Joel of Jerusalem Aug/Sep 1986
Recently I had to pay a visit to the local medical clinic, and, as I am sure is the case ail over the world, I had to wait a very long time before I could see a doctor and receive treatment. Of course, there were many other people waiting as well, most of them very restless and nervous. I thank God that He gives me patience, even in situations like this, and when I saw all those sad faces, I knew that here was a good place to have a nice conversation about the Lord. He always gives the right time and the right person, and we must always seize such opportunities.
I struck up a conversation with a man who lives near me, but we had never spoken to one another before. I asked why he was at the clinic, and his answer surprised me. “There is no hope for us,’ he said. I asked why he felt this way, and he replied, ‘Because we have been waiting 2,000 years for the Messiah to come but He has not come yet, and now,\ am sure He will never come to our people.”
I told him, “You must not be discouraged but continue to trust in the Lord, because His promises are true. We can see that through His dealings with the people of Israel over the centuries. We were in exile in almost every country of the world, and each year at Passover we would say, ‘Next year in Jerusalem.’ How long did we say that?” “For over 2,000 years,’ he answered. “That’s right, for over 2,000 years we longed to be in Jerusalem, and now we are here, we are Israeli citizens, this is our home, our city. The Lord promised that someday we would return, and He kept that promise. Why, then, should we lose hope in His return? We must remember the words of lsaiah 12:2, ‘Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid … ‘ Those who truly believe in God have this great confidence, and it is our duty to tell other people how they can have this same confidence, this same hope. So many people — people just like yourself— are living with a maybe philosophy of life: maybe I will be a success in life; maybe I will be remembered as a good person; maybe I will be with God in Heaven when I die. But God is not a maybe. He is a living fact! And because He is a living fact, we do not have to go through life without hope.”
Proverbs 3:5 telis us, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding.’ It is in failing to obey this scriptural command that so many people get into trouble. They think they are so smart that no one can tell them anything which they do not already know, but that is a big mistake. It is written in Proverbs 7:1, “My son, keep my words, and lay up my commandments with thee.”
The man with whom I was speaking told me that he was from Russia; therefore, I was not surprised that he was so far away from God, from hope, from our Messiah. He was also unaware that anyone in Israel believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, and he could not understand how a “good Jew” could leave the faith of his fathers.
It is never pleasant to hear comments like this, but I could not give up on this man. The Lord has done so much for me, and I have a responsibility to tell others that He will do the same for them. There are always people here in Israel who are ready to fight against believers, but we must not give up. We must stand strong in the face of our enemies. Someone has said, “It is a big sheep who can stand among a pack of wolves.” Of course, I must admit that it is not I who am strong, and I could never stand alone among those who want to attack me. But the Lord is my strength, my helper, and it is through Him that I can go to the people of Israel and tell them that which they have never heard before — that they must come back to the truth, to hope, to the Lord.
This man was spiritually poor because of the weakness of his faith. For so many years in Russia he knew nothing of God, nothing of salvation through the blood of Jesus, nothing of putting his faith in Him, but he does not have to end his life in this state of spiritual darkness. While we were waiting to see the doctor, I was able to share with him many examples of people who had hope in the Lord, and I showed him that we can have this hope even though we are no longer young, for it is written in Psalm 92:14, “They shall still bring forth fruit in old age .. ..”
In the providence of God, I met this man the very next day while walking along the street in Jerusalem, and we had another nice conversation. Up to this time in his life, he had never heard the Word of God and knew nothing about the great hope that we can have by putting our faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ for our salvation. Now he had heard, and I trust you will pray with me that he will soon open his heart to the claims of the Messiah on his life. Pray also that I will have further opportunities to speak to him and to others like him and that the Lord will give me patience, perseverance, love and tact as ! deal with these “lost sheep of the house of Israel.”