THE FORGOTTEN “N” WORD IN THE BIBLE

By William Dwight McKissic, Sr.

The NFL is currently discussing penalizing players who use the “N” word during a game. Two White NFL players, Riley Cooper and Incognito, have been recorded using the “N” word as a slur directed toward African American males. Black NFL players reportedly commonly use the term during games in a myriad of context, some affirmative and some pejorative. Recently, an Anglo female student at the high school in Texas where my daughter teaches—at a school-wide sanctioned event, across a microphone—made reference to all the “high yellow ‘N’s,’” in the audience. The mixed-race audience, predominately Black, screamed with laughter and approval at her remark.

The word “Christian” was originated by non-Christians, and used initially as a term of derision. However, Christians adopted the term and transformed it into a term of identification with our Lord, and as a testimony.

The “N” word had a similar transformative history. This word was originally used by White persons as a term of derision and disrespect toward Blacks. Blacks adopted the term and transformed it into a term of endearment; a term of respect; and a term of brotherhood. One of the highest compliments one Black Male can give to another Black Male is to call him a “Big N.”  The “N” word was and is also used toward Blacks as a term of derision and disrespect. Context determines meaning. It is seldom, if ever, misunderstood when talking Black to Black. But, until recently, it was always a closeted term, never used in mixed company.

The hip-hop rap generation over the past 20-25 years have radically, and perhaps, irreversibly, changed the use of the “N” word, from private use to public use. They started using the term on public air waves 25 or so years ago.  They sold records by the millions; yes, to White persons as well, where the “N” word was used prominently. The lyrics of their songs, including and featuring the “N” word were printed in the record label jackets. This, in a sense, gave permission to Whites and others to use the term. How could Whites attend the same rap concert; listen to the same rap lyrics; buy the same rap music; read the same rap lyrics; and not be allowed to say, read, sing, etc., the same “N” word? It is unfortunate that the church has not had this kind of inter-racial and inter-cultural impact on the fusion of Black and White culture as the rappers have had.

The public use and cross racial use of the “N” word has caused a generational divide in the Black community. Ray Lewis disapproves of Incognito’s use of the “N” word. I attended and spoke at a Men’s conference in Maryland last year where Lewis said, that would not have been tolerated in his locker room. Yet, Mike Pouncey, an African-American Center for the Dolphins, approves of Incognito’s use of the “N” word. The difference between how Ray Lewis and Mike Pouncey, both African Americans, view this differently has everything to do with their ages—about a 15-year difference.

I am 57 years old. There were two times you were expected to physically fight when I was a boy. (1) If someone talked about your mother. It was called for some reason—“playing the dozens.” If that took place, a fight was on. (2) If a White person called you the “N” word. If you didn’t fight in those two instances, you lost any and all respect among your peers. You may have even lost your parents respect, if you didn’t fight in this scenario. Most parents did not approve of fighting for “playing the dozen,” but, they were quietly supportive or understanding if you fought a White person for calling you the “N” word.

Fast forward to today and we have a generation that’s allowing White persons to call them by some derivative of the “N” word, or the “N” word itself. This is quite disgusting.

The changing use and acceptance of the “N” word documents the fact that the “N” word has a complex, convoluted, controversial and ever-changing history.

We will discover that because the “N” word has historically been misconstrued and mis-associated with other words that begin with the letter “N,” it has caused us to overlook, under emphasize or downright ignore another “N” word, that’s actually recorded in the Bible—the word “Niger” (Acts 13:1).

The word “Niger” has absolutely no etymological or social relationship to the “N” word that’s commonly used today. Yet, in a Bible study class that I was conducting recently, I discovered that several persons viewed the biblical Acts 13:1 “N” word, as synonymous with the controversial “N” word. They even pronounced it the same.

Therefore, I felt inspired to write this article on the “N” word in the Bible, and to clarify and distinguish between these two unrelated terms. Furthermore, I want to discuss the word “Negro,” a derivative of the word “Niger” and its non-association with the controversial “N” word. The “N” word in the Bible is a positive and affirming word that connects descendants of Africa with prominence, productivity, and a place at the welcome table in the Father’s Kingdom.

The Biblical “N” word Provides, Proof Positive that God loves persons of African Descent and He included us in His plan of redemption. Acts 13:1 reads:

“Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.”

“Simeon who was called Niger” was a prophet, teacher, and leader in the church at Antioch. The church at Antioch was the first Gentile congregation in history. The disciples were first called Christians at Antioch (Acts 11:26). Luke found it necessary to place it in the inerrant, infallible, and eternal word of God that two men of African descent were leaders in the early church. “Lucius of Cyrene” was also mentioned by name and country of origin. Cyrene was located in North Africa. According to David Adamo, Ph.D. in OT, Baylor University, in his book Africa and Africans in the New Testament (P.52), “The city of Cyrene was in the area where Libya is today and was originally populated by black people in history before the advent and the domination of European people.”

“The word Niger occurs only once in the New Testament, namely in Acts 13:1. Adamo argues that Niger is a Latin word, which means ‘black.’ In the New Testament, the words Ethiopia and Niger were used as the equivalent of the Old Testament word Cush. The Hebrew word, Cush, in the Old Testament means black, and in the Septuagint it was translated Ethiopia, and that also means black. Roman literature described swarthy, or dark-skinned people as Niger among the various terms employed. The people in this category are Africans, including the Egyptians, Libyans, Moors, some Indians and certain persons of mixed parentage with black and white. In Latin, the adjective most frequently used for the Ethiopians who are of black skinned is Niger as equivalence of Ethiopia,” according to Adamo (p. 32) .

“The legendary Ethiopian king called Memnon (600 BCE) who fought in the Trojan War of Troy was referred to sometimes as Memnon aethiops, and other times as Memnon Niger” (Adamo, p. 33).

“In the New Testament, the Greek word Niger was transliterated “Niger” respectively by The King James Version. The Revised Standard Version, The American Standard Version, the New International, and Jerusalem Bible Versions also translated it “Niger.” The Good News Bible, The New American Standard Version, The Living Bible and the New Living Translation, translated it “the black person.” This is highly commendable” (Adamo, p. 33).

According to J.A. Rogers, a distinguished Black scholar, the term “Negro” is a derivative of the word “Niger,” and simply means “black.” Rogers further maintains that contrary to popular scholarly opinion, the word Niger was not originally a Latin or European term, but an African term originating from a native African language. There is a Niger River in Africa and countries called Niger and Nigeria. Adewunni Williams, a native Nigerian that I’m acquainted with reports that in his native Nigerian tongue, the word “Inago” is somewhat similar in spelling and sound to the word “Negro,” and is identical in meaning—“Black Man.” According to Rogers, there was nothing inherently negative with reference to Black people within the etymology or original usage of the words “Niger” or “Negro.” The Europeans borrowed these terms from Africans. The terms “Niger,” “Negro,” “Black,” and “African,” are etymologically the same—originating from African language and meaning “Black” or “dark.”

There is absolutely no etymological connection between the African words “Niger” and “Negro” and the English words “niggard” or “nigger.” Unfortunately, these words have been misconstrued and mis-pronounced. The Ethiopians and the Egyptians used the word “Negus” to refer to kings and royalty. The English words “niggard” and “nigger” have absolutely nothing to do with race. These words described a stingy person regardless of their race.

So what is the proper name designation for persons of African descent here in America? In the final analysis, each person must decide for him­self or herself. One must choose the term that is least offensive to his or her sensibilities. There is a context in which I proudly answer to all of these terms (African-American, Black and Negro). Psychologically and emotionally, I am extremely proud of my African descent. Nationally and culturally, I am proud to be an American. The word “Black” etymo­logically and ethnically connects me with the ancient Cushites (Ethiopi­ans), Sumerians (Blackheads) and Hamites (Egyptians), who were the prominent people of ancient history. My complexion is literally “black”, of which I’m also proud.

I also proudly answer to the term “Negro.” Why? Because I under­stand the historicity and etymology of the term. The appellation Negro (Niger) encompasses my African roots and biblical roots (Acts 13:1) and ethnologically links me with dark-skinned persons throughout the globe who do not necessarily trace their roots back to Africa. Finally, if the word Negro was good enough for Dr. WE.B. Du Bois, the first Black to graduate with a Ph.D. in history from Harvard University; and the word Negro was good enough for Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who used the term often and proudly; and if the word Niger or Negro was good enough for the pages of Scripture (Acts 13:1), then the word Negro is good enough for me. Historically and ethnically, I am proud to be a Negro. However, I repeat: There is a context in which I proudly answer to all of these terms. An older Negro preacher in Arkansas was known for saying that Black is an adjective and Negro is a noun; and he would rather be a noun than an adjective.

The biblical “N” word provides positive proof that persons of African descent were committed to the triune God, before Mohammed and Islam had come into existence. The “N” word in history was an English term that originally had absolutely nothing to do with one’s race, but with one’s attitude and disposition—regardless of race. This word was transformed into a racial insult directed toward Black people. It is now time that all people, including, Blacks of all ages, in all context consider the disallowance and non-use of this word. Now that society is integrated in ways that it was not when this word was a popular closeted term, we must accept the fact that there cannot be a word that is off limits to one set of people, but can be used by another and they are all together at the same place. The time has come to have a funeral and bury the English “N” word while maintaining the Biblical “N” word. The pronunciation, spelling and the definition of those two words are different and should not be confused. Our young people should immediately stop affirming the abuse and misuse of the English “N” word.

WHEN SAINTS LIVE IN SODOM

BY WILLIAM DWIGHT MCKISSIC, SR.

How Should Kingdom Citizens Relate to Gay and A New Gay-Friendly America?

“My truth is that I am a gay American,” are the words that Gov. Jim McGreevey spoke as he was resigning from the governorship of New Jersey on August 13, 2004 because circumstances forced him to disclose the fact that he was a homosexual.

“I am an openly, proud gay man,” are the words of Mr. Michael Sam, who was an excellent football player at the University of Missouri this past season and is expected by some to go as high as the 3rd round in the upcoming NFL Draft.

Between the years of Gov. McGreevey’s resignation, and Mr. Sam’s pre-NFL Draft aspirations and “I am…gay” announcement, America has witnessed a major public policy and attitudinal shift in support of homosexuality.

Fifty years ago, James Brown released a song that became a great source of inspiration, pride, and self-esteem for Black Americans—“Say it Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud.” I remember it so well. All the kids in my neighborhood sang it with great joy. It became a rallying cry. Bursting out of obscurity into the National Spotlight recently hails Michael Sam saying it loud, “I am gay and I’m proud.”

Will Michael Sam become the face of the “gay rights” movement that takes us down the road to Sodom and Gomorrah at a record setting pace? Mr. Sam has received words of affirmation from President and Mrs. Obama, Roger Goodell, the NFL Commissioner, and a host of others, simply for announcing to the world that he prefers to engage in sexual activity with another male, rather than a female.

