Impossible Odds (Episode 2)

EPISODE 2 of 3: I Deserved Hell

This week (May 19) on Shabbat Night Live, YeHoVaH has always guided us and protected us — even while we strayed from him. That’s the realization that Rodney Thompson had after being arrested and committed to a mental hospital.

In this episode, in his own words, you will hear why Rodney felt he “deserved hell” but was spared thanks to the obedience of Yeshua’s servants.

Watch the episode — included on this blog post.

While you watch, consider the questions below. The timeline for each discussion topic in the video is noted on each question. Post your answers in the comments section, and let’s get some discussion going!

  1. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 16:00) As noted previously, a private epiphany is often the most representative expression of YeHoVaH’s will in our lives. How does our exercise of free will to the point of our own degradation serve to impact our conscience in a more significant way than outside efforts such as rehabilitation or family pressure, however well-intentioned?
  2. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 20:00) Similarly, how do benevolent but superficial gestures like the slogan, “Relax, God has a plan” tend to trivialize the subtle truth of private revelation? How do these experiences in the lives of believers dramatize both divine grace and the unavoidability of recognizing and following Yeshua as Messiah, as illustrated by Peter’s testimony?
  3. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 24:00) How does this testimony reflect the challenge for the faithful that is offered by the parable of the Good Samaritan? How must we face the inherent risk of generosity toward others as exemplified by Yeshua’s words and by John the disciple’s reminder to “love one another” in light of our inherent human weakness regarding our choice between good and evil? 
  4. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 28:00) Similarly, how does the experience of conversion recounted here dramatize the difficulty of responding to the promptings of YeHoVaH in light of our own level of spiritual formation, however flawed? How do the words of Jeremiah 16:19 regarding false received wisdom remind us of the need for discernment between the truth and the influence of human conceits?
  5. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 32:00) How is the gift of evangelism often perceived unimaginatively as an elusive or pedestrian gesture, one that must be relegated to private devotion or professional activity by members of the clergy? What are some contemporary examples of individuals who have responded to the “great commission” (Matthew 28:16-20) in their diverse professional capacities as lay apostles?
  6. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 37:00) How does 2 Corinthians 6:14-18 pose a challenge to all believers with respect to obedience and the imperative to evangelize? How must the faithful attempt to negotiate their engagement with unbelievers and even heretics without becoming vulnerable to the temptations of idolatry or unclean practices?  How does this recall Yeshua’s gesture of dining with sinners in three gospel accounts?
  7. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 41:00) How does the providential meeting between Abraham’s servant and Rebekah in Genesis 24 dramatize the importance of marriage in YeHoVaH’s plan for our salvation and its influence in the complex process of evangelization? Why is the phenomenon of conversion within marriage so often overlooked as a divinely-inspired example of conveying truth and bolstering unity within families?
  8. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 45:00) How must an individual who has accepted the call of YeHoVaH also answer for his past misdeeds in this earthly life without compromising either his faith in redemption or his debt to society? How does the unexpected return of the “badde peny” as described in Langland’s 14th-century homily in Piers Plowman compel us to keep our sins in perspective as we cultivate a lifestyle that is predicated on obedience?
  9. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 49:00) Similarly, how does the example of out-of-court settlements for serious crimes demonstrate the power of forgiveness as well as the inherent limitations of legalism? How must believers be willing to “render unto Caesar” while still recognizing both the prospect of unexpected grace and the need for avoiding deception and self-serving testimony?
  10. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 55:00) How does the reference to Elijah in Malachi 4:4-6 serve to remind the faithful of the example of this largely overlooked prophet with regard to his presence in the final judgement? How does his defense against Baal worship and his suffering while fleeing from Ahab serve to dramatize our experience as mortals who must endure trials while avoiding temptation toward paganism and remaining obedient to the commands of YeHoVaH?

Impossible Odds (Episode 1)

EPISODE 1 of 3: Running From Myself

This week (May 12) on Shabbat Night Live, Rodney Thompson knows what it means to be addicted. He started using drugs as a teen, but it didn’t stop there. His habit turned into an addiction he couldn’t escape.

This episode is an especially powerful lesson for parents and relatives of someone trapped in addiction.

Watch the episode — included on this blog post.

While you watch, consider the questions below. The timeline for each discussion topic in the video is noted on each question. Post your answers in the comments section and let’s get some discussion going!

