Zvi Feb/Mar 1993
For many years, the people of Israel have been singing about the time of the Messiah’s coming. Of course, we who believe in Christ according to the Scriptures know that He has already come, and so we look for His return. But not many Israelis are aware of this truth. That is why I try to tell as many people as possible about the Lord, and that is why I go to the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem every Monday and Thursday. Those are days of great celebration as 13-year-old boys have their bar mitzvahs and assume all of the adult religious obligations of the Law, a ritual that has been handed down from generation to generation.
One recent Monday, as I was preparing to go to the Wailing Wall to take part in the celebration, I decided to give something to the boys as a remembrance of this special day in their lives. I knew that each boy would receive a prayer book from his parents or friends, but there is not even a hint of the divine presence in that prayer book. Just as those young boys take upon themselves the obligation to observe the Law, so I have taken upon myself the obligation to bring the Word of the Lord to those who want to keep His Law. And so, on that Monday morning, I took with me a few Bibles, all of them containing the New Testament as well as the Old Testament. Before leaving home to fulfill my obligation before the Lord, I prayed, asking Him to guide me and give me the words to say. In Israel, you must go slowly and carefully when you approach people with the Word.
When I arrived at the Wailing Wall that day, among the young boys celebrating their bar mitzvahs were a few Ethiopians. They were not new immigrants; they had been in Israel for several years and could speak Hebrew well. After the ceremony, I approached them and said, “I want to give each of you a gift in honor of your bar mitzvah. It is something I am sure you have not received before.” Of course, they were curious and wanted to know what it was, and I gave each of them a full Bible. At first they were afraid to accept them, but I began to speak to them and explained, “There is a big difference between these Bibles and the prayer books you have received with such great joy from your parents and friends. Your prayer books were written by men—great rabbis, to be sure—but, nevertheless, just men. The Bible was written through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God.”
Soon several other young boys joined the group, and they were very interested in what I was saying. Eventually one of their fathers came over, and he too was quite open. We spoke for a long time, and then he said to his son, “I think this is a very nice gift. Please accept it and read it.” This gave me great joy and also more courage. There were many people gathered around us, and they all wanted to talk about the Lord. Most of them had never heard that Jesus is the Messiah of Israel and their Savior. What a wonderful opportunity I had to tell them about Him.
After a while, an ultra-Orthodox man approached us, and he was carrying a large shofar (ram’s horn). I asked, “Why have you brought a shofar with you today? It is not a holiday.” He said, “You are right.” I then told him, “The Scriptures say that the shofar is symbolic of announcing the salvation of the Lord,” to which he replied, “When the Messiah comes, I will use this shofar.” I opened my Bible and read to him Isaiah 53:5–6: “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon him, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way, and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.” I then said, “You can see from this passage that the Messiah has already come, and someday He will come again.”
The man was very interested and took the Bible from me, reading for himself the remainder of this forbidden chapter. All of a sudden his countenance changed. He began to smile and was full of joy, saying, “Now is the time to announce the salvation of the Lord. Yes, I see, He has come, and now He must come back!” Then he began to blow the shofar loudly. Many people heard his trumpeting and came over to see what was happening. They could all see the great joy on his face.
Of all the times I have gone to the Wailing Wall and witnessed for the Lord, I have never seen such a reaction. As the voice of that shofar sounded in my ears, all I could think of were the words of Isaiah 40:3: “The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.”
Because the area surrounding the Wailing Wall is small, the sound of the shofar came to the ears of some rabbis, and one of them came over and asked me what I was “selling” to these “unsuspecting people.” He was not glad like the others, and so I told him, “Ye have sold yourselves for nothing, and ye shall be redeemed without money.” He did not like that remark and asked, “Who told you that?” I replied, “It is from our own Hebrew Scriptures, Isaiah 52:3. It was spoken by none other than the sovereign Lord Himself.”
Because the ultra-Orthodox people are so suspicious of everyone, they don’t believe anything unless they see it for themselves, in black and white. Of course, the rabbi did not accept anything I said as the truth, and so I showed him the verse in my Bible, along with a few other passages, including Psalm 119:89: “Forever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven.” Eventually the rabbi realized that I believe in Christ, and he asked to see my Bible. I gave it to him and continued to point out various portions in the Old Testament. But he quickly turned to the back and, upon seeing the New Testament, asked, “Do you think this belongs in our Holy Bible?” “Yes,” I replied, and, to my amazement, he seemed very interested and began to look through it. Finally he put the Bible in his pocket and, without saying another word, walked away.
What a wonderful day! As I look back, I think of the Ethiopian boys who were celebrating their passage into manhood and the accompanying obligations. Pray with me that they will read the Bibles I gave them and come to faith in the Lord Jesus. I think of the ultra Orthodox man who joyfully blew his shofar, announcing the salvation of the Lord. Pray that he will understand the things I told him that day and surrender his life to the Lord. And finally, I think of the rabbi who was so antagonistic but who, in the end, left with a Bible—including the New Testament—tucked into his pocket. Pray that he will read it and that his long-blinded eyes will be opened to the light of the Messiah. And pray that I will have many more fruitful days like this in the service of the Lord Jesus in His Holy City.