Philipp Philips came from a religious family, and at an early age he became acquainted with the Jewish literature. Later he became Rabbi of a synagogue in New York. One Friday evening he entered the synagogue just at the moment the cantor was singing the words: “O Bridegroom, meet the Bride; let us go forward to bring in the Sabbath…Arise from the dust. Put on your beautiful garments. My people; through the son of Jesse from Bethlehem comes salvation to my soul.”
Philips earnestly longed for salvation; his heart was full of fear that he might not be saved. He took refuge in his books, he read all the Jewish writings, the Mishnah and the Gemara, the Midrash Rabbah and the Targum, an Aramaic translation of the Bible, and numerous other writings. Yet nothing could satisfy the longing of his heart; nowhere could he get information on the matter. In whom could he confide? He could not think of any member of his congregation who could help him; and there was the possibility that he might be suspected of wanting to forsake Judaism.
Now it so happened that just during that time of fear and doubt Rabbi Jacob Freshman, a believer in Yeshua (Jesus), was working in New York. He was the director of an outreach to his people. It was his privilege to lead many Jewish people to the Messiah. Philipp Philips felt himself attracted to this man. But he did not risk going to him during the day because he knew that it would be a very dangerous thing for him, a Rabbi, to visit such a man openly. Consequently, he decided to go there late one night.
On his way he met the well-known evangelist D.L. Moody, with whom he had been friendly for a long time. They greeted each other, and with surprise his friend asked him, “Rabbi, what compels you to go out so late in the night?” Philips told him that he was on his way to the Rev. Freshman. “He is away on a mission tour,” said Moody, “and he will probably be away a couple of weeks.” Then, as Philips relates, Moody continued, “Rabbi, why do you not stay at home and enjoy the fruit of your table? Friend, you are restless; I can notice that. My spirit tells me you are a Nicodemus.”
At once Moody saw that he had said the right thing, and rejoiced; “Praise the Lord!” Moody told him also that he and Dr. Rosvally, the well-known physician, had prayed for him. He requested him to read the New Testament, but Philips refused because he was afraid of persecution should traditional Jewish people find out. Moody, however was not easy to get rid of and he offered the Rabbi a New Testament, asking Phililps to read the first chapter of the Gospel according to Matthew. Still he refused, saying it would be impossible for him to believe in the Jesus of Moody. But in the end he accepted the book.
And what a discovery he made! He thought he would find in it a fountain of pride, selfishness, hatred and violence. Instead he only found love, humbleness and peacefulness. Instead of stones he found pearls. Where he was afraid of thorns, roses diffused their scent. Where he thought to read of life’s burden, he read of blessedness, resurrection and heavenly treasures. Now he could understand the narratives of the Old Testament in the wonderful light of the New Testament. As God had led his fathers in the wilderness in a pillar of a cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night, so he saw in Jesus the Guide who has to lead us, human beings, on the way of Salvation. He realized that the “half had not been told” to him and he then believed that Jesus was his Messiah and Savior and God in Whom he saw the Redeemer of Israel and of the whole human race.
He humbled himself and came to Jesus as a poor sinner who did not deserve anything, but could just ask for grace. He trusted implicitly God’s promises, and could at last understand the words of Isaiah 53:4-5, “Surely he hath borne our grief’s, and carried our sorrows, yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted, but he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.”
Soon he was getting his share of persecution. His friends did not understand him, and attributed his faith in Yeshua to blindness. The fact that people asked him how much money he had been paid to become a Christian caused him a great deal of pain. But he knew that he could not expect anything else from them.
The unkindest blow came from his mother who wrote to him as follows: “Phillipp! You are no longer my son. We have buried you… You have deserted your father’s religion and the Synagogue for the deceiver, Jesus, and therefore a curse will be upon you.” This letter wounded him deeply although he knew that a Jew has to give up everything when he decides to follow Jesus.
The more his people hated and despised him, the more fervently he loved them and prayed for them. After three weeks he was able to send his mother a kind and loving reply to her letter, and could only long for the day when he would be able to take the message of the Messiah to his dear ones.
His one desire was proclaim the Good News of Yeshua the Messiah, a desire that was realized through the help of God. For many years he faithfully served his Messiah.