I have a testimony, but I want to show you the verses and how a Rabbi used them to show me how his life was changed. This will be a bit lengthy. Lol.

Abraham has gone down in history as being a man of great faith. However, when we look at verses like the following, we can see that Abraham had moments when he couldn’t believe.

Gen 17:15  And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be.

 Gen 17:16  And I will bless her, and give thee a son of her: yea, I will bless her, and she shall be a mother of nations; kings of people shall be of her.

Gen 17:17  Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is a hundred years old? And shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?

Gen 17:18  And Abraham said unto God, O that Ishmael might live before thee!

 On the surface, Abraham had his moment of great doubting; and for a good reason. He had been following God for years at this point, and God had promised him repeatedly that he would have a seed that would be a blessing to the world. Even after Abraham took matters into his own hands and had Ishmael with Hagar, God was not done promising him. 

In the verses above, God shows up to Abraham even long after the ground is not supposed to be fertile and promises Abraham that Sarah will give him a son. Abraham's response was laughter, and he presented Ishmael to the Lord to fulfill God's promise to Abraham. Abraham has gone from a man of great faith to a man with no faith at all. Or at least that was how I saw it until the Rabbi pointed out one word in this text that was impacted by one letter that made all the difference.

I returned to Israel and went to the Rabbi’s house to get the guitars I had left there. It had been a long summer, and I had no idea what the future held when I left Israel to go to the states. We went into his house, sat at the table, and caught up. We began to talk about what the next year looked like because I would be moving to Ariel to start the Ph.D. program.

I was with a Jewish friend, and after the Rabbi looked him up and down and spoke to him, he could tell he was an alright fellow. This was important because I didn’t expect what would happen next.

The Rabbi began to talk about a ceremony held for him when he retired from the Kolel, where I had been learning with various Rabbis for the past several years. I was invited to speak at this ceremony and told a story where I busted the Rabbi’s chops about an interpretation of the law that he was not living up to. It had to do with a garment with tassels on it. He wore tassels without the blue string, but the law commands that the tassels must have a blue string. I went and bought the Rabbi the garment with the blue string, held it up in front of everyone, and told the Rabbi that it was time to do Chuva. Chuva in Hebrew is repentance. I told the Rabbi that he needed to repent and wear the garment like the law says he must. Everyone in the room roared in laughter, clapped, and even gave a standing ovation. 

The Rabbi told my friend that story and talked about how much he hated me because of how much his life was changed. I came to Israel 6 years ago and have walked a very rough road. I didn’t know anything about Judaism back then, so I just spoke my only truth. This was fine, but when people asked why I was here, I didn’t know what to tell them except that God had called me. It wasn’t easy because I am blind, I had no money, and I had no plans for the future.

Every once in a while, God would speak to me and tell me what to do. This was especially true in very difficult situations. I always told the Rabbi that I would be in a Ph.D. program because God had told me that was what I would do. I knew I would be in Israel because God told me that was where I would be. This man heard me say this and watched me go through many situations that demanded more out of me than I ever could have imagined.

As he is telling my friend our story, he begins to weep uncontrollably. The reason is that Jews believe that God no longer talks to them. Jews know that God no longer talks to them. There is no prophet among the people of Israel. This is not just a fact but a lament among the spiritual, religious Jews. I know that sounds like an oxymoron because I am calling them Spiritual and Religious at the same time, but these Jews walk with a heart toward God and desperately desire to hear from Him, but God does not speak to them. They rejected his voice for so long that they could not hear His voice because they could not accept anything He said.

