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Accepted in the Beloved

Ephesians 1:6

By Israel I. Saxe

The Story of My Life

Editor's note: Mr. Saxe was the father of the founding pastor of Fellowship Bible Church, Raymond H. Saxe

“Chosen…in Him before the foundation of the world.” (Ephesians 1:4).

I was born in a small town in Russian Poland of parents who brought me up in strictly orthodox Judaism. The Jewish people read Psalms 113 to 118 as a special prayer on the first day of each month and on holidays. My teacher was very anxious that his pupils should understand these chapters thoroughly. When we reached the 22nd verse in the 118th Psalm, “The stone which the builders refused is become the headstone of the corner,” I asked him what was meant by “the stone.” The Jewish people, according to tradition, believe that the word “builders” referred to the wise men (Rabbis) of the Jewish nation, so I asked: “If the builders mean the Jewish leaders, who then was the stone?” Instead of giving me an answer, or explanation, my teacher took his big colored handkerchief and threw it in my face saying, “Keep your mouth shut.”

Orthodox Jews are taught to “fear your Rabbi as you fear Jehovah.” I therefore kept my mouth shut and did not say another word. Nevertheless, God did not leave me alone, and strange feelings came over me whenever I read that chapter.

A few years passed by and there were no more schools for me to attend in my home town. I therefore went to a city where higher grade schools were to be found. There I began to study the Talmud more deeply than before. There was also daily study of the Pentateuch and historical books of the Bible, but none of the prophetical books were ever taught. Orthodox Jews in Poland believed that one would become a believer in Christ if he studied the prophetical books without any of their commentaries. For that reason, I believe, the study of these books was omitted in the Hebrew schools which I attended.

Not Satisfied

The Talmud and all the other teachings mentioned above did not satisfy me. So, I studied the prophetical books by myself whenever time permitted. I also used to keep a little Old Testament hid under the Talmud and studied it whenever I had a chance. About four years passed by, when a spiritual change took place in my life. My father and mother were very much dissatisfied with me. My parents wanted me to get married, but I refused. I again went to other Hebrew schools and spent eight more years in three different schools before I again returned home.

Secret Study of the Bible

During those eight years, I studied deeper Hebrew theology under the teaching of a Rabbi, but the Bible was left to be studied alone, and many times I did it secretly, so that the overseer might not say that I did not spend time enough on my regular lessons.

When I returned home, my parents took me in with great honor, but it did not last long. Joy soon turned to sorrow. My father soon realized that there was a great spiritual change in my life, and he was afraid that I might become a “Goi” (Catholic), as the Jews in Poland called them. Serious trouble between my parents and myself arose. Whenever religious argument between my father and me started, my mother would curse me and bite my arm; my father likewise. Many times blood ran from different parts of my body. My father even refused to eat with me at the same table at home and told me to go. One Saturday morning in the synagogue, while the reader was reading, they called my attention to Deuteronomy 21:18-21 which speaks about a rebellious son. They seemed to think the verses fitted me, but I am sure they did not.

Breaking Home Ties

I wanted to go to America, but I had no money. I said nothing, and bore the burden silently for a while. In the meantime, I saved about six rubles (Russian dollars), just enough to get into Prussia. I went to Germany and asked for work with the Hamburg-American line to take me though to Chicago, and also asked them for twenty-five ($25.00) dollars in cash to show at Ellis Island, as required, and they accepted my proposition.

First Contact With the Mission

In Chicago, I forgot all my previous experiences and for a while did not think of God at all. One evening as I was passing one of the Reading Rooms of the Chicago Hebrew Mission, then located at 1244 South Halsted St., I noticed a large window with Bibles and literature exhibited. I stopped and began to read and decided to go inside. The greatest shock was to see ladies participating in a religious meeting by singing and testifying, which was contrary to the traditional teaching I had received. I could not understand the singing, because it was all in English. After a few minutes, Charles Mutshnick, of the mission staff, preached a sermon in Yiddish on the parable of the leaven. I enjoyed hearing him, because of his beautiful expressions both in Hebrew and Yiddish, but I hated what he said concerning Christ.

Burning the New Testament

After the meeting, Mr. Mutshnick came to me and spoke a few words, and also asked me if I would like a New Testament. At first, I said no, but soon decided to take one. Upon reaching my room, I burned it. About three of four weeks later, Mr. Mutshnick met me again and invited me to the meeting and I went. After the meeting, he gave me another New Testament and I burned it, also. As I remember, I burned about six New Testaments, but he seventh one burned me. When I received the seventh New Testament, I decided to read it for the sake of education only.

The New Testament Burned Me!

