After reading several books over the years that attempt to identify gentile believers as becoming Israelites, especially using the Genesis 48:19 text as proof that gentiles make up the dispersed of Ephraim, I began to notice that they constantly are referring to us as being grafted “into Israel”, “in Israel”, in one form or another.
This is disconcerting to me. Many, in their effort to do such a masterful job of keeping focusing in developing the accurate typologies in and through the lives of the patriarchs. However, most seem to usually leave the context and get carried away with a romantic look instead of a biblical one.
One author in particular wrote a book in a genuine effort to dispel what Paul refers to as “the mystery of the gospel.” In it the author states masterfully that we gentile believers have covenant rights by adoption as seed in the type found in Genesis 48. Here he interprets the text as prophetically describing the type; (the adopted sons of Jacob/Israel through Ephraim and Manasseh) as representing gentiles ultimately being adopted through Messiah (the adopted son of Joseph, Mary’s husband), into Israel. This, in my opinion, is where the type is being seen as the reality.
Normally these teachers and authors acknowledge the typology seen in Jacob/Israel, Joseph, Ephraim/Manasseh accurately but instead of translating the message into what the typology represents they continue in the typology! I’m not emphatically saying that we believing gentiles are NOT descendants of Ephraim. That may be the case! However, even if that is the case, according to the Scriptures, it is NOT the point!
Since the phrase “mystery of the gospel” is found in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, lets take a few minutes and consider some of the text surrounding that phrase. Specifically, lets see how many times the phrase “in Israel”, “into Israel”, “by Israel” and/or “through Israel” are mentioned in this letter. After doing repeated word searches of the above, I found exactly NONE! Not once does Paul make a reference to the Ephesian believers being found “in, into, by, or through” Israel. He does reference gentile believers as being once separated from “the commonwealth of Israel.” You might want to read my article on commonwealth but even that is in reference to the civil polity of citizenship that would depict their community as what it was supposed to be; a called out people unto Messiah, who serve HIM and not an entity unto itself. So, when Paul suggests in Ephesians that there is a mystery regarding the gospel, he does not disclose that mystery as being found IN any one people group.
However, when doing a similar search in Ephesians using the terms “in, into, by, through” as referenced to YAHUSHA, MESSIAH, (sometimes referenced as god or lord, or Jesus, but His Name is Yahusha) etc, we find this;
“IN YAHSHUA”; 6 reference verses
“IN MESSIAH”; 4 reference verses
“IN YAHSHUA Messiah” 5 reference verses
“IN HIM” 6 reference verses
“THROUGH WHOM” 1 Reference (speaking of Yahshua)
“BY HIM” 2 reference verses
“IN YHWH” 6 reference verses
Lets also do a similar search for the terms “in, into, by, and through” in reference to THE SET APART SPIRIT!
“IN the SPIRIT” 4 reference verses
“THROUGH HIS SPIRIT” 1 Reference
“BY WHOM” 1 Reference (speaking of HIS SPIRIT)
Okay. Now lets add it all up and see what we have;
“IN, INTO, BY, Through” Israel= 0
“IN, INTO, BY, Through” YAHUSHA (in one form or another) = 30
“IN, THROUGH, BY” The SPIRIT = 6
So Paul, in his effort to inform and encourage the Ephesian believers concerning the mystery of the gospel makes 36 references of who it is that they are in, into, by, through. Thirty six references in six chapters is an average of six times per chapter! Six times per chapter Paul reminds them, in one form or another that their identity is IN the Person the types in Torah spoke prophetically of. Paul does not mention the types used to establish the true (maybe say “even once”) one time in his disclosure of the mystery of the gospel to the believers in Ephesus.
Now, here is the kicker! The one reference “of Israel” mentioned regarding the “commonwealth” is offset by:
“OF Messiah” 12 reference verses
“OF YHWH” 17 reference verses
“OF Elohim” 3 reference verses
“OF The SPIRIT” 3 reference verses
That’s another 35 reference verses to THE ONE WHO the type depicted! All total, that is 71 references verses of the total 153 verses in Ephesians! That comes to nearly 12 references per chapter, or almost one reference in every other verse to THE ONE WHO we find our identity in!!!
So, what is my point here? Is it to once again denigrate Israel and exalt a gentile replacement? YHWH FORBID! My point is simply that YHWH had given HIS plan through HIS chosen people. HE typified that plan for those who would be able to see beyond themselves and find their identity IN HIM! Because man has not done very well at remaining focused on the differences between the type and the Point of the type, we find ourselves constantly wrangling about how this or that fits into our theology…
In conclusion, let me summarize;
We have been adopted by THE FATHER into THE Family of YHWH by believing what HE said and did through HIS SON; YAHUSHA.
We prove our adoption by doing the FATHER’S will and are recognized as the brothers and sisters of YAHUSHA, along with all from every nationality who believe and obey what Elohim has said.
We have been given citizenship in the city which comes down from heaven and should not be preoccupied with any earthly city in the meantime… May you prosper, even as your soul prospers!
One of the positions held by some in the Messianic community has its counterpart in some traditional Christian circles; that Yahshua is not Elohim. The only valid discussion of this topic is that Scripture must be the final authority in all matters.
It is good when we can agree with the fact that Scripture is the final authority. Of course the catholic faith believes the pontiff; the Catholic Church has the authority to change the Scripture. But to those who say the Scripture is the final authority in all matters, let us take the thought a little deeper. The question is; do each of us believe that, contextually throughout, it is the unchanging final authority. The problem I see that we as men have is this; we see portions of text and we can’t see how it all fits so we determine there was a change, or in some people’s minds, a contradiction. My basis for exegesis rejects both those thoughts. I believe it is the fault of our human understanding that gets in the way. This is my preface to the discussion.
The Fault is With Us
Hebrews 8 is very telling in this argument. The discussion in the Book of Hebrews has to do with the understanding of men, apart from the Scripture mixed with faith, that the Spirit might reveal Truth. The writer of Hebrews is speaking to Hebrews that profess faith in Yahshua as Messiah but were still stuck on the Aaronic/Levitical priesthood as the object of their faith. They, in their human reasoning, were not looking past the priesthood given at Sinai as a picture of the reality and seeing the Messiah in it. I believe the eternal Priesthood of Messiah Yahshua has always been the authority but men took authority for themselves. The Levitical/Aaronic priesthood was to offer sacrifices and serve in the tabernacle and so by doing those things according to the pattern they would be teaching Torah that would lead the people, and themselves, to Messiah. Faith in Messiah was available then as it is now.
So how does Hebrews 8 speak to this issue? In this; the writer, in contrasting the priesthood of Levi and Aaron with the Priesthood of Messiah says in Verse 8, “Because finding fault with them…” There was a fault at issue here, but not what is commonly taught – a fault with the Torah. Torah is perfect, holy, good, and just. Scripture tells us that and I’m sure, based on our agreement that Scripture is the final authority that we agree on that point. The fault at issue in Hebrews 8 is the priesthood of men and the people’s devotion to that priesthood as opposed to seeing and devoting one’s self to the Great High Priest of Messiah and becoming priests to HIM.
The problem always has been us! That’s why Yahshua is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world – provision made for the lawlessness of men to be reconciled to the Holy Elohim. The fault was with “them.” The fault is with us! The fault was not “it.” HE – Torah is the light that shone to expose the fault in “them.” Thy Word is a light. John 3 says that the light exposes the darkness. And we know from John that HE is that light. So the light is good – the Word, specifically the Torah – The Living Torah. The fault is with frail and lawless humanity who believes that he knows better that Torah. The Torah is the Law and it exposes the lawless. Those who, by grace through faith, become born again are re-born to no longer be lawless or in opposition to Torah – becoming bondservants to righteousness – the Torah.
Who Is Yahshua to You?
Having prefaced what I believe is contextually the basis for our discussion it important to ask yourself these questions: Who is Yahshua to you? If HE is not part of the Elohim, equally Elohim with the Father, and the Holy Spirit, then who is HE? The writer of Hebrews puts forth the case that HE is greater than the priesthood of man and that HE is greater than the angels. Other than angels (both fallen and those still in the service of Yahweh) and men, the only other entity is Elohim. What other category would Messiah fall into, if not men, angels or Elohim? The Scripture rules out men and angels so what’s left?
I’m making an effort to not write a book here – to make this really long, but a look at Hebrews is important. Chapter One says that HE, Messiah, has been appointed heir of all things. HE is the Son of Yahweh, and being the only begotten Son HE has the attributes of Yahweh. Yahweh is Elohim, therefore HIS Son, having the attributes of HIS Father, is equally Elohim, being heir of ALL things. HE “by inheritance” obtained a more excellent name than they (angels). Verse Five tells us that HE was begotten by the Father. Verse Six commands the “angels of Yahweh to worship HIM (the Son). Since worship is only to be given to Elohim – Yahweh, then Yahshua must be the fullness of Elohim. Colossians 2:9 says, “For in HIM dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in HIM, who is the head of all principality and power.” The “Godhead” is speaking of the “divinity” and the Hebraic counterpart can only be Elohim – Yahweh. And since this says “In HIM,” and we know that it is talking about Yeshua, contextually from Colossians 2:8, then the fullness of the Elohim dwells in HIM bodily, and HE, Yeshua – Elohim is the head of ALL principality and power. That would have to make HIM Elohim, and as the writer of Hebrews says, HE is not an angel nor just a man made perfect. HE, Yahshua – Elohim is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the World. HE is not a created being like angels or men. When speaking of Elohim it seems we speak in circles. And in fact we do. Because the Father is Elohim along with the Son and the Holy Spirit, then when we use the Name Yahweh, and Yahshua, and Messiah and Ruach (Set Apart Spirit) in connection with Elohim and that Adonai our Elohim is One, it can make a man’s head spin. That’s because the comprehension of this ONE being present in the three different expressions of Who HE is- is more than our human minds can fathom. It is enough to know that in HIM dwells the fullness of Elohim.
Hebrews 1:8 says “But to the Son HE says, “Your throne O Elohim, is forever and ever.” And in Verse 10, “You, Master (Father still speaking to Son), in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of YOUR hands. They will perish, but YOU remain; and they will grow old like a garment; like a cloak YOU will fold them up, and they will be changed, But YOU are the same, and YOUR years will not fail.”
The language is clear, to me, that Yahshua, being the Son of Elohim is Elohim- The True Living Elohim. The human mind in and of itself cannot understand the Elohim ( Godhead.) So we try to couch HIM in terms that we can understand and it never works. It is like trying to cram a 100 pounds of sand in a 5 pound sack. It won’t fit. This, I admit, is an imperfect illustration. But consider the Scripture that speaks of trying to put new wine into an old wineskin or sewing a new piece on an old piece of fabric – it’s the same thing. You see my human mind cannot understand the Elohim. But the understanding of HIM that we need is through Yahshua who is the pattern. But beyond the pattern HE is the reality. This is contextually, I believe, what Scripture says.
Man’s Faulty Understanding Versus the Truth Written and Revealed by The Holy Spirit
In a recent discussion the beliefs on this subject by two “scholars” were used as evidence that Yahshua is not Elohim. According to William Barclay, (a man I don’t know and don’t know for sure what he believes) “When the world began, the Word was already there. The Word was with God, and the nature of the Word was the same as the nature of God. The Word was there in the beginning with God. It (HE) was through the agency of the Word that everything else came into being. Without the Word not one single thing came into being.” I part company with calling the Word “it.” But the rest of it speaks a powerful Truth that supports the position that I believe is Scripturally accurate. The Word is Yahshua, the Voice of Yahweh, who is Yahweh, who Created everything that has been created and HE is greater than all of creation, being the Creator. Since all is framed on the Word – the Voice of Yahweh, then it is sustained by the same Word – unchanging and reliable from before the foundation of the world – HIS character and nature. Paul says in 1st Corinthians, “For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which Yahshua Messiah.” The lack of a definite article, posited by proclaimed Greek scholars William Barclay and James Moffat, makes the Greek word “theos” of the third phrase of the passage in John 1 to be an adjective. I can’t agree with their conclusion based on the context of Scripture. Regardless of what man says Yahweh says HE is Elohim. I take HIS Word above the word of men. The whole of Scripture says HE is Elohim. The absence of a “definite article” in a couple of sentences in Scripture cannot abrogate the context of Scripture.
