Joel of Jerusalem Dec/Jan 1984/1985
Many times I ask myself why I must move so often in my work. It is certainly not by my own choice, but it has been happening for years. One advantage to this constant changing of jobs is that I get to meet many people, and of course not everyone I meet knows that I am a believer in the Lord Jesus.
Recently when I came to a new place of employment, I met some new people and some with whom I had worked a long time ago. Since Christmas is not too far off, they were talking about it. Most of the men were opposed to Christmas, and some did not know enough about it to form a definite opinion, but no one had the courage to say that we should be happy for what the Lord did for mankind on that day so long ago. I was very quiet and just listened to the conversation. I have found it best not to say too much on the first day at a new job, but whether I wanted to or not, I was drawn into the discussion when they asked, “What do you think about Christmas? Was God really here on earth, or is that only a story? Should people blindly believe it without understanding what it means? Since you are new here, tell us what you think.” I was glad for the opportunity which they opened up to me, and I began to pray within my heart that the Lord would help these poor ones to see the truth. It is at times like this that I am reminded why I must move from one place to another like a wanderer—- it is so that I can reach many people with the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.
And so, I began to speak with my new coworkers about spiritual things. I quoted Proverbs 19:20, “Hear counsel, and receive instruction, that thou mayest be wise in thy latter end,”’ and also Proverbs 18:21a,” Death and life are in the power of the tongue.” I then told them, “None of you can speak the truth about the birth of Jesus Christ, because you don’t know the truth. You have never been taught, and you have been forbidden to study His birth on your own. You are afraid to say what is in your minds and on your hearts about this matter. I want to open your minds and bring you back to the root from which you have come. To whom do we belong? What should we really believe? Where is all this written? You must be sure of your faith and in what you believe, and this surety cannot be found in the fictitious stories the rabbis want you to read. You must study the holy Bible, for it is the only Book that will give you the true facts about the incarnation of the Lord Jesus.”
They became very upset at this, and one of the men said, “That is not so, and it will never be so! Jesus is not written of in our Bible, only in the Christian Bible.” I responded, “I am sorry that I did not bring a Bible with me today, but if you would like I will bring one tomorrow. Then you can see with your own eyes what is written there about Him.” They all agreed to this, and so I took a Bible to work the next day. They were all waiting for me and immediately asked, “’Do you have the Bible?” “Yes,” I replied, and they said, “Good, now we challenge you to show us the things you told us about yesterday. We are sure you will not be able to do it.”
I then turned to Isaiah 7:14 and read, “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” I told them, “This verse is speaking about Jesus. Immanuel is one of His names, and it means God with us. Some of His other names are Elohim, which means God [Ps.. 90:2]; Jehovah, I AM THAT I AM [Ex. 3:14]; and Jehovah-tsidkenu, The Lord our Righteousness [Jer. 23:5-6]. There are many other names I could show you in your Bible, and they all refer to Jesus.”’
One of the men said, ‘lf you really want to know how we feel, we think that what you say about Jesus is only a story.” “If that is so,”’ I asked, “how do you account for the fact that there are millions of people in the world who believe in Him as their Lord and who find great joy in celebrating His birth? Who are you to say that what those millions of people believe is not true, especially after you have been shown the facts in your own Bible? The people of Israel take pleasure in calling themselves the chosen people of God, and we should be the ones to take the gospel to the whole world. But what has happened? The nations of the world must come to us and tell us the truth about our own God. How long will you stay.in one place? We must always go forward, forward — we should not stand still and depend on other nations to show us what is written in our own Scriptures. We should be witnesses to the world and tell them, ‘For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father,The Prince of Peace’ [Isa. 9:6]. But are we doing this? No, because we are too busy fighting against ourselves. Many of our people have abandoned the holy Scriptures, the Book of Life, and have devoted the little time allotted to them on this earth to the pursuit of vanity.
“I am sure that most of you know something about me, and you know that I must constantly move from place to place in my work. Well, it is at times like this that I know I am in the right place, and I am not sorry that I must change jobs so often. Today you people need me, and I am glad to give you that which you have never received.” “What is that?” they asked. I replied, “It is the gospel of the Lord. It may be that in a short time I will have to go to another place to work, but I am sure there will be needy souls there with whom I can share this good news.”