  1. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 16:00) Why are so many believers reluctant to recognize the will of YeHoVaH in personal experiences that might seem circumstantial or even trivial in their individual apostolates? How might more seekers of salvation be able to develop their spirituality through the example of Elijah, who discerned the divine presence in the “still small voice” that followed the wind, the earthquake, and the fire (1 Kings 19:12)?
  2. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 20:00) How does the “orphan spirit” resonate with the fundamental ethos of our opportunity to follow YeHoVaH? How has its potential for an orientation toward sin and self-destruction tended to overshadow its affirmative challenge to obey the divine law by turning from sin and recognizing the range of meaning in Yeshua’s claim to bring “not peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34) into the lives of his followers?
  3. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 24:00) How can many contemporary social ills be attributed to the failure of many fathers to discern the true nature of their influence in family life? How does the exploitation of authority in the form of domestic bullying and verbal abuse potentially allow for the insinuation of the demonic, as indicated in Colossians 3:21’s exhortation against fathers discouraging their children? 
  4. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 28:00) Similarly, how can the influence of the demonic be discerned in the prevalence and range of addiction in virtually every present-day socioeconomic level? Has this presence been the result of a decadent search for novelty by affluent individuals, or have we allowed our materialism to deprive us of our divinely-given ability to make choices based on the knowledge of good and evil?
  5. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 32:00) If indeed such institutions as rehabilitation centers and the pharmacology industry may be viewed as false gods by those believers who are suffering from addiction, how does this support the notion of substance abuse as a tool of Satan? How has the widespread advocacy of prescription medication in schools served to encourage dependency and the rationalization of questionable lifestyle choices within families?
  6. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 38:00) Similarly, how has the phenomenon of opiate addiction among citizens who lead otherwise conservative or abstemious lifestyles served to demonstrate our essential vulnerability as human beings and our need for vigilance against temptation? Have we unwittingly lost a crucial measure of self-control in our dependence upon medication, despite its identity as a means of ensuring health and longevity?
  7. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 42:00) Can the advent of crack cocaine be tenably viewed as a decisive intrusion of the demonic into virtually all sectors of society? How does its propensity for causing what has been described as “instant addiction” represent Satan’s orientation toward targeting the family as a means of destroying YeHoVaH’s creation, to say nothing of eminent show business personalities who have become casualties of the “white powder madness”?
  8. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 46:00) How do experiences such as those recounted here demonstrate the severe yet affirmative power of YeHoVaH to allow our sins to reach a point of near-fatal danger as a message of the need for repentance? How must we often “contend with God” as denoted by the name of the patriarch Jacob before we may discern the divine will that serves to direct our futures away from sin and toward redemption?
  9. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 50:00) Again, how can the crack cocaine epidemic be viewed as a machination of Satan in light of its ability to subvert our judgement, even to the extent of depriving us of our divinely-given free will to choose between right and wrong? Moreover, how has this been exacerbated by personal testimonies of recovery that are given sensationalist presentation in the mainstream media, often by the very institutions that encouraged the addiction?
  10. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 54:00) As noted at the outset, the presence of YeHoVaH often manifests itself to us through subtle whispers rather than cataclysms. Why is this impetus toward repentance and reform so often overlooked by believers in their desire to receive proof of divine influence in their faith lives?  How does the private epiphany by the Prodigal Son in Luke 15:19 dramatize this reflex in his willingness to return to his father as a mere hired servant?

The Miracle of Israel (Episode 4)

FINAL EPISODE: Sticks and Bones

This week (May 5) on Shabbat Night Live, Ezekiel 37 speaks of dry bones coming together and two sticks becoming one. But have believers understood this prophecy backward from the beginning?

Al McCarn shares an enlightening perspective about what this prophecy really means and to whom it is addressed.

Watch the episode — included on this blog post.

While you watch, consider the questions below. The timeline for each discussion topic in the video is noted on each question. Post your answers in the comments section and let’s get some discussion going!