When Messiah walked with the two disciples on the Emmaus Road HE declared who HE was to them by Torah and the Prophetic writings.
Let’s examine Isaiah 8:6-7, a prophecy concerning Messiah.
“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon HIS shoulder. And HIS name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of HIS government and peace there will be no end. Upon the throne of David and over HIS kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of Yahweh will perform this.” Isaiah under inspiration of the Holy Spirit said these things.
Peter, in 1st Peter 1:11 says that the prophets (Isaiah included) had the Spirit of Messiah in them. Isaiah having Messiah in HIM – being born again, as Paul said, “Messiah in us, the hope of glory,” speaks of Messiah’s first coming and saying that HE is Mighty God. Messiah didn’t refute HIS divinity and so then how can man? Remember the fault is with us who look for a loophole. And when we divorce the continuity of Scripture, the eternal nature of the unchanging Word and make it subject to our flawed, faulty human understanding, and take portions out of that context we find ourselves not understanding. It is the flesh versus the Spirit battle that is waging continually. The Spirit gives understanding where the flesh in its arrogance opposes the Spirit who wants to write Torah on our hearts, put it in our minds and cause us to walk in HIS commandments. Romans 8, once again is applicable. The flesh CANNOT be subject to Torah. Torah is not of the flesh, and is not abrogated. It is the nature of Elohim and therefore the nature of those who are born again of the Spirit. Born again ones now have a choice that they didn’t have in the pre-born again state; the ability to submit to Torah in the Spirit. The Spirit, like Yahshua, is equally Elohim. Continue reading →
The Flesh’s Inability to Understand and Submit to Torah
Some questions have been raised that are very timely, considering what Yahweh is revealing to us from the Set Apart Scripture. First of all the argument is this; If what we believe is sound and from Scripture then no one can argue against it. And if that which we believe and declare is from the Set Apart Spirit then the scholarship of the flesh can’t answer it, as in the flesh will submit to it. It is right, on the surface, that the flesh can’t answer it and can’t rightly argue against it. But there is a rub to that. Since the flesh CANNOT submit to the Torah (Romans 8) then it will refuse to acquiesce to the Truth even though the Truth is Scripturally irrefutable. The flesh is unable to submit. It is only done when one is willing to admit that ALL men are liars and only the Word of Yahweh is true. And this only happens by taking HIM at HIS Word, doing it, and then recieving understanding. Submission – humbling one’s self must come first.
Test the Spirits – The Replacement Messiah
As for the Holy Spirit’s involvement – 1 John tells us to test the spirits. There is only one way to do that. Everything has to line up with Torah. John says anyone who cannot say that Yahshua came in the flesh is not of Yahweh. The qualifier is; who do you say that Yahshua is? If you say HE is not Elohim then you are not of Yahweh. It has been posited by one writer that Messiah is not the Ancient of Days. Elohim is the Ancient of Days. If HE is equally Elohim – and HE is – then HE is the Ancient of Days. HE was not created, HE is the Creator. John 1 and Colossians 1 are just a couple of places you will find this in Scripture. Furthermore, since HE is Elohim, the Son, who is a Torah keeping Son, submitted to HIS Father, HE could not have changed the Torah or broken Torah. If the messiah you profess came in the flesh broke Torah or set up a system that caused men to believe they can violate the commandments of Torah, then HE is not the Messiah and the one who says he is certainly is not of Yahweh. This is the replacement messiah – anti-messiah (christ).
Resisting the Rhema of the Set Apart Spirit
Stephen told those who were ready to stone him that they resisted the Set Apart Spirit just as their fathers did. They resisted the Spirit’s work – speaking rhema to them – revealing the Truth that was polar opposed to their tradition that they held to tighter than the Truth. Their resistance of the Set Apart Spirit was in their holding on to their tradition and refusing to embrace the Truth – simply taking HIM at HIS Word and doing what HE said. In doing that the resistance to the Set Apart Spirit ceases and HE is free to speak and enable – grace. Rejecting the pure milk of Torah was resisting the Set Apart Spirit and is the spirit of anti-messiah. HE is the goal and purpose of Torah and Torah is the language of the Set Apart Spirit.
Plan A – The Only Plan
The argument from the beginning has been whether man believes what the Creator said or what the enemy has suggested that appeals to the flesh – that wants to be large and in charge. We all suffer with the same malady. Every man, except Yahshua, who has entered into this world, including Adam and Eve, were created with a heart bent on lawlessness. That’s why Yahshua is the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. The plan – the only plan (no plan B – only plan A) is eternal.
Faith Accesses Grace
I can’t make anyone see this. I can’t teach it to anyone. No man can. Revelation can only come by the Set Apart Spirit (1 Peter 1). A man, submitted to the Set Apart Spirit, can only present Scripture and it’s up to the individual to decide to submit to the Torah simply take HIM at HIS Word and do it. That is when the work of the Spirit’s work of grace begins. It is only by doing by faith that grace comes and revelation happens. We are saved by grace THROUGH faith – through believing. Believing in the sense it is presented in the Scripture, cannot be separated from doing. Faith without works is dead. The doer is blessed. Grace only comes through faith. Grace is the enabling to both will and do for HIS good pleasure. If you are waiting to understand the commandments before you submit to them – HIM, then you will never do them. Apart from doing them you will not understand them or HIM. HE is the Torah! Think about it! If you are born again, remember what happened. I will speak for myself. I knew I was in trouble. I was headed down a bad road and was unable to turn around. I knew I was wrong. I didn’t even know why or how, in many ways! But I heard of a Savior named Jesus. I began to look for HIM. After looking for several months HE found me. I embraced HIM, not really knowing anymore about HIM other than I had read and had been told that through HIM I could find eternal life, peace, and my life could turn around. I certainly did not understand HIM. But I took HIM at HIS Word and took the step of faith (believing and doing) and asked HIM to come in and take charge of my life. HE did and I’ve never been the same. I experienced HIM through obedience. At that moment I began to get to know HIM, eventually receiving the revelation, contained in Scripture, that His name is not Jesus (a Greek name), but His name is Yahshua. The intimate relationship with HIM has continued as I continue to know HIM by the same way – I take HIM at HIS Word and purpose to do what HE said and in so doing HE reveals more of HIMSELF to me – more of HIS character and nature. And as HE reveals and as I walk the more I am walking as HE walked. Chicken or egg, egg or chicken, which came first. We can argue that forever, but the thing I see in Scripture is that doing comes first. That is faith, and through faith grace (the divine influence on the heart with the reflection in the life) is accessed and made a reality in and through us.
Torah – The Set Apart Scriptures and The Word of Yahweh
The Truth is this and cannot be argued contextually; Torah is the Set Apart Scripture – the Word of Yahweh. The Prophets and the Writings and the writings of Matthew, Mark, Luke, John, Paul, Peter, James, and Jude simply are showing that Messiah is the reality of the shadow – the Pattern given Moshe on the mountain – while teaching and preaching a return to Torah. This is real repentance. Paul did not deviate from that. When he is read, apart from Torah, his writings become subjective to man’s wisdom. When Paul is checked against Torah, as the Bereans did, by faith in Torah, then it will be seen that Paul was a Torah observant teacher of Torah as Yahshua commanded in Matthew 5, establishing all that HE said in the giving of Torah and forevermore!
Finally, and I know most will not agree with this, but a careful study of Scripture reveals it – Torah was from the beginning. In fact, it preceded the beginning because Torah, the righteous standard of the righteous ONE, is the righteous standard for all men who would be grafted into Messiah! This has been available since creation! Torah means “Instruction.” And He is still giving His children Torah, and it will never deviate from what He gave to Moses, to write down.
The Eternal Priesthood
The priesthood preceded Sinai. The priesthood preceded the Levites and Aaron and his sons. The tabernacle preceded the temple and the Tabernacle preceded the tabernacle. Yahweh does not live in a house built by the hands of any man – not even Solomon! Moshe met the Pattern on the mountain. The Pattern is Yahshua since all the Feasts – the Sabbath included – the tabernacle, the sacrifice, the priesthood are all done according to the Pattern. That’s what Moshe (Moses) was told – to see that everything was done according to the Pattern he was shown on the mountain! The Pattern is eternal – the Pattern is Yahshua, the Lamb slain, the Pattern is Yahweh – the Name of Elohim! All of Torah points to HIM. All of Torah’s purpose and goal is Yahshua, Elohim the Son, who is the Passover Lamb of Yahweh. Since HE was slain from the foundation of the world, being the Passover Lamb, Passover then is according to the eternal pattern – Passover existed in the eternal prior to the shadow given in Exodus! Because of the eternal existence of the shadow, to see the eternal can only be done by practicing the shadow. It is the same for all of Torah!
The Eternal Pattern and The Shadow
The shadow does not replace the Pattern – Messiah. But, by observing the shadow we see clearly who the Messiah is and that is how we know HIM. It is who HE is. Apart from who HE is we CANNOT know HIM! The shadow of the tabernacle, the Aaronic priesthood, and the sacrifice, are now replaced by the Pattern, in that Yahshua has come as Great High Priest, in the Tabernacle not made with human hands, and is the Sacrifice once for all. HE entered into time and space and fulfilled the prophecy concerning HIM. But the shadow of the Feasts, Sabbath and HIS righteousness has not ceased. Studying the Torah, the instructions to build the tabernacle, the instructions for the priesthood, the Torah life of love for HIM and for one another is how we know HIM. We cannot say we love HIM while rejecting HIS commandments. We cannot say we know HIM in rejecting HIS commandments! To love HIM is to love who HE is. To know HIM is to know who HE is. You can’t say you love HIM and know HIM while not loving and practicing what HE does and did.
Messiah Yahshua perfectly obeyed Torah, obeying HIS Father, and completely fulfilling the prophecy concerning HIMSELF. HE stayed true to who HE is. And John enjoins us to “walk as HE walked!” When we walk as HE walked we will know who HE is – we will know HIM and HE will know us. AND when we stand before HIM at the end we will not hear HIM say, “I never knew you, depart from ME you who practice lawlessness.”
In Galatians 6:16, Paul makes a statement, when he refers
to “the Israel of Elohim,” that has caused no small amount of
confusion among believers today. Who are they? And, who
aren’t they? These two questions are what I hope to answer
in this article. In order for me to do that, we must go back
into the history of Israel and find their beginnings. Lets go
back and look at the man that the Israelites, Islamics AND
Christians can all refer to in their ancestry; Abraham.
In this portion of text his name was referred to Abram.
Gen 12:2 “And I shall make you a great nation, and bless you and make your name great, and you shall be a blessing!
Gen 12:3 “And I shall bless those who bless you, and curse him who curses you. And in you all the clans of the earth shall be blessed.”
Notice that he is told to leave:
His country: His homeland, Mesopotamia or Babylon.
His family: His posterity/pedigree and/or blood relatives.
His father’s house: His birthright or inheritance.
Notice that he is promised:
A land that Yahweh will lead him to and give to him.
To be a great nation: A posterity surpassing the onethat he is leaving.
To have a great name: A birthright (name) greater than his own.
Through Abram/Hagar (Egyptian slave) comes the son of the
flesh; Ishmael. Through Abraham/Sarah comes the son of promise; Isaac, his son; Jacob, who was eventually renamed by Yahweh; Israel. The natural tendency is to take the blessing given to Abram is being applicable to the nation Israel, or the descendants of Jacob/Israel. Lets read the blessing again: “I will make you a great nation (Heb:”goy” or non-Jew); I will bless you and make your name great; and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse those who curse you, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
If the application of this blessing is in accordance to
genealogy for the Israelites, why then Yahshua’s words in John
chapter 8:37-45, to the Jewish scribes and Pharisees (who
were claiming that very blessing as a result of them being
Joh 8:37 “I know that you are the seed of Aḇraham, but you seek to kill Me, because My Word has no place in you.
Joh 8:38 “I speak what I have seen with My Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.”
You Are of Your Father the Devil
Joh 8:39 They answered and said to Him, “Aḇraham is our father.”c יהYahshua said to them, “If you were Aḇraham’s children, you would do the works of Aḇraham. Footnote: cSee footnote Mat 3:9, Rom 9:8.
Joh 8:40 “But now you seek to kill Me, a Man who has spoken to you the truth which I heard from Elohim. Aḇraham did not do this.
Joh 8:41 “You do the works of your father.” Then they said to Him, “We were not born of whoring, we have one Father: Elohim.”
