How To Teach The Torah (Episode 4)

FINAL EPISODE: Hear, Learn, Keep, Do

This week (June 23) on Shabbat Night Live, the Torah is our example for everything — in fact, the way that YeHoVaH wants to hear and obey, learn from him, and keep his word and do it is the same way we need to teach our children.

Kraig and Anne Elliott explain how inspiration and visions from the Father set the framework for their Torah-observant homeschool curriculum.

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 component of leadership as an outcome of a good education become almost forgotten in our contemporary world? To what extent has the marginalization or elimination of our Judeo-Christian culture contributed to teaching and learning as a relativistic or even arbitrary activity that is no longer oriented toward the pursuit of truth?
  2. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 20:00) Similarly, how has the weakness throughout conventional education for theoretical jargon and superfluous innovation in classroom approaches served to further undermine student awareness of their own innate capabilities and limitations? How has the trendy notion that “learning styles have changed” ultimately raised more questions than it has answered?
  3. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 24:00) How might the Hebrew language serve as a model for the next generation of students who must learn proper English to assume significant positions within the professional world? How does the Hebrew tradition of close reading, textual accuracy, and spiritual interpretation suggest an orientation for the lingua franca of English that could improve communication through precision and articulation? 
  4. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 28:00) What are some examples of how the Bible could be utilized as remediation for students who have experienced brain damage or who are afflicted with vision or comprehension difficulties? How does the Hebrew practice of transcription recall the simplicity of learning through copying, which has become lost in the present-day administrative categorization of “special needs” students?
  5. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 32:00) Similarly, how has the familiar reflex toward bureaucratization throughout our schools and universities prevented many otherwise intelligent students from reaching their potential because of categorization and division? How do expressions such as “learning disability,” “individualized education,” and “compensatory programs” become euphemisms that can impede improvement through the stigma of demarcation?
  6. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 38:00) Many theologians and media commentators throughout the Christian world have recently advocated for a rediscovery of discipline and application in both schooling and professional life. How has a growing lassitude toward the practice of diligent, focused work as a fundamental value undermined the learning potential of today’s students, many of whom view education more as an entitlement than an earned goal?
  7. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 42:00) Similarly, how has our educational system lost sight of instilling the value of having a purpose in life in the minds of students? How are our arbitrary and time-worn distinctions between “vocational-technical” and “social science-humanities” belied by the ethos of Proverbs 22:29: “Do you see a man who excels in his work? / He will stand before kings”?
  8. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 46:00) How can the questionable approach toward educational training (its lack of scholarly specialization in teacher programs, its syndrome of overwork, and low pay for teachers) be blamed for our diminishing educational profile against other nations? To what extent can this also be blamed on the relegation of Sunday school programs to well-intentioned but unlearned volunteers?
  9. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 50:00) In light of the imagery and sentiment of Isaiah 57:14, what constitutes the “stumbling block” that has impeded our Western approach to education over the past half-century? What are some examples of attempts to clear the path of learning that have failed through over-theorization, politicized curricula, and so-called deep learning through technology?
  10. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 54:00) How might latter-day infiltrations of such elements as LGBTQ Pride, gender dysphoria, or pedophilia effectually undermine and corrupt our educational institutions to the breaking point?  How does the hyper-sexualization of vulnerable young people in this environment serve to demonstrate the power of demonic influence that appears to be marshaled against marriage and the nuclear family?

How To Teach The Torah (Episode 3)

EPISODE 3 of 4: Curriculum By Conversation

This week (June 16) on Shabbat Night Live, school is not what you think it is, and neither is homeschooling!

In this episode, Kraig and Anne Elliott explain how to make the most of your children’s education — in far less time per day than you might think — and why having a conversation with your kids is the best way to teach.

