ISRAEL RESTORATION MINISTRIES
“I will say, It is my people: and they shall say, The LORD is my God.”
Hi, my name is Tom Cantor, and I’d like to tell you about the greatest thing that happened in my life. You know, I’m a scientist. I graduated from the University of California at San Diego in biochemistry. And I started a business in my garage with just $130. And today, it’s grown to be a debt-free, mortgage-free, investor-free biotech company, with nearly 700 employees.
But that’s not the message that I want to bring to you today, and that’s not the greatest thing that happened in my life. This last Sunday, I was in church, somebody could come up to me and say to me, “What’s a nice Jewish boy like you doing in church?” So I want to tell you what happened to me.
First of all, I want to take you back a little bit to my beginning. I was born into a Jewish family. Both my parents were Jewish. My grandfather on my father’s side was a line of rabbis and cantors from Lithuania. My great grandfather was a cantor in Pittsburgh. My grandfather was a rabbi in Petersburg, VA. And before that, they were all rabbis and cantors in Lithuania. And so, but my grandfather wanted all of his sons – he had three sons – to become rabbis. But instead, and I don’t know why, they all became doctors. So my father was a doctor.
My mother and father were divorced when I was one year old. And I grew up in Los Angeles. And I was just what you would call a really rotten kid. I was so bad that when I would go over to somebody’s house, people would, when they knew I was coming, they would run around the house and they would take anything breakable, and they would put it up on high shelves. And when I would leave, they would be so happy that I was gone.
And so, anyway, this is the way I grew up. And I was just a rotten kid. I was so bad, that when I was seven years old, my parents put me into military school. Now first of all, I gotta tell you. Jewish parents do not put their children in military school. It’s very unusual. But they did. And the first thing they told me when I was in military school was that they said to me, “This is a fire alarm. Don’t touch the fire alarm.”
Well, that was my invitation. Every day, I had to touch the fire alarm. And so one day I touched the fire alarm, and the glass was loose, and the fire alarm went off. So when I was eight years old, I got a dishonorable discharge. Unprecedented.
And so then, life went on, and when I was 15 years old, my dad was just beside himself, didn’t know what to do. So he sent me to his friend, who was the head of psychology at UCLA. And he said to his friend, “Tell me what’s wrong with the boy.” And so, we talked. The psychologist asked me a lot of questions. I answered the questions. I was really on my better behavior that day. And he came to the conclusion and he told my dad, “The boy is good.” Now, I could have changed that. But anyway, he said, “The boy is good. The city of Los Angeles is bad. Send him away to a boarding school.”
So my dad looked, and he found a boarding school in Switzerland, in Montreux, and he sent me there. And so here I was, 15 years old, I was all alone, sent on a plane, an overnight flight from Los Angeles to New York. I arrive in New York in the morning, got my trunk, mainly filled with my record albums (this is back in 1965), and I went immediately to the Queen Mary – that’s how I was going to get overseas – gave them my trunk, spent the day in New York, was really enjoying this new found freedom. I was all alone. And around about 3 o’clock or so, went on the Queen Mary. As I remember, the Queen Mary left around 5. Everybody rushed to the back of the boat, took out their handkerchiefs, waved them goodbye to the people who were waiting there at the dock. And I thought to myself, “My, there’s nobody here for me.” I just had this terrible, sinking feeling. I was going to a place I’d never been to before.
But, as the boat took off, I’d come to learn there were four other students who were on the same boat, going to the same school, and they were all girls, so things were looking up.
So anyway, we arrived in France, took the train over to Switzerland, and it was just seven weeks into the school, and I got picked up by the police for drinking alcohol in the city and for fighting. It was on a Saturday. And the school said, “Remember when you came to this school that we made you and all the students deposit a one-way ticket back home?” They said, “We’re going to use that for you. You are expelled. Tomorrow, you’re going back home.”
And I didn’t want to go back to Los Angeles. So what I did, was I put some razor blades in my back pocket. I waited till there were no students in the front foyer of the school there. I went to the top of the stairs. I threw my books. I pretended like I rolled down the stairs, and I yelled out that I couldn’t get up, and so an ambulance came, took me to the hospital. And when I got there, they said to me, “This is a container. We need a urine specimen from you.” I said, “OK.” So they left the room. I took out the razor blades. I nicked this finger. I put in three drops of blood into the urine, mix it up, and say, “Here you go.” That was my first introduction to being a chemist.
So anyway, they came back in and they said, “Oh, you damaged your kidney.” I said, “Oh, you’re kidding. Sound terrible.” So anyway, time went on, they kept giving me urine specimens in the hospital. I kept nicking fingers. After a while, I was running out of fingers. And finally, I think it was on a Tuesday, they said, “You know, your kidneys, they’re just not healing. And so we’re thinking about surgery.” I said, “Surgery!” And so I had an immediate recovery.
