A Jew who found his way home
Testimony of David Katz
I was raised in Conservative Jewish home. My mother was a Hebrew school and Sunday school teacher. My dad was involved with the Men's Club. Our family lives revolved around the synagogue. I used to walk the three miles from our home to attend services every Saturday morning. All of my friends were Jewish. Even though I knew Gentiles, none of them were able to get to know me because I was in the Jewish world of L.A. It was sort of a self-imposed ghetto. For instance, When I became old enough to date, the thought had not even entered my mind of dating a Gentile. I was going to marry a Jew and that was that.
I became involved in a Zionist Jewish youth group called Habonim (it translates to mean the builders). In that group I met my future wife, Shirley. We corresponded between Vancouver, B.C. and L.A. for five years before it was time for us to marry.
We settled in Vancouver and began our lives together. After being married for four years my wife comes home to announce that she had accepted Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. I was in shock. I felt like she had gone into a cult and I needed to get her out of it. We were constantly fighting verbally. She wanted me to become a Christian and I wanted her to come back to Judaism. I figured that I would go to the rabbis and they would tell me where in the Scriptures I could prove the Jesus couldn't be the Messiah. I knew from my upbringing the Scriptures were true. I should clarify what I mean. I knew that from Genesis to Malachi is true. I wouldn't read the New Testament any more than Christians would read the Koran or the writings of Buddha. The New Testament was foreign to me. I went to one of the chief rabbis in Vancouver for answers and I felt like his answers were inadequate. I knew that I would have to search the Old testament myself.
I realized that if we continued fighting verbally as we were that our marriage was doomed. I knew that God hates divorce and I knew that I truly loved my wife. I felt like I was caught between a rock and a hard place. I suggested that Shirley show me by her life that Jesus makes a difference not just her words. This also would give me time to study the word of God so I could show her that Jesus was not the Messiah.
Study of the Scriptures
I really thought my task would be easy. All I would have to prove is Jesus was not sinless. Every night after dinner I would go into the study around 7:00 PM and I wouldn't come out until 10:00. I began to see the way Judaism is practised today is not what God wanted for his people. For example Micah 6:7-8.
Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, or with ten thousands rivers of oil? shall I give my first born for my transgression, the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?
(this is typical of the sacrifices made to pagan gods) and the Lord's response:
He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?
What is amazing about this Scripture is not what it contains but what it doesn't contain. If you ask any Jew what is Judaism basically about they will immediately answer the law of God. Here was a perfect opportunity for God to say that He requires the Law and He choose not to.
There began in me a thirst for the word of God that was insatiable. Only God could put such a thirst in me. I asked Shirley to read the Bible aloud while I was driving to work. I began in earnest to seek out the Messianic Scriptures. I saw Psalm 2:6,7,12 who is this son? If this is David's son, Solomon, why does it say Blessed are they that put their trust in him? The only One who is able to Bless is the Lord himself. Isaiah 47: 4 states that God himself is Israel's redeemer. Whoever is the Redeemer must by definition be God also. The book of Isaiah had a big impact on me simply because so much of it is Messianic in nature. One passage in particular, Isaiah 49: 14-16
But Zion said, The Lord hath forsaken me, and the Lord hath forgotten me. Can a woman forget her suckling child, that she should have no compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet I will not forget thee. Behold I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me.
I know that every word that is in the Scriptures is there for a purpose. I knew there had to be something significant about the palms of God's hands. Somehow something was engraved in it. Keep in mind this passage of Scripture was written 600 years before Christ. In fact, it is written about 200 years before crucifixion was invented. The traditional Jewish method of killing was to stone the offender. But with God all things are possible, that is why Isaiah can be describing something not invented yet.
The prophet Jeremiah also was used of the Lord to speak to me in Jeremiah 31: 31-33. It speaks of a new covenant where God would put his laws in our hearts. I knew we had the law of Moses but what was this new covenant that Jeremiah spoke of? He goes on to say the Lord will cleans the Jewish people of all their iniquity in Jeremiah 33:8. The Lord added that unless we can cause such a catastrophe so there is no day or night, his covenant with the people of Israel will stand. The book of Ezekiel 36:25-27 speaks of a time when God will sprinkle clean water upon us and we will be clean from all our idols and filthiness. He goes on to promise a new heart and a new spirit in us and to take out the heart of stone. I realized that I needed to seek the Lord for myself, not just for Shirley. I took comfort in the passage from Deut 4:29
But if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul. I knew that I was seeking Him with all my being. I knew also that God wasn't a liar like men. So I took this passage as a promise from God to continue seeking Him. Zechariah 12:10 really spoke to my heart.
