Ephraimite Exception Error – by Rick Erb
The Ephraimite Exception Error
A Call to Action
by Rick Erb
Introduction by Batya Wootten
A dear friend of ours, Rick Erb, has written an open letter that we want to share with you. In fact, Rick has written many open letters about the false accusations some in Messianic Judaism make against we who believe in the restoration of the whole house of Israel – we who believe in the last-days reunion of Ephraim and Judah (Isa 8:13-14; Eze 37:16-28).
This subject is dear to Rick’s heart. He is an Attorney who has a keen sense of fairness coupled with a desire to be at peace with all men. I personally think he is uniquely qualified to work in this difficult situation because he knows that both accountability and forgiveness must be at work in the Body of Messiah. Moreover, he always adds a bit of humor to his writings. He is wise enough to know that a “spoon full of sugar helps the medicine to go down.”
The title of Rick’s latest letter is, The Ephraimite Exception Error – A Call to Action. He concludes with several “exceptions” that are unfortunately being made by some.
With his blessing, I have added an “exception” at the end of his letter. I wanted to add it because I have had much personal experience with the hatred without cause, the sinat chinam of some in Messianic Judaism, which has included being slandered, vilified, boycotted and banned – all without cause. Nonetheless, we, my husband Angus, and I, both know that the Father allowed certain things to happen to us because He wanted to use them for good. The good is that, we continued to speak out in spite of the opposition and now, multiplied thousands understand the truth about Israel’s restoration and we feel truly blessed to have been allowed to be part of it.
Our prayer is that the false accusations would be stopped and the truth revealed – it being that I have never even thought, nor taught, that everyone has to be a biological heir of the Patriarchs in order to be saved. Their wives did not descend from them, so why would I ever say such a thing? I have never taught, embraced, nor tolerated in my presence, any ideas of “Replacement Theology.” Even the heathen know that a parent cannot replace one child with another, so how can someone even think that our Heavenly Father would do such a thing?
Joseph’s brothers once threw him into a pit and sold him as a slave. But good came out of his situation. In the end, when his brothers came to him, he forgave them and wept tears of joy over their reconciliation. My prayer is that Rick’s efforts might help bring us one step closer to a reconciliation with our beloved Messianic Jewish brothers.
May it be that Almighty God allows us, like Joseph and his brothers, to weep tears of joy together.
Am Yisrael Chai! Shalom b’Yeshua, Batya
The Ephraimite Exception Error – A Call to Action
In 1994, a position paper knifed its way into the Messianic community, entitled “The Ephraimite Error.” It was attributed, in this order, to Kay Silberling, Daniel Juster, and David Sedaca, and it became something of a watershed publication. It immediately began dividing G-d’s people from one another, and promoting and encouraging hostility toward the people which it ridiculed and vilified. That was apparently the intent of its writers, who, it seems, were determined to impose their personal agenda upon the entire Messianic movement. This has been its unwavering legacy, and the division and hostility which it promoted toward its initial victims has continuously expanded and strengthened with the passing of time. The hostile attitude which is so apparent in that writing has taken root in the hearts of many in the Messianic Jewish community, and it routinely manifests itself in their expressions of hatred and rage toward non-Jewish bondservants of Yeshua, who sense a personal connection with Israel. Folks, this is classic bigotry and prejudice.
Had this antagonistic little attack piece simply been published once and then laid aside to collect dust, the division with which we are now faced might have never come to be. Sadly, however, the leadership of the Messianic Jewish community immediately set out to aggressively publicize it, and to this day they still promote this piece and this attitude, fanning the flames of division and hostility within the Body of Messiah. We know -at least some of us know- that a tree is judged by its fruit. However, those who are fomenting this hostility seem to be completely oblivious to the fruit which is plainly evident by their actions. Perhaps they are cognizant of that fruit, and just don’t care. In any event, the existence of such fruit should be setting off alarms for people who have aligned themselves with these divisive and hateful spirits. And honestly, folks, why all the fuss? What is it that has them so tied up in knots?