The world that I was born into in 1956 did not officially and affirmatively recognize a “gay” person as a sociological category that merited celebration, congratulations, affirmation, special rights in addition to civil rights, minority status, entitlements, or any of the like. Heretofore, identity and recognition as a human being, American citizen, male or female, a member of a people group, religious affiliation, or your Daddy’s name, was sufficient. Within the past decade, the U.S. military, pulpits, POTUS, SCOTUS, Halls of Congress, popular votes in certain states, the public school systems, and the NFL, have all upheld policies and affirmed same-sex relationships and homosexuality. We are all having to accept the fact that in the New America, there is a new demographic called “Gay American,” that are recognized as a legitimate, official, respected people group by all major American Institutions—including many church leaders and some (mainly liberal) denominations. The social acceptance of homosexuality has occurred in America primarily within the past ten years—from the fall of Gov. McGreevey to the rise of Mr. Michael Sam.

For all practical purposes, the decisions by the above named entities to affirm same-sex relationships and homosexuality have created a third category of human being, commonly known as a “gay American.” It is common for job applications to have an entry blank labeled “Sex: Male____ Female ____.” We now need to add a third option under this entry blank: “Gay ____.” American Society has radically and irreversibly changed as it relates to public policy approval, and public acceptance of homosexuality.

However, there is one major personality and three-dimensional system of government that has not yet signed off on the sociological people group in America—“Gay Americans.” The one major personality who has not signed off on, or endorsed Michael Sam’s admitted sexual proclivities, is the One who created him—God Almighty. The three-dimensional form of government that has not approved of same-sex relationships and homosexuality is The Trinitarian Enterprise. Until God Almighty and The Trinitarian Enterprise change their position on this issue, there is a remnant of us who refuse to change also.

We are commanded to “earnestly contend for the faith that was once delivered to the saints.” God said that His Word is forever settled in Heaven. Therefore, His Word on this subject is not going to change, neither will Kingdom-citizens.

So, how do Kingdom citizens relate to gay and a new gay-friendly America? What are saints to do now that we recognize that we live in Sodom? I’ll tell you what we must do. We must love the homosexual unconditionally, while we preach and practice grace, love, and truth uncompromisingly.

I. First, we must acknowledge that at least three Scriptures indicate, or suggest that homosexual relationships would be widely accepted and approved of before Christ returns. Jesus Himself said:

“26 And as it was in the days of Noah, so it will be also in the days of the Son of Man: 27 They ate, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all.28 Likewise as it was also in the days of Lot: They ate, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they built; 29 but on the day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all. 30 Even so will it be in the day when the Son of Man is revealed.” (Luke 17:26-30)

Jesus makes it clear here that sordid, sinful, sexual behaviors, similar to the type of sexual behaviors that were occurring during the day of Lot in Sodom would also be occurring when He is revealed (Luke 17:30). Incidentally, “sodomy” is a legal term that is commonly used today in courts of law, as a reference to anal sex. For those who argue that Jesus never addressed homosexuality; that is simply untrue. He used the same words that prosecutors, Judges, and lawyers use today to label homosexual activity, “Sodom” (Luke 17:29).

John the Apostle was given a telescopic view of end time events. God removed the panorama that separates the known from the unknown and showed John a spiritual battle taking place just before the seventh trumpet sound saying, “The Kingdoms of this world have become the Kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!” (Revelation 11:15). Just prior to the seventh angel, blowing the seventh trumpet, the sixth angel, blows the sixth trumpet, and among the many things John envisioned before the sounding of the seventh and final trumpet, signifying the end of the world as we know it today: John saw two witnesses dead bodies “lying in the street of the great city which spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt” (Revelation 11:8). The spiritual condition of our great cities of the world when the Lord return can spiritually be labeled as “Sodom” (Revelation 11:8). Today we call “Sodom,” “same-sex marriage” and homosexuality.

John and Paul indicate that the spirit of the Anti-Christ would be unleashed upon the world in the last days (I John 2:18; I Timothy 4:1). Daniel 11:37 tells two interesting, and relevant to this subject matter, characteristics regarding the Anti-Christ:

1. “He shall regard neither the God of his fathers.” In order to embrace same-sex relationships and homosexuality, one has to disregard the God of our fathers. Know that anybody who preaches that homosexuality is acceptable to God is not preaching the God of the Bible. They are disrespecting the God of the Bible and representing the anti-Christ. The notion that gay rights and civil rights are compatible is from the pit of hell. Rev. Bernice King, daughter of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said, deep down in her sanctified soul, she knows that her dad did not die for same-sex marriage rights. Martin Luther King did not sacrifice his life for two football players to get married. The thought of such is a desecration to his legacy.

2. Daniel also reveals that the Anti-Christ would not desire women. A male who does not desire a woman is considered suspect where I came from. I believe that Daniel was telling us that the Anti-Christ would have no desire for women, which may be a subtle way of suggesting that the Anti-Christ would be a homosexual, or certainly unmarried.

According to DL Foster, “The Daniel reference to the sexual nature of the anti-Christ as envisioned by Daniel is telling considering the world’s end time affirmation of homosexual perversion. The word ‘desire’ is drawn from the Hebrew chamad, which points to lust and desire associated with male/female sexuality. Thus, we can make a broad assumption that the anti-Christ will have no sexual desire for women.”

As the saints learn how to live in Sodom, we must take solace in the fact that the Bible accurately predicts that the spirit of Sodom would be prevalent and prominent in the end time. Jesus, John, Paul, and Daniel predicted what we are now seeing.

II. Not only are saints to accept the fact that living in Sodom is an inevitable biblical reality or prophesy coming true, we must also be like the two witnesses in Revelation and speak the truth in love to all who ask about our faith, or our belief in the Judeo-Christian concept of marriage between one man and one woman. I Peter 3:15 suggests that we must be gentle and respectful when giving answers about our faith to outsiders. We must be gracious, gentle, loving and respectful as we address these matters as a part of a now remnant faith community.

III. Finally, the best offense is a good defense. Seattle just proved that in the Super Bowl. Therefore, the remnant faith community needs to strengthen the bonds of our marriages. If people saw healthier and happier hetero-sexual marriages among the saints, it would reinforce the biblical concept of marriage as articulated by Jesus.

“ And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.” (Matthew 19:4-6)

Model a genuine marriage, so that people will reject a counterfeit. Live a morally clean life so that we won’t contribute to the spirit of Sodom that’s overtaking the land. These are a few important things to know and do as Kingdom-citizens learn to live in the new reality of an officially accepted sociological category or people—“gay Americans.”

AN OPEN RESPONSE TO REV. AL SHARPTON’S OP-ED SUPPORTING MICHAEL SAM

BY WILLIAM DWIGHT MCKISSIC, SR.

Fighting for morality is not an easy thing to do. Fighting for the soul of a nation, a people, and a culture that’s historically been rooted in a Judeo-Christian value system, but is rapidly moving at a record breaking speed toward secularism and humanism as its core value system, is also not easy. To stand for truth, righteousness, and the wisdom of God in an age where God’s published thoughts on a subject are rejected even by His preachers, is increasingly becoming a difficult thing to do. We are living in the days that the prophet Isaiah spoke of when he said:

“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness;
Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20)

Martin Luther King, Sr., Martin Luther King, Jr., Adam Clayton Powell, Sr., Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., nine major Black Church denominations, and more importantly, neither God the Father or God the Son would have stood side-by-side with Michael Sam on this issue. Rev. Adam Clayton Powell, Sr. wrote a paper predicting that this day would come—the open embracing of homosexuality in the Black Community—because of Black preachers like you, who compromise biblical truth.

Rev. Sharpton, we have truly arrived when we not only stand for “justice rolling down like water,” but also when we stand for “righteousness as a mighty stream.” In your pseudo attempt to stand for “justice” in the Michael Sam episode, you are trampling over biblical righteousness. Where so-called justice conflicts with righteousness, we must let righteousness triumph over, what would obviously be a misrepresentation and false view of justice. Where there is true justice, it does not conflict with righteousness. And where there is true righteousness, it does not conflict with justice. Righteousness exalts a nation. Same sex relationships destroyed a nation (Genesis 19).

Whereas, you applaud Michael Sam announcing that he is gay, I deplore the fact that you are removing the ancient landmarks that the fathers have set. Shame on you for denouncing biblical truth; Shame on you for not calling sin—sin; Shame on you for telling people what they want to hear, rather than, what thus saith the Lord; Shame on you for being an “ear-scratching prophet.”

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. “(II Timothy 4:3-4)

Rev. Sharpton, to this extent I support Michael Sam and your argument:  I do not believe that Michael Sam should be denied an opportunity to play pro football—if he otherwise qualifies—solely because he is a homosexual. Unless a “morals clause” is going to cover all sexual sin, and disqualify the eligibility of all NFL players who engage in sexual sin, I agree:  Michael Sam should not be disqualified from playing in the NFL solely based on his sexual preferences. The fact that Michael Sam is announcing his sexual preferences and practices before the NFL Draft is admirable in the sense that he is being open, honest, and courageous on this subject. I respect a person who is honest and forthright, even if I disagree with their position and practice.

But just as Rev. Sharpton stands by Michael Sam, Bible-believing Christians and custodians of the American Judeo-Christian cultural heritage must also be prepared to stand by any NFL team owner, coach, player, general manager, etc., who prefers not to have to deal with the distractions associated with an open homosexual player. The potential of having two players on the same team romantically involved with each other; or Michael Sam in romantic pursuit of Emmitt, Cam, Eric, Nate, or Larry against their objections must also be safeguarded by team management.

A straight female basketball coach in my congregation says that trying to coach a team where the players are sexually involved with each other is extremely problematic. I pity the coach who has to manage players treating each other differently on the same team due to sexual interest or involvement.

A Brooklyn Dodgers coach was fired during the Jackie Robinson Era because the Catholic Church was unified to refuse to buy season tickets to support a team where the head coach was openly and unashamedly promiscuous. Look how far we have fallen morally that a player can announce that he is gay, and a Baptist preacher comes to his side to support his gay lifestyle! I support his right to play football, but I do not support his gay lifestyle. I support the teams’ and players’ rights not to want him on their teams.

If I were on a NFL team that drafted an openly gay player, I would literally quit the team. I would be disappointed that team management expects me to share the locker room with someone attracted to the same sex. My rejection and disappointment would be toward the team management who made the decision—not Michael Sam.

Michael Sam is a man that God loves, and so do I. He is a man who has made some unwise choices—so have I. He is a man whose draft stock is falling because of his choices. I’ve also had to pay a price for some unwise choices. I would welcome Michael Sam as a member of my congregation if he confesses faith in Jesus Christ as Lord even while he works through his beliefs and practices of homosexuality. Rev. Sharpton, the lesson to be learned from this for our young people is that if you make unwise choices in life, the hour of accountability or reckoning is inevitable. And you have only yourself to blame for choices that you have made.

All Bible-believing Christians should do like the Catholic Church and simply refuse to buy tickets to a game, or support a team who drafts homosexuals. It’s a team’s right to draft them. It’s a believer’s right to boycott them. If the National and Southern Baptist churches were in unity as they should be on this issue, an NFL Team would think long and hard before making such a decision.

Rev. Sharpton, you may ask, “What about all of the fornicators and adulterous on NFL teams?” You are right: Fornicators and adulterers are equally as wrong. But in the words of the late Dr. E.V. Hill—“at least that’s natural.” We all have sinned. And I say of myself as Paul said of himself, “I am the chief of all sinners.” Yes, every NFL roster is comprised of sinners. Every church and pulpit in America is comprised of sinners. But must we go down the slippery slope and affirm those who engage in unnatural, deviant, and team dis-unifying behavior?

