Revisiting Romans

The below is my response some years ago to an article that seems to have been removed, concerning the old Duck Dynasty’s commentary on homosexuality, after some children had killed themselves over the issue.  I do not fully remember the premise of that article, nor of the old man’s point of view, but it was something along the lines of one’s beliefs about the issue not mattering.  I had responded to the issue, because I have seen believers go way too far one way, and make themselves hypocrites, simply opposing unbelievers who do the same.  Here is my reply to the article, from back in 2013:

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I think public debate about belief on any topic is healthy, and necessary.
What one believes about sexuality is entirely relevant, and this article proves it. Because it is the “belief” of some that caused these children we all want to defend after the fact to kill themselves in the first place. What they themselves believed, and what others believed, affected them very much.
Basically, what many are saying is that this is a ‘sin’. But, there is a belief, a perception of what sin is that is erroneous. Many people think ‘sin’ is something reserved for a certain “other” crowd, when in fact the whole of mankind is riddled with it, including christians. But again, hear me out. Sin is simply “error” against the instructions God gave to mankind to make them ‘holy’ and bless them, and mankind is indeed born with a propensity to err against that. First and foremost, we err against God, and then we err against Him again when we err against our fellow man. This is the foundation of what the Messiah taught. The God of Israel said of Himself: “ יהוה , יהוה , El [God], merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in compassion and truth; guardian of compassion unto the thousandth generation; forgiving iniquity, and transgression, and sin, and pardoning;” Understanding THAT should be the goal of every worshipper who claims to love God. Why it is that this one error gets so much attention publicly, then, I have pondered for many years. And I think it is because this particular “error” is not as common among men as other errors. However, it is more common than some are willing to admit.
But, since it is perceived as uncommon, it is easy to target those who choose this way as “other.” I think that’s the basic reason this is the “big one,” but then I think this is compounded beyond belief by other things added to that perception. Nonetheless, “belief” is so intertwined in the social discussion we have over this issue, that to say that what we believe about it doesn’t matter is like throwing the baby out with the bathwater. What we, society, believe about it IS precisely the problem, and I think we as a society are trying to hammer out a public redefinition of this issue. Until we get a common understanding, this will continue to be a point of contention in society, and it will continue to harm children.
What our society has “believed” about this issue, by and large, has been an over-interpretation of the scriptures for years, but now our society is swinging so far the other way that it is just as dangerous as the former “norm.” Theologians past and present have played “Let’s Make a Deal” with defining what acts are erroneous and what are not. And the laity take their words, and the words of scripture, without having studied them with the intent of learning of God’s heart toward man, and they become the defacto enforcers of bad “belief.” This, I believe, is where the Duck Dynasty star is wrong. When a great swath of evangelicals turn to a duck-hunter-turned-week-end-theologian as the spokesperson of faith, something is amiss. But, on the other side, we have those who think that everyone who is gay wants to be that way, should be that way, must be that way, and are wrong NOT to be that way. This should be left up to the individual. The sheer fact of it is that many who ‘feel’ gay do not want to be. The reason is moot, and many times is not religious. It is the militant on this side of the argument that are JUST as self-righteous as erroneous christians. Society, as a whole, needs a ‘belief’ in the fore that is not so narrow minded and destructive as BOTH these positions are, and we will not get there if we ignore belief.
So, in former days, and even now for many evangelicals, the belief is that because of about three passages in the scriptures, this people group we’ve sequestered out of “normal” society is especially egregious in their “sin.” This is where I differ strongly with them. But I want to explain why it is I think they think this way. It is largely because of one word: תּוֹעֵבָה. This Hebrew word is “to’evah,” and in most translations is rendered as “abomination.” And this English word has subsequently been given a particular tone in society’s perception of what that is, and unfortunately, it has been wielded by the self-righteous to produce a certain “we-they” mentality, and as a weapon used to deflect attention off of one’s own errors. What they fail to recognize, or even consider, perhaps, is that this word is used of many, many things God expressed were “to’evah” to Him. Among those things are: eating shrimp, eating catfish, pork, shellfish, snake, gators, rats, buzzards, etc, and not only those, but also adultery [cheating on one’s spouse], fornication [sex before marriage], and then also forms of idolatry, especially idolatry that is mixed with worshipping God, such as decorating trees and bringing them into homes as focal points, etc. ALL of these things were seen as errors of a particular kind: to’evah. Suddenly, the “we-they” mentality has to be tabled for a moment if we are going to stand on this stump of righteousness, but ONLY IF we are HONEST with what the text is saying! This is where suddenly everyone becomes gymnastic in their scriptural interpretations, waxing philosophical, demonstrating lofty hermeneutical prowess, or simply deciding that their current perception of it is right no matter what, and not wanting to learn the heart of God on any matter of error, but only the one.

