An awakening is occurring today, a phenomenon wherein non-Jews in uncountable numbers are identifying as part of Israel. When these people read Ezekiel 37 and the two sticks, or Jeremiah 31 and the two houses, they see themselves as being part of the stick of Joseph, part of the House of Israel. This awakening certainly appears to be a work of God as the odds of so many unrelated people coming to this same understanding without collusion appears astronomical.
In general, it has truly been a blessing to stand back and watch as so many have come to a new understanding, a more Hebraic paradigm. Yet this awakening, this new paradigm is not happening without blemish. There are many people who are either polarized or who are polarizing, and varying degrees of division has been the result. The awakening has become a movement that blesses more than it curses, but it continues to curse at unacceptable levels.
Most of the strife, I dare say, is the result of a lack of quality discipleship. When we throw in a spirit of pride and good ole’ human stubbornness into the mix, it becomes clear that unity throughout the movement is understandably unattainable at this time. But things are slowly changing. Individual efforts by many within this awakening are paying off, and many groups (like United 2 Restore) as well as various congregations are taking a very public stance to promote an environment wherein we can work together toward a common goal rather than allowing the minutia we find within certain doctrinal positions to continue to stand as a wall between us. One group in particular, B’ney Yosef North America (BYNA), has even gone as far as putting forth what they call, “Articles of Declaration,” which is a biblically based agreement that is centered purely on behavior, on how we might interact with our families, congregations, and extended community. BYNA is trying to bring peace to chaos, unity to place where division has thrived.
Efforts like these are worthy of our support because they didn’t just recognize problems within the movement, they have gone out on a ledge to address them. They have discerned a lack of harmony in certain areas and have been willing to extend a hand of peace when others have stood back and only watched. But there is yet another area of disharmony, another great divide that is yet to be adequately crossed, racism.
There is no question that we have taken great strides toward ending racism around the world. Yet we still have many issues that need to be addressed. Secularly speaking, our political climate has continued to stir the pot of discord and tensions based on the color of our skin have escalated in some areas. In religious circles, we often find ourselves looking into the secular mirror as division by race remains more common than most probably realize. Though many churches have found a way to blend together and worship in harmony, a great schism continues to be the norm. I know of one street in a North Carolina town where there is a Baptist Church on either side of the road. One of them is a white church, and the other is a black church. At 10:15 on a Sunday morning, the street fills with cars and the African Americans go to their side and the white Americans go to theirs. Most every town in America has a predominately white church and a predominately black church. And, I should add, our history does make this understandable, albeit disheartening.
I propose to you that racial animosity will not depart from this world by anything done by the secularists. If anything, they are who stir this pot and profit politically through our social turmoil. The answer then, to our racial problems, must come through the people of faith. It must come through those who understand that our Heavenly Father has indeed created man in every color we see and that our coming together as brothers and sisters, accepting each other as He created us, is truly His will.
Being “united to restore” is more than just recognizing who the stick of Judah and the stick of Joseph are and working toward any future reconciliation. Being united to restore is also recognizing who the many individuals are that make up each stick and standing united with them. Israel will be gathered from every nation, speaking every language, appearing in every color. Since that is true, then being united to restore goes beyond Joseph reaching out to Judah, or Judah reaching out to Joseph, it is Judah and Joseph reaching out to and making peace with ALL who belong to their own stick. The promotion of peace within each stick is necessary before the two sticks can be drawn close as pictured in Ezekiel 37:15-17. Since color remains a dividing issue, then we need to stand up and proactively address this. We must openly and enthusiastically come together to put this lingering wound to bed once and for all. Unless we can stand together in harmony regardless of our skin color, unless our stick can stand as one set apart people with a purpose… we will not see the restoration and reconciliation of the Whole House of Israel happen in our lifetime.
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