Month 6:7, Week 1:6 (Sheshi/Kippur), Year:Day 5940:154 AM|
2Exodus 3/40, Yovel - Year 50/50 - Teshuvah 7/39
Gregorian Calendar: Thursday 8 September 2016
Des Morts Vivants
The Life of Arthur Koestler
France and French
Circumstances have combined in an interesting way that have forced me to brush up on my French. Firstly, my youngest son has decided to make it his fourth language (in addition to English, Norwegian and Swedish), the first in my family to do so - all the rest either went for German or Spanish...or in the case of one daughter, Japanese. Secondly, I have started reading Arthur Koestler, who though a Hungarian Jew in origin and fluent in Hungarian, German, Spanish, Russian and English (and probably Yiddish too), was also fluent in French and liked to quote numerous French expressions of a sophisticated nature mostly without a translation. Though I never liked French at school (probably because it was mandatory) and subsequently ditched it for German, I am finding my interest being rekindled and am really enjoying it. Considering one line of my ancestry is from Normandy (the Warrens of Varčnne) and knowing as I have now for some time that I have a divine 'appointment' in a part of France (that I have seen in vision) at sometime in the future, I am currently immersed in the language and history in my 'spare time' (in part an excuse, no doubt, for not doing other things I'd rather postpone). (Also see, Dépęche-toi! France and Important Prophecies).
Quixotic Fights and Miserable Defeats
I have a question I'd like to ask some of you. Are you one of those people whose life, in spite of being a believer, is marked by an apparently never ending string of "quixotic fights and miserable defeats"?  And are you worn out from it, not to mentioned baffled that you, trying to be a faithful Christian or Messianic, are experiencing this inexplicable streak of losses like an addict who goes back again and again to the Bingo Hall but never seems to be able to win? I could offer you a number of possible explanations based on my experience as a pastor of 30+ years, one of which might be the one you are looking for - from generational curses to divers addictions you want to break because they're ruling your life but don't really weant to break because you get a short-term kick out of them still...even though they make you abjectly miserable in the long run. But I'll not do that today. Instead, I'd like to share an instructive (and hopefully inspirational) anecdote with you that might help some of you break the cycle of woes.
The French Foreign Legion
Just after France was defeated in 1940, the writer Arthur Koestler, who had been trapped as an ex-communist in an endless procession of concentration camps in Spain and France, was determined to break his cycle of misery and in a desperate act joined the French Foreign Legion. Those of you not familiar with the Legion's traditions and practices, anyone could sign up for a minimum of five years irrespective of their background. No questions asked and your nationality irrelevent. They became a part of what was commonly known as des morts vivants or the 'living dead'. They were 'men with no past', as the saying went. Many recruits made a lifetime career of it either because they had a criminal record (and might be arrested if they re-entered society) or like the fictional characters in the Laurel and Hardy comedy they were simply trying to 'forget' some failed romance or some other trauma. After the defeat of 1918 many despondent German soldiers, lately of the Kaiser's Army, joined up for similar reasons because they had lost all hope for the future.
An Élite Force
In the Legion you got a new name and were sent off to some colonial outpost of the French Empire. Its recruits were, in effect, foreign mercenaries . The training was a lot harder than in regular regiments and much more was expected of legionaries than of regular French soldiers, whether professional or (especially) conscript. Like the Russian Spetznaz, the American Marines, the former German Brandenburg Division, and the British SAS, the French Legion was an élite sent to places and into situations that it was felt regular soldiers could not effectively deal with.
World of the Unsaved
The unsaved find it difficult, of not absurd (not to mention, offensive), to be told they are of des morts vivants - the living dead. Such a description rather conjures up that genre of zombie apocalpyse movies that began with the 1968 horror film by George A. Romero and John A. Russo, Night of the Living Dead. The unsaved - and especially those who are not hungry for the emet (truth), usually because they believe they have reality all sown up in their own minds, are wholly unaware of a higher state of existence that promises both eternal life in the spiritual dimension now and physical resurrection after death in glory, even though they may sense something is wrong with their lives. Others may be honest seekers and are indeed studying the Besorah (Gospel) but can't seem to reconcile apparent contradictions in Scripture or with their own (limited) experience of life. But as Dr. Horatius Bonar once gently chided:
A New Name in Messiah and an Erased Record of Sin
"Truths may seem to us irreconcilable only because our finite minds cannot understand the Infinite; and we must never allow our faulty apprehension of the eternal counsels of Elohim (God) to hinder unquestioning faith in the words of the Holy Scripture" .
The newly enlisted French Legionary got a new name and his history was considered erased...so long as he remained in the Legion. Similarly, when the sinner repents and accepts Yah'shua (Jesus) as his Master (Lord) and Deliverer (Saviour) and enters into a covenant relationship with Him to always trust Him, obey Him and obey His Father's Torah, the record of sin and guilt (accumulated through Torah-disobedience) is erased and - if He remains faithful - receives a "new name" (Is.62:2; Rev.2:17). So long as He remains "in Messiah (Christ)", he (or she) becomes an adopted son (or daughter) or Messiah and bears His Name.
Fate of the Living Dead After Death
Unlike the French Foreign Legionary, this talmid (disciple) signs on for life and eternity - there are no five-year contracts. And another difference is that a deserter from the Legion, if caught, would be shot whereas those who shipwreck and abandon their faith in Messiah lose their salvation and inherit a terrifying future as a 'renewed' member of the body of the unsaved des morts vivants bound for that post mortem 'concentration camp'.
The Death of Arthur Koestler
The accomplished intellectual Kösztler Artúr (anglicised to 'Arthur Koestler' when he became British) lived and died an unbeliever. Perhaps influenced by Buddhism, he conceeded only the possible existence of a "depersonalised afterlife". He and his wife eventually committed suicide together - Arthur because he was ill with Parkinsons and leukemia, and his wife Cynthia because she felt she could not live without him as there would be no purpose in life anymore.
Koestler's Contributions to the Truth
First the French Foreign Legion and then suicide were Koestler's solutions to a life first of "quixotic fights and miserable defeats" and then of serious illness. Perhaps one of his most useful contributions was the book, The Thirteenth Tribe (1976), which traced the origins of the Ashkenazi Jews to a Turkic tribe called the Khazars, a thesis since vindicated in our time by many historians and scientists studying genetics, Israeli Shlomo Sand being one of the best known of the latter. A book which he edited with J.R.Smythies, Beyond Reductionism: The Alpbach Symposium (1972), was instrumental in helping me in my journey as a Biochemist away from the fallacies of evolutionism and to creationism. So I em endebted to Koestler for these two books.
Koestler's brilliance did not save him, though, for no man can save himself. Koestler's suffering in continental Europe, followed by his literary triumphs in Britain, were, in the end, all in vain. Our nible intentions and good works cannot save us. Only emunah (faith) in the Son of Elohim (God) can.
"Repent, then, and turn to Elohim (God), so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from Yahweh, and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you - even Yah'shua (Jesus)" (Acts 3:19-20, NIV).
 Arthur Koestler, Scum of the Earth (Eland, London: 2006), p.170
 An exception would be that part of the Legion known as Régiments de Marche, created during the Second World War, which was composed of men who had signed up for the duration of the conflict solely out of political conviction.
 Sir Robert Anderson, Forgotten Truths (Cosimo Classics, NY: 2007), p.xi