On Monday, March 12th, 2001, I went into town to cash a check. Both Itamar and Itzik were there and as Itamar gave me the money in shekels, I told him that I'd like to talk with Rabbi Auerbach about Messiah Yeshua. Rabbi Auerbach had just left and I could see that he didn't want to have anything to do with me. Itamar came out from behind the counter and we both sat down near the desk in the waiting area.
He told me that he wasn't 100% sure but he didn't think that Rabbi Auerbach would want to talk with me. I then turned to Itzik and asked him what could I do? I couldn't talk to Itzik about the Messiah because he didn't know the Tanach that well and he wasn't that concerned with 'religious matters.' But the ones that knew the Tanach, didn't want to talk with me!
Itamar began to question me about my Jewish identity. This was about the fourth time. After he was sure (again), that I was a Jew, he told me that I was a Jew. I breathed a sigh of relief. It was good to know that I was a Jew : ) If a Jew is confronted by a Gentile about Jesus, that's one thing; Jesus is for the Gentiles. But if a Jew is confronted by another Jew about Yeshua, well that's an entirely different matter. That's why he was wanting to see if I was a Gentile. If I was, then he could easily brush off the matter about Yeshua because 'Gentiles don't really know Jewish things, or what it's like being a Jew.' But he wasn't able to do this with me.
He went on to tell me that his father had come from Yemen (south of Saudi Arabia). The Jews first began to live in Yemen about 150 years after King Solomon or around 850 B.C.(1)
That's when Jews began to come to Yemen to live and to trade. I looked at him and listened. I like hearing about the Jews from Yemen (and other countries), because Jewish history is fascinating to me and its part of who I am as a Jew. They didn't follow the traditional thinking and religious customs of the Rabbis of Europe (until recently), and remained pretty much isolated from the rest of the world and Jewry for most of that time. Then in 1949-50, the Israeli government flew 98% of them into Israel in Operation Magic Carpet. About 46,000 came. Today, more than 50 years later, there are only about 1,400 Jews still living in Yemen. Life was very hard for them as Jews living among the Moslem Arabs.
Itamar told me that because I was a Jew, he cared for me and wanted me to return to the 'right' way; his understanding of Judaism. Itamar is a religious Jew. Itzik said that they saw that I 'loved God and His Word very much.' I was pleasantly surprised that they could see that. Itamar had been telling me all about the Yemenite Jews so that I could see how strong or correct their understanding was concerning the truth of the Hebrew Bible as they saw it. Of course, all this meant that Jesus wasn't the Messiah. If He were, then the Yemenite Jews would have proclaimed Him long ago. Before we could talk about that, a man came in and spoke with Itamar for a few minutes concerning some German money he wanted cashed. Itamar couldn't help him. I think the man's bills were out of date.
By this time, Itzik's wife, Inbal (Een-bahl), came in. She listened as I told Itamar that I understood what he was saying but I didn't agree with him. Just because something or some belief is old or ancient, it doesn't mean that it's God's Truth. I asked him how many prophets did the Yemenites have? Of course, they had none. Those that taught them, although they loved God and did the best they could, were not like Moses and Elijah and Isaiah in their understanding of God's Word and how to walk it out and to declare Yeshua as Messiah (as John the Immerser [Baptist], did). We talked some more and then Itamar had to go. Itzik went behind the counter to help some people and Inbal asked me if I believed in Yeshua. I told her that I did. She said that she didn't believe in Yeshua. I said, 'What do you know about the Messiah of the Tanach?'
Inbal is pretty and thin, with an olive skin complexion from her Yemeni ancestors. She's married to Itzik, about 23 years old, five foot five inches tall with light brown hair. She teaches at a school for young children. She said that Messiah will come some day. I asked her what else she knew about the Messiah, saying, 'If he came today, how would you know it was the Messiah and not some crazy person?' She told me that she had been educated at a religious school but they didn't teach her anything on that. I told her that was unfortunate. I said that the secular don't know anything about the Messiah and the religious only know that one day he will come, and that Yeshua is not the Messiah.
I said that God placed within the Tanach a Picture of Messiah so that when He came, we would be able to know it was Him. I began by quoting Micah 5:2 which states that Messiah would be born in Bethlehem of Judah:
Mic. 5:2: 'But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity.'