Joh 8:42 יYahshua said to them, “If Elohim were your Father, you would love Me, for I came forth from Elohim, and am here. For I have not come of Myself, but He sent Me.
Joh 8:43 “Why do you not know what I say? Because you are unable to hear My Word.
Joh 8:44 “You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you wish to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has not stood in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks the lie, he speaks of his own, for he is a liar and the father of it.
Joh 8:45 “And because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me.
It sure sounds like YAHSHUA is pronouncing a curse on these MESSIAH rejecting Israelites! (“You are of your father the devil!?!”) And this in spite of them attempting to substantiate that Abraham, and ultimately GOD was their father! So, how can the Scriptures be interpreted as saying that EVERYONE born an Israelite is a recipient of the blessings given to Abraham? If they cannot, then WHO are those in line for the blessings promised to Abraham? What do the Scriptures say? Well, looking again at what Yahshua says in John 8 above, we begin to see what the criteria is for receiving the blessing: – Verse 39; “you would do the works of Abraham”
He left his country.
He left his family.
He left his father’s inheritance.
He “obeyed My (Yahweh’s) voice, kept My charge, My Commandments, My statutes, My Laws” (Genesis 26:4).
It doesn’t sound like these scribes/Pharisees realized what it would take for them to receive the blessing given to /
through Abraham. They also would have to:
Leave their country. Meaning that they could not be as devoted to Land/Nation of Israel, as they were supposed to be devoted to YHWH…
Leave their family. (or literally; “to leave one’s pedigree”) No longer could they trust in ancestral lineage for identification, but now would have to leave their family behind and follow YHWH!
Leave their father’s house. Meaning that they would have to detach themselves from their inheritance, their birthright, and start all over!
Obey HIS voice, charge, commandments, statutes and Laws. Meaning that they too would have to reject ANY/ALL “additions to and/or subtractions from” HIS WORD! (i.e. no more Oral Torah and/or Mishnah)
verse 42; “you would love me” (YAHSHUA) By implication; “as your brother” or (fellow Israelite) Leviticus 19:17-18 “You shall not hate your brother in your heart. You shall surely rebuke your neighbor, and not bear sin because of him. 18You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Yahweh.” / 1John 4:20-21 If someone says, “I love Elohim,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, how can he love Elohim whom he has not seen? 21And this commandment we have from Him: that he who loves Elohim must love his brother also.To say that you love Elohim while at the same time being guilty of hating HIS MESSIAH, is NOT consistent with doing “the works that Abraham did!”
verse 43; “you would understand…and listen to My (Y\AHSHUA) Word.”
To say that you love YAHSHUA, while at the same time being guilty of rejecting HIS Word, is NOT
consistent with doing “the works that Abraham did!”
1John 2:3-6 – “1Jn 2:3 And by this we know that we know Him, if we guard His commands.a Footnote: aSee 1Jn 3:6.
1Jn 2:4 The one who says, “I know Him,” and does not guard His commands, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.
1Jn 2:5 But whoever guards His Word, truly the love of Elohim has been perfectedb in him. By this we know that we are in Him.c Footnotes bGen 17:1, Psa 119:1, Mat 5:48. cSee 1Jn 3:24.
1Jn 2:6 The one who says he stays in Him ought himself also to walk, even as He walked.”
So, we see that Yahshua knows who aren’t children of Abraham or children of Elohim. It appears that HIS disciple,
John (by references to his epistle above) knew as well! And Matthew records for us that Yahshua confirms that same
criteria (required of Abraham) again for those who would follow MESSIAH, then and now!
Mat 19:28 And Yahshua said to them, “Truly I say to you, when the Son of Aḏam sits on the throne of His esteem, you who have followed Me in the rebirth, shall also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Yisra’ĕl. Mat 19:29 “And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My Name’s sake, shall receive a hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.
Mat 19:30 “But many who are first shall be last, and the last first.
So, is it safe to assume (based on the writings of Moses, Matthew and John) that unless a person is willing to leave
their citizenship (country), their pedigree (family), their inheritance (father’s house), and their man-made religion,
they not only are NOT doing “the works of Abraham” but they also are not meeting the criteria that Yahsuah established for following HIM? I believe so, at least according to the above Scriptures…
So, who is “the Israel of Elohim” that Paul refers to in Galatians 6:16? The Israel of Elohim are those descendants of
Israel that receive Yahshua as the atoning sacrifice for their sins, who receive the SET APART SPIRIT into their lives
and reject their citizenship in the earthly Jerusalem in exchange for a citizenship in “the NEW Jerusalem coming
down out of heaven from Elohm, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”(Revelation 21:2)
Perhaps you have heard of the term Replacement Theology. However, if you look it up in a dictionary of Church history, you will not find it listed as a systematic study. Rather, it is a doctrinal teaching that originated in the early Church. It became the fertile soil from which Christian anti-Semitism grew and has infected the Church for nearly 1,900 years.
What is Replacement Theology?
Replacement Theology was introduced to the Church shortly after Gentile leadership took over from Jewish leadership. What are its premises?
Israel (the Jewish people and the land) has been replaced by the Christian Church in the purposes of God, or, more precisely, the Church is the historic continuation of Israel to the exclusion of the former.
TheJewish people are now no longer a “chosen people.” In fact, they are no different from any other group, such as the English, Spanish, or Africans.
Apart from repentance, the new birth, and incorporation into the Church, the Jewish people have no future, no hope, and no calling in the plan of God. The same is true for every other nation and group.
Since Pentecost of Acts 2, the term “Israel,” as found in the Bible, now refers to the Church.
The promises, covenants and blessings ascribed to Israel in the Bible have been taken away from the Jews and given to the Church, which has superseded them. However, the Jews are subject to the curses found in the Bible, as a result of their rejection of Christ. If you hear a Christian, a minister, or a Church doctrine that ascribes to one of these points, then knowingly or unknowingly they have swallowed the Replacement Theology pill. I say unknowingly because the doctrine is so systemic, most Christians have been brought up in it and hove no idea that these premises are contrary to Scripture.
How do Replacement Theologians argue their case? They say:
(Note: I have added my rebuttal to each of their points.)
Rebuttal: Later, in this Teaching Letter, we will look at the fact that the New Testament references to Israel early pertain to Israel, not the Church. Therefore, no promise to Israel and the Jewish people in the Bible is figurative, nor can they be relegated to the Church alone. The promises and covenants are literal, many of them are everlasting, and we Christians can participate in them as part of our rebirth, but we shouldn’t consider that we have taken them over to the exclusion of Israel. The New Testament speaks of the Church’s relationship to Israel and her covenants as being “grafted in” (Rom. 11:17), “brought near” (Eph. 2:13), “heirs” (Gal. 3:29), “Abraham’s offspring (by faith)” (Rom. 4:16), and “partakers” (Rom. 15:27), NOT as usurpers of the covenant and a replacer of physical Israel. We Gentile Christians joined into what God had been doing in Israel, and God did not break His covenant promises with Israel (Rom. 11:29). From the time of Genesis, God’s goal has been the redemption of the world. God created man to be in close fellowship with Him, as seen in the Garden of Eden. However, because of our sin, we have separated ourselves from Him, and we are in need of His forgiveness to be in His Presence. God’s efforts throughout history is like a Redemption Train,” that has been traveling through time, collecting passengers who get on board by doing it God’s way. God is the engineer of this train; His Holy Spirit is the power and life moving it forward, touching hearts and calling people along the way; and we Christians believe that Yeshua, the Messiah, is the conductor who makes the way for people to get on board. Of course, God is One God, and He is doing all of this for us humans because He loves us. As fellow passengers, we have no right to judge or decide who is on the train and who is not. That is God’s decision according to His plan and promises. His instructions in the Bible are quite clear. It is up to us to understand them and be obedient to them in order to gain access to board the train. Yeshua said, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life; no man comes to the Father but by Me” (Jn. 14:6). There is no other way apart from Yeshua. And, we know from Romans 11:28-29 that God loves His covenant people, Israel, and He is calling them to repentance, just as He is calling the Gentile world. Moreover, Yeshua Himself made it clear that He came for the whole House of Israel, to the Jew first, and
then the Gentile (Matt. 10:6, 15:24; Rom. 1:16). There is not a dual covenant. God’s promises in the Bible for Israel and the Church are inclusionary, not exclusionary, and open to any and all who understand God’s plan and purpose. No one is prevented from getting on God’s “Redemption Train,” if they do it His way.
2. To be a son of Abraham is to have faith in Jesus Christ. For them, Galatians 3:29 shows that sonship to Abraham is seen only in spiritual, not national terms: “And if you be Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” Rebuttal: While this is a wonderful inclusionary promise for Gentiles, this verse does not exclude the Jewish people from their original covenant, promise and blessing as the natural seed of Abraham. This verse simply joins us Gentile Christians to what
God had already started with Israel.
3. The promise of the land of Canaan to Abraham was only a “starter.” The real promised Land is the whole world. They use Romans 4:13 to claim it will be the Church that inherits the
world, not Israel. “For the promise that he should be the heir of the world was not to Abraham, or to his seed, through the law, but through the righteousness of faith.” Rebuttal: Where does this verse exclude Abraham and His natural prodigy, the Jews? It simply says that through the law alone, they would not inherit the world, but they would acquire it through faith. This is also true of the Church. This can be confirmed by Romans 4:16, which says, “Therefore, the promises come by faith, so that it may be by grace, and may be guaranteed to all Abraham’s offspring – not only to those who are of the law, but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham. He is the father of us all.”
4. The nation of Israel was only the seed of the future Church, which would arise and incorporate people of all nations (Mal. 1:11): “For from the rising of the sun, even unto the going down of the same, My Name shall be great among the nations, and in every place, incense shall be offered to My Name, and a pure
offering for My Name shall be great among the nations, says the Lord of Hosts.” Rebuttal: This is great, and shows that the Jewish people and Israel fulfilled one of their callings to be “a light to the nations,” so that God’s Word has gone around the world. It does not suggest God’s dealing with Israel was negated because His Name spread around the world.
5. Jesus taught that the Jews would lose their spiritual privileges, and be replaced by another people (Matt. 21:43): “Therefore I am saying to you, ‘The kingdom of God will be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits of it.’” Rebuttal: In this passage, Jesus was talking about the priests and Pharisees, who failed as leaders of the people. This passage is not talking about the Jewish people or nation of Israel.
6. A true Jew is anyone born of the Spirit, whether he is racially Gentile or Jewish (Rom. 2:28-29): “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision which is outward in the flesh; But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God.” Rebuttal: This argument does not support the notion that the Church replaced Israel. Rather, it simply reinforces what had been said throughout the Hebrew Scriptures [the Old Testament], and it certainly qualifies the spiritual qualifications for Jews or anyone who professes to be a
follower of the God of Israel.
7. Paul shows that the Church is really the same “olive tree” as was Israel, and the Church is now the tree. Therefore, to distinguish between Israel and the Church is, strictly speaking, false. Indeed, people of Jewish origin need to be grafted back into the Church (Rom 11:17-23). Rebuttal: This claim is the most outrageous because this passage clearly shows that we Gentiles are the “wil d olive branches,” who get our life from being grafted into the olive tree. The tree represents the covenants, promises and hopes of Israel (Eph. 2:12), rooted in the Messiah and fed by the sap, which represents the Holy Spirit, giving life to the Jews (the “natural branches”) and Gentile alike. We Gentiles are told to remember that the olive tree holds us up and NOT to be arrogant or boast against the “natural branches” because they can be grafted in again. The olive tree is NOT the Church. We are simply grafted into God’s plan that preceded us for over 2,000 years.
How did the position of the early Church Fathers affect the Church?
Let us look at a brief history of the first four centuries of Christianity, which established a “legacy of hatred” towards the Jewish people, which was against the clear teaching of the New Testament.
(For a complete history of Christian anti-Semitism, send the equivalent of US$1 to your nearest BFP National Office and ask for a copy of the Israel Teaching Letter (#779806), “Where Was Love and Mercy,” or download a copy from our Bridges for Peace website, found under the Israel Teaching Letters button at www.bridgesforpeace.com This teaching is also a chapter of my book, Lessons From the Land of the Bible with 13 other great teachings including “Lessons from the Olive Tree,” which can be ordered from your nearest BFP national office.)
