Zvi Apr/May 1998
In Israel there is a very large Ultra-Orthodox population, and many of them belong to a group known as Habad. Their high rabbi was Menachem Schneerson from New York. This group is very active all around the world, and they are especially powerful here in Israel. They have the support of many people, and they are free to talk to anyone and everyone. They go into all neighborhoods without fear of being thrown out. Consequently, they visit my neighborhood very often, and every time they come there are new members in the group, some just youngsters.
As usual, the first question they asked on a recent visit was, “Have you prayed today?” I replied, “I pray every day.” “Do you pray with the tefillin [phylacteries] and prayer shawl?” they asked. I answered, “Those things will not help me if I do not come before the Lord with an open heart.” It is sometimes difficult to stand before such young boys who cannot see the sun on a sunny day. But then I remember the brainwashing they have received. They are so sure that they are doing a good work for the Lord. They do not realize that they are following the old superstitions and are now bringing these false teachings to others.
I gently said to these young ones, “It would be much better for you to come to others with the Holy Bible in your hands and read to them what the Lord has said to His Chosen People of Israel. We are to warn people to turn from their evil ways. But what are you doing, even right now? You are serving the Devil, and you don’t realize it.”
Because the people of Habad call themselves the holy people of God, the priests of the holy nation, that comment seemed to give them special courage to continue speaking with me, and we talked for a very long time. I asked them, “Whom do you represent?” One of the young men replied, “Have you not heard of our great Lubavitcher rabbi, the Messiah?” I told them, “There have been many false messiahs through the centuries, and now you are promoting another one.” They were not pleased with that remark and asked, “To which synagogue do you belong, that you would say such a thing to us?” I told them, “Every Saturday I go to a very nice assembly. There we pray, read the Bible, and listen to preaching. It is not like the preaching you hear—the old stories of the old rabbis, things they dreamed in the night. None of that is holy. We believe in the Bible, the Hebrew Scriptures, not in fictitious stories. Because of this, God has given us the courage to go among the people of this land and preach the gospel of our Lord, the Messiah, who in Hebrew is called Yeshua Hamashiah.”
When I said that, they all started to jump around as if they were standing on hot coals. “What?” they exclaimed. “Can it be that we are speaking with one who believes in that man?” (They will not say Jesus, but call Him that man.) I replied, “There is much written about the one you call that man—Yeshua Hamashiah—in the Bible. But there is not one word written in the Bible about your great rabbi, the one who lived—and died—in New York. If you are at all familiar with the Bible, you know that what is written in the Bible is settled in heaven [see Ps. 119:89). Can you possibly go against God’s Holy Word? If you do, as it is written in Ecclesiastes 1:2, all your good work is ‘Vanity of vanities…vanity of vanities; all is vanity.’ When you bring this vanity to other people, you cause them to believe in false things.”
Because many of these young boys came to Israel from New York, where they were subject to the personal teachings of the Lubavitcher rabbi, they felt they had a green light to attack me when I mentioned the Lord Jesus. They thought they were very wise, and one of them said, “Show me where it is written about this Messiah of yours in the Bible.” I said, “He is not my Messiah only, but the Messiah of the whole world. If you will read Isaiah 53, you will see that He was bruised for the iniquities of us all. If you want to know more about Him, I will be glad to tell you. For instance, His address is given in Micah 5:2: ‘But thou, Bethlehem Ephrathah…out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel.’ Isaiah 7:14 gives us His name: ‘Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.’ Isaiah 9:6–7 tells us some of His other names and His mission on earth: ‘For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with justice and with righteousness from henceforth even forever. The zeal of the Lᴏʀᴅ of hosts will perform this.’
“If you want more, I can go on and on. Our own Jewish prophets wrote all of this—not by their own power but through the power of the Holy Spirit of God. Now you can see for yourselves the Messiah in whom I believe. If you are still against Him, then you must cast away the entire Bible. Do you want to do that? Do you want to continue to worship false teachers and dance around your golden calf?”
They began to look at each other as if they did not know how to respond, and finally one of them said, “We must speak with our rabbi about these things.” I told them, “You are already so confused from listening to your rabbi that nothing he says will help you. What better authority can you have than the Holy Scriptures? I don’t need any explanations from mere men, and neither do you. You can read the Bible with your own eyes, just as I do, and the Lord will show you the truth.”
Now they were quiet, no longer great fighters for their cause. They said, “This has been an interesting conversation, and we must think about these things.”
Obviously, these young boys, and so many more just like them, need our prayers. Please pray for them, and pray that the Lord will give me further opportunities to show them the truth about the Lord Jesus from the Holy Bible. Then their eyes will be opened, and they can tell others about Him. If that happens, their good works will no longer be in vain.