Many of our Jewish brothers and sisters have been aware all along of the continuing significance and vitality of G-d’s Holy Torah. Those of us who are not Jewish, largely grew up in religious systems which denied that reality. However, we now find ourselves in an age in which things are changing all around us, and at a pace never before seen in all of recorded history. We are not just talking about technological and sociological change; theological changes, lots of them, are also taking place. For many centuries, few Jewish people would have even considered the possibility that Yeshua is the Promised One. But now, in just the past few decades, we have witnessed a rapid change in that belief. That, however, is not the only change in understanding which has been taking place among the children of G-d.
Many of us have been awakened-by God Himself – to His Holy Torah, and to our previously hidden connection with Israel. It is apparently now the appointed time for this awakening, which was foretold so long ago. We did not go looking for this awakening; this is clearly a movement which is coming upon us directly from G-d. This is so, whether or not it fits within the theological boundaries of the leaders of the major Messianic Jewish organizations, and those of their followers who have embraced, mimicked, and perpetuated the hostility which is so evident in the lives of their leadership
In fact, this movement of G-d absolutely does not fit within the artificial theological and cultural boundaries which have been erected and reinforced for centuries by religious tyrants. The same was true when Yeshua arrived. Some of our Messianic Jewish leaders have one or more very impressive degrees from apparently important theological institutions, some are unschooled rock stars, and others have backgrounds which are somewhere in between. These people, whether pedigreed blueblood theologians or self-taught laity, have oftentimes been enormously hostile to the notion that the well-established and time-honored religious and cultural boundaries might have actually been drawn in the wrong place all along.
With visceral hostility, clenched fists, flared nostrils, glaring eyeballs, and a plateful of righteous indignation, they demand “proof” that Ephraimites are somehow descended from Israel. They offer no proof of ancestry of their own, other than being able to trace back their individual lineage (maybe, at best) a few hundred years. Even then, they cannot personally trace their individual ancestry back to Jacob Occasionally the limited ancestry which is known to them is fully Jewish, but some only have one Jewish parent. Some of the hostiles within the Messianic Jewish movement don’t even have any Jewish ancestors, but have chosen anyway to join with them in attempting to stamp out the beliefs of “those Ephraimites.” Folks, something is enormously wrong with this picture.
All those who claim to have a relationship with the Holy One of Israel, through Yeshua, either know or should know of each of the instructions set out below. However, those who still think that The Ephraimite Error was pretty good medicine have carved out a gigantic exception to each of these well-known instructions. A philosophical perspective should have a name, so we will now refer to this inhospitable, hateful and arrogant attitude as The Ephraimite Exception Error Such a teaching is plainly the opposite of how the Bible teaches us to behave, and it stands in open defiance of the unity for which Yeshua prayed on the night on which He was betrayed. And yet, this very attitude is proudly promoted by the Messianic Jewish Alliance of America, the Union of Messianic Jewish Congregations, and the International Messianic Jewish Alliance. That list is not exhaustive; there are others in the movement who promote this wicked little attitude as well.
So, what are the beliefs, attitudes, and mannerisms of someone who is possessed of The Ephraimite Exception Error? How will we know them when we see them coming? Well, let’s study a series of eternal truths, and contrast those truths with the sort of conduct which has been promoted by a number of the leaders of the Messianic Jewish movement toward those non-Jews who dare to believe they have an actual connection with Israel. Here are just a few examples of some rules of the Kingdom (borrowed from the NASB) which we have all received from G-d, together with their corollary Ephraimite Exceptions, which come from (and are apparently pleasing to) someone other than G-d: Exception 1 The Rule: Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity! (Psalms 133:1)
The Ephraimite Exception: Unity among brothers (and sisters) is good and pleasing to our Father – EXCEPT! – when it comes to those Ephraimites. They’re not even brothers or sisters anyway, so this rule does not apply to them. When it comes to those Ephraimites, hostility is the name of the game; unity with them is unnecessary and unacceptable. Exception 2 The Rule: Walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:2-3)
The Ephraimite Exception: Be humble, gentle, patient, and tolerant with one another, in love, and pursue at least the appearance of unity – EXCEPT! – when it comes to those Ephraimites. When it comes to those Ephraimites, hostility and ridicule is essential; unity is unacceptable. Humility? Gentleness? Patience? Tolerance? Save that stuff for the real people of G-d; those who think and act like we do. Don’t go wasting it on those Ephraimites.
