Joel of Jerusalem Dec/Jan 1978/1979
The people here are now preparing for the feast of the New Year, followed by the greatest feast of all, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement, or as it is called in Israel, the Day of Judgment. This is the only feast that the people really fear. Thirty days before the feast they begin to pray, day after day and night after night, for forgiveness. This is the only time of year that they do this. After the Day of Atonement, praying will be forgotten about until next year.
Recently some people came to me and said, “We must talk to you again, and you know why. We want you to forget about your strange ways and come with us to pray.” I asked who had sent them to me, and they replied. “No one sent us, we have come on our own.” “No,” I responded, “you did not come on your own, but I know who sent you. It was God!” They were shocked at this, but I said, “Yes, God sent you so I could tell you that I don’t need to go with you to pray for forgiveness. God has already forgiven my sins.” “Oh yes,” they agreed, “He forgives us all at the time of the great feast every year.” “That is not what I mean,” I countered. “I came to God only one time. I gave my heart to Him and put my faith and trust in Him. At that time He forgave my sins, and I am completely sure of this. Now I don’t have to fear the feast every year, as you do. And if you will do the same thing, He will forgive your sins also, once forever. God has said, ‘Abide in me, and I in you.’ ”
They were not interested in any of this and said, “We promise that if you will do as we have asked, you will have no more trouble with us.” I responded, “I am not one of those people who lives in fear, and I am especially not afraid of you. I fear only God.” “How can you fear God when you do not believe in Him, but in Jesus?” they asked. “I will be glad to answer that question,” I said, “and then you will know that all of the offerings you make at the time of the feast are in vain, they are nothingness. The Lord said, ‘I am full of burnt offerings of rams . . . .’ I believe on only one offering, and that is the offering of the Lord himself, who gave Himself for us.” “From what book did you take that?” they asked. Quickly I opened the book of Isaiah and read chapter 53 for them. “Here you have the answer,” I told them. “He is the One to whom I have given my heart and my trust, and He has given me assurance. I know that when my time comes to leave this world, I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Now you have come to tell me that I may have more trouble from you. Well, I have had so many troubles in the past that I am not afraid anymore.” “Not even about your life?” they demanded. “No,” I answered, “because I know to whom I belong.”
At this point they said, “If you are not afraid of us, then let us make a cease-fire and speak together as good friends.” “This is what I have been waiting for,” I replied. “I want you to know that I do not hate you, and I would like to be able to speak with you as a friend – not because I fear you, but because I love you. It is written that we are to love our enemies. You are my dear friends and you are welcome to visit me anytime you wish.” They said, “We cannot believe this!” “What can’t you believe?” I asked. “You can see with your own eyes that all hate for you is gone.”
After this my children played their instruments for these people, and they shared a meal with me and my family. I could feel the Spirit of the Lord working, and after we had eaten I asked how they felt. “Very well,” they replied. “If this is so,” I continued, “may I read to you some things from the New Testament and tell you why I’m so happy?” “Oh yes,” they responded, and I began to read Romans 12, particularly verses 9 through 21.
One of them then said, “These things are all nice to hear, but I have one question for you. You said that Jesus loved His enemies?” Yes,” I replied. “If this is so, then why did the Germans, who are Christians, persecute the Jewish people so badly?” “I am sure that they were not true believers in the Lord,” I answered. “It was only a confederation in His name, until the persecution was over. You all know what has happened in Germany since then. Most of the people are again calling on the Lord and they are sorry for what they did. Of course, they are not really clean within. They are only hoping that they are clean, just like you hope as you pray and sacrifice for the great feast. When I received the Lord as my Saviour, from that time on I was done with vain prayers and sacrifices. I received His love, His grace, His mercy. On the Day of Atonement you will go to the synagogue and pray and cry, but you will not be sure if the Lord has forgiven your sins. I am sure! He has given me one hundred percent confidence of this.
“My friends, why do you continue to live in fear? The Lord is your atonement. He will receive you into His household, as He has received me, and He will forgive your sins. You too can be done with the offering of rams. You all know very well that you came here through hate, you came to warn me, but what has happened? The love of our Lord has been with us as we have talked in this place. If the Lord of Hosts had not left a few survivors for His name, we would have become as Sodom and Gomorrah. We should thank the Lord that He is with us.”
These people left my home, but not as they had come. No, they left with love in their hearts and happy smiles on their faces. Praise the Lord!