In the first century AD, the church was well connected to its Jewish roots, and Jesus did not intend for it to be any other way. After all, Jesus is Jewish and the basis of His teaching is consistent with the Hebrew Scriptures. In Matthew 5:17-18 He states: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” Before the First Jewish Revolt in AD 66, Christianity was basically a sect of Judaism, as were the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes.
Separation between Judaism and Christianity began as a result of religious and social differences. According to David Rausch in his book, A Legacy of Hatred, there were several contributing factors:
the Roman intrusion into Judea, and the widespread acceptance of Christianity by the Gentiles, complicated the history of Jewish Christianity;
the Roman wars against the Jews not only destroyed the Temple and Jerusalem, but also resulted in Jerusalem’s relinquishing her position as a centre of Christian faith in the Roman world; and,
the rapid acceptance of Christianity among the Gentiles led to an early conflict between the Church and Synagogue. Paul’s missionary journeys brought the Christian faith to the Gentile world, and as their numbers grew, so did their influence, which ultimately disconnected Christianity from its Jewish roots. Many Gentile Christians interpreted the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem as a sign that God had abandoned Judaism, and that He had provided the Gentiles freedom to develop their own Christian theology in a setting free from Jerusalem’s influence. Could it be He was showing us that Temple worship was no longer necessary as His Holy Spirit now resides in us (I Cor. 6:19), not in the Holy of Holies? After the Second Jewish Revolt (AD 133-135) put down by the Roman Emperor Hadrian, theological and political power moved from Jewish Christian leaders to centres of Gentile Christian leadership such as Alexandria, Rome, and Antioch. It is important to understand this change, because it influenced the early Church Fathers to make anti-Jewish statements as Christianity began to disconnect itself from its Jewish roots. As the Church spread far and wide within the Roman Empire, and its membership grew increasingly non-Jewish, Greek and Roman thought began to creep in and completely change the orientation of Biblical interpretation through a Greek mindset, rather than a Jewish or Hebraic mindset. This would later result in many heresies, some of which the Church is still practicing today.
Once Christianity and Judaism began to take separate paths, the chasm became wider and wider. Judaism was considered a legal religion under Roman law, while Christianity, a new religion, was illegal. As Christianity grew, the Romans tried to suppress it. In an attempt to alleviate this persecution, Christian apologists tried in vain to convince Rome that Christianity was an extension of Judaism. However, Rome was not convinced. The resulting persecutions and frustration of the Christians bred an animosity towards the Jewish community, which was free to worship without persecution. Later, when the Church became the religion of the state, it would pass laws against the Jews in retribution. The antagonism of the early Christians towards the Jews was reflected in the writings of the early Church Fathers. For example, Justin Martyr (c. AD 160) in speaking to a Jew said: “The Scriptures are not yours, but ours.” Irenaeus, Bishop
of Lyon (c. AD 177) declared: “Jews are disinherited from the
grace of God.” Tertullian (AD 160-230), in his treatise, “Against
the Jews,” announced that God had rejected the Jews in favour of the Christians. In the early 4th century, Eusebius wrote that the promises of the Hebrew Scriptures were for Christians and not the Jews, and the curses were for the Jews. He argued that the Church was the continuation of the Old Testament and thus superseded Judaism. The young Church declared itself to be the true Israel, or “Israel according to the Spirit,” heir to the divine promises. They ound it essential to discredit the “Israel according to the flesh” to prove that God had cast away His people and transferred His love to the Christians. At the beginning of the 4th century, a monumental event occurred for the Church, which placed “the Church Triumphant” over “Vanquished Israel.” In AD 306, Constantine became the first Christian Roman Emperor. At first, he had a rather pluralistic view and accorded Jews the same religious rights as Christians. However, in AD 321, he made Christianity the official religion of the Empire to the exclusion of all other religions. This signaled the end of the persecution of Christians, but the beginning of discrimination and persecution of the Jewish people.
Already at the Church Council in Elvira (Spain) in AD 305, declarations were made to keep Jews and Christians apart, including ordering Christians not to share meals with Jews, not to marry Jews, not to use Jews to bless their fields, and not to observe the Jewish Sabbath. Imperial Rome, in AD 313, issued the Edict of Milan, which granted favour to Christianity, while outlawing synagogues. Then, in AD 315, another edict allowed the burning of Jews if they were convicted of breaking the laws. As Christianity was becoming the religion of the state, further laws were passed against the Jews:
The ancient privileges granted to the Jews were withdrawn.
Rabbinical jurisdiction was abolished or severely curtailed.
Proselytism to Judaism was prohibited and made punishable by death.
Jews were excluded from holding high office or a military career.
These and other restrictions were confirmed over and over again by various Church Councils for the next1,000 years.In AD 321, Constantine decreed all business should cease on “the honoured day of the sun.” By substituting Sunday for Saturday as the day for Christian worship, he further advanced the split. This Jewish Shabbat/Christian Sunday controversy also came up at the first real ecumenical Council of Nicea (AD 325), which concluded Sunday to be the Christian day of rest, although it was debated for long after that. Overnight, Christianity was given the power of the Imperial State, and the emperors began to translate the concepts and claims of the Christian theologians against the Jews and Judaism into practice. Instead of the
Church taking this opportunity to spread its Gospel message in love, it truly became the Church Triumphant, ready to vanquish its foes. After 321, the writings of the Church Fathers changed in character. No longer was it on the defensive and apologetic, but aggressive, directing its venom at everyone “outside of the flock,” in particular the Jewish people who could be found in almost every community and nation. During this period,
we find more examples of anti-Jewish bias in Church literature written by church leaders:
Hilary of Poitiers (AD 291-371) wrote: “Jews are a perverse people accursed by God forever.” – Gregory of Nyssa (died AD 394), Bishop of Cappadocia: “the Jews are a brood of vipers, haters of goodness…” – St. Jerome (AD 347-407) describes the Jews as “… serpents, wearing the image of Judas, their psalms and prayers are the braying of donkeys.”
At the end of the 4th century, the Bishop of Antioch, John Chrysostom (Golden Tongued), the great orator, wrote a series of eight sermons against the Jews. He had seen Christians talking with Jewish people, taking oaths in front of the Ark, and some were keeping the Jewish feasts. He wanted this to stop. In an effort to bring his people back to what he called, “the true faith,” the Jews became the whipping boy for his sermon
series. To quote him, “the synagogue is not only a brothel and a theatre; it is also a den of robbers and a lodging for wild beasts. No Jew adores God… Jews are inveterate murderers, possessed by the devil, their debauchery and drunkenness gives them the manners of the pig. They kill and maim one another…”
One can easily see that a Judeo-Christian who wanted to hold on to his heritage, or a Gentile Christian who wanted to learn more about the parent faith of Christianity, would have found it extremely difficult under this pressure. Chrysostom further sought to separate Christianity totally from Judaism. He wrote in his 4th Discourse, “I have said enough against those who say they are on our side, but are eager to follow the Jewish
rites… it is against the Jews that I wish to draw up my battle… Jews are abandoned by God and for the crime of deicide, there is no expiation possible.” Chrysostom was known for his fiery preaching against what he saw as threats to his flock, including wealth, entertainment, privilege and outward adornment. However, his preaching against the Jewish community, which he believed had a negative influence on Christians, is inexcusable and blatantly anti-Semitic in its content. Another unfortunate contribution Chrysostom made to Christian anti-Semitism was to hold the whole Jewish people culpable for the killing of Christ. In the fifth century, the burning question was: If the Jews and Judaism were cursed by God, then how can you explain their existence? Augustine tackled this issue in his “Sermon Against the Jews.” He asserted that even though the Jews deserved the most severe punishment for having put Jesus to death, they have been kept alive by Divine Providence to serve, together with their Scriptures, as witnesses to the truth of Christianity. Their existence was further justified by the service they rendered to the Christian truth, in attesting through their humiliation, the triumph of the Church over the Synagogue. They were to be a “Witness people” – slaves and servants who should be humbled.
The monarchs of the Holy Roman Empire thus regarded the Jews as serfs of the chamber (servi camerae), and utilized them as slave librarians to maintain Hebrew writings. They also utilized the services of Jews in another enterprise – usury, or money lending. The loaning of money was necessary to a growing economy. However, usury was considered to endanger the eternal salvation of the Christian, and was thus forbidden.
So, the church endorsed the practice of lending by Jews, for according to their reasoning, their Jewish souls were lost in any case. Much later, the Jewish people were utilized by the Western countries as trade agents in commerce, and thus we see how the Jewish people found their way into the fields of banking and commerce.
So, by the Middle Ages, the ideological arsenal of Christian anti-Semitism was completely established. This was further manifested in a variety of precedent-setting events within the Church, such as Patriarch Cyril, Bishop of Alexandria, expelling the Jews and giving their property to a Christian mob. From a social standpoint, the deterioration of the Jewish position in society was only beginning its decline. During this early
period, the virulent judeophobia was primarily limited to the clergy who were always trying to keep their flocks away from the Jews. However, later, the rank and file, growing middle class would be the main source of anti-Semitic activity.
The result of these anti-Jewish teachings continued onwards throughout Church history, manifesting itself in such events and actions as the Crusades, the accusation of communion host desecration and blood libel by the Jews, the forced wearing of distinguishing marks to ostracize them, the Inquisition, the displacement of whole Jewish communities by exile or separate ghettoes, the destruction of synagogues and Jewish books, physical persecution and execution, the Pogroms. Ultimately, the seeds of destruction grew to epic proportions, culminating in the Holocaust, which occurred in “Christian” Europe. Had the Church understood the clear message of being grafted into the Olive Tree from the beginning, then the sad legacy of anti-Semitic hatred from the Church may have been avoided. The error of Replacement Theology is like a cancer in the Church that has not only caused it to violate God’s Word concerning the Jewish people and Israel, but it made us into instruments of hate, not love in God’s Name.
Is the New Testament anti-Semitic?
Was it Intended That the Church Treat the Jewish People with
While the New Testament has been used by Gentile anti-Semites, even within the Church, the writers of the
New Testament were Jewish, and therefore their arguments, even critical ones, were from the vantage point of being an intra-communal debate, not inter-communal accusation. Even where the criticism is harsh, it is directed towards a particular group or sect of Jews because of their practices, which needed correcting. For example, even though Yeshua spoke harshly to the Pharisees, He nevertheless said of them, “The teachers of
the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach” (Matt: 23:2-3). He was distressed that they were “missing the mark” in their self-righteousness, which is something all of us need to be careful of doing.
The clear teaching of the New Testament is that the Church was and is to love and honour the Jewish people. In Ephesians 2:11-18, we are told that “by the blood of Messiah,” we Gentiles are “made near” to the commonwealth of Israel, the covenants, promises and hopes given to Israel. In Romans 11:11-12, 25, we are told that “blindness in part” has come to the Jews so that the message would be forced out into the nations. Nevertheless, we are told that a time would come when “all Israel would be saved” (v. 26), because the gifts and callings of God towards Israel and the Jewish people were given without repentance (v. 29). God’s relationship with Israel and the Jewish people is everlasting.
We Gentile Christians are told that the Jews are “beloved for the sake of the Patriarchs” (Rom. 11:28). They are a chosen people who fulfilled their calling and brought the Gospel to the world. They were chosen to:
Be obedient to God’s Word and demonstrate to the world as “a light to the nations.”
Hear God’s Word and record it – the Bible.
Be the human channel for the Messiah.
The Jewish people have fulfilled their role. The promise to the world through Abraham was that, “in you will all the nations on the earth be blessed” (Gen. 12:3). They were to be a light unto the nations and, while they made mistakes as we all do, they did demonstrate the power of God on earth, they did hear God’s Word and record it so that we have the Bible, and they were the human channel for the Messiah, who was born, ministered, died, rose from the dead, ascended to heaven and will return to Jerusalem, Israel, in a day yet to come.
God made an everlasting covenant between the land of Israel and the Jewish people that must be fulfilled and completed or His Word, the Bible, will be proven a lie, which it is not. God will never forget or annul His ancient people. If God will not fulfil His promises to Israel, what guarantee do we have that He will fulfil His promises to the Church? (See Jeremiah 31:35-37).
Are Jews, Jews, and is Israel, Israel in the New Testament?
Do They Still Have a Covenant with God?
ABSOLUTELY. THE BIBLE IS CLEAR ON THIS.
The Jews are Israelites, not Gentiles (Rom. 9:4).