Rev. Sharpton, how can you call supporting homosexuality “justice,” when Dr. King called it a “problem” and one that could be overcome? Rev. Sharpton, please reconsider expending your enormous influence and communication effectiveness toward leading this nation down the path toward Sodom and Gomorrah? For the sake of our children, won’t you reconsider this?

WHERE BLACK HISTORY AND ISRAEL’S HISTORY INTERSECT:

“OH MARY DON’T YOU WEEP”

Celebrating the Commonality of Black American History and Israel’s History

The two most persecuted people-groups in the history of mankind are the Jews and Blacks. This has been a major point of identity and bonding between these two groups. Jewish Americans strongly supported the Civil Rights Movement more so than any other ethnic group. They often marched with Civil Rights Leaders to provide a shield of protection and support.

The most celebrated African-American preacher besides Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., during the Civil-Rights Era was Aretha Franklin’s late father, Rev. C.L. Franklin. Rev. Franklin pastored the New Bethel Baptist Church, Detroit Michigan, from 1946-1979. He was also a co-laborer with Dr. King in the Civil Rights Movement and worked to end discriminatory practices against Black United Auto Workers members in Detroit. Dr. King was the premier Civil Rights leader of that Era. Rev. Franklin was the premier revivalist-evangelist in Black churches. These two men cooperated with each other for the common good of God’s people and the advancement of His Kingdom.

After attending the Baptist World Alliance in London in 1955, Rev. Franklin journeyed to Israel to visit the biblical cities and sites. In 1959 on a return trip from India, Dr. and Mrs. King stopped in Jerusalem, rented a car and took the meandering road down to Jericho, “where the walls came tumbling down.”

Did you know that iconic African American pastors now in the arms of Jesus often traveled to the Old Jerusalem, before taking the journey to the New Jerusalem? Dr. E.V.Hill, Dr. Manuel Scott, Sr., Dr. J.H. Jackson, Drs. Martin Luther King, Sr. and Jr., Dr. J.C. Wade, Dr. A. Edward Davis, Dr. Sandy Ray, C.L. Franklin, and Bishop G.E. Patterson would be listed in that number.

Many of the most prominent Black gospel singers have also toured Israel, including Mahalia Jackson, Clara Ward, James Cleveland, Shirley Caesar and Andre Crouch. They often sang and preached about the geography, the glory, the story and the God of Israel. These preachers and singers are not just satisfied having a spiritual and musical connection with Israel; they also wanted a physical connection. Thus, they made the journey.

It is my belief that Christians, particularly those of us who preach, teach and sing, ought to love Israel and make a pilgrimage to Israel. Just as Muslims love Mecca; and devout ones want to make at least one visit there, Christians ought to more so love Jerusalem. It was the story and Scriptures of the Israelites that God used to provide the salvation and inspiration for our spiritual and physical deliverance.

Think about it:  Jerusalem, Israel is the only city in the world that the Bible indicates that peace and prosperity may be granted to those who love the city of the Great King (Psalm 122:6-9; Matthew 5:35). Jerusalem is the only city on earth that can claim to be the geographical center of the world. Israel is the only nation that can claim to be the fountain of vocal and instrumental music (Ezekiel 5:5, 38:12 and Psalm 87:7).

A popular Negro spiritual of yester years is named, “I Want to Walk in Jerusalem Just like John.” Walking in Jerusalem, just like John, has become a physical and historical reality for many. African-American Christians love Jerusalem spiritually and historically. She has loved us back physically; there is a street in the modern day country of Israel named in honor of Martin Luther King. Those of us who love the Kingdom of God today ought to travel to Israel, so that we can walk in Jerusalem just like John. Where does Black History and Israel’s History intersect? My thesis is Black History and Israel’s History intersect in our songs, sermons, scripture readings, names of our churches, names of our sons and daughters, and the common legacy of slavery. Nothing illustrates this thesis better than a historical and biblical analysis of the African American gospel song, “Oh Mary Don’t You Weep.”

“Oh Mary Don’t You Weep” was one of the most popular gospel songs during the Civil Rights Era. It addressed the hopes, aspirations, fears and courage of the Civil Rights Movement. Dr. King and Rev. Franklin understood the significance of this song to African American people. Dr. King preached a sermon called “The Death of Evil on the Seashore,” that captures the biblical message of the song. His text was Exodus 14:30, “And Israel saw the Egyptians dead upon the seashore.“ The Exodus event was the biblical basis of the song. The historical basis and inspiration for this song was worship event in a Southern church during the slavery era involving an elderly slave woman named Mary. Rev. Franklin preached about the roots and relevance of the song. Rev. Franklin explained why Mary was weeping.

“Oh Mary Don’t You Weep” was first recorded by the Fisk Jubilee Male Quartet in 1915. The original version and various revisions of this song throughout its one hundred plus year’s history, encompasses the themes of dilemma, deliverance, heritage and hope, and comfort and care.

Various versions of “Oh Mary Don’t You Weep” has transcended the African American community and has been recorded by soloist and groups as diverse as Aretha Franklin, Bruce Springsteen, the Swan Silvertones, Peter Seeger, Burl Ives, Inez Andrews, the Caravans and Yolanda Adams.

It was the lead song featured on the bestselling gospel album in history, “Amazing Grace” by Aretha Franklin, recorded in 1972. This song was a guaranteed “house wrecker,” which means it simply went over extremely well with Black congregations and gospel music lovers. It remains a favorite and often requested song among older African Americans. Dr. Wallace Best, a current Princeton Religion Professor, selected this classic as one of the “Ten Best Gospel Songs” in a Huttington Post February 2012 blog.

In a biography entitled Give me This Mountain; Life History and Selected Sermons of Rev. C.L. Franklin, edited by Jeff Todd Titon, Aretha’s father provides us with the history of this simple, Scripture based, celebrated, and enduring song. While preaching from the text Psalm 137:1-4 that reveals the reluctance of Israel to sing songs of Zion in a strange land; Rev. Franklin argues the point that it is important for oppressed people to have a song to sing and the benefits thereof. Here is how the song “Oh Mary Don’t You Weep” originated, according to Rev. Franklin:

“The story is told by Dr. Miles Mark Fisher about an old woman, either in the Carolinas or in Georgia, in those days when a great English preacher, the brother of John Wesley, came over to preach. Many of the Negroes wanted to see this great preacher. Frequently they could sit in the church, at least in the balcony, if the balcony was not crowded, if most of the regular members were on the main floor. But on this particular occasion the place was packed, and they stood on the outside, looking through the window, listening at this English preacher preach the gospel. And when the sermon was over and the invitation was extended, one old lady walked in the front door, and walked down the aisle, and took the seat to join the church. Pastor came up and said, “Lady, you can’t join this church.” She said, “But sir, I got ‘eligion. I’ve been converted. I felt the power of God here today while the man preached, and I want to jine the church.” He said, “But you can’t join this church. Go and join some other church, some of your own churches.” And when he insisted that she could not join, she went on down the aisle, mumbling to herself, saying, “I’m going to tell God one of these days how you treat me,” as tears rolled down her cheeks.

“It is said that those who were looking in the window began to sing a song. As the old lady’s name was Mary, they sang: ‘Oh Mary, don’t weep, don’t mourn; Pharaoh’s army got drownded; Mary, don’t weep, and then don’t mourn.’

“Think of the message that is wrapped up in that song. I think that everybody ought to have a song. I think that Israel should have sung down in Babylon.”

Although rejected for church membership and fellowship by a Southern White Pastor during slavery, Mary the slave was comforted, encouraged, and given hope by fellow slaves when they put to melody the story of Exodus 15:4-5:

“Pharaoh’s chariots and his army He has cast into the sea;
His chosen captains also are drowned in the Red Sea.
The depths have covered them;
They sank to the bottom like a stone.”

The Hebrew Scriptures have inspired the songs, sermons, success, salvation, and aspirations of African Americans throughout her sojourn in America. However, the relationship between Africans and the God of Israel did not start in America, but actually can be traced back to the biblical period, as we will examine in the next chapter.

Just as God used the Exodus experience to provide inspiration for physical deliverance, Israel can also inspire deliverance from spiritual bondage. The relationship between Israel and Africa should be strengthened, studied, and celebrated; so that future generations may be inspired, enlightened, and encouraged as previous generations were. The two most persecuted people groups in the history of mankind are the Jews and Blacks. This has been a major point of identity and bonding historically, between the two people groups.

The Bible commands that one generation should praise the Lord’s works to another (Psalm 145:4). The Bible commands that fathers should teach the history of Israel and the wonderful works of God to their children, so that future generations would know God’s acts in history, and “set their hope in God, And not forget the works of God” (Psalm 78:1-7). The Bible commands believers to “Remember the days of old” and what took place in previous generations, so that it might inform our current realities (Deuteronomy 32:7). The Jewish prophet Isaiah informs us that God established Israel and promised to keep her in order to be a “light” to the Gentiles (Isaiah 42:6). Holding the baby Jesus in His arms (Luke 2:28), Simeon declared that He would be “A light to bring revelation to the Gentiles and the glory of your people Israel” (Luke 2:32).

The Divine purpose of the nation of Israel is to be a “light” to the Gentiles. The purpose of the Incarnation of Christ was to be a “light to bring revelation to the Gentiles.” John said that Jesus was the “true Light which gives light to every man that come into the world” (John 1:9). Jesus came to bring us light and life.

This elderly slave woman named Mary needed light and life in her dejected, downtrodden and discouraging situation. Where did she find that light? Her fellow slaves sang to her to look to Israel for that light.

If ever there was a time in the history of America and Black America that we need a light, it is right now. Mary was weeping not only because of her condition, but the condition of her people.

We ought to be weeping today over the destruction of the family. We ought to be weeping over the divorce rate. We ought to be weeping over the teen-age pregnancy rate. We ought to be weeping over criminal acts, violent senseless acts, and the incarceration rates of our people. We ought to be weeping over the gang and gun violence racking our inner cities. We ought to be weeping over the school shootings in the suburbs. We ought to be weeping over Black on Black crime as well; not just when a White man kills a Black man. We ought to be weeping over the senseless acts of violence and death in Chicago, Dallas, Detroit and Little Rock. We ought to be weeping over the high dropout rates in our high schools. We ought to be weeping over the drug and alcohol addiction and abuse that affect many of our families. We ought to be weeping over the hundreds of people lined up in the streets to legally buy recreational marijuana in Colorado. We ought to be weeping over the proliferation of strip clubs, pornography addictions, adultery, fornication, child abuse, and homosexuality that’s sweeping the land. We ought to be weeping over the approval of same-sex marriage in the United States. Modern Israel remains steadfast opposed to it. We need to ask ourselves, why is it that modern Israel is not experiencing gang violence and school shootings? We ought to be weeping over the high unemployment among our people. We ought to be weeping over the hopelessness, despair, discouragement and depression that have many of our people in a vice-grip. We ought to be weeping over motherless and fatherless children. We ought to weep over the spiritual condition of our nation.

However, because of the God of Israel, we still have hope; the same hope the slaves found effective and fruitful. “Mary, Don’t You Weep” because we serve a God that drowned Pharaoh’s army. We serve a God who gives light in the midst of darkness. We serve a God who leads us in the path of righteousness for His Name sake. We serve a mighty God who is able to keep us from falling and to present us faultless before His glory with exceeding great joy. God has given us the “light” of Israel and the light of Christ to guide us out of the current darkness we face.

