Newsletter 36

BlowingShofarDear Friends,

Love and justice go together in a surprising way. It is right there in the Law of God, but many, both Jews and Christians, don’t see it. One of those things “hidden in plain sight.”

First this post considers the “connection” between two seemingly unrelated things. They are homeschooling and Sabbath-keeping—part of the larger realm of Torah Keepers.

Indeed, the Sabbaths and feasts of Israel have fascinated modern people for several decades now. After millennia of having their own feasts — all largely coming from the pagan world of the ancients, especially the Romans — millions of Christians have now joined the Jews in observing the Torah, in honoring the Sabbath, and in keeping the feasts of Israel. They have learned as much as they can about these ancient Hebrew scriptures and feasts. Many take the time to even learn the ancient tongue of Hebrew itself. They are earnest people.

The connection between these movements is not that a lot of Sabbath keepers homeschool, although I suspect quite a few do. It has to do with how connected each movement is to the world around them. After keeping Pesach (Passover) or Sukkot (Feast of Booths) with others, usually at a park or farm, Torah Keepers go home. No doubt many would like to stay together, but the cares and worries, as the Bible says, of making a living, drive them home. And if they did decide to stay, they would quickly discover the costs and mandates of community!

Validating themselves in a very curious fashion, homeschoolers boast or at least make known the excellent colleges their children get into. “See,” they say, “you don’t have to send your children to school to be successful in this world—you can groom them for success right from your home.” It can strike an outside observer as inconsistent with the fundamental mistrust most homeschoolers have in regard to what the world has to offer their children.

So both movements have a culture they reside in, and in fact hope their children will succeed in. It is the same culture that gave them Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, compulsory education and state indoctrination (schooling) of children. They know something is wrong with that culture, but they have nothing to replace it with. They share in common the same set of hopes and dreams for their children that most everyone else has. . . all those parents who send their children to public school and who honor the “Sunday Sabbath.”

A personal note about homeschooling

Perhaps you have or are homeschooling your children now. My wife and I did. Now that our personal “nest” is empty, we have many fond memories of both parenting and teaching our children. Living in Community, we helped others teach their children, too. Together, we are in the first stages of a new, emerging culture. It is very exciting.

We have seen our faithful children marry within that culture, marry others of the people they are a part of. What could be more satisfying to a parent than to see their children carry on their faith after them? What could be more disappointing than to not see that happen? Such joys and sorrows we have known.

IMG_0519

The question now asked

Attending a homeschooling conference one time, I left with regret, After an inspiring presentation I didn’t ask the question that came to me, but it has come back to me many times since considering the many, many parents who homeschool.1

Why are parents avoiding the school system with all its problems only to send their children to the heart of the problems themselves — the colleges?

So I discovered that the homeschooling movement was less revolutionary than I had thought it was.2 Likewise, attending a week long Sukkot Festival in 2013 enlightened me to something very similar, that the parents and children attending it had the same goals as regular Christians, and even as regular Americans. There was no difference. Going to college and getting a good paying job was the highest aspiration most of the youth voiced for themselves, and most of the parents voiced for their children.

Passion without a Cause

Homeschooling is in this sense is a passion without a cause. Keeping children from the indoctrination and peer pressure of public schools, and then sending them off to college are completely contradictory actions. In the same way, Sabbath and Festival Keeping were signs to the world of who God’s people were every day, not once a week or once or twice a year. It would be inconceivable that God’s people would have lived in Moab, Edom, and Egypt and then come to Israel to celebrate the Feasts! The prophets would have risen up to condemn them. Where are the prophets today?

Can spiritual Israel, which Torah Keepers desire to be, exist in the spiritual wilderness of today’s culture? After keeping a festival all that remains – all that is possible – is return to the same lonely life each one had before it. What is the purpose of the Sabbath? What does it point to?

There is an indirect connection to homeschooling, in that true Sabbath-keeping is done by a people set-apart from the world to be God’s people. Homeschooling is, as it were, a temporary dedication of children to our children to God. Can what is “holy” than be made “common” and still keep its “holiness”?

The Sabbaths Point to the Year of Jubilee!

BlowingShofar“You shall count off seven weeks of years, seven times seven years, so that the period
of seven weeks of years gives forty-nine years. Then you shall have the trumpet sounded loud; on the tenth day of the seventh month — on the Day of Atonement — you shall have the trumpet sounded throughout all your land. And you shall hallow the fiftieth year and you shall proclaim liberty throughout the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you: you shall return, every one of you, to your property and every one of you to your family.
(Leviticus 25:8-10)

Every seventh year in faithful Israel was to be a sabbath year, when the land would lay fallow, debts would be forgiven, and slaves would be released. Every seven sevens of years was even more special, demanding far more from the hearts of the Israelites than even the sabbath years. That monumental time in the life of Israel was the Year of Jubilee. We know very little how it (or even the sabbath years) would actually affect a people, because old  Israel always found some way around the righteous requirement of the law, but it is very  dear to our Father’s heart. There will be a people who keep this command and who do so  because they take on His heart.

