Joel of Jerusalem Aug/Sep 1984
Here in Israel we are facing new general elections, and it is almost like war. There is no consideration being shown. Instead, it is a wild competition. The people seem to be looking for a new king, thinking that maybe a new leader will be better, but we know what the son of King Solomon said to the people thousands of years ago, “And, now, whereas my father did burden you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke; my father hath chastised you with whips, but I will chastise you with scorpions” (1 Ki. 12:11). And now we are standing before such a situation. The people are blind; they don’t want to see what they are doing with their own hands, and it is easy to see why this is happening. The people have no peace within themselves, and where there is no peace there is always great chaos, and all this they are bringing on themselves.
Of course, the big question on everyone’s lips is, Who will be the next prime minister? If we were really the people God has called us to be, the answer should be in accordance with His Word, which says, “. . . Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified” (Isa. 49:3). It is hard to explain to the people of this land, but we are the ones who have been commissioned by the Lord to take the gospel to the whole world, and so it will be one day.
For the present, however, we, as a nation, are still paying for our many past sins, and even now we are facing yet another crisis, a spiritual crisis. Therefore, it is not enough to bring in a new leader who seems more powerful or forceful than the previous leaders. What we need now is peace, and everyone knows that where there is hatred there can be no peace. Peace can come only by faith in the Lord. And because of our great spiritual crisis, we are also having political and national problems. We all know of the victories of Alexander the Great. He conquered this nation and there was much destruction, and this was all because of sin among the people, and we are not far from that today. Even with all of our wonderful military victories, we are weak on the inside, and we cannot say that all the guilt belongs to the unbelievers. There is also guilt on the part of the believers in the Lord. It is our duty to go to the people and tell them that they are not going in the right way, that the way in which they are going will only lead to self-destruction. We must stop them, and if we do not stop them now, soon it will be too late. It is as the Lord said to the Pharisees of His day, “Ye blind guides, who strain at a gnat, and swallow a camel” (Mt. 23:24).
What we need is a great spiritual awakening. The people must truly understand the Scripture which says, “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee” (Isa. 60:1). I am sure that if the believers would go to the people and tell them the truth about the situation, tell them to lift their eyes toward Heaven and ask for the Lord’s love and forgiveness, then we would not be in such a spiritual crisis. All the people of the world are looking to us to see if we are really the chosen people of God. We must, therefore, be an example to them, and we can be an example if we will accept what the Lord has said to us, “. . . let the peace of God rule in your hearts . . .” (Col. 3:15).
We are far from this point right now, but, as we say, where there is a will there is a way. And the way is open before those of us who have received the Lord and are following Him. We are saved, but we are living among people who are lost, and it is easy to see the difference. It is like the difference between light and darkness, and who wants to live in darkness? Of course, the answer is, No one! For this reason, I go to those who are living in darkness and have never seen the light which is in the Lord Jesus Christ. This is not an easy task, especially in Jerusalem where the people have been educated in false teaching, and not just for one or two years, but for their entire lives. They have never heard a single word about Jesus, and for them even His name is a negative word. When I approach such people, I do not try to give them advice about who to vote for. Rather, I go to them with a small book, a book which is popular all over the world – the Bible! And in the Bible we read of the one true King, the One in whom we must put our trust. If we do this, we will not have to fight against one another any longer, and our elections will no longer be full of empty promises.
I spoke with several of these people recently, and because they know me the first question they asked was, “Who do you want to be our next prime minister. God? If you do, you must know that this can never be. It is impossible!” I answered them by saying. “Where there is no faith, you will only find what you have just evidenced toward me, hatred. Without faith there can be no respect for one another. Your neighbors honor should be as dear to you as your own. You want the world to accept us as the chosen people of God, but what are we doing to set a good example to the world? We are screaming against our neighbors, and this is not right.”
