A question may arise: Since God selected Israel as his “Chosen People” to be the light-bearer of truth and righteousness to the world, and since Israel has been unfaithful, “stiff-necked and rebellious,” has God changed his plan and purpose concerning them?
We answer, No, thank God. God emphatically affirms the fixedness of His purpose: “Jehovah of hosts hath sworn, saying surely as I have thought, so shall it come to pass; and as I have purposed, so shall it be... The Lord of hosts hath purposed and who shall disannul it.” “I am God and there is none else; I am God and there is none like me... my counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure... yea I have spoken it, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed it, and I will also do it.” (Isa. 14:24-27; 46:9-11) However unfaithful, stiff-necked and rebellious Israel has been, and however unfavorable, hard and drastic God’s dealings with them may appear, His original and unalterable purpose of making His Chosen People the light-bearer of righteousness to the world is destined to progress gradually to completion. When the temporary permission of affliction shall have served its Divine purpose, God will restrain it. When Israel shall have humbly acknowledged Jesus as the Messiah, and shall have accepted His Atonement-sacrifice for sin, they will then understand that their punishment was a wise feature in the Divine plan and policy of their education for the dispensing of His blessings to all the other families of the earth.
It is a mistake to regard the punishment meted out to Israel as merely punitive; it was corrective and educative as well, and intended to fit them for their Divine calling and destiny. Thus God intends that His Kingdom rule on earth shall yet be the ultimate constitution of Israel’s government. But Israel must first be purified by a complete severance from the association of Gentile rulership. They must regain spiritual freedom, in their own land, and amid welcome surroundings they must revert to the love of truth and righteousness, and to the practice of faith and godliness. We must therefore view the exodus today as a great forward step in the development of Israel’s religion. Their special mission as a nation to bless other nations could never be accomplished as long as they remained scattered throughout Gentile lands. It is time therefore that all pious and serious-thinking Jews studied the history of their national experience with an intent of going back to Israel and righting themselves with their God; for the sooner they return to their homeland and become reinstated to Divine favor, the sooner God will bless them, and the sooner His predestinated and unalterable purpose of blessing “all the families of the earth” through them will come.
Glancing backward we notice God’s special selection of Abraham and certain of his offspring as the channels through which the promised blessing of all the families of the earth should come. God chose Abraham because of His faith. He is styled “The Father of the Faithful,” not because certain individuals, Noah, Enoch and Abel before Him had not been faithful, but because with Abraham God started a faith family. That family became known as a nation – the nation of Israel. The reason Abraham was called the “Father of the Faithful” was because those faithful ones that preceded him exercised faith more along abstract lines, whereas Abraham was head of a faith family – his wife, Sarah; his son, Isaac; a grandson, Jacob; and then came the great grandsons, the twelve sons of Jacob, all of whom, though, as we have seen, not always faithful by any means, nevertheless, belonged to the faith family and were members of the “Chosen People.”
The Divine promise and revelation to Abraham was, “In thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” (Gen. 22:18) This promise was made with an oath and it meant a definite and permanent selection of Israel, of the family of Abraham, from among all nations, as the one in whom the great work of blessing the world should be accomplished, and any blessing coming to any Gentile is destined to come as a fruitage of that oath-bound promise. God, speaking to Israel, declared, “You only have I known of all the families of the earth.” (Amos 3:2) Israel alone was recognized and honored of God, and when His Son came, His ministry was confined exclusively to the Chosen People, and He would not permit His disciples to go to others, saying, as He sent them out, “Go not into the way of the Gentiles, and into any city of the Samaritans enter ye not.” We might ask, Why, Jesus? Because, He explains, “I am not sent but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matt. 10:5,6; 15:24)
Israel was permanently selected of God to be His special people, a treasure unto Him above all other people. Separated from the Gentile world, they were the recipients of special favor from God for over eighteen hundred years. This national favor began with the beginning of their national life when they were first recognized and called, “The Twelve Tribes of Israel” – a national name (Gen. 49:28; 46:3; Deut. 26:5). The long years of national life and Divine favor temporarily ended with their tragic rejection of their Messiah when, five days before His crucifixion, He presented Himself to them as their King, and, not being accepted, he declared, “Your house is left unto you desolate.” (Matt. 23:38) This, the temporary end of their national favor, was the point of their fall from Divine favor, which fall continued for years, ending in the total destruction of their national polity, as well as their city, Temple, priesthood and Atonement Day.