Well, that was enough time for my father to find another school for me in Lausanne, where I went for two years. And I stayed in school. But unfortunately, I got into another type of trouble I found, which was immorality with women. And that just left me with a distinct – well, first of all, it created for me bad memories. And I used to have with those bad memories a very strong feeling inside that I was dirty. I felt dirty inside. I felt unclean. I felt filthy. And it became for me a horrible haunt. And so what used to happen is I used to take showers for long, long periods of time, as long as two hours. The people in the school used to say, “What’s he doing in there?” And I’d be washing and washing and trying to clean myself. And the outside of my body was very clean, but inside, as soon as those memories would come back, the feeling of that dirtiness and that filthiness would continue to haunt me.
And so I carried this like disease back to the states, where I went to school at Miami University in Ohio. And I just didn’t know what to do. And it was driving me so crazy, I was thinking, “Maybe I’ll just end life, because I can’t go on with this feeling of feeling so dirty and unclean and unfit inside.”
But I thought to myself, “You know, maybe if I got a girl friend, I can distract myself, forget about my past, and I’ll be OK.” So, at our school there, at Miami University, down in the basement, they had listening booths. Now these were the days of records. So you went to the person who was in charge, you told him what music you wanted. He would pipe it into one of the listening booths, and you would listen to the music in there.
Well, each one of the listening booths were lined up, and they had windows in the doors. So I stood back and I said to myself, “Window shopping. This is like window shopping. I’ll go find a pretty girl.” And so I started going down the line there, and looking in there, and all of a sudden I saw this really pretty girl. Blond hair, blue eyes. She’s my wife today. We’ve been married 40 years. So anyhow, this is how it happened. And so I thought, “Boy, I’d really like to get to know that gal.”
So I knock on the door, and opened the door, and said, “Excuse me, I’d like to listen to the same music you’re listening to, but there’s no booths available.” I didn’t know that, but that’s what I said. So she later told me, it sounded so sad, she said, “Sure, come on in.” And all of a sudden, I hear this strange music, and she says, “So tell me, what interests you in African tribal music?”
I thought to myself, “African tribal music?” Well, quick answers, and the subject was changed. I didn’t want to tell her, “I’m interested in you, not the music.” So we started talking, and I’m pouring out my heart a little bit, and I said, “You know, I’m Jewish.” And she says to me, “Oh, I’m not Jewish, but I love the Jews.”
I stopped and I said to myself, “Now wait a minute.” I said, “I just came from a high school in Switzerland, where all of our teachers were North Africans. They were from Morocco, from Algeria, from Tunisia, from Libya. They were all from that part of the world.” And I said, “After two years of having those as my teachers, I came away convinced nobody loves the Jews. So I don’t really think anybody loves the Jews. So why do you tell me that you love the Jews?”
She picked up a book, a very well-worn book. She picked it up. She said, “You see this book?” I said, “Yeah.” She said, “This is my favorite book.” She goes, “It’s a Bible.” I said, “OK.” She said, “See these pages?” I said, “Yeah.” She said, “There’s not one page in this book that wasn’t written by a Jew. My favorite book was written all by Jews.” I said, “OK.” She said, “My favorite person?” I said, “Yeah?” She said, “Is the Lord Jesus Christ. He’s a Jew.” “Oh, OK.”
Well, we really didn’t talk much about that subject. And time went on. And we fell in love. And so I went back home to my father. I said, “I met a girl.” He had one question. One question. It wasn’t, “Is she pretty?” But the question was, “Is she Jewish?” And so, when I said, “No,” oh, there was a huge explosion. He said, “Look, I sent you money every month so you should join the Jewish fraternity Hillel on campus. You didn’t. Now look what happened. Now you have a girlfriend who’s not Jewish.” He said, “Listen, I’m gonna fix this. I’m calling my friend Dr. Newman. We’re going to drive from Los Angeles to Las Vegas, and we’re going to talk.”
That was really code for they’re gonna talk and I’m gonna listen. So the whole 5-hour trip, I got a strong lecture that had this continuing theme. And the theme was, “All the Nazis were Christians. You cannot trust anybody who is not Jewish. So therefore,” and the conclusion of the lectures were always the same, “Break the relationship.”
Well, for me, that was, again, like “Don’t touch the fire alarm.” So I went back to Ohio, and I told my wife at the time, I mean I told my girlfriend at that time, I said, “We have to get married immediately.” She was a little bit set back. She said, “You know, where I come from, there’s usually a proposal involved, something like that.” I said, “OK, I propose. Will you marry me? Let’s do it quickly.”
So we went to the Justice of the Peace in Cincinnati. We said, “We want to get married.” He looked at her and said, “How old are you, young lady?” She said, “21.” And so they said, “OK.” Then they turned to me and said, “And how old are you, young man?” And I said, “19.” They go, “Oh, you’re 19.” They pulled out a piece of paper and said, “This is where your father signs. This is where your mother signs.” I looked at him in dismay and said, “It’s not gonna happen. My father’s not gonna sign this.” They said, “Sorry. You can’t get married here.” So I said, “Well, what can we do?” They said, “You know that river south of the city, the Ohio River?” I said, “Yeah.” They said, “Go over it. Go south. Go to Kentucky. They don’t care if you’re eight years old. They’ll marry you there. And if you’re first cousins, it doesn’t matter to them.” I said, “OK.”
