Joel of Jerusalem Dec/Jan 1982/1983
I was reminded recently of the shortness of physical life. But because our souls are eternal, we all must prepare for eternity. For our physical bodies, we can purchase insurance. Insurance for the soul can only be obtained from the Lord Jesus Christ. It is something that should not be put off until tomorrow, nor is it just for the elderly. We never know what tomorrow may bring. We must be ready and receive the Lord, who promised, “Because I live, ye shall live also” (Jn. 14:19).
Just this week, I visited two widows. One woman’s husband was a believer. The other woman’s husband was far from the Lord but made a profession of faith on his deathbed. His surviving family are unbelievers. I went to their home to try to comfort them and to share how they could have eternal life. When I arrived, the house was filled with people. According to Jewish tradition, there are seven days of mourning. During this time people speak about all the good deeds of the deceased. The family’s rabbi was present, as well. He read from the Psalms and gave many examples from the traditional Jewish books. Everyone listened, as small children, to the rabbi’s words. Every story was received as if it were one of the Ten Commandments.
After the rabbi, the family gave me the opportunity to speak. “As you know,” I started, “I was his friend, and I also wanted to be his brother.” Someone asked, “How could you be his brother, you had different fathers? He came from Iraq, and you from Poland.” “We all can be brothers if we have the same heavenly Father. God created us, and we can be brothers if we receive the Lord Jesus Christ into our hearts by His Spirit.”
Realizing where I was heading now, one of them said, “This one who died cannot answer for himself, let alone for us. He died before his time.”
“It is written, ‘The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord’ [Job 1:21]. As you know, ‘To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die’ [Eccl. 3:1-2a]. You cannot know what will happen after our meeting. So, my dear friends,” I replied, “if I can call you brothers and sisters in the Lord, it will be much better. We will have one Father in Heaven who is everlasting and who can give you eternal life through His Son.” “What must we do?” they asked. “The Lord will give you eternal life if you will come, not with your books of tradition, but with your open hearts, acknowledge your sin and say, ‘Oh, Lord, receive us as your children.'”
There was an elderly man there who mockingly said, “I would be very happy if you could make me as a child again.” Everyone laughed at his sarcasm. So I said to him. “Of course, you are old in the body, and I myself am not eighteen anymore, but before God we are as children. So, my friend, be grateful that you have the opportunity and potential to be His child.” Everyone stopped laughing and became serious.
The rabbi asked me in which yeshiva (synagogue) did I teach. I assured him that I did not teach in a yeshiva, nor had I ever attended one. “In the yeshiva you can become wise in Jewish tradition, and you will learn many stories, but if you follow after God’s Word, the Bible, which was written through the Holy Spirit, you will not tell stories but facts about what God has done for you and all those who believe on the Lord. What do you know about the Lord God?” I asked him. The rabbi replied, “What I don’t know I ask another rabbi.” “Dear rabbi, I will tell you something important that you do not know. You cannot take a chicken and make a sacrifice for sin.” The rabbi asked, “Is there another way?” “Yes,” I replied, “and you can find the answer in Isaiah 53 and Leviticus 17:11.” I read both passages aloud for all to hear. They wanted facts, and I was happy to show them facts from the Scriptures.
Now everyone was waiting for the rabbi to answer, but he was as silent as a fish. They asked, “Rabbi, what do you say to these facts?” The rabbi was not in a good position, but he asked me, “Why are you doing this?” I answered him, “I am doing this because I want you to be saved and live forever.” He replied, “But you can see our friend here—he is dead!” “Yes,” I said, “his body is dead, but his soul is alive with the Lord.” “Are you really sure?” asked the rabbi. “Of course, I cannot be absolutely sure if he was TRULY repentant before the Lord, but most people on their deathbeds would think seriously about eternity. He told me that he received the Lord Jesus as his Savior. If so, I know he is now in the Lord’s presence.”
“There are many Jewish people in Israel today who believe that Jesus is the Messiah and Savior of the world,” I said. They found this hard to believe. “I can take you to their homes,”’ I told them.
The rabbi was very interested as I continued to explain the plan of salvation and how he could have a personal relationship with the living God through His Son, Jesus Christ.
“You put me in a hard position,” the rabbi admitted. “I must seriously think about what you have told us.”
Please join me in praying for this rabbi and the others present. Each one was confronted with the gospel. We trust the Holy Spirit will work in their lives and reveal to them the truth of His Word.