Joel from Jerusalem Oct/Nov 1980
I have been called up to the army once again and since I have been here I have received a nice new nickname – “revolutionary”. I didn’t know why they were calling me this, and the name would not have been so bad by itself, but they were also calling me other bad names. I am not afraid of them though, because I fear only God himself.
I asked my fellow soldiers why I had the great “priority” to be called a revolutionary, and they replied, “Because you are the first one here who wants to change the law of the Bible and make a new faith.” It was with such words that they began to speak to me, but why did they do this? After all, I was not the one who started the conversation. Then I learned that they had received information about me before I had arrived at camp, and they were trying to intimidate me so that I would not speak about the Lord. However, they did give me an official opportunity to answer their questions, which I gladly did, and I also began to speak on my own, but not as they had expected – about a new faith.
“How can I speak about a new faith from the old book, the Bible?” I asked. “There is nothing new in the Bible, because God is the same yesterday, today and in the future. He will not change, and as you all know, we have only one God. I did not come to you saying, ‘The Bible is no good and you must exchange it for another book.’ My wish is that your souls might be knotted to this great old book. No matter what name you give it, there is no other book which we can trust, only the Bible.”
“What do you know about the Bible?” they asked. I was glad they did this, and I replied, “What I know I will be happy to share with you. I want to speak to you about messianic prophecy, and I will speak only from the Bible because here we can clearly see the truth about the Lord. God said, through the Prophet Isaiah, ‘For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder . . . Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom . . . ‘ [Isa. 9:6-7]. And who will this ruler of the government be? You can read that in Micah 5:2, ‘But thou, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.’ In all of our prophecy, His coming again unto us is predicted. Even Moses prophesied about the Messiah in Deuteronomy 18:15, ‘The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken.’”
Someone in the group then asked, “If this is true, why don’t most of the people accept what you say?” “It is because most of the people don’t want to know the truth about the Lord,” I answered. “To such people the Lord has said, ‘Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth; for the Lord hath spoken: I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me’ [Isa. 1:2] . The Prophet Isaiah continued by saying that they would have to pay for such attitudes and rebellion against the Lord. The same was also true in the time of the judges, but every time the people repented and cried to God for help, He had mercy upon His chosen people. But, how long will He continue to show mercy?”
The men then asked, “Are you trying to warn us that if we do not accept your faith, we will have to pay?” I replied, “These things do not belong to my faith only. If you will be fair and really consider your own faith, following after all that is written in the Bible, you will be complete in your faith, just as I am. Also, you will receive the greatest gift of God, the forgiveness of your sins. What’s more, you will be assured of a good future, dwelling in His home forever.” “That is not important,” they said. “Why should we think about what will be after we die? We are no more than ashes.”
“You are so blind,” I told them. “Everlasting life is spoken about throughout the Bible, and yet you don’t know about it. This is not your fault, nor is it my fault. The guilt lies with those who have taught you in the past. I have not come to you to be, as you have said, a revolutionary. I have taken up the flag of salvation and am following after Him. I haven’t called anyone to revolt. Instead, I am serving side by side with you in the army, and we have only one duty, to defend our country whenever it is necessary. But, we must also defend our souls, and this we cannot do by attacking one another. This we can only do through prayer. We can protect our souls by coming to Him and saying, ‘O Lord, save me through thy Son, teach me thy way and show me the path of life.’ The Lord will save every person who says this from the heart. You will then be ready for spiritual warfare or revolt. My only revolt is to call all of you who are living in darkness to come out into the light which can only be found in Him.”
“If we do not do as you say, what will happen?” they asked. I said, “Do not ask this question of me, because I cannot answer it. This answer you will receive when you stand before Him as before a judge and you are on trial. The Lord, as the Judge, will not set you free, No! He will say, ‘Everlasting hell’.” “How do you know this?” they demanded. I replied, “I know it because I was once the same as you. I had no fear of God and I thought that I could do everything for myself, because there was no one stronger than I. But when I opened my eyes to Him, I saw the great difference between darkness and light. Now you can only see the darkness, but you will be able to see the light when the Lord comes into your hearts. Then you will really feel a revolution in your lives. You will become soldiers of salvation and you will sing His song.”
I then had a good opportunity to read to them from the New Testament, Ephesians 6:10-17. When they heard this they said, “This speaks about war and weapons.” I told them, “This is spiritual warfare, because is says that this war is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world . . . [Eph. 6:12]. And who are these rulers? This same verse tells us we are fighting against ‘spiritual darkness in high places’.”
The duty sergeant then told me, “We received good information about you before you came here, but now we know more about you than before.” “Are you sorry you heard all this about the Lord?” I asked him, and he replied, “I can only tell you that this was a nice conversation and we now know many things which were before like secrets to us. It is always good to hear new things, but we must believe only what is written in our Bible.”
Before I finished this conversation, I waited for everyone to come together and then I read to them Psalm 2:12, “Kiss the Son, lest he be angry . . .” Then I asked, “Who is this ‘Son’, and who is the One spoken about in the seventh verse, ‘Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee’?” When they heard this, they became as quiet as fish and their faces turned very red. They had nothing to say in response to my questions, but it was obvious that these men who had begun by attacking me were now themselves under the convicting work of the Holy Spirit. Blessed be the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob who teaches all men that “the just shall live by faith.”
