Reflections on the B’ney Yosef North America Summit Meeting
Shall a nation be born in a day?
Before delving into the business of the B’ney Yosef North American Summit Meeting, something very unique about the timing of this event must first be noted.
HaShem asks in Isaiah 66:8, “Shall a nation be born in a day?” He uses the analogy of a woman in labor giving birth elsewhere to describe the coming forth of the nation of Israel, (Hosea 13:13) so this analogy, at some point, becomes a prophecy; and this prophecy, at some point, comes to fruition. Friends, I would suggest that this prophecy has come to pass last weekend in St. Petersburg, Florida– at least, that part of the prophecy pertaining those of us living on the North American continent who identify as the Lost Sheep of Israel.
To explain the full significance of this, I have to back up 40 weeks to May of 2015. History was made in the days following last Shavuot, when over 130 delegates from 13 nations around the globe came together to attend the B’ney Yosef National Congress in Ariel, Israel. For the first time in over 2,700 years, delegates came together as Sons of Joseph, giving a national identity to the Northern Kingdom of Israel, also called Joseph and Ephraim in prophetic texts. United under a banner of repentance for the sins of our fathers– both those of Jeroboam, and those of the church– these delegates proposed to move forward with a sense of national unity, and returned to our own prospective homes in the diaspora.
This National Congress was held during May 25-27, and concluded on May 28. Over the months that followed, the Hand of the Father was very active, and moved upon the hearts of many of His Lost Sheep, and this message of the restoration of the House of Joseph spread like wildfire. Many smaller B’ney Yosef gatherings took place in the Southwestern states of America, including Texas, Tennessee, Georgia, and South Carolina, with efforts focused on restoring our identity and our nation. And this phenomenon was not limited to America, but even in Europe, India, and as far as Sri Lanka, “Ephraimites” began to gather under the banner of the B’ney Yosef– that is, the non-Jewish portion of Israel. For the first time since the inception of the Messianic / Hebrew Roots movements in the mid 1900s, we began to be united as a people with a national identity, and not as many divided religious sects.
Then, to carry forward and build upon the momentum of the Congress, a North American Summit Meeting was held over the weekend of March 4-6 in St. Petersburg, Florida. The hand of God moved again. It was a gathering of about 200 some Ephraimites living on the continent of North America. This event had a few monumental accomplishments toward the restoration of God’s Lost Sheep as a national people.
Now what is so unique regarding the timing of the North American Summit Meeting is that it took place exactly 40 weeks to the day after the Congress in Ariel last May. 40 weeks. As in… the exact length of time medical science states it takes for a baby to develop from conception to birth. This was announced at the Summit Meeting by one of our talented MCs, Cindy Wyant of Hebrew Nations Radio, as she announced, “Ladies and gentlemen, our water just broke.”
So I ask again. “Shall a nation be born in a day?” Friends, yes it can– and it just happened.
Accomplishments of the Summit Meeting
First and foremost, the greatest accomplishment of the weekend was putting in place a leadership structure with the authority to speak on behalf of Ephraimites, and electing good, righteous men (and women) to fill these positions. This was a monumental step toward restoring our national identity as Sons of Joseph. Currently we have an 7 member executive committee to handle the business side of the nation, and a 12 member board of elders to address the spiritual needs of our newly formed nation. This leadership structure mirrors, as best as we can discern, the leadership structure seen in the Book of Acts, in which we see that the 12 Apostles function as spiritual leadership of the early assembly, and appointing 7 Deacons to see to the needs of the people. All of our leaders have been thoroughly vetted, meeting a strict list of leadership requirements, as outlined in Exodus 18:13-23, 1 Timothy 3:1-7, and Titus 1:5-9. They have been nominated to their positions by general attendees of B’ney Yosef events and voted upon by an Exploratory Committee, tasked with the responsibility of electing good, solid leadership. Above all else, no one in the ranks of leadership has been self-selected or self-appointed.
