Zvi Jun/Jul 1995
Many new immigrants from Russia live in my neighborhood. Most of them know me because I have made repairs in their homes, which gives me opportunities to speak with them about many things, even about faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Most of these immigrants do not know Hebrew well, and often when they read something in the newspaper that they do not understand, they come to me for an explanation. Recently, however, some of them came with a question I had never before heard from anyone in Israel.
When I arrived at home that day, several of my neighbors were anxiously waiting for me. When they saw me they said excitedly, “Zvi, we have been waiting a long time to see you. We have a question for you.” Naturally, I was surprised to see them and knew it must be an important question for so many of them to come to my home.
“What is it?” I asked. “Has something happened? Are you all right?”
One of the men responded, “We’re fine, but Zvi did you know that we are coming close to the end of the world? Did you know that two-thirds of the people in Israel are going to die?” I asked, “Who told you this?” and he replied, “It is written right here in the newspaper. A great philosopher wrote it. What do you think about it?”
I told him, “I am not a philosopher, but I can tell you that for those of us who read the Bible, this is not news; it is not a surprise.” The man then asked, “Are you saying that this great philosopher got his information from the Bible? Do you expect us to believe that?” I responded, “You all think you are very wise and know everything, but before the Lord your wisdom is less than the smallest creature on the face of the earth.” I then opened my Bible and handed it to the spokesman of the group, the “wisest one,” and said, “Take a good look at this and tell me whether or not it is the Bible in your own Russian language.” He took his time examining the Bible and finally said, “Yes, this is the Bible.” I then said, “Please read out loud, so that all of your companions can hear, Zechariah 13:8–9.” So he read, “And it shall come to pass that in all the land, saith the Lord, two parts in it shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left in it. And I will bring the third part through the fire … “
When he finished reading, I said, “You see, we do not have to be philosophers to know about these things. This is what Zechariah, the ancient prophet of Israel, wrote under the direction of the Holy Spirit of God, and not some modern-day philosopher.” They then began to pass the Bible around so that everyone could see for himself what was written there. I never before saw such interest expressed in the Word of God.
Eventually they asked me, “When will this happen? The philosopher said it will occur by the end of 1999. Is that true?” They were all staring at me, wondering if I could show them from the Bible when the things prophesied by Zechariah would take place. I turned in the Bible to 1 Thessalonians 5:2 and read, “For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.”
I then told them, “I am not a prophet, nor the son of a prophet, but I do know that we all must be ready at any time to meet our God. This is very clearly written in Amos 4:12: ‘prepare to meet thy God, O Israel.’ No one knows what day or hour that will be, so what can we do? Put our trust in the Lord and be peaceful in Him. Of course, the only way to do this is to put your faith in the Lord and not in the many writers of commentaries or philosophers. You know, paper has great patience. You may write whatever you like on it, and it won’t complain. But you must know where to find the truth, and that is only in this book, the Bible, which was written by the Holy Spirit of God and is eternal.”
When I said this, these men realized that I believe in the Lord Jesus, and they started asking questions that I have heard many times over the years: “Do you want us to believe that the New Testament is also part of the Bible? Was it also written by the Holy Spirit? We cannot believe that, because we know that most of the New Testament speaks about that man, Jesus.” I was glad that the conversation had come to the point where I could discuss with them my faith in the Lord. I again handed the Bible to the “wisest one” and said, “Please read Hebrews 11, and read it loud enough for everyone to hear.” He read the entire chapter, after which another man said, “That is exactly what is written in the Hebrew Scriptures,” and they all agreed.
“Now what do you have to say about the New Testament?” I asked. “You can see for yourselves that it is a natural continuation of the Old Testament, our own Hebrew Bible. If you go to any synagogue in Israel, you will find many, many books of commentary, and there are some people who spend most of their lives doing nothing but studying these books. But if you were to ask any one of those men how to have true faith in God, they would tell you, ‘I am afraid to speak with you! I will call my rabbi.’ And this after forty or more years of studying all those books! But, you see, they never open the Holy Bible, not even the Old Testament, and it is only in the Bible that we can find the true way to faith in the living God. Many centuries ago, the Prophet Isaiah said that Israel would be ‘a light to the nations’ (Isa. 49:6) and that ‘out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lᴏʀᴅ from Jerusalem’ (Isa. 2:3). But how can they preach the Word of the Lord to the nations when they are afraid to open their mouths?”
As the discussion came to an end, I gave these men a Bible in the Russian language so that they could pass it around and study it in their free time. Then they will know for themselves what God expects of them. What’s more, they will realize that the Lord Jesus Christ is spoken of in the Old Testament as well as in the New Testament, because I gave them a long list of Old Testament passages that clearly speak about Him. They will not be able to boycott the New Testament, because it is written in Jeremiah 31:31–34 that the Lord will make “a new covenant with the house of Israel,” and that He “will forgive their iniquity, and … remember their sin no more.” And who said this? Jesus Christ Himself!
Now I am awaiting their return with more questions, and I pray that I will have the right answers to point them to the salvation that can be found only through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Please pray with me for these dear people, that they will come to the Lord and be ready to meet Him when He returns for His own.