C.L. Franklin is right: “Everybody ought to have a song.” Our problem may be that we are simply without a song. Don’t under estimate the power of a song. The Bible commands us “to be not drunk with wine, but be filled with the Holy Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spirituals songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:18,19). A song can be a sermon put to music (Colossians 3:16). The Book of Psalms was used as a hymnbook in Solomon’s Temple.

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.” (Colossians 3:16)

This generation and future generations need to understand what God has done in previous generations to deliver His people from darkness and bring them into the light. We need to take the word of God and put it to song again.

God gave Moses a song when He delivered His people from Pharaoh’s army. It is recorded in Exodus 15. He gave Miriam and the women a dance. Whenever God sends deliverance, it’s time to dance. God gave the slaves a song, when essentially, that’s all they had. There was a time when Black people put sermons to song.

When faced with the brutal realities of slavery, and the seemingly, insurmountable, impossibility of freedom and deliverance; they sang, a sermon in a song:

“Go Down Moses, Way down in Egypt Land and Tell Old Pharaoh, to let my people go.”

They sang about the mysteries and majesty of Christ in the midst of a miserable, demeaning, and maniacal situation. They sang:

“Ezekiel saw the wheel
Way up in the middle of the air
Ezekiel saw the wheel
Way up in the middle of the air
And the little wheel run by faith
And the big wheel run by the grace of God
A wheel in a wheel
Way up in the middle of the air”

The old preacher would then say, “Jesus is a Wheel, in the middle of the wheel”! They sang a sermon in a song.

They sang, “Oh Mary Don’t You Weep.” They later added another line, “Tell Martha not to moan.” Why? “Because Pharaoh’s army got drowned in the Red Sea, Oh Mary Don’t You Weep, Tell Martha,  not to moan.” They sang a sermon in a song.

They sang the songs of Zion (Israel) in a foreign land. They sang the “Samson” story in “Witness for my Lord.” They sang the drama and the deliverance in “Daniel in the Lion’s Den,” “Hebrew Children in the Fiery Furnace,” and “David and Goliath.” They sang, “Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel.” They sang the victory when they sang: “Walk in Jerusalem Just Like John.” They sang “Joshua Fought the Battle At Jericho.” They sang “We are Climbing Jacob’s Ladder.” They sang “Twelve Gates to the City.” They sang about the “New Jerusalem.” They sang a sermon in a song.

First Baptist Church Charleston, SC, a predominately White church, was the first large prominent Baptist Church in the South during the days of slavery. They were of a high church tradition—what we call a “silk stocking” church. They sang hymns. The hymn, “All Hail the Power of Jesus,” was written in 1779 during the days of slavery. No doubt the slaves at First Baptist who worshipped in the back pews (section where slaves sat) sang this great Hymn that was born in that Era. I visited this church facility a few years ago and saw where the slaves sat. This song not only exalts Jesus, but also the Israel that produced Jesus. The slaves and the slave masters sang together:

“All hail the power of Jesus’ name! Let angels prostrate fall; bring forth the royal diadem, and crown Him Lord of all. Bring forth the royal diadem, and crown Him Lord of all.

Ye chosen seed of Israel’s race, ye ransomed from the Fall, hail Him who saves you by His grace, and crown Him Lord of all. Hail Him who saves you by His grace, and crown Him Lord of all.

Let every kindred, every tribe on this terrestrial ball, to Him all majesty ascribe, and crown Him Lord of all. To Him all majesty ascribe, and crown Him Lord of all. ”

The Christian slaves understood that they were grafted into the family of Abraham and they made Israel’s story, their story. How did the slaves endure, overcome, and find hope while being in physical bondage for over 200 years? I’ll tell you how!!! They learned the story of Israel having been delivered from Egyptian slavery. They heard sermons based on the story. They originated songs based on the story. The most succinct, simplest, inspiring and empowering song sang by the slaves that provided hope, encouragement, and care, in the midst of despair was the song-”Oh, Mary Don’t You Weep.” But they also sang based on the story of Israel: “Deep River,” “Didn’t It Rain Children,” “Twelve Gates to the City…”

We are no longer in the bondage of physical slavery, but we are in slavery to debt, drugs, family feuding, fatherlessness, and spiritual bondage. May the Lord continue to bless His people with a song!

There are three things that we should remember that can deliver us from our dilemmas:

  1. God gave us the Scriptures that He gave to Israel. God promised us that if we would read, study and apply the Scriptures to our lives, we would be successful (Joshua 1:8).
  2. God gives us songs inspired by His land and people, Israel. Speaking of Israel and her ability to inspire singing, the Psalmist wrote, “Both the singers and the players on instruments say, All my springs are in you.” Israel is the home, the foundation and “springs” of all true Kingdom-centered God-glorifying instrumental and vocal music (Psalm 87:7). God wants you to sing to Him a song everyday throughout the years. He said the origin of that song would “spring” from Israel.
  3. God gave us a Savior who was born in Bethlehem (Israel), hid in Egypt (Africa), raised in Nazareth, baptized in the Jordan, tempted in the wilderness, performed miracles along the roadside, raised Lazarus from the dead at Bethany, walked on the water in Galilee, brought salvation to Zaccheus house in Jericho, prayed all night long in Gethsemane, was crucified on Calvary, raised from the dead in Jerusalem, and will one day return to the Mount of Olives.

You ought to sing about Him. You ought to shout His praises. You ought to say “Blessed is He who has come in the name of the Lord.” You ought to sing “Oh Mary Don’t You Weep, Oh Mary Don’t You Weep, Pharaoh’s army got drowned in the sea. Oh Mary don’t you weep, tell Martha not to moan.”

You ought to go to Jerusalem and see the place where they crucified Him, because, “Surely He Died on Calvary.” You ought to go to Jerusalem and see the garden where He prayed. Then sing, “I Come to the Garden Alone.”  You ought to stand in the dungeon where they kept Him all night long before they crucified Him, and then sing “Were You There?”! You ought to sit in the Upper Room in Jerusalem and sing with Mahalia Jackson, “In the Upper Room.” A trip to Israel will physically connect us to what we are already spiritually connected to.

Notes:

  1. Later versions of the song inter-mix Mary and Martha, sisters of Lazarus into the song, without noting the distinctions within the song between Mary the African slave and Mary the sister of Lazarus. When it’s understood that Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus, are added to embellish the deliverance—dilemma motif, then this song is not theologically problematic.
  2. Some have criticized and others have rejected this song, because of the seeming inaccurate participation of Mary the sister of Lazarus into the Exodus story. If the historicity of the song is properly understood, then it does not pose any doctrinal accurate questions.
  3. Dr. Martin Luther King did not reference this song in his sermon, “The Death of Evil on the Seashore.” I made mention of his sermon because it documents the popularity of the Exodus event in the Black Christian community. Secondly, the song was at its zenith of popularity during Dr. King’s lifetime. Therefore, it was inevitable that he was familiar with it.

GOD’S VISION FOR HIS KINGDOM

Revisiting the Meaning of The Gospel of The Kingdom

God established the gospel in order to establish families, in order to establish His Kingdom in every nation. The purpose of the family is to pass down a godly heritage. The family is God’s evangelism plan and small group discipleship program. The Church’s job is to disciple families so that they can continue the process at home.

God’s business is His Kingdom, and the Kingdom business is the family enterprise. God wants to bless the families of the earth. If families are not blessed, the land is cursed (Malachi 4:4-6). If the land is cursed, the Kingdom will not be enlarged. Therefore, God wants to bless families in order to advance His Kingdom. The Trinitarian enterprise represents a Kingdom Family on a forward advance. God had only one Son, and He made Him a preacher; and the only message that God gave to His Son was the gospel of the Kingdom. The Son was anointed by God’s Spirit. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit function as a family.

The theme of Jesus’ preaching was the Kingdom of God. Jesus told the crowd at Galilee, “I must preach the Kingdom of God to the other cities also, because for this purpose I have been sent” (Luke 4:43). Mark reported, “Now after John was put in prison, Jesus came to Galilee preaching the gospel of the Kingdom of God” (Mark 1:14). It is of utmost important that we understand that Jesus didn’t just preach the gospel, He preached “the gospel of the Kingdom of God. A condition that Jesus said must be met before He returned would be that the whole church would have to preach the whole gospel to the whole world.

“And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” (Matthew 24:14)

I do not believe that we have any need to fear Jesus’ coming back being imminent or immediate because the church has not yet preached the gospel of the Kingdom to all nations. Christ is not going to come back until the church gets the gospel straight. The truth of the matter is we have not begun to preach the gospel of the Kingdom in America yet, let alone around the world. Jesus will not return until we get the gospel straight and preach it straight. We preach the gospel of Salvation; rarely do we preach the gospel of the Kingdom.

The Apostle Paul taught that the gospel is not a doctrine we believe, but a revelation we receive.

11 But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man.12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.” (Galatians 1:11-12)

Paul told the church at Corinth, “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received “(I Cor. 15:3a). The only gospel that we are authorized to preach is the gospel that we have received “through the revelation of Jesus Christ.” We must preach the same gospel that Jesus preached. Paul testified to the Galatians,

But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:8-9)

The Apostle Paul taught that the gospel is a revelation from God, not a construct of man.

We need not wrestle or struggle with the meaning of the “gospel of the Kingdom,” because according to Paul, God Himself preached the gospel to Abraham.

“And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand, saying, “In you all the nations shall be blessed.” (Galatians 3:8)

Wow! That’s an eye-opener for me. God preached the gospel to Abraham. If we are to understand and rightly proclaim the gospel, we must understand and proclaim the gospel that God preached to Abraham. One thing is for certain:  If Jesus and God preached the gospel before the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Mark 1:14-15; Galatians 3:8), then although the gospel does inevitably include the message of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, and the implications thereof (I Corinthians 15:3), the gospel is not limited to those facts, because that is not the entire “revelation.” We must understand and proclaim the “revelation” if we are to understand the gospel. And if we are to understand the revelation, we must understand the gospel of the Kingdom that Jesus preached and the gospel that God preached to Abraham. They are the same gospel, and the same gospel that Paul preached. Yet, it is a gospel that is not commonly preached today. So what is the gospel that God preached to Abraham?

I. The Gospel that God Preached to Abraham was the Gospel of the Kingdom

Paul summed up the gospel that God preached to Abraham in eight words:  “In you all the nations shall be blessed” (Galatians 3:8b). God told Abraham, “And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3c). God Himself preached the gospel to Abraham in order to produce a Kingdom family of nations (Galatians 3:6-8; Genesis 12:1-3):

“Now the Lord had said to Abram: “Get out of your country,
From your family And from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you.
I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great;
And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you,
And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

(Genesis 12:1-3)

Whatever else the gospel includes, it cannot exclude “family,” “nations” and “blessings.” The gospel that God preached to Abraham is simply:  The good news that God the King is calling His Kingdom family, to proclaim Kingdom blessings, to the nations’ families. The Kingdom blessing is the gift of God’s Son, crucified, resurrected, reigning and ruling, giving abundant life and eternal life to all who receive and believe.

