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First Covenant

Covenant Connection

Volume 2, Issue 5

January 2007.......Shevat 5767

Lynching Saddam 


• Lynching Saddam

New Feature - Seven Candles, by Andrea Chester: "Like Learning to Drive"

Interfaith Dialogue

New Blog, New Articles, Radio and Video

• Bless You and Keep You


• More and More Subscribers



Let's take a basic rule of history: Israel's enemies are always a lot more awful than most people suppose.
This month we got to watch the killing of Saddam Hussein, the deposed Arab despot, on TV. His very last words, calculated to build up his legacy in the world's memory, were a lie: "Palestine is Arab." Then a group of masked men took his life - after cursing and taunting him in the name of their tribal leader, who is one of Saddam's own tribe's enemies. They hung him. One of them, using a marvelous device that the whole Arab Nation could never conceivably manufacture itself, made a video of the proceedings with his cellphone. It flashed around the world via Internet at nearly the speed of light. 
What we saw was savagery. It wasn't an execution, it was a lynching. But the crux of the whole sordid incident is that practically everyone involved - the Arab judges, the court officers, even the bunch that killed him - probably concurred with Saddam's last words absolutely, with all their hearts. Most of the Arab world does.
It doesn't matter that those words are false. What matters is Arab honor. Israel dishonors the Arab Nation - Arab leaders say that the Arabs make up one nation - by showing it up, by failing to fail. Israel hurts its sense of justice, such as it is. So they - the Arab Nation  - curse Israel. 
People like that don't do well when it comes to doing justice. It's one of the first things one notices about all Israel-hating cultures. They usually claim to be champions of civilized morality. In fact, the nations that curse Israel don't do well at keeping any of the Seven Universal Laws. Not as individuals - some of whom may be angels - but as peoples, they are civilization's enemies. From the Arabs to the Nazis, all the way back through history to Esau himself, one can always count on them to surpass even one's lowest expectations of their innate awfulness.


Seven Candles

Beginning with this issue, Andrea M. Chester will host Seven Candles, a monthly column.  She invites your interaction and, as she puts it, challenges you to get involved in learning and living God's Seven Universal Laws. 

Speaking to Noahides - people who aren't Jewish but who think of God as HaShem - she says, "The world is watching to see whether this is just a flash in the pan of world religions, or if this is a real way of life.  Only we can make that known."

Her column for January follows:

Like Learning to Drive

In his last address to his people, Moses instructs Israel:
“This mandate that I am prescribing to you today is not too mysterious or remote from you.  It is not in heaven, so that you should say ‘Who shall go up to heaven and bring it down to us so that we can hear it and keep it?’  It is not over the sea so that you should say ‘Who will cross the sea and get it for us, so that we will be able to hear it and keep it?’  It is something that is very close to you.  It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can keep it.”  Deuteronomy 30:11-14

To me, this indicates that God's Laws are meant to be internalized. I am reminded of the story about the great sage Hillel. He was approached by a man who said he would convert to Judaism if Hillel could teach him the Torah while the man stood on one leg. Hillel told him, “What is hateful to yourself, do not do to others. That is the whole Torah. All the rest is commentary. Now, son, go and study!”

Study is essential. As a homely example, think back to when you first learned to drive a car.  In Drivers Education, you had to study how the engine works, why you need to put oil in the crank-case, how alcohol and other chemicals affect reaction time.  You learned when a driver MUST turn on his headlights, and why you shouldn’t use high beams in the fog or rain.  You were quizzed about speed limits in residential areas and on the highway.  Then, you practiced parallel parking, and braking smoothly when the instructor suddenly barks “Stop!”  OY!  So many little rules!

The first time my mother let me drive the family car, I was so bound up with all the stuff I had to remember that I nearly sideswiped the driver in the next lane.  I had a hard time holding the car steady, because I had my eyes fastened on the nose of the car, adjusting for every tiny vibration and wobble in the road.  It seemed pretty complicated. 

Now, over forty years later, I don’t have to think about how far to turn the wheel to get around the curve or how fast I should take the exit ramp.  It’s “second nature” to read the road conditions, or calculate whether I have room to pass that tractor ahead. I pay attention to the terrain, and notice landmarks. 

