Part 1 — the following portion first appeared in the November 2002 Levitt Letter.
Rev. Todd Baker of our ministry is a mighty witness of God, and in his straightforward report below you can see the truth that God chooses those who are prepared to go to the lost and passionate about evangelism. John Gonzales of our ministry staff teamed up with Todd for this outreach. Thank you for your support of our To the Jew First Fund, which aids us in sending men like this to tell the Chosen People about their Messiah. — Zola
Part 1 (by Todd Baker, ThM)
Our fourth Gospel outreach to the Jewish people of Israel covered a two-week period from September 14 to September 28, during the feasts of Yom Kippur and Tabernacles. Below are selective encounters from the many John Gonzales and I had when witnessing to the Jewish people throughout our stay in the cities of Tel Aviv, Galilee, Qiryat Shimona and Jerusalem.
By the power of God’s grace our Gospel witness literally began the moment we landed on the tarmac at Ben Gurion Airport and continued right up to our last day in Israel. At passport control we were stopped and questioned about the purpose of our trip. We simply told them that we came to tell the Jewish people that Yeshua the Messiah has come to bring peace, fulfillment and forgiveness to the individual hearts of Jewish men and women. We said that Zola Levitt Ministries and Shalom Shalom Messianic Congregation sent us to comfort, encourage and pray for them during the intifada. One of the ladies from passport control wanted some proof of our ministry in Dallas, Texas. We pulled out a Zola Levitt Messianic prophecy bookmark that listed the major prophecies of the Messiah in the Tenach (Old Testament) and their corresponding fulfillment by Yeshua of Nazareth in the Brit Hadasha (New Testament).
The three Israeli security women gathered around to look at these prophecies, intrigued and fascinated with these prophetic truths. One of them commented, “I have never heard of this before.” How ironic. The Bible, the Messiah and the Gospel message all came from the Jewish people, and yet many Israelis today are in the dark about these most important things; all the more reason they must hear the good news of Jesus the Messiah.
While in Tel Aviv, we were walking in a public park and struck up a conversation with a young Jewish man who was walking to his motorcycle. Our discussion focused on Israel — the land of divine destiny — and how God has brought the Jewish people back to the Promised Land as a major fulfillment of Bible prophecy.
Like many secular Israelis, this man believed that giving the Palestinians more land could solve the Arab-Israeli conflict and that people should not dispute ownership of the land anyway since all land is the same. In reply, we suggested to him that the God of Israel set apart the Promised Land and Jerusalem to reveal His character and plan for the ages, namely, the Gospel of the Messiah through the Jewish people to the world (see 1 Chronicles 16:14–24; 2 Chronicles 6:6; Ezekiel 5:5). His philosophy was a mixture of monism and pantheism — the belief that all is one and that one is God. He also expressed the pluralistic idea that there were many good messianic figures, wise men and gurus down through history. But we pointed out that what makes Yeshua of Nazareth stand apart as the one true Messiah of Israel and the world, in contrast to these Messianic pretenders, is the indisputable fact that God raised Him from the dead. His tomb remains empty in Jerusalem as historic proof of this. No other guru or religious leader has done this. The man listened with interest and received a Gospel tract explaining the Gospel of Jesus and the divine plan for Israel throughout history.
In Part 2, I’ll share about our encounters with many more Israelis whom God placed in our path by His divine appointment that they might hear the Good News of their Messiah.
Part 2 — the following portion first appeared in the December 2002 Levitt Letter.
Part 2: To the Lost Sheep of Israel (by Todd Baker, ThM)
In our last report, John Gonzales and I described the events of our initial evangelistic encounters in Tel Aviv during the fourth outreach sponsored by Shalom Shalom Messianic Congregation and Zola Levitt Ministries. Truly, the Lord prepared the way before us. We continue in this issue with a number of opportunities we had to share the love of Yeshua, Messiah of the Jews and Savior of the world.