The Rule: To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit. (1 Peter 3:8)
The Ephraimite Exception: Harmony, humility and tenderness toward one another is pleasing to our Father – EXCEPT! – when it comes to those Ephraimites. When it comes to those Ephraimites, ignore their pleas to examine the Scripture together, shout them down, accuse them of heresy, accuse them of teaching replacement theology, accuse them of being insecure, accuse them of having an identity crisis, call them names, and demand that others of our kind do the same.
The Rule: You shall not go about as a slanderer among your people. (Leviticus 19:16)
The Ephraimite Exception: Slander is wrong – EXCEPT! – when it comes to those Ephraimites. Slandering those Ephraimites is a mitzvah, a good deed, which G-d will surely reward. After all, those Ephraimites are not our people, and He is not their G-d.
The Rule: A perverse man spreads strife, and a slanderer separates intimate friends. (Proverbs 16:28)
The Ephraimite Exception: One should not spread strife or slander – EXCEPT! – when it comes to those Ephraimites. When dealing with those Ephraimites, hostility is mandatory, and it is critical to separate as many of our kind as possible away from those Ephraimites. Slander is a great way to accomplish that objective, and it should be used frequently and with vigor.
The Rule: So, as those who have been chosen of G-d, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. Beyond all these things put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. (Colossians 3:12-14)
The Ephraimite Exception: Be loving, compassionate, kind, humble, gentle and patient with all fellow believers – EXCEPT! – when it comes to those Ephraimites. Do not put up with them. Do not love them. Do not walk in unity with them. And, most importantly, do not be polite about it Being polite to them might give someone the impression that we endorse what they believe, and we must avoid even the appearance of unity with those Ephraimites.
The Rule: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Leviticus 19:18)
The Ephraimite Exception: Loving your neighbor is second in importance only to loving G-d – EXCEPT! – when it comes to those Ephraimites. Take no Ephraimite as your neighbor, and love no Ephraimite. Anyone who lacks sufficient hostility toward those Ephraimites is a traitor to our kind, and must be blackballed from the congregation-OUR congregation; a Jewish one!
Exception 7b The Rule: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 19:19) The Ephraimite Exception: See Ephraimite Exception 7a.
Exception 7c The Rule: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Matthew 22:39) The Ephraimite Exception: See Ephraimite Exception 7a. Exception 7d The Rule: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Mark 12:31) The Ephraimite Exception: See Ephraimite Exception 7a. Exception 7e The Rule: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Luke 10:27) The Ephraimite Exception: See Ephraimite Exception 7a.
Exception 7f The Rule: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Romans 13:9) The Ephraimite Exception: See Ephraimite Exception 7a.
Exception 7g The Rule: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (Galatians 5:14) The Ephraimite Exception: See Ephraimite Exception 7a.
Exception 7h The Rule: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. (James 2:8) The Ephraimite Exception: See Ephraimite Exception 7a.
The Rule: If someone says, “I love G-d,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love G-d whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from Him, that the one who loves G-d should love his brother also. (1 John 4:20-21)
The Ephraimite Exception: Show love to all fellow believers – EXCEPT! – when it comes to those Ephraimites. They are not our brothers or sisters, and their heresy must be stamped out. When it comes to those Ephraimites, a really nasty attitude goes a long way toward proving that you have a deep and reverential love of G-d.
The reality of the matter is that G-d is not the source of any of those exceptions, nor will he reward such attitudes and conduct. The hostility toward Ephraimites which has been stoked carefully for years by a number of the leaders of the Messianic Jewish movement is, plainly speaking, sinful and wicked. Many within the Ephraimite community have attempted, for many years now, to dialog with our Messianic Jewish brothers and sisters, and try to get us all beyond the attitude which is expressed in The Ephraimite Error. But, the response from the Messianic Jewish leadership has been either complete and stony silence or open hostility; neither approach is acceptable. We have our reasons for believing we have an actual connection with Israel. You have your reasons for rejecting such a notion. Fine So what? It is not essential for us to be in perfect agreement on that issue. But why have you concluded that it is essential for you to be so vicious and divisive about the matter?