Heaven is a by-product of the gospel that God preached to Abraham. The blessing was to benefit families on earth, so that they could in turn be a blessing to others (Genesis 12:2). The Kingdom enterprise is the family-blessing business. When God preached the gospel to Abraham, He promised five blessings:

Genesis 12:2b:  “I will bless you.”

Genesis 12:2c:  “And you shall be a blessing.”

Genesis 12:3a:  “I will bless those who bless you.”

Genesis 12:3b:  “And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

The Hebrew word for bless is “Barak.” It means to benefit you abundantly. The Hebrew word for blessing in Genesis 12:2c means, “prosperity, blessing, liberal, pool, present.”

The gospel that God preached to Abraham was a promise to bless the families to Abraham was a promise to bless the families of the earth who responded in faith and obedience to His gospel. Abundant life now, not just eternal life in the sweet bye and bye, was the gospel that God preached to Abraham.

Absolutely essential to Kingdom advancement is family advancement. So goes the family…So goes the Kingdom. God has called His church to the family-blessing business. Families are blessed when families are walking in the abundant life and have received eternal life. God created the Hebrew people and the nation of Israel in order to bless the families of the earth. That’s why it is so vitally important that we fight for the preservation and development of our families.

II. The Gospel that Jesus Preached and Modeled Was the Gospel of the Kingdom

The first recorded Word from the lips of Jesus was a word to His family about priorities. Jesus said to His mother and father after He’d been missing for three days:

“And He said to them, “Why did you seek Me? Did you not know that I must be about My Father’s business?” (Luke 2:49)

“I must be about my Father’s business” reminds us that God is King, and His Kingdom rules over all the earth; and His Kingdom business is a family enterprise. The business of the Father is to build and bless the family. After Jesus spoke these words, Luke records:

“Then He went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was subject to them, but His mother kept all these things in her heart. (Luke 2:51)

Jesus modeled the Kingdom family concept by functioning in submission to His parents and to His Father.

The book ends of the Old and New Testaments make it clear that at the center of God’s agenda is the family. The genealogies that are scattered throughout the Old and New Testaments indicate the family roots, shoots, and relationships are vitally important to God.

In Genesis 1, we read about the creation of the family (Genesis 1:26-28; 2:18-25). In Malachi 4:5-6, we read about the significance and centrality of fathers to family life. In Matthew 1 we read about the family tree of Jesus. In Revelation 1:6, 9, we read about Christ’s Kingdom family. In Revelation 22:16, 20 among the last recorded words of Jesus, He expresses His family lineage to King David and the promise of His return for His family—the families of the earth who have received Him (Revelation 5:9; 7:9). Jesus took the time to entrust the care of His mother to John before He cried out, “It is Finished” (John 19:25, 27, 30). Jesus declared that family is defined by faith connections more so than physical or blood connections (Mark 3:31-34). The book ends of the Bible addresses the family, because families are the object of the gospel.

If God wanted something other than a family, He would have commanded us to call Him something other than a “Father” (Matthew 6:9-11). God relates to His people based on a Father-family concept, constructor model. Jesus makes it clear that in order to become a part of God’s family, one must be born-again into God’s Kingdom (John 3:3, 5). In a way that my head can’t explain it, but my heart believes it, “the blessing of Abraham…comes upon Gentiles in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:14). Abraham becomes the father of us all when we submit to God’s Son, Jesus Christ, by the conviction and conversion of God’s Spirit. The Gentile who is a born-again believer can also claim Abraham as his father (Romans 4:1, 16-18). God has us to call Him Father; He also has us to call Abraham father, for one simple reason:  God wants a family. Yet, Jesus said, “Before Abraham was, I Am.”

Satan works overtime in an effort to destroy the family. Satan recognizes that if he can destroy the family, he literally can destroy the Kingdom of God. Why do you think that Satan is unleashing a confused definition of the family on earth at this hour?

God did not preserve pre-flood nations or select individuals; He only preserved one family—Noah’s. And the one family consisted of four couples. Why did God preserve families as opposed to select individuals? He preserved the family because families are extremely important to the Kingdom enterprise and the spreading of the gospel. God has sovereignly chosen to construct His Kingdom in the concept of family. Satan has chosen to construct his kingdom on the concept of destroying the family. At the heart of the gospel is “fathers,” “family” “nations” and “blessings” (Genesis 12:3). The gospel that Jesus preached was about the Father and “fathers,” “family,” “nations” and “blessings.”

III. The Apostle Paul Preached and Modeled the Gospel of the Kingdom

21 And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, 22 strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, ‘We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God.’” (Acts 14:21-22)

“And he went into the synagogue and spoke boldly for three months, reasoning and persuading concerning the things of the kingdom of God. (Acts 19:8)

“And indeed, now I know that you all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, will see my face no more.” (Acts 20:25)

“So when they had appointed him a day, many came to him at his lodging, to whom he explained and solemnly testified of the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets, from morning till evening.” (Acts 28:23)

30 Then Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who came to him, 31 preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him.” (Acts 28:30-31)

“So they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all who were in his house.” (Acts 16:31-32)

“Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mine.” (Romans 16:13)

God’s vision for His Kingdom is simply that every person in every nation would belong to a kingdom family.

“In you all the nations shall be blessed” (Galatians 3:8b).

“In you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3c).

31 Then His brothers and His mother came, and standing outside they sent to Him, calling Him. 32 And a multitude was sitting around Him; and they said to Him, “Look, Your mother and Your brothers are outside seeking You.”

“33 But He answered them, saying, “Who is My mother, or My brothers?” 34 And He looked around in a circle at those who sat about Him, and said, “Here are My mother and My brothers! 35 For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother.” (Mark 3:31-35)

The gospel of the Kingdom is the good news that God, The King, is calling His Kingdom family to proclaim Kingdom blessings, to the nations’ families. The Kingdom blessing is the gift of God’s Son, crucified, resurrected, reigning, and ruling in our family affairs. The disciples preached—“there is another King—Jesus” (Acts 17:7).

The gospel of the Kingdom focuses on the present reality, rule, reign, and realm of authority of Christ, particularly in the family—not just the hereafter or future hope and rule of Christ. Jesus told His disciples, “And as you go, preach, saying, The Kingdom of Heaven is at hand” (Matthew 10:7), Go and preach the Kingdom of God. God preached and modeled Kingdom family life. Jesus preached and modeled Kingdom family life. Paul preached and modeled Kingdom family life. What are you preaching and modeling? God’s business is His Kingdom, and the Kingdom business is family enterprise.

The gospel is the good news that the families of the earth can enter into God’s Kingdom through the blessing of God’s Son, and receive abundant life and eternal life, now, by the power of God’s Spirit.

THE WONDER OF ISRAEL AND HER RELATIONSHIP TO AFRICA

THE AFRICAN-ISRAELI CONNECTION

“Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only does wondrous things.” (Psalm 72:18)

“To Him who alone does great wonders, For His mercy endures forever;” (Psalm 136:4)

“Princes shall come out of Egypt; Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God.” (Psalm 68:31)

“From beyond the rivers of Ethiopia My worshipers, The daughter of My dispersed ones, Shall bring My offering.” (Zephaniah 3:10)

Israel is a wonder of God’s creation. Jerusalem is the only city, and Israel is the only country that God said He created for the sake of His Name. Jerusalem is called “the city of our God,” “the joy of the whole earth,” and “the city of the great king” (Psalm 48:1-2). Israel is the place God sovereignly chose to house His Scripture, His Synagogue, His Son, and the first congregation of His saints. Jerusalem is the place where God’s Spirit first manifests Himself on planet earth. God called Israel “the glory of all lands” (Ezekiel 20:6, 15). The spiritual and physical appeal of the land of Israel makes it glorious. The name of God is associated with Israel more so than any other land or nation on the face of the earth.

Jerusalem is the capitol city of Israel and the central city of the whole earth (Ezekiel 5:5). There is no city on the face of the earth more precious to citizens of the Kingdom of God than Jerusalem.

The Psalmist valued Jerusalem above his skill, occupation, and life. He said:

If I forget you, O Jerusalem,
Let my right hand forget its skill!
If I do not remember you,
Let my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth—
If I do not exalt Jerusalem
Above my chief joy.” (Psalm 137:5-6, NKJV)

Daniel even prayed facing Jerusalem:

“And in his upper room, with his windows open toward Jerusalem, he knelt down on his knees three times that day, and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as was his custom since early days.” (Daniel 6:10b)

Why was Jerusalem so precious and prominent to Daniel and David? Because it was the place where God chose to dwell, it is the place where God chose to meet His people. The ancient Hebrews considered Jerusalem the throne room of God, the place where God rested.

13 For the Lord has chosen Zion;
He has desired it for His dwelling place:
14 “This is My resting place forever;
Here I will dwell, for I have desired it.” (Psalm 132:13, 14)

The Jews in Babylonian exile mourned the isolation from Jerusalem (Psalm 137:1-4). Three times a year all Hebrew males were expected to “appear before the Lord your God in the place where the Lord chooses” (Deuteronomy 16:16). The place that the Lord chose was Jerusalem:  “For the Lord has chosen Zion; He has desired it for His dwelling place.” This is why Jerusalem and Israel was and is a special place for the people of God.

Israel is the only place on the face of the earth where documented miracles occurred for many, many years of various and sundry kind. May I say one more time: Israel is a wonder of God’s creation? God planted Israel in the center of the world to be a witness to His kingdom to all nations.

In the sovereignty of God He afforded the blessing to be a neighbor to Israel to the continent of Africa. God planted Africa as a neighbor to Israel in order for Africa to be a witness and participant in her story, and to worship His glory. Israel’s story is about Christ and His Kingdom. Africa’s story was to “Go tell it on the mountains, over the fields and everywhere, go tell it on the mountains, that Jesus Christ is born.”

Although born in Bethlehem, Jesus was hid in Africa (Egypt), because of her proximity to Israel. What A blessing to have the honor of hosting the Savior, who is now seated at the right hand of the Father, preparing to host men of “every kindred, tongue, tribe and nation” (Revelation 5:8-9; 7:9)!

The purpose of the following chapters is to highlight the relationship between Israel and Africa in the Bible and to point out the significance and relevance of understanding their shared stories. My thesis is:  God sovereignly connected Israel and Africa and their descendants from the beginning of time for their mutual benefit and His praise. Israel shared geographic, geological, historical, physical, and spiritual connectedness with Africa and Africans that was providentially arranged and orchestrated.

The magnitude, depth, and uniqueness of this relationship have not been given the attention that it deserves in the Academy, or in pulpits. There are various reasons why the relationship between Israel and Africa has been ignored, and why the presence and contributions of Africa and Africans in the Bible has largely been ignored in the Academy. However, it is high time that we highlight the meaningful and significant relationships between these two biblical people groups.

The Kingdom of God is on a forceful advance on the African Continent. Among the distribution of the world’s Christian population, the ten countries with the largest number of Christians include three African Countries: Nigeria, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ethiopia. Approximately one in every four Christians lives in Sub-Saharan Africa (24%). Perhaps we are seeing the fulfillment of the Davidic prophecy: “Ethiopia will quickly stretch out her hands to God.” (Psalm 68:31b).