To Israel still belong the sonship, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, the worship and the promises (Rom. 9:4).
The gifts and calling of God for Israel are irrevocable (Rom. 11:29).
There are 77 references to Israel in the NT and none of them refer to the Church. Try replacing the words, “the Church,” where Israel is mentioned and the passage is rendered unreadable and silly, e.g., Rom. 10:1, “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved.” If you put “the Church” where Israel is mentioned, then it is redundant. The Church is the body of saved believers, so how could Paul’s prayer be for the Church to be saved?
Psalm 105 has a sevenfold affirmation of God’s promises of Canaan to Abraham. This is an everlasting promise, as was Genesis 12:1-3.
Jeremiah 31:35-37 speaks of the everlasting nature of God’s promises to and for Israel, the Jewish people, which is as sure as the sun that shines by day and the moon and stars that glow in the night.
The end-time prophecies, which speak of the return of the House of Jacob to their land (Israel) and its restoration, have overwhelmingly been fulfilled in Israel and the Jewish people in the past 120 years. (See, Isa. 11:11-12; Eze. 37:1-14; Eze. 36; Eze. 35:1, Isa. 43:5,6; Jer. 16:14-16; Isa. 60:9-11; Isa. 49:22-23, etc.).
The Gospel and Yeshua came “to the Jews first, then the Greek” (Rom. 2:9,10; Matt:10:5-7;15:24). There is a distinction in roles between the two. Galatians 3:28 says: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” This is speaking of everyone’s standing before God as equals, because we are all sinners saved by God’s grace and the atoning work on the Cross. Nevertheless, our roles here on earth are definitely distinct; e.g., men and women, mothers and fathers, husbands and wives, etc. all have distinct roles to play. Likewise, Jews and Gentiles have distinct roles to play.
What is the Role of the Church?
“On this rock I will build My Church, and the gates of Hell will not overcome it” (Matt. 16:18). The Church is built on the testimony and understanding of Peter, who is Jewish, that Yeshua was the Messiah. Ephesians 2:11-14 indicates that Israel and the Jews (we) were chosen, but Gentiles (you) were also included.
The Church is related to Israel and partakers of the covenants, promises, and hopes, but we have not been called to usurp them. Our relationship is as “grafted in” (Rom. 11:17); “brought near” (Eph 2:13); “Abraham’s offspring” (by faith) (Rom. 4:16); “heirs” to Abraham’s promise as adopted sons (Gal. 3:29) and “partakers” (Rom 15:27).
To the world, the Church is called to preach the Gospel to all nations and make disciples (Matt. 28:19-20); to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength; and to love our neighbour as ourselves (Mk. 12:30-31).
To the Jewish people, we are called to show God’s love “for the sake of the Patriarchs” (Rom. 11:28), for without them we would not have had God’s Word or our Saviour who was a Jew from Israel. We are to show God’s mercy (Rom. 11:31). We are to give our material gifts to help them (Rom. 15:27). We are to pray for them and for Israel (Ps. 122:6). We are to be watchman on the walls to protect them (Isa. 62:6,7). We are to help with the aliyah (immigration) to Israel and the building up of Zion (Isa. 60:9-11; Jer. 16:14-16; Isa. 49:22-23).
According to Romans 11, we are two distinct groups, both grafted into the same tree, which are the covenants and promises given to Israel; grounded in the same root, the Messiah; drinking of the same sap, God’s Holy Spirit. We do not hold up the tree, but the tree holds us up, and we are forbidden from boasting against or being arrogant to God’s covenant people the Jews (Rom. 11:17-18).
What Happens When the Church Replaces Israel?
When the Church chooses to replace Israel and the Jewish people in God’s eternal plans, the result is negative:
The Church becomes arrogant and self-centred.
It boasts against the Jews and Israel.
It devalues the role of Israel or has no role for Israel at all.
These attitudes result in anti-Semitism in word and deed
Without a place for Israel and the Jewish people today, you cannot explain the Bible prophecies, especially the very specific ones being fulfilled in Israel today.
Many New Testament passages do not make sense when the Jewish people are replaced by the Church.
You can lose the significance of the Hebrew Scriptures, the Old Testament, for today. Many Christians boast of being a New Testament (NT) Christian or a NT Church as in the Book of Acts. However, the Bible of the early Church was not the New Testament, which did not get codified until the 4th century, but rather the Hebrew Scriptures.
You can lose the Hebraic/Judaic contextualization of the New Testament, which teaches us more about Yeshua and how to become better disciples.
The Church loses out on the opportunity to participate in God’s plan and prophecy for the Church, Israel and the world today.
What Happens When the Church Relates to Israel?
When the Church chooses to relate to Israel and the Jewish people in God’s eternal plans, the result is positive:
The Church takes its proper role in God’s redemptive plan for the world, appreciating God’s ongoing covenant relationship and love for Israel and the Jewish people.
We can see the consistency of God’s redemptive plan from Genesis to Revelation as an ongoing complementary process, not as disconnected snapshots.
We show love and honour for God’s covenant people, not contempt.
We value the Old and New Testaments as equally inspired and significant for the Church today.
Bible prophecy makes sense for today and offers opportunities for involvement in God’s plan for Israel.
We become better disciples of Yeshua as we are able to appreciate the Hebraic/Judaic roots that fill in the definitions, concepts, words and events in the New Testament that are otherwise obscured. Why? Many were not explained by the Jewish writers of the New Testament, because they did not feel the need to fill in all the details that were already explained in the Old Testament.
Had the Church understood this very clear message from the beginning, then the sad legacy of anti-Semitic hatred from the Church may have been avoided. The error of Replacement Theology is like a cancer in the Church that has not only caused it to violate God’s Word concerning the Jewish people and Israel, but it made us into instruments of hate, not love in God’s Name. Yet, it is not too late to change our ways and rightly relate to the Jewish people and Israel today. Through Bridges for Peace you can read, study and learn more, and also give to demonstrate God’s exhortation to us to bless His Covenant People, whom He still loves. Not only do we need to learn and do for ourselves, but we need to teach others so as to counteract the historical
error that has been fostered in the Church for nearly 2,000 years. Thank God, He is a God of mercy, redemption and second chances.
Shalom from Jerusalem,
Last month, we explored the first 1,000 years of Christian history in relation to the Jewish people and Israel. What we discovered wasn’t a pretty picture! And, it only became worse. While the first 1,000 years displayed judeophobia, it was primarily limited to the clergy who were always trying to keep their flocks away from the Jews. However, later, the rank and file, growing middle class would be the main source of anti-Semitic activity, spurred on by the Church and its edicts. The pattern had been set.
This month, let’s consider these questions:
Why did historical events such as the Crusades and the Inquisition ultimately focus on persecuting Jews?
Did you know that Martin Luther was sympathetic toward the Jewish people in his early years and then became the source of vile anti-Semitism in his later years?
Did you know that Adolph Hitler found precedent for his evil actions against the Jewish people right out of the annals of Church history?
What can we do to change the last 1,800 years of historical anti-Jewish attitudes and actions of the Church? So, let’s continue our pilgrimage on this trail of contempt.
The First Crusade began in the year 1096. This was a period of strife for the WesternChurch. There were two Popes, one considered an anti-Pope who was claiming the position. When one died, the other, Urban II, needed a unifying cause. So, he called for a Crusade, or Holy War, against the Moslems in the Holy Land, who were persecuting Christians and desecrating the holy places and Jerusalem. In the summer of 1096, an undisciplined rabble of 200,000 peasants and artisans assembled in France. However, there were no Moslems near at hand. So the “champions of the cross” turned their attention to the Jews, who, in their eyes, were just as much “infidels” and enemies of Christianity as the Moslems. They found they could begin the Crusade on the spot. Cruelty, instead of charity, began at home.
As the Crusaders marched through Europe on their way to the Holy Land, they literally raped, pillaged and plundered the Jewish communities along the way. Faced with the wild cries of the Crusaders, “The Jews crucified our Savior, and they must return to Him or die,” the Jews had the alternative of baptism or death. Thousands preferred the death of martyrs. While the Church did not officially sanction this activity, it nevertheless took place with very little to stop it. Many local clergymen and bishops did give some Jews protection and refuge from the rabble. Unfortunately, others actually participated in the executions.
For example, at Mainz, in Germany, the Archbishop invited 1,300 Jews into his palace for refuge. This proved to be an invitation to slaughter, for under his supervision, they were all killed. He even shared in the spoils confiscated from the corpses. Incidentally, Emperor Henry IV heard of this massacre, confiscated the property of the Archbishop, and permitted the Jews who had been forcibly baptized in his realm to return to Judaism. When the Crusaders finally arrived in Jerusalem three years later, they were 600,000 strong. They besieged the city and on July 15, 1099, broke through the walls. They killed the Moslems in the city, along with many Christians whom they mistook for Moslems because of their Middle Eastern appearance. The herded the Jews into their synagogues. Crusaders with shields decorated with large crosses placed wood around the synagogues and burned alive all inside as they sang, “Christ, We Adore Thee!”
Is it any wonder that, for the Jewish people, the cross is a symbol of hatred and death, not love, reconciliation and salvation? The cross has literally been taken and used as a sword against the Jewish people. In all, there were nine Crusades. The last was in 1291, when the Moslems once again took possession of the Holy Land.
The Fourth Lateran Council
In 1215, the Fourth Lateran Council of the Church was held. During this council, the doctrine of Transubstantiation was crystallized. Transubstantiation is the doctrine that the flesh and blood of Christ becomes present in the consecrated host (bread) and wine. This doctrine is still believed in the Catholic Church today. This doctrine, together with other statements of the Fourth Lateran Council, became a new source of Christian anti-Semitism.
Host Desecration: For centuries to follow, accusations of host desecration by Jews were circulated. The “Host Desecration Libel” is that the Jewish people would try to steal a consecrated host and then stab, torment, and burn it in an effort to recrucify Christ. Many illustrated stories showing this fabricated phenomenon were circulated, particularly in Germany, during the 1400s and 1500s. This teaching is not dead. Let me share a personal example. In the mid-1970s, the children of a Catholic friend came home from a parochial school (in Boston, MA) with this story told them by a nun trying to teach them respect for the communion host (bread wafer): “A Catholic boy and a Jewish boy went into a Catholic church, and the Jewish boy talked the Christian boy into stealing a communion host. They took it home and went into a closet and stuck it with a pin. The host began to bleed, filled up the closet with blood, and drowned the boys!” This is a variation of the old blood libel charge, particularly since the culprit in the story is a Jew.
Blood Libel: An offshoot of the host desecration libel is the “blood libel.” The blood libel contends that Jews murder non-Jews, particularly Christians, in order to obtain blood for the Passover or other rituals. It was also purported that Jews needed to drink Christian blood so that their appearance could remain human looking, and Christian blood would also help eliminate the distinctive foetor judaicus, “Jewish smell,” which was converse to the “odor of sanctity” possessed by Christians. Another version of this accusation is that Jews would kidnap Christian babies, kill them, and grind up their bodies to cook in their matza (unleavened bread) for Passover. These libels are easily refuted when one has only the slightest understanding of Jewish dietary laws. Jewish people are forbidden to eat the blood of any animal, much less human blood or flesh. The fact that such a doctrine could come into being shows complete contempt and ignorance of Jewish lifestyle, and the lack of any Christian-Jewish relations and dialogue. Again, these accusations can still be found today. Not too many years ago, a young boy was kidnapped in a town north of Minneapolis. JoAnn Magnuson, our BFP Education Director in the US, has a copy of a flyer that was put on windshields in the area claiming that Jews had kidnapped the child for their Passover rituals. It sounds absurd that such a thing could be claimed in the 1990s, but anti-Semitism does not die an easy death.
Distinguishing Marks: Another canon promulgated by the Fourth Lateran Council required Jews to wear a distinguishing mark. The form of the mark varied in different countries, but usually took the form of a badge, or a three-cornered or pointed hat. In this way, Christians could be sure not to inadvertently come into contact with Jewish people. Even in Medieval art, Jews were depicted in paintings and woodcuts with a circle on their clothing or wearing pointed hats. It is important to realize that during this period, many lay and ecclesiastical authorities tried to protect the Jewish community from persecution. Much of the anti-Semitism was now promoted by a rising middle-class. However, the attitudes were based on Church teaching of the past.
