Joel of Jerusalem Oct/Nov 1977
In a few days I will finish my current tour of duty in the army. This has not been a pleasant period for me, and I will be glad to get home to my family, but still I am happy. This was an important time in my witness for the Lord. There were many attacks made against us, and so I had many opportunities to show my comrades that they were following false teachings. If I do not tell them, who will? They will continue in their old ways and will never know, until it is too late, that they were following the ways of darkness.
Because the men had been urged on by their superiors, the attacks on me were stronger than ever before. I asked my accusers, “What do you want me to do? Shall I forsake God, shall I leave my faith?” “Yes, leave your faith!” they demanded. “All right, then take the Bible from me,” I said. One of them took the Bible and commented, “The Bible belongs to us anyway. How can you read the same Bible as we do, when you believe on a different God?” “That is not true,” I countered. “Your God is my God, and your Bible is also my Bible. As a believer, I too have a right to follow what is written in it. Now, what more will you have me do?”
One of them responded, “We do not want you to preach about the Lord anymore.” “How can I not preach the Gospel of the Lord Jesus,” I asked, “when it is written right here in the Bible? You know of Abraham, Moses, Jonah, Isaiah, Hosea – all were Jewish heroes and all preached the Gospel – so I must also. The things I tell you are written in black and white, and you can see them for yourselves.”
I continued by saying, “Tell me, are you following the traditions of men or true faith?” “We are following the traditions of our fathers,” they said, “and we also follow the faith of our fathers.” “But, are you sure your fathers were walking the right path?” I questioned. “Of course we are sure,” they said. I continued, “How can you be so confident that they were right?” “Because they were our fathers!” they snapped.
At this point I read to them several passages from the Bible concerning mothers and fathers, such as Psalm 27:7-10 and Ezekiel 18:18. I told them, “From these examples you can see that fathers in the flesh are not always so right, and we should not always follow their ways. If we follow after the living God, our souls will be saved and we will receive everlasting life.”
I then reminded them. “You were sent here to attack me, and I have shown you the truth. You can even bring to me those who sent you. I am not afraid, because I believe on God and not on man’s tradition, as you do. I will be very happy to show all of you how you can receive life through faith in the Messiah. And, I will not do it in hate but in love, as we are instructed to do in the 12th chapter of Romans.”
After this they cooled off and I could see that they no longer wanted to attack me, so we began to have a good conversation about the Lord Jesus. Then, the ones who sent the men came to my tent. They were very sure that by this time I would be subdued, not by power but by the strong warnings they had instructed the men to bring me. When they saw that we were having a peaceful discussion about the Lord, they were surprised and asked, “What is happening here?” I replied, “These men are now my friends, even though they were my enemies at the start. Then they were feeling very sure of themselves, but they do not think they are heroes any longer. We have come to a good understanding and a unity of mind.”
One of the men then said to me, “We were sure that you were going against our Bible with what you were saying, but now we are not so sure. We are sorry about this mistake.” I told them, “It is only by our mistakes that we learn and can know what is right. It is written in the Bible that if we turn from our sins, God will forgive us and remember our sins no more.”
It was very thrilling to see that they gladly received not only the Old Testament, but also the New Testament. I praise the Lord that He was able to accomplish what for me was an impossibility.
Dear Concerned Christian:
I know you are appreciative of the courage and faithfulness of Joel of Jerusalem. The attacks on him have become organized and more concentrated in recent days. We would deeply appreciate your prayers on his behalf, that he shall remain faithful in his witness for the Lord.