Joseph Wolff, one of the most celebrated, eccentric Messianic Jewish pioneers of the London Society, was famed for his spiritual and geographical journey. Here he arrives in Jerusalem, in the midst of his busy schedule. We will return to his life and travels on other occasions.
Wolff, Joseph. The two great missionary explorers of the nineteenth century were David Livingstone and Joseph Wolff. The labours of the former were chiefly confined to Negro races of the “Dark Continent”; whereas the latter made most extensive journeys amongst the various remnants of the tribes of Israel scattered throughout Africa and Asia. The lives of both these great men touch upon all that is romantic and of thrilling interest in the wide range of exploration, and none the less so because they consecrated themselves to their Master’s service, and, with a consuming zeal for souls, went forth to seek and to save the lost.
Once again, within this Period, Jerusalem was to be visited by Dr. Wolff. On his way out in 1828 he called at the Ionian Islands, arriving at Cephalonia in February of that year.
During his stay he addressed the Jews of the island, on one occasion, in the Lazaretto, where he was in quarantine. He arrived on March 9th at Corfu, where he preached to and called upon Jews. By May he was at Alexandria, and then at Beyrout, hoping to be able to go on to Jerusalem, but the Pasha of Acre refused him permission; and his stay in Syria being attended with considerable danger, he retired to Cyprus.
He then went to Egypt for a time, and eventually arrived at Jerusalem on January 7th, 1829. The rabbi issued an excommunication which prevented the Jews from going to him for four days, but afterward they went “in crowds.” An attempt was made upon his life by a fanatical Greek.
Wolff opened a school and did his utmost to preach to both Jews and Greeks. “I never had,” he wrote on June 1st, “such a trying time during the whole of my missionary labours as I have now. Letters of Jews come against me from Odessa, London, Persia, Constantinople and other places.” He had to depart later in the year.
Prayer: Thanks be to God for the life and ministry of Joseph Wolff, who perhaps more than any other opened up the field of Jewish ministry in the 19th century. A man of his time, yet also a visionary pioneer, you gave him a great sense of calling to share the Good News of the Messiah with all. Despite his own weaknesses you used him, as a ‘jar of clay’, to show the surpassing glory of Yeshua. May we too, despite our weaknesses and eccentritices, be similarly a ‘jar of clay’ in your hands. In Yeshua’s name we pray. Amen.