  1. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 16:00) Why does the notion that the Jewish people have provided professed Christians with the “rule book” failed to prevent anti-Semitism and impeded growth in spirituality among believers?How do the Torah and the related books of the Old Testament provide a foundation and perspective for the present day, for both students of scripture and skeptical followers of intellectual history?
  2. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 20:00) How has evangelical Christianity indirectly undermined the sentiments of Psalm 133 regarding unity among followers of YeHoVaH? How has the acceptance of Yeshua as Messiah become almost fetishized among many believers, to the expense of centuries of recorded doctrine, narrative, and prophecy in holy books that are often omitted in publications and ignored as superfluous in the pursuit of “easy grace”?
  3. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 24:00) Similarly, how has this same overemphasis contributed to anti-Semitism and failed dialogue between evangelicals and traditional schools of worship within Judaism? How does supersessionism offer a radical and exclusionary perspective that maintains a false distinction between the so-called Old and New Testaments and that arguably violates the commandments of YeHoVaH through oversimplification and elitism? 
  4. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 28:00) How has the imagery and prophetic significance of Ezekiel 37 been trivialized by the marginalization of the Old Testament and by popular culture? How might the interpretation of this nightmarish episode as an allegory of modern Jewish persecution leading to nationhood potentially redefine Christian-Jewish relations through its pervasive theme of restoration to life?
  5. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 32:00) How does Paul’s exhortation in Ephesians 5:4 against “coarse jesting” resonate in our contemporary climate of unhindered free speech and ubiquitous media? In light of the Holocaust, how does today’s scatological humor and unfettered invective threaten to encourage inhumane thought that might lead yet again to division, scapegoating, and genocide by otherwise civilized individuals who have forgotten how to think critically?
  6. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 38:00) How has the lengthy prophecy of the two sticks in Ezekiel 37:15-28 been largely overlooked by many believers in deference to that of the dry bones which precedes it? Has its theme of unification of the tribes of Israel and their restoration to their promised homeland possibly been downplayed by professed believers who dabble in syncretism, which is countered by its prohibition against idolatry?
  7. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 42:00) Similarly, how does this important prophetic chapter offer insight on the enduring effort to discredit the legitimacy of the Jewish nation, which continues to the present day with accusations of Israel as an “apartheid state”? Furthermore, how can such efforts as the notion of a “two-state solution” to Jewish-Arab conflict be viewed as untenable after Israel’s victory in the War of Independence of 1947?
  8. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 46:00) How does the widespread phenomenon of Cultural Christianity reflect an unwillingness among many professed believers to recognize and adhere to the rules codified by YeHoVaH in scripture? How do such pretensions demonstrate the presumption of salvation without obedience and the characterization by Yeshua of those who pay lip service to Christian identity but who “practice lawlessness” (Matthew 7:21-23) and who will be summarily rejected?
  9. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 50:00) If indeed Israel can be considered the most volatile of all nations despite its small size, how does it continue to demonstrate the unfolding of prophecy to a largely uncomprehending world? How does the fairly constant attention that is devoted to its controversial founding in 1948 tend to obscure the significance of its capture of East Jerusalem in 1967 and the prospect of its eventual reconstruction of the Temple?
  10. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 54:00) Similarly, how has the intense focus upon the Temple Mount as ground zero of the Israeli-Arab conflict served to distract many citizens from examples of shifting attitudes toward this issue within the Middle East? How has the recent phenomenon of “Palestinian fatigue” among the Arab League and the gradual secularization efforts of Mohammed bin Salman in Saudi Arabia both suggested a redefinition of this impasse away from theocracy and toward economics?

The Miracle of Israel (Episode 3)

EPISODE 3: Spiritual Citizenship

This week (April 28) on Shabbat Night Live, when we become a citizen of a different country, we are afforded the rights and freedoms of that country. We are also governed by its laws. So what happens when we become citizens spiritually?

Al McCarn helps us understand our spiritual citizenship in the commonwealth of Israel.

Watch the episode — included on this blog post.

While you watch, consider the questions below. The timeline for each discussion topic in the video is noted on each question. Post your answers in the comments section and let’s get some discussion going!

  1. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 16:00) How does the “mixed multitude” referenced in Exodus 12:38 serve to presage the importance of the Hebrews as a blessing to all nations? How does this passage and that of Genesis 12:3 transcend the notion of a merely symbolic presence?  Moreover, how does the resurgent anti-Semitism of today represent a refusal to acknowledge this divine sanction through misrepresentation?
  2. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 20:00) Similarly, how do such figures as King David’s Philistine guard, Uriah the Hittite, and the Samaritan woman remind today’s believers of the all-encompassing nature of the Hebrew ethos and its place in our search for salvation? How do their examples illustrate the complexity of engagement and the dangers of oversimplification for those who endeavor to learn its history?
  3. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 24:00) How does the blunt imagery of Jeremiah 32:41 reinforce the legitimacy of the Jewish homeland, one that surpasses the limitations of earthly geopolitics or power dynamics?Furthermore, how does present-day anti-Zionism reveal its weakness in the face of this prophecy through its expression in shrill rhetoric, petty vandalism, and personal assaults? 
  4. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 28:00) How does Matthew’s statement of Herod’s massacre of the children of Bethlehem as a fulfillment of Jeremiah’s prophecy (31:15) continue to resonate as a touchstone for fundamental evil in our culture, whether in the form of school shootings or abortion? How might the familiar calls for gun control or poverty programs as solutions be viewed as a disingenuous refusal to acknowledge human vulnerability toward the influence of Satan?
  5. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 32:00) How might the figure of King David be viewed by today’s believers as an increasingly important symbol of salvation? Aside from his reputation as an ancestor of Yeshua, how does his ambivalent, even contradictory identities –  as shepherd, outlaw, mercenary, monarch, adulterer, and assassin – all serve to represent the range of choice that we must confront, as well as the favor with YeHoVaH that we must earn in the course of our lives?
  6. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 36:00) What is the likelihood of a new impulse toward ecumenism within the Christian world in an age of increasing division and hostility between divergent perspectives, whether in religion, politics, or social ethics? How might the growing presence of Israel as a resilient and prosperous nation serve to direct believers toward the example of Abraham as a spiritual patriarch?
  7. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 40:00) How have Paul’s words in Ephesians 2:8-10 been known to cause a measure of confusion and even conflict among believers, owing to its contrast between faith and works? Why has its more fundamental distinction between grace as a divine gift and man’s limited aspirations been less recognized as a cornerstone of belief and worship of YeHoVaH through Yeshua?
  8. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 44:00) Similarly, how can Paul’s reference to the “commonwealth of Israel” in Ephesians 2:12 be viewed as a deceptively figurative image that merely distinguishes between Jews and Gentiles? How could the enduring example of the Jewish return to their ancient homeland ultimately serve to align diverse believers throughout disparate nations in their pursuit of salvation?
  9. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 48:00) If indeed the “commonwealth of Israel” can be viewed as the extension of a prophecy, how can the faithful of today best exercise and manifest their identity as subjects or citizens? How does the ostensibly historical reference to Israel in countless hymns and holiday celebrations underscore the obligation of those who profess belief and seek to develop their faith to recognize and study the heritage of this image and its ongoing resonance?
  10. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 52:00) How has the potential common ground for unity among believers been undermined over the postwar period by denominational or evangelical attempts to appropriate the identity of Yeshua and reimagine him in a limited, earthly guise? What aspect of the fear of divine truth seems to motivate self-serving characterizations of him as a political activist or social justice warrior?