Then here comes this blind boy, ignorant of all of this, making audacious  claims of what will happen in the future because I say God has talked to me. For the religious Jew, this is absurd. But this religious Rabbi watched me show up, made statements about God talking to me, saw me speak in tongues in the prayers, and just thought I was an ignorant fellow that needed to be taught. I guess that I needed to be taught that God doesn’t speak…

Several rabbis had confronted me about this, but they had come too late to tell me that God doesn’t speak to us. I responded, “He may not talk to you, Rabbi, but He certainly talks to me.” Admittedly, I had gone through some very difficult situations that made it look like what I claimed that God was going to do wasn’t going to come to pass. If I am being honest with you, I even began to think that maybe I missed it. There were times I cried. There were times when I just stayed in bed. There were times when I was frustrated; there were times when I felt like giving up; somehow, I couldn’t. Even when the rabbis told me to give up and go home, I couldn’t because even though what they were saying was true as far as circumstances were concerned, I couldn’t shake that I knew that I heard the Voice of God. And, when I was encouraged to quit, there was still a big honor in what I had accomplished, and it was ok to accept this defeat because there was still enough of a victory that I could go home with. I had to tell them God is not finished yet. I knew that I heard God’s voice.

I had to return to the US for the summer, but I had no idea what the future held. While I was in the States for the summer, God did a great miracle, and everything I claimed that God said that He was going to do, He did. All of those rabbis were dumbfounded.

As the Rabbi finishes telling my friend about this, he gets up, and with tears streaming down his face, he turns to this story about Abraham. He began to tell my friend and me about Abraham and how this story shows how Abraham was a real servant of God. He pointed out how Abraham looks as if he doubted, but there is one word, with one letter pointing out how Abraham was not a doubter. The verse is as follows: 

Gen 17:17  Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is a hundred years old? And shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?

This verse shows Abraham’s response. This verse shows that He laughed and questioned what God said. Or did he? If you look at the verse closely, Abraham calls his wife, Sarah.

Sarah is the word impacted by one letter that made all the difference. Why? It is the fact that God just told Abraham a couple of verses before that He Himself was changing Sarai’s name from Sarai to Sarah.   

Gen 17:15  And God said unto Abraham, As for Sarai thy wife, thou shalt not call her name Sarai, but Sarah shall her name be.

Right after this verse, God reiterates His promise to Abraham that Abraham would have a son through Sarah.   Then Abraham laughs and begins to question if this is possible. However, he is questioning if he will be able and if Sarah will be able. He is not questioning if God will be able; how do we know that? Because Abraham calls her Sarah, not Sarai.

If Abraham doubted what god said, we should expect him to call her Sarai; but because he calls her Sarah, we know that Abraham is not questioning what God said or if God was able; Abraham is questioning if he and Sarah are able. Because Abraham calls her Sarah in his heart just as God had told him that Abraham must do, this shows us that Abraham indeed received the word of God in his heart and was willing to see it through, even when his body and circumstances told him otherwise.

As the Rabbi tells us this little sermonette, he continues to weep uncontrollably because he is saying that is how we know that Abraham was a real Evid Hashem (servant of God). Then he starts talking about how everyone thought I was an ignoramus because I was saying that God said this or that God said that, but they all knew that God doesn’t speak anymore. Everyone watched me go through every circumstance that showed that it was impossible what I claimed God would do. The more impossible it was, the more people suggested that I give up and go home. I could not shake what God said He would do, and I had to tell people that.

For that reason, the rabbis had to acknowledge that something was different about me after it all came to pass. This Rabbi, in particular, conceded that it must be true; I did hear the voice of God. However, he was not convinced because my words came to pass. He was convinced because my heart was convinced about what thus sayeth the Lord, even when everyone else and circumstances said otherwise. For that reason, the Rabbi, weeping uncontrollably, told my friend that I was a true “evid Hashem.” His life had been changed because he knew that I heard the voice of God, and he wantsto hear His voice today.

Help me pray that this Rabbi will accept what God has to say. It is the only way that any one of us will be able to hear what thus sayeth the Lord.

It matters what you believe about God. It matters that you believe Him. You never know how you will preach and to whom you will preach when you believe in him, even when circumstances say that you shouldn’t. Let’s believe God. It may be impossible with us, but it is never impossible with Him.