The next historical event to blemish world history is the infamous Inquisition promoted by the Church in Spain and Portugal. According to Canon Law, the Inquisition was not authorized to interfere in the internal affairs of the Jews, but to seek out Christian heretics who had backslidden. However, this law was rescinded on the grounds that the presence of Jews caused heresy to develop in the Christian communities.
In the mid-1400s, the Spanish Inquisition began to identify and prosecute backsliders in the Church. It then spread to the Jewish community. Its first focus was the tens of thousands of Jews who had been forced to be baptized. These baptized Jews were known as Conversos or New Christians. Because of this, they were considered Christians and expected to behave as Christians, even though conversion was not their choice. If a mouse is caught in a cookie jar, this does not make him a cookie. So too, force-baptizing anyone does not make him a Christian. Many of these New Christians took upon themselves a Christian facade in order to live and work in the Christian society of Spain and Portugal.
Others did not, and were persecuted for their faith. Many were still practicing Jewish customs, such as lighting candles on Friday evening, changing the linen on the Sabbath, abstaining from pork and scaleless fish, observing the Feast Days, etc. According to the Inquisition Laws, to be caught practicing any one of 37 Jewish customs was grounds to be brought before the Inquisition Court. Christians were to watch for these signs and report any such backsliders. Once before the court, there was no way out of punishment:
If you confessed and did not repent, you were burned alive.
If you confessed and repented, you were publicly humiliated. Any subsequent slip-ups resulted in certain death.
If you did not confess, even if you were innocent, you were tortured until you confessed and then were burned.
The Church was not allowed to execute the victim, so they passed them to a secular arm of the Inquisition Court. Blood was not allowed to be shed, thus burning was the execution of choice. This they justified by a text from John 15:6, “If a man abide not in Me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered, and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.”
Incidentally, all their property was confiscated, enriching the Inquisition Court. Finally, practicing Jews (not Conversos) were eventually brought to the Inquisition Courts, as it was believed that they were Judaisers and a bad influence on the Conversos. They too were tried and burned. The Inquisition in Spain lasted from 1481-1820. Over 350,000 Jews suffered punishment.
Finally, we hope for a breath of fresh air. Reformers recognized many errors inherent in the Church and challenged the leadership, the Pope, the bishops, the priests — the whole ecclesiastical body. The Reformation brought about complex and even contradictory repercussions to the evolution of anti-Semitism. One branch of Protestantism, namely the Calvinists and their offshoots, proved less judeophobic than Catholicism until the 20th century.
The other branch, Lutheranism, developed a continuing strain of anti-Semitism due to Luther’s later anti-Jewish views. An immediate consequence of the Reformation was to aggravate the position of the Jews in regions that remained Roman Catholic. The popes were determined to restore order by the strict application of Canon Law. This naturally affected the Jewish people negatively. One result was that from the second half of the 16th century, ghettos were introduced, at first in Italy, and afterward in the Austrian Empire. The ghetto was actually the name of an island in Venice that was an abandoned foundry. The Jews of Venice were rounded up and moved there so they could be separated and watched. This practice spread to other parts of the Catholic world. Adolph Hitler reinstituted the ghetto in the Third Reich for the same purpose. G. E. Roberti, an 18th century Catholic publicist, stated: “A Jewish ghetto is a better proof of the truth of the religion of Jesus Christ than a whole school of theologians.”
Martin Luther: Martin Luther is the father of Lutheranism. During the first period of his ministry, 1513-1523, Luther often condemned the persecution of the Jews and recommended a more tolerant policy toward them, based on the spirit of true brotherhood. In 1523, he wrote a pamphlet, “That Christ Was Born A Jew,” in which he argued that the Jews, who were from the same stock as the founder of Christianity, had been right in refusing to accept the “papal paganism” presented to them as Christianity. He added, “If I had been a Jew and had seen such fools and blockheads teach the Christian faith, I should rather have turned into a pig than become a Christian.”
However, when they did not accept his version of Christianity and convert, Luther turned increasingly hostile to the Jewish people. By the 1530s in his Table Talk Series, he referred to them as “the stiffed-necked Jews, ironhearted and stubborn as the devil.”
Finally, it happened. He printed two pamphlets, in 1542, “On the Jews and Their Lies,” and in 1543, “On The Shem Hamephoras” (The Ineffable Name). These two pamphlets contain some of the most abhorrent and vile language ever written against the Jewish people. Five hundred years later, Hitler found many of his ideas and justifications for his treatment of the Jewish people and the Holocaust in these writings. After all, if the father of the LutheranChurch, who was a German, stated these things, who was to argue with him? For Luther, it was certainly a case of “sowing the wind and reaping the whirlwind.”
The Enlightenment And Emancipation
As we move into the era of Enlightenment in the 17th and 18th centuries, we find the Jewish people still suffering from a legacy of prejudice. As long as Christianity held unchallenged sway in Europe, Jews could exist only on the margin of European social life, and were not even allowed to own property. The term, the Wandering Jew, found its definition in the fact that the Jewish people were forced from city to city, and country to country. For this reason, the Jewish people gravitated to occupations of the intellect, commerce and the arts, professions they could take with them if forced to leave.
Not being able to buy property, they often put their wealth into jewelry or other easily transportable commodities. This and their vocation in banking and money lending, forced upon them by Church authorities since the 12th Century, gave them an undeserved reputation of being obsessed with money.
They became the scapegoat for the ills of the world. When the people of Europe were dying from the Black Death (Bubonic Plague), the Jews were blamed for poisoning the wells. Lacking knowledge regarding germs and disease, and seeing most of the Jewish people free from infection (which was due to their dietary habits and cleanliness), the conclusion of the non-Jewish citizens was that the Jews were the source of the problem. After all, the Jews were still being pictured as evil and prompted by the devil to do evil deeds. Or, they were caricaturized as creatures with pointed tails, horns, and devilish features.
As we move into the era of Emancipation, the newer 19th century version of anti-Semitism arose on soil, which had been well watered for many centuries in Europe by Christian theology and popular myths about the Jewish people. For centuries, Christians had persecuted Jews for theological reasons, and this “teaching of contempt” had set the seal on the most ancient of all anti-Semitic themes: that the Jews were a uniquely alien element within human society and the enemy of the modern secular state. The end of the Medieval era of faith and politics did not mean the end of anti-Semitism.
The Pogroms Of Russia
From 1881 to 1902, there was a series of pogroms against the Jews of Russia. The Pogroms were a series of attacks, accompanied by destruction, the looting of property, murder, and rape, perpetrated by the Christian population of Russia against the Jews. Civil and military authorities stood by and watched, and at times participated. The Church was silent at best, and even endorsed some of the attacks. It was during this period that we find the infamous publication, The Protocols Of The Learned Elders Of Zion. The Protocols, first printed in Russia in 1905, is a supposed conversation between Jewish leaders on how they were to take over the world. The original publication was printed under the auspices of the secret police on the press of Czar Nicolas II of Russia, who made no secret of his personal membership in the anti-Semitic organization, the Black Hundreds. Even though this booklet has been proven over and over again to be false, it can still be found in print around the world and in many languages.
It is difficult to assess the full scope of the pogroms and the number of victims they claimed because of a civil war affecting Russia at the turn of the century. However, partial data is available for 530 communities in which 887 major pogroms and 349 minor pogroms occurred; there were 60,000 dead and several times that number of wounded. (Dubnow, History of Russia.)
This brings us to the Holocaust, the culmination of 1900 years of bad teaching in Christian society. The Holocaust was Hitler’s Final Solution of the Jewish people. Germany was one of the most enlightened, intellectual, and cultured societies in the world at that time. Yet, this so-called Christian society stood by and watched the extermination of the Jews of Europe, and some even participated.
Six million Jews including 2,000,000 children were violently murdered by Hitler and the Nazis. His Final Solution was to rid the world of the “Jewish vermin,” as he portrayed them in literature, speeches, and films. Hitler concluded that there was an evil in society and the common denominator was Jews who could be found in every city and in every country of Europe. To Hitler, they were an ever-present and evil burden to society. They were the killers of Christ. They needed to be controlled and segregated from the rest of society and wear distinguishing badges. They should only work in menial tasks and be barred from medicine, the arts, sciences, law, education, etc. Their synagogues and prayer books should be burned, their property confiscated, and ultimately, they should be killed. Doesn’t that sound vaguely familiar? Every one of these persecutions had a precedent in earlier centuries when the Church controlled politics. Hitler really did not do anything new, he only did it on a grander scale, and more “efficiently.” Sadly, he learned his lesson from Church history.
Hitler and his agents were certainly not true Christians. Nazi philosophy was influenced more by pagan mythology. But most Nazis were members in good standing in either Lutheran or Catholic churches. They perpetrated these acts in a historically Christian nation…and there was a deafening silence from the Christian world. Even during the decade before the Final Solution exterminations began, the “Christian West” rejected Jewish emigrants fleeing from the growing Nazi menace, and even prevented them from going to Eretz Israel,their ancestral homeland. These decisions resulted in the death of millions.
Father Neimoeller, writing of this sad chapter of history, said: “First they came for the Communists and I did not speak out – because I was not a Communist. Then they came for the Socialists and I did not speak out -because I was not a Socialist. Then they came for the trade unionists and I did not speak out – because I was not a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews and I did not speak out – because I was not a Jew. Then they came for me – and there was no one left to speak out for me.”
The Holocaust in all of its severity is unique to the Jewish people. While non-Jews were killed in Hitler’s killing machine, they were killed for political or social reasons, such as being mentally ill, prostitutes or homosexuals. The Jewish people as a whole were targets: mothers, children, peasants, doctors, musicians, rabbis, professors, etc. None were exempt, and they were all exterminated JUST BECAUSE THEY WERE JEWS. Fortunately, there were some Christians who acted with compassion to hide or help Jews to escape, e.g. Corrie Ten Boom and the Christians of Le Chambon in France. However, their numbers were far too few to make a significant difference.
Hitler is gone. Nazi Germany has ceased to exist. However, the “apple of God’s eye” (Zech. ), the Jewish people, are alive, and Israel is a fact.
Anti-Semitism In The Last 50 Years
From this historical account, it can be seen that the concept of Christian-Jewish relations is a very recent phenomenon. The effort to build genuine Christian-Jewish relationships has only begun in a serious fashion during the last 40 years. Forty years out of nearly 2,000 is not a long time. Much of this effort is in response to the Holocaust; nevertheless, it is happening. Will it last? Only if you are a part of making it last. There is still a battle to be fought. Anti-Semitism isn’t gone, and can be seen or heard in every community. While some would have you believe the world is becoming a better place and anti-Semitism is on the wane, this is not true. Since 1990, anti-Semitic acts around the world have increased, even showing up in places where hardly any Jews live, such as Japan.
We also see how Israel receives a great deal of media reporting that is tainted with a perpetually negative bias. Israel has become a bastion of self-determination for the Jewish people, and many in the world cannot accept it. A “weak underdog” Israel was more acceptable. But a strong Israel, on equal par in the world, is unacceptable. In my estimation, world opinion of Israel is trapped in the old pit of anti-Semitism. After World War II, as the facts of the Holocaust came to light, many enlightened individuals and groups began to speak out for the Jewish people, albeit too late to save the 6,000,000 who perished. While it was no longer “fashionable” to be anti-Semitic, that did not make the problem go away…it only drove it underground. Currently, it is showing itself in world opinion of Israel, as people and governments have transferred their anti-Semitic feelings to a national or political level in the disguise of righteous indignation against the “aggressive ZionistState.” The new anti-Israel, or anti-Zionist trend, is nothing more than the old anti-Semitism in new clothing.
How can we counteract this? We can take a stand, know our facts, and be a collective Christian voice of support and encouragement. This is something that hasn’t been done during all Church history. Yes, there have been Christian individuals who spoke out, but now I believe we have a chance to make a difference because we can show solidarity as a group.
What Should This Mean To Us?
The Jewish people know this history well, while most Christians often ignore it. We prefer to forget about it, because it is an indictment against us. Rev. Dr. Edward Flannery, in his book, The Anguish of the Jews, says that “the only chapters of Christian history known by the Jews were recorded on pages the Church has torn out of the history books and burned.” What does Paul mean in Romans 11 when he points out that the Jewish people are “beloved for the sake of the Fathers,” and that “by our mercy, they will receive mercy?”