The Miracle of Israel (Episode 2)

EPISODE 2: Creating Israel

This week (April 21) on Shabbat Night Live, most understand that Israel was created in 1948. But what led up to that is a complicated, messy situation after World War I.

Al McCarn sheds light on the head-spinning details of how Israel became a country, where the name Palestine came from, and why Israel’s eventual founding could only come about by the grace of YeHoVaH.

Watch the episode — included on this blog post.

While you watch, consider the questions below. The timeline for each discussion topic in the video is noted on each question. Post your answers in the comments section and let’s get some discussion going!

  1. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 16:00) How does the prophecy in Jeremiah 31:5-8 give resonance to the vineyard as an emblem of divine providence, as well as an extended metaphor for the affirmation of devotion that continues through the ministry of Yeshua? How has this image suffered over the centuries from oversimplification as a mere figure of speech that has been derived from the agrarian milieu of Hebrew culture?
  2. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 20:00) Similarly, how does this passage in its prophetic context serve to illuminate the pioneering spirit that has been exemplified by the settlers of modern Israel? How does the csheds light on how liché that immigrant Jews “made the desert bloom again” actually understate the sophistication of agrarian, urban, and commercial innovation in this small but vital and intractably resilient nation?
  3. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 24:00) How is the pervasive contempt toward history demonstrated by ignorance over the Dreyfus Affair? Why has this watershed case been virtually erased from the annals of post-Enlightenment history by educators, despite its resonance with the ensuing events of the 20th Century?  Is it justifiable to view the failure to recognize this figure as a precursor to the Zionist movement as an antecedent of the horrific anti-Semitism of the subsequent decades? 
  4. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 28:00) Similarly, how has the figure of Theodor Herzl been largely ignored by Western educators as the father of political Zionism? In light of the arguable overemphasis on the Holocaust as the sole justification for modern Israel, how might the brevity and commercial accessibility of Der Judenstaat lead to its rediscovery as a seminal tract for contemporary readers regarding the continuity between scripture and the Jewish state?
  5. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 32:00) Latter-day historians such as Modris Eksteins have examined the fragility of the European imperial alliances whose collapse led to the Great War. How has the enduring analysis of this global trauma failed to account for its fortuitous initiation of an eventual Jewish homeland amid an immense international reflex away from the empire to the democratic republic as a national paradigm?
  6. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 36:00) Aside from its relevance to the outbreak of a second world war, why has the Treaty of Versailles become an object of ridicule for many followers of 20th century history? How do lingering controversies over its equivocal provisions and prolonged negotiations serve to illustrate the admonishment in Numbers 30:2 about adhering to the terms of an agreement for today’s students of scripture?
  7. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 40:00) Similarly, how does the presumption of the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916 that an Arab kingdom would dominate the Middle East demonstrate the limitations of negotiating international relationships by absentee politicians?  How does the indifference here toward the prophetic element in the Zionist reflex continue to inform and prolong the notion of Jewish invasion in mid-20th-century Palestine?
  8. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 44:00) How has Woodrow Wilson’s advocacy for national sovereignty become viewed in retrospect as a well-intentioned but ill-informed policy that failed to consider the complexities of the developing world outside of Europe and the United States? How has this resulted in the fallacy of major nations arbitrarily arranging national boundaries without concern for ancient rivalries or tribal alliances?
  9. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 48:00) As has been discussed elsewhere in this forum, the notion of the Palestinians as a demarcated, sovereign people has been questioned and even discredited by many since the founding of Israel in 1948. What is the likelihood of this perspective becoming accepted throughout Western nations in the near future?  What arguable revisions of opinion on this matter have occurred within the Arab League over the past decade?
  10. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 52:00) Similarly, how have the elements of commerce and military skill been overlooked by many Westerners as pretexts for the modern Jewish presence in Palestine? How does the service with distinction in World War II by many Jews and the increasing purchase of land from the Arabs by Jewish settlers demonstrate the justification of Zionism in light of the haphazard and self-serving administrators of the British mandate?

Israel and The Deep State (Episode 2)

EPISODE 2: The NSA’s Jew Room

This week (March 31) on Shabbat Night Live, was the Yom Kippur War a fabricated exercise for political gain?

