The Jew and Palestine
September 11th, 1955 @ 7:30 PM
THE JEW AND PALESTINE
Dr. W. A. Criswell
9-11-55 7:30 p.m.
Now tonight, The Jew and Palestine. Palestine, as you know, is a little bitty country. It is about the size as of from Dallas to Waco and just about as wide as Dallas County with just a little added on either side. It is a little tiny country. It is divided into two parts, and the parts are bitterly, bitterly antagonistic. They look at one another by day and night down gun barrels. And there is no day that passes without border incidents. You never hear of them except as one side or the other chooses to use it for propaganda and so places it in the newspapers. But it goes on ceaselessly, this war between the Arab and the Jew.
Now, in making a tour of that country, if you have an Israeli visa in your passport, you cannot go into Arab lands. So, you first make all of your visits to the Arab countries, to Egypt, to Syria, Damascus, to Lebanon, to Jordan, and then after you make the tour of the Arab countries, then you go into Israel, through the Mandelbaum Gate.
So I say, first you are over in the Arab world. We had two Arab guides; one of them was a Christian. The word Arab does not mean Muslim, though almost all Arabs are Muslims. The word Arab refers to an ethnical designation, a people of a common culture and a common language and to some extent a common race. And some of them are Greek Orthodox Christians.
One of those Arab guides was a Greek Orthodox Christian; the other was a Muslim with his fez and dressed like Muslims dress. The Christian guide seated by me, as we talked together he said, “Tomorrow, I am going to bring you a book, and I want you to read it while you are here.” All over that country are pamphlets and books against the Jew, so the next day the Arab guide laid in my hand a book, and I looked at it in astonishment!
The book was written by a former member of this First Baptist Church in Dallas, a retired minister of this gospel who is now deceased. And the introduction to it was by the recently deceased professor of theology in the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary over here in Fort Worth. That book was the prize book of propaganda for the Arab as he seeks to decimate the Jewish claim to the Holy Land. Well, I had already seen it and I had already read it, but I looked through it again. And the thesis of the book and especially the thesis of the introduction to the book by the theological professor is this: that God has no more to do with the Jew, the Lord is through with him. The Jew had his great opportunity, he sinned it away. And now the Jew is no more than any other man, the race is no more than any other race. The Jew is no longer in the plan of God, nor is he considered in the destiny of history. The Jew, the Chinese man, the Afghanistan, the Brazilian, the American, the Englishman are all alike. God has no longer any chosen people, and the Jew is no more in the destiny and in the economy and in the program of God. Now that is the thesis of the book.
Now, I do not seek to impose my persuasions upon anybody. There are men in this church who do not believe as I do about this at all. There are men who work with me in this ministry who are not of this persuasion at all. So what I do is the best I can, and as earnestly as I know how, I try to read and to speak what I find in the Book. And this word tonight is your pastor’s finding in the Book. Is the Jew no longer in the program of God? Is he just like any other national—come and go, live and die, nations rise and perish—is the Jew just like them? Is he no longer in the eye of God? Has he no longer a place in the destiny of history? My answer is an unequivocal and a decided, “Yes!” The Jew is still in the heart of God and in the plan of the Scriptures. Listen out of a few, just listen: the Lord Jesus said, “Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but My words shall not pass away” [Matthew 24:34-35]. “This generation”; the Greek of that is genea, “kind.” “This race, this Jew, will be here till I come again.” The Lord Jesus says that.
History is affirming that. Where are those ancient peoples? You never saw a Roman; an Italian is not a “Roman.” You never saw an ancient Greek; these modern Greeks are not “Greeks.” You never saw a Gergashites, or a Hittite, or a Hivite, or a Jebusite; you never saw any of those “ites” that lived in the land of Palestine. But there is not a boy in this world that is in any center of population at all, but that has seen a Jew. And Jesus said, “This generation, this genea, this race, this Jew, shall not pass away till all these things be fulfilled” [Matthew 24:34]. That is in the twenty-fourth of Matthew, the apocalyptic address of our Savior.
