Apples of Gold Jan/Feb 2014
Editor’s Note: In 1959, we ran Zvi Kalisher’s first column in Israel My Glory magazine. It was titled “Joel of Jerusalem.” Zvi was barely 30 years old then, a Jewish Holocaust survivor who had made his way to Israel from Poland at age 16 after World War II. In Israel he came to faith in Jesus as his Messiah and has faithfully proclaimed God’s unchanging truth on the streets of Jerusalem ever since.
Filled with wisdom from the Holy Spirit, Zvi always knew how to lovingly turn a conversation into a presentation of the gospel and how to give an answer for the hope that lay within him. His column quickly became a favorite with our readers. In 1991, no longer feeling the need to protect Zvi’s privacy, we changed the name to “Zvi.”
With this issue comes another name change. We chose “Apples of Gold,” from Proverbs 25:11: “A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in settings of silver.” We know of no one whose life has better exemplified this verse than Zvi Kalisher. Since the day he received Christ, he has been a faithful, dedicated servant of the Most High God; and his words truly have been like apples of gold.
Zvi’s declining health no longer permits him to write for us. After running his column for 55 years, we have a treasure trove of godly wisdom and good reading that will benefit new generations. So we plan to dig deep into our archives and treat you to columns Zvi wrote many years ago. We hope you will enjoy them as much as we do.
Please continue to pray for Zvi and his dear wife, Naomi. They greatly appreciate it.
1973: Recently I was again called up for a term of military service. There were a number of fellows with me who knew me personally. Out of sheer boredom, one of them tried to start an argument with me. This is how it began:
“Which symbol is more popular among people, the cross or the Star of David?”
Everybody answered, “Of course, the cross.”
The man who asked the question looked at me and said, “No, I disagree. The cross appears only on churches and cemeteries, but the Star of David flutters on our flags and in our homes.”
And so they argued among themselves. But I did not say a word. I thought the whole discussion seemed to be pointless.
Finally, the man asked me, “Zvi, you know all about the cross and you believe in the cross. What is your opinion? Do you believe in the cross like all the Christians do?”
I said, “No. I never believed in the cross. I only believe in Him who who rose again for the forgiveness of our sins. He shed His blood for our salvation. He was God’s sacrifice for all mankind so that all who believe in Him should not perish. He died for all men, even for those who hated Him and put Him on the cross. This was prophesied by Isaiah in chapter 53.
“Those of us who believe in Messiah Jesus do not attach any special significance to the symbol of the cross. Most true believers in Jesus do not wear crosses as you wear Stars of David or as you use mezuzahs, which you put on the doorposts of your homes. We believe in the living God and in a risen Savior but not in a statue or a symbol, whether it is the Star of David or the cross.”
One of the men then became very angry. “What days we live in, that here in the army of Israel we should hear Christian propaganda. Maybe soon we shall be asked to build churches in our barracks for people like you,” he said sarcastically.
“That would not be such a terrible idea,” I remarked. “In countries where freedom of religion is granted to all citizens, Jewish soldiers are provided with synagogues where they can worship undisturbed. To me this is not most important. I can worship the Messiah anywhere. The main thing is that He should be in my heart.”
One of the men asked, “Zvi, tell us, how did you come to believe in Him?”
I told him, “One day I received a complete Bible, Old and New Testaments. The more I read the Book, the more I became convinced that Yeshua [Hebrew for “Jesus”] is truly the Messiah. The Holy Spirit did the rest. Today I am happy that I did believe.”
When they heard all this, they became serious and stopped making fun of me. I pray the Holy Spirit will do His work in the hearts of these young soldiers of Israel.