Bruce Brill reveals jaw-dropping evidence about antisemitism inside the NSA — and why Israeli intelligence preferred to ignore their own information and trust American intelligence instead, which led to disaster.

Watch the episode — included on this blog post.

While you watch, consider the questions below. The timeline for each discussion topic in the video is noted on each question. Post your answers in the comments section and let’s get some discussion going!

  1. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 16:00) How does maintaining the venerable practice from Hebraic culture of sighting the new moon serve to dramatize the inherent unity in YeHoVaH’s creation? How have we, thanks to our preoccupation with ongoing scientific advances, effectually separated divine influence from natural phenomena and failed to recognize providential patterns in our created world?
  2. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 20:00) How does the necessity of secrecy and classification of information by government agencies over prolonged periods like that of the Cold War arguably lead to abuse of power through leveraging such practices as surveillance, profiling, and diplomatic immunity? How can our current political climate be viewed as an example of this same exploitation for questionable intentions?
  3. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 24:00) Similarly, how has the concept of confidentiality in matters of governmental security become trivialized by civilian officials who violate their security clearances through arrogance or the public behavior of military valor thieves who conceal their imposture by claiming “classified” promotions or service? What is the possible role of our expanding communication media in this potentially explosive scenario?  
  4. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 28:00) How does the seemingly permanent marginalization of the Jews from certain sectors of U.S. intelligence demonstrate the inexplicable threat of Israel to the Western powers, despite their ostensible alliance with the Jewish state? How might this paradox have been dramatized over the past week over media attention to the scale and intensity of public protests against the alleged autocracy of Netanyahu’s leadership?
  5. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 32:00) What is the likelihood of public acceptance of the provocative suggestion that major world leaders, including those of Israel, collaborated in the contrivance of the Yom Kippur War? Will this accusation lead to further investigation thanks to the profile of the controversial Henry Kissinger, or will it be relegated to the status of a fringe conspiracy theory like those involving the JFK assassination or 9/11?
  6. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 36:00) Similarly, how does Kissinger’s alleged involvement in an orchestrated war against an allied power in late 1973 serve to recontextualize the international identity of the U.S. during a time of détente with the Soviet Union and China? How does the resignation of an American president within a year of this event add further cynicism to the sensibilities of an uninformed public regarding the conscience of public officials?
  7. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 40:00) In light of the scale of disinformation that ostensibly played a major part in this matter, how might the Yom Kippur War eventually be viewed as a paradigmatic event in world history? Might this conflict eventually equal or surpass the significance of the Seven-Day War of 1967, even though it has been largely forgotten by at least two generations of students and is rarely referenced by political leaders?
  8. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 44:00) Similarly, how might the deceptions discussed here – particularly the deliberate withholding of vital information from Israel – convey an aspect of realpolitik that suggests the hollow nature of alliance for this small country? Will the near-destruction of Israel during this war be viewed as vindication of its resilience or as a result of policy failures by its supporters?
  9. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 48:00) How does the subversive yet comic amateur surveillance attempt described here provide an ironic illustration of the David v. Goliath principle to those who recognize Jewish resourcefulness and its underestimation by the larger world powers? How might the greater circulation of this episode provide a withering example of the pretensions of power for uninformed citizens of any developed nation?


  1. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 52:00) Similarly, how does the eventual exposure of questionable testimonies by government officials over the origins of the Yom Kippur War indirectly strengthen Israel’s reputation to the point of undermining the tiresome perennial arguments for a two-state solution to Arab-Israeli conflicts? How might this war ultimately become rediscovered as a watershed event that reaffirmed Israel’s political and military integrity in contrast to those of its allies?

Israel and The Deep State (Episode 1)

Episode 1: The Shameful Truth

This week (March 24) on Shabbat Night Live, the Yom Kippur War saw thousands of Israelis lose their lives. But it didn’t have to be that way.

Through first-hand experience in the NSA, Bruce Brill reveals the shameful truth that members of American intelligence agencies knew what was happening yet deliberately misled the Israeli government.

Watch the episode — included on this blog post.

While you watch, consider the questions below. The timeline for each discussion topic in the video is noted on each question. Post your answers in the comments section and let’s get some discussion going!

