(Published in The Vineyard magazine, November 2013)
I was born and raised in a Conservative Jewish American home in which our Jewish identity was accepted, and belief in Jesus Christ was (is) not, at least not for Jews. I came to terms with my own primary identity as a Jew at the age of 17 during the Six-Day War in 1967 between Israel and the Arab states. Following my university studies (Political Science), I sought “to make things right” through the secular political system. My faith was centered in Man. After marrying a secular Christian woman, I continued my search for Truth, having no expectation that It would be Jesus. Later on this vain faith was stripped away, and, thankfully, God was there to meet me at this time of crisis. Through another man’s witness I finally listened to God’s good news concerning the truth of the Bible and Jesus Christ. By God’s grace, I was prepared to listen and to believe from my heart and with my mind that Jesus is God’s Son and Messiah, that He IS LORD!
For many years, especially beginning with my more independent life away at university, I took a liberal, or so-called humanitarian, approach to the problems and existence in the world and life. I believed that Man was responsible, if not accountable, for coming to terms with human needs in the world — peace, righteousness and justice, dignity — having to somehow come together and allow the world to live in peace. I hoped, but was unsure, about the existence of a real God; and if there were one, then what that really meant. As a Jew, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob was the true God . . .if there was God.
The Judeo-Christian principles upon which America and Western civilization were based I accepted as the “right” foundation, but I did not really have any firm basis for believing that. It just seemed right for a Jewish boy in a Christian country!
I began to become more aware of my identity as a Jew and of our role in history, but without any understanding of that perception. I came to Israel twice as an unbeliever, but it was not ‘home’: important, but not home. Books I read began to turn my thinking away from some common, current theories about evolution and other prevailing notions in the world. I also began to realize that the authors I respected the most held Christian principles as a motivating force in their own attitudes towards life and the condition of man. Jesus as a person was someone I acknowledged as one of several persons in history whose ideas helped to shape my own, but I was always defensive about saying that His teachings were possible of being the ones from which all other “good” persons’ personal philosophies came.
During a bicycle trip after our wedding, my faith in Man — or in any institution or agency of Man — was brought to a complete and seemingly hopeless end. It just became very apparent that no matter what I or anyone else did or has done or would do was going to make the world better for everyone, and for all time.
At that crucial moment when hope was gone, a man with whom I had become acquainted (at a temporary job) as a reasonable, intelligent man, asked me what was wrong, and I told him. It was then that he began telling me that the God of the Bible and Jesus Christ had a plan that was going to make things right. After satisfying my need for understanding this as a person generally and as a Jew specifically, I realized in my mind and heart that Jesus must be who I had always heard He was but never believed in because I wasn’t supposed to!
At the moment I acknowledged this — that Jesus is the Truth — God washed over and within me with His Spirit to confirm it. I became a new person! I was free and saw that truly everything would be fine according to God’s perfect way. Life is full of eternal hope now, and because of knowing and believing in the truth — repenting from faith in lies — I know that all things are purposeful and that it will be far better than I had ever conceived of when “trying to make the world better”.
The Holy Spirit convicted me of my own personal need of repentance with respect to my thoughts and ways, and that the truth of Jesus/Yeshua also included that I myself was a sinner for whom He had to die to bring me home to my Father in Heaven. I was baptized a week later with my wife, Randi, who responded to the work of the living God in me, and we immigrated to Israel seven months later in obedience with faith to the Word of the LORD spoken to me: “Go to Israel!”. Jesus made Israel ‘home’ on Earth, bringing me back to the land which God promised to our Fathers and to their descendants. Ezekiel 36 was my haftarah (prophetic portion) reading for my Bar-Mitzva when I was 13!
We were led by the Lord to choose to live in Beer Sheva, where we have been now for about 32 years. The local fellowship was not fully developed here when we arrived. We have from the outset been active in Yeshua’s Inheritance Congregation and have both seen and been part of its development. Due to the circumstances here, I became involved early on in Bible study teaching and later preaching. I have served as treasurer, deacon, elder, and now in full-time pastoral ministry. My training has been “on-the-job” in the school of Messiah, with some Godly men as examples, but without specific role models and training for the pastorate and the greater expectation attached to that. God has been faithful to be strong in my weakness for His own purposes and the honor of the name of His Son. Praise God for His grace and truth!
The gospel goes out to all people until the end of the age; bringing the born-again believers to full spiritual maturity until the harvest continues within the Body of Messiah; the ministry of reconciliation which all believers in Yeshua/Jesus have received is on-going until the prayer of the Lord in John 17 is fully answered.
Our living and blessed hope since our new birth by the Holy Spirit is the coming again of the Lord Yeshua/Jesus, with the resurrection and rapture of believers, and the re-establishment forever of the Kingdom of God over Israel and the nations. Even so, come, Lord Jesus!