I am a better, more courteous driver than when I was worrying over the complexities of doing it right.  Sure, driving still demands my attention, and I still have to know the general rules, but I don’t have to “sweat it.”  In other words, I am confident enough to handle the car in most situations and I can enjoy driving. 

I think that’s the way God intended us to live our lives, too. It’s not supposed to be drudgery.  We’re in a vital, intimate relationship with the King of the Universe, which is an awesome thing. But it’s not supposed to wreck our nerves.
The same God Who gives us His Laws also gives us kittens and hummingbirds, tornadoes and tsunamis, oranges and tomatoes.  He hung galaxies in place and set electrons whirling around neutrons.  And…He did it for US!

That’s the point. We matter, and what we do matters. Life requires awareness. We need to study, to get the Principles into our hearts. Then we can relax and enjoy the ride, fully aware and fully alive!
Write to Andrea, amchester @ peoplepc.com 
Also, read her entries on our blog.

Interfaith Dialogue

Judaism is the only religion which another religion, Christianity, blames for the murder of its God - its Savior (NT, 1 Thessalonians 2:15). That's been a problem in the past. It's certainly a problem today, even among people who disdain Christianity. Leading Islamic theologians have concluded, for instance, that Israel must go, because - among other reasons - Israel allegedly killed the prophet Issa (most English-speakers call Issa Jesus).
Israel did not kill Jesus. The Christian Scriptures blow hot and cold at the Jews. There is nothing in the Christian Scriptures that requires Christians to curse Israel. And, in fact, Christians usually don't. Especially today, many Christians - tens of millions of church-going, Bible-reading Americans, and many others - wholeheartedly accept the Scriptures' Teaching that they who bless Israel are blessed.
So they try to bless Israel. Often, they don't know exactly how to do this. Sometimes they try to bless something which they mistakenly identify as Jewish, some odd group or teaching or artifact. They'll give their time and money to kabbalists, Jews for Jesus or "lost tribers."
Sometimes Christians try to bless Israel by converting it to Christianity. That, however, isn't blessing. It disparages the very nature of Israel, as HaShem's eternal people - as His ambassadors of Torah.
Christians who try to make Jews Christians reject the very Scriptures that they claim to revere. They reject the fundamental concept that God Himself decided that Israel, representing Him and His Torah, is something that the human race needs. That need isn't just biblical, it's historical. And it's constant. Humanity can't succeed - we can't become what G'd wants us to be, we can't make our rendezvous with destiny  - without Israel.
These people don't see that, without Israel in the world, affecting every generation for the good, life on earth would be hellish. It would make a North Korean slave-labor camp look good. Furthermore, and obviously, just according to Christianity's own logic, Jews who become Christian don't need to keep Torah. But Israel is a nation only by virtue of the Torah. When Jews give up Torah, they disappear from the world as HaShem's special instrument in the blink of two or three generations.
Christians really do bless Israel a lot of the time. Sometimes - it has happened countless times - they even risk their own lives to help save Jewish lives. And it is nothing less than a Biblical guarantee, a Divine promise, that they themselves are therefore blessed. Those who bless Israel - those who help the people of Israel survive and thrive as Israel, as God's principal ambassadors of Torah  - are blessed.
People constantly accuse Israel of being undeserving. These people need to understand that a covenant cannot be altered or abrogated. That's the way it is with covenants, even if one of the parties lapses, or otherwise becomes undeserving. So, even if the Jewish people seem undeserving - even if some are obviously undeserving - the covenant with its promises doesn't disappear.
Today, most of the Christians who consciously try to bless Israel tend to be Evangelical Christians. Some expect most Jews to convert to Christianity at the "Rapture" or Apocalypse, the Second Coming. Yet they don't want to forcibly convert anyone. Some expect horrible suffering to befall everyone who doesn't "accept Jesus" when God's Messiah comes, but they don't want to inflict any suffering on Israel themselves.
Israel can live with this. Christians can believe what they want. Israel is willing to take its chances with HaShem and His Messiah.
More left wing, "liberal" or "progressive" Christians usually don't consciously bless Israel.  Speaking very generally, they regard Judaism as a bad system, a fossilized religion, which Jesus came to abrogate. They think of HaShem as a cruel, "patriarchal" deity. 
Most "progressive" Christian theologians don't even consider Judaism as being worth studying as a religion apart from Christianity. In seminaries which require study of a non-Christian tradition, students study Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism, or the like, but Judaism doesn't count.
Naturally, people who treat Israel's religion this way tend not to consider the People of Israel as being particularly worthy. As for the Torah, it has value for them for its stories and its poetry, but its prophecies - so they think - all lead to Jesus. That is, the Torah's central message - "you, Israel, keep My Torah" - is obsolete. As for the Oral Torah, it isn't even a good read.
These conditions don't create the most wholesome environment for sharing the Seven Laws. We who believe that the world's worst problems could be readily solved if people just kept God's most basic Laws often find this frustrating. Especially when we know that everyone, not just Israel, has a covenant connection to God.
Our Father has given us a challenge. We understand that destitution, illiteracy, violence, robbery, crimes against women (and crimes against men, too), and all the world's other great evils could be chased off the earth if humankind just recognized the truth about God.
It will take some effort on our part to get from where we are today to there. And we won't get there through kabbala, mysticism, or "lost tribes" cloudy thinking. It's Torah, basic Torah and common sense, that the world needs most, to make its covenant connection.

