, we are to treat the two sticks as though they are already one. Today we unite as one nation, willing servants who seek only to glorify the God of Israel and His Messiah through every word we speak and deed we perform. May His mighty and setapart name be blessed over all the earth. Amen.”

May it be that we walk in support of the work that Adonai is doing and not in the continuation of the offense of our forefathers. May it be that we can put behind us the division of doctrines and contention over words that leads to strife and discord. May it be that we will commit ourselves to showing mutual respect and understanding, being quick to extend grace and slow to criticize, knowing this “last days” call will reach into all nations, cultures, peoples, and tongues in God’s timing and not our own. May it be that we walk in a spirit of humility, reconciliation and servitude to His reunification of the two sticks into the whole house of Israel!

Written by Johnny Marrs (former B’ney Yosef North America Elder)

Originally posted 04/27/16