On the eve of Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement), we stopped in the nice Sheraton Hotel to have coffee. As we were looking for an entrance, a security guard appeared and told us that the restaurant was closed. We then told him that we were sent by a Messianic congregation in Dallas, Texas, to let the Jewish people know that God’s plan for them is right on schedule and irrevocable (Romans 11:29), simply because God chose Israel to bless all the nations of the earth, which He has certainly done with the Jewish Scriptures and the Jewish Messiah bringing salvation to those who believe (Genesis 12:1–3; Romans 3:2; 9:5). He smiled appreciatively at this support.
We talked to him about the evidence from the Jewish Scriptures that proves Yeshua is the Messiah of Israel and that the miraculous restoration of the Jewish people back to their ancient homeland is both a fulfillment of Bible prophecy and a sure sign of the Messiah’s return. We showed him the prophecy of Jeremiah 12:15–16 in Hebrew and English, which predicts that the Lord will remove the enemies of Israel from the Land (fulfilled in the Arab-Israeli wars of 1948 and 1967) to allow the Jews to regain and dwell in their homeland again after worldwide dispersion. During this regathering process the Lord said He would return!
“For thus says the Lord: ‘Against all My evil neighbors who touch the inheritance which I caused My people Israel to inherit — behold, I will pluck them out of their land and pluck out the house of Judah from among them. Then it shall be, after I have plucked them out, that I will return and have compassion on them and bring them back, everyone to his heritage and everyone to his land’” (Jeremiah 12:15–16, emphasis added). See also the Authorized Version of Deuteronomy 30:1–3 for the same prophecy.
While we were talking with this man, a middle-aged Jewish lady from England heard our conversation and came over to listen to the discussion. She asked me what the phrase on the front of my T-shirt meant, which was a quotation from Romans 11:18: “You do not support the root, but the root supports you.” I told her that this phrase was a verse from the New Testament teaching that Gentile Christians do not take precedence over and above Israel but rather are supported and nurtured by what God has done through Israel. She listened to us and read from the Scriptures in Jeremiah 31:35–37 where God promised that He would preserve the nation of Israel forever. From that same chapter we showed her that He would make “a new covenant” (Brit Hadasha in Hebrew) with Israel (Jeremiah 31:31–34) and how it was ratified through the atoning death of Jesus the Messiah (see Matthew 26:27–28). She was interested in learning more so we left her a Gospel tract that gave steps to accepting this crucified and risen Messiah.
The following morning we hit the streets again. The Holy Spirit led us to a bus stop where we witnessed to an elderly Jewish lady who could not speak English well. A young Israeli teenager heard us, came over to listen, and ended up helping translate for us so that the lady could fully understand the Gospel message from the Brit Hadasha. This was simply amazing! Without hesitation this young man was willing to help us communicate the Gospel in Hebrew to a fellow countryman. We told them that if they would study the prophecies of the Messiah in the Tenach (our Old Testament) and see how Yeshua fulfilled them in the Brit Hadasha they both would come to the obvious conclusion that He is truly the Messiah of Israel come to restore and redeem the Jewish people. Our translator seemed to be more open to the Gospel and so we offered him a copy of a New Testament in Hebrew.
When he took it, the elderly lady began raising her voice. I thought she was angered by our attempt to “proselytize.” But the young man said that she simply wanted a copy of the New Testament for herself. Unfortunately, I had only one copy because we had already given out the rest. I knew I had only one Hebrew New Testament left; I had checked my bag twice. I was sure of this. So, I expressed my apologies to the lady for not having a copy for her. As we turned to go, I checked my bag for the third and final time. To my shock and utter surprise, sitting right there on top of my tracts was one copy of the Hebrew New Testament, where surely there was none before! If God can easily multiply loaves and fishes out of thin air, why could He not produce a Hebrew New Testament for a sweet and sincere woman who wanted to know the truth? What joy and awe we had at this! I gave her the Scriptures and she thanked me. I have called this event “The Miracle of Replenishment.”
In next month’s article I will relate our witnessing experiences in Galilee, Qiryat Shimona, and Jerusalem.
Part 3 — the following portion first appeared in the January 2003 Levitt Letter.