To’evah simply means that it is displeasing because it was not part of the design.  A better English word would probably be ‘perversion.’  Each of the things listed as ‘to’evah’ is a perversion of the design of God, and using things He designed for one purpose for another purpose is what He is displeased with. But, His displeasure is with the act, not the person’s ‘soul.’ And, if He has dealt with one erroneous act by surrendering the Messiah to execution, then He has dealt with the other.
The next over-interpretation is of the first chapter of Romans, where people ‘think’ that it is about those in Sodom and Amorrah who were “gay,” that this is why they were destroyed. This is not what the text says, and this is not why they were destroyed in the first place. It is because they had forgotten God. Paul is not writing about Sodom and Amorrah, but of Rome and Greece and the rest of the nations in his day. They, too, had forgotten the Creator. Forgetting Him produced ALL MANNER of behaviors, and most importantly that of not caring about their human neighbors. The big “error” was forgetting God, the rest of what he expresses here is the RESULT of that. The first result of their having forgotten the Creator was idolatry, worshipping created things and not the Creator. For that reason, God gave them up to their passions. So, the BIGGER ISSUE is forgetting the Creator. And readers of this passage always seem to leave off the first verse of the next chapter, which says DO NOT PASS JUDGMENT, because you do the same things! Most people in this country are committing some sort of biblical “abomination!” And every one of us err against Him in some way, forgetting the creator and His desire for man on one issue or another during the day.
What tickles me about this is the duality on both sides. The doublespeak. On the one side, we have those who want everyone to tolerate everyone else and every behavior, EXCEPT those who disagree with their particular level of “toleration.” On the other side, we have those who want to quote the “old testament,” while at the same time disavowing it as irrelevant and ignoring the Sabbath that the Creator made for all mankind! “Let God be true, and every man a liar.” Getting honest with Him means facing the fact that our understanding of things is wrong.
God loves every human being on the face of the earth. He gave us some boundaries on a path, that if we would follow that path, we would be blessed beyond measure, protected from our own tendency to self-destruct . NO ONE is going to be perfect in following that path, so the Messiah was sent, to save us from our errors, and return us to that path. That path is very narrow, and christians are not the gatekeeper, nor are Jews, but only the Messiah Yeshua. Not every person who deals with the notion of sexual ‘divergence’ has forgotten the creator. They simply are wandering through this life without a guide, and if they do find Him, morons from both sides of the fence confuse them about this one error, making them feel as if they are never going to please God because they deal with this one thing, which no one else seems to deal with. Or, making them feel that they do not have to be concerned about pleasing Him. Both are wrong. I think this sensation is true of many other things people deal with, too, such as alcoholism and drug addiction. People get a sense of defeatism because of what SOCIETY BELIEVES: right now, that is in flux on many of these issues: on the one hand, some ‘say’ that God does not love them, OR on the other hand, that what they do is irrelevant to God. What some are unwilling to admit on the one side is that there are indeed many who are ‘struggling’ with homosexuality precisely because they do not want to be gay, and it has nothing to do with religion! They just do not understand how they got there, and they want out in a different way, and they are not offered hope by the side of society that tells them to “come out.” Some Christians believe that God hates gays, and they spew hatred. Some do not, but they still ‘reject’ them as people, deride them, talk ugly about them, and drive many of them into the grave, or into a life of deviance in more than one way. Many, however, who hate homosexuality, are not christian, and hate them for other reasons. But, the media never seem to point out those haters, and this is a legitimate gripe on the part of christians. So, there are many “beliefs” about this issue, and the public forum needs to open up the discussion more. Because of the two polar opposites, which are both wrong in their conclusions in some way, there are those within the ‘struggle’ who want help coping with their issue, but the vitriol on BOTH sides causes these tragedies. Belief is VERY MUCH a part of this issue, and public debate is necessary in order to STOP the tragedy. But, the public debate is not CIVIL, and THAT is the problem.
The word for “hate” in the scriptures is “saneh”, and these are things God hates, which are also “to’evah” to Him: [Mishlim 6]
Haughty [proud] eyes (we call it ‘looking down’ on someone)
A lying tongue
Shedding innocent blood
Those who are quick to do evil
A lying talebearer [running someone down, character assassination]
Those who sow strife
When those who are having this discussion publicly can curb their vitriol, we might be better able to help those who struggle in this situation. Our ‘belief” about it, then, should be public, and it should be a public message of acceptance and love, and one that offers help to those who want it. And some in this situation do want help, for their OWN reasons. And that usually stems from their belief about it. It does matter.

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WDYD? Bless, and do not curse….

Today is a strange day.

First, I had a good prayer time this morning.  What prayer time isn’t good?  I know, but, sometimes it is just more ‘noticeable’ than others.  Then, I saw a fb post directed at me from what I think is a pair of brothers, that basically recalled another post in recent history in which one of them had lodged things about me and Kefa, and Messianic Jews in general, that were very insulting.  Last night’s post, some of which I did not read until this morning, was a continuation of a sort, and repetition of the same drivel most people offer as ‘proof’ of why they reject following Yeshua for some other teacher(s).  I had decided not to answer the post, knowing that talking to people who think they are intellectually superior is a waste of time, and both these folks come across as very arrogant and snobbish, so I saw no reason to respond still, and went out the door.  I have since responded, in spite of the fact that I have lost hope of ever building any true rapport with the pair.  I left the house.

But, I was a bit late getting out the door, so I caught one of the later buses.  Thankfully, it wasn’t raining this morning, and not too cold.  My motorcycle rides of late have been frigid, and I was grateful for the reprieve.  Lately, I’ve been cold too much, and certain people won’t let me snuggle for warmth… not even my dogs.  😉

On that later bus, I began reading a book given to me by my friend, Kefa.  I jumped to the chapter that was about a movie he and I managed to take in together this weekend.  “Operation Finale.”  It was very well done, and I guessed pretty accurate.  Kefa had read the book, “Mossad,” which tells the story of this film in one of its chapters.  It is concerning the arrest and trial of Adolf Eichmann, the ‘architect of the final solution.’

Having studied WWII extensively in grad school, I knew much of this man’s history.  But, I’d never read about his arrest and trial, only that it had occurred.  As a spy-novel geek, I don’t know why I haven’t read more about the Mossad, and I suppose that’s why Kefa gave me the book some time back.  It is from there that Kefa gained his detailed knowledge of events in the film, and that made watching it with him more pleasant.  I knew it would.

So, I finished reading that chapter as the bus got closer to downtown.  For a while, I just sat and meditated a bit on things.  I was reminded of my visit to the holocaust museum in Jerusalem.  Particularly of the exhibit of the little boy who would leave the ghetto daily to go and steal bread.  I’ve posted on this before, while it was fresh in my mind after returning from Israel, how it reminded me of my mother sending me for snacks as a little boy down to the ‘post office/gas station/grocery store’ in our little town in Georgia.  But, I did not go in fear of death, nor in the possibility of failing and my family starving to death.  I thought of how I discovered kin in Germany whose names were on the list of the 6,000,000 who perished at Hitler’s hand, while doing my grad school studies.  And of finding out that not only was my mother Jewish, but my father was too, with a grandfather named Ya’akov Shuler [Torah Teacher!].  And how all of this probably escaped our knowledge until the 1990’s and beyond, because of the holocaust.

