The Power of God’s Word
A young Jewish man began to read, “He was wounded for our transgressions” (Isa. 53:5). As he read, he heard what seemed to be a voice screaming, Stop! It sounds like Jesus! Simultaneously, a quieter voice told him, Don’t stop. It sounds like Jesus.
The young man kept reading: “He was bruised for our iniquities.” All the while he read from Isaiah 53, two voices seemed to argue inside his head. For a fleeting moment he even questioned his sanity. Why would any sane Jewish person ever consider Jesus to be the promised Messiah? he asked himself.
He took a deep breath and reminded himself of a few facts. This was the book of Isaiah (a Jewish prophet) from a Jewish Bible published by the Jewish Publication Society (JPS) and given to him by his Orthodox synagogue. What’s more Jewish than that? He soon learned there were other places in the Hebrew Scriptures that described Jesus. And each verse was clear and concise.
The more he read, the more certain he became that what he read was true. A strange sense of calm and peace suddenly seemed to enfold him.
The same peace is described in the New Testament book of Hebrews: “For we who have believed do enter that rest” (4:3). “That rest” is God’s rest. It is the rest that settles on a person who, by faith, trusts in Jesus as Savior. It is the rest associated with inner peace and freedom, regardless of circumstances.
Every person who has ever entered into that particular rest has done so by faith after hearing the Word of God (Rom. 10:17). God’s Word is like nothing else in the world and has power to change people in amazing ways: “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Heb. 4:12).
God’s Word is alive. It is active and inherently powerful, and the Almighty uses it as a surgeon uses a scalpel, cutting straight to the heart and changing its readers forever. This marvelous transformation happens every day to countless numbers of people from all types of backgrounds all around the globe. Here are a few examples.
Acts 8 records the story of a Gentile Ethiopian eunuch who was sitting in his chariot in the desert reading the 53rd chapter of Isaiah. God sent Philip, a Jewish believer in Jesus, to speak to the man precisely when he was reading. Philip greeted him with a question: “Do you understand what you are reading?” (v. 30).
The eunuch answered with a question: “Of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?” (v. 34). Philip used the Hebrew Scriptures to show that Jesus was the One of whom the prophet spoke. The Word transformed the eunuch. He received the Messiah and was immediately baptized.
Nina’s New Life
Nina was a Jewish woman raised in an Orthodox home. She retired in the 1960s in what she called “God’s country”—Atlantic City, New Jersey. One day, while sitting on a bench on the boardwalk, she received a New Testament from a passerby. Every day from then on, Nina sat on a bench on the Atlantic City boardwalk and read a few chapters from her new book. The more she read, the more convinced she became that she was reading a “Jewish book,” as she put it.
Soon Nina began to notice little changes in her life. No longer did she display a nasty temper or tell fibs to smooth over social situations. She was not working to make these changes, yet she knew they were occurring. Nina was confused. She knew she was not the same.
Searching for answers, she approached a Christian friend to help her understand what was happening. She learned that reading God’s Word was transforming her. She realized the Bible was like no other book. It was powerful, so powerful that it convinced Nina to trust Jesus. It was then Nina began her new life.
Power to Forgive
Corrie ten Boom grew up in Holland before World War II. She and her family were regular readers of God’s Word and devout believers in the Lord Jesus. Though the ten Booms were Gentiles, they loved God’s Chosen People and paid the ultimate price for their faithfulness to them. As punishment for hiding Jews from the Nazis, they were sent to concentration camps. Corrie and her sister, Betsie, ended up at Ravensbruck where Betsie died. Corrie survived. Years later God’s transforming power manifested itself in a marvelous way. Wrote Corrie in her book The Hiding Place:
“It was at a church service in Munich [in 1947] that I saw him, the former S.S. man who had stood guard at the shower room door in the processing center at Ravensbruck. He was the first of our actual jailers that I had seen since that time. And suddenly it was all there—the roomful of mocking men, the heaps of clothing, Betsie’s pain-blanched face. He came up to me as the church was emptying, beaming and bowing. ‘How grateful I am for your message, Fraulein,’ he said. ‘To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away!’
“His hand was thrust out to shake mine. And I, who had preached so often to the people in Bloemendaal the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side.
“Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more?Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him.
“I tried to smile, I struggled to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. And so again I breathed a silent prayer. Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me Your forgiveness.
“As I took his hand the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me. And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.”1
From Terrorist to Zionist
Another dramatic example of how God’s Word changes lives involves Walid Shoebat, a Bethlehem-born, Palestinian Jew-hater from the cradle. His chief goal in life was to kill Jews and die a martyr for Allah.
In the mid-1970s he became active in the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and was doing everything he could to help accomplish his life’s goal, including carrying out terrorist attacks in Israel.2
Walid moved to America to attend college, all the while raising funds for the PLO. In 1993 he married a Christian. “I wanted to convert her to Islam,” he told BBC News. “I told her Jews had corrupted the Bible.” She asked him to prove it. So he bought a Bible.
For six months he studied the Word intensely from cover to cover and discovered the truth. He renounced terrorism, repented of his sin, gave his life to Jesus Christ, and was made a new creation in Christ Jesus—all because he read God’s Word with a sincere heart that wanted to know the truth.
Today he is a devout Christian Zionist dedicated to exposing the lies of Islam and supporting and encouraging Israel and the Jewish people. His Muslim family has disowned him. His father said he should be killed. And at one point he was certain the PLO was planning his demise. But Shoebat is undaunted and remains outspoken in his love for Jesus and for a Jewish Israel. You may visit his Web site at www.shoebat.com.
God’s Word is living and powerful. It discerns the thoughts and intents of the heart and changes lives for all eternity. I know it for a fact because the young Jewish man who experienced such profound peace 36 years ago reading his JPS Bible was me.
God’s Word—both the Old and New Testaments—is absolute truth. If you want to know God personally and experience a peace that passes all understanding, read God’s Word and let it pierce your heart. I promise you will never regret it.
- Corrie ten Boom, The Hiding Place (Minneapolis, MN: World Wide Publications, 1971), 238.
- “From Terrorist to Zionist,” Israel My Glory 62, No. 3 (May/June 2004), 32–33.