So it was Saturday night, so we went over there. We went into some bar, and said, “Anybody know where the Justice of the Peace is?” They said, “Yeah, he’s over at the bar here. He’s over here.” His name was Ducky Mader. So we went there, and he said, “Yeah, I have my office right next to the bar.” So we went there, and he stood there and held the Bible, and asked some questions. I said, “I do, I do, I do,” which basically meant, “I want, I want, I want – her.” And so we got married.
So anyway, so then I called my parents. As I said, my mother and father were divorced. I asked my mom, I told my mom, I said, “Mom, I’m married.” She said, “Oh, that’s wonderful, Tommy. How do you like married life?” I said, “It’s great, mom. I should have done it years ago.” She said, “But you’re only 19.”
I called my dad, huge explosion. I mean, we couldn’t even talk on the phone. Anyway, so then, the next phone call I got was from my uncle who was a surgeon in Florida – Uncle Jack. And Uncle Jack called me and said, “Tommy,” he says, “I understand what’s happened.” He said, “I’d like to speak to you on behalf of the family.” I said, “Yeah?” He said, “This is the way it’s gonna be. You will come to this certain place. We will all be there, the family will be there, nobody will say a word. On the table will be a large sum of money. You will take the money. You will go out. You will get a quick divorce. You will forget about everything that’s not Jewish. And no one will ever speak about this again.” He said, “That’s proposal A.” And I said, “And what’s proposal B?” He said, “Proposal B is, have a nice life.”
Well, now that I’m in business, I was broke at that time, I should have taken the money and then done Proposal B. But I didn’t. I just said, “I’ll take Proposal B.” All right. So we go on, broke, but I got a job at the railroad. But I’m married to the girl of my dreams. And I’m thinking to myself, “Everything’s going to be all right now.” But the tragedy was, was that the memories kept surfacing in my mind. And as they did, the feeling of dirtiness and defilement and uncleanness kept coming and plaguing my heart. The disease hadn’t left. So I was just thinking, “What in the world am I going to do?”
Now I have to tell you, I discussed this with no one. No one knew what I was thinking. This was extremely personal. But I was thinking, “What can I do? I’ve tried anything I possibly can.” And then I thought to myself, “Maybe God.” And so, I got a Bible, and I needed alone time. And so I told my wife, “I have to work two hours every day extra. So don’t look for me. I’ll be a couple hours late.” And so I decided that that was going to be the time when I was going to find God. And so what I did was after work, I got the Bible and I set it down and I thought, “You know what? I should start with a prayer. I should pray.”
And you know, I went to bar mitzvah school, and so I memorized lots of prayers. But I said, “I don’t want those prayers. They’re not even in my language, in English. They’re all in Hebrew, and they all start with “Baruch ata Adonai Eloheinu, melekh ha’olam” And I said, “No, I don’t want that kind of prayer. I want a prayer from my heart.” So I prayed and I said, “Oh, God,” and I said, “No, I want a prayer that’s really honest, that’s really from me,” so I said, “Oh, God, if there is a God,” and then I said to myself, “Now what do I say?” I said, “I’m just going to say what’s in my heart – two words – help me. Amen.”
So I said, “OK, now. Gotta find God.” And I said to myself, “I gotta find God in this book. God is going to be found in this book. I’m going to die, if I need to, trying to find God in this book. But if there is a God, I’m going to find Him in this book.”
So I open up the book, and first I looked at the book, and I said, “There’s so many pages in this book. Where do you start? How can I read all of these pages?” Well, when I opened it up, I noticed there were two parts in the book. The first part was called the “Old,” and the second part was a little bit smaller, called the “New.” And I thought to myself, “Well, I don’t want anything old. I want something new.” So I started in the “New.” So I started to read the Book of Matthew, the first book in the New Testament. And as I read, it was hard going. I thought I was reading Shakespeare. It was old English. And I kept pushing, but I kept searching, because inside me was this drive, “I’ve got a disease. I’ve got a disease. I must find the solution. God is going to bring the solution to me.”
And so I kept pushing and pushing along. And it wasn’t easy. And I was reading and reading and reading, so much reading. And finally, I came to the 15th chapter of Matthew. And here the Lord Jesus Christ was talking about eating without washing your hands. That was a big deal in my culture – eating without washing your hands. I remember one time in a Yom Kippur service in Temple in Los Angeles, the Day of Atonement, when you weren’t allowed to eat and you weren’t allowed to drink. I remember the plastic bag taped over the drinking fountain in the Temple. And I went into the Temple, and I used the bathroom, and I was leaving the bathroom, and an old man came up to me, and he put his stony hand on my shoulder. I’m a little kid. And I was petrified. I turned around and thought I was going to look at God. And he said to me, “Jews always wash their hands.”
I always wondered what the definition of a Jew was. Never could get a straight answer. So I thought, “OK, Jews always wash their hands. Fine. And so I’ve always got to wash my hands, because I’m a Jew. I’ve got to wash my hands.”
