Joel of Jerusalem Dec/Jan 1986/1987
We read many times in the Bible that the people of Israel are God’s chosen people, His peculiar treasure. The people of Israel consider this to be a great honor, but most forget that there are some conditions involved for them to receive God’s blessings as His chosen people. In Deuteronomy 11:26-28 the Lord said, “Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse: A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day; And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known.” If the people obey the Lord and keep His commandments, He will bless them; if they do not obey Him but do evil, He will curse them. I am sure no one wants to be cursed, but there are many people in Israel who believe that because we are the chosen people, God will only do good for us. They feel that they do not have to obey the Lord and keep His commandments, that the very fact that we live in Israel is the same as doing the greatest of good deeds for the Lord.
I recently met some people who believe this way, and I told them, “My friends, it is not enough that you live in Israel. It is written in Deuteronomy 1 2:1 , ‘These are the statutes and ordinances which ye shall observe to do in the land, which the Lord God of thy fathers giveth thee to possess, all the days that ye live upon the earth.’ Because we are the chosen people, we must be an example to the rest of the world. We must not continue to believe the fantasy that just because we live in Israel, we are free to do whatever we like.”
One man asked, “Do you not think it is a great thing that the people of Israel spend so many years of their lives studying the Talmud?” “No!” I replied. Then he challenged, “Show me any other nation on earth whose people have studied their holy books for as many years as the people of Israel have studied the Talmud.” I told him, “It is sad that even with all your studying you are so far from the truth.” They were very surprised to hear this, and they began to ask among themselves, “Who is this man? Is he normal?” I assured them that I was indeed normal, and I then told them, “You can spend all your lives studying your holy books, but the Lord will consider it nothing more than vanity.”
They then asked, “Are you courageous enough to go to the rabbis and tell them what you are telling us? We realize now that you are a Christian, and you want us to receive Jesus Christ as our Savior, as you people always say. We are sure that you will not tell this to the rabbis because you are afraid of them.” “Never!” I replied. “Everyone must be told the truth about our Savior, and, as a matter of fact, on many occasions I have spoken with rabbis and told them what I have just told you. In reality, it is you who are afraid of the rabbis. They do not have horns, they do not bite. You can speak your mind with them. I know that this may not seem like a simple thing to do, but, as we always say, where there is a will there is a way, and that way is open to everyone. You can see that I am perfectly free to witness among people who have never heard about the Lord Jesus. You must understand that when you stand before the Lord to give an account of what you have done here on earth, your rabbis will not stand with you. You will stand before Him alone. Also, the rabbis do not have the power to forgive your sins.”
I could tell that they were beginning to take an interest in what I was sharing, but one of the men said, “I am sure you know how many years and for how many generations we have been following the traditions of our fathers and revering the rabbis. It is hard for us to forsake the old ways. Our fathers lived and died following these traditions” “I understand your concerns,” I told them, “but if you do not change your ways, when you die you will be lost forever with no chance to be saved.” When they heard this they began to act frightened and asked, “Do you think we have already gone too far? Do you think we are lost already?” “’No,” I answered. “In fact, this is only the beginning for you. When you begin to fear, your eyes will be open to see the clear truth as it is presented in the Bible. You will see the folly of following after the old traditions of your fathers and teachers and not accepting the responsibility for your eternal souls.”
One of the men then said, “You don’t have to tell us this. We have studied the Talmud all our lives. You cannot teach us anything which we do not already know.” At this point I said to the entire group, “Please put your hands on your hearts and tell me truthfully which book is more important — the Talmud or the Torah, the book of the Law which we received on Mount Sinai. If you are such good Jews, why don t you keep the law as it is written in Deuteronomy 5:7, ‘Thou shalt have no other gods before me’? This is only one of many commandments of God which the people of Israel, the chosen people, do not keep. Deuteronomy 6:4 says, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord.’ Where are your ears, that you may hear? The Bible clearly tells us that every person is responsible for himself before the Lord, and Ezekiel 18:20 tells us, ‘The soul that sinneth, it shall die.’ From this passage of Scripture we can see that not even our fathers in the flesh can help us, and surely the rabbis can not save us. They are here with you today, but tomorrow they will be in another place. God, however, is everlasting, and He will never leave you. If you will receive the Lord your God, then you will be blessed rather than cursed.”
At the end of this very long conversation, these people said, “We are surprised by what you have shared with us. We never realized that those who believe in Jesus follow the Bible so closely. This is the first time we have spoken freely with someone like you and the first time we have heard what you really believe.”
I trust that you will pray with me for these people who, until now, had never heard the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ. And, unfortunately, there are so many, many more like them in the land of Israel. Pray that the believers in this land, although we are certainly a minority, will be used of the Lord to reach many of His chosen people with the gospel. As I told these people, there must always be a beginning. Pray for them and many others who will hear for the first time, that the Lord will cause them to meditate on what they have heard, that they will recognize the truth as it is written in His Word, and that they will open their hearts to Him as their Savior and Messiah.