When I began to read the New Testament, I at first struggled against the prejudice of the name Jesus Christ. I hated that name, because of the severe persecution which the Jewish people in Russia suffered in His name. God soon took that prejudice away when I learned that the persecution was not done by true Christians, but by the Catholics. Of course, I did not know the difference between Christians and Catholics, because there were no Protestant Churches where I came from. When I read the Sermon on the Mount, a spirit of love entered into my heart as I read His loving kind words. I studied further and gradually began to see the light and its truth as a fulfillment of the Old Testament. I read it through a few times, and finally the words of Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me,” touched my heart and I began to be more sincere in searching for the truth.

Study of Old Testament Messianic Prophecy

Then I took a large sheet of paper and marked down all the Old Testament Messianic prophecies I could remember, and also read the Old Testament once more so that I might be sure I had all the Old Testament promises of the Messiah. Then I compared their fulfillment in the New Testament. After doing this, I could not help but accept Jesus as the Messiah.

Question of Messiah’s Deity

The question then came to me as to His deity and whether or not He were indeed the Saviour of the world. I could not understand the Trinity and how God could come down upon this earth in the form of man, and many other questions came up in my mind, which space will not permit me to mention.

The Question of the Trinity

In order to settle these questions, I had to make a special study of the Old Testament alone as to the use of the names applied to God. I compared Deut. 6:4, “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord,” with Gen. 2:24, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh.” The Hebrew word Echod for one means a compound unity, not an absolute oneness. Then I found in Genesis that God in the time of Abraham came down in the form of man, eating and drinking. This I had believed from my childhood. I found other passages such as Prov. 30:4, “What is His name and what is His Son’s name, if thou canst tell,” and Psalm 110:1, “the Lord saith unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool:” Many more passages, which speak of the power and equality of the Messiah with God, came to my mind. I thought of these verses day and night, while others kept praying for me.

Loving Interest Shown

Rev. Isadore Schwartz, one of the Mission workers at that time, took a great interest in me, and helped me in the study of the Holy Scriptures. Much light was brought to me through this dear brother. Mrs. T.C. Rounds, the Superintendent of the Chicago Hebrew Mission at that time, also showed me very great kindness and motherly love, which I cannot forget. She daily prayed for me, and her prayers as well as the prayers of the other workers were answered on my behalf. I owe a special debt of gratitude also to Mrs. Mary Stinson, who then was a worker at the Mission. She took a personal interest in me. She taught me English and the reading of the English Bible, and greatly helped in bringing me to the place where I was prepared to accept the Messiah Jesus as my Saviour. In my searching of the Old Testament prophecies and New Testament fulfillments she was always a sympathetic and able helper.

“Behold He Prayeth”

I cannot remember the exact day of my conversion, but I can still remember my first prayer to God in the name of Messiah Jesus. I prayed in Yiddish, “Lord keep my eyes open,” I remembered the story of Paul that he was blind for three days after his conversion. I thought that every Jew who is converted becomes blind for three days, and I did not want to be blind!

Called of God to Witness

After my conversion, I felt the leading of the Holy Spirit was for me to become a missionary to my own people. At first I resisted. I though of going to China or Africa, but God in many ways showed me that it was His will for me to preach the Gospel to the Jews in Chicago. At the time of this writing, nearly forty years have passed. About eight years were spent in school that I might be more fully equipped for the service into which God called me. For thirty-two years I have been devoting my entire time with the Chicago Hebrew Mission, giving the Gospel to my own people. “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” Amen.

Israel I. Saxe.

The Testimony Of Israel Saxe

By Marshall Uretsky, February 15, 1997

Editor's Note: I am not sure of the exact origin of this testimony, because it could not have been written originally in 1997. We received permission to reprint it from Zion Messianic Fellowship website.

"The stone which the builders refused is become the headstone of corner. This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvellous in our eyes,"

This week I would like to share with you a testimony of a Jewish believer by the name of Israel Saxe. Here is the story in his own words.

"Get married, or leave home," my father told me when I was thirteen years old. I had come home from school for a visit, and my parents noticed that I had a leaning toward Messiah, although I did not realize it myself. They tried everything in their power to stop me from studying the Bible, for they wanted me to study only the Talmud, a set of sixty-seven books of Jewish Laws and Customs, written in Hebrew and Aramaic. Getting married, they believed, would turn my mind away from searching for the truth.