Now look once again regarding the Jew. Paul writes in the eleventh chapter of the Book of Romans, his only theological treatise:
I say then, Hath God cast away His people? God forbid…
God hath not cast away His people which He foreknew…
Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fullness?”
[Romans 11:1-2, 12]
Paul is talking about that ultimate and final time when the Jew will accept the Messiah, the Christ, as his rightful Lord and King:
For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, our salvation, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead?
For God is able to graft them in again.
For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert grafted in contrary to nature into the [good] olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree?
For I would not, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. And so all Israel shall be saved.
[Romans 11:15, 23-26]
I don’t know what that means, I don’t know what that means, but Paul says some of these times the fullness of the Gentiles will come in [Romans 11:25]:
And all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Zion the Deliverer, and shall turn away the ungodliness from Jacob:
For this is My covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins.
As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election—
The promises of God, the great destiny of history that God is working out as concerning the gospel, they are our enemies, they crucified our Savior, but:
. . . as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes.
For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.
He never changes His mind.
Now I haven’t time to speak of the Revelation. After the fourth chapter of the Book of the Revelation, all that you read about is just the Jew; that’s all. You may spiritualize and make him represent someone else, but the Book says the Jew, the Jew.
Now another thing before we proceed; God has in His plan this Jew [Romans 11:1-2]. The second thing is this—the land of Palestine, according to the Word of God, is the Jew [Genesis 17:8]. Now we read from the sacred Book: the story of the Hebrews begins with Abraham, the Hebrew. He is called “the Hebrew,” and the story of Abram begins with the twelfth chapter of the Book of Genesis, “And Abram passed through the land” [Genesis 12:6], unto the land of Canaan he came, “and the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, ‘Unto thy seed will I give this land’” [Genesis 12:6-7]. Now I read just once again, out of many like passages. In the seventeenth of Genesis:
And the Lord appeared unto Abraham, and the Lord said…
I will establish My covenant between Me and thee and thy seed after thee in their generations for an everlasting covenant. I will be a God unto thee, and to thy seed after thee.
And I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession.
“I will give unto thee, and to thy seed after thee, the land wherein thou art a stranger, all of the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession” [Genesis 17:8]. And that unconditional promise was reiterated and reaffirmed to Isaac the son of Abraham, and to Jacob the son of Isaac, and to all of the children of Israel [Psalm 105:8-11].
When Joseph died in a strange land and a foreign country, in the land of Goshen, he gathered his children around him and said, Someday the Lord will take you back to the land of Canaan. And when that holy and heavenly day comes, make me a promise that you will carry my bones with you and bury my bones once again in the land promised to our fathers [Genesis 50:23-25]. And when Moses died, the Lord took him on top of Mount Nebo, and the Lord showed him, from Nebo, the length and the breadth of the Promised Land that should be the inheritance of the children of Israel forever and forever [Deuteronomy 34:1-5].
Now in the Prophets: in the Prophets these solemn words are so fraught with meaning and pertinency, I just read two out of a multitude. From Ezekiel, the thirty-sixth chapter:
For I will take you from among the nations…
And I will be your God…
And the desolate land shall be tilled, whereas it lay desolate in the sight of all that passed by.
And they shall say, This land that was desolate is become like the garden of Eden; and the waste and the desolate and ruined cities are become fenced, and are inhabited . . .
Thus saith the Lord God, I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them: I will increase them with men like a flock.
As the holy flock, as the flock of Jerusalem in her solemn feasts; so shall the waste cities will be filled with flocks of men: and they shall know that I am the Lord.
[Ezekiel 36:24, 28, 34-38]
And just once again, from the prophet Amos, his ninth chapter:
In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old . . .
And I will bring again the captivity of My people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit thereof.
And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the Lord God.
[Amos 9:11, 14-15]
“Some of these days,” said Amos; “some of these days,” said Amos, the Lord will gather all of His people from among the nations of the world, and He will plant them in the land that God promised to their fathers, and they will live there for ever and ever. “And they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the Lord God” [Amos 9:15], so typical of all of the passages in the Book.
