Zvi Jan/Feb 2009
Some days you can plan what to do first and what to do second. Other days, things happen that you never expect. And so it was recently when my wife sent me to the supermarket with a list of things to buy. As I was looking for what she wanted, something happened that I never could have planned.
A few months ago I had a long conversation with an ultra-Orthodox man about faith in Christ. Who should be in the store but the same man. And there, before my eyes, he began pointing at me and shouting in a loud voice to everyone in the supermarket, “Beware of this man! He is very dangerous!”
I have lived here a long time, and almost everyone knows me. Over the years I have helped many people with home repairs and other work they could not do themselves. They know me as a friend who would never harm anyone. So they began looking at this man as though he were a little crazy. The man tried to fight with me, but I was not afraid of him.
“If you are so strong in your faith,” I said, “then tell these people who it is that you worship. You put your faith in teachers, rather than in God. And you do not even realize it.”
A crowd began to gather in the supermarket. Everyone was looking at the man, thinking he had lost all his wisdom. For half an hour we discussed faith, with everyone listening.
“All these people do not believe me when I tell them you do not believe in God,” he declared. “You speak with people and try to persuade them to leave the pure faith of Judaism and change to a different faith. These people do not understand this,” he said. “You want to make them Christians.”
I gave him much time to speak. What he does not understand is that he is not practicing the pure faith of Judaism. He is doing what rabbinic tradition tells him to do, and he believes only what the rabbis tell him to believe. Sadly, the Orthodox lean heavily on the Talmud, which is extrabiblical, and the teachings of their rabbis whom they believe are holy.
After a while, people began asking me what I thought. “First,” I said, “I want to thank you for giving me an opportunity to reply.” So I asked them, “In whom are we to put our trust? In the Lord, about whom it is written in the Holy Bible, or in men? I put my trust in the Lord,” I said. “I do not go to people with books of fiction written by those who call themselves holy. I go with one book: the Bible. There it is written, ‘You shall fear the Lᴏʀᴅ your God and serve Him….You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are all around you (for the Lᴏʀᴅ your God is a jealous God among you)’” (Dt. 6:13–15).
I told them, “We must follow God with all our hearts.”
But the ultra-Orthodox man became even more agitated and screamed in a high-pitched voice, “He tried to make me a Christian!”
So I showed them my Bible, which I always have with me in a small bag, and told them, “Please read this and see if what I am saying is against the Jewish law.” Several people examined my Bible from beginning to end. “This is the true Bible,” one declared.
“Please,” I continued, “take this Book. It contains the important words of the Lord. It is these words we must follow, not the many laws the rabbis have written for you to follow—most of which they do not follow themselves. We are to fear the Lord and serve Him only. We are not to worship men who have long beards and wear black clothing and try to tell us what to believe.”
People had stopped shopping and were listening carefully. I always try to explain to people that they must read the Bible only. Unfortunately, many Jewish people have become so unsure of their own ability to understand God’s Word that they go to a rabbi and ask his interpretation; so again, all they hear is what the rabbis tell them.
Many people asked me how I came to know all this. I told them, “I read my Bible and worship God according to His Word. Is this against the Law?”
“We agree with you,” they all said. The ultra-Orthodox man was very disappointed. But I was happy that God had brought so many people to me. Even though I had not planned anything, I had a good opportunity to speak about true faith in the God of Israel, according to the Bible.