When I said this, they became defensive and asked. “Are you telling us that if we believe in Jesus, we will have peace in our hearts?” I replied, “From my own experience I can say yes, that is true. It is written, ‘The righteous shall rejoice when he seeth the vengeance . . .’ [Ps. 58:10]. As long as people think like this, they will have no real peace. But because I have received the Lord as my Savior, I have peace in my heart, and you can have this same peace. I have gone to many people who were just like yourselves. They said they would never rest, never have peace, until they were avenged of their enemies, and because they knew that I believed in the Lord Jesus, they were almost ready to kill me. But now you can go to them and they will tell you what the Lord has done for them, they will tell you of the peace in their hearts since they too received Him as their Savior. He has given to them what they never had before. “And what is that?” they asked. “Peace,” I replied, “and love, and understanding and respect for one another. He is ready to do the same for you, if you will just put your trust in Him.” “Never!” they said. “We are Jews and will never be as you are, an apostate Christian!”
Now that they were attacking me, they forgot all about the election. Instead, they wanted to know how I had come to leave the faith of our fathers and why I had become a Christian. They also wanted to know why I wanted others to be like me, to believe in Jesus. I told them, “I did not come to the Lord by reading all the traditional books which you have read. All your lives you have done nothing but sit and read religious books, and yet you have received no blessing from the Lord. You live your lives in hatred. You believe that whoever is not with you must be against you, and therefore you feel such ones must be destroyed. All of this is because of your blindness which comes from constantly reading your holy books. In those books you will not find one shred of love.” Someone then asked, “And what of your Christian books? Do you read about love in them?” I answered, “There is only one book which I read. It is the book which showed me the way to have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.” “Show us that book,” they demanded. I told them, “You have seen it many times, and it is not just a Christian book. It is the Holy Bible which you all have but seldom read.” They were not happy to hear that I had found the Lord Jesus in their very own Bible, and they said, “You are going too far. How can you say such words?” I answered, “I know you are surprised to hear this, but that is because you have never been told the truth as it is presented in the Bible. You have been told nothing but fictitious stories all your lives, and upon these stories you base your faith. You call yourselves good Jews because you believe everything that has been passed down from generation to generation – all the old traditions – and you say that I am an apostate because I believe in the Lord. Let us take a look, together, at what the Bible has to say, and then you can make your own conclusion. You can decide for yourselves which book is true – the one written by the Holy Spirit of God, or the ones written by the many false teachers through the centuries. Those books are full of emptiness.” How can you talk like that?” they asked. “You know who wrote those books. They were all very wise men.” I told them, “The law, which you revere, was given by the Lord himself, not by wise men. Did Abraham graduate from some famous university? Did Moses, or any of the others who wrote the Bible? No! The Bible was written through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and not through the wisdom of men. Those books which were written by your wise men have been read no more than a few times, and they usually find themselves in a very nice place — the garbage can! But look at the book which was written by the Holy Spirit. Where is it? Everyone gives it a place of honor in the home, because we all realize, deep within our hearts, that it is the only book with any true and lasting value. You will not find anyone who says, I have read the Bible once and I know all there is to know about it. No! The more you read the Bible, the more you want to read it – again and again. You will never find this book in the garbage can – no, never!”
I then asked, “My dear friends, after this long conversation and all that I have told you, whom do you now choose to follow – the ones who make nothing but empty promises, who appear so wise in your eyes but who are actually empty in spirit, or this One who has said that we are His chosen people [Ps. 33:12]? He is the only One who keeps His promises [Num. 23:19; 1 Ki. 8:56].” They replied, “We cannot go back to the darkness, now that you have shown us the great light, and this is our answer.” From that time on, they began to be very friendly with me and to speak kindly to me. And why was this? It was because of His great love and light, as Isaiah said, “O house of Jacob, come ye, and let us walk in the light of the Lord” (Isa. 2:5). Anyone who walks in the light of the Lord will never see darkness again. The Lord said,”. . . I am the light of the world . . . ” (Jn. 8:12). The only proper conclusion anyone can come to is to put his trust in Him. I was surprised to see that these people who before had been so far from the truth were now much closer to seeing the real truth, and I will not say that this was done through my wisdom in dealing with them. That would be impossible. The Lord is the One who has begun to open their eyes through His Holy Spirit. They are now on the right road, the road to understanding the truths of the Bible and the claims of Jesus on their lives. I praise the Lord for this and ask you to pray with me that these people and many others like them will soon yield their lives to Him and step out of the darkness and into the full brightness of His glory.