Zvi (Joel Of Jerusalem) Jun/Jul 1991
In the aftermath of the Persian Gulf War, there is no longer a gloomy spirit here in Israel. Many people are walking along the streets of Jerusalem singing Israeli folk songs, such as “Toda La El” (Thank the Lord, He is good) and “Sing to the Lord a new song, for He has done marvelous things.” In a time of great national trouble, the people of Israel seemed to turn to God, and in such an atmosphere it is easier to talk to people about the Lord and tell them what He has done for us.
It is my privilege and duty to go among my people and tell them, in very simple language, about God’s goodness to us as His chosen people and about His protection of us as a nation. I show them examples from the Scriptures, and they like to hear this. But they always object loudly when I tell them that they must accept the Messiah, Jesus. It is at times such as these when the Lord reminds me, as He did Moses, that my brethren are “a stiff-necked people” (Ex. 32:9) who do not see themselves as God sees them. It is written in 2 Samuel 1:25, “How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle!” Before the Lord we are not heroes; we are weak. It is only by putting our faith in Him that we become strong.
Israel had a perfect example of that concept during the Gulf War. A long time ago Julius Caesar said, “Veni, Vidi, Vici” (I came, I saw, I conquered). In recent days another dictator arose in Babylon and said, “I came, I saw, I ate until I broke my teeth.” He was much stronger than any we have seen in years, but even with his great and dangerous storehouse of weapons, where was his victory?
Of course, the people of Israel are aware of the downfall of Saddam Hussein, and even though they sing nice songs about the Lord, they do not truly believe that He had any part in Saddam’s defeat. They put their faith in great military and financial power, either their own or that of other nations. They are now saying, “It was because of the great power of the coalition that Saddam was destroyed.” I listened to this kind of talk for a while after the war ended, but I finally came to the point where I could no longer tolerate it. I had to tell these people the truth; I had to let them know who had protected and delivered them from the missile attacks of this new Nebuchadnezzar.
I was with a group of people who were discussing the war, and I read for them Jeremiah 50:15–16, “Shout against her round about; she hath given her hand; her foundations are fallen, her walls are thrown down; for it is the vengeance of the Lᴏʀᴅ. Take vengeance upon her; as she hath done, do unto her. Cut off the sower from Babylon and him that handleth the sickle in the time of harvest; for fear of the oppressing sword they shall turn every one to his people, and they shall flee every one to his own land.” Then I asked, “Doesn’t that sound like a description in today’s newspaper of the defeat of Iraq? The Lord poured out His vengeance on that nation, and the Iraqi soldiers fled for their lives, just as Jeremiah wrote.”
I also read Jeremiah 51:2, “[I] will send unto Babylon winnowers, that shall fan her, and shall empty her land; for in the day of trouble they shall be against her round about” and Isaiah 41:16, “Thou shalt fan them, and the wind shall carry them away, and the whirlwind shall scatter them.” I then told the people, “These words were written, through the ancient prophets, by the Holy Spirit of God, and no one can change His will. It was only because the mighty coalition forces were acting in accordance with God’s will that He gave them such a great victory. The Lord has promised never to leave or forsake His people Israel, for He said, ‘Thou art my servant; I have chosen thee, and not cast thee away. Fear thou not; for I am with thee’ (Isa. 41:9–10).”
At this point these people began to be suspicious and asked questions concerning the Bible. I responded, “You are intelligent people; read the Bible for yourselves. Then you will know that I am not relating stories but the true Word of God. The Bible is not like other books. If you read the commentary books of the rabbis only once, you never forget what you have read; but you don’t want to believe the Bible because it goes against your traditions, so you let it fly right out of your heads as if you had never read it. You don’t realize that it was written, not through man’s wisdom, but by the Holy Spirit of God. Therefore, it is impossible to understand the Bible if you do not have true faith in Him.”
They were surprised by this and asked, “Who was your teacher? Did you study in a great Bible college?” When I answered that I had not attended any Bible school, they asked, “Then how do you know all these things?” “It is simple,” I replied. “It is written, ‘the Holy Spirit shall teach you’ (Lk. 12:12).” Then they said, “Now it is becoming clear to us. You have studied the Christian books, and you want us to believe them.” “No, my friend,” I replied. “The only book I have studied is the Holy Bible, and the New Testament is a natural continuation of the Old Testament. The entire Bible is for everyone, and it is the only book you need to learn about God and how to know Him.”
They were angered by my remarks and said, “The New Testament is a Christian book, and we remember very well all the punishment the Jewish people have received over the years at the hands of those who believed in Christ, as you do. You can speak so warmly about your Christ because you have never experienced any of the troubles most of us have seen.” I responded, “Now you have brought me to the place where I can give you a clear testimony about my faith in the Lord. You see, I have experienced as much, if not more trouble than all of you. I lost my entire family in the Warsaw Ghetto. I wandered all over Europe during World War II, narrowly escaping death many times. I came to Israel in 1948 and within days was drafted into the Israeli Army, where I served during four wars, and my responsibility was to defuse land mines. So, you see, I have had my share of trouble, but my testimony is that the Lord protected me through it all.”
I then read Matthew 10:16, “Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves.” I told these people, “That is now my mission. I have been sent by the Lord to tell you about Him.” Many times when we go out to witness, we wonder what we can say so that our listeners will not mock us and make us ashamed to share the Lord with them. We must always remember that the Holy Spirit is right beside us, telling us what to say and actually speaking through us. It is only through His enablement and courage that I can stand before such people and preach the gospel of Christ.
I pray that the Lord will open their hearts and that they will receive Him as their personal Savior. Then they will not only understand great military victories but will be part of a great spiritual victory. Please continue to pray with me for the land of Israel and for her people who need the Lord.