During the period of God’s favor to Israel, during which time Gentile nations were ignored, Israel had chastisements and blessings combined. But even their chastisements for willful sins were evidences and elements of God’s concern and His Fatherly care over them. He permitted trouble to come upon them, and frequently allowed them to be carried away into captivity when they became indifferent and disobeyed Him; yet when they repented and cried unto Him He always heard them and delivered them. The entire history of Israel, as recorded in Exodus, Joshua, Chronicles and Samuel, attests the fact that God did not long hide His face from them, and that His ear was ever open unto their repentant cry, down to the very day their “house was left desolate.” Even on that day, God had sent them the long-promised Messiah in the person of Jesus, His Son. The unfitness of Israel to, in any measure, represent God and His Kingdom on earth, was evidenced in their rejection of the “holy, harmless, and undefiled One,” and their desire for Pilate to deliver unto them Barabbas, a murderer, in His stead.
Thus, because of Israel’s unfitness to represent God and His Kingdom, the day of their greatest favor became the day of their greatest fall from favor. Blinded, as a people, by national pride and prejudice, the great opportunity to be the first to recognize and herald the Messiah was taken away from them, and it went to Gentiles, a people whom, in the Jews’ arrogant pride, they despised as “dogs.” We note that in Israel’s conception of things, God was not concerned about the Gentiles. They were deeply conscious of the age-long promise of Jehovah to their father Abraham: “Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation,” but they were quite unconscious of the meaning of the rest of the promise, “and all nations of the earth shall be blessed in him.” (Gen. 18:17-18) They knew that this promise had been reaffirmed to Isaac: “I will perform the oath which I sware unto Abraham thy father”; but, again, the rest of the reaffirmation, “and in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed,” was not comprehended (Gen. 26:3-4). They knew that the promise and reaffirmation had been repeated to Jacob: “I am the Lord God of Abraham, thy father, and the God of Isaac; the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed,” but the rest of the promise, “and in thee and in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed” (Gen. 28:13-14) was lost upon them. Thus God’s favor was not to return to Israel as a nation, to remove their blindness, and to lead them as a firstfruit of the nations into earthly blessings “until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in [be finished].” (Rom. 11:25)
Thus, as Paul declared (Rom. 11:7), “Israel [in their national pride] did not obtain that for which they sought [expected]” – the first people to recognize and herald the Messiah. In their pride of heart, expecting and claiming the chief blessing as their natural birthright as God’s Chosen People, and as further merited by their keeping the Law of Moses, they rejected the blessing as simply a favor of God. As David prophetically foretold, their table, so bountifully spread with rich promises of God, became a “stumbling block, and a recompense unto them” (Psa. 69:22; Rom. 11:9-10) because of their hardness of heart. Jesus, who humbly came as an Atonement-sacrifice for the sins of the whole world, and who would have exalted Israel to a position of glory above other nations of earth and beyond their expectation or their ability to desire or to hope, was to their pride a “stone of stumbling and a rock of offense.” (Rom. 9:32, 33; Isa. 8:14) Yet the blindness of Israel was only a blindness “in part” and not a total loss of sight (Rom. 11:25); and any Jew who, at any time, would resolutely brush away the films of prejudice and national pride, and humbly and thankfully accept the favor of God through Jesus Christ, was privileged to do so (John 1:11-12).
