Chapter 1

Introduction

 

 


Lost on the lake

The radio alarm snapped on and shattered the peaceful quiet of the bedroom. I bolted from my nocturnal bliss to answer its demanding call before it accomplished its threat to wake the rest of the family. Trembling in front of the dresser where the tormenting appliance resided, I tried to remember what day it was and what had possessed me to set it for such an hour. Slowly the gears began to turn again and a light went on. Oh yes. This was the day I intended to find a better place for fishing on my favorite lake.

Living in Minnesota, winter offers a method of fishing that is unique to the north country. Around the first part of December, when the temperatures begin to stay well below freezing, the lakes crust over with enough ice to support fishermen and their small heated hovels commonly known as fish houses. The place where my brother and I had put ours had been a bust and I had every intention of relocating in an effort to remedy the problem.

While walking to the kitchen, I looked out the window to see what kind of day it was. Instead of the dawning of a clear day that the weather man  had promised, there was a dense fog threatening to cancel my plans. The weather had been somewhat unusual that fall and this day was no exception. There had been no snow as yet and much of the small talk around town was about the dreaded thought of a "brown Christmas". But I intended to make the best of the snowless situation when it came to locating a new place for the fish house. The frozen lake was like one giant ice-skating rink. Getting around on the ice by walking is not only slow, but hard on the back and legs. On the other hand, skating would get me a long way quickly with much less effort.

I grabbed my skates and headed out the door hoping the fog would burn off soon. Driving slowly to the lake I wondered if it would be possible to even find the fish house in the poor visibility. It sat only about a hundred yards from shore so I thought I should be able to start skating in the right direction and soon begin to see it.

As anticipated, finding the house was no problem. I also happened to notice that there was a gentle breeze blowing out of the northeast. Reasoning that I could go anywhere on the lake in the fog and still find my way back by using the wind as a direction indicator, I grabbed the electronic depth finder and headed out onto the big lake into the abysmal gray in a southwesterly direction.

After skating in the same general direction for some time and checking the depth of the lake occasionally, I passed through a small group of fish houses. After continuing on in the same direction for some time, I came across a place which I assumed was the one I had in mind. I stacked up several pieces of ice to help me relocate the place when the fog lifted. I stood up and tested the wind. It had diminished to little more than a trace, but there was enough there to establish directions. So I confidently struck off to the northeast with the wind in my face.

It wasn't long before I came to the small group of fish houses I had passed on the way out. It was a strange, eerie sight as they began to materialize out of the fog. At first I wasn't sure if I was really seeing a fish house, or if I was hallucinating on the perfectly blank gray canvas in front of me. But it only took a few more seconds when it became obvious that I wasn't hallucinating as the other houses in the group also came into view.

Keeping the wind in my face, I continued to skate on. I skated, and skated, and skated. It had taken a long time to get to the group of fish houses on the way out, but that was because I was stopping regularly to check the water depth. It shouldn't have taken all that long to get back if I wasn't continually stopping along the way, but I had been skating for what seemed to be near an hour and I began to worry. Just when I was beginning to become seriously concerned I thought I saw a fish house begin to materialize out of the fog. A sense of relief came over me as several other houses did the same. I knew my house would be right on the other side of this group. Skating on, I noticed a fresh set of ice skate tracks heading in the same direction. Since I had been going in the other direction on the way out, I figured that someone else must have had the same brainstorm and was likewise getting around on the lake with the aid of ice skates.

While passing through the group of fish houses, they suddenly began to take on a strange familiarity. My heart sank and a knot began to grow in the pit of my stomach as I came face to face with the realization that this group of fish houses was not the one my house was in, but the one way out in the lake that I had left nearly an hour before! And to add insult to injury, the skate tracks in the ice beneath me were my own! I stopped, and stood there in total bewilderment.

It was a feeling I had never felt before and one I will never forget. I had read stories of hunters getting lost in the woods only to find them selves walking in circles and I remembered thinking it was rather humorous. I remembered hearing my Grandfather tell of a similar incident that had happened to him. Then he said, "When it happens, the first sensation that comes over you when you realize you've gone in a big circle is one that you can't describe, and one that you will never forget!"  He certainly was right. There I was, staring the phenomenon right in the face. It had happened to me!

It didn't take long to figure out where my mistake was. The wind in my face as I skated along was due to my forward motion and was a false indicator. Any direction I went felt like the right one! A little relief came over me when I noticed the gentle breeze was still detectable, and I realized I would have no problem finding my way back if I would just stop occasionally and test the wind. But the initial feeling that attached itself to me still had me shaken to the core. It wasn't the fact of being lost that bothered me. I knew I would soon find my way back and that I would probably be laughing right along with friends and family as I'd tell them of my humiliating story. After all, it was kind of funny. Yet there was something still inside me that had me terribly unnerved. It was the part of my Grandfather's words, "You can't describe the feeling," that haunted me. He was so right.

 Parallel Philosophy

As time passed, the memory of the event continued to trouble me. I now know very clearly and can describe that feeling that so unnerved me. It wasn't the feeling of being lost. It was the realization that in spite of all the confidence in the world that I was going in the right direction, I was obviously going in some other direction. And for a significant part of my journey, I was going in just the opposite direction of the one that I was so sure I was going. A type of judgment day had arrived for me. In spite of all my former faith to the contrary, there before my eyes was the undeniable truth that all my faith and subsequent works had been wrong and in vain. My faith had done nothing for me. I had gone nowhere and played the role of the over-confident fool perfectly.

