Zerubbabel ben Emunah
I was born in 1956, and grew up moving around a lot.
We pretty much always went to church and Sunday School, and then Vacation Bible School during the summer. So I grew up steeped in the standard Christian dogma and a typical mid-western moral climate and household.
But even beyond that, in a sense I have always been aware of YHWH’s presence in my life. He has been my constant Teacher. I have basically always had the mindset that I was His servant, and that I wanted to do my best to serve Him in all things. This has resulted in my life having some very unusual challenges to overcome. But He has always helped me and He has always been faithful to see me through all the difficult challenges that He has brought my way down through the years. I am thankful for all of the challenges He has brought me through!
My dad’s mom was a Baptist pastor in her early married years, but because of health reasons had to leave the public ministry. But she never stopped ministering, especially to her grandchildren. I grew up hearing the Bible stories she told using the flannel graphs. My personal favorite was the story about the man who built his house upon the rock.
I remember as a young man finally reading these verses in the Bible, and realizing that this whole story that my grandmother told me, was only four verses long. I remember the feeling of disappointment that I had then because there were only four verses. It was such an important truth to me, that it seemed to me it surely should warrant a whole chapter.
YHWH’s First Commandment to Me
When I was nine years old, YHWH came to me one day when I was outside on our farm in north-central Kansas. It was a summer day and my dad and his friend were sitting in the shade just visiting and drinking beer.
My dad asked me if I wanted a taste. I smelled it and thought that it was the most awful smell I had ever smelled, and said as much to them. I went off to play, and as I was going, YHWH came to me and said that I was never to drink alcohol. I responded that was okay with me. And to this day it has no appeal to me at all.
I can remember going through high school and being asked by my “friends” to go out and get drunk. I always responded that I did not drink. To which they would say something such as, “Well, when you get to be a senior you will.” “No,” I would say, “I will not do that when I am a senior either.” Then when I was a senior and I still would not drink, and they found out that I was going to go into the Navy, they would say, “Well, when you are in the Navy you will drink.” To which I would respond, “No, I will not drink in the Navy either!”
I knew that YHWH had given me commandment to not drink and I was going to do my best not to drink.
I went to high school in one of the most liberal high schools of its day. For example, our dress code consisted of one sentence in which it stated that it was required that all students must wear shoes. Anything else was okay; and that was pretty much true in the late sixties and early seventies.
One of the English classes that I took was called, “The Bible is Literature.” This class had a profound impact upon me and the course of my life. In this class, we students elected to study the book of Revelation. Before this time, I had never even read it. It was something that was to set me on a lifelong journey that I am still enjoying – searching Scripture.
YHWH awakened in me the desire to know His word. I read and studied everything that I could get my hands on, especially about the return of Messiah.
It was not too long before this (maybe about a year) that my parents divorced. I was greatly traumatized by this. It turned me inward.
Then, with this new found interest, Scripture, it gave me something wholesome to reflect upon and to meditate and contemplate upon. I threw myself into it with fervor.
I was discharged from the Navy with an honorable discharge in the mid-seventies. It was on the GI bill that I went to Bible College, which was a wonderful blessing.
After I got out of the Navy, I began dating a young lady who was to become my first wife in 1976. When I was attending Bible college in 1982, one night when I came home from class, I found that she had ran off with another Bible college student, leaving me and our two year old daughter. I pray that YHWH will be able to bring her into His Kingdom!
It was difficult, but I continued on with my life as best as I could being a dad and a “mom” to my daughter. Those were challenging years, but they were also fruitful years in that YHWH taught me much about depending upon Him.
I sought and received counsel from school officials for the challenges that I was then facing. They were the ones in authority over me at that time, and I respected what they had to say; because as far as I could tell at the time it lined up with Scripture.
One of the milestones in my life was a discipleship course that I went through that was a full year in length. It was a very good investment for me. It helped me to set some very good study habits and a good foundation in Scripture. This was one of the major things that YHWH placed in my life which He used to call me into His ministry.
After I graduated from this course, I was immediately asked to teach the course. I learned much more going through it as the teacher than I did as a student. I would not have thought that possible.