As previously stated, after Israel rejected and crucified the Messiah, they had no marks whatever of God’s favor. Their house was “left desolate.” Jews must honestly admit that they have been “fed with the bread of tears, and given tears to drink in large measure” (Psa. 80:5) and their groans and prayers have, for centuries, gone unanswered; and as foretold by their prophets, their name has been a “byword and a hissing unto all nations.” (Deut. 28:37; Jer. 29:18) Though formerly God heard their prayers, marked their tears and returned them to their own land, and continually favored them, since the rejection of the Messiah, He has heeded them not and shown them no favor whatever. Since they said, “His blood be upon us and upon our children,” theirs has been one long continuous chastisement; they have been scattered and persecuted among all nations. These are physical facts as all may read them on the pages of history. We turn to the prophets and see how particularly these facts were foretold and what the same prophets have to say concerning Israel’s future.
Through the prophet Jeremiah (Chapter 16:13), after telling Israel how they had forsaken Him, the Lord declares: “Therefore will I cast you out of this land into a land that ye know not, neither ye nor your fathers; and there shall ye serve other gods [rulers] day and night, where I will not show you favor.” (Verses 9‑13) These days came when they rejected the Messiah and declared, “We have no king but Caesar.” How literally this threat has been fulfilled all the world may judge, and Jews themselves must honestly admit. This prophecy cannot refer to any of their previous captivities to surrounding nations — Syria, Babylon, etc.; such an inference is guarded against in the expression, “into a land which ye know not, neither ye nor your fathers.” Abraham came from Ur of the Chaldees – Babylonia (Gen. 15:7), and Jacob from Syria. Israel’s dispersion among all nations since the end of their time of Divine favor, and no other of their captivities, fits this pointed expression – “a land which ye and your fathers have not known.” So then this, together with the “no favor,” positively marks this prophecy as relating to Israel’s present dispersion among all nations.
As previously stated, though God cast them off from all favor for a long time, it was never His intention to leave them cast off forever. He declares, “Behold the days come, saith the Lord, that it shall no more be said, The Lord liveth that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; but the Lord liveth that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the north [Russia, Germany] and from all the lands whither he had driven them; and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers.” This is being fulfilled today. The great regathering of Israel to the land of promise, which shall, by and by, include their awakened dead as well as the living, has already begun in the remarkable exodus thither of their living representatives which is attracting the attention of the whole civilized world. And God’s express purpose of driving and gathering them out of all the lands whither He has scattered them is being accomplished in this, our day.
It was on this promise of the receiving of Israel back again into Divine favor that Paul based an argument for the resurrection of the dead, saying, “If the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them [back to Divine favor] be but life from the dead?” (Rom. 11:15) The “receiving of them” will imply that the whole world, of which Israel is the first-fruit, is shortly to receive the gracious opportunity of Resurrection and Restoration which the death of Jesus secured, and which His glorious reign shall accomplish.
Among the very pointed references in the New Testament to the favor which is to be restored to Israel, is that by James (Acts 15:14-16) and by Paul (Rom. 11:26). But first it was necessary for Israel to drink the very last dregs of their chastisement; and thus it is expressed in this remarkable prophecy (Jer. 16:18): “And first [before I return my favor] I will recompense their iniquity and their sin double.” This double of punishment was to be the measure by which Israel should be brought back to their true position as the Chosen People of God. During their cast-off condition, Jews have been but “dogs” to be cuffed, kicked and abused by Gentile rulers, and even denied, by Mohammedan rulers, the most ordinary privileges of existence in the land sacred to them with memories of the past, and with promises touching the future.
At the same time that the door of Palestine was beginning to open before them, a fierce persecution arose in Germany and in Russia, where it still continues. By one regulation after another, they have been despoiled of rights and privileges by Gentile governments, as well as mobbed, robbed and slain, until they are being compelled to leave in large numbers. But this persecution is a disguised favor, as it will tend, and has already tended, to cause them to look toward Israel and the covenants, and to remind them that they are still heirs of certain rich promises in the land of their fathers.
