The Bney Yosef North America Summit took place on March 4-6, 2016 in Tampa, Florida. What is this assembly of people? It is a network of North Americans who have heard the call to join together for the common purpose of the restoration and reconstitution of the people of Northern Israel, also known as the House of Yosef/Ephraim.
The purpose of this Summit was twofold:
*to discuss and affirm a statement of identity and purpose AND
* to get a biblical leadership structure in place, consisting of a Council of Elders to guide and lead BYNA and an Executive Council, to be the administrative arm.
Who is Ephraim? Let me quote from the vision statement, the Articles of Declaration:
The nation of Israel split into two separate kingdoms: Judah to the south and Israel to the north. Judah predominantly continued to walk in God’s statutes and commandments while the Northern Kingdom of Israel, prophetically known as Ephraim or Joseph, fell into a downward spiral of idolatry. God repeatedly warned the Northern Kingdom that continued disobedience would bring expulsion from the land but those warnings went unheeded as Israel refused to repent.
Ultimately Assyria conquered Israel and took its inhabitants into exile where they assimilated into Assyrian culture and accepted their many gods. And so the God of Israel fulfilled His ominous promise found first in Deuteronomy 28-30 and declared again many times in the Prophets. God drove Israel even farther into the nations, giving them up to their idols while simultaneously declaring them to be “not My people”. They became known as the lost sheep of the House of Israel” and were scattered as a mixed multitude to the four corners of the earth.
What is this long expected reunion with Judah?
The reunion of the two kingdoms, the Northern kingdom (known as house of Israel or Ephraim) and the Southern kingdom, (known as Judah) is prophesied in Ezekiel 37, where it is written that the stick of Judah and the stick of Ephraim would become ONE in the hand of the Lord:
Again the word of the Lord came to me, saying, As for you, son of man, take a stick for yourself and write on it: ‘For Judah and for the children of Israel, his companions.’ Then take another stick and write on it, ‘For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel, his companions.’ Then join them one to another for yourself into one stick, and they will become ONE in your hand. And when the children of your people speak to you, saying, ‘Will you not show us what you mean by these?’ Say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD: “Surely I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel, his companions; and I will join them with it, with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they will be ONE in My hand. Ezekiel 37: 15-19
One of the speakers talked about the concept of the two sticks becoming one. What does that really mean? Ezekiel 37:17 states:
Then join them one to another for yourself into one stick, and they will become one in your hand.
The speaker shared about how the word “join” in Hebrew is qarab and it means: to come near, to approach, to enter into, to draw near.
So, the two sticks, Judah and Ephraim, when they JOIN, it means they draw close, they draw near to each other. It does not mean that Judah becomes Ephraim or that Ephraim becomes Judah. They are to “draw near” to each other. It is up to the Father to make them into one nation, in His way and in His time.
Why is this meeting of this Summit significant prophetically?
This gathering of the “children of Joseph”, or the “Ephraimites” is truly about the unfolding and fulfillment of Ezekiel 37, the gathering of the scattered dry bones. The children of Joseph were scattered to all the nations….
….but they LIVE today. Now these “children of Joseph” are coming together, they are gathering, leaders are being raised up by the hand of God and being affirmed by those who are coming under this biblical structure. This is biblical governance arising. This is the skeletal frame of the living army being constructed and built.
The theme of dry bones came up many times throughout the Summit. Daniel Holdings, one of the Masters of Ceremony, repeatedly asked the question of the attendees, “Can these dry bones live?”
Albert McCarn, the Executive Director, opened up the Congress with a keynote speech. In his opening statement, he said: “You are here to witness the birth of a nation. We assemble here today as Abraham’s seed. The dry bones are coming alive again today. We are the returning lost tribes of Israel. We must join with Judah. We are the non-Jewish part of Israel. Israel is incomplete until we are rejoined.”
Below is a short video clip of that speech:
The Dry bones and the skeletal frame of biblical governance
David Altman, Deputy Executive Director, gave a message on “Building Bney Yosef on God’s Model”. He shared some key scriptures to lay a foundation for what biblical governance looks like. He referred to Exodus 18: 21-22:
Seek out from all the people able men, who fear Elohim, men of truth, hating unfair gain. And place these over them to be rulers of thousands, rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens. And they shall rightly rule the people at all times.
He spoke about how these appointed leaders would have relational connection with those they serve and that these relationships are the connective tissue that binds them together.
He also said, “If a keystone of a bridge is strong, then it can hold any weight possible, so all the other stones can fit together. If the Lord is that keystone, then Ephraim can work on building the bridge on their side, and Judah can work on building the bridge on their side, and the God of Israel is the keystone where we will meet in the middle.”
He spoke about the nature and character of the leaders; that they are bond servants.
“A servant heart serves the least, serves the person who can do nothing for you, and is one who lifts up others.”
His closing statement summed it up beautifully:
“May those who look at this organization see the face of God.”
