Joel of Jerusalem Feb/Mar 1983
We say that no ill is without its good. Every time a situation begins badly, I always pray, “O Lord, lead me and give me much patience so I can stand strong against the tribulations I face.” There are always those who think how they can get to me. No one wants trouble, but if the trouble comes because of my faith, I never run away. I am always ready to stand against it.
In this new place where I am working there are interesting people. It is good that they know about me – who I am. How they found out about my faith so quickly, I do not know, even now. But I am thankful to this one who thought he made trouble for me. Because of him, I did not have to start from the beginning with these men. They started with me and wanted to know about my faith. They especially wanted to know how Jesus was born, who made Him as a god, and how I came to believe in Him knowing I would suffer for it. We know that all those who believe in the Lord Jesus as Savior do suffer for their faith – just like Jacob who, after much suffering, received the blessing.
It was after Jacob (Israel) that the Promised Land was named. The Lord chose us among other nations. So we must pay with our bodies and blood. With all our trouble and suffering, the world is jealous. Jealous of what? The whole world knows we are a small nation, and it seems like every other day we have a new war. Even with all this, the jealousy is great. With all of our trouble, the Lord has blessed us. It is the same with us as believers – with all our troubles, the Lord has blessed us.
I asked my co-workers if they were jealous of me because of my faith in the Lord. “I want you all to know,” I told them, “that when the Lord gave Himself, He did not say, ‘only for Zvi’ or ‘only for another.’ No! He died and was raised from the dead for ALL the world. The Lord never promised us anything in this world, only that we would have tribulation. But if we stand firm, the day of blessing will come – not here, but in eternity. It is written, ‘. . . be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life’ [Rev. 2:10].”
“Are you crazy?” they exclaimed. “The world does not think like you, and they make a good life.” “No, never,” I replied. “One must not follow the majority.” “How do you expect us to believe this which is so far from us?” they asked. “We all believe in the one true, living God,” I replied. “Just as is written in Ruth 1:16, my God is your God. There is only one God and one Savior by whom we can be saved.” “Yes,” they agreed, “we know there is only one God, but Jesus is not mentioned by even one-half a word in the Jewish Bible!”
“Do you want me to tell you the truth about the Lord?” I asked them. “Or are you so much against Him that your minds are closed? Or maybe you are jealous because I believe in Him and am saved, and you want this also? So tell me straight that you want to know about the Lord.” “No, no!” they replied. “But I must answer you,” I said, “even if you do not want to believe – everyone has that freedom. When you said that not even one-half a word is written about the Lord Jesus, I must answer you. If you will be patient, I will show you that you are right. There is not one-half a word written about Him – most of the Bible is written about Him.” They asked me, “Are you not ashamed to say such things?” “No,” I said firmly, “I am not ashamed. I know in whom I believe.”
I had brought my Bible with me, so I could show them the Scriptures, because hearing cannot be compared with seeing. They agreed to listen and read for themselves the Scriptures which were shown them. So, I began with Micah 5:2: “But thou, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel, whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”
They asked, “Who is he? Show us more.” So, we looked at Isaiah 7:14: “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Then I showed them Isaiah 9:6: “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.”
“These Scriptures show that Jesus is the Son of God,” I said. “He is the Savior of the whole world. All those who believe in Him and accept Him as Lord and Savior identify with Him in His death and resurrection and live with Him. In Him there is no death [spiritual]; only life.”
“If all this is true,” they asked, “why must we suffer so?” I replied. “This is because we are the chosen people of God. In Amos 3:2 we read, ‘You [Israel] only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore, I will punish you for all your iniquities.’ This punishment will not end until our people turn to the Lord and say, ‘Turn thou us unto thee, O Lord, and we shall be turned; renew our days as of old’ [Lam. 5:21]. This you all can say, not to me, but very quietly to your Father in Heaven. I need not hear.” “We can say this,” they replied, “but NOT to the one you want us to.” “O, how blind you are,” I said. “If you are to be saved, this is your only way of deliverance.” “What is our deliverance?” they questioned. “Salvation, forgiveness of your sins and peace in your heart – this is what you need,” I replied. “Only one person can give you this, and that is the Lord Jesus. This One IS written about in the Jewish Scriptures, He was born to die for us that we might have everlasting life. You can receive Him.” “But how can we believe in Him whom we have hated for so long – like the cross?” they asked. “You can see that I have no cross around my neck,” I said. “My faith is not in the cross, but in the One who died on the cross and arose from the dead. We, who receive Him, are alive with Him, just like we died with Him.” They asked me, “How can this be? You were dead before, and now you are alive? We do not understand this.” So I explained carefully that before I received Jesus as my Messiah and Savior I was dead in my sins – in the sins of our fathers – with no hope to be saved, until God gave His Son to be crucified for us all. “You can see this, I continued, in Isaiah 53. He took our sins upon Himself, so in a sense we were crucified with Him. He paid the penalty for us.”
“Because of my faith in the Lord,” I said, “you have treated me badly from the beginning. I have experienced many attacks from you, but this is the price I must pay. Why do you do this? Only because of your jealousy.”
“Now you know all about my faith and, more importantly, you have seen with your own eyes Scriptures concerning Jesus, the One in whom you are so interested and claim not even one-half a word is written about. You all have Bibles. This Book is impossible to change. If you really believe it, you will also come to receive Jesus as your Savior and be saved from your sin. You all can be saved by giving your heart to Him.” For the first time during our conversation, they said, “Amen.”
I thank the Lord for the privilege to live for and serve Him, who died for us. Please pray for these dear men, who gave me much trials in the beginning, and who have now been confronted with the gospel of the Lord Jesus, that the Lord would remove their blindness, convict them of their sin and turn them to Himself, who is the only way of salvation.