So anyway, to eat without washing your hands was a big issue. And that was a big issue in Matthew 15 that was being addressed. And what He said here, and I’m just going to read it to you as I read it, in verse 16 of Matthew 15, it says:
“And Jesus said, Are ye also yet without understanding? Do not ye understand, that whatsoever entereth in at the mouth goeth into the belly, and is cast out into the draught? But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man,” Matthew 15:16-18.
I mean, you’ve got to picture this. I had this disease of internal defilement, and He’s talking about defiling the man. And then He says:
“For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts…”
I had thoughts. I had defilement. And He said:
“… evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications…,”
Couldn’t have hit the nail better on the head.
… thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man,” Matthew 15:19-20.
Oh, I read that, and I said to myself, “He knows me. He knows me.” So I just had an accurate diagnosis of my disease. I had the thoughts, because of what I did. The thoughts triggered the defilement of the heart. Succinctly put.
But I thought, “But that doesn’t get rid of the problem. So now what?” So I kept reading and reading. And I kept on plowing through these books here, and all these pages. And finally, I came to John Chapter 1. And in John 1:29 is a description of a Jewish man named John the Baptist. When John the Baptist, or John the Baptizer, saw the Lord for the first time, he was stunned. And he said words which are recorded here in verse 29. He says:
“The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world,” John 1:29.
And I read that, and I said to myself, “I don’t know about the sin of the world. But I know about the sin of Tom Cantor, in my heart, and I need that sin taken away. And so if the Lamb of God, who John said was the Lord Jesus Christ, if He can take my sin away, sign me up.”
And then later on, when he saw Him a second time, He said the same thing. He said, “Behold the Lamb of God.”
Well, I thought, “What does that mean? What does that mean, the Lamb of God?” It’s an intriguing title, “The Lamb of God.” And so I started to think about it. And I remembered that at a seder service, at Passover time, a seder service, the spring before, being at my Aunt Mary’s house in Cincinnati. Now Passover is like a Thanksgiving ceremony. And family’s all there, and we’re all sitting around the table there, and we have a little book called the Haggadah, and we read that, and we go through certain rituals. And you know, as some person said, “It’s just a typical Jewish festival, as all the Jewish festivals are the same. The Gentiles tried to kill us. God saved us. Let’s eat.”
So anyway, we were going through this, and we finished going through the Haggadah, and we’re getting ready for the meal, and like I said, the whole family is around the table there, and my wife was there also. And you get the picture, my aunt’s husband, we called him Uncle Pete, Uncle Pete was there next to me. Now Uncle Pete, if I could create the scene for you, was a very short man. Aunt Mary was taller than him. Uncle Pete was bald. Uncle Pete had glasses that looked like Coke bottles. Uncle Pete smoked cigars and chewed pistachios. He was a Jewish looking pharmacist in Cincinnati. And Uncle Pete was totally, totally henpecked. I mean, he didn’t get up in the morning and think a thought without Aunt Mary telling him what to think.
And so Uncle Pete, his sole enjoyment in life, was to irritate my Aunt Mary. That’s what he loved to do. And so at the end of going through the book there, the Haggadah, and Aunt Mary was getting the cold chicken soup – chicken soup was always cold because it took so much time going through the book. The soup always got cold. Anyways, he’s getting the cold chicken soup from the kitchen there. And Uncle Pete looks at me with this glimmer in his eyes. And he goes, “Now watch this,” and he jabs me. And he says something which is absolutely scandalous. He says out loud, with the whole family there. He says, “Christians believe Christ was the Passover Lamb.” Immediately, my Aunt Mary from the kitchen, she yells out, “Pete, shut up!” Then he gets this tremendous smile on his face, looks at me, and says, “Wasn’t that great?”
Well, what he said, “Christ was the Passover Lamb,” it just lodged in my mind. And I thought, “What does that mean – Christ was the Passover Lamb?” And so I decided that I was going to go back and read about the Passover. So I turned back in the book, all the way back to Exodus 12. And I re-read again what happened. And I thought to myself, “I must have missed it. I never saw the importance of the lamb.”
I saw very clearly, when I went back to Exodus 12, that there was going to be this universal catastrophe. And in every home, and it didn’t matter whether it was a Jewish home, or an Egyptian home, in every home, there was going to be this catastrophic death of the first born. Man and animal. And it was going to be horrible. And it was going to be on this one night. And it was going to be the last plague, the 10th plague.
Well, I was reading that. But then I saw that God, through Moses, gave a very, very specific and trustworthy plan of escape, a plan of salvation from the death that was coming. And so I saw that Moses said, “If you don’t want the firstborn to die in your home, then listen up very carefully, because I’m going to tell you how to avoid it, God’s way.”
And what Moses said was that every family must get a lamb. Not a national lamb, not a lamb for everybody, but every family had to have a lamb. It had to be taken out of their own flock. It had to be the best lamb. It had to be the lamb that the family could point to and say, “That’s my lamb.” Everybody in the family could identify with that lamb. And it was personal, because it was from their flock.