Then, I thought of all the many times that I’ve been rejected simply because I chose to embrace and reveal my Jewishness.  By so-called ‘christians’.  Even by one friend of 17 years, with whom I shared an apartment.  With whom I declared the gospel.  And with whom I’d shared the fellowship of Messiah many, many times.  And others, who simply turned from me because I revealed I was Jewish.  Then I thought how more recently Jews and Messianic Jews have rejected me in a very similar manner.  Just because I am Messianic, and yet also because I do not embrace Rabbinic teachings.  Specifically, the non-believing Jews reject me because I accept the Name of Yeshua as Messiah.  The apparent believing Jews, however, reject me because I say the Name,  יהוה  , and teach that Yeshua has received that Name, and that the Name above all names is  יהוה  Yeshua HaMashi’akh [Phil 2:10-11], and thus, the Name,  יהוה  , should be declared, AS SCRIPTURES INSTRUCT US.  And this morning, in praying today’s Tehillah [Psalm], I had read, “K’shimkha, ken tehillateikha”,  which is, “As is your Name, so is your praise, IN THE MIDST OF THE WHOLE EARTH!”  As I say this prayer each 2nd day of the week [mon], it further compels me to declare His Name as heartily as I praise Him.  But, for this, those who say they believe in Yeshua reject me, choosing to follow Rabbis who themselves reject Yeshua.  It simply should not be.  And, it is not that they simply walk away, either, but that some of them, especially the “Messianic” ones, then turn to run me down publicly and cause OTHERS to hate and reject me.

So, I’ve got all these thoughts rolling around in my mind as the bus ambles on toward my stop.  I’m disciplining myself, remembering to pray for our enemies.  I’m not in a pity party, but simply praying that I bear up rightly in all these things, and that I can truly be an ambassador for Him.  It didn’t help that this weekend I was called an a-hole by a supposed ‘believer,’ simply for stating facts.  That, too, went through my mind as I’m striving to obey Messiah who tells me, ‘bless, and do not curse.’  It occurred to me all the many times I do bless.  Both formally, and informally.  Formally, I bless my wife each week, and my son, at the Sabbath table.  I bless our children in the congregation each Shabbat.  I bless our whole congregation each Shabbat.  I assessed myself this morning, and truly surmised that it has been years, many years, since I have chosen to curse someone.  I still hate that I ever did.  But I am happy to realize that the habit, the inclination, has left me, simply because of Messiah’s Word.  So, my musings twisted and turned.  And then, it happened.  It’s not the first time, but this time I actually stopped and ‘meditated’ on it a little more, and perhaps really appreciated it for the first time.  It’s happened twice before, recently, within the last month or so, when I have caught the later bus.

We got to Walker street in downtown Houston, two stops ahead of my stop, and a slightly older gentleman from behind me joins the crowd that exits the bus there.  As he passed by me, he leans down slightly to his left [I always sit in an aisle seat on the left side of the bus], and quietly says, “Blessings to you, my friend.”

It’s not the first time someone has blessed me simply for being Jewish. This man has done it twice before.   Within the last few weeks.  The very first time it happened to me in similar fashion was actually on the bus, probably about ten years ago.  That time, it was a woman sitting behind me.  Shortly after I sat down, she leaned forward and put her hand on my shoulder and said, “I just wanted to tell you, ‘G-d bless you.’”  And through the years I have been similarly blessed and greeted by non-Jewish believers, most recently here at work by the very kind man who sits across from my corner cubicle.  I know why they do it.  These are people who have read their bibles, and they know the many passages that say, in both ends of the book, “I will bless those who bless you, and those who curse you, I will curse,” concerning Avraham and his descendants, of whom I am one.  I have chosen to wear the traditional kippah for two reasons: to identify with my Jewish brothers, who choose this particular ‘fashion’ in order to wear a priestly head-covering, and to be reminded daily of the crown I hope to receive one day.  I wear the titz-tziyot for ONE reason: because G-d said to.  But, these two accessories to my wardrobe tell others I am Jewish.  And some, very few, choose to bless me for it.  I confess, it does cross my mind that they only choose to bless me so that they can receive their subsequent blessing.  But, that is enough motivation, I suppose.  At least they have chosen to bless me, and not curse me, as so many have.  And today, the timing of it was very striking.  I did not ask for a blessing.  Neither was I complaining, or pitying myself; I merely ‘observed’ the infrequency of being on the receiving end of something I do often, in contrast to how frequently I receive curses of many kinds.

I know that today the man that did this had his own reasons; perhaps he genuinely wants to see the people of G-d, the Jews, blessed.  Perhaps he is working up courage to share “Jesus” with me, and laying the groundwork in his own way.  [I did consider how no one has ever attempted to share the gospel with me, perceiving me to be Jewish.]  Or, perhaps he just wants his blessing.  Nonetheless, I received it joyfully this morning.  And then, I get settled in at my desk, and I learn that TODAY is the day Adolf Eichmann was sentenced to death.  This man embodied the impetus to curse Jews, for a whole nation, and was responsible for killing some of my closer kin, along with many other of our Jewish people.  I had watched the movie of Eichmann’s demise just two days ago, with my closest Jewish friend.  The friend who comforted me when I melted down at the exhibit of the boy fetching bread. We had discussed it quite at length afterward.  And after a weekend of being reminded of those who curse me, I’m again blessed.  On this day worthy of remembering.  Eight days after my birthday.  The overtones of this just keep swelling, but I need to end lunch and get to work again.

“Suffer not your mouth to bring your flesh into guilt…”

One Yisra’el

TMenorahburn

Yes, Yisra’el was divided way back in around 930 BC.

As a result of that division, the northern faction was called Malkhut Yisra’el, the KINGDOM of Yisra’el.  It was called the Northern Kingdom.

That kingdom lasted until about 732 BC.  And then, it was invaded and destroyed.  Three times.  By Assyria.  And all three times there was a dispersion of the inhabitants of the Northern Kingdom. [ of the 10 tribes, northern Israelites ] The ten tribes were dispersed into Assyria in three ‘waves,’ by Tigrath Pileser III in 732, by Shalmaneser V and Sargon II in 729, and by Sargon II again in 715, into parts more easterly.

This was the fulfillment of prophecy by Hoshe’ah.  But, Hoshe’ah also prophesied the RETURN of the northern tribes, a remnant of them.  And that happened in the scriptures, when Khizki-Yahu invited them back for the Pesakh, and many of them came.

Several of the Nevi’im were warning the northern kingdom of their destruction.  But, none so much as Hoshe’ah, except perhaps Yesha-Yahu.