The land in modern Israel can now be “sold” to someone else for the Sabbath year for a  token amount of money, and then bought back after the year is over. This allows them to still  benefit from the produce of the land without “breaking the Law” by farming it themselves. They get around the Law in that way, which is to say they get around trusting our Father in that way. Keeping the Law and trusting our Father is the same thing. There are two other things that go together, also.

Love and Justice Go Together

In Leviticus 25:10, God Most High commanded that the trumpet would be blown in all the land when the fiftieth year, the year of Jubilee, had come. The fiftieth year was to have been a time to restore the way our Father called Israel to live. God commanded that all land be restored to its original owners in Leviticus 25:10.

There is no such command anywhere in the world.

All the buying and selling of the previous forty-nine years was to be undone. At the Year of Jubilee, all the land was to return to the families Yahweh had given it to when Israel conquered their land. Doubly so was it the Promised Land — promised to Abraham in  Genesis 15:18, and promised again to the individual families when Joshua  divided the land. Israel never understood how close the two promises were in our Father’s heart.

No other religion of men has dared to address the hold that possessions and lands have on men’s souls. Indeed, they cannot, since all prosperous religions depend on the good will of rich and powerful men. They could only obey such a radical set of commands as Yahweh gives in Leviticus 25 if they actually believed in Him.

Our Father commanded that they forgive all debts from their brothers. All those born into slavery or sold into it must be freed (Leviticus 25:39-43). He proclaimed liberty to all in the moving words, “Each of you shall return to his family.” Above all else, the fiftieth year was a time to remember the One to whom the land belonged. This is why He said they could not sell the land permanently to anyone. The land must not be sold permanently, “because the land is Mine and you are but aliens and My tenants.” (Leviticus 25:23)

What a celebration that would be! This is the society the God of Israel intended, one where love and justice would rule every human relationship. There is no true justice unless it arises from real, heart-felt love. Love and justice go together like man and wife. Love is the motive; justice is the result.

At every Jubilee celebration, the whole people were to come together to celebrate the greatest accomplishment any nation had ever known: the triumph of love-based justice. They were to restore what the poor had lost to their more gifted or even more aggressive brothers. As Moses said in Leviticus 25:17, “Do not take advantage of each other, but fear your God.

They only bought the land until the next Jubilee. Just think how rich would be the land that a true Israelite would give back to its original owner! That is, if he realized who the real and permanent owner of the land was — Yahweh Himself. Oh, if only they had such a heart! But they never kept this law because they did not truly fear their God.

Only a society of people determined to carry out these two commands — the greatest commands in all the law — would be able to obey Leviticus 25:

LoveOneAnother1Hear, O Israel: the Sovereign our God, the Sovereign is one. Love the Sovereign with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.” (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)

You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Leviticus 19:18)

Any society determined to put these words into practice will have the help of Heaven and a life of faith to produce it. This help and this faith will produce a brand new culture.

Once long ago and almost forgotten…

Once, a long time ago, there was a band of Jews who lived this way. They followed the teachings of Yahshua. As a man’s spirit inhabits his body, so Love lived and expressed itself on the earth in Him. The fruit of His life was a completely new society. There were literally thousands of men, women, and children living together in peace. They had true peace, with no needy among them. Thus, they fulfilled Deuteronomy 15:4-8, that there were no poor and needy in the land.

His Spirit enabled them to love, and justice was the result. But what happened? That life waned. Love could not stay where He was no longer welcomed. He left those communities and walked on. For nearly two thousand years He longed for a new body of people to live in. The terrible words of Daniel the prophet came true, “Messiah was cut off and had nothing.” (Daniel 9:26)

And when the soil was ready

When the soil was readyNow, He must still have a people for His very own. It is what He has always longed for. We cannot belong to Him and Mammon at the same time; Leviticus 25 makes that perfectly clear. 3 There must be a nation expressing His character to the ends of the earth or the end cannot come.4 Once again, Love dwells in a body on the earth. He has found a new and lasting home; this is where we live.

Israel was to keep this body of law in Leviticus 25. If it had, it would have been a light to the world. Torah also means the body of prophetic instruction. Keeping it would have led them to fulfill their prophetic destiny as a people. And this has not changed; indeed, it cannot  change.

Only those who keep Sabbath years until the Year of Jubilee will prove to be the Israel of God. Then all the land goes back to its rightful owner—our Father.5 The trumpet of the Year of Jubilee is the last trumpet of this age, of which Paul prophesied:

Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed — in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52)

In Closing

We invite you to come and be a part of the people to whom the mysteries are being unfolded. The glory of God, which is love, is the highest goal and aspiration of our life together. That is why we share all things in common, that is why we struggle to carve a culture, a new way of life, out of this fallen world. And that is why we open our homes to all those who long for these things, too.

Shalom,

Kevin (for the Communities of the Twelve Tribes)

 

Footnotes

  1. Indeed, there are large alternative education communities flourishing in many free countries of the world. Sadly, nations like Sweden and Germany are afraid to let their people be free, and prohibit education by the parents. They resemble nothing so much as materially prosperous totalitarian societies. Let us hope they are not the direction the world will take in the coming years!
  2. We are thankful for homeschooling, for sure, but we have a greater goal than college. We educate our children for the Kingdom of God!
  3. Matthew 6:24
  4. Matthew 24:14
  5. Revelation 11:15-18