Joel of Jerusalem Aug/Sep 1988
In the Talmud it is written, “Do not lose faith in divine retribution.” There are many people in Israel who are quick to despair because of the present situation in the nation. Recently some of them asked me, “How long will we have to suffer? And why? Why are the other nations not suffering as we are now and as we have suffered through the centuries?” These people know that I believe in the Lord Jesus; and they are, therefore, very interested in my answers to such questions. Of course, they think that they have the right answers, and they feel that they can trap me by my answers, thereby proving that I believe in a false god and a false religion.
I told them, “If you want the correct answers to your questions, you must begin by asking, ‘Why came I forth out of the womb to see labor and sorrow, that my days should be consumed with shame?’ [Jer. 20:18]. And if you want to know the answer to that question, you must understand that the Lord God chose us from among all the nations of the world and has commanded us to be a light to the nations [see Isa. 49:6]. Are we a light to the nations? No! And because we are not, we must pay this price of suffering. But the Lord will never forsake us because we, as a nation, belong to the royal family of God, and no one can separate us from Him. You should not be worried but happy. You know yourselves that the members of a royal household are often very poor, and so it is with the people of Israel; but we can be thankful that the royal family to which we belong is eternal.
“The sufferings which we are experiencing now have not been brought upon us by other nations. No! We caused them ourselves. Even in the time of Moses, our stiff-necked forefathers did not want to trust in God, so they had to suffer; and so it has been down through the centuries. And why? Only because of our wickedness. Today, if you will open your eyes, you can see what the Lord has done for us. He gave Himself for us, but the nation would not receive Him as Savior then, and they still will not receive Him today. The people of Israel continually ask why they have so much trouble, why God has forsaken them, but the Scriptures tell us that He will never forsake us [see Dt. 4:31; 31 :6; 1 Chr. 28:20]. He will bring us back to Himself because He has promised to do so and He never changes [see Mal. 3;6]. However, until we humble ourselves and receive Him, we must, as a nation, be punished.”
When I said this, they realized that I was speaking of Jesus, the Messiah, and they asked, “Why do you want us to believe in your Jesus? This is against our faith.” I told them, “People believe in many faiths, but there is only one God, the God written of in the Bible, and it is in this God that I have put my faith.” I then asked, “From which book have you found your faith?” They replied, “From the Bible.” “If that is so,” I said, “then we have the same faith, we believe in the same God.” “No!” they replied. “You believe in a different faith and a different God.”
I then asked, “How many Gods do we have?” “Only one,” they replied. I continued, “I know that you all read the Talmud, and you consider the rabbis who wrote it to be holy. You also revere the rabbis who wrote your many other commentary books. They are gods in your eyes. On the holy days, you go to their graves, bow down on your knees and pray to them, asking them to grant your requests. And how many such rabbis are there? They are too numerous to count. Not one of them is mentioned in the Bible, and yet you call them holy and pray to them. If you believe in the Bible and say that we have only one God, then you must stop going against what you claim to believe, stop worshipping other gods, for this is exactly what you are doing. You should understand that as long as you continue in your wicked ways, the nation of Israel will continue to suffer and to pay a high price for sinning against God.”
I then read for them 1 Peter 2:9, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a people of his own, that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” I told them, “Even the New Testament, which you despise, tells you who you are and what your obligation is before God. But you are very far from being what He has ordained the nation to be. How then can you expect other nations to come and kiss us? It is written in 1 Kings 12:11, ‘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.’ This is what the nation is experiencing now -wars, sorrows, it seems as if we have all the troubles of the world on our shoulders. Read the book of the Prophet Jonah, and you will see that he too was punished for running away from God. But we read in Jonah 2:1-2, ‘Then Jonah prayed unto the LORD, his God, out of the fish’s belly, And said, I cried by reason of mine affliction unto the LORD, and he heard me; out of the belly of sheol cried I, and thou heardest my voice.’ We, as a nation and as individuals, can do the same thing. Because He is merciful, God sent His Son to suffer for our sins and save us from eternal damnation.
“My dear friends, do not be so quick to despair. Put your trust in the Lord. He said in Jeremiah 33:3, ‘Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.’ If you truly believe that we have only one God, then you must believe that it is only through that one God that you can be saved; and that can only happen if you will personally accept Him and receive Him into your hearts.”
Please pray with me that during this time of severe testing in Israel, many of His chosen people will realize that the only answer to our problems, the only escape from the ordeals which constantly plague the nation, is to trust in the Lord, both individually and nationally. “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; they shall prosper who love thee” (Ps. 122:6).