But, the portion for the Haftarah for this week is Yekhezkel Chapter 37.  And so many people THINK that this is happening today, and the prophesied collection of the northern tribes is the salvation of the gentiles of today, who many today think are the peoples like the Brits, the Danes, the Irish, the Dutch, etc, etc.  They believe that these people groups are the ‘lost tribes.’  They completely ignore the prophecy of Hoshe’ah, the fulfilment of it in II Chronicles, and the fact that Yekhezkel ministered to Yisra’el [Judah] a full 100 years AFTER the destruction of the NORTHERN “kingdom”, predicting the destruction of Jerusalem in the SOUTHERN Kingdom, Yehudah, which Yekhezkel called Yisra’el!  And they overlook Sha’ul calling himself an Israelite, a Jew, and a Binyemini, and they overlook Kefa and Ya’akov writing to the 12 tribes in their day.

Yekhezkel ministered to Yehudah, the SOUTHERN Kingdom.  The ‘lost tribes’ were already SCATTERED.  And Elohim told them he would utterly forget them.  But, He also said he’d save a remnant.  That remnant already returned, and the ‘unification’ already happened.  BEFORE Yekhezkel ministered to Yehudah.  So, why would Yekhezkel say what he said in that chapter, about the two ‘trees.’  Reading that chapter out of context, we understand how so many can think that there is a rejoining of Yisra’el in our day.  On the surface, without a timeline, and a firm understanding of the history, one could easily come to that conclusion.  But, we need to be responsible, and set everything in CONTEXT.

Yekhezkel writes, in the twelfth year of the siege of YERUSHALAYIM : ‘Thus says Adonai יהוה , ‘As I live, surely they that are in the waste places shall fall by the sword, and him that is in the open field will I give to the beasts to be devoured, and they that are in the strongholds and in the caves shall die of the pestilence. And I will make the land most desolate, and the pride of her power shall cease; and the mountains of Yisra’el shall be desolate, so that none shall pass through. Then shall they know that I am יהוה , when I have made the land most desolate, because of all their abominations which they have committed’.'”

Bear in mind, Yisra’el is now the combined TWELVE TRIBES again, living together in the land of Yehudah, and the Navi calls them “Yisra’el“.  He is speaking of the future of those living in the land under the kingship of Yehudah.  All. Twelve. Tribes.

He then addresses the “Shepherds” of Yisra’el.  This is the later greek-translated word ‘pastor,’ and is concerning the kohanim, those tasked with teaching Yisra’el. “So were they scattered, because there was no shepherd; and they became food to all the beasts of the field, and were scattered. My sheep wandered through all the mountains [of their OWN land], and upon every high hill, yes, upon all the face of the land were My sheep scattered, and there was none that did search or seek. Therefore, you shepherds, hear the D’var  יהוה .”  This is an echo of Yirme-Yahu, who is also a Navi to the SOUTHERN KINGDOM.  He ministered BEFORE Yekhezkel, concerning the destruction of Yerushalayim.  In Chapter 50 he writes, concerning those gathered IN BAVEL, AFTER the destruction of YERUSHALAYIM [which had not happened yet, but is about to, from his context]: “B’nei Yisra’el shall come, they and B’nei Yehudah together; they shall go on their way weeping, and shall seek  יהוה  their Elohim. They shall inquire concerning Tzion with their faces her way, ‘Come, and join yourselves to יהוה in an everlasting Brit that shall not be forgotten’. My people has been lost sheep [Yisra’el and Yehudah TOGETHER]; their shepherds have caused them to go astray, they have turned them away on the mountains; they have gone from mountain to hill, they have forgotten their resting-place. All that found them have devoured them [Assyria AND Babylon]; and their adversaries said, ‘We are not guilty’; because they have sinned against יהוה , the habitation of justice, even יהוה , the hope of their fathers. Flee out of the midst of Bavel, and go forth out of the land of the Kasdim, and be as the he-goats before the flocks. For, lo, I will stir up and cause to come up against Bavel an assembly of great nations [Medes and Persians] from the north country; and they shall set themselves in array against her, from there she [Bavel] shall be taken; their arrows shall be as of a mighty man that makes childless; none shall return in vain. And Kasdim shall be a spoil; all that spoil her shall be satisfied, says יהוה .”  This is Yirme-Yahu predicting the destruction of Bavel, BEFORE it happened, which finally happened and is to us history; he called out the destruction of Bavel, before even Yerushalayim was destroyed he predicted it.  And Yisra’el AND Yehudah are told TOGETHER to leave Bavel when the Medes and Persians attack it.  They would already be unified.  And they were lost TOGETHER, just as Yekhezkel said.

So, when Yeshua sent his Talmidim to the ‘lost sheep of the house of Yisra’el’, he did NOT send them to the ‘ten lost tribes.’  In context, that Brit Khadashah passage makes this very clear: Matt 10:

“These twelve Yeshua sent out, and charged them and said, “Keep away from pagan practices, and do not enter a city of Shomron; but above all, go to the sheep which are lost from Beit Yisra’el. And as you go, declare and say that Malkhut HaShamayim is near. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons; freely you have received, freely give. Do not accumulate gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses; nor a bag for the journey, nor two shirts and shoes, nor a staff; for a laborer is at least worthy of his food. Whatever city or town you enter, ask who is trustworthy in it, and remain there until you leave. And when you enter into the house, ask for shalom for that house. And if the house is worthy, your shalom shall come upon it; but if it is not worthy, your shalom shall return to you.”  When Yeshua finished commanding them concerning their temporary journey, he departed [chapter 11].  All the gospels bear out that the twelve went out, TO THE HOUSE OF ISRAEL, the JEWISH people in the land of Yehudah! and then rejoined Yeshua.  In very similar fashion He later sends out 70 in another episode that is recorded in Luka 10, and we then read, “So the seventy whom He had sent returned with great joy, and they said to Him, “Adoneinu, even the demons have submitted to us in Your Name.”

Understand this:  ALL TWELVE TRIBES WERE LOST, BECAUSE THEIR ‘PASTORS’ WERE NOT TEACHING THEM THE TORAH!  This was not a ‘physical scattering,’ but “LOST” in the sense of NOT KNOWING TRUTH.  This was true of ALL TWELVE TRIBES in Yirme-Yahu’s day, and in the days of Yekhezkel, AND in the days of Yeshua!  They were LOST TOGETHER.  Yeshua called the Jewish People of His day, “Yisra’el“.  Having been reunited in the land, and yet going into error.  This is why Abba destroyed Yerushalayim!  AFTER Yirme-Yahu predicted it.  It was true in Yeshua’s day, when the P’rushim’s Rabbis taught men’s commandments in the place of Torah, as if they were teaching Torah.  This is true of our Jewish people today.  If they do not follow Messiah, they are LOST!  The Rabbis and all of Israel that do not believe and trust in Yeshua, ARE LOST.  Yeshua sent out the 12 to JEWS…. people of all twelve tribes living in the land of Yehudah!  Our Jewish people TODAY are comprised of people from ALL TWELVE TRIBES.  Just because one might be from another tribe, does NOT mean he is not a JEW.  Sha’ul was of the tribe of Binyamin, but he called himself both a Jew and an Israelite.  Yehudah bears the scepter, just as predicted.  Those who rebelled against Yehudah’s kingship, and against G-d, are FORGOTTEN.  Israelite and Jew are two terms that are not mutually exclusive, but synonymous.