She was surprised at that, not knowing something like that was in her Bible. She questioned me about 'my Bible' and her Bible, were they the same? I said that our Bibles were the same, except mine had the New Covenant attached to it. I told her that God spoke of a New Covenant to the Prophet Jeremiah in the 31st chapter:
'Behold, the days come,' says Yahveh, 'that I will make a New Covenant with the House of Israel and with the House of Judah.' (Jer. 31:31)
I said that if she knew the picture-verses of the Suffering Messiah, she would see that they all point to Yeshua from Nazareth. He was born in Bethlehem and raised in Nazareth. (Nazareth is only 12 miles from Tiberias.) She said that when the Messiah comes, there will be peace in the world. I told her that the Rabbis state that there will be two Messiahs. She said, 'Your Rabbis.' I said, 'No, Christianity has no Rabbis. I am speaking 'your' Jewish Rabbis of long ago.' I said,
'They saw that the Tanach had many pictures of Messiah but they couldn't put them all together to form one picture. That's because there are two different sets of pictures for the Messiah. One has an eternal Messiah, and the other speaks of a Messiah that would die for our sins. The Rabbis thought that there would be two Messiahs but God sent the Suffering Messiah to die for our sins 2,000 years ago, and He will return soon as the Glorious Messiah, the Son of David. One Messiah that comes twice.'
She didn't quite know what to do with that. I continued and said that in the Prophet Isaiah, the whole of the 53rd chapter speaks of Israel despising and rejecting Messiah. Also, because of Daniel 9:24, the ancient Rabbis stated that the Messiah who was to die for our sins, would have to come before the destruction of the 2nd Temple.
'Even though the weeks in Daniel may seem hard to understand, what isn't hard to see is that the Messiah will die ('be cut off'), and the sins of the people will be dealt with permanently, before the Temple ('Sanctuary'), is destroyed.'
I related how the Rabbis have now come to the conclusion that the Prophet Daniel was wrong in his prophecy 'because the Messiah didn't come before the Temple and Jerusalem were destroyed in 70 C.E.' 'Can you imagine that,' I said, 'Daniel the mighty man of God, wrong in his prophecy?!' Maybe the Rabbis are wrong?
Inbal then said that she wanted me to write down those Scripture passages because she wanted to present them to her grandfather to check out. I took out some paper from my DayTimer and wrote down Micah, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Daniel's prophecies.
I then related how Rabbi Hillel (who lived a generation before Yeshua), said that the prophecy of Daniel was fulfilled in King Hezekiah, as he said that King Hezekiah was the Messiah! She was a little taken aback by that, it sounding strange to her ears also. I told her that the Rabbis of Hillel's day told him that he was wrong and they based it on the prophet Zechariah. He spoke of Messiah riding into Jerusalem on a donkey:
'Rejoice greatly!, Oh Daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, Oh Daughter of Jerusalem! Behold your King' (Messiah) 'is coming to you. He is righteous and endowed with Salvation, humble, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.' (Zech. 9:9)
She asked me, 'Why a donkey and not a horse?' I told her because a horse represents 'war' and Messiah came to give us 'peace with God.' I said that the Rabbis of Hillel's day used this prophecy to declare Hillel's 'messiah' meaningless because Zechariah prophesied 200 years after King Hezekiah. So Hezekiah couldn't have been the Messiah that Zechariah was speaking of because King Hezekiah had been dead for almost 200 years!
I spoke of the time just before Messiah Yeshua's death, that He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey. That surprised her too as she had not heard of that. I went on to share that the Pharisees saw the people praising God saying, 'Blessed is He who comes in the Name of the Lord,' meaning the Messiah, and rebuked Yeshua for not silencing them. But Yeshua said that if they were to be quiet, the rocks would cry out praising God! (Luke 19:40)
By this time another man had come in whom I had shared Messiah with over the past year. His name is Yaniv. He asked me where the Messiah was. I told him that the Messiah was 'here with us now.' He asked me where. I told him that Messiah is within me and also present with us, just like God. I said that the Sacrifice of Messiah was like the sacrifice of the lamb in Egypt that got all Israel out of the Kingdom of Pharaoh. It was a picture of the Messiah's Blood for us and our freedom. I told them,
'There was nothing that we could do to escape from the slavery that Pharaoh had imposed on us. And there is nothing that we can do to escape our sinful nature and a just condemnation in Hell. But the sacrifice of the Lamb of God allows us to escape the Kingdom of Satan and to be given a new nature by God so that we can live in His Presence, just as the sacrifice of the lamb allowed us to escape the wrath of God in Egypt.'
'The Presence of God is like Fire. Only those like Him will be able to survive in His Presence. With belief in Messiah Yeshua, we are given that new nature and will be completely transformed on Judgment Day.'
Inbal said something about no man can see God and live. I asked her about the 70 Elders, Aaron and his sons, Moses and Joshua. What did they see in Exodus 24 where it states that they not only saw Him, but they ate and drank in His Presence:
'Then Moses went up with Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the Elders of Israel and they saw the God of Israel. Under His Feet there appeared to be a pavement of sapphire, as clear as the Heavens itself. Yet He did not stretch out His Hand against the nobles of the Sons of Israel. They saw God, and they ate and drank' (Ex. 24:9-11).
