Joel of Jerusalem Oct/Nov 1990
I don’t have to tell you that the situation between Jews and Arabs is very bad, and that is especially true here in Israel. Many Arabs live in my neighborhood, and because I speak Arabic, I have contact with them and try to extend friendship to them.
I recently had a very interesting encounter with five young Arab students from Ramallah University. Their love for the Jews is like the love of a dog for a cat, but, as we say here in Israel, a barking dog never bites. I could immediately sense their blind hatred for Jews and the nation of Israel.
I met them in their village, which is near my home, and the first thing they said was, “Aren’t you afraid to be here?” “No!” I replied. One of them asked, “Don’t you realize that there are many more Arabs in this neighborhood than Jews?” I responded, “In 1948 there were only half a million Jews in all of Israel, and the Arabs in the surrounding countries were more numerous than the sand upon the seashore, but we were victorious. I do not fear you because I have put my trust in the Lord of Hosts, Jehovah Sabaoth, and it is He who fights our wars for us. Therefore I do not worry.”
One of the students then said, “We are not like the Arabs who were here in 1948. They lived in primitive conditions, and they believed your stories. But not us! We are better educated, more intelligent, and we are wise to your ways.” Then another young man asked, “Where is it written in your Bible that God will fight your wars?” I said, “First, I want you to know that the Bible is not for the Jewish people only. Everyone in the world has the right to read it, and those who believe it become members of God’s family. That family is worldwide and includes people of all nations. God is one, and He is for all people. Now I will be glad to answer your question from the Bible, if you will tell me which language you would like to hear it read from. I have with me Bibles in English, German, Hebrew, Arabic, Polish, Russian, and even Persian. The choice is yours.” One of the students replied, “We want to see the English and Arabic language Bibles,” and I quickly produced them. “Now show us where it is written in the Bible that God will fight Israel’s wars,” they challenged.
I began by reading Isaiah 49:25, “But thus saith the Lᴏʀᴅ: Even the captives of the mighty shall be taken away, and the prey of the terrible shall be delivered; for I will contend with him that contendeth with thee [Israel], and I will save thy children.” I continued by reading Exodus 15:16; 23:27–28; Leviticus 26:6–8; and Deuteronomy 28:7. I then said, “If you want to hear more, there is a long list of additional passages I can show you.”
Let me read just one more for you, a passage that gave us courage in 1948 when we were so outnumbered by the Arabs.” I then read Deuteronomy 7:17–18: “If thou [Israel] shalt say in thine heart, These nations are more than I; how can I dispossess them? Thou shalt not be afraid of them, but shalt well remember what the Lᴏʀᴅ thy God did unto Pharaoh, and unto all Egypt.”
When I finished reading to them from the Bible, one of the young men asked, “Who wrote those words?” “I can assure you,” I replied, “that they were not written by Muhammad. Everything in this book was written by the prophets who were directed by the Holy Spirit of God, and all these prophecies were written long before the Koran. Some of these prophecies were fulfilled in the past, some are being fulfilled today, and others remain to be fulfilled in the future. But one thing you can be sure of, God never has and never will change His promises to His people Israel. You are witnesses to this fact. You can see with your own eyes what God is doing for the nation of Israel today. Even though most of the world is in bitter opposition to Israel, God is fulfilling His Word and His promises to us.” I then read Ezekiel 37:15–28. Then I told these young men, “You can see from that passage that God promised to gather the Jewish people from the nations in which they were scattered and establish them again in their homeland of Israel, and this He has done. One day soon He will fulfill all the other promises made in that passage, and there is no nation or power in the world who can stop Him.”
At this point the students decided to change the subject, and one of them said, “You do not look like a Jew who believes in God. We know that all good Jews cover their heads. Where is your hat?” I replied, “Covering the head is only a tradition. The important thing, the thing that counts with God, is how faithful a person is to Him. The heart must be open to the will and way of the Lord.” I briefly told them how I had come to believe in the Lord Jesus as my Savior, and then they were really surprised. They had never met a Jewish person who believed in Jesus as Messiah and Savior, and from this time on the conversation became very serious. They asked me some pertinent questions about my faith, in whom I believe, and why I believe as I do. They were no longer hypocritical but friendly. One of the young men even invited me to join them for further conversation in his home, although none of them thought I would accept the invitation because of the bad feelings between Jews and Arabs. They were surprised again, because I told them I would be glad to join them, and off we went to the young man’s house.
When we arrived, most of the students’ fathers were there having a discussion, and there was also a Kadie (an Islamic priest) among them. One of the students said, “You think you are very smart, but now we will see who knows more—you or our fathers and our holy man.” I told him, “I did not come here to get involved in a competition to see who is more intelligent, who knows more. Of course it is helpful to be smart and well educated, but it is more important to be faithful to God. In the spiritual realm, human wisdom is of no value. None of the prophets of old attended Oxford University. They did not even know what high school was. They wrote by faith through the power of the Holy Spirit of God, and their writings have lasted down to this very moment. It is because of those writings that I have come here today. The Lord told me, through His ancient prophets, to go to people such as yourselves and preach the gospel. Moses also went before his sworn enemy, Pharaoh of Egypt, because the Lord told him to go—and the Lord was with him, just as He is with me right now. It is written in Isaiah 11:67, ‘The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together, and a little child shall lead them. And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together. And the lion shall eat straw like the ox.’”
The kadie proved to be a nice man, and we had a pleasant conversation. Of course, he challenged me time and time again, wanting to show the others how intelligent he was, but in such cases I am comforted by our Lord’s words in Luke 12:11–12, “And when they bring you unto the synagogues and unto magistrates, and powers, be not anxious how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say; For the Holy Spirit shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.”
And so it was that, through the Lord’s leading and with His guidance and courage, I entered the lion’s den and had a wonderful opportunity to witness to these Arabs of the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Pray with me for these men, that they will come to believe in the Lord Jesus as their Savior and will be good witnesses for Him among their own people.