To further prove this, lets consider.  Today’s ‘two house’ people like to say that Danes, Brits, and Irish, and others of European xtian stock are the descendants of the ten lost tribes, ie, “Ephraimites.”  Well, the scriptures called the land of Efrayim “Shomron.”  When Yeshua was sending out the 12, He specifically told them, “do not enter a city of Shomron; but above all, go to the sheep which are lost from Beit Yisra’el.”  Please ‘hear’ His word.  Yeshua sent HIS TWELVE, 2000 years ago, to Beit Yisra’el, and specifically said DO NOT GO INTO SHOMRON!  Shomron had inhabitants who could PROVE they descended from the 10 northern tribes… the ‘woman at the well’ was a Shomronit, and she tried to legitimize her faith as a descendent of Ya’akov.  But, Yeshua told His twelve Jews, from several of the tribes, NOT to go to their ‘half brothers.’  If THEY are not candidates to be “Beit Yisra’el,’ HOW in the wide world are today’s Danes and Brits?  The Shomronim were certainly closer kin than European xtians. 

Next in Yekhezkel, after admonishing the ‘Shepherds’ and warning Edom, he speaks to all nations trampling His people, and says to Yisra’el, “For, behold, I am for you, and I will turn unto you, and you shall be tilled and sown; and I will multiply men upon you, all Beit Yisra’el, even all of it; and the cities shall be inhabited, and the waste places shall be built; and I will multiply upon you man and beast, and they shall increase and be fruitful; and I will cause you to be inhabited after your former estate, and will do better unto you than at your beginnings; and you shall know that I am יהוה .”  The context tells us that this is ALL TWELVE TRIBES He is addressing here.  Remember, Yekhezkel is a minister to the SOUTHERN kingdom, 100 years AFTER the ten northern tribes were dispersed.  Scattered.

He is talking to the remnant.  This is a concept that every believer needs to understand.  There is and always has been only a remnant, a group of people within ALL Yisra’el, all twelve tribes, that know and trust  יהוה  for Salvation [Yeshu’ah, ie, Yeshua].  It is the remant that will grow and sprout.

Then, Yekhezkel turns to prophesy again, this time of later events:  36:17

“Ben Adam, when Beit Yisra’el dwelt in their own land [ONE HOUSE, all twelve tribes], they defiled it by their way and by their doings; their way before Me was as the uncleanness of a woman in her impurity. Therefore, I poured out My fury upon them for the blood which they had shed upon the land, and because they had defiled it with their idols; and I scattered them among the nations, and they were dispersed through the countries; according to their way and according to their doings I judged them. And when they came unto the nations, wherever they came, they profaned My kadosh Name; in that men said of them, ‘These are the people of  יהוה , and are gone forth out of His land’. But I had pity for My kadosh Name, which Beit Yisra’el had profaned among the nations, wherever they came.'” “Therefore say unto Beit Yisra’el, ‘Thus says Adonai יהוה , ‘I do not do this for your sake, O Beit Yisra’el, but for My kadosh Name, which you have profaned among the nations, wherever you came. And I will consecrate My Great Name, which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in the midst of them; and the nations shall know that I am יהוה , says Adonai יהוה , when I shall be consecrated in you before their eyes. For I will take you from among the nations, and gather you out of all the countries, and will bring you into your own land. And I will sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean; from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you; and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you a heart of flesh. And I will put My Ru’akh within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you shall keep My ordinances, and do them. And you shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and you shall be My people, and I will be your Elohim. And I will save you from all your uncleannesses; and I will call for the grain, and will increase it, and lay no famine upon you. And I will multiply the fruit of the tree, and the increase of the field, that you may receive no more the reproach of famine among the nations. Then shall you remember your evil ways, and your doings that were not good; and you shall loathe yourselves in your own sight for your iniquities and for your abominations. Not for your sake do I do this, says Adonai יהוה , be it known unto you; be ashamed and confounded for your ways, O Beit Yisra’el, thus says Adonai יהוה . In the day that I cleanse you from all your iniquities, I will cause the cities to be inhabited, and the waste places shall be built. And the land that was desolate shall be tilled, whereas it was a desolation in the sight of all that passed by. And they shall say, ‘This land that was desolate is become like Gan Eden’; and the waste and desolate and ruined cities are fortified and inhabited. Then the nations that are left round about you shall know that I, יהוה , have built the ruined places, and planted that which was desolate; I, יהוה , have spoken it, and I will do it; thus says Adonai יהוה . I will yet for this be inquired of by Beit Yisra’el, to do it for them; I will increase them with men like a flock. As the flock for sacrifice, as the flock of Yerushalayim in her Mo’edim, so shall the waste cities be filled with flocks of men; and they shall know that I am יהוה “.  

And from here we turn to chapter 34.  But, let’s reason a bit.  Is he REALLY telling ONLY the northern kingdom that He would put HIS RU’AKH in their hearts, and SAVE them?  Really?  That is how and what many people teach.  But that is NOT the heart and the way of Elohim.  He only has ONE YISRA’EL.  And ‘Salvation is of the Jews’.  So, what is this prophecy about, and to whom is it written?

Again, Yekhezkel is a Navi to Yehudah, the SOUTHERN KINGDOM, calling the SOUTHERN KINGDOM “Yisra’el”, for several reasons.  The twelve tribes were re-unified in the days of King Khizki-Yah.  The twelve tribes were scattered together to Bavel.  Elohim is promising to bring them BACK to the land, and THEN put His Breath in them and SAVE them.