It is indescribable, the love and the longing of a true Jew for the land of Palestine, I marvel at them for it. It is the most worthless and wretched-looking of all of the places I have ever seen in this earth; it is nothing but stone and rock. It is a forbidding and an unproductive country. A man from Central America, from the lush jungles of South America, from the great, great valleys of America, from the rich stretches of northern Europe, going down to Palestine is almost amazed at its heat, and its desolation, and its barren rocks, its mountains so denuded. And yet, in the heart of every true Jew in this earth, there is a longing and a love for that land that is beyond description:
If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my tongue cleave to the roof of my mouth. Let my right hand forget its cunning, if I prefer not thee, O Jerusalem, above my chief joys.
For two thousand years, it was no national home for the Jewish people. After Titus destroyed the city in 70 AD, the nation was dissolved, and they were of the Diaspora, scattered among all of the nations of the world. Then in our generation and in our time, there came to pass—according to the hand of God—there came to pass men among the Jewish people, who began to reform in their hearts the hope that they could have a national home in the land promised to their fathers.
One of the leaders of that great Zionist movement was Theodor Herzl, who died in 1904; it took actual formation in congress and meeting under him. When the state of Israel was formed, David Ben-Gurion, the prime minister of the state, said, “The first thing we shall do is to remove the bones of Theodor Herzl from Vienna to the sacred soil of the Palestine that he loved.” And David Ben-Gurion said, “And that will be the second great Jew we have brought to this sacred land; the first was Joseph [Exodus 13:19; Joshua 24:32], and the second was Herzl.”
When the UN committee went to Palestine in 1947 to see of the possibility of a partition of the country between the Jew and the Arab, there came before that committee aged and almost blind Chaim Weizmann—later, who was first president of Israel—who was the means of the Allies winning World War number I, and through whom the Balfour Declaration was made when he discovered TNT [synthesized acetone], and when he made it possible for our Allied armies to overwhelm the Kaiser and the German armies, and the Balfour Declaration was made that after the war the Jews would have a national home in Palestine.
This Chaim Weizmann, a Russian-born Jew who was a Britisher, he appeared before that UN committee. And in his address before that committee, he cited an instance in Argentina when the Jews were asked to immigrate to Argentina, and to settled communities in that lush and fertile country—and at the same time, the Jews were coming to Palestine, to their native home. And this is what Weizmann said contrasting the settlements in Argentina and the Jewish settlements in Palestine. I quote:
Today you can find only a few Jewish settlements in Argentina, and the younger generation of these Jews is drifting gradually to Buenos Aires, where they become lawyers and doctors, following the traditional economic and social development of a Jewish community surrounded by a majority of non-Jews. We began in this country—
he is in Palestine appearing before the UN committee—
We began in this country at the same time that they started those Jewish settlements in Argentina. See what we have done? As soon as the Jew comes into contact with this country, he begins to feel as if he has returned. The country releases energies, activities in the Jewish people which are not released anywhere else. These are sentiments which grow in everyone of us. And the rocks, the marshes, the sands of Palestine become a Jewish possession in to which we pour our sweat, our blood, our effort, our ingenuity in order to make it what it is. There were marshes, and we have drained them. There were stones, and we have planted over them. There were no houses and we have built them. The land was riddled from disease, and we have cleared it.
And if you have been to Palestine, ah, how eloquently could you say that this first president of the little nation of Israel, how eloquently did he speak!
It is an amazing thing to me to see Jewish people who are farmers. They live on the farm, they till the soil, they love the land; out there plowing, out there caring for the herds, out there tending to the flocks. The Jew to me is a merchandising man; he is a merchandising man because he is an alien and a stranger and a sojourner in whatever country that he lives. But in Palestine he belongs to the soil, and the soil belongs to him.
The story of this modern Israel is a story, every syllable and page of which is written in heartache, in tears, in blood, in trouble, in tribulation. You see, power politics is a strange thing; and in that power politic in the United States is forever and eternally enmeshed. We and Britain are allies, and there are no power politickers like the British. I admire England, always will. But oh, my soul, what England can do and what diplomatic chicanery they can follow. The Lord only knows the devious paths of the British diplomat.