Concerning the biblical governing structure that is being raised up, Elder Barry Phillips had this to say:
“We are an organism, not an organization. It is living, with cellular structure.”
Below is a list of the nominees for leadership; They were unanimously affirmed by all 200 attendees on March 5, the second day of the Summit.
What does it mean that the children of Joseph have begun a journey of biblical governance? Could this be a sign that Mashiach will be coming soon? It is written in Ezekiel 39 that this regathering will happen in the end of days:
Therefore thus said the Master Yahweh, “Now I am going to bring back the captives of Jacob. And I shall have compassion on all the house of Israel, and shall be jealous for my set apart name. And they shall have borne their shame, and all their trespass they committed against Me, when they dwell safely in their own land, with none to make them afraid, when I have brought them back from the peoples and gathered them out of the lands of their enemies. And I shall be set apart in them before the eyes of many nations. And they shall know that I am Yahweh their Elohim who sent them into exile among the nations, and then gathered them back to their own land, and left none of them behind. Ezekiel 39: 25-28
This is prophesy being fulfilled. The scattered dry bones are the whole house of Israel and includes the non-Jewish part of the nation of Israel. The people are being connected and a skeletal frame of biblical governance has emerged.
The rebirth of a nation
Cindy Wyant, one of the Masters of Ceremony, commented: “This baby is full term. We are birthing a nation. There have been 40 weeks since the first Bney Yosef Congress met in May 2015, in Ariel, Israel. Forty weeks is the gestation period of a baby.”
The voice of our older brother, Judah, was also represented at this Congress. We heard from Hanoch Young, of United2Restore.com who had wise insights to share:
“What I am all about is this: mutual respect for the restoration and reconciliation of the whole house of Israel.”
He also shared this: “For a bridge to be successful, it must be able to be walked on in BOTH directions at ALL times.”
The Articles of Declaration states this:
“We will not force Judah or anyone else to accept that we are who we believe ourselves to be. Instead, we will wait patiently on God to do His work. In the interim, we will actively assume the roles of bridge builders, peacemakers, and repairers of the breach; a people who understand why the community at large– the nation to which we belong–is greater than self.”
If the goal is to reunite the house of Joseph with the house of Judah, what about proselytizing?
This is what the Articles of Declaration say concerning proselytizing:
We will stand ready to give an answer for the hope of our calling, willing to share what we believe with anyone who desires to hear; this is our responsibility. Yet we acknowledge there is a difference between giving answers to questions asked and trying to convert another to our way of understanding and practice. Therefore, B’ney Yosef North America cannot and will not support or defend any attempts to evangelize the Jewish people.
Barry Phillips, one of the newly affirmed BYNA elders spoke on “Spiritual Boundaries”.
He had this to say on the topic:
We are not to seek to change Judah. That is not our calling or our purpose. Who we CAN change is ourselves. We are family. We are brothers. Neither side needs to convert to the other in order to cooperate and collaborate with the other.”
The Articles of Declaration is a living document that will be tweaked and edited and may change with time. They were affirmed and ratified unanimously by all 200 attendees at the close of the weekend.
Ken Rank, a key leader with United2Restore had this to say about the Articles just before reading them to the assembly:
“This is an opportunity to think nationally, to think as a nation, and to finally leave “self” at the door.”
He went on to say, “This is a living document. As Ephraimites, we all need to stand up, put our toes on the start line and when God says “go”, we start walking together on this journey.”
On the last day of the Summit, the Articles of Declaration were signed by the Council of Elders and the Executive Council. The signing was done during a quiet and worshipful atmosphere. Tears and quiet weeping could heard throughout the house as the signing of the Articles proceeded. It was a holy moment.
After the signing, Hanoch Young came forward and led us Ephraimites in singing Hatikva, Israel’s National anthem, and there was not a dry eye in the house.
Pictured above: The Council of Elders and Executive Council hold up the signed copies of the Articles of Declaration
Pictured above: Two of the Elders signing the Articles of Declaration
Where will this go next? The desire is to see the Father’s plans become a present day reality in other nations, continents, and regions as He raises them up by His spirit. The vision, hope and prayer is that the children of Joseph may arise wherever they may be found to form governing structures of their own, perhaps resulting in a Bney Yosef Africa, Bney Yosef South Africa, Bney Yosef Asia, etc.
May the children of Joseph who have been scattered to all the nations of the earth arise, begin to assemble and gather, and form a Bney Yosef organization to represent their continent, nation and region.
Batya Wooten had this to say as the weekend closed:
“This is a high and a holy moment. Remember this is the Father’s heartbeat. It is the Father’s heartbeat to reunite his people. Be humble. Don’t try to own it. Just sit on things. Sometimes you may have to sit on things and wait while they are being worked out.
Let the Father move. The Father will have His way. He WILL unite His house.
May the shaking and the rattling of the bones be heard around the globe. May these dry bones continue to gather and assemble to make a great and mighty living army!