One must learn something when studying the Nevi’im and Nevu’im.  Abba says something, and it sounds like it will happen in one fell swoop, but then, it happens over a course of years and in several stages.  This is true of the destruction and expulsion of the ten LOST tribes.  This is true of the destruction and captivity of Yehudah to Bavel.  This is true of the return and the rebuilding of the Beit HaElohim.  This is also true of the saving and return of ALL YISRA’EL into the land.  It is also true of the final dispersion, which began in 70 AD and was completed in 150 AD.  Our Jewish people, all twelve tribes together, have roamed the earth together for 2,000 years.  Yekhezkel is predicting their return in the LAST of the LAST days, and it has not happened yet, and is not happening yet. Our Jewish people, ALL TWELVE TRIBES, are still lost: apart from the REMNANT: those who trust in Yeshua.

We cannot forget history from 586 BC to the late 1st century. In summary, all twelve tribes were banished to Bavel; they returned.  They rebuilt the House.  They were again conquered, and then took back the land from the Seleucids.  Then the Romans occupied the land.  And then Messiah came and ministered to all twelve tribes.  And then HE put His Ru’akh into the hearts of all twelve tribes.  [Acts 2]  But, He is NOT DONE.  Because ALL TWELVE TRIBES were again SCATTERED, and LOST doctrinally.  They still are, to this day.  First, some of them remained “jewish” in the lands near Yisra’el.  Sha’ul goes into those lands, into the synagogues, and SAVES them, ALONG WITH GENTILES.  Did Sha’ul call THOSE GENTILES ‘Efraimites’?  NO!  He called them STRANGERS!  But Ya’akov writes to ALL TWELVE TRIBES!  Why would Ya’akov [James] write a letter to people, if he did not know who and where they were?  [James 1:1]  Further, the TWELVE TRIBES have since been scattered!  In waves/stages again, from 70 AD to 150 AD.  And it is to THAT group of people, JEWS, that Yekhezkel is now writing.

Today’s Jews are in NO WAY ‘united’.  There are as many factions and schisms in Judaism as there are in some streams of xtianity.  Geographically they are not united, but scattered among the nations, still.  It may be precisely because they are from separate tribes that they quibble so much over even their Talmudic doctrine and practices!  But, the chapter in question, the chapter of our Haftarah, is indeed written concerning END TIMES.  But, it is NOT about ‘gentiles’ who are the ‘house of Efrayim.’  Efrayim is forgotten!  Only a remnant of Efrayim, and of the other tribes, survives today.  And they are Jews.  [Rev 12]  In the first part of the chapter, 37, we read:

“Prophesy unto HaRu’akh, prophesy, Ben Adam, and say to HaRu’akh, ‘Thus says Adonai , יהוה  ‘Come from the four winds, O Ru’akh, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live’.'” So I prophesied as He commanded me, and HaRu’akh came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceedingly great army. Then He said unto me, “Ben Adam, these bones are the whole Beit Yisra’el; behold, they say, ‘Our bones are dried up, and our hope is lost; we are clean cut off’. Therefore prophesy, and say unto them, ‘Thus says Adonai יהוה , ‘Behold, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, O My people; and I will bring you into the land of Yisra’el. And you shall know that I am יהוה , when I have opened your graves, and caused you to come up out of your graves, O My people. And I will put My Ru’akh in you, and you shall live, and I will place you in your own land; and you shall know that I, יהוה , have spoken, and performed it, says יהוה “‘.’

The passage above immediately precedes our Haftarah portion this week.  Yekhezkel is assuring future Israelis that the REMANT who trusted would be resurrected.  Nothing in this passage is about a mysterious morphing of Efrayim into ‘gentiles’.   The portion about the two trees/sticks is NOT independent of this passage concerning the dried bones.  The two ‘trees’ or ‘sticks’ that Yekhezkel joins together are indeed representative of Efrayim and Yosef, and Yehudah.  But, the WHOLE POINT of it is that there is ONE TREE…. ONE HOUSE….the promise given to the WHOLE HOUSE is the same as the one given above, AFTER THE RESURRECTION, which I would assume EVERYONE would agree has NOT HAPPENED YET.  Do you not get it?  Yisra’el coming into the land as a unified, single house, does NOT HAPPEN until AFTER the resurrection.  Consider, Yekhezkel, who lived in circa 600 AD, is speaking about DEAD MEN.  And only FAITHFUL dead men.  He is speaking to the remnant from ALL TWELVE TRIBES, in HIS day, telling them that those dead prior to 600 AD would one day rise again.  And of course, this is ‘The Resurrection,” so the remnant of the future would also participate in that.

But, further, in our Haftarah, we also see that when Yisra’el does become unified, AFTER THE RESURRECTION, that Messiah Ben David will be the ruler of Yisra’el.  THIS IS of course MESSIAH YESHUA!  He will one day rule IN THE LAND, with ALL TWELVE TRIBES living in the land in safety.  Today, the twelve tribes are scattered all over the world: and they are called Jews.  The re-unification has not happened yet.  And according to the first part of the chapter, does not happen until after The Resurrection.  And then ALL JEWS will be ‘saved.’

Yekhezkel spoke, once again, 120 years AFTER the complete destruction of the northern kingdom and the scattering of the northern ten tribes.  They are forgotten.  When he referred to Yisra’el, he referred to the believing/trusting remnant, all twelve tribes.  The REMNANT of Efrayim has already been returned to Yehudah.  The 30th chapter of Divrei HaYamim Bet [2 Chron] bears this out, just as Hoshe’ah prophesied.  That REMNANT, made up of Messianic Jews, is awaiting the Resurrection.  Today, any Gentile that says they directly descend from Efrayim or Dan or Yosef is fooling himself.  There is simply no proof whatsoever.  And they are putting a measure of their hope for salvation in their DNA.  This tramples the blood of Messiah, and betrays a lack of trust in that blood ALONE for salvation.  Sha’ul was from the tribe of Binyamin, yet called himself an Yisra’elite AND a Yehudi [Israelite/Jew].  There is NO DISTINCTION.  “A House that is divided SHALL NOT STAND.”  There is ONLY ONE house in the Kingdom of Elohim.  Efrayim and Dan were guilty of creating ‘two houses’ in the northern kingdom, because they did not want to follow Yehudah’s King.  These two tribes are conspicuously missing from the census of tribes in the book of the Hitgalut [Revelation].  This matches the prophecies, that they would be destroyed AND FORGOTTEN.  [minus the remnant, that would unify with Yehudah and become Jews].  They became Jews; just the opposite of what ‘two-house’ teachers teach, that they became gentiles.  A Jewish person cannot become a Gentile, EVEN IF he forgets he is descended from Avraham, Yitz’khak, and Ya’akov.  But, it is NOT our DNA that saves us, but ONLY our trust in the blood of Messiah, whether we are Jewish OR Gentile.

