On February 23rd, 1999, we had a tremendous time of witnessing. We had just come from the center of Jerusalem, where our post office box was, to a grocery store that was near where we lived, about three miles south. We took the number 18 bus and got off a few stops before our normal one, so we could pick up some oranges, avocados, apples and other foods. The store had much of their fruit outside it, and so we got a cart and were putting the oranges and tangerines in it when two teenage girls came up to us. They asked us if we had time to answer some questions for them about life in Israel.
We told them we did and then the first girl, Hana, began by asking what we thought about living in Jerusalem and how were we going to vote in the upcoming elections. Ruti shared that we had only been back for about a month and a half but that we had lived in Jerusalem for two years, a year and a half ago, and we loved being in Israel. We thought that Israel was the only place for Jewish people to live.
Then Ruth, the other teenage girl, asked how we were going to vote. I told her that we weren't going to vote and that we left those things in God's Hands. The girls were Jews from Australia and had been here on vacation for about two weeks. They wanted to know how people liked it here in the Land, because they might one day want to live here.
Hana asked how we'd vote if we did vote. I turned it around and asked them how would they vote if they could. They both said they'd vote either Labor or Meretz, and I knew we were in trouble : ) Labor is the party that wants to give 'land for peace,' and Meretz would give all of Israel to the Arabs for 'peace.'
I shared with them about the history of Israel, being reborn in 1948, when six Arab nations made war upon the tiny state. And how the United Nations put a plan, a partition plan, to the Arabs that lived here, before the war, that they would have half the land, and the Jews the other half. But the Arabs would have none of that, being told by Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Iran and Jordan, that they were to leave their homes and 'get out of the way' because they were coming in and throwing all the Jews into the sea (the Mediterranean Sea). Then those living here could come back and plunder all the Jewish homes.
But God had other plans and those Arabs living in the Land of Israel were caught in between a rock and a hard place when the war ended, as none of their Arab brothers in the warring countries wanted them. They just used them as pawns. In that war of '48, Jordan captured land west of the Jordan River, biblically known as Judah and Samaria, what the papers today call, 'the West Bank' (of the Jordan River). But even then, no nation, not even the Arab nations, recognized Jordan's claim to the land.(1) Jordan also took the eastern part of Jerusalem, which they immediately desecrated by destroying all the synagogues there. And for 20 years, no Jew could go to the Wailing Wall and pray because it was in Jordanian hands.
In 1967, when the Arabs were looking to beat up on tiny Israel, after they tried in 1948 and 1956, Israel captured Judah and Samaria and the eastern part of Jerusalem (the 'Old City), with it's four quarters: Arab, Christian, Armenian and Jewish. With it came the Temple Mount area. God gave us the rest of our homeland.
One of the teenagers named Ruth interrupted me and asked, 'Shouldn't the Palestinians have a land of their own?' I said, 'Sure!' But why do they want the land that God gave to the Jews? And that took us to the Scriptures. I said the Land of Israel doesn't belong to the Arab people, and it isn't owned by the Jewish People. It belongs to the God of Israel who gave it to the Sons of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to dwell upon it and possess it (Lev. 25:23). No one had the right or authority to give away the Land that God had given back to the Jewish People. Not even the Israeli government.
And then we got into other things like, 'Is there really a God?, and the Bible is, 'really just written by men so how can we be sure?' To our delight, a few more teens joined us, all from the same group from Australia and I began to share with them that the only way for true peace to come would be when our hearts become like God's. I told them about what God said through Ezekiel, how He would bring us Jews back from all the lands where He had scattered us and that He would sprinkle clean water upon us (Ezk. 36:22-27). And just then, a man from the store, because the sun was beginning to set, began to roll back the awning above us, and water fell upon some of us. We laughed. The point was not missed by a girl named Irit. She had been smoking and playing the 'cool one' but as I shared about real Life from God, I could see in her eyes that her heart was yearning. I continued and told them that God wanted to take out their hearts of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh, and that He would put His Spirit within them.
Then to our surprise, a few more of them joined us and before we knew it, I was speaking to about 14 teens. I told them that there can be a great deal of difference between religion and God. I said that I knew God personally, by His Spirit and His Word. And it was the Spirit that made His Word come alive and that God wanted them to have His Spirit also. God wanted them to really know Him, just like Moses, King David, Isaiah and all the Prophets knew Him.
We began to go down another rabbit trail, as Michael said, 'I can see that you really believe in God but that might be just for you. You are strong in your faith.' And I told him,
'No, I'm not. I have walked with God for 23 years and I know how weak and sinful I really am. When I first came to God, I thought I was strong, but I have come to really see my weak, wandering and rebellious heart. But God has loved me and forgiven me and enables me to walk with Him. And I love Him more today than ever before.'
