Johann M. Goldberg 1825-1903
born in North Germany, September 15, 1825; nationalistic lecturer 1843-55; baptized in London, April, 1857; U. S. 1859; connected with N. Y. State Colonization Society and A. S. M. C. J.; missionary to Jews in New York, Boston, and Providence, R. I.; died April 4, 1903
Johann Goldberg first heard of Messiah when he and friends visited a Moravian church out of curiosity, in1803. He was deeply touched by all he heard and resolved to visit it often to hear more about God’s love, but eventually his prejudice against Christianity and persistent unbelief in the Old Testament overruled his intentions. In the next years he came in contact with Christians, among them Moravian brethren, but did not yet find peace with God. In 1806 he declined a marriage of convenience that would have set him up for a life of luxury and comfort, and instead married the daughter of Solomon Rubens, a butcher.
Goldberg belonged to a society of modern intellectual Jews in Neuwied, his home city, and wrote for a periodical magazine entitled “Measaph”. His circle of friends was frivolous, and lived for the moment. In later years, as a believer, he had cause to be thankful that the Lord had kept him from falling into gross sin. Many of his experiences had taught him the fear of God, which to a large extent protected him.
A turning point in Goldberg’s life came when tragedy struch the family in 1815. On the day a daughter was born to him, his older child, a four-year old litle girl, suddenly died. At the same time his wife fell seriously ill. He writes of the long weeks he spent by his wife’s bedside: “Placed in a condition of tedious misery and all kinds of sorrow, ad not having a single sympathetic soul to comfort me, I became utterly dejected. I could not thik of God with a feeling heart, and therefore suffered indescribably pangs in body and soul. When once I lay down at midnight and placed my miserable condition vividly before me, a feeling of despair seized me, and I cried out: “Lord, how long?” But immediately God set me up by instilling a beam of hope within my soul, that he would soon deliver me out of my trouble. This new hope revived me, and I felt peace; my wife, also, became better than very night, and felt a refreshing influence. Then I went in a corner, wept and prayed for the help of God in the sense of Psalms 32 and 38, and vowed to the Lord to read again His Word with reverence, and to place myself entirely under His guidance, and to be no longer so distrustful. From this moment another Spirit had the rule over me. Injurious books which had led me to unbelief were laid aside, an the Bible ha a new attaction for me. Now also a longing after the promised Redeemer revived in me. In this manner, He who searches the hearts, and is near to them who seek Him in sincerity, prepared me gradually for the time when He, as the good Shepherd, woud completely open the door to His fold for me, and translate me out of the darkness into His marvellous light.”
Bernstein, A. Jewish Witnesses for Christ. 1909. [Keren Ahvah Meschichit, Jerusalem, new edition 1999] pp. 235-243
Minutes of First Hebrew Christian Conference in USA, MD 1903.