Call to Ministry
YHWH actually began to deal with me about my call in 1980. And it was through a series of events that He pretty much boxed me in and made me face what He was saying to me. He asked me one day if I would “preach the Word.” I responded with, “Yes; I would do that.”
After accepting the call to preach the Word from YHWH, I received my first preacher’s license in 1981, and have been in the ministry ever since. Bible College was a formative time in my life as I was learning so very much, not just about the mechanics of Scripture, but that YHWH also had me in school to learn about Him and His ways. More than anything, I wanted to serve YHWH and obey Him in all things.
While I was at Bible College, I met a nice lady that seemed to have spiritual things as a top priority. I again sought counsel from school officials as to whether this was appropriate or not, and they gave me the counsel that it was okay. I ended up marrying this lady and she gave me three fine sons. Today all three of these sons are hard workers in His Kingdom learning to hear and obey His Voice.
YHWH blessed me in my pastoral years with churches that had histories of being hard on their pastors. My very first church, in which I served as senior pastor, had only four ladies in attendance when I accepted the call to be the pastor of that church. In less than one year we held a special service with 155 in attendance. YHWH was truly blessing!
However, the second year was full of different kinds of challenges. One of the original ladies decided that the church was getting too big and set out to reduce the size. This was a trying time for me personally, but I was resolved to do as best I could, in obeying His Voice.
It was in this church, in the very first couple of weeks that I was there, that I was sitting in my study working on that week’s sermon, and studying Scripture that YHWH began to deal with me on doctrinal issues.
I was reading in Zechariah 14. When I got to verse nine, the Spirit spoke to me; and I knew before I got out my Hebrew books, what I was going to find. It was that day, that the doctrine of the trinity died in my mind and heart, for I knew that it was not true and could not be supported from Scripture.
My wife was growing more and more disillusioned with ministry (and our marriage) as it was much harder than she imagined. She started looking elsewhere for satisfaction in life.
As I continued to study Scripture and incorporate that which YHWH was teaching me into my life, it was always reflected in my sermons, as I always preached on those things that YHWH was teaching me. I tried to be obedient at all times to those things that He was showing me from Scripture.
This resulted in my being in hot water with the denominational hierarchy at times, and gave me a reputation for being a maverick. I was only doing my best to hear and obey His Voice. This apparently was something that few other ministers did. I was rather naïve at that point, because I thought that all ministers just really wanted to study Scripture, and learn, and do all they could for Him. NOT! I soon learned that most ministers were more interested in talking about their favorite sports than they were in talking about Scripture.
It was during this time that YHWH opened my eyes to His Shabbat. The major verse that He used was Matthew 24:20, in which Yeshua says that His followers should pray that their flight not be on the Shabbat or in the winter. I had been praying that for several years, not really understanding what I was praying. I was simply praying it, because Yeshua said I should pray it. So I did!
But when He began to open my eyes to what this verse truly meant, I knew that I had to do something about it. So we began to keep Shabbat in our home (the church parsonage) and then I would preach on first day at the church.
We then began to keep the festivals as well. Our first festival was Sukkot (this was about 1995). We built a nice Sukkah in the backyard behind the church and parsonage. A lot of people looked at it and asked lots of questions.
It was really interesting, because that year I did a lot of preaching on the festival of Sukkot. Then in the midst of that series of sermons, one of the local newspapers did a full page article on Sukkot and what it meant, and that this was the time of the year that Yeshua had actually been born. I did not see the article until one of the parishioners brought the article to church to show me. It was passed around in the church and it was as if YHWH was giving the people a second witness that His Word is still true and applicable today. It was a great time.
From there we moved on to our next assignment. I was now preaching as an evangelist. We had changed home churches as YHWH had us move to a different city. I would preach as YHWH would open doors. On occasion He would have me preach in our local church.
The last time I did so, I preached on YHWH’s true Name. I spent a lot of time in prayer preparing for that message. I approached it with great fear and trepidation. I began that sermon by removing my shoes before the people. I then explained why I had done that, and invited them to do the same if they would like to do so.
I then went through the Scriptures and showed them what YHWH’s name was, and why we should be using it. I also showed them what Yeshua’s name was, and why we should be using His Hebrew name.
