Every day, Christians are making church history. On this episode of 5 Minutes in Church History, Dr. Stephen Nichols interviews Rev. David Zadok, pastor of Grace and Truth Church, to learn about his ministry and the state of the Christian church in Israel.
Steve Nichols: Welcome back to another episode of 5 Minutes in Church History. We've often mentioned that not only do we look at church history in the past, but we have to realize church history is being made. It's being made right now, and I have with me in the studio here, a history maker. I have Reverend David Zadok. He's from Israel, and he's joined us here in the studio. Welcome to 5 Minutes in Church History.
David Zadok: Thank you. It's an honor for me to be here.
SN: You were born in Israel, but you were raised in Iran. And you ended up coming to the United States at the age of sixteen and studying here in college; go back to Israel. And then you entered into the military there in Israel. I believe you got all the way up to the rank of major. Is that correct?
SN: Okay. And then you ended up going to Westminster Seminary in California. Now you’re back in Israel and you serve as the pastor at Grace and Truth Church, and you also serve as the director of HaGefen Publishing company. I love the name. In Hebrew that means “the vine.” We'll talk about that in a little bit, but could we just start with you sharing a little bit about the state of the Christian church in Israel?
DZ: Yeah. Well, I think the state of the church in Israel is about the faithfulness of God to his promises and particularly to his covenants, and the fact that today, after almost 2,000 years after Christ, we can see the church in Israel is growing and maturing. The number of believers they estimate is at least about 30,000. When we compare that to 1948, there was maybe a handful of Jewish Christians. So, we can see that God is really working in these days, among us, among the Jewish people.
SN: Help us with that statistic. You say there are about 30,000. What percentage would that be?
DZ: That would be almost 0.03%. The population of Israel is about close to eight million, almost.
SN: So, there are 30,000 of you, faithful believers, proclaiming the gospel there in the land of Israel.
DZ: Yes. And we hope that it will continue to multiply, and we do all our efforts to make sure that it would happen, by the grace of God.
SN: Well, your church is near Ashdod, and this is about twenty miles north of Gaza, about ten miles in from the Mediterranean sea. Maybe we can picture where that is. But tell us a little bit about your church, Grace and Truth.
DZ: Grace and Truth was established in 1976 by our founding pastor Baruch Maoz. From the very beginning, its confession of faith was Reformed and based somewhat on the Westminster Confession of Faith, and also the London Baptist Confession. Since then, the church has continued to faithfully proclaim the Word of God, and we are seeing the impact of the Word of God as God has promised in Isaiah 55, 10, and 11—that his Word would not return in vain. We've seen that continue growing. Our church is very much a multi-ethnicity congregation. We have Jews and non-Jews, we have Israelis, and Ethiopian, and Russian speakers, as well as ex-patriots from different parts of the world with us.
SN: I think you mentioned that you even have a few Dutch people in your church from time to time.
DZ: Yes. We have a lady that is from Dutch background, and often we have dear friends from the Netherlands that come and visit our congregation. We provide translation for them as well, just as we do in Russian and English, and also sign language.
SN: Now, you mentioned the Westminster Confession of Faith, mentioned London, but you didn't mention the Heidelberg Catechism. And the reason I bring that up is—is it true that you translated the Heidelberg Catechism into Hebrew?
DZ: Yes. I had the honor of doing that. That was the first Reformed confession that was translated into the Hebrew language. I did that while I was studying at Westminster. That was my extra-curriculum that I provided for myself.
SN: You know, I remember going through seminary. I thought it was hard enough, let alone an extracurricular activity of translating the Heidelberg Catechism. So I pray that God would use that for the church there in Israel, and even beyond. In addition to that, you're also working on a Reformed confession, in Hebrew of course, for the church there in Israel. Can you tell us about that?
DZ: For many years Grace and Truth was the only Reformed church in Israel. I think we have now nine congregations that we have a fellowship of Reformed churches that we work together in cooperating. And one of the things that we are working on, or we have been working for a while, is trying to work on a short and concise confession of faith that’s based on all the Reformed confessions together in the Hebrew language, and also to deal with some of the issues related to Israel today.
SN: We've been listening to Reverend David Zadok, and we've been talking about the church in Israel. I'm Steve Nichols, thanks for joining us for 5 Minutes in Church History.