A loyal friend of Israel, Dr. Lewis visited Israel 67 times and wrote 40 books on biblical prophecy and the place of Israel in the Bible. He led thousands to visit Israel and study the Word in “the Land of the Bible.” As one of the five founders of the National Christian Leadership Council for Israel, he served for many years as chairman of the board, a position he still held at the time of his death. He produced 39 documentaries on location in Israel for a television program called “Prophecy Digest” and served as Editor in Chief of the Jerusalem Courier and Prophecy Digest.
Many times, Dr. Lewis met with former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin. Once when he and Ramona were scheduled to meet him, it was a tense time diplomatically between the United States and Israel. Chadasai, Begin’s aide, warned them that the meeting might be canceled. It was the day the US was voting whether or not to sell AIWACS (Airline Inbound Warehouse Accounting and Control System) to Saudi Arabia. Israel was deeply concerned and feared that it could jeopardize national security.
When Dr. and Mrs. Lewis arrived at the Knesset (Parliament), Chadasai met them and said, “I told you, if the US voted for the AIWACS deal, the meeting would be canceled. I’m sorry, but Prime Minister Begin won’t be able to meet with you.” While he was speaking, the phone rang. It was Begin asking if he had heard the voice of his friend David Lewis. The prime minister didwant to meet him. He knew Dr. Lewis loved Israel and always had a good word to share from the Scriptures. Begin said, “I need both of those right now.”
Dr. Lewis’s connection to Israel started when he was nine years old. He lived in Britain, South Dakota, a small farming village. He said that the most interesting thing to ever happen there was when the farmers came to town on Friday night and talked about how high the crops were. But one day, Hans Bretzneider came to hold special meetings at their small church and told them that God’s Word said Israel would become a nation again. It was 1941, and his statement seemed to be an impossibility. In fact, the people of the town ridiculed the German preacher. But young David hung on every word. Years later, he was in high school when it was announced over the loudspeakers that Israel had become a nation. Dr. Lewis often recalled how every hair on his body stood straight up, and in that moment, he knew the Bible was real and every promise was going to be fulfilled.
The Lewises’ two daughters Rebecca and Cassandra remember how he would read the newspapers and then call them over to read a Scripture, to show them how the Word of God was being literally fulfilled. In the late 1960s, he was in Israel traveling with a group in the desert. Suddenly he called out to the bus driver, “Stop the bus!” The guide asked why they were stopping. Dr. Lewis replied, “See that greenhouse? The sign in the front says they are growing roses. That is a fulfillment of the Scripture, Isaiah 35:1, where it says the desert shall blossom as the rose.” Immediately, Dr. Lewis and his tour group began taking pictures of the greenhouse, while the guide laughed, saying, “Wait a minute, and I will show you the real fulfillment of the Scripture.” Sure enough, in a few minutes, they came to fields of roses growing in the desert, not in a greenhouse. Today Israel is one of the main exporters of roses to Europe.
The family was inundated with e-mails, phone calls, and tributes. So many flowers arrived from around the world that they had to change the viewing room to accommodate them. At the memorial service, many told stories of Dr. Lewis’s love for them. His eldest daughter, Rebecca, shared these thoughts at the funeral: “I just imagine that dad is having a wonderful time in heaven with the Lord. I’m sure he has already begun to knock on the door of the prophets. He is probably asking Ezekiel, ‘Now, tell me exactly what that wheel in the middle of a wheel-thing looked like.’ I am sure he has told Jeremiah all about the aliyah[immigration] from the north that Jeremiah talked about in Jeremiah 16. He is probably spending time with Daniel. We are sad for us, but happy for dad, as his time of suffering is over.”
Dr. Lewis did not believe in mere mental assent to the place of Israel in Scripture. He often quoted the apostle James, “Faith without works is dead” (2:20) and paraphrased it to say, “Belief without action is deception.” In his book Can Israel Survive in a Hostile World?, he wrote: “Israel will survive. I see her, not only in the visions of the earliest Testament, but in the final pages of the Christian Scriptures.” That awareness motivated him and caused him to take effective action. May those of us left behind be motivated by the example of this great friend of Israel to be friends of Israel, even in her most crucial hours.
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