Wednesday, May 29, 2024
Wednesday, May 29, 2024
HomeAll The NewsSTAND FIRM: Church, We Must Get Israel Right: Because We Haven't

STAND FIRM: Church, We Must Get Israel Right: Because We Haven’t

I imagine, for many of you, the first article in this series was likely a surprise. I shared how Israel’s National Holocaust Museum begins with an exhibit on the foundation of the Holocaust and claims the teachings of the church laid the groundwork which eventually swelled into the horror of Hitler’s Final Solution. It may not merely be surprising, but that statement may even make you angry. I know because as I have shared this from the pulpit, I’ve had people stand up in the congregation and tell me I was wrong. That response is far better than those who mutter under their breath, “Who cares about Israel anyway,” or “The church was right to teach what it did because God is done with Jews.” Even though good support is given to Israel, it’s also often given without a full understanding of God’s continued plan for Israel.

I want to share how the misunderstanding of the church has contributed to the persecution of Jews throughout the past 2,000 years. But before I move on, I want to make sure we feel the devastation from the Holocaust and what consequences can be for incorrect teachings.

From 1933 until 1945, six million Jews were killed.

I’m writing this in Arkansas and many of you are reading this there. In 2021, the population of the state was three million. So, two times the total population of Arkansas was killed in the Holocaust.

Six million was over a third of the total population of Jews on earth in 1933, where it was estimated there were 16.6 million.

The picture above is from Yad Vashem. At the end of the museum’s path, there is a room called the Hall of Names. Those black books seen in the picture are binders full of pages of testimonies. Each page in the binder represents someone killed in the Holocaust. It’s overwhelming to see the many binders, but even in all those there are only 2.7 million pages.

On the grounds of Yad Vashem is a children’s memorial. The memorial was constructed in memory of the 1.5 million Jewish children who were killed. In the exhibit, a recording reads through the known names of those children, not even the full 1.5 million, but each reading — which includes the child’s name, location of their death and their age — takes four seconds, and it takes three years for the list to loop all the way through. Three years.

The Holocaust was just one instance of persecution over 2,000 years. Most of this persecution took place in Europe, which was the Christian stronghold. Therefore, much of the persecution came from “Christianity.”

Regardless of the ethnicity of any group of people, Christian teachings shouldn’t even brush the possibility of being a cause.

As you’re aware, Christianity began as a sect of Jews who lived in Israel and heard the message of a Jew who declared that He was the promised Jewish Messiah who would one day rule a Jewish Kingdom headquartered in Jerusalem. Eventually, Jews took the message of their Jewish Messiah to Gentiles (non-Jews) and Gentiles came to believe in and follow the Jewish Messiah. These Gentiles were adopted and grafted into a Jewish family. The Jewish history became their history because that history led to the arrival of the Jewish Messiah and pointed to the future Jewish Kingdom.

As this message went forth to Gentiles, in a letter written to Gentile believers living in Rome and written by a Jewish man named Paul, he warned the Gentiles not to be conceited in their faith over Jews. It was advice that was not received.

As early as 115 A.D., only 80 years into Christianity, we find evidence of Gentiles beginning to break away from the Jewish foundation of the gospel in the writings of one of the early church fathers, Ignatius. This trail grows throughout the succession of church fathers. Just over 100 years later, Origen’s teachings drove a huge wedge between Gentile believers and Jews. Origen wrote and taught that Jews had been forever rejected by God. He, in a sense, moved to remove the Jewishness of Jesus. He also shifted to a form of Bible interpretation that allowed for the spiritualizing of the Old Testament and extracting the gospel from the context of God’s history with His people. In the early 300s, a church council restricted Christians from interacting with Jews. The Edict of Milan in 315 A.D. even forbid Jews from living in Jerusalem.

This was a quick rundown of a much deeper history of the church accepting what is called “supersessionism,” which holds that the Christian church has superseded or replaced Israel as the people of God. Supersessionism holds to thoughts such as these (list is from author Joel Richardson):

• The church is the new and true Israel.

• Israel is no longer the people of God.

• The destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem in 70 A.D. was God’s public demonstration of His rejection of Israel as His people.

• Israel’s national rejection is permanent.

• The suffering of the Jews since 70 A.D. (including the Holocaust) is the result of God’s righteous judgment due to their collective guilt for their unbelief in rejecting and killing Jesus.

• The Jews are under God’s divine curses for their disobedience.

• The people who call themselves Jews today are the enemies of the gospel and the church.

Hopefully, you know these statements are not true. Several are directly refuted in Scripture, nevertheless they still permeate and hide behind our current understanding and treatment of Israel within modern Christianity.

We need to realize that we have gotten Israel wrong.

And in case we think this was only an ancient problem or one from the Catholic church, let me close with words from the hero of Protestantism and father of the German church, Martin Luther, from his book On The Jews and Their Lies:

“They (Jews) are venomous, bitter, vindictive, tricky serpents, assassins and children of the devil, who sting and work harm stealthily wherever they cannot do it openly… next to the devil, a Christian has no more bitter and galling foe than a Jew. What then shall we Christians do with this damned, rejected race of Jews?… We must prayerfully and reverentially practice merciful severity… Let me give you my honest advice… First, their synagogues should be set on fire… Secondly, their homes should likewise be broken down and destroyed… Thirdly, they should be deprived of their prayer books and Talmuds… Fourthly, their rabbis must be forbidden under threat of death to teach any more… Fifthly, passport and traveling privileges should be absolutely forbidden to the Jews… To sum up, dear princes and nobles who have Jews in your domains, if the advice of mind does not suit you, then find a better one so that you and we may all be free of this insufferable devilish burden — the Jews.”

— Jake is the newest state missionary and would love to share about the work in Northwest Arkansas and encourage your church to stand firm. (