Apples of Gold Nov/Dec 2015

In Isaiah 1:2 it is written, “I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against Me.”

At a bus stop recently, I noticed an old man who needed help boarding. I assisted him and sat next to him on the ride into Jerusalem. I asked how old he was, and he replied, “I am much too old—94!”

I then asked, “Why are you going into town by yourself? Where are your children?”

“If I waited for my children to help me,” he replied, “I would never get there.”

“Do your children go to the synagogue?” I asked.

“Of course,” he replied. “They are like me—law-observing, sin-fearing people.”

“If that is so, are they honoring you?” I asked. “It is written in Exodus 20:12, ‘Honor your father and your mother.’”

“It is hard these days to find such children,” he replied.

When we arrived in Jerusalem, I helped him off  the bus. “If your children were really following the Lord’s commands, they would not leave you alone,” I told him.

“I am 94 years old,” he said sadly. “Every day I wait to die. I have no hope!”

I then told him what King David said in his time of trouble: “Do not cast me away from Your presence, and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me” (Ps. 51:11). I told him, “Even in your old age, you can be fruitful for the Lord; as Psalm 92:14 says, ‘They shall still bear fruit in old age.’”

“I know the entire book of Psalms by rote, but I never thought about that portion before,” he said.

I replied, “That is because you know the book by heart, but you do not have it written on your heart.”

We spoke for a long time. Then he asked, “Do you go to the synagogue often?”

“No,” I replied.

“Then how do you pray?”

“From the depths of my heart,” I said, “and the Lord hears and answers my prayers. I do not read prayers written by other people.” Most Jewish people pray only from a prayer book.

I told him, “I have four adult children, and they respect my wife and me because they worship the living God instead of following false teachers.”

“I have five children,” he told me earnestly, “and none of them bring me any satisfaction as a father.”

I replied, “Our God will bestow His love and mercy on those who will receive Him.” I then read John 3:16: “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.” He listened carefully and asked where this passage was written. I told him it was from the New Testament. Then I immediately read to him about the love and mercy of God from Isaiah 53:5,10:

But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. Yet it pleased the Lᴏʀᴅ to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief.

Suddenly it seemed as if this old man were young again. He was so interested in what God had done for us and why. So I took him, step by step, through the plan of salvation using primarily the Hebrew Scriptures.

He asked, “How have I read these passages so many times over the years and never understood the meaning? Why have I never studied Isaiah 53?”

I told him, “Because your leaders have discouraged you from doing so.”

This man had a long white beard and looked like he could have been one of the ancient prophets of Israel. But inside he was empty. Everyone calls him “Rabbi” to honor him, and I also spoke to him with respect because of his great age. Perhaps that was why he started to ask questions about subjects he had never considered. I told him, “You cannot be saved by killing a chicken, which the religious Jews do on the Day of Atonement.”

“Then how can you be saved?” he asked.

I replied, “Through the blood of our Savior, Jesus Christ.” Again I read Isaiah 53 so that God’s Word would sink deeply into his mind and heart.

After several hours, I led him back to the bus stop. “I will never forget our time together. Thank you!” he told me as we parted.

The Friends of Israel Archives, 1996

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