The Faith of My Fathers
Perhapss Moses Maimonides grew up in a Jewish home steeped in faith. I didn’t. In the several generations since we left Russia for America, my family had departed from any deep faith in the God of Israel and His Word. Growing up in Chicago in the 1960’s, I was immersed instead in a humanistic, secularistic and materialistic belief system. Not many of my Jewish friends, family, nor even my teachers at synagogue believed in the God of Torah.
Such notions” as a God who could create the universe in six days, part the Red Sea, perform signs, wonders and miracles, who could reveal Himself to Abraham, Moses, David and the prophets and have a personal relationship with men were archaic notions. The Scriptures were regarded as good for teaching morals and ethics, but certainly not to be taken “literally.” We did celebrate the holidays as a part of our Jewish tradition, but the living God played a very little role in day-today affairs. However, I was not destined to have this deficient understanding of God’s reality for long.
Being an idealistic youth and a seeker after truth, I began investigating other ways of understanding the world and reality. I read some of the great Western philosophers like Plato and Aristotle. I began drifting toward Eastern philosophy and took up Transcendental Meditation, repeating my “crazy word” over and over for a year. During my first year of college at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, I took a course on Medieval Philosophy. Little did I know that the greatest minds of this almost thousand year period in Western civilization spent most of their intellectual labors trying to prove the existence of God! I read their very convincing arguments for a semester, and I realized God had to exist in order to explain the universe. The philosophers reasoned, “Why else is there order and design in nature? Why else do all of us have an inward sense of right and wrong? And why, in all cultures and societies, has there been an intuitive idea of God or gods?”
I came to a place in my life when I realized that not only did God exist, but He expected something of me. I began reading the New Testament portion of the Scriptures and researching the prophecies in the Jewish Scriptures about the Messiah. No one at my synagogue had ever told me that the Scriptures held the answer to all of man’s problems. I was never told about a Jewish man, a descendant of the tribe of Judah, of the royal family of King David, that had been born in Bethlehem. I did not know he was to suffer and die and be raised from the dead and that most of our people wouldn’t recognize him. To me the evidence was overwhelming—Yeshua was the promised Messiah of Israel who helps us to know the One True God.
When I came to believe in Yeshua, I experienced the reality of Him who is the source of our being. I also started rediscovering my Jewish heritage. I transferred my major to Jewish studies. I married a nice Jewish girl who also knows the Messiah. In fact, she’s a fifth generation Jew for Jesus! We have drawn closer to our people and our heritage. When I found the Messiah of Israel, I became more Jewish than ever. I’ve truly returned to the faith of my fathers: Abraham, Moses, David and the Prophets. They knew, loved and had a relationship with the God of Israel, and they looked forward to the arrival of King Messiah, whom those of us with eyes of faith know to have come. With “perfect faith” I can now say, along with a fellow Jew who lived about 1900 years ago, “We have found Him of whom Moses in the Law and also the Prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth.” (John 1:45)