New York Times best seller, Joel Rosenberg, meets the author of life

New York Times best seller, Joel Rosenberg, meets the author of life

November 19, 2019 100 By Luis Garrison


“Dude, how could you
possibly have known “radical terrorists were
gonna hijack a plane “and fly it into
an American city, “I mean you wrote about
that in your book”. The first page of
my first novel puts you inside the
cockpit of a hijacked jet, hijacked by radical
Islamic terrorists, coming in on a kamikaze
attack mission into an American city. Now, I had written
that nine months before September 11, 2001. The book became a New
York Times bestseller and people kept asking me how could you possibly have
known what was gonna happen. “You seem to have
this crystal ball. “You seem to understand
the future. “What do you think’s
gonna happen next, dude? “Your name is Rosenberg, right?” I said, “Right.” “So you’re a heeb, right?” I said, “Well, I’m Jewish.” He said, “Yeah, okay, that’s
fine, but you’re Jewish, “your name is Rosenberg,
but you… “What are you, a born again? “You know, an evangelical?” I said, “Well, I do believe
that Jesus is the Messiah “and I am a follower of Jesus.” “Dude, how can you be
Jewish and believe in Jesus? “To have a novelist
on my program “that predicted the
future, that’s one thing, “but to meet a Jew who
believes in Jesus, “that’s a story
I gotta hear, son.” So I grew up in a family
in upstate New York where my father is Jewish. He was born in Brooklyn
as an Orthodox Jew to an Orthodox Jewish family. His grandfather was a
black hat Orthodox Jew. His parents and grandparents
had escaped from Russia in the early years
of the 20th century when the Tsar was fomenting
all kinds of pogroms and anti-Semitic attacks
against Jewish people. My father came home
one day from work and he came into the
kitchen and he said, “I can’t believe I’m saying
this, but I have come to believe “that Jesus actually
is the Messiah. “He’s the savior that we
Jews have been waiting for “and I’ve decided
to follow him.” And this was not a conclusion
he wanted to come to, but that’s where
the text led him. My father thought he
was the first Jew since the Apostle Paul
who believed that. I was watching my parents change. My father was going
from being someone that had a volcanic temper, it could just erupt
at any moment and he was a very angry
person, but he was changing. I could see it. My mother had been
a person paralyzed by fears and phobias
and anxieties and she was starting
to have this peace. As a child, I could see it, and I was connecting
that their love for Jesus was making them better people. It was changing them. It was all very exciting
for my mother and father. They were excited. I was not because they started
dragging me off to church. No more sleeping in. No more going out to play. Now we had to go
to church every week, and I was not a big fan. And they made me go to
a Sunday school class. These kids had all
been to church. I had never touched a Bible. I’d never thought
about the Bible. I did not care less
about the Bible. They had these contests. Every kid had to
hold up his Bible and then the teacher would
say, “Ready, John 3:16.” Everybody had to
look it up real fast. John 3:16, I mean what is that? I see a Mark, I see a Jenny,
I see a Gary, I see a Nancy. I don’t see anybody
named John in this room. And I didn’t know
what they meant and I was struggling
to figure it out and I was getting smoked
in all these contests. And over the course of the
year, if you won enough points, you won a baseball
bat and a ball. Well, I loved baseball. I did not love the Bible. So I asked my parents,
hey listen, I’m getting killed in this game. I never win. I need a Bible. So my parents bought me
a little New Testament. It just has the
New Testament books and then Psalms and Proverbs
from the Old Testament in the back of the Bible. But one day, they said, “Ready? “What’s the last
book of the Bible?” And I was like, oh, oh, and I got my hand up. Everyone was shocked. They’re like, “Joel is
raising his hand?!” The teacher said:
“Oh, okay Joel. “Well, what’s the last
book of the Bible?” And I said, “Proverbs! “My Bible, right here,
Proverb, it’s the last one. “Look at it.” Proverbs. They didn’t give me the ball,