It is grievous to think that Satan’s greatest tool against God’s covenant people, the apple of His eye, has been the Church. To say that these historical churchmen who did these terrible things were not real Christians is not accurate, for many of them were. Let us learn a lesson from Martin Luther. No one can doubt his devotion to the Lord, yet he wrote and spoke some of the most terrible anti-Semitic material in history. Like Luther, some of the greatest anti-Semites started out as great supporters of the Jewish people, and then became disappointed when Jews did not fulfill Christian expectations. Apparently, their love was not genuine, but had an ulterior motive. Anti-Semitism is sin and we must constantly guard against it in our hearts and lives. I fully believe that anti-Semitism is the epitome of evil, and the fight against it is a spiritual, as well as a physical, battle. Since the Jews are a God-called, covenantal people, to fight against them is to fight against God. This may be understandable for those of the world, but a tragic error for Christians who believe in the God of Israel. As Ogden Nash wrote, “How odd of God to chose the Jews, but not so odd as those who chose the Jewish God and spurn the Jews.”
Now that we have heard the truth on this subject, it is time for the Church to grow up and learn to respect God’s covenant people, our elder brothers, and Judaism, the parent faith of our faith. Isaiah the prophet said, “Listen to me, you who pursue righteousness and who seek the Lord; Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn; look to Abraham, your father and to Sarah, who gave you birth. When I called him, he was but one, and I blessed him and made him many. The Lord will surely comfort Zion and will look with compassion on all her ruins…” (Isa. 51:1-3). Paul says, “…if the root is holy, so are the branches. If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root, do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: you do not support the root, but the root supports you” (Rom. -18).
Paul is clear about God’s natural branches, the Jewish people, when he says of them in Romans , “They are beloved for the sakes of the Patriarchs, for God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable.” Christians need to remember, it was by the Jewish people, God’s Chosen people, that Jesus was born, and we received our salvation. They were chosen to live in God’s land, Israel, to worship God and be blessed by Him, thus showing the world the blessedness of serving the one true God. They were also chosen to receive and record God’s Word so we could have the Bible. Yes, they should be loved for what they have given to us, not hated.
As Gentile Christians, we have a Jewish connection. In Ephesians 2:11-13, Paul tells us that we Gentiles have been “brought near” by the blood of Jesus to the covenants of the promises, hopes and faith of Israel, and even made citizens of Israel. Further, we must remember that Jesus was Jewish. His actual name was Yeshua, and He was a rabbi who taught in the synagogues. His disciples and the writers of the New Testament, except Luke, were Jewish, and the apostles and early disciples were Jewish. They worshipped on Shabbat, celebrated the feasts, and attended Synagogue.
Paul tells Christians, “that by our mercy they shall receive God’s mercy.” This love and mercy towards the Jewish people is more than a warm feeling of appreciation. As Christians, we have a debt to Israel. In Romans 15:27, Paul says we need to demonstrate our love and mercy with action, when he says, “For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessing.” In Matthew 25, Jesus Himself takes a stand on this issue when He equates how we treat His brethren, the Jewish people, with how we treat Him. In verses 34-40, Jesus says He was hungry, thirsty, a stranger, in need of clothes, sick and in prison. He then declared that His disciples attended to all of these needs. They answered, “Lord, when did we see You in these situations?” And, He replied, “I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these My brothers, you did for Me.”
Zechariah 2:8 says of God’s love towards the Jewish people, “He that touches you, touches the apple of His eye.” Today, we can read the Bible for ourselves, and see God’s love for His people, Israel. Therefore:
It is time for Christians to break with historical anti-Jewish teachings, and make a change for the future. We must act, not out of guilt, but in a humble spirit of love.
It is time to reinforce God’s covenant WITH His people, and show tangible love and respect to the Jewish people around the world.
It is also time to join God in His plan for the nation of Israel today, as He is literally moving heaven and earth to fulfill His prophetic promises of Messianic blessing, as we await the soon coming of the Lord.
As Christians, let us take up the challenge and put aside the anti-Jewish hatred of generations, wherever it may be found around us — be it in our communities, in our churches, in our families, and yes, even if it rises up in our own hearts.
The destiny of the Church is intertwined with the future of Israel and the Jewish people. For too long, Christians have been silent. For too long, the Jewish community has had to fight its battles alone. It is time for each one of us to speak up for the people who gave us the Bible and our salvation.
Did you know that the early Church was predominantly Jewish?
What happened to disconnect the Church from its Jewish roots and create an almost entirely Gentile Church?
Why did the Church enact so many anti-Jewish edicts?
Are the Jewish people “Christ killers,” as they have been called in Christian circles?
Has the Church replaced Israel?
Why did historical events like the Crusades and the Inquisition ultimately focus on persecuting Jews?
Did you know that Martin Luther had a very positive relationship with the Jewish community, and then became one of the vilest anti-Semites in history?
Did you know that Adolph Hitler found precedent for his evil actions against the Jewish people right out of the annals of Church history?
What can we do to change the last 1,800 years of historical anti-Jewish attitudes and actions of the Church?
We Christians sing the chorus, “They will know we are Christians, by our love, by our love….” In Romans 11, Paul tells Gentile Christians of our relationship towards the Jewish people. He tells us not to be “arrogant” towards them (v. 20), that they are “beloved for the sake of the Patriarchs” (v. 28) and that “through [our] mercy, they shall obtain mercy” (v. 31). Sadly, the Jewish community, living in close proximity to Christians throughout the last 1,900 years, has rarely felt any love or respect from Christians or Christianity. For the most part, they received hatred, contempt, persecution, and
even death at the hands of Christians. Where was love and mercy?
Generally, very little of this very vivid and tragic history is known to most Christians. Yet, it is well known by the Jewish community, because they remember these sad chapters of history all too well. Instead of showing love and mercy to the Jewish people, many Christians turned the cross into a sword against the Jews. It has been said by Dr. Edward Flannery, in his book, The Anguish of the Jews, that the only chapters of Christian history known by the Jews were recorded on pages the Church has torn out of the history books and burned. In researching this article, I checked volume after volume of books, encyclopedias and dictionaries of Church History, and there was barely a reference to be found about the large quantity of material written by the Church against the Jewish people. They exist as part of the proceedings and conclusions of most Church Councils and Edicts up until this century, but most writers preferred not to write about these passages because it was not flattering. Rather, we have simply swept it under the carpet because it is all too uncomfortable to deal with. This is why I want us to do something a little different for the next two Israel Teaching Letters. Instead of looking at a right understanding and interpretation of Scripture, we are going to see the results of wrong interpretation and the havoc it wreaked. Because this is so central to our Christian relationship to Israel and the Jewish community, it is very important to study this together. While it is lengthy topic, I assure you that you will not be bored.
When we examine the last 2,000 years in historical perspective, I feel it is safe to say that organizations and individual Christians who express Christian solidarity with the Jewish people, and are educating the Church about the Jewish roots of the Christian faith, are a historical rarity. Let me put this assessment in perspective: During approximately 1,800 years of the nearly 2,000 years of Church history, any attempt to teach Christians about Jews, Judaism, Jewish roots of Christianity, or even to celebrate the Levitical Feasts, would result in Christians being subject to a good tonguelashing or excommunication at best, and in many cases, death. And, any member of the Jewish community participating would be considered Judaisers and penalized by Church authorities with punishment and even death. Certainly an article of this kind was not allowed. While history is complex (and there were certain historical moments of religious freedom), this assessment can be considered an accurate generalization.
Fortunately today, we are free to discuss the Jewish roots of Christianity, as well as our own sad record against the Jews, without retribution. We can even come together with Jews to learn from one another on these topics. The trend is definitely positive. This study is not intended to be a mere history lesson, but a lesson in history. Furthermore, I am not trying to impose guilt on anyone, for we are exceptions to the historical rule. On the other hand, I am trying to instill a sense of responsibility, so that we will not allow history to repeat itself.
In this presentation, I will be referring to early Church Fathers, the Catholic Church, Martin Luther, and other Church leaders and Church edicts. Please don’t be offended by the historical facts presented. They are being presented to help us to learn, grow, and move ahead in our faith walk, not to insult any particular denomination or group. So, let’s get started on our journey into understanding.
The First Four Centuries A.D.
In the first century AD, the church was well-connected to its Jewish roots, and Jesus did not intend for it to be any other way. After all, Jesus is Jewish and the basis of His teaching is consistent with the Hebrew Scriptures. In Matthew 5:17-18 He states: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfil them. I tell you the truth, until heaven
and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.”
It is also known that the writers of the New Testament, except Luke, were Jewish. The apostles and early disciples were Jewish. They worshipped on Shabbat (Sabbath), celebrated the feasts, and attended Synagogue. Even the membership of the early Church in Jerusalem and surrounding Judea, Samaria, and Galilee was predominately Jewish. We know, for example, that no non-Jewish names appeared in leadership of the Jerusalem church until after AD 135, when a Greek name appears. We will see why this happened in a moment. Congregations in other parts of the Roman Empire also had relatively strong Jewish or Hebraic roots, as they found their source of guidance from the Jerusalem
School of Thought. This is illustrated by the names of many of the New Testament epistles: The Letters TO the Corinthians, Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians, originated from the Jerusalem community. The writers of the other Epistles were also connected to the Judeo-Christian congregation in Jerusalem.
Before the First Jewish Revolt in AD 66, Christianity was basically a sect of Judaism, as were the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes. The Christians were also known as Nazarenes. Before the First Jewish Revolt that ended with the Second Temple being destroyed and Jerusalem razed by the Romans in AD 70, there was room for debate within Judaism in the bustling, cosmopolitan city of Jerusalem. So, what happened to cause such a split between the Christian and Jewish communities that exists even unto today?
The Separation Begins: Initially, it began as a result of religious and social differences. According to David Rausch in his book, A Legacy of Hatred, there were several contributing factors: 1) the Roman intrusion into Judea, and the widespread acceptance of Christianity by the Gentiles, complicated the history of Jewish Christianity; 2) the Roman wars against the Jews not only destroyed the Temple and Jerusalem, but it also resulted in Jerusalem’s relinquishing her position as a center of Christian faith in the Roman world, and; 3) the rapid acceptance of Christianity among the Gentiles led to an early conflict between the Church and Synagogue. Paul’s missionary journeys brought the Christian faith to the Gentile world, and as their numbers grew, so did their influence, which ultimately disconnected Christianity from its Jewish roots.
Many Gentile Christians interpreted the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem as a sign that God had abandoned Judaism, and that He had provided the Gentiles freedom to develop their own Christian theology in a setting free from Jerusalem’s influence. Unfortunately, the Judeo-Christians had disassociated themselves from the war against the Romans and from the tragedy that had come upon the nation. Believing that the war with the Romans was a sign of the end, they fled to Pella, east of the Jordan River, leaving their fellow Jews to fend for themselves.
After the war and the virtual destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple, the Jewish sages who managed to survive the Roman victory assembled in Jabneh, a city in the Sharon Plains near Joppa. As they entered the post-Temple period, they realized the need to consolidate the practice of Judaism and halacha, or Law. Judaism adopted the Bet Hillel School of rabbinical practice, which was most closely linked to the Pharisaic sect of Judaism. The Pharisaic teachings were most interested in the relationship of each individual to God, and encouraged the masses to holiness based on a scrupulous
observance of the Torah, unlike Sadducean teaching that was more interested in Temple ritual practice. Even though Pharisaic Judaism had shown tolerance to Judeo-Christians or Nazarenes prior to the destruction of the Temple, the assembly at Jabneh called for a separation between Christianity and Judaism.
Hadrian’s Contribution: Later, in AD 132, when the Jewish zealot, Bar Kochba, orchestrated the Second Jewish Revolt against Rome, the Judeo-Christians had another reason not to participate. Bar Kochba was proclaimed the Messiah by Rabbi Akiva. Since the Christians saw Jesus (Yeshua) as Messiah, for them to participate in the revolt under the leadership of Bar Kochba would be considered a denial of their beliefs. In AD 135, when the revolt was crushed by the Roman Emperor Hadrian, he expelled all Jews from Jerusalem, allowing them to return only one day each year, on Tisha B’Av, an annual day set aside to mourn the destruction of the Temple. This prohibition was also true for Judeo-Christians, and thus we find recorded the first Greek name in the leadership of the Jerusalem Church. At this point, the Hebraic influence of the Jerusalem Church was lost to world Christianity, which influenced the direction of the Church.