Now I’d had a dog before, and I’d had a cat, and this sounded pretty traumatic. That I’m supposed to take my dog, my pet dog, or my cat, something like that. And you know, we just in our business we used to have lambs. And I remember, there was one black lamb one time that we had. And it was really cute. And my family was very attached to it. And when it came time to butcher the lambs, I remembered how we said, “We can’t be here. We can’t do this.” And we put all the lambs in a pen, and we called the butcher, and we said, “Listen. We’re leaving. And when we come back, we don’t want to see any sign of anything. And after a period of time, you bring us the meat. But we can’t know. And especially, we can’t know which lamb was the black lamb.”
And I remember, one time, going to the freezer and opening a package. My wife would open the package, and my three sons and me were standing there. And there was a little piece of black fur on that package. We went, “Oh, no,” and we had to throw out all the meat.
Well, this was similar. These people were attached. I understood how people were attached to the lamb, the best lamb. And Moses said, “You get that lamb, and then you watch that lamb for three days.” Three days. Three days. At the end of those three days, Moses said, “You’re going to kill the lamb.”
Now the Lord Jesus Christ was raised, or grew up, in relative obscurity. We don’t really know very much about the first 30 years of His life. But when it came time to present Himself to the public, and that’s the time when John the Baptist said, “Behold the Lamb of God,” He was presenting Himself to the public, for three years, the last three years of His life, like three days, but for three years, He was very much on public display. He was constantly being watched by friends and enemies. And at the end of the time, He said, “Which of you convicteth Me of sin?” And He said that to His enemies. In other words, “Which of you can point out a blemish, something that’s wrong in My life? Something where I’ve sinned.” He said that. And no one could say anything. As a matter of fact, Pilate said, “I find no fault in this man.”
Well, back in Moses’ day, he said, “You watch that lamb for three days for one purpose: make sure it doesn’t have a blemish. Make sure it’s a perfect lamb. Make sure there’s nothing wrong with the lamb.” And after that, the lamb has been qualified.
Fast forward. When the Lord Jesus Christ said, “Which of you convicteth me of sin?” and no one said anything, He knew He was qualified as the Lamb of God.
Back to Moses’ day. Moses said, “You take that lamb, and you kill the lamb.” We, in our business of making antibodies, we lived with goats, 300 goats, for ten years, my family did. I remember the first time, which was also the last time, that I had to kill a goat, because it was sick. I had to put it down. I remember holding the goat. I remember injecting the goat. I remember the life leaving that goat. I remember the warm turning to cold. I remember it all, all too well. And I said to myself at that time, “I will never do this again.” And I haven’t. And even to this day, in our business, people who work with our goats for making antibodies, they can’t kill goats either. They have to call the vet.
Moses said, “You kill the lamb.” Very dramatic. And then he said, “You collect the blood.” The Bible says, “The life of the flesh is in the blood.” He said, “You collect the blood from the animal.” And then he said, “Follow these instructions specifically,” because he said, “This is what’s going to save you. You take the blood. You take some hyssop, like some reeds, and you go to your doorpost, and you take of the blood, and you strike the top, and you strike the two sides” – in the shape of a cross. And blood is running down from the top and the two sides. And when the Lord Jesus Christ was on the cross, His hand, His hand, His head with the crown of thorns, is there. And blood is running down from this side, from this side, and from the front. It’s running down just like it was on that day, in Moses’ day. And blood’s running down on the door. He says, “And God said, when I see the blood, I will pass over you.”
And same thing – when the Lord Jesus Christ was there on the cross, hand, hand, head, blood – the Jewish people standing in front of that could say to themselves, “I remember Exodus 12. God said, ‘When I see the blood, I will pass over you.’” If He’s my Lamb, if He on the cross is my Lamb, God will pass over me.
And so what happened was that God did pass over them – that put the blood there. Now if you were a Jewish family and you just said, “You know what, I’m not into killing my best lamb. I think I’ll just sit in the doorway here. I’ll meditate my way through this disaster.” Death came. Or if they said, “I’ll kill the lamb, I won’t apply the blood to the door” – death came. You had to follow the plan of salvation. God said, “This is what you’ve got to do. I have made a way of escape for you. It’s done. Just do it, please do it.”
And you know the person who was the most concerned that it was followed? The firstborn. And you can imagine when the father came back in, the firstborn said, “Father, did you do it? Are you sure you did it? Are you sure you did it right, because it’s my neck that’s on the line, father? Are you sure that you did it?” You had to follow the plan of salvation.
And the word “Passover” in the Hebrew is the word Pesach (?). And Pesach is a word that’s used today in Israel, and it means “exempt.” It means “skipped.” For example, if you have people who are going to go to the army, and let’s say they’re going to go to the Lebanese front, and the captain is reading off the names, and he goes, “Dan,” and so forth, and he comes down to “Moishe,” and if Moishe is so flat-footed he can’t even run, he would say, “Oh, Moishe, pesach.” In other words, “skipped.” You don’t go. And that’s the word – you don’t go. So really, it’s a question of, did the family have the exemption or not, from the death of the lamb and the application of the blood.
