Zvi Feb/Mar 1994
It goes without saying that, as is true in America and many other countries, many people here in Israel are far away from God. In spite of this, there seems to be something inside of them that, in times of deep distress, causes many to become more God-conscious. As it is written in Psalm 124:2 and 3, “If it had not been the Lᴏʀᴅ who was on our side, when men rose up against us; Then they had swallowed us up alive, when their wrath was kindled against us.” Yes, there is something, perhaps a sense of fear, that seems to make people more sensitive to spiritual truth. It may not even be an open fear; it may be an inner fear, a secret fear, but it is there. As Mordecai said to Esther, “For if thou altogether holdest thy peace at this time, then shall there relief and deliverance arise to the Jews from another place” (Est. 4:14).
I recently met a few of my old army friends. We first met as refugees in the British internment camp on Cyprus, came to Israel together, and fought side by side in all the wars from 1948 to 1973. The conversation quickly turned to the great Israeli victory in the war of 1973, and, of course, they were all heroes in their own eyes. Then, as usually happens with old friends who have not seen each other for a long time, everyone wanted to know what had been happening in each other’s lives. Finally it was my turn. “Tell us, Zvi, what have you been doing with yourself since we were last together? I replied, “From 1948 to this very day I have been a watchman to the house of Israel, as commanded in Ezekiel 33:6–10.
They were surprised to hear my response and asked what I meant. I answered, “I go to people just like yourselves and remind them what the Lord has done for us so that they will not forget His goodness to this nation since He brought us back to our land in 1948. Then they, in turn, can go to others and tell them the things they saw with their own eyes in the many battles-how when we were in dire situations and near to being lost, the Lord turned the tide of the battle and gave us the victory. You see, it is my duty to tell people about these events so that they will know from whence we, as a nation, have come and whither we are going.”
By now my friends were looking at me with blank stares on their faces. Then one of them said, “It is hard to understand what you are saying. Can you put it in very simple language?” I then brought out the small Bible I always carry with me and said, “With this book I go to people and try to appeal to them to awake from their deep spiritual sleep. As it is written in Isaiah 60:1, ‘Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lᴏʀᴅ is risen upon thee.’”
At this point I was able to start witnessing the Word of God to these men, as we are instructed in Isaiah 40:3, “The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lᴏʀᴅ, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” My friends were surprised to hear what I was saying, and one of them asked if I was a follower of Menachem Mendel Schneerson, the Lubavitcher rabbi from New York. “No! Never!” I replied. “I belong to the living God and not to any man. I do not follow the superstitions the many revered rabbis promote. When I speak about faith, I mean faith in the living God of Israel, the one true God. I am not speaking about fictitious stories.”
One of the men then said, “Let’s not play around any longer. Tell us in which God you believe.” I countered, “Tell me how many gods we have, if you can. As far as I know, there is only one God, and if you want to know who He is, turn your radio on any morning at six o’clock and you will hear the announcer say, ‘Shema Yisrael, Adonay Elonainu, Adonay Ehad!’ [‘Hear O Israel: The Lᴏʀᴅ our God is one Lᴏʀᴅ,’] (Dt. 6:4).
Another man responded, “That sounds nice, but it is hard for us to believe that you do not belong to one of the many religious sects.” I replied, “On the contrary, the time has come for me to tell all of you that you belong to religious sects. Every Orthodox group believes according to the teachings of its rabbi, but I am led by the Holy Spirit of God and what is written in the Bible.”
“If you believe in the Holy Spirit,” the man said, “then you are a Christian, because Christians talk about the Holy Spirit.” I responded, “Our own Jewish Scriptures are full of references to the Holy Spirit. King David spoke about him (Ps. 51:11–12), along with the Prophets Isaiah (Isa. 11:2; 40:13; 42:1), Ezekiel (Ezek 36:27; 37:14), Joel (Joel 2:28–29), Micah (Mic. 2:7; 3:8), and Zechariah (Zech. 4:6). Tell me, were they all Christians?”
Now my old friends were really interested and asked me about my beliefs. I did not answer immediately because they would have accused me of wanting to make them Christians; but when they asked several times, I felt free to speak to them about my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. I opened my Bible again and read to them many passages from the Old Testament concerning faith in Jesus, the Messiah of Israel. Now their eyes were opened and they saw clearly that the truth about the Messiah Jesus is spoken about in the Old Testament as well as the New Testament, which they call a “Christian book.” This was something they never knew before. Then they asked who brought me to faith in Jesus. I again showed them my little Bible and said, “This book, which you never open-the Bible-was the means God used to show me the truth, not your many books of commentary. You are surprised when someone reads the Bible, but if you will close all your other books and open this one, you will start to know the Lord in a way you never have before. Then you will believe in Him and have true faith in the living God, because you will see that truth with your own eyes and you will not be able to deny it. It is written in Proverbs 1:7, ‘The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.’ You can call it what you will, but if you are against my faith, then you are against the Holy Bible and against all those who were inspired by God to write it. And who were they? None other than our own Jewish kings and prophets, none of whom lived after Jesus. All of their writings were prophecies about the Messiah who was to come-and He did come in the person of Jesus!”
I am sure that this was the first time some of these men had ever heard the truth about the Lord Jesus Christ. Please pray with me that they will accept my challenge to read the Bible for themselves and that they will come to know Him as their true and living God.