Walls come in many forms and they serve many purposes, but a wall which separates brothers and sisters from one another is a wall which must be destroyed; the sooner the better. Plainly and unquestionably, G-d is not the architect of such a wall. He has begun the restoration of the Whole House of Israel, as He promised He would so very long ago, and this wall of division and hostility, which is embodied in The Ephraimite Error, is a wall which must come down.
Mr. Chernoff . . tear down this wall.
Mr. Liberman . . . tear down this wall.
Mr. Resnick . . . tear down this wall.
Long ago, our Father told us of a day, which has obviously not yet arrived, in which He Himself would establish for us the unity for which so many of us now yearn. Our Father said:
Human being, it is to your kinsmen – your brothers, your relatives and the whole house of Isra’el – that the people living in Yerushalayim have said, “Get away from Adonai! This land has been given to us to possess!” Therefore, say that Adonai Elohim says this: “True, I removed them far away among the nations and scattered them among the countries; nevertheless, I have been a little sanctuary for them in the countries to which they have gone.” Therefore, say that Adonai Elohim says this: ‘I will gather you from the peoples and collect you from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give the land of Isra’el to you.’ Then they will go there and remove all its loathsome things and disgusting practices, and I will give them unity of heart. I will put a new spirit among you. I will remove from their bodies the hearts of stone and give them hearts of flesh; so that they will live by my regulations, obey my rulings and act by them. Then they will be my people, and I will be their God. (Ezekiel 11:15-20 CJB, emphasis added)
There are no Ephraimite Exceptions in the Bible, nor are there any in G-d’s Kingdom, nor should there be any in Israel. To teach and act otherwise is to openly defy the Holy One of Israel. May He shatter this attitude of hostility and division which is embodied in The Ephraimite Exception Error, and may He put a heart of flesh within those who have to this point created and promoted this phony exception and this very real hostility. May we all be united in G-d’s regulations and rulings, and may we all walk in unity, without hostility toward one another. Then-and apparently not until then-we will be His people, and He will be our Elohim. Brothers and sisters, may we be the generation which sees these things come to pass.
A Call To Action
The people who have been subjected to the hostility and alienation of The Ephraimite Exception Error have for decades now been attempting to dialog with those who have been promoting that error. A number of those proponents are mentioned above by name. Others, who are not named, have also joined with them in promoting this hostility, and have done so with a vengeance. Why they are so concerned over the notion of simply sitting down together, behaving like brothers and sisters, and dialoging with one another, is beyond comprehension. And, what has been gained by all of the hostility? Plainly stated, we are all without excuse for this situation.
We all have an obligation to conduct ourselves in accordance with the standards of righteousness which are set forth in the Bible, and that includes communicating with one another in love, and seeking to promote unity, whether or not we are in full agreement with one another on this ancestral matter. A meeting of the persons who currently find themselves in positions of leadership is in order, and it is time for the leaders of the Messianic movement to start taking the phone calls when other Messianic leaders call them, and responding to letters when they receive them, whether or not there is agreement on the issue of Ephraim, or any other issue over which persons of good conscience might not fully agree.
The time has come for dialog and interaction, and hopefully even a meeting of the leadership of the various Messianic organizations. It is not essential to arrive at some doctrinal agreement which satisfies everyone. In fact, that is plainly not possible at this time. However, it is possible for us to dwell in unity and to be a blessing to one another, if we choose to do so; let’s choose to do so. No doubt, that is a goal which our Father would appreciate.
Addendum: The Final Exception by Batya Wootten
The Rule: You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. (Exodus 20:16)
The Ephraimite Exception: This is the ninth commandment of our God. His commandments are fundamental to our covenant with Him and we must keep them – EXCEPT! – there must be no more exceptions to this rule. It is time for the “exceptions” and the false accusations to come to an end. It is time for the brethren of Israel to come together in Messiah Yeshua. May it be so in our day.