But we must remember that this is only the turning point of returning favor to Israel. Jerusalem and its people will continue to be “trodden down” – controlled and oppressed by Gentiles “until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled,” and hence, though Divine favor has begun, Jews will not be considered back into full favor until no part of Jerusalem is longer in the hands of Gentiles. Israel’s rise again to favor will be gradual, as was their fall from it.
For a moment let us turn back to Zechariah’s prophecy (9:9-12). In prophetic vision the prophet walks beside Jesus as He rides into Jerusalem on an ass and offers Himself as Israel’s King five days before His crucifixion. To the people the prophet cries, “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, thy King cometh unto thee! He is just, and having salvation; lowly; and riding upon an ass.” Mark the clear fulfillment of these words as recorded in Matthew 21:4-9, John 12:12-15 and Luke 19: 30-42. Every item was fulfilled even to the shouting. When Jesus came to the people, riding upon an ass, the common people shouted “Hosanna!” The Pharisees and other leaders of Israel asked Jesus to rebuke the people, but He refused. Why? Because it had been prophesied that there would be a shout, and every item of prophecy must be fulfilled.
After briefly noting the evil and bitter consequences to follow the religious leaders’ rejection of their national King, the prophet, speaking for God, addresses the people again, saying, (verse 12): “Turn you to the stronghold, ye prisoners of hope; even today do I declare that I will render double unto thee.” Israel had, for years, been under the Roman yoke, but they were “prisoners of hope,” hoping for a coming King who would deliver them from their oppressors and exalt them to the promised dominion of earth. Now their King — their “Stronghold,” had come, riding to them on an ass, so meek and so lowly that they, in their ignorance of the prophecies and pride of heart, could not recognize Him as such a Deliverer. And much more, they were sin’s prisoners, and this Deliverer not only proposed to release them from Roman bondage, but, by His Atonement-sacrifice, purposed the greater release also. Jesus had been with them for three and a half years, performing miracles and fulfilling prophecy in their very midst, and now came the last and final test – would they accept Him as King? The foreknowledge of God, that they would reject their Messiah, is shown by the prophet, who, taking an assumed position in Jesus’ day, declared, “Even today do I declare that I will render double unto thee” (Zech. 9:12) This prophecy not only leaves no doubt about there being a double – a duplication – of chastisement added to Israel’s experience because of their rejection of their Messiah, but it also marks the exact day when it began, and makes the conclusion drawn from Jeremiah’s prophecy, and fixed by Jesus’ words – “Your house is left unto you desolate” – doubly strong, exact and clear.
Call to mind Jesus’ words at that time, and in that connection He said, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, but ye would not. Behold! your house is left unto you desolate; for I say unto you, ye shall not see me henceforth until ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord.” (Matt. 23: 37-39) Also we read that on the very last day of Israel’s favor, “When Jesus was come near [riding on an ass], he beheld the city and wept over it, saying, If thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace...” Here Jesus paused and left unsaid what would have been the condition of Jerusalem if she had accepted Him as her Messiah and King. If Jerusalem had known what things belonged to her peaceful existence as a nation, if she had heeded the light which God had sent her, she would have stood forth in the pride of prosperity, the queen of the kingdoms of earth, free in the strength of her God‑given power. Had she accepted her “Passover Lamb,” she would have been “passed-over,” and there would have been no armed soldiers standing at her gates, no Roman banners waving from her walls, no siege of Jerusalem; there would have been no Hitler’s concentration camps, no “Times of the Gentiles.” The glorious reward which would have blessed Jerusalem, had she accepted her King and Redeemer, rose before the vision of her Messiah, and He saw that she would, through Him, have been healed of her grievous malady, liberated from Roman bondage, and established as the mighty metropolis of the earth. From her walls the dove of Peace would have gone forth to “all the families of the earth.” She would have been the world’s diadem of glory.
