Joel of Jerusalem Oct/Nov 1988
When I was employed as a construction worker, I had many Arab friends, and they often came to my home to visit. Since the recent problems in Israel have developed, however, they don’t come to see me anymore. But, as we say, it is always possible to find a flower among the thorns; therefore, I never close my door to anyone. It is always open – to those who love me and to those who hate me. My door is always open.
And so one day a few weeks ago I answered a knock at the door, and standing there was one of my Arab friends – one whom I never expected to see in my home, even under the best of conditions. Of course, my wife and I received him happily and graciously, as we do everyone who visits us; but when the conversation quickly came around to the subject of the current hostilities, he. was not very happy. He said, “Look at what is happening under Israeli rule! How can these things be? How can you possibly approve of this?” Certainly I, as a citizen of this nation, along with just about every other Israeli citizen and the government itself, have heard these questions over and over in recent months, but my answer is different from that of most other Israelis.
I began by asking my guest, “Do you believe in God?” “Oh yes. My faith in God is at the very center of my life,” he replied. “My dear friend, if you can speak so freely about your faith, if you really believe in God and are faithful to Him, then why is your hatred so strong? After all, you say we believe in the same God who created all men in His image, and I am sure you know that it is written in the Ten Commandments, ‘Thou shalt not kill’ [Ex. 20:13]. Anyone who truly believes in God must know that without love for our fellow man, faith has no value. Because God is love [l Jn. 4:8, 16], He gave Himself for our sins [Jn. 3:16].
“When you and your Arab brothers go·to your mosques to pray, it is not the same as when believers in the Lord go to their houses of worship to pray and then return home to their families with smiles on their faces and love in their hearts. The difference is that some truly believe in God and others only say that they believe. The whole world can see on television how you conduct yourselves in your houses of prayer. You do not come out with smiles on your faces, peace in your hearts and prayer books in your hands. Instead, you come out with hatred on your faces, Vengeance in your hearts and stones in your hands. If this is your faith, then where is the love of God? Why do you say you are going to your mosques to pray when you are really learning to throw stones? For this type of training you could go to your military commanders.”
After this long conversation, my guest asked the same question so many others have asked after I have shared the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ: “What do you want me to do? Shall I leave the faith I was born with? Shall I leave the faith of my father and the faith of his father, and his father, and so on back through the generations?” I responded, “It is the same with your Arab fathers as it has been with my Jewish fathers. They all believed in superstitions and fables conceived by men. Should we continue to worship in the same false way? I do not think so. We can clearly see from the Scriptures that God never taught us to hate our enemies but to love them, to pray for them. It is written in Leviticus 19:18, ‘Thou shalt not avenge, nor bear any grudge against the children of thy people, but thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself: I am the LORD.’ This is the way the Lord expects us to treat our loved ones, our neighbors and even our enemies.”
At this point in our discussion, another knock came at the door, and I answered it to find several more friends standing there. Some of these men had been in my home before, and, as always, I welcomed them warmly. Now the conversation really became interesting. I thank the Lord that He was at the center of it, and because of Him we had a good time of sharing with one another. One of the men asked why I had turned a discussion about the current troubles in Israel into a discussion about faith. I replied, “I am glad you asked. I want you to know that without faith in the Lord, we would be lost. You can see this for yourselves in Psalm 124:2-3: ‘If it had not been the LORD who was on our side, when men rose up against us; Then they had swallowed us up alive, when their wrath was kindled against us.’ We could not go very far without faith in God and without knowing our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Some of the men who had joined us were Jewish, and they, along with the Arabs, were surprised to hear a Jew presenting facts from the Bible instead of the commentary books and speaking of Jesus as his Savior. None of my guests, Jewish or Arab, were pleased with what I was telling them, but in the midst of all the animosity, they were seated around my table, drinking the coffee my wife had served them and talking to one another in a civilized way. How wonderful it would be if our governments could do the same. They all became more and more interested in the discussion, and they especially wanted to know how I had come to believe in Jesus Christ as my Savior. I asked, “Do you think it is a sin to believe in the living God?” “Oh no! We believe in Him,” they replied: ‘.’Then how can you run away from the truth that the living God, in whom you believe, sent His Son to be the sinless sacrifice for our sins?” One of the Jewish men said, “This is from the New Testament, and we do not believe in that Christian book.” I responded, “The Lord Jesus Christ is spoken of many times in the Old Testament, and the refusal of the Jewish people to believe in Him is also spoken of, such as in Psalm 81:11-13: “’But my people would not hearken to my voice, and Israel would have none of me. So I gave them up unto their own hearts’ desire, and they walked in their own counsels. Oh, that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways!'” I also showed them many other proofs from the Old Testament Scriptures that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that Jews who believe in Him are following the Bible closer than Jews who reject Him.
I am sorry to say that neither my Arab nor my Jewish guests accepted what I told them about the Lord. In fact, my original Arab guest did not feel so alone when he realized he had allies in the discussion, even among his Jewish enemies. I thank the Lord, however, that He gave me the opportunity to meet with these men; and even though they were antagonistic, they have all heard, most for the first time in their lives, the truth about the Lord Jesus Christ. They have now been exposed to the fact that anyone – Jew or Gentile – who believes in Him as Savior is more faithful to God, and even to his country, than those who do not believe in Him. For these men this was a very strange concept, but I believe many of them had their curiosity piqued.
Please pray with me that the Lord will work in the hearts of these friends, Jewish and Arab alike, and that many of them will come to Him as Savior and Lord. In the meantime, my door is always open!