In the fall of 2002, Todd Baker and John Gonzales of our ministry staff traveled to Israel to share the Good News of Yeshua to the Chosen People, supported by your generosity. Todd describes their numerous encounters arranged by God as they obeyed His command to go “to the Jew first.” — Zola
Part 3: To the Jew first (by Todd Baker, ThM)
The Holy Spirit led us to travel to Qiryat Shemona, a northern city in Israel that borders Lebanon. The terrorist group Hizbollah often victimizes this harmless Jewish community by firing missiles over from the Lebanese border. While at Qiryat Shemona the Lord guided us to witness to a young lady who was working in a lottery booth. We had asked her directions to an Internet café. This encounter opened a door to witness about Jesus being the Jewish Messiah. We told her the fact that the God of Israel created the Chosen People so He could reveal His saving power and love to the world through the greatest Jew of all, Yeshua of Nazareth. She listened with interest and was so grateful for our Gospel witness to her that she kept saying, “Thank you, thank you for telling me about God’s love,” and blew kisses of appreciation at us. We gave her a Jewish Gospel tract and an Old and New Testament Bible in Hebrew and suggested to her that she read about the wonderful story of what Yeshua has done in bringing God’s redemptive love to the Jewish people and the world.
In Galilee as we walked to our car in the parking lot, I looked to my right and spotted the Caesar Hotel. The Spirit quickened me that we should go in to witness to someone. We went into the hotel restaurant and ordered lunch. This move proved to be a divine appointment of God. We struck up a conversation with our waitress and began sharing with her how the existence of the Jewish people in the world has blessed all of humanity through the eternal covenant of Abraham as foretold in Genesis 12:1–3. Building upon that foundation we further said that the greatest blessing the Jews gave to the world was Yeshua the Messiah, and the Jewish writers of the Brit Hadashah (New Testament) documented all this. We offered her a free copy of the New Testament in Hebrew. She was surprised and visibly touched that we would give such an expensive-looking book for free. The young waitress assured us that she would read and study it.
Afterwards, on our way to the Ramat Rachel Kibbutz in Jerusalem we stopped at a mini-mart to ask for directions and witnessed to three middle-aged Jewish men about Israel’s prophetic destiny and the Messiah. They received this and took three copies of the New Testament in Hebrew from us. Later that day while walking to the Western Wall for prayer, we felt compelled to talk with two Orthodox Jews about the restoration of the Jewish people to Israel as a sign of the Messiah’s return. They seemed to agree that the rebirth of Israel in 1948 was a fulfillment of Bible prophecy and that the Messiah was coming soon. The two young men asked if we were Jewish. We answered that we were Jewish in our hearts, circumcised by God’s Spirit as promised by Adonai in the New Covenant from Jeremiah 31:31–34.
In the afternoon on the same day the Lord afforded another witnessing opportunity, this time to an owner of a restaurant. She was a Russian immigrant who had come to Israel several years before. We talked with her about how the Jewish Scriptures predicted in Jeremiah 16 and 23 that at “the end of days” God would bring the Jewish people back into the Land from the “far north” country of Russia. We ended the conversation by concluding that God is regathering the Jews to prepare His people for the return of the Messiah.
Our last day in Jerusalem was spent looking for a Hebrew language computer program. We came to one shop and found out that the manager was into the New Age Movement and Astrology. I spoke with her about how the prophetic Scriptures in the Tanakh (Old Testament) foretold the history of the Jewish people, including their restoration from dispersion to be born a nation again in 1948. I related to her that this partial regathering back into the Promised Land in unbelief (Ezekiel 20 and 37) is a sign and indication that the Messiah is soon to return. I deliberately used the word “return” with her because I declared that the Messiah had come before in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, showing her proof of this from a list of the major messianic prophecies given in the Tanakh and their corresponding fulfillments in the Brit Hadashah. She listened with interest and we left her a Messianic prophecy list and Hebrew New Testament.
We are grateful to God and to you for sending us to the Chosen People. This outreach will continue in the spring of 2003. Pray that God will water the seeds we have sown so that Jewish souls will be saved and become complete in their Jewish heritage by faith in Yeshua the Jewish Messiah.