But the bright picture of what Jerusalem would have been, had she known the “things that belonged unto her peace,” fades from the Messiah’s sight. He realizes that she must stay under the Roman yoke; she must stay with the king she had chosen, bearing the disfavor of God, not “passed-over” but “smitten” and doomed to be “left desolate.” In His grief, He takes up the broken thread of His lamentation: “But now [henceforth] they are hid from thine eyes. For the day shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, and shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee, and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy [Messiah’s] visitation.” (Luke 19:42-44)
Jesus knew the terrible retribution which would be visited upon the doomed city. He saw Jerusalem encompassed with armies, the besieged inhabitants driven to starvation and death, mothers feeding upon the dead bodies of their own children, and both parents and children snatching the last morsel of food from one another, natural affection being destroyed by the gnawing pangs of hunger. He saw that the stubbornness of Israel, as evinced in their rejection of His Atonement, would also lead them to refuse submission to the invading armies, and He beheld Calvary, on which He was to be crucified, set with crosses as thickly as forest trees. He saw Israel suffering torture on racks, her beautiful palaces destroyed, the Temple in ruins, and of its massive walls not one stone left upon another, the city plowed like a field. Well might the Messiah weep in view of that tragic scene. Jerusalem had been the child of His love and care, and as a tender father mourns over a wayward son, so Jesus wept over His beloved city (Luke 19:41-42).
But we thank God, now that their “double” of chastisement is complete, we can see that their blindness is beginning to be turned away, and the things which “belong” unto their “peace” are no longer “hid” from their eyes. God, who evidently wished to settle all inquiring minds beyond doubt, has given further information concerning Israel’s “double” by another of His most honored servants – the Prophet Isaiah. This prophet takes a prophetic stand down here in our day when Israel’s punishment has been fulfilled, and, addressing us who now live and understand these things, he gives us God’s message, saying, “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her that her appointed time [of punishment] is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned; for she hath received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.” (Isa. 40:1-2)
The prophets vary their standpoints of utterances, sometimes speaking of future things as future, and sometimes assuming a position future, and speaking from the assumed standpoint; as, for instance, Isaiah, speaking of Messiah’s birth, assumes to stand beside the manger where the babe, Jesus, lay, when he says, “Unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government shall be upon his shoulder” etc. (Isa. 9:6) The book of Psalms cannot be read intelligently unless this principle be recognized.
No better illustration of this principle of different prophetic standpoints can be given than the three prophecies relating to Israel’s “double” of punishment already noticed. Jeremiah foretold that the days would come when God would scatter Israel among all nations, and that, when they had received their “double” of punishment, He would gather them again by a more mighty display of power on their behalf than when they came out of Egyptian bondage, saying, “They shall no more say the Lord liveth that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt, but the Lord liveth that brought up the children of Israel... from all the lands whither he had driven them...” (Jer. 16:14-15) Zechariah speaks as though living at the time of Jesus’ offering Himself to Israel as their King, and he tells us that there, in that very day, their “double” of punishment began to count. Isaiah stands beside us in this, our day, and calls our attention to the fact that God had a fixed or appointed time for returning His favor to Israel, and he admonishes us that we who understand this message should now give to Israel the comforting testimony that her double of punishment is complete, her “iniquity pardoned”; her appointed time of disfavor accomplished. Each of these three prophecies is strong and important, but combined, they are a threefold cord of wonderful strength to the humble, trustful Israel of God.
