Apples of Gold May/Jun 2015
I was recently asked to visit an elderly man whose son is my friend. When I arrived at his home, I could see he was extremely sick and that I had arrived in the last hours of his life. He had refused to talk to anyone, even his children; but when I entered his room he seemed happy, although I am sure he knew this would be his last day.
He told me he had been a drunk all of his life. “Now that I have reached the end of my life,” he told me, “I realize I have never known satisfaction—not from things, people, or even my children. And now I will be lost forever. I know you do not believe as I do, but the Talmud says, ‘A man does not tell lies on his deathbed.’ It is my own fault I will be forever lost because I have been very bad and drank far too much. I never even thought about my family. And now God will not hear my voice if I call upon Him.”
I told him, “No, my friend, that is not so. Every cloud has a silver lining; and you can have a silver lining because even now, at the end of your life, you can be saved.”
He asked, “Can I be saved after everything I have done in my life?”
“Yes,” I answered. “The Lord, our Savior, came and gave Himself for us all. So we never have to die but can live forever. We can have everlasting life.”
He asked if this was really true. I told him it was indeed true, and I read Isaiah 53:6: “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lᴏʀᴅ has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” I then said, “This passage, from our own Hebrew Scriptures, is meant for everyone who comes to the Lord, even if that happens at the end of a person’s life. All you must do is trust in Him. John 3:16 says, ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.’”
Surprisingly, this man became peaceful and quiet. When his son came into the room, he could not believe what he saw and asked, “What have you done to my father that he is so quiet and says he is happy?”
I replied, “You must ask your father.”
When his father related to him everything he had heard and said he believed it, the son was displeased. I told him, “It is my duty, and the duty of every believer, to tell others the truth in their time of need. We are responsible for each other.”
“How can you be responsible for my father?” he asked. “You are not a member of this family.”
I replied, “We have one Father in heaven. As members of His family, we have a responsibility to one another. The Lord said, ‘When I say to the wicked, “O wicked man, you shall surely die!” and you do not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand’ [Ezek. 33:8]. Do you think it is against the law for me to speak as I did to your father? Are you against your father having such peace from the Lord in his last hours?”
“No,” the son replied, “but I am against you because you spoke with my father about a faith he never heard about all through his life.”
“That is just the point,” I said. “Even though he has not heard before how to have true faith in the Lord, the Lord will still receive him; and your father is happy because he is no longer lost. You will all have to stand before the Lord one day, just as your father will do soon. He has heard the truth about Jesus Christ and has gladly received Him. He is now happy in the Lord, and you and your family can share his last moments with him in happiness.”
This was a thrilling day because this man accepted the Lord as his Savior, but it was also a sad day because his family rejected the Lord. I pray they will accept the Lord soon, before they reach their deathbeds in a lost and hopeless condition.
—The Friends of Israel Archives, 1986