I was certain that after I had revealed I was a believer in the Lord, I would be finished, that they would not want to hear anything more I had to say, and that I would be forced to look for another job after only two days — but I received a surprise. For the first time at any place where I have worked, they continued to listen with rapt attention, and one of them even said, “We know that Christmas is a Christian holy day, and we must not participate in it, but we would really like to understand what it is all about.” I then asked, “Why do you say that Christmas is only a Christian holy day?” “Because it is written about only in Christian books,” he replied. “How blind you are,” I said. “I just read to you from your own Scriptures about the birth of the Lord and why God sent Him to the earth. It was because of our sins. He came to save us, and you can see this for yourselves — not in any Christian book but in your own Bible, especially in the 53rd chapter of Isaiah.” They were all interested in this portion of Scripture because it is virtually unknown and never read in public. Of course, I was glad to read it for them, and then they asked many questions concerning the birth of Jesus.
It is written in Amos 8:1, “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord.” This is what is happening in Israel today. There is a famine and a thirst among the people to hear the true Word of God preached.
By this time, even my new foreman had joined the discussion. He had forgotten all about the time and that we should have long ago begun working. Instead he asked, “lf you are a Christian, how can you have any feelings for the nation of Israel?” “That is a good question,” I told him. “First of all, I want you to know that I have been born twice.” “Are you crazy?” he asked, “No,” I replied. “Let me explain. My first birth was in the flesh, and my second birth was in the Spirit. My love for the nation of Israel is very great. I have taken part in all the wars, from 1948 to the present time, even though I have received the Lord as my Savior. And now my children, who have also received the Lord, are in the army and will take an active part if there is another war. From the time I received the Lord Jesus as my Savior, I began to think of myself as a completed Jew. This is my land, and I have served it faithfully for most of my life, and, as I just told you, my children are now serving in the army — and not just one, but by the end of next year all four of my children will be serving in the military. And now, my dear foreman, you who consider yourself to be such a good Jew, please tell me how many of your children are in the army.” He was siient for a long time and finally said, “I have only one son. Do you think I will let him go? No! Never!” “Well then,”’ I asked, “are you as good a Jew as you represent yourself to be?” “I am so sorry for what I said,” he responded. “Believe me, I am ashamed before you.”
From that time on he allowed me the freedom to speak about the New Testament. Nothing had to be said in secret, nothing was forbidden, and no one was afraid of what anyone else would think. They were all eager to hear of the great day of the coming of our Savior in the flesh. I asked, “How can you not be happy at this time of year when we pause to remember this great event? I am happy, and because you are all my friends I want you to share in this joyous occasion —and it is our duty to bring this good news to those around us who are unhappy and embittered. They must understand why it is such a glad time.
On that first Christmas the angel said to shepherds in fields just a few miles from where we are standing, ‘. . . Fear not; for, behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord’ [Lk. 2:10-11].”
After this the foreman said, “If everything which you have told us and read to us from the Bible is true, then you are right, we should be happy in the Lord. But we cannot go as far as you have and say we are happy because the King is born. We must keep all this in our hearts and think it over carefully. Perhaps someday we will believe as you do, but not now.” I told him, “’You can believe right now if you will open your hearts and allow the Lord to come in, and I want you to know that I will be praying for ati of you, that this will happen in your lives.” The foreman then said, “It may be hard for you to believe, but I feel different. f do not feel bitter as I was a little while ago, but now I am happy. I even feel like singing. Do you think I am crazy to say this?” “No,’ I replied, “you are not crazy. You are happy because for the first time you have heard the truth about the coming of the Lord in the flesh, and you are beginning to realize that it is something to be joyful about.”
Please pray with me for these new friends, that the Lord will open their minds and hearts to receive the truth which they heard. Pray that one day soon they too will be able to rejoice in the birth of the Lord Jesus Christ who came to earth to die for the sins of the world.