New Blog, New Articles, Radio and Video

Come to our website! You'll find lots of new features, many new, excellent articles - and now video and sound

Tune in to CHIN FM, www.zeldayoung.com, every second Wednesday at 9:30 AM, to hear us on the Zelda Young Show. We just did a show - Rev. Jack Saunders and Michael Dallen with Zelda Young - this morning, January 24th. Go to the links on our website to hear it and all our past shows. Interesting topics - and the feedback has been great!

If you want to know why the modern world doesn't respect the Bible more, tune in as Rev. Saunders debunks the Biblical Documentary Hypothesis - which is a fancy name for the rigid dogma,  the conventional thinking, that dominates modern Biblical scholarship. Jack Saunders shows that the emperor has no clothes. These video lectures are based, in part, on the work of the late Rabbi Dr. Umberto Cassuto. Watch the videos, new every week!

We have some really good articles on religious tolerance, in both the Jewish and Noahide context, in Articles, on the website, and also on the blog.

Come see the blog. It has a completely new format, and we already have quite a collection of unique, you-will-see-this-sort-of-thing-here-and-only-here, new comments and articles.
Come read them. Naturally, we invite you to post your own comments.
Also, check out our new links
Help Wanted
If you have some experience with blogs, consider giving us a hand: we could really use a blog administrator, an organizer and moderator. 
If you can help, if you're talented, organized, and want to help the First Covenant Association, please send an email to MDallen @ 1stcovenant.org


Bless and Keep      

Even many longtime Noahide monotheists don't realize what a treasure they can tap in Israel's siddur, the prayerbook. This prayer - see Numbers 6:24 - is part of each morning's service. It's one of the first prayers that observant Israel recites every morning.
We pray, for all our readers:
May HaShem bless you and keep you.
May HaShem illuminate His countenance for you, and be gracious to you.
May HaShem lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace. 
[This might be a good time to say "amen" - meaning, roughly, so be it, let it be as you say.]
Some people who read this prayer won't recognize the Name of Israel's national God - that is, God - in it. They will wonder, who is this HaShem? Let them call Him, if they don't want to inquire further, Lord, or God. But, please, we pray, let them inquire further.

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We call on God for help. As the prayer that Israel says every morning just before reciting the Hebrew statement of faith known as the shema asks (please understand that this is much richer in Hebrew than in English): Our Father, the merciful Father, Who acts mercifully, have mercy on us, instill in our hearts to understand and elucidate, to listen, learn, teach, safeguard, perform and fulfill all the words of Your Torah's teachings with love. Enlighten our eyes in Your Torah, attach our hearts to Your commandments, and unify our hearts to love and fear Your Name.

Amen.Questions? Comments?

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