The following was written by Marv Rosenthal President of Zion’s Hope. The letter can be found here:
I recently heard from a number of reliable sources of an incident that happened in Jerusalem. I doubt it will make its way into most of the media outlets in America. But for me, it was important, upsetting, revealing, and personal.In 2008, a godly Israeli believer I have known like family since his childhood and who is now the director of The Bible Society in Israel, was led of the Lord to produce a Bible that would include both the Old and New Testaments (in Modern Hebrew).
That in itself was not unique. But what was unique and which had never been done before in all of history was this: It included 90,000 cross-references of similar passages found elsewhere in the Bible. In America, we have many reference Bibles to choose from in the English language. In Israel, they’ve never had one published in Hebrew. This Bible is a truly unbiased tool to help people better understand God’s Word. This new, first-ever, Hebrew cross-reference Old and New Testament Bible demonstrates the following:
- The New Testament is rooted in the Old Testament. Or as someone has said, “The New Testament is concealed in the Old Testament and the Old Testament is revealed in the New Testament.”
- The plan of salvation in the Old Testament is fulfilled in the New Testament.
- Rabbinical references to Old Testament prophecies often pointed to the Messiah.
After three years of careful and painstaking scholarship, the initial copies of this Bible came off the press. The first copy was sent to Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with a gracious letter. After a short period of time, more of these Bibles with the same letter were sent to other influential members of the Prime Minister’s cabinet.
Letters in response to The Bible Society in Israel regarding the gift of the Bibles were overwhelmingly positive from Israel’s leaders. And we were encouraged to hear that a few weeks after the Bible’s arrival, the Prime Minister publicly announced he was going to host a Bible study in his home. We cannot be certain these events were linked – but it is a clear possibility they were.
About six months later (July 2012), the Bible and the same letter were sent to most members of the 120-member Israeli Knesset (somewhat akin to our Congress). And a few weeks ago a member of the Knesset by the name of Ben-Ari, was seen in much of Israeli media and on the web around the world, angrily ripping the New Testament portion of his new Bible into little pieces. The intentionally-posed-for picture was taken by one of his aides and released to the press. This was almost certainly done for political purposes, hoping to ingratiate himself to many of the ultra-Orthodox Jews who despise the New Testament. Unfortunately, with very few exceptions, the ultra-Orthodox have never read the New Testament. In their hatred of it and in their ignoring it, they completely ignore their own prophet Jeremiah who, as God’s spokesman, said,
“I will make a new covenant [testament] with the house of Israel. . .” (Jeremiah 31:31).
They also spurn their own God-inspired proverb which states,
“He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it is folly and shame unto him” (Proverbs 18:13).
To justify the photo taken of him ripping up this new Bible, Ben-Ari said, “The New Testament and its senders should be placed into the trash can of history, and the New Testament which was responsible for the murder of millions of Jews.”
Not only were his comments inflammatory and completely wrong, they were utterly despicable. An official Israeli spokesman, to his great credit, addressing the public desecration of the New Testament, said, “We totally deplore this behavior and condemn it outright. This action stands in complete contrast to our values and our traditions. Israel is a tolerant society, but we have zero tolerance for this despicable and hateful act.” Gratefully, the overwhelming majority of Israelis were also outraged by Ben-Ari’s shameful actions.
The sad irony of this shocking situation, however, must not be missed. The director of The Bible Society, himself, served as an executive officer of an Israeli torpedo boat. His older brother served in a sensitive, secret unit in the Israeli army. His younger brother was a paratrooper in training for one of Israel’s most elite units and was seriously wounded in a firefight with terrorists in Lebanon. And his father is one of the few men who escaped from the death camp of Auschwitz during the Second World War, made his way to Israel in 1948, and fought in the defense of Israel in the wars of 1948, 1956, and 1967, and is a hero whose story of survival is told at Yad Vashem, the Israeli memorial to the Holocaust.
You will never read about these things in the media, and these men will never speak of these things themselves. I only know of them because they have been amongst my closest, intimate friends for forty years. They will, however, proudly speak of their love for God’s Word, the Old and the New Testament, and, above all, of the Lord Jesus as their Messiah, Savior, and Lord. To tell these men, who were willing to give their lives for Israel, that the New Testament is responsible for the death of millions of Jews is grossly obscene.
Victor Kalisher, the director of The Bible Society in Israel, said in a statement to the Israeli press that the sending of the first-ever Hebrew Old and New Testaments with cross-references to the Israeli Prime Minister and other political leaders was intended to be an act of respect. And to the nation he said, “It is time we stop relying on 2,000 years of prejudice. It is time for us Jews to examine the message of the New Testament both personally and as a nation.”
Earlier in this lengthy letter, I said I was personally offended by this desecration of the New Testament. But we cannot change what has already taken place. We can, however, look forward to new and abundant opportunities this series of events has made possible. Many Jewish leaders and average citizens throughout Israel have been heard defending the New Testament from its intolerant detractors for the first time in 2,000 years! This man’s action was evil, but God is using it for good.
As I write you, I am reminded of the words of that great preacher, Charles Haddon Spurgeon. Once when asked by a reporter if he defended the Bible, he quickly responded, “Yes, the way I would defend a lion, I open the cage and let it out.”
Today, Zion’s Hope continues to lovingly, tactfully, and uncompromisingly defend the Holy Scriptures – both the Old and New Testaments – in America, Israel, and around the world. We do it by opening its pages and letting it out. It is living and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword. God’s Word can cut to the deepest recesses of the heart for the greatest possible good.
Saying “Thank you” does not begin to fully reflect my gratitude to you for your part in helping us to stand our ground and proclaim a living Savior to a dying world. We have never depended upon you more than right now to continue standing beside us at this momentous hour of history.
Our Lord bless you and keep you in these turbulent, challenging, and opportune days.
We press on for our Lord’s glory.
President: Zion’s Hope
When the Jews recognize Jesus as the Messiah the stage is set for His return…
“For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say, ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'” (Matthew 23:39)