The next day the senior pastor called me up and we went out for a soda and to talk. The gist of what he had to say to me was that he knew that what I had said was correct, but that the church board did not want me to preach there anymore. However, they still wanted us to come and give our tithes to the church. I was stunned. After much prayer I decided not to return. No one ever called on us to see why we stopped coming.
In the Wilderness
YHWH has blessed me with several wilderness experiences in my life. I was just entering into another one at that moment. It was the darkest of wilderness experiences. In the end, I would lose my second wife because of her sexual misconduct and hatred of Torah.
This wilderness experience would also be one of the longest ones that He has taken me through (about 7-8 years).
It was during this wilderness experience that I was out walking one day, when YHWH came to me and said to me that He was giving me the name “Zerubbabel.” I said that I did not like that name; could I please have another name? Could I please have a name with” Yah” or” El” in it? Please? I went on like this for several minutes and after I had said my piece, He said that I would take the name of Zerubbabel or I could not be a part of His Kingdom. Well, since He put it like that, I was all too happy to take the name of Zerubbabel.
Then, after a lot more prayer, He told me that I was to translate my English surname into Hebrew. Hanson means “son of faith,” so it was pretty easy to translate into Hebrew as “ben Emunah”. After more prayer, He gave me confirmation that this was the name which He was giving me.
I have now gone to court and legally changed my name to reflect YHWH’s will for me in this matter.
At present YHWH has brought a very wonderful lady into my life that He has caused us to marry and join two houses together. One household is much like Ephrayim and the other household is much like Judah. He has taught us much as we have blended our two families together into one Torah keeping home. All praise goes to YHWH.
One of the Many Nazarene Organizations
After a lot of praying and searching, I decided to join one of the many Nazarene organizations and make it my life’s work. I had the full intention of doing my very best to build His Kingdom in this organization. This seemed to be His leading.
I cannot say whether I missed His leading or not at this point. But I was truly trying to do His will in my life. I gave my all in building His Kingdom and this Nazarene organization. But the one thing that happened that I am truly sorry for is that I began writing the weekly studies in a way to please a man rather than to please our heavenly Father. This was sin on my part, a sin for which I have sought and received forgiveness from our very gracious and forgiving heavenly Father.
I am not sure that I will ever know exactly what happened that caused us to be kicked out of this Nazarene organization. But I can tell you this, when I was accused of things and asked for specifics, I was told that there were none. Then when I asked for a few days to pray and seek His face, everything blew up and we were kicked out of this Nazarene organization and a legal attempt was made to kick us out of our home. I could not just stand by and allow my family to become homeless. So I sought out legal counsel. It was the right thing to do.
As the attacks went out from this Nazarene organization against me, I came under a lot of pressure to respond to these attacks. I did not respond to these attacks against me personally because I have better things to do with my time, and because I knew these attacks were false; and even more importantly, YHWH knew they were false. Besides, Scripture teaches us that if we are His servants, then He will watch over us and do what is necessary to protect us. He is my Shield and my Rock! May YHWH continue to open the eyes of His people so that they may see the truth!
I have learned a lot of lessons while in this Nazarene organization. These are lessons that I hope and pray that I will never forget, for I do not care to repeat these lessons!
This whole ordeal of being kicked out of this Nazarene organization by one who was my very best friend (or so I thought) was very disillusioning. I had entered into another wilderness experience.
A New Chapter
When the boot came from that Nazarene organization, I felt a responsibility towards all those that had been used to getting the weekly parashot and who would not now be getting them. So I simply went through my address book and continued to send them out each week. I did not have all the addresses of those who were used to getting them. Perhaps one day YHWH will allow them to find my new web-site and sign back up.
It is a very rewarding ministry to write these studies for His people. I always learn much more than it is possible to put down on paper. I would just really encourage everyone to use the weekly parashot as a means to begin digging deeper into His written Word. The rewards are eternal.
The parashot group is growing, and for this I praise YHWH! We have lots of things that we are praying about for the web-site and ministry. May we go only as fast as YHWH directs, and may we never get ahead of Him in anything whatsoever!
Call to Work
YHWH has called me to work at building His Kingdom. I accepted that call in 1981; and while it is very hard work, it is the greatest adventure that anyone could ever embark upon. I look forward to going back to His Land someday and meeting as many of His people as possible and sitting down and getting to know them personally.