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 have numerous educational innovations in recent decades – homeschooling, charter schools, asynchronous online learning – failed to cohere into a satisfying standard for most parents who seek proper schooling for their children? Are biblical- or Torah-based curricula sufficient to counteract the relativism and sexualization of children that have become entrenched in most public schools?
  2. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 20:00) Despite the historical reputation of the “one-room schoolhouse” as an inferior model, its recent repurposing as the “microschool” purports to offer an affordable, constructivist dynamic of hybrid and real-time learning for today’s young learners. How could its flexible schedules and lack of age restrictions be further enhanced by curricular programs that are grounded in scripture to combat the politicization of today’s classrooms?
  3. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 24:00) Similarly, how likely is a rediscovery of unstructured learning to provide enhancement of education for all age levels through the mentoring of beginners by advanced students? Is this practice vulnerable to loss of a valuable resource like time through vapid, endless discussion, or could it potentially enrich both learning and morale by removing the stigma of age-based grade levels and false distinctions of students’ “falling behind”? 
  4. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 28:00) How has the reflex toward homeschooling ironically served to remind the general public of the still-controversial adage that the most important life lessons are “learned at home”? How do various overlooked passages in texts like Deuteronomy and Proverbs underscore the need for engagement between parents and children for enculturation and formation of a faith-based intellect?
  5. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 32:00) Similarly, how does Ephesians 4:11 serve as a reminder of the importance of education as part of YeHoVaH’s plan for our individual apostolic work during our lives? How is its reference to teachers further enhanced in verse 14 by its warning against children being misled “by the trickery of men,” whether in ministry or through those who would trivialize the educational endeavor through false teaching or power-seeking?
  6. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 38:00) How does today’s reflex toward faith-based education differ from previous efforts in times of excessive politicization, such as the founding of Great Books programs in liberal arts colleges in the 1990s, many of which were sponsored by major denominations? Will current endeavors also be marginalized or dismissed as reactionary and impractical, or will they inspire a developing trend?
  7. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 42:00) Similarly, how might this earlier development be likened to the experience of the younger Hebrews, who, having been brought to the Promised Land, then faced the prospect of settling, civilizing, and cultivating it? Is today’s generation of proactive educators like that of Joshua’s followers?  If so, how might they prevent the decadence of their successors, who were castigated in the Book of Judges?
  8. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 46:00) Why have such factors as the time-efficiency and personalized potential of homeschooling and asynchronous learning been prevented from development by an adherence to the 9-month agrarian calendar that still dominates primary, secondary, and higher education? What are some examples of questionable bureaucratic interests or influences that continue to confound ongoing efforts of reform?
  9. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 50:00) How has the constant updating and revision of curricula that is made possible by the online environment not only transcended the limitations of print culture, but also that of administrative agendas and their resistance to change? How might this contemporary factor provide an unexpected parallel with the Hebrew ethos of fostering a constant, interactive practice of learning between parents and children?
  10. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 54:00) Similarly, how is this ancient example poised for rediscovery in the near future thanks to geopolitical and infrastructural changes that have occurred since the millennium? If, as recent commentators have said, we now inhabit a leaderless, multipolar, and digital-based world order that is largely governed by technology companies, how has the struggle for control of our children’s education escalated to the scriptural perspective of a battle between good and evil?

How To Teach The Torah (Episode 2)

EPISODE 2 of 4: The Torah Is The Schoolmaster

This week (June 9) on Shabbat Night Live, is it possible to use the Word of God to teach every subject in school? Even most Christian homeschool curriculum programs say “no.

Kraig and Anne Elliott explain why they decided to take a leap of faith and develop their own way to teach school using the Bible as a master textbook.