Be it remembered that Israel, regardless of their “stiff-necked rebelliousness,” and the disgrace which they have repeatedly brought upon their name, are, nevertheless, a Chosen People. It was God who chose them, and God makes no mistakes. The mistakes have been on the part of Israel for which they have suffered. God is still Israel’s God, and He has separated them from other people. Let us notice for a moment the Divine decree that Israel shall be separate from all others: “I am the Lord, your God which have separated you from other people... I have severed you from them.” (Lev. 20:24-26) “...[it] shall not be at all, that ye say we will be as the heathen, as the families of the country...” And Moses declared, “So shall we be separated from all other people that are upon the face of the earth.” (Exodus 33:16)
Ever since the people of Israel have borne the name Israel – Prince of God – they have been set apart from others, a separate people – a Chosen People – and have occupied a special position, enjoyed special favors, experienced special punishments and have played a special part in the Divine arrangement. Israel, as a Chosen People, did not come under the general head of all mankind during Jesus’ first presence on earth; He was sent to them only – “to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” And now, during the time of His second presence, Israel, as a separate and Chosen People, are destined to pick up again the thread of their national polity and play a special and leading role in the Divine program. This is evidenced by the Scripture which, speaking for the Messiah, declares, “I will return and build again the tabernacle of David [the Jewish polity] that has fallen down.” (Acts 15:16) It fell down because of their unfaithfulness. Although Jesus said, “Your house is left desolate,” He has not utterly and permanently cast them away. After they have sufficiently experienced desolation and ruin, he will “return and build again the ruins thereof and set it up.” (Acts 15:16) This is in contrast with the fact that no “ruins” of any Gentile polity will ever be rebuilt; no “fallen” Gentile government will ever be “set up” again. All Gentile peoples are promised a general restoration to what they lost through Adam’s transgression. Jews, as a separate people – a Chosen People, are promised the same restoration, and more; God has promised that their “house” that was “left desolate” shall be “set up” again, the “ruins” shall be rebuilt. Moreover, He declares “And I will restore thy judges as at the first and thy counselors as at the beginning! Afterward thou shalt be called the City of Righteousness, The Faithful City.” (Isa. 1:26)
Thus Israel, who, at Jesus’ first presence, was given first consideration, will again, during His second presence, have a priority of consideration, for “he will save the tents of Judah first.” (Zech. 12:7)
(Chapter Six of THIS IS THE MILLENNIUM, by Shelah Ben-Hanan)
QUESTION OF GENERAL INTEREST
QUESTION – You quote from Pastor Russell as though he was infallible. Do you think he was infallible?
ANSWER – No, we do not think he was infallible. However, our Lord appointed Brother Russell as That Servant at His Second Advent: “Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his Lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season?” (Matt. 24:45) We believe That Servant gave the household more truth than was given by any of the Reformers of the Gospel Age. The Reformers gave the truth to the household of faith due in their time. That Servant was the last Reformer of the Gospel Age, therefore had a clearer understanding of the due truth at the Second Advent. That Servant gave us the Plan of God as no man has done since the days of the Apostles. His writings were not inspired as were the Apostles, but he gave us Scriptural proof for what he taught. It is not because of his wisdom that our Lord appointed him as That Servant, although he was wise, but the truth was given to him because of his faithfulness to the inspired Word. The Lord found him “so doing” – searching the Scriptures. (v. 46) The whole Plan of God was due at our Lord’s Second Advent, and Brother Russell made it clear to those who were “of the truth.” (John 18:47) He did not fail to give “all the counsel of God.” (Acts 20:27) He taught the four elect classes: the High Calling, the Great Company (crown-losers) as the two Heavenly classes; the Ancient Worthies and the unbegotten class as given in Reprint 5761 as the earthly elect classes.
The Apostle Paul gives us 2 Tim. 2:20: “But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honor and some to dishonor.” Here the Apostle Paul also gave four elect classes: gold (the Saints) and silver (Great Company – crown-losers), the Heavenly elect; the wood (Ancient Worthies), earth (the unbegotten class we call Youthful Worthies); and also two classes of the world, the sheep (those to honor) and the goats (those to dishonor).
Whether the Apostle Paul knew the interpretation of this text or not does not matter. The understanding of this text for the Lord’s people was not due until His Second Advent. The teaching of most of the Prophets of the Old Testament was not understood by them. But the Old Testament Prophets and the inspired writings of the Apostles make the Plan of God one harmonious whole. But the Old Testament Prophets did look forward to a Kingdom of Peace on Earth as their teachings reveal. Abraham looked forward to Jesus’ day and was glad (John 8:56). If Abraham looked forward to Jesus’ day the Prophets surely did (Isa. 11:9; 26:9).
