Rabbi Phillip Philips



Rabbi Phillip Philips Philipp Philips had the good fortune, like so many Jewish people, to descend from a pious family, and at an early age he became acquainted with the literature of his nation. Later he became Rabbi of a Synagogue in New York and one Friday evening he entered the synagogue just at the moment the cantor was singing the words: "O Bridegroom, meet the Bride., let us go forward to bring in the Sabbath . . . Arise from the dust. Put on your beautiful garments, My people., through the son of Jesse from Bethlehem comes salvation to my soul." And Philips earnestly, longed for salvation. His heart was full of fear that he might not be saved so he took refuge in his books. He read all the Jewish writings: the Mishnah and the Gemara, the Midrash Rabbah and the Targum (an Aramaic translation of the Bible) and numerous other writings. Yet nothing could satisfy the longing of his heart. Nowhere could he find information on the matter of haw to gain salvation. In whom could he confide? He could not think of any member of his congregation who could help him; and there was the possibility that he might be suspected of wanting to forsake the Jewish religion. Now it happened that during that time of fear and doubt the former rabbi, Jacob Freshman was working in New York. He was the director of a mission to the Jews and he had helped many Jewish people to find the Saviour through his earnest ministry. Philipp Philips felt attracted to this man but he did not risk going to him during the day, because he knew that it would be a very dangerous thing for a rabbi to visit such a man openly. Consequently, he decided to go late one night. On his way he met the well-known evangelist D. L. Moody with whom he had been friendly for a long time. They greeted each other and, with surprise, Moody asked him, "Rabbi, what compels you to go out so late in the night?" Philips told him that he was on his way to the Rev. Freshman. "He is away on a mission tour," said Moody, "and he will probably he away for a couple of weeks." Then, as Philips relates, Moody continued, "Rabbi, why do you not stay at home and enjoy the fruit of your table? Friend, you are restless, I can notice that. My spirit tells me you are a Nicodemus." At once he saw that he had said the right thing, and rejoiced. "Praise the Lord!" Moody told him also that he and Dr. Rosvally, the well-known physician, had prayed that he would see that Jesus was the Messiah and he requested him to read the New Testament. But Philips refused because he was afraid of persecution should the Jews hear of it. Moody, however, was not easy to get rid of and he offered the Rabbi a New Testament, asking Philips to read the first chapter of the Gospel according to St. Matthew. Still he refused, saying it would be impossible for him to believe in the Jesus of Moody. But in the end he accepted the Book. And what a discovery he made! He had thought to find in it a fountain of pride, selfishness. hatred and violence; but instead he found only love, humility and peacefulness. Instead of stones he found pearls; where he was afraid of thorns, there roses diffused their scent; where he thought to read of life's burden, there he read of blessedness, resurrection and heavenly treasures. Now in the wonderful light of the New Testament he could understand the narratives of the Hebrew Scriptures. As God had led his fathers in the wilderness by a pillar of a cloud by day and by a pillar of fire by night, so he saw in Jesus the Guide who has to lead us human beings in the way of Salvation. He realised that the "half had not been told" to him and he turned to this Jesus, Whom he now saw as the Redeemer of Israel and of the whole human race, as his Saviour and God. He humbled himself and came to Jesus as a poor sinner in need of grace. He trusted implicitly God's promises, and could at last understand the words of Isaiah 53:4-5, "He hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows, yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God. and afflicted, but he was wounded for our transgressions. he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him: and with his stripes we are healed." His friends did not understand him and his profession of the Christian faith was put down to blindness. People asked him how much money he had been paid to become a Christian, which caused him a great deal of pain. But he knew that he could not expect anything from them. The unkindest blow came from his mother who wrote to him: "Philipp! You are no longer my son. We have buried you figuratively. You have deserted your father's religion and the Synagogue for the deceiver, Jesus, and therefore a curse will be upon you." This letter wounded the son deeply although he knew that anyone who decides to follow Jesus has to give up everything for Him. The more his people hated and despised him, the more fervently he loved them and prayed for them. After three weeks he was able to send his mother a kind and loving reply to her letter, and could only long for the day when he would be able to take the message of salvation through Jesus to his dear ones. His one desire was then to become a minister of religion and to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ, a desire that was realised through the help of God. And for many years he served his Master faithfully.


   
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