  1. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 16:00) How does the sequence of events leading to the meeting between Brill and Michael Rood described here exemplify the providential ethos of life in Israel for those foreign visitors whose spiritual life becomes redefined in this democratic oasis within a desert of authoritarian hostility? How does the power of YeHoVaH to enlist unwitting servants manifest itself when individuals arrive in Israel only to receive a new apostolic agenda?
  2. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 20:00) Similarly, how do the heated debates described here regarding the integrity of a genuine biblical calendar dramatize the imperative of accuracy in our recognition of YeHoVaH’s manifestations through his creation? How do the attempts in this case portray the uncompromising desire for correctness as an inextricable element of obedience in the observation and protocols of those who would seek salvation?
  3. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 24:00) How does the sometimes irreconcilable factionalism within Israel – invariably viewed by many U.S. citizens as sectarianism – dramatize both the resilience of this nation and its ostensible fragility? How has the alarming scale of the recent protests against the current Netanyahu government led to premature charges in the Western press against ungovernability, despite its illustration of the democratic vigor of this controversial sovereign state?  
  4. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 29:00) How has the war in Vietnam become an enduring paradigm for the troubled dynamic between conscientious citizens who believe in defense of freedom, loyalty to one’s home country, and adherence to Judeo-Christian morality? Is this controversial and divisive example of foreign policy likely to continue as a bellwether for those who would fight and others who would refuse involvement, all for the same range of principles?
  5. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 32:00) Similarly, how has this conflict and its aftermath given rise to the recurrent notion of compulsory national service, either in a military or civilian capacity? Despite the familiar image of individuals opting for feckless bureaucratic positions at taxpayer expense instead of being in harm’s way, how might such an option encourage those believers who would desire a means for charitable work as their choice for “fighting the good fight”?
  6. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 36:00) How has the rediscovery of Arabic by Western learners as a Semitic language family served to demonstrate the arrogance of wealthy nations during the peace and prosperity of the post-Cold War world? How did the sudden demand among agencies like the State Department and the military for speakers of this and other Middle Eastern linguae francae reveal a cultivated ignorance toward the looming threat of Islamic terrorism?
  7. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 40:00) Why has the so-called Yom Kippur War of 1973 become a virtually forgotten conflict in the study and teaching of postwar history? How can this event – which nearly resulted in the destruction of Israel as a nation – be viewed as a disturbing reminder to anti-Semites among the cultural Left of Jewish resilience in the face of persecution and of Israel’s formidability as a major player on the world stage?
  8. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 44:00) How does the ostensible failure of intelligence that led to the opening salvos of this war constitute a grim foreshadowing of the events of September 11, 2001? How do the withering documents that surfaced after the terrorist attack provide an example of the reluctance to engage in defense of ourselves or our allies in the presence of short-term political interests or longstanding economic alliances?
  9. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 48:00) How does the disingenuous conduct of the IDF and the Pentagon regarding vital intelligence of Arab forces mobilizing on Israel’s borders demonstrate a level of complexity and unsettling cynicism? How does this exemplify Orwell’s contention that such acts “can indeed be defended, but only by arguments which are too brutal for most people to face, and which do not square with the professed aims of political parties”?
  10. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 52:00) Similarly, how does this development suggest the weakening of the American concept of independent agencies and an incremental growth of collusion between NGO’s, intelligence organizations, and the federal government?  How does the foreshadow the obstructive midlevel buffers between tradecraft and unelected, appointed groups that were fictionalized by John Le Carre or Graham Greene? 

Yeshua In The Torah


This week (March 17) on Shabbat Night Live, Yeshua’s name appears in the Old Testament, but it’s not referring to whom you think it is!

Keith Johnson and Dr. Nehemia Gordon comb through the Torah to illustrate the subtle nuances of Yeshua’s name for different individuals throughout the ancient world.

Watch the episode — included on this blog post.

While you watch, consider the questions below. The timeline for each discussion topic in the video is noted on each question. Post your answers in the comments section, and let’s get some discussion going!