Ethiopia is mentioned significantly in the Bible and is geographically located only 1557 miles from Israel. The distance from Dallas, TX, to New York, NY, is 1546 miles. Ethiopia is a strong Christian nation today, in part, because of her proximity to Israel. The roots of the biblical faith of Ethiopians can be traced back to Bible days. The word “Rome” and its derivations are mentioned only twenty times in the Bible and not once in the Old Testament. The word “Greece” and its derivations are mentioned only twenty-six times in the Bible and four times in the Old Testament. Ethiopia is mentioned over fifty times, and there are more than one thousand references to Hamitic cities, countries, or people in Scripture. Historically, Africa has been referred to as the Land of Ham.

Dr. J. Daniel Hays laments and documents the fact that the presence and significant contributions of Africans in the Bible has been largely ignored. Dr. Hays is Chair of the Department of Biblical Studies and Theology at Ouachita Baptist University, Arkansas. He also happens to be an Anglo American. The name of his book is From Every People and Nation, A Biblical Theology of Race, published by Intervarsity Press. Dr. Hays speaks persuasively, powerfully, prophetically and from the perspective of a professor, as he addresses the issue of race and the Bible. Allow me to quote him liberally in support of my thesis:

“…clear portrayals of Black Africans in the Bible are all but ignored. This marginalization of Black African presence is perpetrated, consciously or subconsciously, not only by the popularizers of Christianity, but also by serious scholars. ‘Cultural pre-understanding’ apparently influences many of us in the academic guild even though we often piously claim to be historically objective. (Hays, Page 26)

“A good example of this subtle—and probably subconscious—bias can be found in scholarly discussions about the people of the biblical world. For example, the kingdom of Cush, discussed below was a Black African kingdom along the Nile River just south of Egypt. The terms Cush or Cushite appear 54 times in the Hebrew text of the Old Testament, indicating that the Cushites, an African people, played a fairly significant role in the Old Testament story.” (Hays, Page 26)

“Many European and American scholars of the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries were blatantly racist. This is particularly true concerning early European Egyptologists, who attempted to appropriate Egyptian culture as ‘Western’ and to distance the Egyptian cultural advances as far as possible from any African connections…” (Hays, Page 26)

“Therefore the perception conveyed to the Church, both through the popular media and through serious scholarly work, is that there was a significant Caucasian involvement in the biblical story but no Black African involvement. This perception is erroneous, and it has fostered disastrous theology within today’s White Church that has contributed to the continued, almost total division of the North American Church into Black and White.” (Hays, Page 27)

Dr. Hays argues that translating the Hebrew word “kus” by three different terms—Ethiopia, Cush, and Nubia, it minimizes the significance that the Cushites play in the Scriptures:

“Likewise the use of several different English terms to translate the one Hebrew term “kus” tends to diffuse the significance that the Cushites play in the Scriptures. This phenomenon may also reflect an attitude of indifference on the part of the White translation editors toward the significance of this term.

“Of course the terminology is not the critical issue. What is critical is to recognize that these different terms refer to the same continuous civilization: a civilization that stood as one of the major powers in the Ancient Near East for over 2,000 years; a civilization that appears again and again in the biblical text.

“The Cushites are particularly important to this study because they were clearly Black African people with classic ‘Negroid’ features.” (Hays, Page 36)

Dr. Hay’s insight documents that Ethiopians were prominent in the biblical era:

“The Cushite warriors are not merely dark-skinned or tanned; they are clearly black.” (Hays, Page 37)

Hays also noted that:

“…most books on Egyptian art reveal portrayals of people, usually Cushites, who have very black skin color…a good picture of a sculptured granite sphinx with the head of Taharqa, the Cushite king who ruled Egypt as Pharaoh during the Twenty-fifth Dynasty. Taharqa is not depicted in the same art style as Egyptian pharaohs, for his features are Negroid—thick lips, broad nose, and tight curly hair…” (Hays, Page 37)

“The colour of the Cushites’ skin even became proverbial: in Jerusalem Jeremiah wrote, ‘Can the Cushite change his skin?’ (Jer. 13:23). The Greeks and Romans used a similar proverb: `to wash an Ethiopian white’ became a common expression used to convey the futility of trying to change nature…” (Hays, Page 39)

Dr. Hays does not make the Egyptians White as some scholars have done, nor does he make them pure Black as others have done. He suggests that they were African and Asiatic:

“However, a fairly strong consensus is emerging among scholars today that the early Egyptians were probably a mixture of both Black African elements and Asiatic elements… (Hays, Page 40)

“The people in the Old Testament reflected a wide range of ethnic diversity. However, contrary to popular perceptions, few of these characters, if any, looked like modern northern Europeans or mid-western Americans…”

“…Also playing a role in the Old Testament are the Cushites (Black Africans), the Egyptians (probably a mix of Asiatic and Black Africans), and the Indo-Europeans (Philistines and Hittites). Thus the Old Testament world was completely multi-ethnic.” (Hays, Page 45)

Israeli and African roots and relationships run all the way back to Genesis and the history of these two people-groups often intertwines.

Geographically, the continent of Africa and the nation of Israel share a common border—the Gaza Strip (Acts 8:26-27). Gaza was the last settlement before the desert wasteland stretching to Egypt. This was the road most travelers took to Africa.

Geologically, Israel and Africa share a contiguous connection with the Great Rift Valley that runs from Israel through Kenya littering the landscape in both regions with beauty, fruits, vegetables, flowers, rivers, streams and other natural resources.

Physiologically, Israel was birth in the Middle East, but she bred in Egypt, in Africa—the land of Ham (Psalm 105:23, 27; 106:22, Amos 9:7). Israel departed Egypt a mixed multitude (Exodus 12:38).

Historically, the Hebrew Bible contains the earliest recorded history of Africa and her involvement with Israel. The Bible places the Garden of Eden somewhere near Ethiopia, which is in Africa (Genesis 2:13); which suggest, according to one scholar, that the country of Ethiopia existed before the flood and after the flood. To Ethiopians, the Blue Nile river is the Gihon of Genesis 2:13 (“The name of the second river is Gihon; it is the one that goes around the whole land of Cush [Ethiopia]”). To this day the Nile Springs are called Giyon, Ethiopic for Gihon.

Diodorus of Sicily wrote:

“The Ethiopians call themselves the first of all men and cite proofs they consider evident. It is generally agreed that, born in a country and not having come from elsewhere, they must be judged indig­enous. It is likely that located directly under the course of the sun, they sprang from the earth before other men. For if the heat of the sun, combining with the humidity of the soil, produces life, those sites nearest the Equator must have produced living beings earlier than others… ” (Salvatore Cherubini, La Nubie, Passage from Diodorus of Sicily, Collection l’Univers, Paris, 1847, pp. 2-3, quoted by Cheikh Anta Diop, The African Origin of Civilization: Myth or Reality. Translated from French by Mercer Cook, Lawrence Hill & Company, Westport, pp. 281-282.)

The prophet Isaiah said concerning Ethiopia in Isaiah 18:1-2:

“Woe to the land shadowing with wings, which is beyond the rivers of Ethiopia:

That sendeth ambassadors by the sea, even in vessels of bulrushes upon the waters, saying, Go, ye swift messengers, to a nation scattered and peeled, to a people terrible from their beginning hitherto; a nation meted out and trodden down, whose land the rivers have spoiled!”

The Revised Standard Version declares this African Nation to be “a people feared near and far, a nation mighty and conquering…” (Isaiah 18:2). The Holman Study Bible refers to this “Cushite” nation as “a powerful nation with a strange language.” The New King James refers to “Ethiopia” as a nation “terrible” from their beginning onward. The Hebrew word for “terrible” is “yare”; it means to fear, to revere, and to dread. The prophet painted a picture of the biblical Cushite/Ethiopians as a nation that was great from their beginning and highly respected by Israel. At one point in biblical history the Ethiopians had an army of a million men and three hundred chariots (II Chronicles 14:9). Psalm 87:4 indicates that Ethiopia was a nation with a sizeable Jewish population. Isaiah 11:11 also reference a Jewish population in Cush. This may explain the origin of the Ethiopian Falasha Jews who have migrated to Jerusalem over the past twenty years.

The theme of the Bible is the story about a King, His Kingdom and His royal offspring (I Peter 2:9). The first time the word “kingdom” is mentioned in the bible it is in association with a descendant of Cush named Nimrod (Genesis 10:8-10). Nimrod was the world’s first king. In modern day Iraq, a city is named in his honor, “Nimrud, Calah” (“that is the principal city” (Genesis 10:12). Nimrod was a Cushite and grandson of Noah’s son, Ham. Because his name appears in the Hebrew Bible, there is a church named “Nimrod Baptist Church” in Cisco, Texas, which is a predominately Anglo church. According to Scripture, Nimrod was a king, a warrior, a hunter and a builder (Gen. 10:8-12). He protected all of the people on the face of the earth, at a time when the people spoke one language, and traveled as one people (Genesis 11:1, 2). There is a historical site in the Golan Heights part of Israel called “Nimrod’s Fortress” named in his honor.

The name “Israel” means—“he will rule as God.” Isra means—“he will rule.” El means God. Clearly, the destiny and purpose of the nation of Israel is indicated in her name. Israel is a miracle nation. Jerusalem is the city of God, the city of the great king (Psalm 48:1-2; Matthew 5:35). Israel was ordained of God to be the launching pad for God’s Kingdom, and Jerusalem was to be its capitol.

There was a unique relationship between Israel and Ethiopia. Israeli men were not forbidden from marrying Ethiopian-Cushite women (Exodus 34:11, 16). Consequently, Moses married an Ethiopian-Cushite woman (Numbers 12:1). They bore two sons that were truly Israeli/African whose names were Gershom and Eleazar (Exodus 18:2-3). Eleazar bore a son named Phineas by one of the daughters of Putiel. The daughters of Putiel are believed to have descended from Ham’s son Put (Genesis 10:6). The son Eleazar had by “one of the daughters of Putiel” named Phineas is quite revealing regarding an African admixture among the Jewish people.

The late Martin Bernal, a White Jewish scholar, in his book, Black Anthena, Vol. II, published by Rutgers University Press reveals an interesting insight about Phineas and the meaning of his name:

“The name Pinhas [Phinehas] also cast an interesting light on the racial make-up of this population [Exodus population] with its indication that there were people with pigmentation darker than the Mediterranean norm, but that this feature was uncommon enough to be remarkable.

The name Phinehas means “the Nubian” or “the Negro” according to the International Standard Bible encyclopedia. William F. Albright wrote, “The name Phineas…is interesting as providing an independent (and absolutely reliable) confirmation of the tradition that there was a Nubian element in the family of Moses” (Num. 12:1). As a matter of fact Moses himself testifies concerning the ethnicity of the people who departed Egypt on the Exodus journey to Canaan land: “And a mixed multitude went up also with them.” (Ex. 12:38). This “mixed multitude” would include native born Egyptians from the land of Ham and descendants of 400 years of miscegenation between the Egyptians and Israelites.

Psalm 72:18 says, “Blessed be the Lord God, the God of Israel, who only does wondrous things!” Psalm 136:4 says, “To Him who alone does Great wonders.” The Hebrew word for wonder, wondrous, or wonderful is “pala” pronounced paw-law. This word means “separate.” In order to be wonderful, you have to separate yourself from the pack. One of the wonders mentioned by the Psalmist is the nation of Israel (Psalm 136:10-24). The other two wonders mentioned was creation (Psalm 136:4-9) and food (Psalm 136:25).

