The elderly, Jewish Los Angelino glared at me with his fiery eyes. This recently past president of the local B’nai B’rith chapter stood trembling with rage before me as sweat beads formed on his reddened bald head and upper lip. The words flew out of his tightly coin shaped mouth, “Look, I believe in Jesus and speak in tongues and all that stuff. But if I get baptized, I’ll be a Christian.”
As prayerful prelude to the Feast of Tabernacles (Sukkot), the modern Jewish religious calendar calls for 10 Days of Awe, a sobering season of spiritual introspection and repentance, in preparation for the new religious year. The Days of Awe officially begin with the Jewish New Year, Rosh HaShanah, and conclude 10 days later with the Day of Atonement, Yom Kippur. These Holy Days come in September or October in keeping with the Hebrew Bible’s lunar calendar.
Esther Rosenberg, a New York transplant in California, needed a grand series of miracles. This suicidal Jewess required an immediate remedy for her despairingly difficult second marriage. She craved a cure for her pain ridden back and direction for her three disorientated Jewish teenagers. Esther did not want more religion, professional counseling, the awaited surgical procedures, or sedation for her offspring. Esther yearned for rescue in real life; she hungered after genuine biblical salvation. Immediately prior to committing the act that would end her life, she cried out, “God, is there any hope for me?” God answered her with one word: “Jesus.”
Spending a season of prayer at the Wailing Wall at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount a few years ago, I witnessed the arrival of an enthusiastic group of Koreans for prayer. Focusing on one of their party, they laid hands on him and prayed with old-fashioned Pentecostal exuberance for him to become Spirit-filled. I watched curiously as several rabbis and security guards came around the now sole Korean still ecstatically speaking in tongues with his face against the Wall, as tears of joy and shouting tongues poured forth. The rabbis studied him closely from all angles with looks of complete bewilderment. Finally some turned to me and asked, “Is he Jewish?”
This article first ran in the Summer 2003 issue of Enrichment Magazine (2-pages). We need to be people of the Spirit (Ruach) to effectively communicate the gospel to the Jewish community. Jesus’ ministry to His own Jewish community bore signs of divine energy as He performed miracles to bless His Jewish kinfolk and to signal divine confirmation of His heaven-sent message. Jesus, like Paul, recognized that the Jew requires a sign. The Torah was received on Sinai 50 days after the Passover exodus (on Shavuot or Pentecost) amid the thunderous noise and fiery presence of God. Jewish tradition holds that God spoke in 70 languages on that occasion to indicate the universal intent of His Word. On another Day of Pentecost in a different millennium, 120 Jews in Jerusalem were filled with the Spirit amid a rushing mighty wind and tongues of fire. Heaven’s message was presented by a host of tongues to internationally gathered Jewish minds and hearts. Luke made clear the Jewish response was immensely positive.