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 contemporary argument in favor of sustainability conflict with the Hebraic proscription against particular foods? How should faithful followers of the Torah attempt to negotiate the latter-day reflex of highly processed comestibles that purport to prolong both human life and the environment, yet also violate the dietary laws that support the faith lives of many?
  2. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 20:00) Why is it difficult for many believers to discern the sometimes inexplicable paths on which YeHoVaH leads us as part of our individual apostolates? How do such figures as King David, Elijah, and Paul demonstrate our need to accept interruption and even obstruction as inextricable elements of our spiritual growth and as cautions against presumption or false pride?
  3. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 24:00) How does the ongoing proliferation throughout religious education of new programs, teaching approaches, and curricula serve to indirectly reveal scripture as the most fundamental and influential “syllabus”? How have efforts to make doctrine more contemporary or relevant to successive generations of learners reflected a man-centered and secular ethos?
  4. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 28:00) Similarly, how can the marginalization of the Bible as a source of diverse instruction be viewed as a factor in our chaotic present-day educational environments, from primary to college-level? What are some examples of subjects, ideas, and intellectual orientations in today’s curricula that flagrantly violate the moral and ethical precepts delineated and developed from the Tanakh through the Christian New Testament?
  5. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 32:00) Despite the inherent personal drama of conversion, how does one’s earliest experience of religious formation often continue to influence or even compromise future spiritual growth? How does the imperative for every believer to recognize this factor become an inextricable element in the critical perspective that we must develop as we engage with YeHoVaH’s plan for our salvation?
  6. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 38:00) Although Psalm 23 remains unsurpassed as a popular verse used for personal testimony of praise for YeHoVaH, how might Psalm 19 become a rediscovered text that stands as a comprehensive statement delineating a code of conduct as well as belief? How do its images hearken back to the ethos of the Torah and foreshadow the fulfillment of Messianic worship?
  7. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 42:00) How has the notion of dietary restriction become narrowly defined or even ridiculed throughout the Judeo-Christian world, both within religious institutions and among the general public? Why has a more enlightened view of such practices as the refusal of pork, abstinence from alcohol, or vegetarianism as voluntary apostolates failed to become accepted by many as examples of strength and integrity within faith?
  8. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 46:00) As referenced earlier, how does YeHoVaH often guide us on our apostolic path through restriction, frustration, or delay as part of a providential plan of discovery of our own hidden resources? Further, how can the “easy grace” of much evangelical Christianity offer a false perspective of material prosperity as reward for spirituality that can potentially lead to the sin of despair through its absence?
  9. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 50:00) What is the likelihood in today’s climate of agnosticism of a reflex toward Western religion as a response to curricular needs in public education? How might scripture provide a subtle but formidable template for virtually all disciplines as a delineation of moral, ethical, and cultural values that would illuminate the inherent failure of ongoing back-to-basics efforts?
  10. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 54:00) Aside from its fundamental importance to our engagement with YeHoVaH, how is obedience an essential element in our efforts to persevere in the face of limitation while seeking answers to our prayers?  Why are we, as fallen creatures, so often reluctant to make an examination of conscience part of our faith lives, even amidst evidence of its place in our private revelations?

How To Teach The Torah (Episode 1)

EPISODE 1 of 4: Teachers Become The Students

This week (June 2) on Shabbat Night Live, just when you think you have it all figured out, YeHoVaH takes you to the next level.

From coaching football, teaching in France, and detouring through a Native American reservation, Kraig and Anne Elliott learned to trust the Almighty’s leading — and ended up with everything they needed for a dream career they could never have imagined.

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 advocacy of cultural relativism, sexual transgression, and radical egalitarianism by the radical Left continued to undermine homeschooling, despite its utilization throughout contemporary faith communities? Have Christian colleges and universities been negligent in recognizing forgotten values owing to their reputations as reactionary institutions?
  2. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 20:00) How has the notion of teaching as a higher calling become corrupted by the cynicism of administrative pursuit of power and control, along with falling standards of competency within faculties? Is it still feasible for an educator to pursue an apostolate in primary and secondary education in the face of inflated bureaucracy and massive teacher unions?
  3. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 24:00) More optimistically, can the hand of YeHoVaH be discerned in the potential fragmentation of public and higher education thanks to the moribund nature of accreditation, tenure, and the brick-and-mortar campus? Could the homeschooled children of believers soon redefine independent learning through their utilization of digital media?
  4. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 27:00) How has the latter-day normalization of sexual transgression and promiscuity throughout our culture served to corrupt our standards of education, particularly at the primary level? How can recent curricular changes and textbook selection be viewed as evidence of Satan’s attempt to target the family as part of his agenda of the destruction of YeHoVaH’s creation?
  5. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 31:00) How is the difficulty of evangelizing Native American communities as described here further compounded by forces on the cultural Left who continue to exploit these peoples as victims of colonial oppression? How has a view of Christian faith efforts as cultural imperialism only served to reduce them to a stereotype of unurbanized nature-worshippers rather than viable converts to lives of faith?
  6. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 36:00) Similarly, how has the familiar practice of community outreach toward other faith cultures in the United States been obstructed by ostensible collusion with the very same media-industrial complex that could facilitate its success? Is the provision for religious freedom in our First Amendment in danger of extinction, despite its anti-state orientation?
  7. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 40:00) As with homeschooling, why does the larger matter of homemaking as a career continue to be controversial, despite its proven advantages to the personal and spiritual growth of children? What is the fear behind the reiteration of the chauvinist cliché of the “stay-at-home mom”?  How does this reflect the failure of the cultural Left to recognize the nurturing power of women as a defining characteristic of genuine feminism?
  8. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 44:00) How has the spiritual ethos of today’s clergy been progressively undermined by the same bureaucratization that has afflicted most professional institutions in our contemporary world? How have members of the laity unwittingly contributed to ecclesiastical “administrative bloat,” owing less to spiritual zeal than to the temptations of power, however illusory?
  9. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 48:00) Furthermore, how has this phenomenon indirectly encouraged the exploitation of disabled or special needs children as a designated group for public education in its perpetual search for funding? How could a reintroduction of Judeo-Christian values into today’s curriculum, however incremental, arguably achieve more rapid results than merely demarcating these students as an unofficial “cash cow”?
  10. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 52:00) Similarly, how could an innovative ministry such as that introduced by the Elliotts be viewed as a viable conduit for these values?  How might such a program of study lead to the rediscovery of an Old Testament text such as Proverbs, which continues to be a relevant source of learning, professionalism, and ethics despite its ancient provenance and its general neglect within denominational Christianity?