Israel is a wonder. There has never been, nor will there ever be, a nation in the history of the world who is separate and distinct from all other nations, as Israel. Who could argue against the fact that Israel is unique among the nations of the earth? Who could argue that the nation of Israel is identified with God in a manner that is incomparable to any other nation? What other country on earth can open the Bible and see God’s name associated with their nation? The Psalmist called the Lord, the God of Israel. What other nation can boast that God called their nation His “treasure,” His “holy nation,” His “peculiar people,” His “chosen seed,” and the “apple of His eye”? What other nation can say that the biblical narratives actually occurred on their land? What other nation can say that God birth His Scriptures, His Son, His Sanctuary and His Kingdom on their land? What other nation can say that the Messiah was born there? What other nation can say that the Messiah promised to return there? What other nation can say that God birth their nation to be a blessing to all the nations of the earth? (Genesis 12:3). What other nation can make the legitimate claim that their nation is the geographical and theological center of the world?  The Psalmist identified the nation of Israel with the name of God because of their unique and undeniable historic and continuing relationship.

The histories of Israel and Africa correlate at certain points in the Bible and modern history. This is worthy of celebrating, communicating, and educating descendants of Africa and Israel concerning the truth and facts regarding our shared histories.

There are three things that I want you to remember about Israel and her relationship to Africa:

1.  God birth Israel to spread His Name and Fame to the ends of the earth. God Himself preached the gospel to Abraham, because He needed to establish a nation by which all the nations of the earth would be blessed (Galatians 3:8). The nation that He established as the anchor nation from which He would bless other nations was Israel. The Queen of Sheba who is believed to have been African, and ruled over southern Arabia and East Africa declared after visiting Jerusalem and seeing the wonder of Israel, and the wisdom of Solomon—“blessed be the Lord your God…Because your God has loved Israel to establish them forever” (II Chronicles 9:8). Solomon said to the assembly at the dedication of the Temple,

“And he said: “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who has fulfilled with His hands what He spoke with His mouth to my father David, saying, ‘Since the day that I brought My people out of the land of Egypt, I have chosen no city from any tribe of Israel in which to build a house, that My name might be there, nor did I choose any man to be a ruler over My people Israel. Yet I have chosen Jerusalem, that My name may be there, and I have chosen David to be over My people Israel.’”

God sovereignly chose Bethlehem, Jerusalem and Israel for the sake of His Name. The praise, preservation, and proclamations of the Lord’s Name are why Israel, Jerusalem and Bethlehem still exist (II Chronicles 6:4-7).

a. Bethlehem means “house of bread” and it would only be befitting that the “Bread of Life” would be born in the “house of bread.”

b. Jerusalem – Jeru-Foundation/Salem-Peace. It would only be befitting that the Prince of Peace would rule in the city of the great King, and the message of “peace on earth” would emanate from Jerusalem.

c. “Israel” – “He will rule as God “There would only be one nation that God could launch His kingdom on earth from and that would be the nation of Israel – “He will rule as God.

2.  God sovereignly and strategically placed Africa next door to Israel ultimately for the worship of His name (Zephaniah 3:10). God called the Ethiopians “My Worshippers” (Zephaniah 3:10). Zephaniah who is also a descendant of Cushi (Zephaniah 1:1), reveals the fact that God sings (Zephaniah 3:17). Psalm 68:31 says, “Ethiopia will soon stretch out her hand to God.” The last time we read about an Ethiopian by name in the Scripture, the Bible tells us that this man “had come to Jerusalem to worship” (Acts 8:27).

Apollos, an Egyptian-African renown for oratorical preaching was named as an outstanding leader in the early church (Acts 18:24; I Cor. 1:12). The last time we read about an African by name, “Simeon called Niger,” he is serving as a leader in a church that is engaged in worship (Acts 13:1-3). Proselytes Jews from Africa worshipped the Lord at Pentecost (Acts 2:9-11).

3. Israel was wonderful in her birth (Galatians 3:6-8). Israel was wonderful in her rebirth in 1948 (Isaiah 11:11, 66:8, Ezekiel 11:17). Israel was wonderful in her relationship to Africa (Amos 9:7).

Both the Africans and Israeli’s are fond of demonstrative praise and worship. The Israeli and the Africans are fond of singing. The Israelis and the Africans are fond of worship. “O praise the Lord, all ye nations: praise him, all ye people. For his merciful kindness is great toward us: and the truth of the Lord endureth for ever. Praise ye the Lord.” (Psalm 117:1-2). God gave the African a love for singing, dancing, and worshipping. Israel gave the African the Scripture, the Son, and the synagogue (a prototype of the church), so that we could bless the God of Israel in song. Much of the Christian music that we enjoy today has been a result of the combination of the singing talent of African descendants and the business acumen of Jews who provided the treasure, record labels and radio stations for Christian music to reach urban communities. May the God of Israel be praised!

While listening to and enjoying Black gospel over the radio or on a CD, we seldom pause to consider that Jewish-owned radio stations and record labels have made it possible for us to enjoy this music. Salem Broadcasting and Savoy records are classic examples.

God strategically placed Africa next door to the nation that He chose as the headquarters of His Kingdom on earth, in order to bring Him worship and an offering (Zephaniah 3:10, Psalm 72:10, 15).  May Ethiopians and her descendants give wonderful worship and praise to the God of Israel!

In Celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr., Holiday January 20, 2014

FROM KING TO OBAMA; A FULFILLMENT OF JEWISH PROPHECY?

Psalm 68:31: “Princes shall come out of Egypt; Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God.”

Does the Hebrew Scripture predict descendants of Africa occupying seats of worldwide political influence and power before the Lord returns? Was the election of Barack Hussein Obama a fulfillment of biblical prophecy? Does a study of Noah’s descendants throughout the Bible demonstrate a pattern of how God has operated in the history of mankind? Did Martin Luther King, Jr. have a unique sense or intuitive knowledge of the special role of Israel in world history? The answers to these questions from my vantage point are, Yes! Yes! Yes! And Yes!

My thesis is:  A study of the Hebrew Bible and the New Testament regarding Noah’s sons and their descendants will indicate that the children of Ham would experience political and spiritual empowerment and renewal before the coming of the Lord within a Judeo-Christian context. Are we in the midst of witnessing, “Princes coming out of Egypt, and the Ethiopian stretching out their hand to God”? Could President Obama, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Pastor Fred Luter, Justice Clarence Thomas, Ms. Condoleezza Rice, Lecrae and Kofi Annan be partially fulfilling this verse (to name just a few)?

The day after Barack Obama won the election, an Anglo Texas Southern Baptist Convention Pastor sent the following email to a close friend of mine who also happened to be an Anglo Southern Baptist Convention pastor:

“If our ancestors had known that the country would come to this they might have picked their own [_____] cotton.” [You can probably guess correctly what word was originally in the place of the blank, that I chose to leave blank.]

Africans were brought to the United States to pick cotton, not to pick Presidents, and certainly not to be elected President. If the slave masters realized that Nat Turner, Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Richard Allen, Ralph Abernathy, Martin Luther King and many of the men and women who voted for Senator Obama were in those slave ships, the ships would not have been allowed to leave the docks of West Africa.

Dr. King understood the commonality of suffering and being victimized by discrimination shared by the Negro and the Jew. As the guest speaker at the first American Jewish Congress convention held in a Southern state, Florida, King noted:

“My people were brought to America in chains. Your people were driven here to escape the chains fashioned for them in Europe. Our unity is born of our common struggle for centuries, not only to rid ourselves of bondage, but to make oppression of any people by others an impossibility.” (Rabbi Marc Schneier, Shared Dreams: Martin Luther King, Jr. & The Jewish Community, Jewish Lights Publishing, Woodstock, VT, P. 34)

Rabbi March Schneier, author of this insightful and engaging book, Shared Dreams, also acknowledged and affirm the roots of the relationship between Jews and Africans go all the way back to the Bible:

“The relationship between Jews and blacks dates back to the days of the Hebrews. The forefathers of Abraham were the dark-skinned Cushites. Moses had no difficulty passing himself off as olive-skinned Egyptian, and his wife, Tzipporah was a woman of color. The line between Jews and darker-skinned people was pliable and porous—and often it completely disappeared.” (Schneier, Shared Dreams, P. 20)

The late Radio Bible Preacher, J. Vernon McGhee provides an interesting, arresting, and I believe accurate understanding of the identity and historical development of the races of mankind recorded in Genesis 10:

“The first great civilization, therefore, came out from the sons of Ham. We need to recognize that. It is so easy today to fall into the old patterns that we were taught in school a few years ago. Now the black man is wanting more study of his race. I don’t blame him. He hasn’t been given an opportunity in the past several hundred years. The story of the beginning of the black man is that he headed up the first two great civilizations that appeared on this earth. They were from the sons of Ham. Nimrod was a son of Ham. I’m not going to attempt to develop that line any further.” (J. Vernon McGhee, Through the Bible-Genesis, Thomas Nelson, Inc., Nashville, TN, 1981, p. 51)

McGhee further elaborates on Genesis 10:

“In chapter 10, seventy nations are listed. Fourteen of them are from Japheth. Thirty of them come from Ham. Don’t forget that. It will give you a different conception of the Black man at his beginning. And twenty-six nations come from Shem….

Why has the white man in our day been so prominent? Well, I tell you why. Because at the beginning it was the Black man, the colored races, that were prominent.

Apparently, we are currently in the period in which the white man has come to the front. It seems to me that all three are demonstrating that regardless of whether they are a son of Ham or a son of Shem or a son of Japheth, they are incapable of ruling this world.” (McGhee, pp. 33-34)

The sons of Japheth were remote in the Old Testament and very little is said about them there. Recorded history for the Japhetic races does not begin until about 1000 B.C.

Rome was founded in 750 B.C. City-states in Greece did not begin until 800 B.C. The sons of Shem did not emerge as a racial or cultural group until the time of Abraham (1800-1600 B.C.). However, the sons of Ham ruled Shinar (Sumer) as early as 4000 B.C. Hamites ruled Ethiopia from 3500 B.C. to this present day. Hamites ruled Egypt from 3500 B.C. to the Persian conquest of Egypt in 525 B.C. Hamites ruled Canaan from 4000 B.C. to 1200 B.C. and Mesopotamia from 4000 B.C. to 2350 B.C. The ancient Egyptian and Sumerian people enslaved Japhetic, Semitic and even other Hamitic people. Seemingly the dominant group always rules the minority people. Hamites ruled India from 3000 B.C. until conquest of the Persians in 500 B.C. In every instance, these peo­ple led extremely advanced civilizations and cultures. Dr. T.B. Matson, a former professor of Christian Ethics at Southwestern Baptist Theologi­cal Seminars); had this to say about the early descendants of Ham:

“Those who emphasize the curse of Ham need to remember that some of the descendants of Ham, even some of the chil­dren of Canaan, were quite prosperous. They built great cities, such as Ninevah and Babylon. They were rearing palaces, dig­ging canals, organizing governments and founding empires at a time when descendants of Japheth were wandering over Europe with no better weapons than implements of flint and bone.” (Dr. T.B. Matson, The Bible and Race, Nashville, TN, Broadman Press, 1959)

Observation: History can be divided into three dimensions. Generally speaking, each race has been given 2000 years to reign: the Reign of Ham – 4000 B.C. to 2000 B.C.; the Reign of Shem 2000 B.C. to 300 B.C.; the Reign of Japheth – 300 B.C. to the present. What will happen when Japheth’s reign is over? Could it be that we then enter into a period that I call the Reign of Jesus? John the Apostle envisioned the time when all the redeemed “of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation” would stand before the throne and worship Jesus (Revelation 5:9). “He which testifieth these things saith, surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, Come, Lord Jesus.” (Revelation 22:20)

As the election of Senator Obama to the presidency of the U.S. began to look like a possibility in the fall of 2008, it prompted me to reflect on McGhee’s view of racial history. Understanding that the sons of Ham ruled 2000 years, the sons of Shem ruled two thousand years, and for the past two thousand years the sons of Japheth were ruling—it triggered the question in my mind, what would happen at the end of two thousand years of European/Japhetic Rule? I thought of only two possibilities: (1) The return of Jesus; or (2) The return of a son of Ham to political leadership.

