We are glad to welcome Dr. Michael Rydelnik to Today in the Word’s Q&A team. His first Q&A column appears in this issue. A scholar specializing in the Hebrew Bible, the history of the Jewish people, the land of Israel, and biblical prophecy, Michael Rydelnik is professor of Jewish Studies at Moody and the host of Open Line on Moody Radio. He has written articles for various publications and several books, including Understanding of the Arab Israeli Conflict: What the Headlines Haven’t Told You and The Messianic Hope. He co-edited the recently released Moody Bible Commentary (Moody Publishers)—a one-volume commentary on the whole Bible written by the faculty of Moody Bible Institute.
Michael and his wife, Eva, live in Chicago’s historic Jewish neighborhood, also one of the most diverse communities in the city. They love Israel and enjoy showing people the Holy Land. Michael’s deep knowledge of the Bible and Israel’s history makes an indelible impression on those who visit the Land with Michael as a guide. His favorite place in Israel is the Western Wall in Jerusalem.
Michael was raised in an observant Jewish home in Brooklyn, New York, and his journey to the saving faith in Jesus the Messiah wasn’t an easy one. Here are the edited excerpts from an article by Jamie Janosz in a recent Moody eNewsletter.
When Michael Rydelnik was a freshman in high school, his mother Ruth made a startling confession: she told her family she believed Jesus was the Jewish Messiah. Michael remembers being furious at his mother for her betrayal of his family’s Jewish heritage. He did not know then that she had been a secret believer in Jesus for many years.
After Hitler came to power in her native Germany and started the persecution of Jews, Michael’s mother found refuge in an orphanage with other children. While the Christian women who ran the orphanage respected the young girl’s Jewish heritage, she came to a personal faith in Jesus the Messiah at age 16. After liberation from a Nazi concentration camp, Ruth worked as a nurse in Berlin, where she met and married Michael’s father. An observant Jewish man, he said she could never tell anyone she was a follower of Jesus. If Ruth did, he vowed to divorce her.
As she grew stronger in her faith, Ruth decided to tell her family she was a believer in Jesus. She needed to be sure that each of her children knew about Jesus. As he had vowed so long ago, her husband divorced her. Her children were also upset by their mother’s surprising revelation. Michael met the woman who was teaching his mom about Jesus and began arguing with her about messianic prophecy. The more they debated, the more Michael studied the Hebrew Bible. And God’s Word began to change his heart and his life: “I became convinced that Jesus was the promised Jewish Messiah and to be a good Jew, I must believe in Him.” Today, looking back at his walk with Jesus, he knows that studying the Word of God offers hope and answers to the Jewish people.