Impossible Odds (Episode 3)


This week (May 26) on Shabbat Night Live, it’s difficult to truly understand Yeshua’s love without understanding what it means to be adopted — to have all the rights, privileges, and freedoms of a member of a family that we don’t belong to.

Rodney Thompson helps us grasp what it means to be grafted in by sharing his own story of being forgiven and brought into the family 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: 14:00) How can the prophecy in Malachi 4:4 be viewed as a relevant, if not ominous, warning to both believers and skeptics in our contemporary world? Are there any legitimate latter-day Elijahs who have provided us with convincing evidence from scripture that anticipates our need for urgent repentance and reform before we invoke the wrath of YeHoVaH?
  2. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 18:00) Similarly, why is the imperative construction of this verse – “Remember the Law of Moses” – particularly applicable to both the faithful and the lukewarm in light of today’s culture of death and the material avarice which sustains it? Is it fair to state that our world has reached a point of spiritual ignorance that is more dangerous than forgetfulness or outright rejection?
  3. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 22:00) How can the current state of affairs regarding faith and spirituality in a hostile world be viewed as a result of the refusal to recognize the continuity between the narratives of Moses and Yeshua as a standard that must be followed? How do many current pop hymns like those of Marty Haugen or Dan Schutte express an egalitarianism that essentially rejects the notion of “following the rules of the house” with regard to sin? 
  4. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 26:00) While controversies over the “true meaning of Christmas” are likely to continue between secular materialists and believers, Easter has seemingly taken on a more threatening aspect for the forces of agnosticism and unbelief in our Western world.  Why has this holiday been so aggressively criticized over the past decade by advocates of atheism and even vulgarized toward children by powerful commercial interests?
  5. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 30:00) Similarly, how has our society become decadent by failing to recognize the notion of adoption as a valid social practice that ultimately derives from the divine premise of the faithful as YeHoVaH’s children? Why has the evil practice of abortion become so insistently promoted as the sole alternative to unwanted pregnancy?  And how does this represent Satan’s campaign of destruction toward the intact family?
  6. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 35:00) What are some examples of a latter-day recognition and rejection of syncretism throughout the Christian world? How does this coincide with revelations of financial and sexual corruption among many clergy or denominational figureheads?  Is this likely to remain a short-lived, reactionary phenomenon, or is this a manifestation of a genuine and widespread search for truth among seekers of salvation?
  7. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 38:00) Similarly, how does syncretism reflect our fallen human weakness for pagan influence in worship and belief? How can the practices described here be tenably viewed as our own unwitting attempt to unify and reconcile large groups of antithetical forms of worship in our evangelism rather than to demarcate and adhere to a formidable standard that challenges the vague conceit of a diverse and permissive religion for all peoples?
  8. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 42:00) What are some typical examples of the “Jonah Complex” in the experiences of many believers who face stubborn dilemmas in their evangelism and faith lives? How does YeHoVaH often challenge us with unexpected evil that we must confront, or compel us to recognize our own failures of discernment with his seeming silence?  How has Jonah become an enduring exemplar of the renewal of faith following persecution?
  9. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 46:00) How do the closing verses of Galatians 5 constitute a similar challenge to all who accept and profess the truth of Yeshua, especially in a world that is increasingly fraught with narcissism, division, and threats to personal freedom? How is the cultivation of self-control a particularly significant virtue as part of an apostolate?  How does its absence serve to exemplify a failure to “walk in the Spirit” rather than pay mere lip service?
  10. (VIDEO TIMELINE: 50:00) What are some contemporary examples within both faith communities and the greater world of the remnant influence of the Law of Moses, even among those citizens and subjects who profess no ethnic, cultural, or spiritual affinity with the Hebrews?  How does this suggest a yearning, however inarticulate, for a transcendent standard amid a global environment that is increasingly hostile to the notion of such intangible concerns as spirituality?

