Joel of Jerusalem Feb/Mar 1985
There are many countries in the world, some big and some small, but there is only one country on earth where you can see signs all over, written in big letters, “WELCOME TO THE HOLY LAND.” That country is Israel, and no one can say that it is not truly the Holy Land, but unfortunately it is very difficult to find holy people in the Holy Land. The Lord commanded the people of Israel, “. . . Ye shall be holy; for I, the Lord your God, am holy” (Lev. 19:2), but they have not obeyed His command. The people of Israel cannot claim to be holy simply because they live in the Holy Land. People who live in the jungle can be holy if they will open their hearts and allow the holiness of the Lord to come in.
Here in Israel you can almost always hear a discussion about who is holy and who is not holy. When a famous rabbi dies, he is declared to be holy, and people then go to his grave and pray, thinking he can help them with their problems. They also ask him questions, thinking that in some way he can provide the answers. They are spiritually blind and do not realize that God alone has the power to answer our prayers and solve the problems in our lives.
I recently met some people who consider themselves to be very religious and call themselves holy. They spend their time studying the many books of tradition which have been passed down through the centuries, and they do not like to be alone because, as the old saying goes, “Sorrow shared is sorrow halved.” As I spoke with them, they asked if I had any troubles. “Of course,” I answered. “Everyone has his own burden of cares.” One of them said, “You know, there is a way to be free of all your troubles in a very short time.” He then told me to go to the grave of a certain rabbi who had died a long time ago and who is now considered to be very holy. He continued, “He has great power, even though he is dead. If you will go to his grave and recite all your needs, everything will be taken care of.” I then asked, “If what you have said is true, then why did God write in His Word, ‘Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people who are round about you’ [Dt. 6:14]? We have only one God, and He is the only One we should worship and pray to. Surely you know that great verse which all good Jews can recite, Deuteronomy 6:4, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord.’”
When I said this, they all became very confident and said, “You speak about one God, but you also speak about the Holy Spirit and say we must believe in Him. This means that you believe in more than one God. We know that most Christians believe in the Holy Spirit. Are you one of them?” I replied, “I am one who believes in the living God, and you will probably be surprised when I tell you that I also believe in the Son of God and in the Holy Spirit. You will be even more surprised to learn that these three are all one God, or ‘Elohim,’ a word which you all know is plural in Hebrew. As a matter of fact, the last word of Deuteronomy 6:4, which we just spoke about, is also a plural word and indicates a compound unity within the Godhead, or what is referred to as the Trinity.”
The men became very upset and said, “We know nothing about this.” “I realize that,” I said, “and so let’s start at the beginning. You told me that you believe in God the Father. That is the first step. The second step is to believe in God the Son.” “We never heard that God had a Son,” they responded. I then told them, “You can see for yourselves in the the Bible where it is written about the Son of God. Psalm 2:12 says, ‘Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little . . . .’ In Proverbs 30:4 we read, ‘Who hath ascended up into heaven, or descended? Who hath gathered the wind in his fists? Who hath bound the waters in a garment? Who hath established all the ends of the earth? What is his name, and what is his son’s name, if thou canst tell?’
“You can see that the Son of God is clearly spoken of in our own Jewish Scriptures. Now the next step is to learn about the Holy Spirit, whom you say only Christians believe in. King David was not a Christian, and yet he was fearful of losing the Holy Spirit, for he said, ‘Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence, and take not thy holy Spirit from me’ [Ps. 51:10-11]. The Prophet Zechariah was not a Christian, but he spoke about the Holy Spirit, ‘. . . Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts’ [Zech. 4:6]. Many of you use His name every day in prayer, and yet you do not understand that the very name you use, Elohim, is speaking of the triune God. So, you see, you do not need to pray to dead rabbis for help. That is the greatest sin we can commit. We have a living God and we can come directly to Him, as a child comes to its father. He is the only one who can answer our prayers. One who is dead has no power to help.”
The men then began to attack me, saying, “You tell us not to worship our dead rabbis, and yet you worship one who was killed because of His disorderly conduct against our faith. You have no right to tell us who is holy and who is not holy.” “You are right,” I said, “I have no right to make you believe anything, but I have shown you the facts in black and white from your own Jewish Scriptures. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit are written about, but you will not find one word about your dead rabbis in the Bible. This one whom I have read about is called Immanuel, God with us. If you want to know why He was born, let me read to you the reason. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all” [Isa. 53:6]. He was born to die for our sins, and He is Elohim, the same one you call upon in your prayers every day. He is the one you worship and also the one I worship.”
They began to attack me again, telling me that I was no longer a part of Judaism. “How blind you are,” I said. “The Bible does not speak of Judaism or Christianity. It speaks about faith. It is written, ‘Come near, ye nations, to hear; and hearken, ye peoples: let the earth hear, and all that is therein; the world, and all things that come forth from it’ [Isa. 34:1]. You can plainly see that this was not written to the Jewish nation only but to all nations of the earth. Whoever will hear His words and receive Him as Savior will be saved. God will be his Father, and he will be His child.”
They had now been listening to me for a long time, but their hearts were hardened, and it was impossible for them to understand, so they said, “Those who believe in Jesus have no authority to speak about the Bible.” Again I told them, “The Bible was not given to the Jews only but to all peoples of the world, and anyone who believes in God, according to the way the Bible directs, is part of the family of God. But people like yourselves, who have boycotted the truth which is written in the Bible, are not true children of God.” They asked, “Who told you this big lie?” “No one,” I responded. “l have lived in Israel for 37 years, and I have seen for myself that you have forsaken the Holy Scriptures for the books of tradition which have been passed down from generation to generation. For instance, how many of you are familiar with the 53rd chapter of Isaiah? I just read a portion of it for you, and you probably did not even realize it. You have been told not to read that chapter, and it is a mystery to you.”
I then read Isaiah 53:6 again, and this time they could not ignore the facts. They all looked at each other as if they wanted to say, It is the truth! We are like sheep who have gone astray! I continued to read, “. . . he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors” (Isa. 53:12). I then told them, “I hope you can now see that all of your holy rabbis did nothing but hide the truth from you. They do not deserve to be called holy, and you should not revere them or their graves. What you said before is true. Jesus was killed. But centuries before He was killed, the Lord said, through King David, that He would be resurrected, ‘For thou wilt not leave my soul in sheol, neither wilt thou permit thine Holy One to see corruption’ [Ps. 16:10]. He is alive today, and if we put our faith and trust in Him, we will be alive with Him forever. Job spoke of the resurrection of believers when he said, ‘. . . though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God’ [Job 19:26]. You must leave your old traditions and superstitions behind and seek a new heart and a new spirit. This is what the Lord wants from you. If you will do this, then you will receive His great salvation, for the Lord has said, ‘Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver and gold, from your vain manner of life received by tradition from your fathers, But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot’ [1 Pet. 1:18-19].”
Please pray with me that these ones who are so blind to spiritual truths may have their eyes opened and that they will one day be able to pray from the heart to the living God, who alone can answer their prayers and draw them unto Himself for salvation.