The Balfour Declaration at the end of World War I promised to the Jews a national homeland, but in the meantime, they discovered oil in Saudi Arabia—and in Iraq, and in Iran, and in Mesopotamia—in the Muslim Middle East, and that oil is vital for the defense of the Western world. So at the same time that Great Britain had made a declaration that the Jews should have a home in Palestine, they also by word of mouth made promises to the Muslim world that the Jew by no means would be allowed to emigrate to his ancient land.
So the thing continued like that until, under the British mandate in 1939, the British government issued a White Paper on Palestine in which they said, “For the next five years, only fifteen hundred Jews a month can immigrate, and after five years no more Jews at all can come to Palestine.” And in 1939, that same British White Paper also said, “And to the Jew, no longer can any land be sold in Palestine.” That came at a time when the Jew was at the mercy of Hitler, when they daily looked forward to nothing else but torture, or the gas chamber, or the concentration camp, or death. Consequently, it precipitated one of the most tragic of all of the stories written large on the pages of history: the Jew in Europe, persecuted, hunted, hounded—his property confiscated, his family ravaged, his own life imperiled—the Jew sought to escape, and when he escaped there was no place to go. Some of them sought entrance into America; America didn’t want them. Some of them sought entrance into other nations; they didn’t want them. And their only hope was to go to the country of the land of their fathers, and to the land of their fathers did they try to go. And the British Navy patrolled the waters of the Mediterranean and patrolled the waters of the Atlantic. And under their promise to the Muslim, they said, “By law and by duty, no Jew shall immigrate to the land of Palestine.” And there was that tragic impasse.
I stood on Mount Carmel, on the side of which is the great modern Jewish city of Haifa, their only great port. And there in the beautiful port spread out before me, were two blackened hulks of ships being raised from the bottom of the port in order to clear it out. One of those blackened hulks was the Patria. It came to Palestine with 1500 Jews. It was blockaded by the British Navy. Those 1500 Jews, refugees from Hitlerite Europe, had no place and no home. And so, rather than be turned back to starve at sea, they took their little boat—was not made for more than 200 people, yet filled with 1500—they took their little boat, the Patria. At night they ran it into the port of Haifa and blew it up. There were 300 of them that lost their lives in the explosion that destroyed the ship. But about 1200 got safely to shore and were taken care of as they were hidden away and whisked away by the Jews who were there waiting for them.
The other, bigger ship there being raised from the port of Haifa that I looked down upon was the Exodus 1947; the name of it, the Exodus 1947. And many of you have read the story of the Exodus. Some of our own American preachers volunteered to help man that ship. And in the nighttime they took 4500 Jews from the port of Marseilles out of Europe. They had escaped from the concentration camps of Hitler. They had got on that boat, 4500 of them, a boat that was made to carry less than a thousand, 4500 of them, and they made their way to the shores of Palestine. There they were intercepted by British battleships, one of which was the Ajax—that destroyed the Graf Spee in Montevideo in South American waters—they were intercepted. They stayed out in the waters of the sea, away from territorial waters in order to abide time when they might slip into the port of Haifa at night and be discharged of the cargo of human misery and find a home in Palestine. But while they were out there on this Mediterranean Sea away from the port, the British Navy, overtaking them, took two of their giant cruisers—and their ship and their boat, being built of wood, they rammed it on both sides and then boarded it. And there was a fight. The Jews had no weapons, just their hands. The Britishers had guns and tear gas and all that you would find to implement a warship. But they thought the thing through; and they finally rammed their boat, the Exodus 1947, into the Haifa Bay. And there it sank, it broke in two. And when you look at it right now—they are raising it up to clear the port—there is this part of it and this part of it, broken in two. And a great many of the 4500 were able to escape to the land and so were saved.
They love that country; their hearts are there. The Yemenite Jew, who for centuries has been a slave to the Arab way down there in the southern part of Arabia, the Yemenite, by a “Magic Carpet”—arranged a Magic Carpet [airlift], arranged by the American people [Alaska Airline]—God bless them. The Yemenite Jew in centuries and millenniums of slavery, when he came to the land with nothing except just himself, everything confiscated, the Yemenite Jews fell down and caressed the soil, and kissed the soil, and loved the soil. They were back home once again.
