Abu Ghosh, Israel—Miracles do not happen everyday; therefore, when they do occur, we must thank the Lord, who alone has the power to perform miracles. So it was with my wife and me on Thursday, July 6. We had gone from our home in Jerusalem to Tel Aviv on an errand. When we finished our business, my wife looked at her watch and said, “It’s almost time to catch the bus back to Jerusalem. We’d better get to the bus station because I want to get home early.” I, on the other hand, was in no hurry. “Why do we have to rush back home?” I asked. “We don’t have any babies waiting for us. Let’s take our time.” In the end, of course, I gave in and we hurried along.
When we arrived at the bus station, we learned that we had just missed the bus to Jerusalem. My wife was a bit upset and said, “You see, I told you we were going to miss our bus!” I tried to calm her and said, “Don’t worry, the next bus will come along soon.” Sure enough, 15 minutes later the next bus arrived, and we were on our way back to Jerusalem.
About a half hour after leaving Tel Aviv, we heard the dreadful news. The bus which had left Tel Aviv before ours—the bus my wife and I were hurrying to catch—had been attacked by a PLO terrorist. He caused the driver to lose control, and the bus careened off the road and came to rest at the bottom of a hill. Fourteen people were killed, and many more were seriously injured. (A 15th person died in the hospital a few weeks later.) As we passed the site of the crash, we could see ambulances and helicopters coming and going taking the injured to hospitals.
Of course, everyone on the bus was outraged about this attack, but we realized there was nothing we could do to bring those people back to life. Unfortunately, it is at times like this when the spiritual blindness of Israel becomes very apparent. Upon hearing of the accident, the man sitting in front of us said, “The minute I get home I am going to spread pure oil on the mezuzah [small case containing Scripture] on my doorpost. We must all do this. In this way we will honor God and thank Him for preserving our lives.”
I was surprised at his concept of how to thank God, but I realized I must go slowly in responding because of the shock of the situation. I said, “I’m not sure that is the right thing to do at a time like this.” He became very apprehensive and said, “You do not have a Yiddish heart.” I replied, “I will not rush home and spread pure oil on the mezuzah because this will do nothing for me or for those poor people who were killed and injured. Such superstitions cannot comfort anyone. I am even now praying for the injured, that the Lord will heal them, and for the families of the dead, that the Lord will comfort them at this time of great loss. As for the dead, I can only hope they had a right relationship with God. If so, I know they are in heaven.”
We had to drive far out of our way because many roads were closed due to the accident. The longer we traveled around the accident scene, the more foolish statements this man made, and I sensed that many of the other people on the bus were agitated with this one who considered himself so religious. He, of course, was equally unhappy that no one would agree with him. I finally began to speak with him about his spiritual condition. I said, “You feel that you are right with God, but you are very far from having a proper relationship with Him. You are spiritually blind, and, as it is written, ‘if the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the ditch’ [Mt. 15:14].”
This statement caught the attention of some of the passengers who were from Oriental cultures and who held strange religious practices, including “evil eyes,” and they became upset with me. But even they agreed that this man was speaking foolishly. I said, “Oh, that someone would remove the dust from your eyes.” This statement made him extremely angry, and he replied, “That is enough! I do not want to hear anymore from you. I do not even believe that you are Jewish!” I assured him that I was a Jew, but he responded, “No! You are not! You talk just like the Gentiles, and I am sure you are one of them.” Some of the other passengers agreed that I sounded like a Gentile, and they began to be suspicious of me. But we still had a long way to go before reaching Jerusalem, and I was able to tell them about myself, about my love for Israel, about my participation in the wars to save this nation from our Arab enemies, and about my children who have all served their country with pride and distinction. I then challenged the man to prove that he was a better Jew than I.
But, of course, this was not a competition about who had done more for his country. I was eager to show this man, and all the others who were listening, how to worship the God of Israel in true faith rather than through the superstitions and false beliefs which have been passed down by mere men through the centuries. I said, “We, as the chosen people of God, should be a light to all the nations of the world. But how can we go to the other nations and say, ‘If you spread pure oil on your doorpost, you will be cleansed from your sins and find acceptance with God’? That is ridiculous, and the nations would think we were foolish if we tried to convince them of such nonsense.”
“Please, think for yourselves,” I urged the others around me. “Do not follow the empty faith of false teachers. God told our forefathers in Deuteronomy 6:14, ‘Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people who are round about you.’ Everything I have told you is written in our own Hebrew Scriptures. If you will open your eyes and read God’s Word, rather than the many books of tradition, you will see for yourselves what the Lord has done for us, what He expects from us, and how He wants us to worship Him. As it is written, ‘For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God; the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people who are upon the face of the earth’ [Dt. 7:6]. God loves us and wants us to be the ‘special people’ He intended us to be.” For the remainder of the ride, we had a good discussion about the Lord and how to worship Him according to His will.
As we arrived home that evening, my wife and I agreed that it had been an unforgettable day. We praised the Lord for miraculously preserving our lives by delaying our arrival at the bus station by just a few short minutes. We prayed fervently for those who were injured in the tragedy, for their loved ones, and for the families of those who had been killed. We prayed for the PLO terrorist who had caused this disaster, and for others like him. They need to know the Lord Jesus as their Savior and understand God’s perfect will for them and for their bitter enemies, the Israelis. We also prayed for the man on the bus who was so confused about how to approach a holy, righteous God and properly thank Him for saving his physical life. Finally, we prayed that he and the other passengers on the bus will seek the Lord and allow Him to save their spiritual lives as He did their physical lives.