I am almost finished my present call up for duty in the army, and I can truly tell you that the Lord is good. After all that has happened since I have been here, I have still had opportunities to speak about the Lord. No one can believe all that has occurred, and so I say thanks be to the Lord for He is good, and praise the Lord all nations.
When I came to the army camp this time, it was like coming to another country. I was warned that I could have nothing at all to say. Everything was forbidden; nothing was permitted. But, I am not a new soldier and I was not afraid. I know how far I can go; therefore, on the first possible occasion I began to speak to my new friends about the situation here in Israel. A little later, when they became more sympathetic to me, I began to speak about the Bible. It was very interesting to see how they opened their heavy ears and listened to what I was saying, and many actively took part in the discussion.
Then our conversation turned to the New Testament, and they took an even stronger part, but not in the conversation. No, they began to curse. At whom? At me! And why? Because I make a strong influence on them to receive the Lord Jesus as their Savior. When they saw that their curses did not scare me, they asked, “Do you not fear these curses?” “Why should I be afraid?” I said. “You all know that a curse cannot rest where a blessing has been pronounced. Also, curses are like chickens, they come home to roost.” After this, more such ‘friends’ came by and asked why they were using these ‘nice words’ and against whom they were directing these ‘nice blessings’. They replied, “Not against our friends, but against those who have left our faith and are fighting to have our clean faith changed. What else can we do but curse him?” “Oh yes, you are right,” the new ones said, and so they established a new ‘male choir’, complete with a ‘choirmaster’.
I was sitting on my bed in the tent listening to all these ‘nice voices’, but I realized that it was not against me that they were cursing, and when they finished they came into my tent and found me resting on my bed. Then they said, “If we were in your place, we could not have rest as you have. Of course you know we are fighting for our rights, but we don’t understand why you don’t fight for your rights.” I replied, “Why should I fight against you? What I said to you was only the truth about the Lord. What you have done in return is not against me but against the Lord himself, and I am not strong enough to be the advocate of God. That is not within my power, but I can pray for you, that the Lord will have mercy upon you because you are now very poor in spirit and you need His mercy and forgiveness. Also, with such a ‘choir’ as you have begun, you will not be received by God.”
“Who are you to say whether or not we will be received by God?” they demanded. I replied, “You can continue with your ‘choir’ if you like, but I know what is written in the Bible to people with tongues such as you have. You must know that the Bible says, ‘Death and life are in the power of the tongue . . .’ [Prov. 18:21]. The Lord has given us the choice of receiving Him and becoming His children. If you do this, then He will remember your sins no more, not even your ‘choir’. You can see for yourselves some of the other things written in the Bible about tongues such as yours: ‘The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright, but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness . . . A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness therein is a breach in the spirit’ [Prov. 15:2, 4]. You can, however, change your tongues by using other words, as it is written in Psalm 19:14, ‘Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O Lord, my strength, and my redeemer.’
“If you and your ‘choirmaster’ want to continue as before, you will all have to answer for your actions, not before me but before God himself. Your curses are not against me but against Him, and you do not realize that your curses have no power against Him. You are weak and poor and need help, and I will be glad to help you and become your new ‘choirmaster’ if you would like to sing some really nice songs.” “Good!” they all said. I was very surprised at this and could not tell what had happened, but I was pleased to begin as the new ‘choirmaster’ and led the group in singing a popular song here in Israel, Psalm 23, “The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want . . . .” Everyone here knows this song but they don’t sing it very often, and when I heard my fellow soldiers singing it now I had a very special feeling. I asked myself, are these really the same people who just a few minutes ago were cursing me, and now they are singing this most beautiful of songs with such feeling?
By this time so many people had joined us that there was no more room in our big tent, so we went outside and even more people came up and began to take part in the singing. When they had finished they asked me to read some chapters from the Psalms, which are very popular here, and so I read Psalms 1 and 27. All of a sudden, the atmosphere changed and became like a television question and answer program, and all of their questions were on one subject – salvation. Who was Jesus? Why do some people receive Him? Why have the Jews up to this time been against Him? Why? Why? Why? In answering their questions (of course, only from the Old Testament), I asked a few questions of my own: Who is written about in Zechariah 12:10, “. . . they shall look upon me whom they have pierced . . .”? And, who is spoken of in Psalm 2:7, “. . . The Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee”? Our discussion was now becoming a great battle and there were even some officers there, but none of them had any answers to my questions. They were all waiting for me to give them the answers, and no one was happier than I to do so.
At the end of our discussion, these men were greatly changed from the first day at camp, when I had received the warning not to speak at all about the Lord. On this particular day, the same man who had given me the warning was taking the most active part in our question and answer session about the Lord. When we were finished, I asked him what he thought about the discussion. “Oh, this was a very nice evening,” he said. “And what about your warning?” I asked. He replied, “That belongs to the past.”
I can truly say that this was the best time I had at camp, even in spite of the curses I received, because after that came the blessing for which I thank the Lord.