What have they done to the land? Ah, come Wednesday night and see for yourself. They are making it blossom like the rose. Those Yemenite Jews, those Jews from Hitlerite Europe, Jews from America, joining hands together, have built some of the most beautiful cities in the world and the most modern. The Jewish city of Haifa, the Jewish city of Tel Aviv is a marvel to behold, it’s a miracle. Why, forty years ago Tel Aviv was a sand dune, it was a desert, it was a waste. Today it is a modern city of more than 300,000 people. The great orchards, the great irrigation projects; everywhere, a miracle is being performed.
Up there on Mount Carmel lives a man by the name of Lowdermilk. He is a professor in a university there; he is one of the great and famous men of our generation. Have you ever heard of him, Lowdermilk? Lowdermilk was a soil conservationist under Secretary of Agriculture Henry Wallace. And being an expert in soil conservation, having taught and guided the great reclamation projects in California, the government of the United States and especially the Congress had Lowdermilk appear before our government and our Congress. And they said to him, “One of the great projects of America is the conservation of her soil. But in order for us to know what to do, why, you go abroad and see what other nations will do about conserving their soil.”
So Lowdermilk was sent with a committee with him to different nations of the world in order to study their methods of conservation, and finally came to Palestine. Now the British government had just issued that White Paper saying the land of Palestine can support no more people, it can have no more population, there must be no more Jewish immigration. Lowdermilk studied Palestine, and he came out before the world with a book entitled Palestine, Land of Promise. And in that book, Lowdermilk said, “Palestine can support millions and millions of more people, if we will but conserve the water that is at our disposal.” It was an amazing statement! And Lowdermilk got interested in Palestine and got interested in the Jew in Palestine, and he is there to this present day.
They live in a beautiful home right on the top of Mount Carmel, overlooking the beautiful city and the port below. He had on the floor, he had his great big maps, and the Lowdermilk plan is something you have already known. You can take the waters of the Mediterranean, and you can guide them through the Plain of Zebulun into the Plain of Esdraelon, then down through the plain of Jezreel, and there you have the Arabah, that great fissure in the earth through which the sweet waters of the Jordan flow down to the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea is almost thirteen hundred feet below sea level. And you can take the waters of the Mediterranean and guide them down to the Dead Sea with a drop of one thousand three hundred feet—no waterfall in the earth as big as that. And that would generate vast amounts of electricity. And you could take those vast amounts of electricity and pump those sweet waters of the Jordan River, and you can make Palestine blossom like a rose; there is water enough for everyone and everybody.
And Lowdermilk says, “My engineers have studied it. They know exactly where the great electric magnets ought to be. They know where the great pumping plants ought to be. They know where the great irrigation projects can be built. It can be done.” And he says, “When we do, it will come to pass, the Word of God that the desert blossoms like a rose” [Isaiah 35:1]. That is Lowdermilk with his great plan for Palestine.
But there is another side, there is a sinister side. There is a tragic side. There is a terrible side. The secretary, as I mentioned this morning, the secretary of the Muslim League spoke to us one night in the American Hotel, American Colony Hotel, in old Jerusalem, Arabic Jerusalem. And when he got through speaking, I pressed him for an answer, and he finally gave an unequivocal “yes” to this question. “Sir,” I said, “is it not true that the Arab is preparing to cut out Israel like he would cut a cancer out of the body?” And he said, “Yes, yes.” He said, “For a while there will be an armistice. I do not know,” he said, “how long that armistice will last. But,” he said, “someday—there is no ultimate resolving of this question except by force of arms. Someday there has to be war between the Arab and the Jew.” That is one of the great political leaders of the Muslim world.
When you go down into Egypt, it is the only nation that I saw that seemed to me preparing now for war. The evidences of the army, the artillery, the air force are everywhere in Egypt. When you go over there to Jordan, I saw out there on the hot, burning deserts of the Jordan, I saw those men, those Arabs, learning how to drill, marching up and down in those hot deserts—didn’t have a sign of a uniform—just gathered together, being formed into companies of brigades and divisions. They expect it, they are getting ready for it, they are going to have it.
