Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland in Israel

We had a very good Sunday this time. The last one hadn't been very good. We were in Jerusalem at that time. In the morning we had gone to the service of the Church of Scotland, but it could have been Anglican for all we know. We still don't know what the minister "preached" about. But we met a guy from Pennsylvania who had been touched by the gospel. He was studying Biblical languages and was in Jerusalem for a semester.

It's not that we hadn't looked, it's simply extremely hard to find a church who has a service on Sunday. Sunday is really the first day of the week here, and everyone works. The Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath, is the day of rest, and in Jerusalem at least it's a day of rest that surpasses that found in Urk (perhaps not that in Staphorst, not having been there I do not know). Churches therefore tend to have their services on Friday night (the beginning of the Sabbath) or on Saturday. Having services on Sunday morning is hard. One should have been in Israel to understand that. Even Sunday night is already had, as it appears people here work very long hours, with little time for their family. Observing the day of rest on Sundays requires great sacrifices.

In the evening we had gone to a Messianic church. There wasn't really a sermon. The sermon was about their mission statement. I found the message had merit (Ida didn't), but the Bible was only used to support their mission statement. And it was charismatic. Most of the time of worship was taken up by the band. Unlike the Church of Scotland the songs were taken mostly from the Bible, but tend to be shallow. Praise God we sing psalms. It's just something you cannot really express, but singing something where you don't have to doubt it is true, nor singing something where things are left out, is priceless. God ordained the psalms to be sung and for a very, very good reason.

But anyway, back to our Sunday in Jaffa. There were no services in the morning, for reasons detailed above: there wouldn't be any churchgoers. So we continued listening to Joel Beeke (we're following his sermons on Genesis).

At 1.30pm we were picked up by Rev. J. Golby. We had met him already the evening before when he had picked us up to talk about the work he does in Israel. He currently is working on improving the Delitzch translation, the translation of the New Testament in Hebrew. We got a good impmression of what is going on with that. Invaluable work really. Previously he was involved with the translation of the Westminster confession into Hebrew.

As he was wondering how we would cope with the Sunday in our hostel, he invited us to his home on Sunday again to have lunch and spend the afternoon there. Very, very kind. He prepared lunch, meat and meshed potatoes, quite good excellent. I think his wife, currently in Scotland, would be surprised he could cook this well :-)

He had also invited a Baptist minister, Tom, he knew quite well. We had family worship after lunch, the first for our Baptist minister. It is just so nice to be among like-minded people in Israel.

In the afternoon we could read from his library, while he prepared further for the sermon that night. He gave me a copy of Wilhelmus's à Brakels The Christian’s Reasonable Service. It's frankly chills ones spine to read what Wilhelmus wrote about the future of Israel. Just based on Biblical texts he wrote what woudl happen, what we can see with our own eyes today. For example that Israel would become a nation again. Something impossible in the 17th century, a fact today. Jerusalem would be a big city, sprawling over the hills, as we have seen with our own eyes, as per Zacharia 2:4: "Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls for the multitude of men and cattle therein."

How would Zacharia have known? Today, Jerusalem is bigger then ever before, it sprawls over the hills, at 700,000 inhabitants. And there are many more such prophecies. People before 1948 would have to take it for faith that Israel would be a nation again. It simply was unthinkable, but they still believed it would happen. And we live in the days where these prophecies are fulfilled. Are the prophecies that Israel will recognise the Messiah less improbable?

Or take Amos 9:11: "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 so we have seen the old places rebuilt. See also this list of prophecies.

In the evening Rev. Goldby conducted the service in a run-down building in Jaffa. We met Sasha there, a Jew who came to Israel from the Ukraine in the beginning of the 90s. He came by boat, chartered by Christians. He told us that sailing over the Black Sea, at night, he opened the Holy Scriptures at random and read Jeremiah 31:8-9: "Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth ... I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble".

We also met Yuri, a veteran of the Afghanistan war. The desperation that came upon soldiers there, caused many to question their eternal destiny.

I'm not sure I've mentioned this before, but we have met a suprising number of believing Jews. Also Mr. Godlby told us of his encounters with Jews who were secret believers. It seems entirely possible that the conversion of Israel will be unexpectedly swift. May that day came hastily.

It's clear Mr. Goldby is doing very important work here. We're not sure he will stay much longer in Israel, but a presence of the Free Presbyterian Church of Scotland here in Israel seems very important to us. We're glad to have had the opportunity to be present in this country and to have seen the fulfilment and fulfilling of prophecy.