President Obama is undeniably a son of Ham, or Africa. The President of the National Baptist Convention in 1973 began his address with these words:  “The sons of Ham have gathered.” The Bible calls Egypt the land of Ham (Psalm 105:23, 27; 106:22). The Yoruba Tribe in Nigeria traces their roots back to “Ham.” The unusualness of a direct African descendant being elected President of the U.S. is staggering and astounding to many. Many of us disagree vehemently with his abortion and same-sex marriage policies, but we must admit he was God’s sovereign choice for this position. He certainly provides poetic justice for America’s racist past.

Many Americans of all colors and political persuasions thought that they would never live to see the day that the son or daughter of Africa would become President of the United States of America. I was no different. Yet, in the back of my mind I was cognizant of McGhee’s view of racial history, and I was also aware of Psalm 68:31; therefore, it was not totally out of the realm of possibility from my perspective. The original King James Version reads:

“Princes shall come out of Egypt; Ethiopia shall soon stretch out her hands unto God.”

The word “Princes” in Hebrew can mean bronze. The root word for “Princes” means political figures, nobles, kings, envoys or ambassadors. Princes, kings, and/or envoys shall come out of Egypt according to the Hebrew Bible. The Ethiopian will soon stretch out their hands to God.

When the Bible speaks of Ethiopia, Egypt, and the land of Ham, it is talking about the entire continent of Africa. On the earliest maps, the entire continent would be labeled by one of those three names.

In this obscure verse, God was showing David something. I’m not saying this with certainty, but, it appears that David was saying that descendants of Africa would have a political impact beyond Africa. David said Princes shall “come out of” Egypt or Africa. Africa would be their roots, but their “shoots” would be elsewhere.

Perhaps this is the reason that Barack Obama’s dad is not from Alabama, Georgia, Arkansas, or Tennessee. Who would have ever thought that America would have a President named with a Hebrew and African name: “Barack Obama”? President Obama’s name and his dad are directly out of Kenya. Kenya is just below Egypt and at one time Egypt engulfed that whole area. Princes, political leaders, kings, nobles and dignitaries will emanate from, or come directly out of Africa. They will have a political impact according to the Psalmist.

Dr. King in an interview with BBC in 1960 stated that America could have a Negro President in forty years. He missed it by eight years. If Dr. King could see it, I believe the Hebrew writer of Psalm could also see it. We have seen a proliferation of African descendants in political leadership at every level in America over the past fifty years. Canada and Europe have also seen African descendants occupy political seats in their domain. This was out of the question in the first half of the last century, with few exceptions.

If I asked you who pastored the largest church in Europe, would you not assume that it would be a European? No! The largest church in Europe is pastored by an African from Nigeria named Sunday Adelaja, in Kiev, Ukraine. How does a Nigerian get 26,000 Europeans to join his church? Could it be because “Princes shall come out of Egypt, and the African will stretch out their hands to God—meaning that they will come to God and influence the world for God?

In Psalm 72:10, 15, it is predicted that gifts would be brought to the Messiah from Tarshish (Gen. 10:4, Japheth), Seba and Sheba (Gen. 10:7, Ham) and Sheba (Gen. 10:28, Shem). Isaiah 18:2, 7 says that gifts would be brought from Cush or Ethiopia. Perhaps this Scripture was fulfilled when the Wise Men came with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Descendants of Ham, Shem and Japheth brought gifts to Jesus. Descendants of Ham, Shem, and Japheth have been political rulers at different points in world history.

At the cross, Shem (Jesus) hung on the cross, Ham helped Jesus carry the cross-Simon of Cyrene—an African country, and the Romans (Japheth) hung Him on the cross. The Roman soldier who pierced Him cried out, “Surely, this must be the Son of God.”

In Acts 8:26-39, an African (son of Ham) gave his life to Christ. In Acts, 9:1-19, Saul (son of Shem) was converted to Christ and his name was changed to Paul. In Acts 10:1-33, Cornelius (an Italian 10:1, son of Japheth) was converted to Christ.

In Acts 13, leaders of the first Gentile congregation are Barnabas from Cyprus, a European country, “Simeon who was called Niger” (Niger is a term denoting an African), Manaen, “brought up with Herod” a Roman (son of Japheth), and Saul (Paul, a son of Shem).

It appears that at critical points in history, God tended to work through the various sons of Noah and their descendants.

Dr. King seemingly understood a very special and unique role of Israel and the Jews in World History. During Israel’s 1956 war with Egypt, he wrote:  “There is something in the very nature of the universe which is on the side of Israel in its struggle with every Egypt.” (Schneier, Shared Dreams, pp. 160-161)

In his very last sermon preached in Memphis, TN, Dr. King spoke about his trip to Jerusalem and Jericho in Israel in 1959. “Then Jesus answered and said: “A certain man went down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and fell among thieves, who stripped him of his clothing, wounded him, and departed, leaving him half dead” (Luke 10:30). That trip provided Dr. King with critical insight into the Parable of the Good Samaritan, having observed the peculiarities of the road between Jerusalem and Jericho (Luke 10:30-51):

“You see, the Jericho road is a dangerous road. I remember when Mrs. King and I were first in Jerusalem. We rented a car and drove from Jerusalem down to Jericho. And as soon as we got on that road, I said to my wife, “I can see why Jesus used this as the setting for his parable.” It’s a winding, meandering road. It’s really conducive for ambushing. You start out in Jerusalem, which is about 1200 miles — or rather 1200 feet above sea level. And by the time you get down to Jericho, fifteen or twenty minutes later, you’re about 2200 feet below sea level. That’s a dangerous road. In the days of Jesus it came to be known as the “Bloody Pass.”

Dr. King’s visit to Israel enhanced his knowledge of the Bible and informed his preaching.

Dr. King cultivated a mutual reciprocal relationship with the Jewish Community. He spoke against anti-Semitism whether it was regarding Jews in the Soviet Union or New York. Dr. King’s powerful and positive working and personal relationship with Jews is perhaps the most neglected aspect of his legacy. The Jews in Israel have named a street in his honor. African Americans ought to visibly and tangibly document and demonstrate appreciation and affection toward the legacy of Jewish involvement in the Civil Rights Movement.

Many African Americans fifty years of age or older would recognize names like Ralph Abernathy, Fred Shuttlesworth, Hosea Williams, Fannie Lou Hamer, Daisy Bates, A.G. Gaston, Thurgood Marshall, Wyatt Walker and Benjamin Hooks. All of these men and women played significant roles in the Civil Rights Movement.

Oliver Brown was the plaintiff named in the Brown vs. the board of Education case that led to the desegregation of the public schools. But it was a Jewish woman who hired the attorney and raised the funds for his fees. Her motivation was simply that she resented the fact that her Black housekeeper’s children were being educated in a “separate but equal” dilapidated shack that passed as the Black school house. The Jewish woman’s name who led this effort was Esther Brown. Esther Brown’s name ought to be remembered in African American History.

There were many who stood with Dr. King and some lost their lives in an effort to bring liberty and justice for all. Who could forget Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, whose bodies were found not far from Philadelphia, MS? These Jewish men died while on a pursuit to investigate church burnings and the beating of church members by the Ku Klux Klan in Longdale, MS. We need to remember those brave Jewish Rabbis in the South who fought against discrimination:  Perry Nussbaun, Charles Mantinband, and Alfred Goodman.

We need to remember the cadre of Jewish lawyers who greatly aided the cause: Morris Abram, Stanley Levison, and Jack Greenberg, who worked as second in command of the NAACP’s Legal Defense Fund, under Thurgood Marshall.

Time and space will not permit the naming of all persons worthy; but suffice it to say that Blacks and Jews have a storied history, even with tensions and strained relationships along the way.

Rabbi Friedlander, a participant in the march from Selma to Montgomery in 1965 shared personal reflections and a biblical perspective of Jews and Africans marching together. The Rabbi reported:

 “Some images stand out in my mind: Professor Abraham Heschel marching in front of me, firm and erect, the wind catching his white beard and hair…. A Negro lady (Mrs. Foster), walking next to me, pointed out the exact spot on that highway where Alabama troopers had beaten her to the ground. ‘Going all the way this time,’ she smiled, and waved to some friends along the road….

But the heart of the march was the group of Negro marchers from Alabama who wanted the vote, each with a red band on his arm, still in mourning for Jimmy Lee Jackson and their other, unknown, martyrs. It was their march; and perhaps our main reason for being with them was the fact that our white skins gave them some protec­tion from the rifles ready in the swampland surrounding us…

If nothing else, we had finally felt the living essence of the words of Amos: ‘Are ye not as the children of the Ethiopians unto Me, Oh children of Israel?’”

What a powerful, scriptural quote from Rabbi Friedlander (Amos 9:7), recognizing that the roots of the relationship between the African American and the American Jew was rooted in Scripture. The presence of the Jew among the Civil Rights Marches probably saved the lives of many. Thank God for our Jewish brethren!

I want to conclude with a couple of powerful quotes that sum up Dr. King’s position on the important of understanding the Jewish Heritage of the Christian Faith:

“Jesus was a Jew… [And] it is impossible to understand Jesus outside the race in which he was born. The Christian Church has tended to overlook its Judaic origins, but the fact is that Jesus of Nazareth was a Jew of Palestine. He shared the experiences of his fellow-countryman. So as we study Jesus we are wholly in a Jewish atmosphere.”

“I draw not from Marxism or any other secular philosophy but from the prophets of Israel; from their passion for justice and cry for righteousness. The ethic of Judaism is integral to my Christian faith.” (Schneier, Shared Dreams, p. 32)

May God use this writing to whet our appetites to grow in the Jewish understanding of our Christian Faith! Dr. King is right:  “It is impossible to understand Jesus outside the race in which he was born.” If I may take a flight off of Dr. King’s runway, I might add: It is impossible to understand our Christian faith without understanding her Jewish roots.  May God grant us all the grace to stretch out our hands to the God of Israel, and His Son, Emmanuel, God with us (Matthew 1:21)!

Truly, Israel and Africa historically, spiritually, biblically, emotionally, physiologically, geographically, geologically and cooperatively—are connected. God Himself affirmed and testified to the connection:  “Are ye not like the people of Ethiopia to Me, O Children of Israel?” (Amos 9:7)

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