  1. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 16:00) How has the evangelical impulse to translate unknown words and idioms into contemporaneous locutions proven to be problematic for many believers? How might careless or unscrupulous individuals seek to politicize or falsely allegorize ancient texts into contemporary polemics, resulting in another Tower of Babel instead of the clarity of divine truth?
  2. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 20:00) How do these two references to the name “Yeshua” in books of the so-called Old Testament both de-mystify and hallow the identity of the Messiah? How can this paradox be said to undermine the distinctions between two major segments of the Bible by suggesting a narrative element of prophecy and also drawing our attention to the inherent symbolism of divinely-appointed names throughout scripture?
  3. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 24:00) Similarly, how does Moses’ gesture in Numbers 13:16 of changing the name of Hoshea to Joshua serve to dramatize the importance within biblical narrative of name-changing as a profound shift of identity, one that demarcates particular figures as significant for the process of salvation? How does the absence of this context effectually deprive believers who are limited to English translation of the New Testament of the eminence of Yeshua’s birth?  
  4. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 28:00) As discussed repeatedly in this forum, the matter of proper translation of scripture is known and frequently acknowledged by many believers, yet proper instruction and methods of exegesis are often unavailable to most readers of the Bible. How does the present discussion suggest the plausibility of a growing evangelism that is based on accessible scholarly approaches, one that could challenge the “easy grace” that has been criticized by Michael Rood?
  5. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 32:00) How does the initiation of the Feast of Sukkot as detailed in Nehemiah 8:17 underscore the importance of the linguistic affinity between the names of Joshua and Yeshua? In light of the scale of this commemoration on the part of the children of Israel and their return from exile, how might this factor be interpreted as a vindication of the Law of Moses and a foreshadowing of the coming of the Messiah?
  6. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 38:00) How does the concise yet detailed pronunciation gloss in Leeser’s 1853 translation provide an essential tool for the student of scripture regarding the recognition of linguistic patterns that provide a subtext of continuity between the earliest texts and the accounts of Yeshua’s ministry?  How might the revival of this simple practice serve to deter potential believers from the tempting recourse to doubt and agnosticism?
  7. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 42:00) Aside from its importance as a commemoration of Sukkot, how does Nehemiah 8:17 further underscore the pattern of exile and return throughout Hebrew history and scripture? How does this ancient text draw our attention to the profundity of an event like the founding of modern Israel for those believers who seek evidence of YeHoVaH’s plan for his creation as a foundation for their own worship and obedience?
  8. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 46:00) How might Benjamin Kennicott’s Vetus Testamentum hebraicum (1776 – 1780) and the scholarly activity which it inspired be rediscovered as part of a reflex toward greater recognition of the importance and challenges of biblical translation within the evangelical community? How does its equivocal legacy encourage the participation of both academic and unlettered readers in efforts to discern the truth of scriptural meaning?
  9. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 50:00) Conversely, how does the confusion over specific meanings in these volumes involving vowel points and centuries-old scribal practices threaten to discourage the student of scripture from ascertaining truth through preserved texts?  How does this work demonstrate the need for recognition of shifting historical contexts as a characteristic of intellectual history as part of the search for salvation?
  10. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 54:00) How does the ostensibly arbitrary rabbinic commentary on the 1523 edition of the Jerusalem Talmud suggest the importance of Ezra with regard to the Book of Nehemiah? How does his presence in the chapter under examination here, particularly his designation as “the scribe,” serve as a reminder of the Hebraic orientation toward preservation through the written word and an ironic foreshadowing of the close reading that will be demanded of those who would follow the word of YeHoVaH?

The Way of Messiah (Episode 3)

EPISODE 3: Reformation 2.0

This week (March 10) on Shabbat Night Live, sometimes we as believers need a reminder of who we really are. Martin Luther did it by nailing his 95 theses to a church door.

Today, Luke and Kayte Abaffy are calling for Reformation 2.0 in a new book called The Truth — a reminder to today’s Church that they are Israel, and as such, should start acting like it!.

Watch the episode — included on this blog post.

While you watch, consider the questions below. The timeline for each discussion topic in the video is noted on each question. Post your answers in the comments section and let’s get some discussion going!

  1. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 16:00) What are the challenges facing those believers who would instigate a second reformation in our present-day world? How do internal divisions within many denominations, secular politicization, and the growing “Christophobia” of many powerful leaders and agencies all combine to sow discord and confusion among the faithful who seek a genuine authority regarding doctrine and practice?
  2. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 20:00) How do personal accidents or injuries serve to impact our spiritual lives in complex and unforeseen ways? Why are these private and traumatic experiences so often treated in a pretentious and self-serving manner by those who have little if any spirituality, as opposed to others who are willing to view such events as providential challenges for future apostolic work?
  3. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 24:00) How does a contemporary evangelical effort like The Way dramatize the importance and enduring controversy over the writings of Paul? How has the proliferation of biblical translations over the centuries served to diminish the role of historical context – those of both 13th BC and AD 1st C. – in the comprehension of his expressions of Christian doctrine, to the extent of virtually dismissing the role of the Law of Moses?  
  4. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 28:00) How can this negation of the Hebrew ethos in present-day Christian evangelization be said to have contributed indirectly to pervasive popular agnosticism and outright hostility toward worship by many advocacy groups? How does the practice of parsing and editing scripture suggest the wiles of Satan in its refusal to accept the stricture of venerable rules and the potential for permissiveness and the rationalization of sin?
  5. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 32:00) As with fortuitous personal accidents, how do unexpected insights gleaned from the study of scripture compel us to reassess our received knowledge and assumptions about our search for salvation? How does this in turn aid our recognition of the apprehension of YeHoVaH as part of an ongoing revelation of the truth, one that is dependent on our willingness to persevere in learning as well as worship?
  6. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 37:00) How can the documented decline in deep literacy since the turn of the millennium be viewed as having encouraged a resistance to serious consideration of scripture and the viability of Christian belief? How has the proliferation of aural and video representations of biblical narrative, both dramatic and documentary, possibly undermined the potential insights that can be derived from private glossing and rereading of texts?
  7. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 40:00) Similarly, how has the prevalence of visual imagery over the postwar period contributed to a virtual dependence on still photographs and moving video to convey ideas in education, whether formal or private? Have we unwittingly fostered an overreliance on such elements as PowerPoint and streaming video, to the detriment of our rhetorical skills in interpretation of the written word in learning environments?
  8. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 44:00) How have efforts over time by publishers of biblical translations to enhance their texts with illustrations possibly thwarted their own intentions, thanks to the inclusion of representations that are either luridly overstylized or self-consciously contemporary and “relevant”? Why has virtually every generation of Christian educators found it necessary to recreate personages and events from the Bible for young learners in a newly contrived manner instead of a historical framework?
  9. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 48:00) Similarly, how might the idioms of particular English Bible translations prove to be a hindrance for contemporary readers who seek a fundamental, literal understanding of narrative before consideration of doctrinal significance? How does the common presence of “therefore” within a seeming non sequitur or the appearance in the KJV of archaisms like “it came to pass” or “verily” demonstrate the need for linguistic context as well as secondary apparatus?
  10. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 52:00) How do the scriptural “contradictions” discussed here recall the common practice of arbitrary selection of quotations from the Bible to justify questionable beliefs or conduct? How instead does the close examination of text and context between Old and New Testament passages demonstrate both the doctrinal coherence and consistency between these divisions and the fallacy of glib accusations of treating the sacred text without proper Christian charity?