I told Inbal that no one can see the full Glory of Yahveh today. That would kill us the same way that stepping into a blazing inferno would. When Yahveh manifests His full Glory, the Heavens and the Earth will melt away and it'll be Judgment Day (Ps. 75:3; 2nd Peter 3:12). But people can and have seen some of the Glory of the Lord as is evidenced in a number of places of the Bible. I told them that the fire in her cigarette lighter was just as much fire as if the whole town of Tiberias was on fire. When God manifests in the Bible, it's like the fire in the cigarette lighter. But on Judgment Day, the whole universe will melt at His appearing. It says that our God is a consuming Fire:
Deut. 4:24: 'For Yahveh your God is a consuming Fire, a passionate God' (my translation).
It's as if God allowed a little of Himself to be seen so that the Elders could see Him and not 'melt' or die. I then told her that King David spoke of us rejecting the Messiah also, and the Rabbis validated it:
The Stone that the builders have rejected has become the chief Cornerstone. This is Yahveh's doing and isn't it wonderful? (Psalm 118:22-23)
The Rabbis say that the 'builders' are the teachers of Israel; themselves. And the Stone of course, is Messiah. Inbal was listening and responding to all of this. Yaniv had left a few moments earlier. I went on to share about how I came to know that Yeshua was Messiah and how I searched for 'God' for four years before the Lord revealed Himself to me. I told her that she should ask the God of Israel if Yeshua was the Messiah or not, and keep on asking until she found out. That was strange to her but I said that our God is alive and that if Yeshua wasn't the Messiah, then He would tell her that. But if He was, then she would know from God that Yeshua was her Messiah. She heard me that day. Whether or not she did it remains to be seen but I'm praying that Yeshua reveal Himself to her. Would you join me now and lift Inbal up to our God and King?
She asked me, 'Why is there still evil in the world if Messiah has already come? I related two things to her. One, that Messiah came to give us who believe, a new heart, as the Prophet Ezekiel speaks of:
'Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you. I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.' (Ezk. 36:26)
And two, I asked her, why did God create the world like this? He knew that Adam and Eve would sin. Why did He do something like this? She couldn't answer me and I related a traditional Jewish prayer to her that begins like this:
'May His Name be exalted and sanctified in the world that He created as He willed.'
He created the world exactly the way He wanted it made, for His Purpose. If there is evil in the world, and there is, He is the ultimate One responsible for it even though He did not cause Satan and Man to rebel and sin against Him. He created them with free will. But now, the evil is designed to show us our need for God and His new Heart for us. All those that want it come to Messiah. And that's part of why we need the Messiah. It's God's Answer to this world's evil.
I spoke of the three great 'belief's' in the Bible. The first is Father Abraham and his belief in God when God came to him and said that Abraham's descendants would be as many as the stars of the Heavens. The second is Israel in the Wilderness. They failed to believe that God would defeat the giants of Canaan and so all the adults over 20 years old, who came out of Egypt would die in the Wilderness (except for Joshua and Caleb; and possibly some Levites) but their children would inherit the Land. And how the third great belief that God presents Israel with is Yeshua as our Messiah. If we fail to believe in Him, we will die in our sins against God, in this wilderness of the world and go to Hell forever.
Inbal needed to go. She thanked me for the time we spent talking of Messiah. She had to leave for work. I sat back, exhausted, and relaxed for a moment. I had been speaking for over two hours. Then I heard Itzik from behind the counter say, 'So how was it talking with my wife, Avram?' I got up and told him, 'She wants to know God. This is very good.' He said that she was very knowledgeable in religious things. I let that go. Knowledge, like most everything else, is a subjective thing. What seemed like a lot to Itzik, was not a lot to me. She may know a lot about 'religious things' but she doesn't know much about her own Bible.
Itzik then related to me a little about himself which I appreciated. He told me that when he was 11 years old, he stole a popsicle from a neighborhood grocery store. As he always went to the store for what he would take to school that day for lunch, it was strange to his father that he hadn't gone there in over a week. Itzik said that he felt guilty. He confessed to his father. His father said, 'Really?' Itzik said, 'Yes.' His father led him to the store and said to the owner, 'Miha'el, Itzik has something to tell you. Itzik told him the story and Miha'el reached into the freezer and got another popsicle out, just like the one he stole and gave it to Itzik. Then he said, 'Now don't do that again.'
Itzik related to me that he never stole again. He went on to say that first, one has to be a good person, honest with themself. Then they can choose what they want to believe. I listened, not thinking it appropriate at that time to say that 'good' is only a subjective thing for each of us. And that we only know what good really is, when we know Yahveh and His Messiah Yeshua. We spoke some more and then I said, 'Shalom' and went back home. Thank you for your prayers for all of them, especially Inbal, as our Lord Yeshua leads you.
1. At least that's traditional Yemeni thought. Some say it was 'only' around 100 B.C. to 70 A.D, about the last 180 years before the destruction of the Second Temple.