Hana said that we must be the Light to the nations and so shouldn't we let the Palestinians have their country? (It's amazing how one can talk and think others are listening : ) I told her I was 'in favor of giving the Palestinians a country, just not ours. They have never had a country of their own so their insistence upon 'rights' to this land is totally fabricated.'
'The British had promised to give to the Jews all the land that is now Jordan as well as all of Israel. But after World War One, they reneged on it and created the Kingdom of Jordan. That is where the Palestinians who live in Israel should be living, if anywhere. And actually, there are many Palestinians living there. Jordan is their country. To give them a country called Palestine in Judah and Samaria, with some of Jerusalem as its capital, is a mockery of history and justice. Their cry for a country, that the land is theirs, is just not true. They have never had their own government and Jerusalem has never been their capital. They are just Arabs who happened to live here, most of them coming from Arab countries in the last century to work for the Jews because the Jews paid them much more than they could get in their own country. Their culture is Arabic as well as their language. They are no different than their Arab brothers who live in Jordan or Lebanon or Saudi Arabia.'
'When Jordan conquered Judah and Samaria and some of Jerusalem in 1948, no one ever heard of a 'Palestinian' Arab. As a matter of fact, they called the Jews who lived here, 'Palestinians'. But they prided themselves on being Arabs. They never spoke of having their own country when Jordan ruled them. Only many years after Israel reconquered the land in 1967 did they first begin to say they had 'rights' to 'their' nation. It's all a ruse of the Arab nations that want to drive the Jewish people into the sea.'
And then we went down another rabbit trail, of bringing in the Golden Age of Brotherhood among Mankind. (This is popular among liberal Jews who are called 'Reform Jews.') I told them that if Man had not been able to do this in 6,000 years, it wasn't going to happen now. Man is wicked all over the world. The Germans don't like the French and the Japanese look down upon the Koreans while the British look down upon the Americans, and etc. etc. etc. Man's heart is evil and there is only one cure, and that's God's cure. It is only through the Messiah that we have hope of that new heart. And then I shared with them that we had found the Messiah of Israel in Jesus. I waited, not knowing how they'd react. They didn't, and so I continued.
I asked them if they knew that there were two streams of Messianic thought in Rabbinic Judaism and none of them knew that, even though many of them had studied in the synagogue. (This is not unusual as the Rabbis don't want to open up something that could lead to Yeshua being seen as Messiah.) I told them that the ancient Rabbis saw two different streams of thought on the Messiah in the Scriptures and they had come to the conclusion, because they couldn't reconcile them, that there must be two different Messiahs. One, Messiah the Son of David who would reign forever (2nd Sam. 7:12-16); and the other, Messiah the Son of Joseph, the Suffering Servant, who would die for our sins (Is. 53:4-6). But God threw our Rabbis a curve ball and sent Messiah Yeshua to die for our sins 2,000 years ago, raising him from the dead to sit at His right hand, and will send him back soon, to rule on David's Throne forever.
Like Joseph, who was sold into slavery by his brothers, yet rose to second in command of all Egypt because God had a plan to save his brothers through Joseph, so too Yeshua. He too was rejected by his brothers, us Jews as a nation, and yet He rose from the dead by the mighty Power of the God of Israel, to prove that He was God's Messiah King. I told them that we weren't there and didn't see it, but that if they would seek the God of Israel and ask Him if Yeshua was their Messiah, that they would come to know for themselves.
We must have talked for an hour or more, standing in front of the grocery store, by he fruit and vegetables. Ruth then asked Ruti (my wife), about women's lib and being free. 'Don't you feel like you're in prison, having to do all the religious things?' Ruti shared that she thought she was free when she was young, when she wasn't walking with God and doing whatever she wanted to do. But she said that she had only come to know true freedom by giving her heart to Messiah Yeshua. Ruti poured out her heart to the girls and they were impacted by her genuineness and love for them. By the end, some had left, being called away to go somewhere, but many stayed, even to the point of being late for their next excursion. They were riveted, the Holy Spirit was amongst us, drawing their souls to Living Waters. I gave them our names and telephone number and told them to call us if they had any other questions or if they wanted to talk some more. Please pray for them, especially the ones whose names we remember: Michael, Hana, Ruth, Carli and Irit. Thank you.
1. Only Britain and Malaysia actually recognized Jordan's 'right' to the land. Of course, Britain was still looking for 'favor' and influence in the Middle East (i.e. oil).