The second major accomplishment of this Summit Meeting was the signing of our Articles of Declaration, a document which outlines our national history from 722 BC to modern times. Special emphasis was placed upon the acceptance of Yeshua of Nazareth as the Messiah and Kinsman Redeemer of the lost tribes, as well as a decision not to make our Jewish brothers (who do not currently believe in Yeshua as the Messiah) targets of evangelism or conversion. It was also pointed out that many Ephraimites still exist among the church, and instead of condemning them as pagans, we have a national resolve to extend a branch of brotherhood toward them, in hopes of enlightening them to their own national identity, and inviting them to accept their role as Torah keeping Israelites, still in exile among the nations. The historical significance of this document cannot be overstated. In my opinion, the signing of this document was akin to the signing of the Declaration of Independence in 1776, to ratify the formation of the American nation– except instead of declaring independence, in this case, we have declared absolute dependence upon our Father. Tears flowed from many attendants as they witnessed the birth of our nation.
Now all throughout the weekend, the other of our two incredible MCs, author and radio host Daniel Holdings, had been asking the attendants, “Son of man, can these bones live?” (Ezekiel 37:3) But at this point, after the swearing in of the leadership team and the reading of the Declaration, he changed the question: “Son of man, are these bones alive?” The room could hardly contain the excitement that burst forth.
Recognizing the Pioneers
In my opinion, one of the most important aspects of this event was that we were not only focused on the present, but also on giving due credit to those who were pioneers in the building of this nation. Special emphasis was given to five noteworthy individuals, four of whom graced us with their presence.
First among these pioneers were Angus and Batya Wootten, who have been preaching the message of the restoration of all Israel since the 1970s. It is a regrettable shame that the Woottens have come under considerable attack from many “mainstream” organizations within the Messianic movement for teaching this basic truth, and let me just say, that no one’s name has been more wrongly slandered in this movement than theirs. It was a moment of sweet vindication for Batya, who impressed upon us all the need to hold to our faith in Yeshua and commitment to the Torah without compromise, but to have limitless mercy for those who do not share our convictions– specifically when interacting with Christians and with Jews. (Angus was, regrettably, unable to join us.)
The next of the pioneers was an individual who is both known and well loved by many of us: Hanoch Young, an Orthodox Jew, who has been searching for 22 years for his lost brother Joseph in the most unlikely of places– sitting in church pews around the globe, and awakening in these last days to the Torah, the land, and the people of Israel. Now if Hanoch’s participation in the restoration of our nation strikes anyone as strange, think of it this way: when the House of Judah (the Jewish people) were being restored as a national people with the rise of Zionism in the late 1800s, an Anglican minister named William Hechler came to the aid of Theodor Herzl, and was instrumental in helping him make appointments with key political leaders. I would suggest that just as Hechler represented a little bit of Joseph during the days of Judah’s restoration, so does Hanoch represent a little bit of Judah during the days of Joseph’s restoration.
Lastly among these pioneers were Ephraim and Rimona Frank, who have been longing to see this restoration take place for nearly as long as the Woottens. After publishing several books on the topic, the Franks were used by the Father to take the next prophetic step in the restoration of the nation; and in May of 2015, they hosted and coordinated the First B’ney Yosef National Congress in Ariel, Israel, which is when and where the inception of this nation took place. I will never forget the words of Rimona, a native born Israeli, when she addressed the audience with these words: “Looking out there at all of your faces, I can tell you’re the real deal.” This statement was very profound to me because it brought to light the fact that, in the eyes of this Jewish woman, what she was witnessing was the coming home of her lost brothers. It was at this event in Ariel, largely because of the work of the Franks, that Ephraimites around the world acquired a vision of global unity and a national identity, and determined to bring this message of unity as one people to our fellow Ephraimites still in the diaspora.
