Joel of Jerusalem Aug/Oct 1985
There are all kinds of people in the world. Some are happy – very happy – and some are very unhappy. And even some people who were happy a long time ago are now confused and don’t know what to do. They don’t know which choice to make, which way to go. They are like the wind which today may blow from the west and tomorrow from the east. They are not ready to do the will of the Lord as it is written in Deuteronomy 30:19, “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore, choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live.” The Lord has given us a free choice.
We also know that faith cannot come through our own power. The Lord Jesus taught us to love even our enemies. I am sure everyone knows that love is a very great power in itself. You can accomplish more by coming to a person with love than with firearms, because love is of the Lord.
I am nothing more than a mere human being, living right along with all the other people in the world. As one who believes in the Lord Jesus as my Savior, I realize that I must do His will even though, to my human way of thinking, it may not seem like the best way. That is when I, like everyone else, am permitted to make a free choice, but if I do not make the right choice, I will suffer the consequences. Therefore, as children of God, there is really only one choice, and that is to do His will at all times, even though it may be difficult. The Lord said, “. . . be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” (Rev. 2:10). Because we know what is awaiting us, we must put our trust in Him and preach His Word to all who until now are so embittered, and especially among my people, the Jews.
Many people in Israel cannot accept what has happened to our people. Many among them who in the past were very orthodox now say that it is impossible to even believe in God at all. And why is this? Because they say that if there were a God, He could have saved the Jewish people from the great Holocaust.
I recently met a man like this. He was very learned but also very bitter. I met him while we were waiting for a bus, which is a very good place to meet people in Jerusalem. When I first saw him he looked very sorrowful and had a hard expression on his face. To make contact with such a person, one must have great courage. Thank the Lord, I have this, and so I asked, “Can I help you?” “Why do you ask me this?” he questioned back, and I replied, “Because you look as if you are not feeling well.” “Who told you this?” he asked, and I said, “No one, but I can see that you need help, and I will do my best to help you if you will only let me.” Then he said, “No one has ever had the courage to say such a thing to me before.” Although he seemed very disturbed with me, I must say that he acted like a real gentleman. He continued, “Believe me, no one can help me.” But I am not a person who gives up that quickly, and so I told him, “Don’t be so sure. We have had many heroes in the past, but they are no longer with us. As it is written, ‘. . . how are the mighty fallen!”’ [2 Sam. 1:19]. My friend, do not be counted among them.”
He then asked, “How can you help me? You know about the past, and I cannot forget it. I must live with it every day of my life. There are many other people like me also. What can you do for them? Can you make the past go away? Can you erase it from our minds? Of course not! It is for this reason that I no longer believe in anyone and do not trust anyone.” I told him, “That is good, because it is written in Psalm 118:8, ‘lt is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.’” He then said, “That means nothing to me. For many, many years I have had nothing to do with God. I told you that I don’t believe in people, and so it is the same with God. I no longer believe in Him either, and no one can turn me back.”
I responded, “There are many people who speak just as you do. You are not the first, and you will not be the last. Now, let me ask you a question. Do you like the land of Israel?” “Yes,” he replied. “It is my land. It is our land.” “And who, my dear friend, do you have to thank for this land?” I asked. He replied, “We must thank all those who gave their lives in all the wars so that we could be a free nation with safe borders.” “You speak very nicely,” I told him, “but now I would like to know if you took part in any of those wars.” “No,” he replied, and I continued, “Well, I did. I have been in Israel since 1948, and I took an active part in every war from 1948 to 1982, and now my children have taken my place. Would you like to know what kind of an army we had in those early days when we fought against the mighty armies of the Arabs? Who were those brave soldiers? Most of them were just like me, survivors of the Holocaust. All of us were suffering our own personal tragedies. None of us knew anything about the weapons we were given, and we had no common language through which to communicate. Now think about it – who fought against those millions of Arabs who wanted to cast us into the sea? Was that first war won by my power? By our power? Never! Were we the great heroes? I can tell you from firsthand experience that the answer is no. I saw with my own eyes what the Lord did. If it had not been for Him, we would be lost!
“I hope you are listening closely to what I am telling you. I am sure that I have experienced even more troubles in my life than you, but I am not hardened as you are because I have received the Lord Jesus as my Savior. We now have our land again, but I know that we did not receive it back through our own strength, because the truth is we were very weak. That was His war. The Lord has promised to fight for us against our enemies, as we can read in Deuteronomy 1:30, 20:4, Joshua 23:10 and many other places in the Scriptures, and He has done this. We must, in return, bless His holy name and not be a bad example to our children and to future generations, as it is written in Jeremiah 31:29, ‘. . . The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children’s teeth are set on edge.’ Or, as we so often say, because of the sins of the fathers the children are punished. Do you have children?” I asked. “Yes,” he replied.
“Then think about this,” I said, “do you want them to be punished because of the bad example of our fathers? We know what happened many centuries ago when the Jews in Persia came so close to being destroyed. They were saved. We can read in Esther 4:14, ‘. . . then shall there relief and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place. . . .’ Even though there is not one mention of the name of God in the entire Book of Esther, we know that God saw the suffering of the Jews and saved them. And it is the same today. Now we are in our own land, and all of this is because of His mercy. In light of this, is it too hard a thing to say, Thank you Lord for all you have done for us?”
The man then admitted, “I know there is some truth to what you have said, but what can I do? I am so old.” I read for him Psalm 92:14, “They shall still bring forth fruit in old age . . . .” I told him, “The Lord has given us all the opportunity to come to Him for salvation. As I was saved, so you too can be saved if you will just come to Him with all your heart.” He said, “I must pray first for courage, because I am very weak.”
Please join me in prayer for this man, that the Lord will open his eyes and that he, in turn, will open his heart and receive Him as his Savior before it is too late.
Joel is a faithful witness for his God in the land of Israel. A survivor of the Holocaust, he found Jesus Christ as his Savior following Israel’s 1948 War of Independence.
He served in the Israeli army with distinction through all of her modern conflicts. Of far greater importance, he serves in the Lord’s army.
Joel’s amazing life can be read in his biography entitled ZVI which is available at $3.95 through The Friends of Israel.