This event in my life has effectively illustrated for me what it will be like--to one degree or another--for all of us when we stand before God on judgment day. On that day, our souls will be naked before Him. All of our illusions and subsequent actions will become as obvious to everyone as my futile actions were to me on the lake that cold December day.

When a person considers the multitude of different and conflicting beliefs that men hold dear and realizes they can't all be right, one wonders if the truth even exists... let alone able to be found. This is especially the case when we consider that the majority of people base their beliefs to one degree or another on the blind faith of tradition where very few questions are asked. It would seem that all of mankind is skating in different circles, blind, and going nowhere on the frozen lake of life.

Contrary to popular doctrine about faith, I believe faith is not a blind leap in the dark, but a confident walk in the light of understanding. This proverb has remained with me and served me well in my ongoing endeavor to grasp more of the truth concerning God and man's purpose. I am determined to minimize the shock that awaits.

The truth must make sense

In my search for solid understanding, I have come to some new and far from mainstream conclusions. These conclusions are the product of many years of Biblical study and reasoning within myself. I have made a successful living as a drywall contractor in the local home construction industry, an occupation that has greatly benefited my search for understanding. The demands upon the intellect to do drywall are minimal and I have had the luxury of a relatively free mind to work with during the day. I have been able to wrestle for long hours on end with many of the questions that plague theologians. I have not been afraid to ask the difficult questions, nor have I been afraid to look for answers in places where few have dared to look before. This work is the result of that ongoing determination. I do not pretend to have all the answers. That simply isn't humanly possible. But I will suggest that what is found in these pages is far more consistent with what is known to be the word of God, and consistent within itself, than any other traditional understanding of God. We cannot know everything. But what we do know, or claim to know, had better make sense.

In this work, I do not start at the very beginning by dealing with questions of God's existence. I start on the premise that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel--the God of Moses and the prophets, and the God of Yahshua, whose name in Hebrew is , is the one true (Highest) God. On this assertion I hope to find some common ground on which to reason with many Christians and Jews.

Who I am

As for myself, I am an American Gentile of predominantly Scandinavian ancestry, born to several generations of God-fearing parents of different Christian persuasions. I was raised and indoctrinated in protestant evangelical Christianity through faithful church attendance with my parents when I was young, and through my attendance to the Covenant denomination's bible college. My wife and I were married in the Evangelical Free Church where we and our children attended and were active for several years.

Oh to be God’s pet

When one takes a survey of the many different religions that claim to believe in the God of the Bible, it becomes evident that many have a doctrine teaching that they are the true chosen people of God. This doctrine naturally goes on to assert that they are therefore the rightful heirs of God's promises. Judaism certainly does. Christianity in general tends to believe a form of replacement doctrine which suggests that the Christian church has replaced Israel as God's chosen people. The Mormons believe that through some long-lost tribes of Israel, they are the chosen people of God. Herbert Armstrong's World Wide Church of God also believes it is comprised of descendants from lost tribes of Israel, a doctrine more commonly known as British Israelism. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe theirs is the one true church--and these are only a few of the groups. One could go on listing many smaller sects that claim to be the one true people of God. The self-serving aspect of these doctrines should be apparent. Indeed, it is what makes these religions marketable to the masses in the first place. After all, who wouldn't want to be God's pet?

My position is by far the exception. I have come to the firm conviction that, as a Gentile, I am a second class citizen next to God’s true favorites... the Jews. I believe that it is only in my humble acknowledgment of this fact that there is any real hope of significant growth in favor with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel. This is not to say that I believe the Jew has been perfect in his understanding of God. Even within Judaism there is much disagreement on fundamental theological issues. Christianity has at least as much discord within its sanctums. The sheer number of differing denominations attests to this fact.

Many individuals within both Judaism and Christianity have had prayers answered, and each side tends to see this fact as evidence that God is on their side. It is only natural to see the obvious movements of God within one’s own particular faith, while at the same time being blind to what God has done in the midst of others. God has without question worked miracles and answered many prayers of both Jews and Christians. It would be an exercise in arrogance and ignorant futility to assert otherwise. Yet it is also an undeniable observation that neither is being the wonder to the world that it could be. What we see instead are two religions, each only smoldering with an ember of the truth. Yet we intuitively know that if one was perfect in doctrine, God would openly endorse that faith with His power as He has in the past.

Difficult questions

If we are willing to humble ourselves and admit that something is definitely wrong and lacking with the faith of our fathers, then there is hope. We who were raised in the Christian tradition must ask the question: why doesn't God openly endorse Christianity with spectacular miracles the way He did for Yahshua? Yahshua clearly said that his followers would do much more of the same. Could it be that Christianity hasn't followed him the way he intended? And the Jew must ask: Why were my ancestors dispossessed of the land of Israel a second time and why for so long? The nation of Israel was dispersed the first time for only seventy years for its sins, like sacrificing children to pagan idols. What could have been done to warrant a nearly two-thousand-year second dispersion?  These are painful questions that are seldom asked.

In the end, I hope it will be evident that what each religion has desperately needed is first; a better understanding of Elohim/God, and secondly; each needs exactly what it has rejected from the other. The last thing the Jew needs is Christianity. Christianity needs Judaism... the Law. What the Jew could certainly benefit from is the knowledge of his Messiah.

In a way, it is beneficial that a Gentile like myself take up this message. If observant Messianic Jews had begun to teach it, the rest of the world would no doubt accuse them of convenience logic. I on the other hand, have been compelled to turn my back on much of what I was raised to believe and it has cost me much in the way of reputation among family and friends. No one can accuse me of convenience logic.

 

 

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