The Arab and the Muslim by the help of Allah are going to drive out the Jew. And the Jew is preparing to defend his soil with his life. Every boy and every girl is conscripted into the Jewish army. When you see a group of soldiers, part of them will be boys; part of them will be girls. The girls fight like the boys, they carry guns like the boys, they drill like the boys. Everybody is a conscripted soldier in Israel. And there those two are, by day and night facing one another.
Now may I speak of the thing that is nearest and most precious to our heart? On one side, we have our missionaries to the Jew; on the other side, we have our missionaries to the Arab. When I was there in 1950, they had just come together. The great division of the land had placed all Galilee, which is Arab, into Jewish territory. And our missionaries to the Arab were up there in Nazareth, and our missionaries to the Jew were there in new Jerusalem.
And when we were with them, they were so antagonistic in their attitude and in their spirit that I said to Dr. McCall, “That mission will not last. One or the other will have to go.” And it came about as I thought it would. There was a blowup between them. Even our missionaries could not work together; some of them pro-Arab, some of them pro-Jew. It is a land of that bitterness. It is a land of those tears. It is a land of those hostilities. It is an indescribably hard, and barren, and unproductive land for those who preach and teach the gospel of the Son of God.
Now may I say a word about it, and then I am through? The Jew, what of him in his land? According to the Book of God, Jacob’s trouble is upon him, and it will consummate sometime in that awful and terrible and final tribulation [Jeremiah 30:7]. The Jew is a restless man. When you see him on the main streets of Dallas, he is a restless man. When you see him in Miami Beach, he is a restless man. When you see him wherever he works, he is a restless man. When you see him in Palestine, he is still that restless Jew. His heart is never satisfied, his heart is never filled. He is never at peace, he never has been. He never will be until that time, until that time when, the Book says:
They will look on Him whom they have pierced, and they will mourn over Him as one would mourn over his own son….and they shall say, Where did You receive those wounds? And He will reply, I received them in the house of My friends— you did it!
[Zechariah 12:10; 13:6]
And they will wail because of Him, and they will in that great and final day turn and receive the Lord Jesus Christ as their King and their Savior [Romans 11:25-26; Philippians 2:10-11]. And until that time, the Jew will be restless, and the Jew will be troubled, and he will live in a land of heartache and tears. There is no rest, there is no solace, there is no refuge for the Jew. He lives in a state of war. He lives in a country of blood and tears, and he will continue to live that way until someday he takes Jesus as his Savior [Matthew 24:6].
What of the Arab? What of the Muslim? Dear people, I cannot describe the deep-seated antipathy, antagonism, animosity, bitterness, of the Muslim toward the Christian faith, and the Christian religion, and the gospel of Jesus Christ. I talked to a missionary in Amman—he has been there for forty years; he is a representative of the Christian Missionary Alliance—for forty years he has been in Amman preaching the gospel of the Son of God. His little church is not as big as that side of this platform. When a Muslim is converted to the Christian faith, the fanatical Muslim brotherhood is sworn to destroy his life. He says, “When a convert is made, we send them to another country, and another state, and another city, and there they enter under a Christian name and begin a life anew.”
I wrote in my “Pastor’s Pen,” one of those missionaries said to me, “There is not a single woman Muslim convert to Christ that I know in the whole world.” I am sure he is mistaken, but he said, “That I know, there is not a one, not a single Muslim convert, not one.” And another missionary said, “There is a missionary grave for every Muslim convert to Christ in this earth.” And that Muslim world begins at the shores of Western Africa, goes through Africa, through the Middle East and the Levant, through Pakistan, all around through the Malaysian peninsula, through Indonesia, clear until you come to the Philippine Islands on the other side of the world. That is a Muslim world, millions and hundreds of millions of Muslims; not a convert, not a convert.