The faithful are in the School of Christ and will learn more and more of the Grace and Knowledge of the Lord until they finish their course. Brother Russell, too, was in the School of Christ and learned more and more until his death as is attested by the articles in the Watch Towers. “But the path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” (Prov. 4:18)
LETTER OF GENERAL INTEREST
It has been a very long time since I took the time to write. I am truly sorry. Between the email and faxes, I have been neglecting the old fashioned practice of just writing personal letters to friends.
Last month I had the honor of addressing a large group of Christians in Jerusalem under the auspices of the Christian Friends of Israel, by invitation of Ray Sanders, its president. I am enclosing an audio tape of the address which I hope you enjoy hearing.
Certainly you must be very concerned with all the news coming from Hebron in the past several weeks. The television makes it look like a war zone, and sometimes it really seems like one. Most secular people probably never knew of Hebron before the infamous Oslo accords were signed. Now we are world famous even among people who know nothing of the Bible. So, even in this strange and negative way, Israel and her holy cities are being projected into center stage all over the world. Clearly this is just preparation for great things that are about to happen.
I still go down to Machpela every morning to pray and find it a quiet and pleasant atmosphere. The brave souls who choose to live in the city are truly modern Jewish heroes who deserve much praise. The future is with us, but the present is a very difficult challenge.
Andrea is still fairly terrorized every time we travel to Jerusalem. She has a double fear. One is of the possibility of a terror attack, and the other is of the crazy drivers, both Jew and Arab. The cellular phone is still a source of comfort for her, and makes the trips more bearable, but the fear is not so easy to dispel.
Our little ones are no longer little. Rachel the “baby,” will be fourteen on January 1. She is already as big as her mother and able to exchange clothing with her. Avi, our “little” boy, will be sixteen in October, and towers over me. He is a brilliant young man and an excellent student. His English never fails to amaze me. He speaks without an accent as well. He is a whiz with the computer and probably understands how to use it better than I do.
Dina, who just turned 19, is doing her national service at a Kibbutz working with youngsters. She is so involved with her work that we seldom get to see her. Even on Shabbat she is usually with her kids on the Kibbutz. She is a very sweet young lady.
Carol, 26, is working in a child care center in a small community between Kiryat Arba and Jerusalem. She is presently living with another young lady in Jerusalem. We usually see her on Shabbat.
And Susie, our eldest at 28, is just finishing up advance courses in special education while working part time as a secretary in a lawyers office. She worked very hard to get a drivers license and now is saving up her money to buy a used car. She also comes home frequently for Shabbat.
We are very lucky to have succeeded in raising our children in Israel. That, in and of itself, is a tremendous miracle. We get much joy from watching them grow, and feel a special pride to realize that we have succeeded in completing the link in our family of Jewish return home after two thousand years of wandering.
Despite the fact that we have no leadership in our government, it is clear that the Living G-d of Israel is directing things. Their twisted ideas of “peace” cannot and will not see the light of day. True peace can only result from recognition of our Divine obligations and living up to them. By rejecting those obligation, it is we who put off genuine peace. We will never accomplish anything by sitting with our enemies and compromising on those obligations.
It is hard to know what we can do to promote a return to true Jewish values. The best we can do is simply to live our lives by them. I still have hopes to implement “Project Shofar” as a tool to help get things going in a positive way without direct involvement in politics. Most American Jews are totally lost to their people. But there are still many who can be saved. It is to these whom I feel the need to reach out and offer hope. It may be that I will need to travel to the states should the project take off. If that does happen, I will try to find the time to visit with you again. In any event, I am happy that I did have that opportunity in the past.
I do think of you often, Emily, and hold our friendship very dearly. Please give my very best to Leonard and Marjorie.
With Blessings from Hebron, …………..