Something was there at the edge of my consciousness.
Persistent, it kept on ringing, forcing me to respond. I looked at the name and instantly knew this would not be good.
“Hello, Arlie? This is Sylvia.” Through tears and sniffles she continued, “David is in the hospital. He’s had a heart attack and is in critical condition. I’m so sorry to call you in the middle of the night, but I wanted you to know immediately.”
I just saw this man four days ago. He has been both my friend and partner through many tours through Israel. Not physically well for several years now, I thought to myself, “Is this the last time that I will see you?” Taking a cab from downtown Jerusalem to their apartment in Gilo, there had been a purpose for my visit. It was more than just a desire to enjoy a home cooked meal after almost two weeks on the road. When the door opened into his home, there he sat just inside the entrance. The patriarch! He reminded me of what a judge sitting in the city gate of Tel Dan may have looked like.
There was no way to avoid it now. What needed to be said could possibly put our friendship in jeopardy. Once before, I had been forced to say difficult things to a man I still consider a friend, knowing full well that there was a possibility I would be cut out of his life. I was. But love requires truth to be told, regardless of what consequences may come.
Proverbs 27:6 – Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy.
Following a glass of wine, we went into the kitchen and sat down to dinner. The conversation was delightful and so was the meal. However, when it was over, what needed to be said could not be put off any longer. “David, your physical condition on this tour gave me reason to worry that we might actually kill you. None of us knows what the future holds, and I must speak with you about things you would rather not discuss.” He knew what was coming. “May I have permission to speak with you like a real friend?” His normally gravelly voice was accentuated by the trouble he was having in breathing. “Of course, I wouldn’t want it any other way.”
It was time. No more waiting, No more dancing around it. “You know that I loved you the first time we met.” Looking away he said, “Well, you know, you shouldn’t say that with Sylvia right here. She might get the wrong impression” For David, humor is a defense mechanism. It’s a deflection technique. I thought to myself, “Not this time, buddy.” Continuing, “I can’t imagine spending eternity without you, David. Neither can that lovely lady who is sitting beside you.” With a quick sideways glance he said, “She’s the best. It is no coincidence. God must have brought her into my life for a reason.”
Pressing on, I inquired, “What are you going to do about Yeshua? His own claims concerning Himself are clear and exclusive. Speaking of Himself on the last night of His life He said: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. (John 14:6)”
Jesus’ closest friends were eyewitneses to the fulfillment of all that Moses, the Prophets, and the Writings said of Him. Their claims echoed the clarity and exclusivity of Jesus’ own final testimony. The empty grave and Yeshua’s physical presence among them for 40 days following His resurrection was the foundation of their belief.
In the years that followed, they turned the Jewish world upside down. All of the first believers in Jesus were Jewish. There were tens of thousands of them. Regardless of the growing persecution their numbers exploded. Attempting to crush The Way, the Jewish religious leaders employed Saul of Tarsus to seek them out and destroy Yeshua’s followers wherever he found them. Yet, even the Pharisee of Pharisees eventually joined their ranks, no longer able to deny His own risen Messiah.
For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the (Hebrew) Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the (Hebrew) Scriptures.” – 1 Corinthians 15:3-4
Right now, David is faced with a final decision. If Moses, the Prophets, and the Writings do not point to the Man from Nazareth as the long awaited Messiah of the Jewish people, then David has nothing to worry about. But if they do, David’s eternity now hangs in the balance.
The sad thing is this. David, like most Jewish people, has bought into the deception of the Shepherds of Israel, the rabbis of Rabbinic Judaism. Though not religious, deep down inside, David believes something that is not true. All Jewish people have been told by their religious leaders that if they believe in Yeshua HaMaschiach, they will no longer be Jewish. That lie comes directly from Satan. Jewishness is an ethnic issue, not a religious one. Satan knows that there is more to life than the here and now. It is Satan’s desire to destroy the Jewish people, one person at a time. He is playing for eternity and he is in no hurry. He just wants to run out the clock on everyone, Jew and Gentile alike.
Whoever you are, where ever you are, would you do me a favor right now and read Luke 16:19-31. The Bible does not say that this account is a parable. Yeshua did not use names in His teaching through parables. Lazarus, the rich man, and Abraham are all portrayed as continuing to exist following their physical death. There are things much worse than physical death.
Here is the all important question. If what the Hebrew Scriptures say about the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53:1-12 are true, what can you do for David right now? I asked Sylvia what she wanted me and my friends to do. Her reply, “Please pray that God would give my husband a vision of the eternity that awaits him while he still has an opportunity to decide one way or another. Feel free to share this with the people who would care about him.”
Would you pray with me that David’s spiritual eyes would be opened in whatever time is left to him and that he would bend his will to the will of His Creator by believing in the One who has explained Him?
And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. John testified about Him and cried out, saying, “This was He of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me.’ ” For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him. – John 1:14-18