Zvi Dec/Jan 1994/1995
While waiting at a bus station recently, I met some people who were more traditional than religious in their beliefs. Because they have known me for some time, they immediately began to attack me. Each one wanted to show how strong he was in the knowledge of the law. But which law do they observe? Not the law of God’s Word but the law of the books of commentary. Their early attacks actually helped, because when I speak with such people I never talk about faith in the Lord at the beginning of the conversation. In fact, sometimes it takes a while before I can bring the discussion around to spiritual matters, so their attacks gave me an opportunity to lay a good foundation for our talk.
One of the men began by saying, Zvi, we have known you for a long time, and we are sure you are trying to start a new faith here in Israel. Which books do you use when you try to brainwash people? And why do you want us to worship idols, as you do?” I replied, “I always pray before I begin to speak with people like you, asking the Lord to give me the right words to say. But now you yourselves have put the words in my mouth. I do not worship idols! Rather, I believe in the living God, not in your books of commentary. It is clearly written in Leviticus 26:1, ‘Ye shall make no idols nor carved image, neither rear you up a standing image, neither shall ye set up any image of stone in your land, to bow down unto it: for I am the LORD your God.’ I believe this commandment of the Lord, which is also given in Exodus 20:4–5, ‘Thou shalt not make unto thee any carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; Thou shalt not bow down thy self to them, nor serve them; for I, the Lᴏʀᴅ thy God, am a jealous God.’ Look at yourselves and at me and tell me who is worshipping idols.”
One of the men then asked, “Who is your God, if not an idol? Most of our sworn enemies believe in Him, but I will not even say His name because I know about whom you speak.” I responded, “Now it is my turn to tell you about the one in whom I believe, and again, I will not read from your books of commentary but from the Holy Bible, Deuteronomy 18:15–18: ‘The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken … I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak up to them all that I shall command him.’”
You can also read about Him in Isaiah 53, but it is just as the prophet predicted in verse 1 of that chapter, ‘Who hath believed our report?’ The rabbis will not read this portion of Scripture in the synagogues because they cannot explain its meaning apart from the Messiah of Israel. But if you will read this chapter for yourselves, you will see all that He has done for us. He has provided a way for us to be saved from our sins and have eternal life, and all through this one whose name you will not even say—Jesus Christ. For whom was He pierced? And why? I can tell you, because it is clearly written in the New Testament. I want to read a verse of it to you, and I realize that this may be the first home many of you have ever heard a single word from that portion of the Bible.” I then read John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
“That verse speaks of the love of God for all people a love so great that He was willing to send ‘his only begotten Son’ to die for us. Does that sound evil? Can you justify turning your back on such unconditional love?”
But, as usual, they were not listening. Instead they asked, “How did it happen that you left the faith of our fathers to believe in a faith that is not accepted among the people of Israel?” I answered, “In reality, you should be asking yourselves that question. Why have you left the faith of our fathers? When I received the Lord Jesus as my Savior, I fulfilled that which is written in our own Hebrew Scriptures. I have done what Moses commanded the people of Israel to do in Deuteronomy 18:15 by listening to the Prophet whom the Lord Himself raised up for us. I showed you that passage in black and white. If you do not want to believe it, that is your choice, but you will have to live with the consequences throughout eternity.
“The trouble is that your lack of faith is not your fault. No one ever told you the truth about the Lord, but as a true believer in Him, it is my obligation to come to you and tell you about the Messiah and Savior of Israel. As it is written in Ezekiel 33:7, ‘So thou, O son of man, I have set thee a watchman unto the house of Israel; therefore, thou shalt hear the word at my mouth, and warn them from me’ and again in Jeremiah 1:17, ‘Thou, therefore, gird up thy loins, and arise, and speak unto them all that I command thee; be not dismayed at their faces, lest I confound thee before them.’ It is because of these commands of the Lord that you see me here today, and you will see me many more times—as long as the Lord tarries and gives me breath!”
Then they asked, “Do you want to make us Christians?” I have heard that question many times before, and I answered as I always do: “It is not a question of being called a Christian or a Jew. Everyone who believes in the Lord Jesus is part of one body. You can believe in Him and still call yourself a Jew because, as it is written in 1 Corinthians 12:12–13, ‘as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ … whether we be Jews or Greeks, whether we be bond or free.’
“You also can be sure that, because I believe in Christ, I have not cast away our Hebrew Scriptures. Never! But I can see that you, who call yourselves good Jews and go to the synagogue three times each day, do not know the meaning of the Holy Bible. You are like robots. You read your prayers from a book, rather than praying from your hearts to the living God. You read the books the rabbis tell you to read, and you do not read anything they tell you not to read. Now tell me, who has left the law of God, and who worships the hue and living God?”
When this conversation began, there were only a few people gathered around, but the longer we talked, the more people joined the group. Some of the newcomers participated freely in the conversation, and it became sort of an open-air meeting. Many of them had never heard the things I was talking about, and they were very interested. But for others it was not the first time, and they were more interested in putting me down than listening to me. I always thank the Lord for the assurance of 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 that same hour what ye ought to say.”
I am sure that the things those people heard did not stay at that bus station but grew wings and flew into some of their hearts. It is for this that I pray, and I ask you to pray along with me. As it is written in James 5:16, “The effectual, fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.”