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?

Bikkurim – Yeshua Presents the First Fruits

Could Yeshua enter the Heavenly Sanctuary saying, “Here I am; I am the First Fruits”? This clearly makes no sense…

Traditionally, we pay a lot of attention to the celebration of Pesaj, and we are rightly moved to remember the departure of our ancestors from Egypt, because in this way we show our obedience to the commandments of YeHoVaH. However, we often pay very little attention to the Bikkurim or First Fruits Celebration, which shows us the resurrection of the first saints who were presented by Yeshua before YeHoVaH on the designated day.

Let’s read closely the words of Matthew 27:50-53:

Yeshua shouted again with a loud voice and gave up his spirit. Suddenly, the curtain of the sanctuary was split in two from top to bottom; the earth quaked and the rocks were split. The tombs were also opened and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. And they came out of the tombs after his resurrection, entered the holy city, and appeared to many.

If we really consider that nothing in the scriptures can be added on a whim, here we have a problem to solve, because no one has truly explained the rationale or the hidden meaning of the details described here.

Note carefully that when Yeshua died, the graves were opened, but the bodies of the saints did not come out until after the resurrection of Yeshua, an event that took place on the Shabbat of that week, thus fulfilling the prophecy announced by himself as the only sign that would be given to that generation of unbelieving leaders:

But he answered them:

“An evil and adulterous generation demands a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was in the belly of the huge fish three days and three nights, so the Son of Man will be in the heart of the earth three days and three nights.” (Matthew 12:39-40)

Thus, exactly three days and three nights after giving up his life on Wednesday at the chosen hour, Yeshua rose again along with those saints whose graves had been opened at the time of their death, and it was then that “they entered the holy city and appeared to many.” (Matthew 27:53)

And John 20:1 describes what happened afterward:

“On the first day of the week [Sunday], Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark. She saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb.” Moments later, Yeshua appeared to Miriam, and after a short dialogue, told her:  “Don’t cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and tell them that I am ascending to my Father and your Father—to my God and your God.” (John 20:17)

In those moments, Yeshua was on time to present to the Father the offering of the First Fruits – Bikkurim: the first resurrected who had been raised on Saturday afternoon after he had risen. Thus, while the high priest presented the cut sheaf the night before and the food offering that they had prepared during the night (Leviticus 23:10-11), Yeshua presented before YeHoVaH the resurrected First Fruits.

There are those who would affirm that Yeshua alone is the First Fruits, but if so, then we would have another dilemma, because the Torah gives a very clear instruction in YeHoVaH’s pronouncement in Exodus 23:15 – “No one is to appear before me empty-handed.”

So, since Yeshua had to fulfill the Torah perfectly, he could not appear before the Father that morning with no offering! He had to bring something to present to his Father, because that was precisely the day of Bikkurim – the Day of the First Fruits. Could Yeshua enter the Heavenly Sanctuary saying, “Here I am; I am the First Fruits”? This clearly makes no sense, for Yeshua had to take something with him as an offering of First Fruits to his Father, and this provides the only possible explanation for the resurrection of those saints referred to in Matthew 27:50-53 – they were the First Fruits that Yeshua presented as his Bikkurim offering before our father YeHoVaH.

Perhaps we are wondering: who were those who were resurrected? Unfortunately, the story tells us nothing further about it, but we do have records in the Tanakh or Old Testament that many righteous prophets and kings were buried in and around Jerusalem. Therefore, we can infer that some of them who were chosen by YeHoVaH were resurrected and therefore are in heaven with Yeshua and with YeHoVaH. Will they be the 24 elders referred to in the Book of the Revelation? It is probable, because the truth is that the rest of those who have slept are awaiting resurrection on the day of the Messiah’s return.

Let us rejoice! Because when there are First Fruits, this means that there is going to be a harvest later, and in the very manner that those saints were resurrected, we will also be, if the Messiah does not come before.