The Way of Messiah (Episode 2)

EPISODE 2: Questioning Christmas

This week (March 3) on Shabbat Night Live, one of the first Christian traditions that believers begin to question is Christmas. Is it pagan, or isn’t it? Does celebrating Christmas constitute sin? If not, what’s the problem?

Luke and Kayte Abaffy recall their journey creating a documentary around the Christmas question.

Watch the episode — included on this blog post.

While you watch, consider the questions below. The timeline for each discussion topic in the video is noted on each question. Post your answers in the comments section, and let’s get some discussion going!

  1. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 16:00) Aside from fulfilling the mandate to spread the truth of YeHoVaH throughout the world, evangelical efforts in the Southern Hemisphere have been notably proliferating in recent decades. How have Western media outlets either ignored or marginalized this activity, despite their focus on migrants and populist movements?  Is this a function of arrogance, carelessness, or a refusal to recognize the impact of spirituality?
  2. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 20:00) Similarly, how has the increasing commercialization of Christmas in wealthy countries since the mid-20th century served indirectly to aid evangelical endeavors in the developing world? How does the unthinking materialism that is promoted throughout the capitalist West through exploitation of the Christian calendar serve to encourage “the still, small voice” of divine truth within the poor and unlearned?
  3. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 24:00) How do today’s evangelists in this vast, multinational part of the world face the challenge of semi-literacy among those who seek salvation? How can such subjects as scriptural history, the vagaries of translation in biblical texts, and the dangers of syncretism be taught and advocated without the corporatization that often restricts freedom of thought and imposes narrowly-defined learning models?  
  4. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 28:00) How does the method of scriptural and historical interpretation demonstrated by Hislop’s controversial The Two Babylons (1853) serve to illuminate ancient Babylon as an enduring point of reference for diverse believers who seek salvation through YeHoVaH? How have postwar developments in the Middle East, such as the restoration project of this city by the Ba’athist government of Iraq, underscored the challenges posed by seeking contemporary signs of the Book of Revelation’s prophecies?
  5. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 32:00) In light of the recent evangelical revival at a small, largely unknown Kentucky university and the grudging reportage by the mainstream media, how likely are such practices to make an impact upon public perception and conscience in our cynical, materialist age? How might the spread of voluntary restrictions in diet and days of work among various denominations, hearkening back to our nation’s earliest settlers, become part of an emergent and unanticipated spiritual awakening?
  6. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 36:00) How is the post-Christian reflex of the early 2000s manifested through such popular culture events as solstice celebrations in music and dance, environmental efforts involving Native American ceremonials, and the resurgence of Gnosticism? How might the conflicting components of these practices allow for influence of the demonic among those unwitting individuals who lack any sufficient background in Christianity?
  7. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 40:00) Similarly, how might the spread of these diverse activities be indirectly responsible for the disturbing revival of anti-Semitism throughout many nations, thanks to pervasive ignorance of the Hebrew heritage in both Christian worship and Western civilization? How do such elements as the BDS movement and the euphemism “Anti-Zionist” serve to corrupt the attitudes of those who are susceptible to the temptation of scapegoating?
  8. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 44:00) How does the tiresome phenomenon of the “twice-a-year Christian” pose a problem for those who practice their faith on a daily basis, incorporating prayer, study, and calendar-based worship? Aside from matters of negligence, how does this syndrome convey to potential believers an example of easy salvation predicated on the notion that scripture study and informed practice of doctrine are optional factors that do not impact salvation?
  9. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 48:00) Similarly, how does this level of poor intellectual formation also increase the vulnerability of those presumptive believers who might accept an inadequately-sourced or even invented foundation for certain practices, such as those discussed in a recent series about Mormonism? How does this widespread tendency reflect the progressive erosion over recent decades of deep literacy among our population, to the endangerment of countless souls?
  10. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 52:00) Conversely, how does this attraction to exotic yet questionable belief systems demonstrate both the very human need for a coherent structure of worship and the attendant imperative of evangelism for YeHoVaH’s promise of salvation, as commanded by Yeshua? How is this perennial situation ironically referenced in our cynical political commentary about received “narratives” concerning particular leaders and their self-serving testimonies?