So I’m reading about all this, I’m thinking about all this, just to myself, and I’m not discussing it with anybody. And we’re driving across country, from Cincinnati to San Diego, and I say to my wife, “I think I’m becoming religious.” She was listening. And I said, “But you know, I can’t go to church. I gotta go back to where I come from, which is the Temple, the synagogue.”
So we get to San Diego. I call the largest synagogue in San Diego, a reformed synagogue, liberal synagogue. I get the rabbi on the phone. Talking on the phone. I said, “Rabbi, I’ve been reading what Moses wrote in the Book of Exodus about the Passover.” He says, “Stop.” He says, “I have to tell you. I do not believe there was really a literal man named Moses.”
I’m shocked. I want to discuss what Moses wrote, what God said through Moses. I don’t want to discuss whether there was a man named Moses. So you know what I did? I said, “I’m sorry. I think I got the wrong number. Sorry to bother you.” Boom. Hung the phone up.
Then I thought, “Now what do I do?” I said, “Well, I found that place in the Sunday paper.” So I go back to the Sunday paper. I’m looking. “Well, maybe the other side, the Orthodox. Maybe I just really didn’t understand it well when I was growing up. Maybe I’ll go back to the Orthodox Temple. So I went to Temple Tefereth, who was meeting in someone’s home in La Jolla. And so I go there, I listened to the rabbi. Actually, I was the only one listening to the rabbi. Everyone else was talking. That’s normal. And at the end of the message, I said to the rabbi, I said, “Can I have a word with you?” “Sure.” We got off alone. I said, “Rabbi,” I said, “I think maybe Jesus may have been the Messiah.” He stopped me and he said, “Stop.” He said, “I have to tell you, that’s the first time, that’s the last time, you’ll ever say that word again in this place. If you ever want to say that word again, you can’t come here.”
I thought, “Well, that’s a non-starter.” So I went back home, back to the Sunday paper, I’m looking, where can I go? I see there’s a movie going to be shown about Israel in a Baptist church. Now, I’d always been taught, because my grandfather was a rabbi in Petersburg, VA, churches are not the place for Jews to go. That’s where they make the crosses for the Ku Klux Klan that they burn outside of your home. And they’ll chase you away saying “You killed our God.” So you do not, as a Jew, ever go to a church. A Catholic church that’s down in Mexico, to go see the gold that’s on the wall, or the Vatican, that’s one thing. But any other church, Jews don’t go.
So I’m thinking to myself, “Well, it’s a church, it’s a Baptist church. But it’s a movie on Israel. That’s the Jewish homeland. How anti-Semitic can that be?” So I said to myself, “All right. I’ll give it a shot.” So I went to the church to see the movie on Israel. I sat in the back row, very close to the door. My plan was, watch the movie, get out fast. So I sit there, watch the movie. It was a Billy Graham film, “His Land,” on Israel. Good movie. And I’m ready to go. The movie stops. I’m getting up, starting to get out. A little old lady comes up to me. She puts her hand on my shoulder, and she says, “You’re Jewish, aren’t you?”
Immediately I get terrified, and I say, “What? What? Do I have the map of Jerusalem on my face? Why do you say I’m Jewish?” She says, “No, relax, relax.” She says, “The grandmother of our pastor was Jewish.” I go, “OK.” So I agreed to meet with the pastor. I go to his office, talking with him, telling him all the things, many of the things I’ve been saying right now, about what I’ve been reading, what’s been happening to me. I don’t tell him about the dirty feeling in my heart. Oh, no, no, no. That’s personal. I certainly don’t tell him about my memories. I tell him about my interests, the Bible. And he’s saying to me, he says, like this. He says, “It’s very interesting what you’re saying. Because you’re telling me that you believe things in the Bible.” And I said “Yeah.” And he said, “You know, let me show you a verse.” And he opens up his Bible, and he turns to the Book of John. And the very first chapter of John. And he says, “I want to show you a verse, and I want you to zero in on two words.” And actually, the verse that he showed me is interesting when you look at the verse before it. He showed me verse 11 and 12. Verse 11 says, “He came unto his own.” He explained to me, “Those are the Jewish people.” And he said, “And his own received him not.” And I’m thinking, “Yeah, sounds like an understatement to me.”
And then he says, “I want you to look at verse 12.” “But as many as received him.” “Now I want you to grab that word ‘receive.’” “But as many as received him, to them gave he power” (or authority) “to become the sons of god, even to them that believe on his name.” Grab that second word, “believe.” He says, “You got it? You see the first word: “But as many as received him.” You got the second one? “Even to them that believe on his name.” He said, “You tell me you believe a lot of things in this book.” I said, “Yeah.” He said, “It’s kind of like this. I can tell you I have a book here, and I’d like to give you the book. And you can tell me you believe that. You believe that I want to give you the book. And you say that I must be a very nice man to want to give me the book.” But he said, “Until you take the book out of my hand, you haven’t received it.”