In the valley called Berachah, the valley of blessing, in the valley of Berachah, a great beloved Christian physician went to Palestine. And through the help of his own fortune and his friends, he built a beautiful hospital there in the Valley of Berachah. He went over there to minister to the Jews, believing they were God’s people. He was going to try to tell them about the Lord Jesus. But the terrible conflict came and the division of the land, and it drew Hebron and the Valley of Berachah, it drew it into the Arab-Jordan territory. And as fortune had it, all around his hospital is an Arab refugee camp, nine hundred thousand Arab refugees living on a pittance. Ah, the most miserable of all humanity you could think of, those Arab refugees who fled out of Israel. By his hospital is one of these large refugee camps. So the doctor took the facilities of his hospital and his own ingenuity, and he ministered to those Arabs.
Recently, the great doctor died, Dr. Lambie. I asked—as we were guests in his home and guests of his widow, Mrs. Lambie—I said, “Are there any Christian converts? Was Dr. Lambie able to win any of these Muslim Arabs to Christ? Are any of these people Christians?” And Mrs. Lambie said, “Dr. Lambie died. He gave his life to this hospital, and he gave his life ministering to these people, but he never saw one single convert, not one.”
I said, “Mrs. Lambie, he has been dead now almost two years. Have there been any converts since? There are other Christian-physician missionaries who are carrying on the work of that great hospital now, are there any converts? Has anybody turned to Christ? Have they been saved?” And Mrs. Lambie replied, “There is not a single convert today, not a one, not a one.”
That magnificent hospital in the Valley of Berachah, ministering to those Arab Muslims—Christian physicians and Christian nurses—and to this day, to this hour, they have not made one single convert, not one. It was there in Dr. Lambie’s home that one of the men who had been there previously said to Mrs. Lambie, “Mrs. Lambie, do you know that song that Dr. Lambie always taught his people? And we sang it, and he taught it to us.” She said, “Oh, yes!” And the request was made, “Would you sing it for us again?” And she sang it for us, she with those who helped her, and we sang it with her—made an impression upon me, that song.
And way up there in the heart of the Alps, overlooking Interlaken, the Jungfrau just beyond, there is a Bible house call Bibelheim, in the little town of Beatenberg. Anybody can go there and stay at the hotel. You don’t pay, just whatever you want to give. It is a place for the training of Christian missionaries. While we were seated there at Beatenberg in Bibelheim, the students gathered at the door at that end of their dining room, opened it wide, and they sang a song, and they sang that song in their German language that I had heard from Mrs. Lambie down in the Valley of Berachah. Looking at those students, they come from areas in Europe where they pay the price of their lives to be an evangelical, but they were singing that song, and this is it:
I have decided to follow Jesus,
No turning back, no turning back.
Should no one join me, I still will follow,
No turning back, no turning back.
The world behind me, the cross before me,
No turning back, no turning back.
[“I have Decided to Follow Jesus”; S. Sundar Singh]
And as Noah preached a hundred twenty years without a convert [Genesis 6:3; 2 Peter 2:5], Dr. Lambie died, having never seen one single conversion to Christ. But he sang his song, “Should no one join me, I still will follow, no turning back, no turning back.” I have asked our choir to sing it, and after they sing it, I want all of us to sing it. All right, choir, sing that song.
The time may come when tyranny and slavery shall so overwhelm our world that to be a Christian means the forfeiture of our lives. God’s Book says that someday it will be that way [Revelation 6:9, 20:4]. But the spirit of that song is the spirit of our Christian faith:
I have decided to follow Jesus.
Should no one join me, I still will follow.
The world behind me, the cross before me.
No turning back, no turning back.
Now I want all of us to stand and sing it together:
That’s our commitment and our consecration to the work and the call and the ministry of the Lord Jesus.
Now, before we go, we are going to sing “Just As I Am.” Somebody you, to give his heart to the Lord; somebody you, to join us in this commitment of life to our Lord; somebody you, put his life in our church; somebody you, take Jesus as his Savior. As the Lord shall call and as He shall make appeal, out of that balcony, anywhere on this lower floor, would you come down and take my hand? “Pastor, I’ve given my heart and my life to God, and I give my hand to you.” While we sing this song, for this moment, would you come while we sing?