All of these aforementioned individuals (and many like them) have been waiting to see this day for several decades. Their voices have been echoing the Psalmist and the Prophets in shouting to the God of heaven, “How long, HaShem? Will You hide Yourself forever?” (Psalm 89:46) But we have to keep this in perspective. Some of us have been waiting for ten, twenty, thirty, or maybe even forty years; but God Himself has been waiting for 2,730 years– longer than any of us! In this case, I think we can afford to wait on His perfect timing.
Torah Portion Vayekhel
It can be no coincidence that the Torah Portion for this week (Exodus 35:1-38:20) was Vayekhel– a name which literally translates to “And he Assembled.” The portion then goes on to describe all of the elements needed to build the Mishkan, and put it into service.
Now before going on, I have to point out that this is the 22nd Torah Portion in our annual reading cycle– and in Jewish literature, the number 22 is associated with the number of years in which Joseph was separated from his family. Coincidence? In my opinion, probably not.
Torah teacher Mike Clayton of Joined to HaShem Ministries presented us with a very fitting teaching regarding this portion, again related to the timing of the Summit Meeting, which I will do my best to summarize as follows. Last week’s the Torah Portion, Ki Tisa, (Exodus 30:11-34:35) recorded the incident with the golden calf. Next week’s Torah Portion, Pekudei, (Exodus 38:21-40:38) concludes with the the Shekinah (Glory) of the Ruach HaKodesh filling and surrounding the Mishkan. Given Ephraim’s own history with golden calves, (1 Kings 12, 2 Kings 17) the fact that the Father would call us to assemble between these two Portions is incredibly significant. It is as if we are between a crossroads: the sins of our past, and the glory of our future, when our nation will be built up as a type of Mishkan to represent the Father’s glory on the earth.
Thankfully, this idolatrous chapter in Ephraim’s history is over. We cannot, and will not, afford to repeat the mistakes of the past. We have learned from our mistakes, and recognize that just as the time of our exile is coming to an end, so is it time to bring righteousness and holiness to the earth at unprecedented levels. The Father’s call to “Come out of her, My People, that you be not partakers of her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues,” (Revelation 18:4) has never been more fitting.
An Incredible Conclusion
Beyond the establishment of Godly leadership and the signing of the Articles of Declaration, undoubtedly the most memorable event of the weekend is when Hanoch Young serenaded us with the singing of Israel’s national anthem: HaTikvah. For me personally– having been an attendee to numerous B’ney Yosef events, and having witnessed the formation of this nation from the ground up– this is the point at which everything I have been a part of for the past 10 years became real. It was this one simple song which signified our identity as modern day Israelites, and put in perspective our responsibility to unite in relationship with the Jewish people and the modern state of Israel.
The Best is Yet to Come
I will close this summary of my reflections on the B’ney Yosef North America Summit Meeting with a passage from Zechariah 10:6-12. I select this passage to close my reflections with, because it shows very clearly what the Prophets declare to be in store for our people.
6 “I will strengthen the House of Judah, and I will save the House of Joseph, and I will bring them back; for I have mercy upon them. They shall be as though I had not cast them off; for I am HaShem their God, and I will hear them. 7 They of Ephraim shall be like a mighty man, and their heart shall rejoice as through wine; yes, their children shall see it, and rejoice; their heart shall be glad in HaShem. 8 I will signal for them, and gather them; for I have redeemed them, and they shall increase as they have increased. 9 I will sow them among the peoples, and they shall remember Me in far countries; they shall live with their children, and shall return. 10 I will bring them again also out of the land of Egypt, and gather them out of Assyria; and I will bring them into the land of Gilead and Lebanon, and enough space shall not be found for them. 11 He will pass through the sea of affliction, and will smite the waves in the sea; and all the depths of the Nile shall dry up, and the pride of Assyria shall be brought down, and the scepter of Egypt shall depart. 12 And I will strengthen them in HaShem; and they shall walk up and down in His name.”
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