So I said, “Well, what does that mean?” He said, “Have you ever received the Lord Jesus Christ?” I said, “I don’t even understand what you just said. Receive the Lord Jesus Christ – how do you do that?” He said, “Well, I’ll tell you. You have to pray to God.” “OK.” He said, “When you pray to God, you have to hit four points.” I said, “What are those?”
“First, you have to tell God you’re a sinner.” I said, “Look, you don’t know me. And I don’t really have any intention of telling you about my past. But,” I said, “Just trust me. Me to tell God that I’m a sinner is no problem. I can tell God I’m a sinner. If God doesn’t know, I can give Him a list.”
And he said, “Second, you have to tell God how much you hate your sin.” And I said, “Again, you don’t know me, but you don’t know how much I hate my sin. It’s driving me crazy. I have a disease inside of feeling dirty.”
“Third, you have to tell God you believe the record. The record very simply is that God became a man, a perfect man, the only perfect man, so that He could become the Lamb of God, the perfect Lamb of God. So that He could die for your sins. So that you could put your trust in His death. So that you could look at His death on the cross, and say, ‘That’s my blood. That’s my death that I’m relying on.’ And when God says, ‘When I see the blood, I will pass over you, and skip over you,’ you’ve got to mean in your heart, ‘That blood.’ ‘When I see that blood,’ because you’ve got your faith in His death. He said He came for that reason, and then He was raised on the third day, which proved that God was satisfied. The Father was satisfied with His death.
“And the fourth thing is really the most important. It’s where you transfer from being a spectator to a participant. A spectator is someone who just sees all this, who just knows the information, who just is familiar with the facts. But a participant is someone who steps out of the spectator’s seat and says, ‘I’m in. That’s me. That’s for me.’ That’s when you say, you take the door of your heart, and you swing it open, and you say, ‘Lord Jesus, come into my heart and be my Savior. Be my personal Savior. Be the God of my life.’”
He said, “That’s what you’ve got to do. That’s how you receive Him. Are you willing to do that?” He waited, and I said, I thought to myself, “I’ve got this disease. I’ve tried everything to get rid of it. This man is telling me this is how I can receive the Lamb of God. The Bible tells me that He is the Lamb of God which takes away the sin of the world.” I said, “Yes, I’m willing to do that.” And I bowed my head.
And he said, “Don’t worry about the words. I’ll give you the words. Just repeat them. But just make sure that when you repeat them, you’re really saying those things in your heart to God, not just for me to hear.” So I bowed my head, and I prayed the sinner’s prayer:
“Lord Jesus, I’m a sinner. I hate my sin. I believe that You, as God, became a man, so that you could become the perfect man, qualified, and you went to the cross as a man. And you died for my sins. And then, on the third day, you rose again from the dead. And now, Lord, I take the door of my heart, and I swing it open. I throw down the weapons of my warfare against You. I surrender. And I say, ‘Lord Jesus, please come into my heart. Be my personal Savior. Be my God forever. Please save me from my sins. Thank You.’ Your Bible says, ‘Whosoever will call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’ In Jesus’ Name.”
For Tom Cantor. That was the day when Tom Cantor’s birth certificate was written. That is when I was born the second time. I was 19 years old, and I was born the second time. That was life. And since that time, it’s been a wonderful life. I’m the student. God’s the Teacher. We’re friends. He teaches me so much. He knows me. He holds me by my hand. When I’m alone, He’s there. That’s who the Lord Jesus Christ has become to me. My God, my Savior, my Friend.
You know, it says Abraham was a friend of God. It’s a great thing to be able to say, “God’s a friend of mine.” It’s true, because the warfare’s over. Because the sin is gone. Because all the offenses have been forgiven. Because God’s righteousness has become mine. Like I’m putting it on as a coat, because of the cross. Because there at the cross, God had become a man, took my sins upon Him, and died for my sins. And I was justified. And I didn’t do anything. I didn’t do anything, except tell Him I was a sinner. I told Him I hated my sin. I told Him I believed what the Bible said, and I did. And then I invited Him into my heart. That’s all I did. But He saved me. But He made me a child of God. But He justified me. But He gave me eternal life. But He adopted me.
All that happened – that’s what God did – when I came His way, His plan of salvation. The one that Moses laid out in the Book of Exodus. Because when He saw the blood, He translated me, from the category slated for death in Hell, to the category slated for adoption in Heaven. That was a wonderful day.
You know, everybody has their own story. And there’s many, many people, and I’ve heard many, many, many stories about how people have come to the Lord Jesus Christ. And they’ve come from many different directions. I’ve heard the Muslim direction. I’ve heard the African animist direction. I’ve heard the down and outer’s direction. I’ve heard the up and outer’s direction. But many, many people – and there are many roads to the Lord Jesus Christ. There is only one road to God. That’s through the Lord Jesus Christ to Him.
I’ve just told you about my road. Of how I came to the Lord Jesus Christ. How about you? How about you, my friend? You can come too. Because He’s got a place for you. He wants you. He loves you. He lost you. His heart is broken for you.
