Joel of Jerusalem Aug/Sep 1983
Soon we will be celebrating the most important holidays in Israel, Rosh Hashana (New Year) and Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). For those of us who know the Lord, this is no time to sleep. Rather, it is a time to be wide awake so that we can go to all the “sleeping” people around us and tell them that it is time to wake up from their long dream. “Arise, shine; for thy light is come . . .” (Isa. 60:1). They must open their eyes, because they cannot see the truth when their eyes are closed and their hearts hardened.
In these days, it is a great privilege to be a servant of the most high God and to show others the light which is in the Lord, Our Savior. Of course, we cannot cast away darkness with stones, but we can cast it away by His grace, His mercy and His Holy Spirit — by dispelling darkness through His glorious light. We must be ready and happy to tell people, as it is written, “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light …” (Isa. 9:2). And we know the source of that light, because we are clearly told in the Psalms, “The Lord is my light and my salvation…” (Ps. 27:1). This must not remain a secret. Salvation is a great privilege which we have received by God’s grace through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus, and we must be proud and not ashamed of the testimony of our Lord.
This is especially true at this Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) season, when Jewish people are concerned that their names will not be written in the book of life for another year. It is helpful that they fear God, but unfortunately they do not know how to come to Him as we believers do, because they are blind and have no advocate with the Father. Instead, through empty, impotent tradition, they lead one another deeper and deeper into the darkness. Moses wrote in Leviticus 19:14 that we are not to “put a stumbling block before the blind.” But, can the blind see? Of course not! Therefore we, as His servants, have a duty to go to them and show them the way, telling them how they can come out of darkness and into the light.
And so I went to speak with some men about these high holy days. It is easy to see how deep the fanaticism is in this land, for when I began to speak with them I could immediately see that it made them very unhappy and fearful. I asked why they were so disturbed and afraid, and they replied, “You must not speak about the holidays.” “Why?” I questioned, and they said, “You, as a Jew, should know that especially during the time of the holidays it is forbidden to speak about them, because Satan can hear. Then he will tell God not to forgive our sins.” “Who told you this?” I asked. “This is the first time I ever heard of this silly superstition.” “It may be silly to you, they said, but for us, as earnest Jews who pray day by day for forgiveness, it is a very serious matter.”
I told them, “It is good that I have come here today to show you the right way, so that you can see with your own eyes the great mistake you are making by believing such a foolish thing.” They asked me to explain and I said, “You must realize that Satan is always working among men, not just at this time of the year, and his chief work is to make us spiritually blind so that we will not see the truth of God. But we must be strong in Him and put our trust in Him alone. Then Satan will have no power over us. After all, who is stronger, God or Satan?” They said, “If you really want to know the truth, we are afraid to speak to you at all during this time of the year. If you will come back after the holidays, we will be free to say what we want.”
“How poor you are,” I told them, “that you are so afraid of Satan.” “ Don’t you fear him also?” they asked. “Of course not,” I replied. “How can this be?” “ It is very simple, as it is written, ‘ … Resist the devil, and he will flee from you’ [Jas. 4:7]. If you put your trust in God and are strong in Him, thousands of demons can come up against you — but they will all flee. I say this to you because I can see that you are in trouble. You are living in.fear of Satan and don’t know how to be free of him, but this you keep a secret. You go around telling people how happy you are in God, and yet you are so afraid of Satan. You should all be singing the popular song which is heard so often, ‘Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid.’” “We never heard this song. How do you know it?” they asked. I was very glad to show them Isaiah 12:2, the Scripture from which this song was taken, and it gave us a good opportunity to discuss how we can put Satan behind us. Their fear of him seemed to fade away when I read the 27th Psalm and also Psalm 23:4, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me….” I then explained, “You don’t have to pray quietly for fear Satan will hear you. You can pray out loud to God, because God does not want us to do things secretly, but boldly. After all, nothing which He has done for us is a secret, it is there for all to see — the light around us, world we live in, even the air we breathe. Of course, you do not really know the Lord; therefore, Satan has power over you and can rule in your lives.“
When they heard this they cried. “No more! We are no longer afraid.” “If this is so, may I speak with you about the holidays?” I asked. “Yes,” they said. “Good, then let us begin. I want to tell you what the Lord wants for us. He wants to save us from sin and give us eternal life, but this can only happen if we listen to His voice calling to us and turn to Him. You must not continue in the old ways, such as killing a chicken on Yom Kippur and saying that the chicken died for your sins. How long will you go on living in such a fantasy world? We can see in Scripture that this does not please the Lord, for He said in Isaiah 1:11, ‘… I am full of the burnt offerings of rams . . . and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he-goats.’ We can see in the Scriptures, even in the Old Testament, the One who is our true Savior, the One who was crucified for our sins, and from this truth you cannot run away. When you open your eyes to this fact, it will be there for you to see. It would be wonderful if you would open your eyes right now, so that you would not have to fear sin, death and Satan any longer.”
“Can you show us this truth?” they asked. “I would be happy to do so,” I replied. “Of course, it will be nothing new for us, for we always read the Scriptures,” they boasted. “You may be wrong,” I told them. “Even though you have read the Scriptures all your lives, there is always something new to see which was before a mystery to you. That is because Satan blinded your eyes so that you could not see the truth but were living in fear. Now you are free to see the truth with your own eyes. You can look on Him whom they have pierced.” “About whom do you speak?” they asked, and I replied, “I am glad you asked that question, because now you will see the biggest secret, one which has been there for everyone to see for a very long time, if they would only open their eyes.” I then read many passages concerning the Lord Jesus, such as Leviticus 17:11, “For the life of the flesh is in the blood; and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul;” Isaiah 1:11, “To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord; I am full of the burnt offerings of rams, and the fat of fed beasts, and I delight not in the blood of bullocks, or of lambs, or of he-goats;” and the entire 53rd chapter of Isaiah.
When I finished reading, they asked me for the first time, “Are you a Jew? “Yes, I answered, and from the time I learned the truth, I stopped being afraid and became a real Jew, a complete Jew.” “What do you mean?” they asked. I answered. “All that I have shared with you has come from the Scriptures, but until now I have not felt free to explain what I was reading.” Then one of the men said, “You have been reading about the Messiah.” “Do you believe this?” I asked. “We must believe it,” he said, “because it is written in our Bible, and we have seen it for ourselves.”
Once again I was reminded of the verse, “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light…. These people have not yet trusted the Lord Jesus Christ — but some rays of light have burst upon their souls, and I pray that in God’s perfect tuning they shall see fully the One who is “… the light of the world . . .” (Jn. 8:12).
* Joel recently completed a fifty-day, 60,000-mile tour of the United States and Canada with Marv Rosenthal. During that time they conducted 120 evangelistic meetings and numerous radio broadcast, interviews.