Zvi Feb/Mar 1997
There is a saying here in Israel, “What for me is allowed, for you is forbidden.” It can apply to anyone, but it particularly applies to the rabbis, who may do things that the rest of us are not permitted to do.
Recently some trouble has arisen for those of us who believe in Christ Jesus. This trouble is not coming from the government, nor is it coming from people who often go out on the streets warning others about believers and about missionaries. No, the trouble is coming from the Ultra-Orthodox rabbis, and they believe that what they are doing to us is very Kosher. They have called for a “spiritual awakening” and are going from neighborhood to neighborhood, from home to home, spreading their message. Such people always have great confidence in themselves, thinking that in every home they will find someone who is ready to dance to their flute and say amen to what they preach.
When they came to my home, like so many others before them, they did not know that I am one of the many people here in Israel who are not interested in their “spiritual awakening” because I know in whom I believe. My wife and I are always glad to receive visitors, and as soon as I opened the door to these people, they mentioned that they had noticed my name and asked if I was from the family of the great rabbi of long ago who bore the same name. I replied, “It may be, but I am not sure.” One of them then said, “It looks as if we have come to a very good place.”
I asked why they had come, and they replied, “We are trying to visit every home and encourage people to be good, observant Jews.” I told them, “It is the duty of all Jews, as the Chosen People of God, to bring all people to the Lord, to introduce them to the living God because He said, ‘by love serve one another’ (Gal. 5:13). And who is the one who brought this love to us? By whom can we know the love of God if not by God Himself? It is our duty to know Him and to obey Him. We are to worship Him instead of all the many famous rabbis—even the one with the same name as mine. We must worship God Himself and grow in the knowledge of our Lord.”
They were listening intently to me, but finally one of the men said, “Your words are too heavy for us. Can you say this in simpler terms, so that we can understand what you are talking about?” I replied, “You speak about heavy words, but you must come to the realization that our Lord and Savior was the one who bore the heavy iniquity of us all. He did not bear only our heavy words, but all of our transgressions. And He did this without uttering one word of complaint.”
Now these people became nervous and started biting their lips, wondering how to respond. They said, “You must give us a better explanation than this.” I said, “I will be glad to do so. I must tell you, though, that you are all blind. The Bible clearly speaks of the many sacrifices for sins that our ancestors made in Old Testament times, but it also clearly speaks of the one who became the ultimate and final sacrifice for our sins. Unfortunately, you are like the one written of in Isaiah 1:3: ‘The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass, his master’s crib, but Israel doth not know; my people doth not consider.’ Then the prophet went on to say, ‘Hear the word of the Lᴏʀᴅ…give ear unto the law of our God…To what purpose is the multitude of your sacrifices unto me? saith the Lᴏʀᴅ; I am full of the burnt offerings’ (Isa. 1:10–11). Here you are, visiting many homes on the pretense of bringing people closer to God, but in reality you are leading them back to the golden calf of ignorance of Him.”
By this time these men were very curious and asked, “Who is your rabbi? Who taught you these things? We have never heard anything like this.” I replied, “I know you haven’t because, as it is written, ‘Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves’ (Mt. 7:15).”
These words pierced deep into their ears and their hearts, and they said, “This is a good example. Where is it written?” I opened my Bible, which contains the New Testament, and said, “It is written right here.” I then pointed out the place and let them read these words for themselves. But suddenly, when they realized they were reading from the New Testament, they acted as though they had been electrocuted. They were very shaken and asked, “How do you know about this book? Why do you even keep it in your home?”
I replied, “I have been reading this book for many, many years, and I believe everything that is written in it. You are like the ones of whom the prophets wrote. Take a good look at yourselves. All of the warnings from the Old Testament are written about people just like you. Sadly, those people did not recognize their sin back then, and you do not recognize yours today.”
These people were in our home for a long time, and finally they said, “You must tell us how you came to these conclusions.” I replied, “These are not my conclusions. They are facts taken directly from the Holy Bible, from our own Hebrew Scriptures. I obey this book and do not ask questions. I am sure that you, as Hasidic Jews, are familiar with Leviticus 26, and you probably think that you are like the ones described in verses 1–13—people who obey the commandments of the Lord and therefore will receive His blessing. Unfortunately, you are really like the ones described in verses 14–46 to—the ones who do not obey the Lord and receive His cursing. You study your many books of commentary written by the great rabbis, but this is the only book that is holy, the only book that has a divine author, the Holy Spirit of God. The things written in this book never change according to the opinions or conclusions of men.”
Then they said, “It is true that the Old Testament is the Word of God, but who wrote your New Testament?” I replied, “The New Testament is a continuation of the Old Testament, and it clearly speaks about the Lamb of God. As He is spoken about in Isaiah 53, so He is spoken about in such passages as John 1:29, 1 Corinthians 5:7, and many others.”
Finally they asked, “Are you speaking about that man?” (Ultra-Orthodox Jews will not even say the name Jesus.) I replied, “Yes, I am. I believe in Him, and if you will read the Scriptures as diligently as you read your books of commentary, you too will learn about Him and come to the realization that He is more than just a man. He is our Savior and the Messiah of Israel.”
Not long after this, these men left my home. They certainly did not convince me of their position, but from the wondering look in their eyes, I am sure that they heard some new things and that they had a lot to think about. Please pray with me that as they consider our conversation in the days ahead, their blind eyes will be opened to the truth.