Joel of Jerusalem Dec/Jan 1979/1980
Here in Israel the people are looking forward to seeing the promises of Camp David become real. But where is the peace? War seems very near. Will the promises ever be kept? The people do not realize that it is the same with them and their promises to keep the Word of God. They have also made a vow, but where is the keeping of it? If the people say something or make a promise, they always say deo-volente (God willing).
At this time of the year, however, there is a big difference. The people remember what they have done, and they do come before God and say, “Forgive me, oh Lord, for I am a sinner.” Even though they come only once in a year, they do come and cry before Him for forgiveness. All the people are now standing before the day of judgment, the day of maturity, and most are fearful. What will be? Will they be written in the Book of Life, will they receive God’s signature, or will they be cast away from His presence? They are fighting a great battle with themselves. This can always be seen before the holy days, because the people feel the weight of the faults. At this time it is not the same as being guilty before another person. The people know that they have made a vow before the Lord, and a man’s conscience cannot be clean until he receives the answer — guilty or entitled.
Sometimes this can almost make a person go crazy, because he realizes that this promise is to God, and He is not like people who can change their minds every day, like the wind. To some people this is very hard to accept, but to every beginning there is also an end. I recently met a man who was tormented in this way. He poured out his heart to me and asked, “What can I do to be free of my unclean conscience?” I replied, “This problem is not yours alone, but it belongs to all the people of the world.”’ He then asked, “Is it the same with you?” “Yes, it was,” I answered, “but I now have forgiveness of my sins, and not because I offered a chicken as a sacrifice for my sins. No! Never again!”
“But how can that be?” he asked. “You broke the law.” I told him, “It is written in the Holy Bible, ‘To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lord’ [Isa. 1:11]. And now I say to you, who broke the law? Was it not you with your superstitions and following after darkness? Where are you? Open your eyes and see what it is you are following after. You only have your traditions, but you can see that I follow the Bible. I am sure that all of you who are seeking the Lord have heard about the Lord Jesus, but what do you really know about Him who takes away our sins and gives us happiness and the promise of an everlasting future with Him in Heaven? With Him in my heart, I do not go day after day fearing what will be.”
He then said, “Do you mean to say that you have no-fear?” “Oh yes,”’ I replied, “I have fear, as it is written, ‘Blessed is the man that feareth the Lord’ [Ps. 112:1]. If everyone feared the Lord, living here on earth would be like living in paradise. All the troubles you have are caused because you have given place to the devil. He dwells in you and is doing with you as he likes. He gives you no rest, no peace in your heart, no love. He only gives you hatred, fear and jealousy, because he knows very well that jealousy, lust and ambition can expel a man from the world. Why do you endure all of this? You want your heart to be quiet and without jealousy but full of love. All of this you can receive, but only from the Lord above who gives us forgiveness of sin through His suffering.”
He then asked me how to do this, and I said, “If you will listen, I will be happy to make it all clear to you how the Lord found me, showed me mercy and received me into His glory. All of this is because of His great love for us.” He thought for a long time about what I said, and then he worked up enough courage to ask me exactly how I had received the Lord and how His Spirit came into my heart, and I began to explain it all to him.
“From that time on, I was not the same,” I said, “because I put my trust only in Him. I offered no more chickens as sacrifices for my sins, because the Lord offered Himself only one time for our sins, and with this sacrifice we are saved forever. My conscience is now clean, and I have no more fear. I thank the Lord for all that He has done for me, and you can do the same.” “But what shall I say?” he asked. “Say all that is on your heart to your Father in Heaven, and you can do this without fear. Just say to Him, ‘I am dead, oh Lord, heal me, teach me, save me and show me the path of life, be my Helper…..’”
When I finished speaking, what did I see? A tearful look on his face. I was surprised to see a man who was always so hardhearted and now here he was a small child. He said to me, “I am ashamed before you.” “Oh no,’ I told him, “you must not feel that way. Be happy that the Lord has come into your heart and given you courage. Be happy that the Lord is now your Father, if you do not do this, you can have endless troubies and no one will ever be able to help you. And now, how are you feeling?” He replied, “Never have I been so happy as now! But I want to know one thing, will this happiness ever fly away from me?” “No,” I assured him, “it belongs to you forever.” How can this be?” he asked. Pray to the Lord and give Him thanks from your heart, and you will always have happiness in Him. Again he said, “Teach me thy ways, oh Lord,” and this time I cried.