Zvi Oct/Nov 1994
In Jeremiah 13:16 it is written, “Give glory to the Lᴏʀᴅ, your God, before he cause darkness.” This is so true. Many people go into the sea but want to come out dry, but that can never be. Here in Israel people are worshipping the darkness, and yet they want to see the light. As one who has seen the true light, I must offer help to such people.
Down through the ages, there have been many rabbis in Judaism who have put themselves up before the people as great leaders, saying that they alone can bring people out of the darkness and into the light, but they have all been wrong—every one of them—including the famous Menachem Mendel Schneerson, whom so many believed to be the Messiah. But now he is dead, and his followers are so disappointed. They cannot reconcile their belief in him with the reality of his death, and so they sit in dark rooms all day, straining their eyes to read the Book of Psalms, hoping against hope that this one in whom they had put their faith will return from the dead and bring them redemption.
A few years ago Schneerson’s followers had posted signs and banners all over Israel reading, “Prepare to Meet the Messiah.” Now that their messiah is dead, they have made new signs reading, “Be Ready for the Resurrection of the Messiah.” Many people have realized that it is all an error and have left the movement, but many others believe this new declaration and truly expect him to come back to life, while still others are in a state of deep mourning. Of course, as a believer in Christ, it is my duty to go to such people and encourage them and try to bring them joy, so that, as it is written in Jeremiah 31:12–13, “they shall not sorrow any more at all … for I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow.”
So it was that I went to a place where I knew many of Schneerson’s followers gathered, and it was indeed a dark place. Many people were there mourning and weeping, their eyes closed to the light, and nothing but sorrow in their hearts—and all of this because they believed in someone who had led them far away from the truth. But, as it is written in Isaiah 60:1, “Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee.” I was considering how to initiate a conversation with them, how to open their blind eyes to the truth of the Lord, when one of the men quietly asked, “Are you one of us,” I replied, “I am here for all of you. I did not come to take part in this mourning but to bring joy so that you will sorrow no more.” He closed his Psalm book on the table and asked, “How can that be?” I said, “As long as you continue to sit here in the darkness, you will never see the light that is in the Lord, and you will never have true joy and peace. Without faith in Him, you will continue mourning with all of these other people who are lost in the darkness.”
The man then called over some of his friends, and now these ones who had been so quiet and sorrowful found their voices. “Who are you and why are you here?” they demanded. I realized that I was standing before a group of very embittered people, and I knew I would have to be very careful. But I did come to encourage them and, as it is written in Proverbs 21:23, “Who so keepeth his mouth and his tongue, keepeth his soul from troubles,” so I silently prayed to the Lord for guidance and then began to speak to them.
“In John 16:20 it is written, ‘Ye shall weep and lament, but the world shall rejoice; and ye shall be sorrowful, but your sorrow shall be turned into joy.’ I am sure that this will happen for you if you will come to the Lord and ask Him to forgive your sins. You must not take a powerless man who can do nothing for you and make him your god, your savior. How did you ever come to such a state as this? You call yourselves very religious, but you are worshipping idols. Also, it is written in Exodus 20:7, ‘Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain,’ but that is exactly what you are doing.”
Because I did not believe in their dead messiah, they were very obstinate and did not want to talk to me. Again they asked, “Who are you and what do you want here?” I replied, “It is my obligation to warn you to turn from the wrong path on which you are traveling.” I then read aloud some passages of Scripture referring to the Messiah, and it wasn’t long before they realized that I believed in Christ the Lord (“This man,” as they call Him). I told them, “I am very proud to say that I do not worship a false god, as you do, but the living God. I can show you in black and white where it is written about Him in the Holy Bible, but you cannot do the same. You must prove your beliefs by referring to your hundreds of commentary books, which were written by mere men and not the Holy Spirit of God. You are living in a state of deep confusion, and therefore you have no joy in your lives, especially now that your false prophet is dead. But look at me—I am living in great joy because I have put my trust in the one true living God, the God who is eternal. In Him there is no death, only life.”
I then read several portions of Scripture to them: “thus saith the Lᴏʀᴅ unto the house of Israel: Seek ye me, and ye shall live” (Amos 5:4); “Let thine heart retain my words; keep my commandments, and live” (Prov. 4:4); and “I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lᴏʀᴅ” (Ps. 118:17). I again told these men, “I am proud to say that I believe in the one you call ‘This men,’ because I can rejoice and be glad in His salvation. Now you know who I am, and I hope you know why I have come here today.”
This was the first time I had told these people about my faith in the Lord, and I was sure they would tell me to never come back, but we parted as friends, and the door remains open for a return visit. Please pray with me that I will have further opportunities to tell them about the one true and living God, especially as the days roll by and they realize that their messiah is not coming back.