America’s most respected and universally known evangelist, Billy Graham was laid to rest March 2nd after passing into glory on February 21, 2018. Graham died in his home at the age of 99, having faithfully served his LORD through six decades. Buried in a simple pine casket made by prison inmates at Louisiana State prison, we cannot recall a more beloved preacher of the Gospel regarded so highly almost universally. Billy Graham was a modest man of great character and integrity.
The outpouring of honor and testimony to Billy Graham’s ministry has cut across all walks of life, from presidents to pastors and has including praise from many Messianic ministers as well. Graham’s body laid in state at the Capitol Rotunda in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, a rare public viewing of a private citizen to be so honored by the federal government.
At Graham’s funeral in Charlotte, North Carolina Graham’s children, three daughters and two spoke in praise of their father, and many have commented that daughter, Anne Graham Lotz’ address was especially powerful. Lotz said, “I believe, from heaven’s perspective, that my father’s death is as significant as his life – and his life was very significant. But I think when he died, that was something very strategic from heaven’s point of view.
“I know that before the foundations of the world were laid that February 21, 2018 was the date that God chose to take my father home. Why? I had a sweet friend who urged me to look that up on the web, so I looked up what was significant about that day and I found that what was significant about that day February 21st, 2018 is that is the date that Jews focus on scripture reading that focuses on the death of Moses.
“Moses was the great liberator. He brought millions of people out of bondage to slavery, got them to the edge of the promised land, and God took him to heaven. And then God brought Joshua to lead them into the promised land and to take them home. My father was also a great liberator. He brought millions of people out of bondage to sin, and gets us to the edge of heaven, the edge of the promised land, and God has called him home.
“And could it be that God is going to bring Joshua into the promised land, to lead us into heaven? Do you know what the New Testament name is for Joshua? It’s Jesus. I believe this is a shot across the bow from Heaven. I believe God is saying: ‘Wake up church! Wake up world! Wake up Anne! Jesus is coming! Jesus is coming!’
“Jesus said in Matthew 24:14 that when the gospel is preached to the whole world, then the end would come.”
Many have commented on the spiritual significance that Anne Graham Lotz saw in the timing of her father’s death and relating that to the Torah reading of the date of Billy Graham’s death.
Many Messianic leaders have also commented on the impact of Billy Graham’s ministry on their own lives. Howard Bass writes from Beer Sheva, “On Friday, I turned on the TV to watch some US news on Fox News. Unexpectedly, I happened to turn it on just as the funeral of Billy Graham was beginning. What a remembrance and a celebration of a life and death given whole-heartedly to the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God!
“What I witnessed on American TV is something that we would never see here in unbelieving Israel: a joyful funeral and the free-flowing testimony in songs and eulogies confessing and proclaiming Jesus! I don’t know how many avowed unbelievers watched the whole funeral ceremony on TV. I expect for some who might have, it could have been uncomfortable, maybe even annoying. But let the Holy Spirit deal with them about that, if so!
“This could be a watershed for the USA, hearing nationwide — and even around the world — the call to repent and to believe the everlasting gospel of salvation and of God’s Kingdom. As Billy Graham’s daughter, Anne Graham Lotz, clearly spoke out to all, including to herself: Wake up, Church; the Lord Jesus Christ is coming again!
“Though most believers seem to ignore, the reestablishment of the Jewish people in the land promised them by God is a time-mark sign which Yeshua gave to His disciples when they asked Him about the end of the age and the fulfillment of all the things He was telling them, leading up to His return.”
Ron Cantor in Tel Aviv also wrote about one of the most power Billy Graham stories he had ever read in his article Billy Graham and the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Cantor relates that he was preparing a message on “A History of the Holy Spirit” when he came across this story about Billy Graham from a book called, A Personal Look at Billy Graham, the World’s Best-loved Evangelist, by Sherwood Eliot Wurt about an experience in 1946 with the Holy Spirit that changed Graham’s life and ministry.
Daniel Juster in Jerusalem wrote of how Billy Graham had impacted his life — he writes, “I am amazed at how much his passing effected me. I did not realize I was so connected to Billy Graham, but it is an important part of my life story.”
Juster writes, ” When my Jewish father died in June 1956, my mother turned to her faith, the Christian faith of her family. We were not raised religiously, but I somehow knew that I was a combination Jew and Protestant, at least by family roots. At least this is what I was told. I was told to be proud of being Jewish!
“In 1957, Billy Graham had his famous meetings at Madison Square Garden and then the huge meeting in Yankee Stadium. My Uncle Ray Christensen was on the board of Billy Graham. My mother would watch most evenings on TV and the greatest moment for her was the singing of George Beverley Shea. She also loved the Cliff Barrows choir numbers. In her grief, Shea was the most comforting voice imaginable. Shea’s daughter was a classmate of mine at college.
“I believe this began to stir an interest in spiritual things that would come to fruition 3 years later. I can well remember walking in the Bronx to Yankee Stadium with my Uncle Ray and the Youth Director of the Reformed Church of Westwood, New Jersey, Rev. Gil Peterson. I worked to keep up with the “men.” The crowd was so enormous. Most of our Norwegian family was there. George Beverley Shea continued in importance, both from future TV broadcasts of new campaigns in new cities and because we bought a record player and would play his LPs vinyl records. We collected most of his records.
“In 1967 I enrolled as a junior at Wheaton College, a philosophy major. One day, we were sitting in Edman Chapel, and Dr. Edmen, the Chancellor and former President from 1940 to 1965 was speaking. He spoke about entering into the presence of the King and the respect we should have when we come to chapel. Then he keeled over and died. 67 times the bell at Blanchard Hall was rung for he was 67 years old.
“Soon after, Billy Graham gave what I considered his greatest sermon in what was then called Edman Memorial Chapel. It was “A Time to be Born and a Time to Die.” Dr. Edman was his mentor and Billy Graham was the most famous graduate of the college. He served on the board until he was old and used to show up with sunglasses, a bit of a disguise so he would not be mobbed by the students.
“I am brought to tears when I think of this great man of integrity. When he said, ‘the Bible says’ with such great confidence, confidence would fill our breasts. No one said ‘the Bible says’ with the authority of Billy Graham. This Messianic Jew is so very thankful for the life of Billy Graham and his effect on my family and on myself.”
This is just a few of the testimonies for the life of a simple country man of God whose integrity is well known that God was able to use him the world over as a mighty witness to the Gospel of Yeshua. Well done, good and faithful servant of God.