Zvi Jun/Jul 1998
I am sure that many people who experienced World War II remember well the great “peace agreement” between Hitler and Britain’s Neville Chamberlain, reached in Munich in 1938. This was nothing more than a theatrical performance and, as we eventually saw, one of the greatest diversionary tactics of all time. The entire world said “Amen!” to the words of these leaders, but, as it is written in Psalm 120:6–7, “My soul hath long dwelt with him that hateth peace. I am for peace; but when I speak, they are for war.”
Now, 60 years later, we have seen the same kind of theatrical performance involving two very famous leaders, each one a good actor in his own way. And the eyes of the whole world have been upon them. Most people, especially those who have put their trust in the Lord, realize that, once again, this is nothing more than a diversionary tactic. True believers would never take such a performance seriously. As it is written in Psalm 118:8–9, “It is better to trust in the Lᴏʀᴅ than to put confidence in man. It is better to trust in the Lᴏʀᴅ than to put confidence in princes.”
Almost on a daily basis, I come into contact with many people here in Jerusalem, where I have lived for 50 years now. These people have seen many “peace agreements” come and go. And with whom are they made? With people who always promise much but never keep their word. These agreements are nothing more than mere pieces of paper, all with the same value as the skin of a garlic. I hear these sentiments echoed by all segments of Israeli society, even the Ultra-Orthodox, who spend most of their lives studying in synagogues. The difference between them and other Israelis is that they are not willing to do anything to support these agreements. They do not serve in the military or do anything to try to bring peace to their land.
That is why I was so surprised recently when I met an Orthodox man who said, just as it is written in Isaiah 9:6–7, “The peace will come by the Prince of Peace.” Then he and his friends started to give some very good advice to the people gathered around them, all from the Bible, and seemingly without any fear. This man said, “If the leaders had made a peace agreement, not with a big stack of papers, but with the Word of the Lord, peace could have been achieved long years ago.” I enthusiastically told him, “I agree with you!”
Unfortunately, most people in Israel have the same mentality—as they say, respect him and suspect him. Following a long, interesting conversation about peace agreements, these men began to be suspicious of me. They said, “We are getting the feeling that you are not one of us. How is it that you pay such high attention when we speak about the Bible? How did you come to have such great interest in the Scriptures?” I replied, “You must realize that not only those who have long beards and dress in long black clothing have the right to be servants of God.”
This shift in the conversation gave me the opportunity I had been waiting for—to speak about my faith in the Lord. I read to them Leviticus 26:3–4, “If ye walk in my statutes, and keep my commandments, and do them, Then I will give you rain in due season…” Then I said, “It is not written here, ‘If you keep your beard long, I will bless you.’ Or, ‘If you come to the synagogue wearing special black clothing, I will be with you.’ No! In the Psalms, which you all know so well, it is written, ‘I delight to do thy will, O my God; yea, thy law is within my heart’ (40:8). Another special Scripture for the people of Jerusalem is Jeremiah 4:14: ‘O Jerusalem, wash thine heart from wickedness, that thou mayest be saved. How long shall thy vain thoughts lodge within thee?’ ”
I then told them, “I do not come before the Lord camouflaged, so that people can see how righteous I am. Rather, I come before Him, and you, only with an open heart. It is clearly written in Deuteronomy 10:12, ‘And now, Israel, what doth the Lᴏʀᴅ thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lᴏʀᴅ thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lᴏʀᴅ thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul.’ You see, as it is written in Proverbs 15:3, ‘The eyes of the Lᴏʀᴅ are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.’ And again, it is written in 1 Samuel 16:7, ‘man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lᴏʀᴅ looketh on the heart.’ ”
Then they began to ask me many questions, such as, “Are you a rabbi?” “Who are you?” I replied, “You need not be a rabbi to serve God. As our great King David prayed, so you must pray, ‘Show me thy ways, O Lᴏʀᴅ; teach me thy paths’ (Ps. 25:4). You must be faithful to the Lord and believe what is written in the Bible. This has nothing to do with long beards or black clothing. You must come to the Lord just as you are, with an open heart, as did King David, who also prayed, ‘Unto thee, O Lᴏʀᴅ, do I lift up my soul’ (Ps. 25:1).”
Then I said to them, “You have asked me many questions. Now I want to ask you a question. To whom do you lift up your souls in the time of trouble?” One of the men responded, “Is it not enough that we go to the synagogue three times a day to pray?” I told him, “You are not praying; you are merely reading the prayer books that your rabbis have written for you. I pray to God from the depths of my heart, and that is very different from what you are doing.”
We talked some more, and then one of the men said, “We have had a very long conversation with you, and it seems that we agree with you on some issues, so you cannot really say that you are one of those people who believes in ‘that man’ [Jesus].” I replied—as I have done many times before and will no doubt do many more times—“I believe in the living God, not according to the old commentary books that you read day after day, but according to what is written in the Holy Bible.”
I am very burdened for these men. They know so much about God, and I believe they truly want to follow Him, but they are going about it in the wrong way. They have been brainwashed, as have so many Jewish people down through the centuries. Please pray with me that I will have further opportunities to speak with them and that the Lord will enable me to convey to them the whole truth of His Word. As it is written in Psalm 24:1, “The earth is the Lᴏʀᴅ’s…and they who dwell therein”—and that includes these dear men.