You know, just this last Saturday, I was preparing a lesson. And it was on how God feels about His own lost. And I was sitting in front of my desk. And my desk is in front of a window. And I’m hearing this yelling in the background throughout our neighborhood. And the yelling is kind of distant, then it’s close, and after a while, I hear this man yelling out, “Minnie, Minnie, please come home, Minnie! Come home, little puppy! Please come home! Minnie, Minnie!”
I thought to myself, “Wow, somebody lost a dog.” And I called my wife, and I said, “Listen.” She said, “I don’t hear anything.” I said, “No, listen.” So she heard it, and I said, “Did you hear that?” She goes, “Yeah.” I said, “Did you hear that? He’s saying, ‘Minnie, Minnie, come home, Minnie, little puppy, come home!’” She goes, “Oh, why did you have to tell me that!”
Well, after a little while, I hear this barking. My wife yells at me, “Come here, come to the door, quick!” I realize, that’s “Don’t ask any questions, just come.” So I get up, go to the door. The door’s open. And there’s this little dog. He’s at our door. He’s barking and barking, and he’s got a leash. We both looked at it, and we said, “Minnie?” So we gained the dog’s confidence, you know, “Nice boy.” We get the leash, and looked on the tag, the tag’s got a number. My wife calls the number, answering machine. She says, “Well, I’m going to go get the man in the street, go tell him.” I said, “OK, I’ll stay here and keep the dog.” So, I’m playing with the dog, cute little dog. And so the man’s in the street, he goes “Minnie!” And my wife, she yells, “I’m over here! I’m over here!” He says, “What?” She says, “I’m over here! We found your dog!” She said, “He leaped over a bush and said, ‘Really?’” And so he’s coming up the driveway. Meanwhile, the phone rings. It’s his brother on the line. I answered the phone and he says, “Did you find a dog?” And I said, “Yes.” He says, “Oh, I can’t believe it! You don’t know how much that dog means to me! It’s my whole life! It’s all love! She’s my little girl! She’s all we’ve got! Our baby! Without that dog, I don’t know what I’d do!” He’s crying like a baby.
And I was thinking to myself, “It’s only a dog.” Not to him. Not to them. Then he says, “Thank you, thank you so much.” You know, other people can look at you and say, “Just another person.” But not to God. Not to God. He loves you. He lost you. His heart’s breaking for you. He wants you back. He wants you back. And He made a way for you to come back. Because He came down here and became a man. He didn’t have to do that. And He endured a lot. He didn’t have to do that. This is God, the Creator, the Lord Jesus Christ, enduring all of that, because He wants you back. Because He can see that day when you return. And He’s going to be so happy. And He went to the cross. And He didn’t have to do that. He didn’t have to walk up that road, but He did it.
He could have stopped any time. He could have said, “You know what? It’s not worth it. Game over. I’m finished. I’m gone.” He could have. But He didn’t. He kept on going the whole way.
When they took His hands, they didn’t have to wrestle Him down on the cross. He gave His hands. He gave His feet. It hurt. He was nailed to a cross. And God the Father, when He became sin, for you, turned His face away. And He cried out, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken Me?” He was forsaken by God. It was the most painful thing He ever, ever did or will ever endure for all eternity, when He was separated from God the Father because of your sin, because of my sin.
And He fought like a great warrior, a man of worth, on that cross, enduring it all. They offered Him narcotic at the beginning of His execution. He said, No, I won’t. Because I’m going to taste death for every man.” He tasted death for you.
And then, when it was all finished, when He realized that He had done the work of redemption, His last words were, “It is finished.” And then He gave up the ghost and died for you. And the Father looked on it all, and He had one word: “Satisfied.” In Hebrew, daenu (?), it is enough. And He rose from the dead.
And now, He’s calling your name, just like that man was calling that name, “Minnie.” He’s calling your name. And He’s saying, “Won’t you come home? Won’t you please come home?” Come back to God. Be saved from your sins. God’s waiting for you. Will you do it? Will you do it today? Will you do it right now? If you’re willing to, bow your head with me please, and pray with me from your heart to God. Pray these words:
“Lord Jesus, I’ve been running from You all my life. My sin, with all of its guilt, has tricked me, and I am a sinner. I have sinned against You. I’m a sinner. I hate my sin. I believe, Lord, what You wrote in Your book, that You, as God, became a man, a perfect man, so that you could be the Lamb of God. And you went to a cross willingly. And you laid down your life and You died for my sins. And on the third day You rose again. Thank You, Lord. Lord, I take hold of the door handle of my heart, and I swing the door wide open to You, without reservation, and I pray, ‘Please, Lord Jesus, come into my heart. Be my Savior, my God forever. Please, Lord, save my soul from my sins. Thank You for doing it. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.’”
If you prayed that prayer from God to your heart the best way you can, because God is all about helping the weak. He’s all about helping. He’s all about being???? If you prayed that prayer, God saved you. Because the Bible says, “Whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” And you can take that to the bank. You can depend on God, because you’re a child of God.