And I will pour upon the house of David, the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one that mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his first born.
I wondered who was God speaking about? Could this be Jesus? I needed more. The Lord says the Jews are a stiff-necked people and I am a perfect example. Even though God was showing Scripture after Scripture, I needed more..
Dreams of Glory
God began to invade my dreams. These were not dreams a good Jewish man would have. The first one was six years before I came to faith. I dreamt I was falling. Everything was black. I continued to have the sensation that I was falling. I called out every name I could think of for God. I called out Adonai (God), Eloheim ( plural form of God), Abba (Father). I continued to fall. Then I called out the name of Yeshua ( Jesus). Immediately I stopped falling and I saw a light a long distance away. I started to go towards that light. That was the end of that dream.
I had another dream. I was looking up and I saw Jesus on the Cross. His blood was pouring out of his body on to me. I looked at my hands and my body. It was covered with blood. Every part of my body was covered with this blood. This was still four years before I asked Christ into my heart.
Another dream: I was standing on a wall. There is an angelic being with me. On one side there were people who were doing things that I know displeased the Lord. On the other side of the wall there were people who were praising the Lord with their hands raised up. I knew these were Christians because on their chest was a big Cross and I could see Jesus in the distance. There only two groups: the Christians and the wicked. That was still two years before I accepted Christ.
Christ's love shines through
There were other things that happened besides these dreams. I had challenged Shirley to show me the difference Christ made in her life. Over time I did see changes, she became a better wife to me. She was more loving, more self-confident, more a peace within herself. She showed more grace to others. I saw these changes and I had to admit they all occurred after she had accepted Christ into her heart.
Shirley was very enthusiastic about her new found faith. She would go off to church on Wednesday nights and Sunday morning. I was left at home. Before we were married I owned a small motorcycle that I used to get around. I couldn't afford a car so this was my transportation. In Los Angeles in the 1970 there was no public transportation that was practical to use.
Each summer after we were married I would ask Shirley if I could get a motorcycle. She thought it was too dangerous so she said no. But my persistence paid off. After 4 years of asking she finally gave in and said that I could get a motorcycle and kill myself ( as if that was the only outcome ).
Riding to Christ
I promptly bought a new motorcycle. It was a Kawasaki 650. When she went to church, I went riding. Shirley realized if she wanted to ever see me she was going to have to learn to ride on the back with me. Finally she got up enough nerve to try it and she genuinely enjoyed it. The people I rode with were not your typical church goers. I knew some of the things they did was wrong but I thought as long as I didn't do them, I was fine.
Then came a big rally, there were 1000 people at this rally and 650 bikes of all types. I felt like this would be great. But God had other plans. He told me in my inner being that He did not want me to be there. So right in the middle of this huge rally I told Shirley that we were leaving and I packed up all our camping gear and left this rally. It was a major turning point in my life because I knew I heard from God. I knew also that I could no longer ride with that crowd. For some time I rode alone or with Shirley on the back.
Shirley told me about a Christian motorcycle group. I thought to myself these people would not be swearing, drinking or smoking those funny cigarettes. I thought also if they were bible thumpers that I could defend myself because I was reading 2-3 hours a night every night. If it really got bad I could just stop riding with them. So I agreed to give them a try. On the first ride they saw I had a bible with me and they asked me if I was a member of the CMA. ( I thought they meant the Canadian Motorcycle Association . Later I found out they meant the Christian Motorcycle Association ). So I said yes.
They saw that I lived "righteous" so they assumed that I must have been saved. As a result no one witnessed to me for at least a month until someone realized that I wasn't saved. The president of the club one day invited me out to dinner and explained the advantages of being a Christian. He told me about how God talks to him. I knew the Lord had spoken to me also so I didn't see any difference.
God would also answer Shirley's prayers. I wondered if this was Satan at work why would God allow him to answer her prayers. Once I went on a motorcycle trip about 350-400 miles from home and Shirley prayed that someone would witness to me.
As it turned out God's agenda was at work not mine. I bruised my ankle so that it was so swollen that I couldn't travel on. I stayed at my campground near a pool reading my bible. A couple came to the campground and naturally assumed that I was a Christian simply because I was reading my bible.
They invited me for dinner to have fellowship. They served me ham. ( God has a sense of humor doesn't he) I didn't eat it and they asked me why. I told them I was Jewish and it was against God's law for me to eat pork. They asked so innocently don't Jews trust Jesus regarding the law? I had to explain that Jews don't accept Jesus as their Messiah.