Hadrian also rebuilt Jerusalem into a Roman city, naming it after himself, Aelia Capitolina, his family name being Aelius. As one considered a god by his subjects, this was a supreme insult to the God of Israel who chose Jerusalem as His city. Hadrian also changed the name of Judea, Samaria and Galilee to Syria Palestina (Palestine), ascribing to the land a name connected to the arch-enemies of the Jewish people, the Philistines. Both gestures were done by Hadrian to erase any Jewish connection with the city of Jerusalem and the land of Israel. This legacy is still haunting Israel today.
Christianity and Judaism Separate: By this time, the Church had effectively separated itself from Judaism. Theological and political power moved from Jewish Christian leaders to centers of Gentile Christian leadership such as Alexandria, Rome, and Antioch. It is important to understand this change, because it influenced the early Church Fathers to make anti-Jewish statements as Christianity began to disconnect itself from its Jewish roots. As the Church spread far and wide within the Roman Empire, and its membership grew increasingly non-Jewish, Greek and Roman thought began to creep in and completely change the orientation of Biblical interpretation through a Greek mindset, rather than a Jewish or Hebraic mindset. This would later result in many heresies, some of which the Church is still practicing today.
Once Christianity and Judaism began to take separate paths, the void became greater and greater. The Romans had effectively suppressed Judaism; however, Christianity was spreading quickly. This became a major concern to Rome, and ultimately political pressure became a major factor in the
widening rift between Christians and Jews. Under Roman law, Judaism was considered a religio licita, a legal religion, as it predated Rome. To unify the Roman Empire, everyone was to worship and sacrifice to the Roman gods including the Emperor who was considered a god. Obviously, the Christians could not ascribe to this pagan worship and refused, angering the central Roman authority. Christianity post-dated Rome, and therefore was considered a religio ilicita. The practice of Christianity was a punishable offense. During this time, we find Christians being used for sport in the Roman coliseums and circuses, as gladiators or thrown to the lions and other wild beasts. The Emperor Nero even used Christians as human torches to light up his gardens at night. Christians were dipped in pitch, tied to poles and set afire. For protection against arrest, the symbol of the fish, rather than the obvious symbol of the cross, was used between Christians as a sign of identification during this period. The Greek anagram of the slogan, “Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior” spelled the word, ICTHUS, or fish in Greek.
In an attempt to alleviate this persecution, Christian apologists tried in vain to convince Rome that Christianity was an extension of Judaism. However, Rome was not convinced. The resulting persecutions and frustration of the Christians bred an animosity towards the Jewish community, which was free to worship without persecution. Later, when the Church became the religion of the state, it would pass laws against the Jews in retribution.
Replacement Theology: This animosity was reflected in the writings of the early Church Fathers. For example, Justin Martyr (c. AD160) in speaking to a Jew said: “The Scriptures are not yours, but ours.” Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyon (c. AD 177) declared: “Jews are disinherited from the grace of God.” Tertullian (AD 160-230), in his treatise, “Against the Jews,” announced that God had rejected the Jews in favor of the Christians.
In the early 4th century, Eusebius wrote that the promises of the Hebrew Scriptures were for Christians and not the Jews, and the curses were for the Jews. He argued that the Church was the continuation of the Old Testament and thus superseded Judaism. The young Church declared itself to be the true Israel, or “Israel according to the Spirit,” heir to the divine promises. They found it essential to discredit the “Israel according to the flesh” to prove that God had cast away His people and transferred His love to the Christians.
In this, we find the beginnings of Replacement Theology, which placed the Church triumphant over the vanquished Judaism and Israel. This Replacement theory became one of the main foundations on which Christian anti-Semitism was based, even to this day. Incidentally, the New Testament speaks of the Church’s relationship to Israel and her covenants as being “grafted in” (Rom. 11:17), “brought near” (Eph. 2:13), “Abraham’s offspring (by faith)” (Rom. 4:16), and “partakers” (Rom. 15:27), NOT as usurpers of the covenant and a replacer of physical Israel. We Gentile Christians joined into what God had been doing in Israel, and God did not break His covenant promises with Israel (Rom. 11:29).
The Church Triumphant: At the beginning of the 4th century, a monumental event occurred for the Church. In AD 306, Constantine became the first Christian Roman Emperor. At first, he had a rather pluralistic view and accorded Jews the same religious rights as Christians. However, in AD 321, he made Christianity the official religion of the Empire. This signaled the end of the persecution of Christians, but the beginning of discrimination and persecution of the Jewish people.
Already at a council in Elvira (Spain) in AD 305, declarations were made to keep Jews and Christians apart, including ordering Christians not to share meals with Jews, not to marry Jews, not to use Jews to bless their fields, and not to observe the Jewish Sabbath. Imperial Rome, in AD 313, issued the Edict of Milan, which granted favor to Christianity, while outlawing synagogues. Then, in AD 315, another edict allowed the burning of Jews if they were convicted of breaking the laws. As Christianity was becoming the religion of the state, further laws were passed against the Jews:
The ancient privileges granted to the Jews were withdrawn. – Rabbinical jurisdiction was abolished or severely curtailed. – Proselytism was prohibited and made punishable by death. – Jews were excluded from holding high office or a military career.
These and other restrictions were confirmed over and over again by various Church Councils for the next 1,000 years.
In AD 321, Constantine decreed all business should cease on “the honored day of the sun.” By substituting Sunday for Saturday as the day for Christian worship, he further advanced the split. This Jewish Shabbat/ Christian Sunday controversy also came up at the first real ecumenical Council of Nicea (AD 325), which concluded Sunday to be the Christian day of rest, although it was debated for long after that.
Overnight, Christianity was given the power of the Imperial State, and the emperors began to translate the concepts and claims of the Christian theologians against the Jews and Judaism into practice. Instead of the Church taking this opportunity to spread its Gospel message in love, it truly became the Church Triumphant, ready to vanquish its foes. After 321, the writings of the Church Fathers changed in character. No longer was it on the defensive and apologetic, but aggressive, directing its venom at everyone “outside of the flock,” in particular the Jewish people who could be found in almost every
community and nation.
The Middle Ages
Now let’s look at the next 700 years of history, from the time of Constantine to the First Crusade in AD 1096. This period is known as the Middle Ages, or Dark Ages. The Holy Roman Empire was seeking to expand the new faith in the pagan tribes of Western Europe, the Ostrogoths in the north and east, the Visigoths in the West, and the Frankish Empire which included an area roughly surrounding France today. During this period, we find more examples of anti-Jewish bias in Church literature written by church leaders:
Hilary of Poitiers (AD 291-371) wrote: “Jews are a perverse people accursed by God forever.” – Gregory of Hyssa (died AD 394), Bishop of Cappadocia: “the Jews are a brood of vipers, haters of goodness…” – St. Jerome (AD 347-407) describes the Jews as “… serpents, earing the image of Judas, their psalms and prayers are the braying of donkeys.”
John Chrysostom: At the end of the 4th century, the Bishop of Antioch, John Chrysostom, the great orator, wrote a series of eight sermons against the Jews. He had seen Christians talking with Jewish people, taking oaths in front of the Ark, and some were keeping the Jewish feasts. He wanted this to stop. In an effort to bring his people back to what he called, “the true faith,” the Jews became the whipping boy for his sermon series. To quote him, “the synagogue is not only a brothel and a theater; it is also a den of robbers and a lodging for wild beasts. No Jew adores God… Jews are inveterate murderers, possessed by the devil, their debauchery and drunkenness gives them the manners of the
pig. They kill and maim one another…”
One can easily see that a Judeo-Christian who wanted to hold on to his heritage, or a Gentile Christian who wanted to learn more about the parent of Christianity, would have found it extremely difficult under this pressure. Further, Chrysostom sought to separate Christianity totally from Judaism. He wrote in his 4th Discourse, “I have said enough against those who say they are on our side, but are eager to follow the Jewish rites… it is against the Jews that I wish to draw up my battle… Jews are abandoned by God and for the crime of deicide, there is no expiation possible.”
Chrysostom was known for his fiery preaching against what he saw as threats to his flock, including wealth, entertainment, privilege and outward adornment. However, his preaching against the Jewish community, which he believed had a negative influence on Christians, is inexcusable and blatantly anti-Semitic in its content.
The Christ Killers: Another unfortunate contribution Chrysostom made to Christian anti-Semitism as to hold the whole Jewish people culpable for the killing of Christ. The label of “Christ-killers,” as applied to the Jewish people, was to be reaffirmed by anti-Semites for the next 16 centuries. Let’s look at this issue for a moment and squash it once and for all. To justify this label of “Christkiller,” Matthew 27:25 has been cited. In this passage, the Jewish people are shown admitting their collective responsibility for the crucifixion of Jesus, “Then answered all the people and said, ‘His blood be upon us, and our children.’” First, the collective responsibility of an entire people for all generations cannot be validated by the words of a few. They were speaking for themselves, not all
Israel or all the Jewish people.
Secondly, if they were held responsible for the death of Jesus for their participation, then the non-Jewish world is also guilty of the same responsibility because it was Roman Gentile soldiers who actually carried out the crucifixion and drove the nails into Jesus and hung Him on the cross. Well, if not all Gentiles, at least we can hold it against all Italians!! I think you can see how ludicrous this argument is. Thirdly, Jesus willingly gave Himself up to die for the sins of mankind. So ultimately, it was our sin that nailed Him to the cross — not a Jewish mob, or a Roman army, and, Fourthly, before Jesus died, He said, ”Father forgive them, they know not what they do” (Lk. 23:24). If Jesus forgave both the Jewish and Roman players in this event, then who are we to do any less?
The Jews as a Witness People: Moving ahead in this period of the Middle Ages, we find some church leaders perplexed. If the Jews and Judaism were cursed by God, as they had been teaching for centuries, then how can you explain their existence? Augustine tackled this issue in his “Sermon Against the Jews.” He asserts that even though the Jews deserved the most severe punishment for having put Jesus to death, they have been kept alive by Divine Providence to serve, together with their Scriptures, as witnesses to the truth of Christianity. Their existence was further justified by the service they rendered to the Christian truth, in attesting through their humiliation, the triumph of the Church
over the Synagogue. They were to be a “Witness people” – slaves and servants who should be humbled.
The monarchs of the Holy Roman Empire thus regarded the Jews as serfs of the chamber (servi camerae), and utilized them as slave librarians to maintain Hebrew writings. They also utilized the services of Jews in another enterprise – usury, or money-lending. The loaning of money was necessary o a growing economy. However, usury was considered as endangering to the eternal salvation of the Christian, and thus forbidden. So, the church endorsed the practice of lending by Jews, for according to their reasoning, their Jewish souls were lost in any case. Much later, the Jewish people were utilized by the Western countries as trade agents in commerce, and thus we see how the Jewish people
found their way into the fields of banking and commerce.
So, by the Middle Ages, the ideological arsenal of Christian anti-Semitism was completely established. This was further manifested in a variety of precedent-setting events within the Church, such as Patriarch Cyril, Bishop of Alexandria expelling the Jews and giving their property to a Christian mob. From a social standpoint, the deterioration of the Jewish position in society was only beginning its decline. During this early period, the virulent judeophobia was primarily limited to the clergy who were always trying to keep their flocks away from the Jews. However, later, the rank and file, growing middle class would be the main source of anti-Semitic activity.
While we have only reviewed the first 1,000 years of Christianity, I think you can see the tragedy of a broken relationship between the Church and the Jewish people. Paul says of them in Romans 11:28, 31 “They are beloved for the sakes of the patriarchs, for God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable…[and that] by your mercy, they shall receive mercy.” This is a message the Church never preached until recently. Join me next month when we look at the second 1,000 years of Church history in relation to the Jewish people. We will find out why the Church forced Jews to wear identifying badges, accused them of “blood libel” and “host desecration,” and put them in ghettos. We will also see how the Jews suffered under the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Reformation inspired by Martin
Luther’s very anti-Semitic writings, the Pogroms and the ultimate horror of the Holocaust.
While I know this is difficult information to read, we Christians will now know what many Jews already know about Christianity and it relationship to the Jewish people. Is it any wonder that they are afraid of us? This lesson, while historical and post-biblical shows us how we can misuse the Scriptures. And, now that the damage is done, we will see at the conclusion of our next letter, some suggestions about what we can do to present a positive expression of Christianity to Israel and the Jewish community around us.