Zvi Feb/Mar 1995
I often go to the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, and invariably I meet people who think that just by going there they will be saved, because the Halacha (the body of Jewish law supplementing the Scriptures and forming especially the legal part of the Talmud) says that the divine presence can always be found there. Many people go there to read the book of Psalms. They arrive very early in the morning and read so fast that no one can understand them so they can return to their homes as soon as possible.
I recently saw a group of young men at the Wall who were engrossed in reading the Psalms in this way, and I noticed that one young man’s Bible was opened to Psalm 24. I interrupted him and asked if he understood what he was reading at supersonic speed. He replied, “It is my job to come here every day and read the Psalms, and for this I receive a monthly salary. I am an expert at this, and are you now trying to teach me how to read the Psalms? Believe me, I can do this with my eyes closed. ‘I don’t even have to open the Bible.”
I told him, “The Lord is not concerned with who can read the Psalms the fastest, or who can read them blindfolded. No, He is concerned with what is in your heart. The Lord would rather have you read only a few words, but with sincerity and from your heart, than read the entire book and not understand a word of it. I see that your Bible is open to a wonderful chapter, Psalm 24. Do you know the one about whom King David is speaking?”
At this point the other young men around him entered the conversation, and they spoke among themselves, saying, “Let’s take a good look at this passage.” But after a few minutes they said, “Why should we break our heads trying to interpret this Psalm? Ask our rabbi. He will tell you everything you want to know.” They then called to the rabbi who came over to the group and immediately asked me, “What do you want with these young men? You should not be bothering them. They must continue to read the Psalms.” I responded, “Rabbi, as a believer in God, I am against this distortion of facts and degrading of our God. You call on Him every day when you say the Shem’a Israel [‘Hear, O Israel: The Lᴏʀᴅ our God is one Lᴏʀᴅ,’ Dt. 6:4), and yet here you read about Him as if you are not interested or not even know who He is.
“In the Psalm where this young man’s Bible is opened, it is written, ‘Lift up your heads, O ye gates … and the King of glory shall come in. Who is this King of Glory?’ (Ps. 24:7–8). Tell me, rabbi, do you know who this King of glory is? The passage goes on to say, ‘The Lᴏʀᴅ strong and mighty, the Lᴏʀᴅ mighty in baffle … The Lᴏʀᴅ of hosts, he is the King of glory’ (Ps. 24:8, 10). If you would read this Psalm, not at breakneck speed, but slowly, to understand the meaning, you would know the one about whom it is written, and you would believe in Him in the way in which He wants you to believe. Rabbi, all the time that you and these young men spend here at the Wailing Wall is nothing more than what King Solomon said in Ecclesiastes 1:2: ‘Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity.’”
Now all of the young men began to look at the rabbi wondering what he would say in response. To them, the conversation had become a competition between the two of us to see who knew more about the Scriptures. But that was not my intention. In every situation I put my trust in the Lord, confident that through His Holy Spirit He will put the right words in my mouth.
The rabbi stood and thought for a long time and finally asked, “Who gave you the authority to come here and tell these people how to read the Psalms?” I replied, “The authority I have is available to you and everyone else in this world, but in order to have it you must receive the Lord as your Savior. You think that you have a relationship with God, but you are only playing games. You are probably not familiar with Ezekiel 33, but if you read that chapter you will learn who gave me the authority and responsibility to come here and warn wicked people, like yourselves, to turn to the Lord.”
The rabbi was no longer quiet. He shouted, “How can you say that I am wicked?” “Because you worship idols and dance around the golden calf,” I replied. “But I worship the living God. I never sacrifice a chicken as a personal offering for my sins on Yom Kippur because it is written in Isaiah 53 that the Lord is my atonement.”
As soon as I mentioned Isaiah 53, the “forbidden chapter,” there were no more secrets between us. They immediately realized that I believe in Christ and am, in their opinion, an “apostate.” They did not understand, however, how I could believe in Him and yet put my trust in the Bible as the foundation of my faith. Such a thought was making them crazy, and I knew that the time had come for me to tell them about Him, to be a light to these men walking in darkness. The first thing I did—and something I do all the time with such people—was ask them to look at my Bible to see if it is the true Hebrew Scriptures. The rabbi took it, examined it from front to back, and admitted, “Yes, this is our Bible.” “Now that you know that,” I said, “let me show you how I came to believe in Christ, not according to any other book or books, such as the ones you study, but according to the facts given right here in God’s living Word. This book was written by the Holy Spirit of God, and in it I found my Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, the one whom you call ‘this man.’”
I then began to read and expound the Scriptures to these Jewish men at the Wailing Wall, and our conversation lasted for several hours. I am sure that the seeds planted that day penetrated deep into the fertile ground of their souls, and I pray that those seeds will grow into understanding in their minds and hearts, so that they will one day come to know the Lord as their Savior. Thank you for praying for me as I spread the light of the Lord among those living in spiritual darkness here in His land.