“There is neither Yehudi nor Arami, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Yeshua HaMashi’akh. So if you belong to Mashi’akh, then you are descendants of Avraham, and his heirs according to the promise.”

Identity religion is sin.

זה יום ההולדת שלי, בסדר, בסדר (in Matthew McConaughey voice)

The day that will live in infamy.

My father was a military man, through and through.  Career Navy he was.  From a long line of American warriors, all the way back to the Revolution.  He married my mother on 9/11.  His first son was born on D-Day, the next on VJ-day, and myself on Pearl Harbor Day.

That’s always been a shadow of a thought on my birthday, especially after realizing my parent’s anniversary related to the little phenomenon.

Anyone who walks in true “Emunah” in Messiah Yeshua knows that His people are a ‘warring’ people, in the realm of His Ru’akh.  Last week, my drash [teaching message] in the Synagogue was about the “Matzliakh”, the ‘prosperous’ man.  One who ‘succeeds’ in this life, spiritually.  If I’m not mistaken, Yosef was the first one in scripture called a matzliakh; and he was a servant, a slave, when he was so called.

But, as Friday was the anniversary of my birth, I prayed that day, as I do each day, for all I know, especially those whom I hold dear, to have ‘shalom’ each day..

My birthday started very, very special.  I woke up, and read a second email concerning someone who had been studying our congregation’s website, http://www.battzion.org , and had come to repentance.  My last post was about the JOY in HEAVEN concerning ONE SOUL doing Teshuvah, so much so that the Malakhim REJOICE in HIGH PRAISES….. FOR ONE SOUL!  So, when I read that second email, and learned that the person who had repented, whose name is in our Torah portion this week!, is going to come to the synagogue this Shabbat, then I ‘heard’ the echo of that rejoicing in Heaven…. it sunk in. [the first email had came in thur night, after my family and I began celebrating my birthday.. with cake…can’t help it, biblical days start at night! and I’d briefly read it, but it didn’t sink in; then another came in through the night].

I cannot express how much joy that brought me, considering all the labor we put into the website, into the congregation, investing in people’s souls, versus the number of times people actually do ‘return to G-d in obedience to His Instructions’ [biblical repentance].  when I wrote that last blog post, I asked G-d for that experience again, that deep joy of knowing His Malkhut is truly advancing because of our efforts.  Et voila.

Friday, I decided to drive to work, versus riding the bus, because I took a half day off.  My jam came on when I got in the car, but it was my whole playlist.  I wanted to focus on worshipping and thanking Him, so I switched it just to play Miqedem’s last album.  I’ve noticed this before, about that album.  But I’ve only shared this with my wifey.  I don’t know if Jamie and the rest of Miqedem intended this, but it has certainly caught my attention, what I am about to try to explain:

Friday morning, when I switched it over, I set it to play the album, Volume II, in order, and not to shuffle, because it’s been a while since I just listened to the album straight through.  I finished listening to it this morning, and remembered this compelling theme I will try to explain here, starting with the first song, to the last, in order.

“Khanun V’Rakhum’ is the first song, “Gracious and Merciful”.  That is the last phrase in the 4th verse of the psalm…. The music starts with a very distinct Hebrew, Middle-Eastern sound, very upbeat, and the first words are “I will thank יהוה “…. [I say/sing His Name… I hope Miqedem can forgive me, as I simply cannot edit His Word when reading/singing it, nor blot out His Name as quoted in scripture with another word].  The first verse of this song is actually the first four verses of Psalm 111.   I have the great pleasure of understanding them in Hebrew…. and this phrase, “Khanun v’Rakhum’, is an echo of Moshe’s encounter with G-d that so few people consider, when He said, יהוה   יהוה  El RAKHUM V’KHANUN…. Merciful and GRACIOUS G-d… this is ‘old testament’, and is describing יהוה  as MERCIFUL and GRACIOUS….  the whole description there flies in the face of the xtian idea that the ‘god of the old testament’ was a ‘hateful, mean/angry god.’  Those first verses of 111 expound on His works of mercy and grace as WONDERFUL.  Then, the second verse of the song, from Ps 112, tells of the works of a Tzadik, a Righteous One.  This is a foreshadowing of Messiah, but also describes one who actually trusts in obedience, delighting in the Mitzvot of G-d.  This echoes the fb post I made yesterday, asserting that we, as believers, should strive to be like G-d!  Khanun V’Rakhum V’Tzadik, echoing Khanun V’Rakhum יהוה !  Ultimately, it is HIM whom we emulate.

I won’t have time to detail each of the psalms on this album.  But, I pray the psalms every Shabbat in the Synagogue during our prayer hour, with a numerical pattern that gets me through all 150 of them about 5 times in a year.  And this pattern is in such a way that I sample each type of Psalm [praise, ascent, imprecatory, etc] each Shabbat.  And each week, I think about how this mimics the life and experience of believers.

The Tehillim [praises/psalms] are Tefilot [prayers] and SONGS.  And they are FULL of EMOTION.  ALL emotions.  Happiness, sadness, sorrow, pain, rejoicing, anger, bitterness, hurt, the list goes on.  They run the whole gambit of the human experience.  And so do my Shabbat morning prayers.  And so does Miqedem Volume II.  They sampled almost every type of Tehillah.  This one starts very upbeat, rejoicing and thanking G-d for His MERCY AND GRACE, the way a believer starts his life of faith, and the way he SHOULD start EVERY DAY!

It is followed with B’tzet Yisra’el, ‘When Yisra’el Went out of Mitzrayim’, which is a mini Pesakh Psalm, a recalling of the MIGHT of Elohim, who delivered Yisra’el and brought them into The Land.  The psalmist almost seems to mock the natural barriers to Yisra’el’s ‘going out,’ reminding us that He Goes BEFORE us, IN MIGHT.  This, too, ought to be a theme of our minds as we begin our days.