they didn’t give me the bat, and honestly, to this
day, I’m a little bitter. My parents said oh, now Joel, we want you to go to
Vacation Bible School. I said, “What is Vacation
Bible School?” “It’s kinda like Sunday
school, but it’s every day.” I’m like what, you’ve
gotta be kidding me. Every day? I’m not going to that. I can think of a lot better
ways to spend my summer than gluing elbow macaroni
to strips of burlap to write ‘Jesus loves me’. You understand what I’m saying? I had no interest. Well, my father came
home from church and my father says,
“Listen, I’ve been teaching “this 6th grade Sunday
school class at our church “and we’re going to have
a Passover seder next week “in my class, and I’d
love it if you would all “come and be part of that.” And I said, “A what? “A Passover wha, wha–? “What is Passover?” He says, “What do you
mean what is Passover? “Passover is a very
famous Jewish holiday.” I said, “How would you
know how to do a seder?” And he said, “‘Cause I’m Jewish.” And I looked at him and
I said, “You’re Jewish?!” “Does that mean I’m Jewish? “How did this never come up?” I was in 5th grade and I
didn’t know I was Jewish. Your name is Joel Rosenberg. What do you mean you
were in 5th grade and you didn’t know
you were Jewish? You must’ve been the
stupidest kid in the class. He didn’t want to talk
about his upbringing. Didn’t want to talk
about being Jewish. So it never came up, but
it began a process for me of trying to figure out, okay,
if I have these Jewish roots, what does all that mean? But as I got into high school,
I began to get depressed. I was beginning to lose
emotional altitude. I wanted to go to
film school in college so I wrote a screenplay
about a high school student that commits suicide. This was getting worse and worse. I was getting darker and darker. It was January of 1984 and
it was one of these days in the dark of winter,
upstate New York, very snowy, very gray,
very bleak. I was in my room after school and I was having a
blow-out session with God. I mean I was mad. I don’t understand. I am not experiencing
love and joy and hope and peace and happiness, and that’s what you
promise in the Bible for followers of Jesus and
I don’t have any of it. So either it’s not true
or I totally don’t get it. You have got to show
me if you are real because, otherwise, I’m out. But I heard God speak to me
directly, and it shocked me. Joel, do you ever
really read my word? Meaning do I ever
really read the Bible. And I thought no, I don’t
read it on a daily basis. I don’t really study
it for myself. No, I don’t, no. Joel, do you ever spend time
really talking to me in prayer? I knew what he was asking. He was asking me do
you really talk to me, do you listen to me, do you
share your heart with me and talk to me in prayer,
and the answer was no, I don’t spend time in prayer. And he said Joel, why
would you ever expect to experience my blessings
when you don’t even know me? God had just spoken to
me and I was electrified. I mean that moment, that night
changed everything for me. I think that that’s the key, is to sit down and study the
life of Jesus from the Bible. And I believe that rabbis
and religious leaders and just Jewish people, when you actually look at
what did Jesus actually do, what did he actually say
by reading the accounts in the New Testament. He spent time with children. He spent time with sick people. He had a compassion. That’s the game changer. That’s when people begin to
say is this true or isn’t it. The question is what
did Jesus say and is he the Messiah
or isn’t he? That’s the central question. So I often think back
to that question that radio show host
had asked me, “Dude, how can you be Jewish
and believe in Jesus?” The answer is very
simple, actually. Jesus was Jewish. His disciples were Jewish. He lived in Israel. And he fulfilled all
the prophecies that the Jewish
prophets had said, that he would die as
a suffering servant and that he would rise again. It’s amazing that, when
Jewish people study the life of Jesus, what
he said, what he did, we come to the conclusion. I came to the conclusion. My father came to the conclusion. Jesus is who he claimed to be. He is the Messiah that
we have waited for. The most Jewish thing in
the world that you can do is follow the Jewish Messiah.