I was a Jewish Rabbi for 35 years. Born in Yugoslavia, I was brought up in a very orthodox Jewish home. I was taught to say formal prayers and wear phylacteries as prescribed for every pious Jew (Deut. 6:8; 11:18).
At the age of 15, I went to the theological school for Rabbis where I studied the Old Testament and Talmudic commentaries and six years later I was ordained as Rabbi in Romania. Afterwards I served in Belgium, England and California.
Outwardly I was happy and successful in my ministry but in my heart I was restless and discontented because I suffered much as a result of the emptiness of life in general. Six years ago I met a Jewish man with whom I discussed this matter. I did not know that he was a believer in Jesus Christ. His advice was: “Read Isaiah 53”. I then read this well-known chapter concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which says that “He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities.” I felt urged further to examine the Hebrew Scriptures and found these words written by the same prophet: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulders: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this” (Is 9:6, 7). I also read: “Hear ye now, O house of David; is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign: behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Is 7:13,14). “Immanuel” mean “God with us”.
This proved to me that Jesus was and is the Messiah in Whom all the prophecies were fulfilled. Meanwhile I had found a clear portrait of the Messiah in a small book which I had the privilege of getting into my hands. It was my first introduction to the New Testament. I started reading it like any other book, from the beginning: “The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham,” and found to my amazement that I was reading a Jewish book about a Jew. By reading it carefully I came to the conclusion that Jesus Christ was a Jew of the race of Abraham and David; that He was born of a Jewish virgin in the Jewish town of Bethlehem; of a Jewish tribe, the tribe of Judah.
Because He knew the Law and the Prophets I followed Him on His journeys through the Holy Land, listened to His beautiful sayings and teachings, observed and admired His compassion and healings. It became my spiritual food. His promise of forgiveness of sins and eternal life to those who believe in Him, drew me till I trusted Him as my Messiah and my personal Savior.
I want to confirm the fact that my heart does not condemn me for my new belief, because I feel that I am still a Jew and shall always be a Jew. I have not renounced our inheritance of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Like Paul I can say after my acceptance of Christ as my Savior; “Are they Hebrews? So am I. Are they Israelites? So am I. Are they the seed of Abraham? So am I.” (2 Cor. 11:22) Thus I repeat with pride the word of Romans 1:16: “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ; for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.”
The brilliant example of the great apostle Paul influenced me very much and gave me the courage to accept the Lord Jesus as my personal Savior. Paul first was a zealous persecutor of Christ and then became His most faithful follower. He was a disciple of the great doctor of the Law, Raban Gamaliel, at whose feet he sat. It is believed that Raban Gamaliel became a follower of Christ before Paul did. The Bible tells us that some wanted to kill Peter and the other apostles because they were preaching Christ so boldly. “Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the Law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space; and said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what you intend to do as touching these men……And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone; for if this counsel of this work be of men, it will come to naught; but if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it, lest haply ye be found even to fight against God” (Acts 5:34, 35, 38, 39).
It is two thousand years since the lowly Galilean, Jesus, traversed the hills and dales of Palestine, and He is still Master of the world. His Gospel is still preached, and Christ’s name as Messiah of Israel is still proclaimed . And His message is still repeated everywhere: “For God so loved the world, that He gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). Hear, O Israel.