The next is Ba’erev Yelin, and has been my favorite for a while, though I think it got edged out of late.  But, the tone changes, becoming very mellow.  This one is a KHANUKAH song!  It is the “Dedication of the House,” or “Khanukat HaBayit.”  Nothing causes a believer in Messiah more sorrow than for the ‘House’ of his heart to be defiled with sin.  “Weeping WILL linger for the night”, as long as the believer walks in self-induced darkness,’ but REJOICING comes ‘la’boker’…. yes, ‘in the morning,’ but, ‘boker’ can imply ‘early,’ and the prefix is ‘for’ in this conjugation…. the earlier ‘light’ comes back to the ‘house,’ the sooner the believer can REJOICE!  This one is Psalm 30:4-6.

Then, we get even more contemplative, meditating on the “Compassions of יהוה  ” .  from 89:2-3, 12.  Here, we confess that His compassions are worthy of our declaring them. So much so that the mountains will cry out rejoicing in Him [if we don’t].  I seem to remember Yeshua alluding to this?  We stay contemplative, and ‘sing,’ “I love that יהוה will hear the voice of my supplications….”  Ps 116:1-2; And then we can say, “Because He has turned His ear toward me, I will call on Him all of my days…. “In the courts of His HOUSE, in the midst of you, O Yerushalayim, HALLELU YAH!”  [v19].  We who are believers in Messiah Yeshua do this in such a literal way, because we have a House that is fashioned by Messiah!  I can’t EVEN get into all the depth of what is revealed here!

And now it’s time again to REJOICE!  The next melody is a complete Tehillah, 117, which is only two verses long.  It has a very middle-eastern flare, and a driving beat.  Hallelu Et יהוה  , kol Goyim, Shabekhuhu kol HaUmim; Ki gamal aleinu khasdo, v’emet יהוה  l’olam.  That’s it!  Praise Him, all nations, Worship Him all peoples!  For His compassion upon us is abundant, and His Truth is FOREVER!

The next melody is again quiet and meditative; its all piano and vocal, and is simply one verse; but, it’s not from the Tehillim.  It is from “Eikha”, or “Lamenations”: “Arise, cry out in the night, at the beginning of the watches; pour out your heart like water before the face of Adonai; lift up your hands toward Him for the life of your young children, that faint for hunger at the head of every street.”  Our life indeed should be about praise, and Abba is certainly deserving of all our praise, but the world is deserving of our supplication, our standing in as the royal Kohanim we are, pleading on behalf of the innocent.  In our day and age, there is probably no better verse to express how desperate children today are for our intercession.   And sometimes, it ‘seems’ as if Abba is not responding to our plea.  “Ad Ana,”  “Until when?” is the next lyric, from chapter 13.  We left our rejoicing, and in the middle of the night got up to pray for the children, and now we ask, “Until when?  How long will our enemy rejoice over me?   But then, in spite of the waiting we must do, we yet say, “But as for me, in Your compassion do I trust; my heart shall rejoice in Your Salvation.  I will sing unto יהוה , because He has dealt bountifully with me.”  And we begin to leave our sorrow behind, returning again to our trust that HE IS going to move, and give justice, and compassion.  And the music picks us back up again at this point.

The next melody seems to us to be a blend of Hebrew with Appalachian Mountain music.  It’s bluesy, “Shir LaMa’alot,” from 121:1-5.  It is a reminder that we have to return ourselves to this world, in our journey of ascent [Shir LaMa’alot means “Song of Ascent”]; along the way, there are many perils, but HE is our help!  The Maker of Heaven and Earth.

The next song is another deviation from the book of psalms, taking us to Yesha-Yahu 40:31, again a single verse.  And the tempo picks back up again, returning to a very authentic, Hebrew sound.  Those who wait/hope in יהוה will renew their strength, they will soar in the air as eagles!  They will run and not be weary, they will walk and not faint.  This is like the second wind of life.  It is a reminder, especially for one in my stage of life, that it is WORTH waiting on and hoping in HIM.  And that ONE DAY, He is going to ‘lift us up’.  And HE strengthens us to get through this life.

And having that in mind, knowing that one who ‘waits for’ and ‘hopes in’ Him, we are HAPPY!  And Tehillah 1:1-3 begins with a very upbeat, modern guitar rif, “Happy is the man!  And this one has, at least for a season, become my favorite, as I have come to know that my happiness is completely rooted in HIM, and being OBEDIENT to His Tzedaka.  And it is not a drummed up, temporary happiness.  It is permanent, and completely  independent of my circumstances.  It is typically a more mature person who really discovers this truth.

And the last song, I don’t know if it was intended this way, but it certainly seems well placed, and seems to fit this theme of the album, that of our journey through life, whether that theme was intended or not as well.  Tehillah 23 is read often upon the departure of a loved one; but, it is not written in the voice of the 2nd person, but of the first person:  He leads ME beside still waters; he restores my soul… The melody starts very subdued, in contrast to the previous “Ashrei Ha’Ish, and takes us through the first three verses.  Oddly enough, the tempo picks up when we get to the valley of Tzal Mavet…  EVEN THERE we can PRAISE HIM!  Passing through this life into the next! Though I walk through the valley of Tzal Mavet….  All of us are going to do it.  But, HE sits us down and feeds us, while our enemies watch!  He covers our heads in oil, protecting us.  I will dwell in Beit   יהוה  FOREVER!  What else could be so comforting for one ‘crossing the Yarden,’ going into Paradise?  

Oddly enough, it almost doesn’t seem to matter in what order one listens to these particular scriptures, the message is the same.  And this is true of the book of Tehillim; our ‘worship of David.’  I wish everyone who trusts in Messiah could come to understand the power of restoration and life that is in these songs.  Not Miqedem’s, but David’s.  Miqedem does a phenomenal job of bringing life to the lyrics, and giving us a taste of Yisra’el in our worship, and we at our congregation are very grateful.  But, it is because the words are the very words of His Ru’akh [breath], expressing the very heart of Elohim THROUGH us, if we let them, that we sing them with such passion.  I wish I had more time to elaborate, but I hope the reader has ‘seen’ what I have so many times when listening to this album; and so many times when praying these prayers in silence on Shabbat.

This ‘book of prayer’ is a mechanism that could restore the congregations to UNITY in Messiah.  Singing them is wonderful.  But inwardly meditating on them is even more wonderful, and powerful.  I hope someone in inspired to do just that.