Born in a small town near Warsaw, Poland, of Jewish parents, I began to attend a school called ‘Heder’ at the age of five. When I was about eleven years old, I went to higher Hebrew school called Yeshiva. My parents hoped that someday I might be a Rabbi, or a Jewish religious leader, but GOD had a different plan for me. One day we discussed in class the meaning of Psalm 118:22 and 23: The stone which the builders refused is become the headstone of corner. This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvellous in our eyes,which speaks of Messiah as the stone rejected by the leaders of His own nation. One boy asked who the stone was. But the Rabbi did all that he could to take our attention away from that part of the Bible by warning us to stop asking questions unless we wanted to receive punishment.

In the higher Hebrew schools, we studied the Talmud and many commentaries on it, but the Bible, called ‘Tanakh’ in Hebrew, we studied very little. The Rabbis told us that if we studied the Tanakh too much we might become apostates called in Hebrew meshumed’, the name always given to a Jew who becomes a Believer in YESHUA. However, several other boys and I who slept in the Synagogue determined to read the Bible secretly without telling any of the teachers for fear we would be expelled from school. Thus I spent hours late at night before going to bed in the study of the Tanakh. It was shortly after that on a visit home, that my parents noticed my leaning towards YESHUA.

One day when coming home from the Synagogue, a man known as a middle man or matchmaker met me at the door of my home and led me into a room where a man, his wife, and daughter were waiting to see me for the purpose of engaging me to their daughter. When I heard that, I quickly excused myself, left the house through the back door, and did not return for four days. That was when my father issued the ultimatum that I must marry, or leave home.

I decided to go back to school where I stayed until I was twenty-one years of age. When I returned home after finishing school, my mother didn’t recognize me as I had grown a beard in the meantime, but my father recognized me and soon both of them were expressing joy at seeing me again. About a month later my father became suspicious about my becoming a Believer, because I often quoted the Bible. This made my life at home very unhappy. I decided to go to America.

I came to Chicago. One day I passed the Chicago Hebrew Mission and saw a large window containing Bibles and tracts. Upon enquiry a Jewish man told me that Missionaries lived there who take Jews and make Gentiles out of them. In accordance with the teaching I had received as a boy, I spit in the window three times and quoted Deuteronomy 7: 26: Thou shalt utterly detest it and thou shalt utterly abhor it, for it is a cursed thing. But after a little debate with myself, out of curiosity, I decided to go inside the Mission where a meeting was in session. After the meeting, the Missionary gave me a New Testament written in Hebrew. I read the first line in Matthew, which contains the name of YESHUA Ha’Maschiah, the Name I hated. Immediately I tore up the testament and burned it. The Missionary, however, followed me up and at five different times gave me five other testaments, which I also burned. The LORD kept on speaking to him about me, and when he gave me the seventh testament, I decided to read it.

Several times I read it, but still had no conviction concerning Messiah. I then promised the Missionary that if he could prove to me from the Old Testament that YESHUA is the Messiah, I would believe in Him. It took us fourteen months to study the Old Testament together, twice a week, and find the Messianic promises. To my great surprise, we found about two thousand places. Then we studied the Gospels and the lives of others, among them, Shabsi-Tsvi, and Bar-Cochvu, Jews who claimed to be the Messiah and Saviour. We turned back to the Old Testament promises to see who actually fulfilled them. When I saw that YESHUA was the only One who fulfilled them in every detail, I accepted Him as my Saviour, and gave Him my life.

Shortly after my salvation, I wrote to my parents, testifying to them that YESHUA is the Messiah according to the Tanakh. I heard nothing from them for over eight years. A few months after I accepted YESHUA, a cousin of mine in Chicago came to me, inviting me to his home for supper, and to hear a letter which he had from my parents. When I came to his home, he promised to show me the letter after supper. As soon as the meal was over, he left the table, indicating that he would get the letter. Instead he returned with a kitchen knife. Grabbing me by the collar, he shouted, Israel, you have put your family to shame by accepting YESHUA. Now either give up your life, or give up your YESHUA! You may kill me, but I am not going to give up YESHUA, I replied. On hearing this, he became violently angry and, except for his wife’s intervention, would have carried out his threat. Finally he kicked me on the spine and kicked me out bodily into the street, where I fell onto the sidewalk and lay unconscious for some time.

When I opened my eyes, I saw many Jewish people standing around me. One man had brought two pails of water and they were trying to revive me. Then my cousin came out and said, That man is a Meshumed. He is not worthy to live! When they heard this, their sympathy turned to anger, and one man said, If I had known that, I would have not have brought the water. They then proceeded to beat me until the police arrived. At the police station I told them the cause of the persecution, but refused to give out any names. One policeman was very kind, and invited me to his home where he gave me some clean clothes. That was over thirty years ago. YESHUA is still a Wonderful Saviour, and I have been earnestly seeking to bring other Jewish people to Him ever since.

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Wednesday 24-07-2024 01:10:31 EDT