by Jonathan Settel
Worried wrinkles creased the face of the young emergency room doctor. His eyes betrayed his emotions. When I heard his words, my mouth went dry and the silent sound of my heart was loud in my ears.
“Mr. Settel, you should be dead. I do not know how you have maintained until now.” “What are you talking about,” I asked? Not more than an hour before, I had come into the hospital assuming that I had a minor stroke. They ruled that out after doing several catscans of my brain. My right arm and hand were manifesting weakness. My “fine motor skills” had almost completely disappeared. Whilst driving, I was confusing my brake pedal with the gasoline pedal. There was no doubt that something was amiss.
It was Memorial Day 2001. I was due to go on a tour to Australia by way of a two-day flight the next day. It was because Sharon, my wife and best friend and Steven Silvers, my friend of 30 years, got together and told me that there was no way I was going anywhere until I found out why I was having these symptoms.
After reconfirming the results of the catscans, the emergency room doctor and the surgeon came in to give us the bad news. I had sustained a wound to the back of my head 10 weeks earlier. From that moment on, blood was seeping into my brain from what they called a “subdural hematoma or hemorrhage.” After this much time of bleeding, there was no more room inside my head for the blood. All that would have had to happen was for the pressure to increase to a point where my brain would have shifted and I would not have been here to tell you this story.
It is, in fact, as I think of it more and more, incredible. I had for the previous two months been touring in Texas, flown home for Passover, then left on a tour through Europe (where I spent eight days in Paris, six days in Belgium and six days in Holland), came back home for a busy two weeks, then spent a weekend in Minnesota, attended ‘Expolit’ (a massive Hispanic Christian convocation where much ‘shmoozing’ was done in Spanish), and then flown to Ohio for two days and back to Fort Lauderdale. In this time period, I also managed to maintain my family life -- all the while holding on to my head and suffering from occasional bouts of pressure in my head and headaches. It all started with a fall on the tile floor in my home which was wet with soap and water while someone was busy cleaning. As I came down the stairs at full throttle, I hit the tile with my bare feet and went airborne; then I came crashing down on the back of my head. I saw stars. I knew I should have gone to the hospital but there were no bumps on my head and I was, frankly, out of time like I usually am. Well, this reticence about spending time when I am out of time, almost got me a permanent timeout!
The doctors insisted that I stay the night and they prepared me for brain surgery the next day. They felt I had the time (since I had waited 10 weeks already) to become medically and medicinally prepared for the coming trauma of surgery. Gone was the trip to Australia, gone were the many plans I had made and other people had made for bringing the songs of Israel and the Lord to that great “down-under” nation. Frustration did creep in for a moment or two, but reality was stronger. The devil said “I want him dead”, but God said “not yet.” I was now prepared to go into surgery with some trepidation and angst. Sharon was holding my left hand and the operating room nurse was on my right side. One of the anesthesiologists passed by me and asked, “Do you have good insurance ?” I smiled.....“The best,” I said, “Yeshua!” The Jewish doctor gave me a look and the nurse shouted, “Praise the Lord!” She asked, “Are you a Messianic Believer?” “You bet,” I replied. Instantly, she was glorifying God, that He would send “one of His own,” and a believing one at that, for her to cover in prayer. This was my first assurance that the Lord would be faithful.
I awoke an hour and a half later in the recovery room. I am told that I was telling jokes to the doctor. I remember seeing Sharon, and my life lit up. I knew I was alive. I knew my destiny had been prepared. The devil had said, “Now,” but God said, “Wait!”
This is really a simple statement of the quality of mercy that God has for us. Though I didn’t yet know what He had in mind..... if you don’t mind, He left me with enough mind to mind Him.....His Word, His Will, His Grace and His strength.
As I look around me I am appalled at how much there is yet to do. “Indeed,” thought I, “what can a simple Psalmist do?” This experience has changed me and now I am impassioned with a strong fire under me to go forth even more fervently than ever before.
Here are a few thoughts:
A Radio Program - “Christianity through Jewish Eyes.” To have Jewish people, both Traditional and Believers speak on their impressions of Christianity....Why? Paul tells us in Romans 11:11 that the church, the Body of Messiah (the “Goof-HaMashiach”) after receiving eternal life through Messiah has the responsibility of bringing the blood brothers of Yeshua (Jesus) Himself to a yearning passion for eternal life to flow through their veins. We have not done this. Hence, a radio program examining just how we might move them to envy.
I say then, they did not stumble so as to fall, did they? May it never be! But by their transgression salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make them jealous. (Rom. 11:11 NAS) (emphasis added).
I believe we have missed the mark as Messianic Believers in accomplishing our goal. We cannot see the fruit of Romans 11:11 without the whole family involved. That means Jew and Gentile together. Paul is very clear on whose responsibility it is “to make them jealous.” They have not yet come to this place. I feel with all my heart the role of the Messianic Believer is to make our non-Jewish brothers and sisters aware of how we can bring people of the nations to the profound truth of Zechariah 8:23.
Thus says the Lord of the hosts, In those days ten men from all the
nations will grasp the garment of a Jew saying “let us go with you
for we have heard that God is with you. (Zechariah 8:23 NAS)
and therefore the fruition of Romans 11:11.
A cruise themed “From Rome to Jerusalem” to get deep profound wisdom from anointed teaching to show us exactly what Paul said in Romans 9, 10 and 11 and go to the very place the words were expressed to experience their life. Then from Rome through the Greek Islands where Paul spoke on this very theme. Whilst on board, we will experience two different Passover Seders - the triclinium order (which is the supper Yeshua Himself celebrated) and a good old south Brooklyn Seder (which will give us an insight into the modern-day Sephardic/Ashkenazi frame of mind). Finally, to dock in the port of Haifa and to spend the last three days of this “From Rome to Jerusalem” experience in Israel putting it together and trying to understand why 2000 years has not been enough time to bring the Jewish people into a position of envy and wanting of what we have in Messiah Yeshua.
Yes, there are many ways to do this, but these are only two. Before my accident, Romans 11 was a curiosity. Now it is a matter of life or death.
To produce new music bringing the ancient liturgy of the Jewish people and speaking it into the life of the entire Body of Messiah. I have come to believe that once a song has been written and recorded, it no longer belongs to the author. It belongs to all who hear it. Surely it is part of my responsibility to take these profoundly moving prayers and the music written around them and add to the wealth of a profoundly deepening relationship between Jew and Gentile.
I believe that the “Prayers of Jabez” are correct. I believe in that one moment when I fell and was brushed by the breath of death, it brought me to an understanding of just where this ministry is going. It is not theology. It is not eschatology. It is not religious dogma. It is simply . . . relationships. Relationships between people, relationships between people and the Lord, and relationships between the Lord and people. It is, in fact, what Yeshua and Rabbi Akiva said . . . “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
We need friends. We need you. We need you to believe in the expanding borders of God’s gifts. We need you to intercede, to know that you know that you know that we are now in the reality of a decaying world. The spiritual skies are darkening in and around Jerusalem and she is becoming the heavy stone the Lord talks about in Zech. 12:3.
And it will come about in that day that I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples; all who lift it will be severely injured. And all the nations of the earth will be gathered against it. (Zech. 12:3 NAS).Our sight is blurring with the vision of newspapers and horrific individual attacks on human life. We believe at SIM that these are signs, and we must work ever diligently to bring about the unity of the Body of Messiah in whatever way we can. The term One New Man is almost trite these days -- but the concept will never be. We need each other. The Jews need the Gentiles. The Gentiles need the Jews. In the Spirit we are one; but thank God we maintain a unique individuality through our unity that keeps it interesting, that keeps it beautiful.