I read it through the grapevine

Israeli Field Director David Zadok reports that both religious and secular Israelis are now able to understand their own Scriptures thanks to HaGefen’s translation of the Old Testament. Work has now begun on a Modern Hebrew version of the New Testament.

‘For as the rain comes down,
                and the snow from heaven,
                And do not return there,
                But water the earth,
                And make it bring forth and bud,
                That it may give seed to the sower
                And bread to the eater,
                So shall My word be
                that goes forth from My mouth;
                It shall not return to Me void,
                But it shall accomplish what I please,
                And it shall prosper in the thing for
                which I sent it.’
Isaiah 55:10-11

The name of the prophet Isaiah means ‘God is salvation’. Both the name of the prophet and the book itself, describe the message of the book. In his perfect timing, God brought about the Assyrian crisis, and Isaiah’s message during this transition time was that salvation comes from God alone, not by the hand of man or any other world power. Isaiah was one of the most prominent prophets of the Old Testament and his writings are quoted more than any other writer in the New Testament. Often, when we want to talk about the depravity of man, we refer to chapter one of the book where God so eloquently lays before the people of Israel their sins and shortcomings. And if we want to talk about the sacrifice of Christ on our behalf, we look to Isaiah 53 which speaks with amazing accuracy about the death of Jesus in payment for our iniquities. And finally, if we want to talk about the great commission, we can go to Isaiah 52:7:

How beautiful upon the mountains
                Are the feet of him who brings good news,
                Who proclaims peace,
                Who brings glad tidings of good things,
                Who proclaims salvation,
                Who says to Zion,
                ‘Your God reigns!’

In summary, Isaiah’s message is that salvation comes from God, through the sacrifice of his servant and by the means of his Word.

Many of you will be familiar with our Modern Hebrew translation of the Old Testament, often referred to as the Children’s Illustrated Bible. We are grateful that many of you were able to support this project in practical ways. In essence, this is the first time that the Masoretic text of the Old Testament has been translated into Modern Hebrew. In July of 2012 we completed all five volumes and Israelis can now not only read the Word of God in its original language but also understand it!

For some time now we have made the text of our translation available for free on an evangelistic website run by a congregation based in Jerusalem. Some time ago they had to do some maintenance work on the site and as a result had to take the pages down. Incredibly, the phone did not stop ringing with people asking why the translation had been taken down. Some of those who called to enquire about where the pages had gone were religious and Orthodox. One of the calls that came in from an orthodox lady was answered by the pastor of the congregation. She told him that her children studied the Bible from the website because the Modern Hebrew text was so easy for them to understand. So the pastor asked her what book they were currently studying and she told him it was Exodus. He was then able to send her a file containing the book of Exodus by email!

The book of Isaiah was written some time around 701 to 681 BC. in a language which is perplexing for Israelis today. Yet we have been able to bring his words in a fresh way to our people. Today, God’s words are challenging and changing lives, one soul at a time, just as they did back in Isaiah’s day.

We are now in the middle of translating the New Testament as well, since we want to have all the Scriptures in Modern Hebrew, and we don’t want to communicate to our people that the Old can stand alone without the New. Please pray for us as we seek to bring the story of Israel’s Messiah and the teaching of the apostles as contained in God’s word to the people of Israel in a language that they can understand.

This article first appeared in the Winter Herald 2014

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