Joel of Jerusalem Jun/Jul 1985
Everyday I thank the Lord that I can go on the streets with a smile on my face rather than thinking, as so many people are doing, how I can take revenge on the people who made trouble for me so long ago. These thoughts never leave some people, and especially my people, the Jews. I can understand them very well, because I experienced the six years of the Holocaust just as they did, and I know what it means to suffer. But how many years must I live with such thoughts? How long should I seek to take revenge? Isn’t forty years long enough?
I recently asked these questions of some people who wanted to know how I could believe in this One who has caused so many problems for the Jewish people. They said, “Because of Him we have lost so much. No nation in history has suffered as much as we have. How can we forget all of this?” I replied, “I never said that people must forget the past. That is impossible. What I said was that you will always remember the past but you must live in the present and put your trust in the future.” One man asked, “How can we put our trust in a future such as we are facing? Things are bad enough now, and they will only get worse. In what or whom can we put our trust?”
I then told them, “Take me for an example. It is possible that I have had more troubles in my life than all of you put together, and yet I am living quietly. My children are happy, even though two of them are in the army and a third will go in just a few months. And what’s more, when I get up in the morning I pray from my heart and thank God for all He has allowed to come into my life, the good things and the bad.” Then someone asked, “Don’t you ever think, even for one day, of getting up and taking revenge on your enemies?” I answered, “I used to think like that a long time ago, when I was in the same situation as you are. But from the time that I received the love of the Lord, everything in my life changed, for it is written, ‘. . . forgive, and ye shall be forgiven’ [Lk. 6:37].” One of the men asked, “Who had such a strong influence on you that you believe as you do?” I told him, “There is certainly no power on earth that could have influenced me after all I had experienced in the Holocaust. The thing which had such a great influence on me was the Bible. When I began to read it and believed on the Lord as my Savior, then He filled me with His Holy Spirit. From that time on I forgot about revenge, because through the Holy Spirit all things are possible.”
“How can you speak about the Holy Spirit or the love of God?” they asked. “This is what we hear from the Christians who want to make us as they are.” I then told these people, “You are not small children, and I am not trying to tell you stories. But it is within my possibility to show you the truth, and not just because I want you to believe all that I have told you for my own satisfaction. No, you must not do that. I am concerned about your souls, and I am sure that no one can say that what is written in the Bible is not true. No one can run away from the truth of God’s Word, and here we can read about your revenge.” I then read to them Zechariah 4:6, “. . . Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.” I told them, “You can see from this that not only those who believe in the Lord Jesus can hear about love and the Holy Spirit. Here is a living fact from your own Hebrew Scriptures. We cannot take the law into our own hands and do what we want. That must be left to the Lord. You may be surprised to know that on several occasions I have had guests in my home from Germany. They were people who had visited our assembly, and I was able to speak with them about the past as I would speak with close friends. This we can only do by His Holy Spirit, by His love, by His crucifixion on our behalf because we were so evil. Now I ask you, how long will you sing the popular song of revenge? Do you not fear the Lord?” “Yes,” they replied, “we fear Him.” “Then why, after so many years, do you not put your trust in Him? He always knows what you need and what is best for you. The people of this nation are always saying, ‘Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth . . .’ [Prov. 24:17]. This is not talking about revenge but about love, and again, this is not taken from any Christian writings but from the holy Bible. If you will accept what is written there, you will no longer go on the streets calling, ‘I am a Jew’, or expect me to call, ‘I am a Christian’. When you begin to truly fear the Lord and do His will, the Lord will not ask you to which nation you belong. From that time on we will all belong to one family, the family of the Lord Jesus. He alone can save us and give us true love and peace in our hearts. Then words like revenge will be forgotten.”
One of the men said, “But in order to do this you must first become a Christian, and we can never do that.” I told him, “That is not so. You can call yourself a good Jew or anything else you like. The important thing is to believe in Him and do His will. Then, whether you can believe it or not, you will all belong to one family and will call one another brothers.” “Even our sworn enemies?” they asked. “Yes,” I answered. “Your enemies of yesterday can be your best friends today. I am a Jew, a completed Jew because I follow what is written in the Bible. And I do not read the Bible just because it contains nice stories, as you have been told by your teachers. No, I read and follow the Bible because it is the true Word of God.”
Then someone asked, “How far can you go with such a faith?” “Why do you ask such a question? Look how long you have lived with your vain dream of revenge. Why should we not do that which we sing about on the streets of Jerusalem ‘Turn thou us unto thee, O Lord, and we shall be turned; renew our days as of old’ [Lam. 5:21]. You told me that all of the things we have suffered through the centuries have been because of the Christians. That is not true, and you all know it. We have suffered because we have been a disobedient people, instead of being the chosen people the Lord desires us to be. It is written in Amos 3:2, ‘You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore, I will punish you for all your iniquities.’ This is the truth which we must all see.” Then they finally admitted, “Yes, there is truth in what you say.”
Please pray with me that these people will have their eyes fully opened to the truth of God’s Word and that they will open their hearts to Him. It is written, “. . . ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (Jn. 8:32).
Joel is a faithful witness for his God in the land of Israel. A survivor of the Holocaust, he found Jesus Christ as his Savior following Israel’s 1948 War of Independence.
He served in the Israeli army with distinction through all of her modern conflicts. Of far greater importance, he serves in the Lord’s army.
Joel’s amazing life can be read in his biography entitled “ZVI” which is available at $3.95 through the Friends of Israel.