Then we got into a discussion about the cost of being a believer. I needed to hear this because if I ever accepted Christ there was going to be a big cost to pay in turns of my relationships in my family and in the Jewish community.
There was another time when God super naturally intervened in my life. We took a trip to Seattle, toured around the city, then we went for dinner. After dinner we decided it was time to get going on the way home. I noticed that my gas tank was less than half but I thought we could stop along the way and get some gas. This was right in the middle of the gas shortages in the 1970's. As we rode north I saw service station after service station that was closed.
By the time I got Marysville, WA I was a little concerned. When we got to Bellingham and still no service station open I was very concerned. I kept praying to God for help but I didn't see any help anywhere. Finally at 2:00 AM I ran out of gas about 2 miles from Blaine. It was too late to even get a motel. I walked the 2 miles into Blaine and waited until the service station opened. I was driven back to my motorcycle with gas and was able to go home.
At the exact same moment that I ran out of gas, the Lord woke up my wife. When she saw that I wasn't there, she began to pray. She also took a promise from her promise box. It said that "I am with him in times of trouble." When I heard that, I was amazed the Lord of the Universe would care so much about me that he woke Shirley up to comfort her and to show me that He is real!
On one motorcycle trip, we traveled all day and I was too tired to put up a tent so I looked for a motel. It was in the California Central Coast. I remember very little about that town except we experienced a small earthquake there. I remember coming out of the hotel and a vertical post was actually at a 70 degree angle. I thought to myself if it was any more of an angle it would probably collapse on us. I praise the Lord that I was able to leave without injury.
Grieving brings me closer to Him
About one year later my mother passed away. She was overweight and a diabetic. But it was thought that her heart simply gave out because of the strain of her weight problem. I grieved deeply over her loss. However, I remember reading in the Psalms that God inhabits the praises of Israel (Psalm 22:3).
I thought if anyone had the right to call themselves Israel, I certainly did. So by forcing myself to praise the Lord no matter what I felt, I knew that God would be with me. It lifted me out of my grief. I read in Habakkuk 2:4 the just shall live by his faith. I knew that I needed to have faith in the Lord for his provision for my salvation. I knew that I couldn't keep the law and I had given up trying. I knew that God would provide but I didn't know how.
I started corresponding with a Christian worker to the Jews. He wrote me a very long letter basically explaining the Gospel to me. I could tell from the letter that he really cared about me and I wasn't some kind of notch on his gospel pistol. It was the first time I had contact with a born-again Christian that was a positive experience. Up to that point, I felt like Christians wanted to shove the Gospel down my throat. I had never met anyone who loved me unconditionally before I accepted Christ. Yet, at the same time, he didn't try to compromise the Gospel to suit my ears. I respected him for that.
Washed clean by the word
The next year Shirley asked me if I wanted to take a motorcycle vacation. I thought that would be fun! Little did I know what God had planned for me. Shirley suggested that I go to a CMA rally. I was curious to see what their rallies were like. I wanted to know if these Christians would be like the milk toast Christians I had met before.
Shirley suggested we take the back roads to Arizona to the rally. We planned our trip very carefully and then packed our motorcycle and we were off. It seemed like an eternity before we finally arrived at the rally site. I was very tired but the preacher was talking about Israel! Immediately, I started to perk up. He was a Baptist preacher from Arkansas. I listened very carefully. As I listened, that inner voice spoke to me again. He told me to talk to the preacher afterwards.
I had a lot of questions but sadly I rarely met Christians well versed in Scripture that I could get the answers I was seeking. Even this Baptist preacher couldn't answer my question. Then we were talking small talk when suddenly he said that he knew why I hadn't accepted Christ. He said it was pride. I didn't need Christ because I was part of God's chosen people. I thought for a moment if this is from God I better listen, if not then I can just throw it away.
Then I just felt so convicted. I began to cry like a baby because I knew I was caught. It was either accept Christ or not. I considered all the things I had read, the dreams, the miracles. I finally came to the conclusion it has to be true. Jesus has to be the Messiah of Israel. No one else could qualify because of all of the prophesies about the Messiah that Jesus fulfilled. After I accepted Christ I read the New Testament to confirm what the Old Testament said.
I have been a believer now since 1980. Some of the events I am describing to you happened from 1974. They are accurate as far as I can remember. I pray that anyone who reads this testimony will be edified by it. I praise the Lord for his intervention.
In Yeshua's Love,