Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Anti-Semitism in the Spirit of Hitler

I’m not quick to call anyone anti-Semitic. In fact, I can’t remember ever having applied this terminology directly to anyone. Instead, I am more inclined to laugh at anti-Semitic jokes. However, anti-Semitism – the kind that calls for the death of the Jews, the kind that has been past-ripe in Muslim lands - has resurrected the long-dormant cries for the “death to the Jews” and “Hitler didn’t go far enough” in Western Europe.
This is troubling. As our heart gives birth to our words, our words also bear violence – a truth that has been demonstrated repeatedly in our history.

This kind of thinking is even leaking over into the church, of course, without the calls for death. Recently, I re-posted an article on the persecution of Christians in Islamic lands. One Christian responded back about the death of Christians in Gaza in the wake of the Israeli invasion, as if the incidental death of Christians in Gaza is equivalent to the purposeful death of Christians elsewhere. Is this an anti-Semitic response? How can we know what is in a person’s heart!

Another Christian just blogged that the Jews are not chosen of God:

  • As for Jews being God’s chosen people: This is a matter of biblical and/or theological understanding. I consider being chosen (in this context) to mean elected unto salvation; and I believe salvation is to be found only in Christ. God’s people are saved (in both Testaments) by grace through faith. Biology saves no one and never did. That is to say, no one has ever been or ever will be saved simply because he or she is Jewish.

Although I agree that salvation is matter of believing in Messiah Jesus and that “biology saves no one,” this Christian is certainly taking an extreme and unbiblical position by denying that Israel is chosen. I cannot fathom what motivates this blogger, and I will not try. However, such a message of Israel’s supposed non-chosenness will inevitably serve to undermine support for Israel among those who take the Bible seriously.

Instead, Scripture uniformly attests that God chose the Jewish people as His own special possession:

  • For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession. (Deuteronomy 7:6)
  • For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the Lord has chosen you to be his treasured possession. (Deuteronomy 14:2)

As His chosen, God also made many indelible promises to Israel:

  • “But you, Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, you descendants of Abraham my friend, I took you from the ends of the earth, from its farthest corners I called you. I said, ‘You are my servant’; I have chosen you and have not rejected you. So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. All who rage against you will surely be ashamed and disgraced; those who oppose you will be as nothing and perish. Though you search for your enemies, you will not find them. Those who wage war against you will be as nothing at all.” (Isa 41:8-12)

Has God utterly washed His hands of Israel, as many falsely allege?

  • For your Maker is your husband—the Lord Almighty is his name—the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth. The Lord will call you back as if you were a wife deserted and distressed in spirit—a wife who married young, only to be rejected,” says your God. “For a brief moment I abandoned you, but with deep compassion I will bring you back. In a surge of anger I hid my face from you for a moment, but with everlasting kindness I will have compassion on you,” says the Lord your Redeemer. (Isaiah 54:5-8)

Nor does the NT revoke these truths. Paul affirmed that Israel, as God’s chosen but errant people, still has a place within God’s plans:

  • For if their rejection brought reconciliation to the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches. (Romans 11:15-16)

Clearly, in God’s mind, Israel remains special and holy. Also, His promises remain in effect, despite Israel’s rebellion:

  • I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, and in this way all Israel will be saved. As it is written: “The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins.” As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies for your sake; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable. (Romans 11:25-29)

What should our response be to all of this? The Gospel:

  • For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last. (Romans 1:16-17)

However, there is also a place for seeking justice and speaking truth. Everyone has a right to protect themselves, their families and their communities. However, this is a right that is now being denied to Israel. Why? According to author and commentator Charles Krauthammer:

  • “When it comes to Europe, I think the overwhelming factor is raw native deep-seated anti-Semitism,” he told Fox News on Tuesday. For a long time, the anti-Semites of Europe discovered that by using the “veneer of anti-Zionism,” they could get away with it, he said.
  • “Now, the veneer and cover are gone,” Krauthammer said. Signs used by European protests saying “Hitler was right” and chants about gassing Jews makes anti-Israel protests into “raw anti-Semitism finding a semi-respectable outlet,” he said.
Enough said!

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