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Review of ‘Jewish Doctors meet the Great Physician’

Ruth Rosen collated the accounts of several Jewish doctors who trusted in Jesus as their Messiah. Due to the nature of their profession, these individuals were more acquainted with trying to relieve the suffering of others than most. Their narratives chronicle the objections they encountered along the way and do not shy away from a constructive response to the problem of pain. Their search for inner healing and peace with God resulted in their lives being transformed by the Great Physician.

What does one do when one’s own medical condition threatens their ability to practise medicine?

Jack Sternberg faced this conundrum. Desperate and at his wits end, he sought a spiritual solution. Though agnostic for many years, he began to question God’s character. At the time Jack did not realise that in his anger he had actually uttered a prayer. In his own words, “Life and health stabilised. I did not regain the vision in my right eye, but my left eye remained sound.” Jack was both shocked and intrigued when another Jewish doctor had found his Jewish identity in the God of Israel at his church. On attending a service, Jack was surprised to hear the Shema and then a sermon on Psalm 73 responding to the question, of why evil seemingly appears to triumph over good?

Jack’s attention and curiosity piqued as the pastor spoke of the Lord’s eternal perspective compared with our finite and immediate understanding. He also considered that those who do not care for God would spend an eternity without Him.

Dr Barg and his wife explained to Jack how the Jewish Bible (Old Testament) and the Brit Hadasha (New Testament) were connected. Many specific prophecies contained in the Tanakh concerning Messiah were actually fulfilled in the latter. They also explained about the seriousness of sin causing separation from God and the need for atonement, especially without a sacrificial system in place.

Jack was interested but was also being pulled in two directions, so he simultaneously tried to counteract what he was learning. One rabbi drew attention to the prolonged history of the suffering of Jewish people caused by professing Christians. Jack was all too aware of the constant and persistent persecution and antisemitism throughout the ages. Disturbing though that was, it did not objectively determine who Jesus was. Others claimed that trusting in Jesus as Messiah would be a betrayal to their people. Nonetheless the question Jack wanted to determine, was whether Jesus was in fact the Messiah?

Jack came to recognise that the Man from Galilee was unique, having taken on human flesh, lived a perfect live as well as fulfilling multiple specific prophecies. With much prayer, study an inner turmoil, Jack came to believe in Him as the Jewish Messiah. Jack has continued to learn more about the essential Jewish roots of his faith and feels more Jewish than ever now. It has also affected the way that he relates to his patients in a more compassionate and loving way. His relationship with the Lord has brought genuine fulfilment and purpose in life despite the inevitable pain and suffering that he inevitably encounters in his practice. He can offer real hope to his patients and assurance of eternity with God through Messiah.

What is the greatest miracle?

Avi Snyder wrote of a miracle that occurred in his life. His sins had been forgiven, he had been reconciled with God and he had come to know God. Many people have not read through the Bible, yet have formed firmly set opinions concerning it. Avi came to the conclusion that if the Jewish Bible were true, then Yeshua had to be the Messiah promised in the Law, the Writings and the Prophets. Though he became convinced of that truth, it took a step of faith to act on what he believed. Soon afterwards, Avi suffered from Crohn’s disease which progressively worsened until a chronic condition became a life-threatening one. Medically speaking there was little hope, though Avi and his wife Ruth, sought the Lord’s help and experienced as far as he was concerned, another miracle. Amazingly, the condition was more localised than anyone could have possibly foreseen. Furthermore, every part of the diseased intestine was removed and it was certainly not what the doctor expected.

Avi then took the time to speak to someone who was due to have cancer surgery. He asked Avi if he believed in miracles.  Avi replied in the affirmative, but explained that sometimes the problem is the type of miracle that we want. Avi read out a passage from Mark 2 in which Jesus healed a paralysed man. Not only was a miracle performed enabling him to walk, but He performed an even greater miracle saying to him, “Your sins are forgiven.” (Only God has the authority to forgive sins and for anyone else that would be blasphemous statement).

The greater miracle which only Yeshua the Messiah is able to do, is to forgive sins, bring peace and reconciliation with God and an eternal relationship with Him.

A decade later Avi returned to the same hospital as a patient. Surgery wouldn’t be necessary since they could deal with the repeated condition with steroids. Avi recognises that he was healed though he again faced a similar predicament. How did he respond the second time round? He considered his situation from an eternal perspective. Although the Lord Jesus healed people in the Bible would they have felt betrayed when they eventually died? Of course, not. In the same way, Avi is still trusting in the Jewish Messiah and maintains that ultimately although he was healed and at a later stage experienced serious health problems, the greater miracle is the gift of the forgiveness of sins and eternal life.

The Problem of Pain

Susan Perlman is acutely aware and knows from experience that doctors witness more suffering than most people. Often when people have exhausted ‘other options’ they become interested in God’s ability to heal and also why an all-powerful and loving God at times, does not free us from pain. The Bible is by no means silent on this topic and many seek answers and read the book of Job. Job was blameless, upright and shunned evil, yet suffered horrifically and in an exceptionally short period of time, lost much of his family and most of his possessions, whilst afflicted with boils. Initially and remarkably Job responded, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21).

Job had three ‘comforters’ who came to similar yet separate conclusions, that Job must have done something wrong and that was the reason for his suffering. Their conclusions were ill-founded and not grounded from a biblical perspective. Job later questioned God. Though the Lord appeared to be silent, He revealed His omnipotence and Job repented. Job prayed for his ‘comforters’ who had aroused the wrath of God and God forgave them. Finally Job was blessed with a family and twice the possessions he had previously.

Amazingly, Yeshua suffered to atone for the sins of mankind though He was entirely innocent. He was scorn by the ones He came to save and was crucified by the Roman soldiers. He made intercession for the transgressors (Isaiah 53:12) and gave His life as a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). His crucifixion was foretold before it was even invented as a means of torture (Psalm 22:16; Zechariah 12:10). He was a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief (Isaiah 53:3). The King of the Universe willingly entered our suffering, came into our world and His body was broken and his blood poured as an offering for sin that we might live.

Have you met the Great Physician?

Our sins have separated us from a holy God (Isaiah 59:2). We have all broken the law of Moses and stand guilty before God. Will you trust in Him as the One who made atonement for sin and believe in Him as the Saviour? “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement for our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed” (Isaiah 53:5). Have you asked Him to forgive your sins and will you follow Him and obey Him? “that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9-10).