That was the challenge levelled at historian Tom Holland on The...
What were the reasons for the Jewish diaspora?
Another view harks back to the proclamation of Bar Kochba as the Jewish messiah in 132 AD, as mentioned earlier. This was a very public denial of the claims of Jesus and instigated the final split between Church and Synagogue.
However we justify this exile theologically, there's no doubt that the full weight of the curses of Deuteronomy 28 came into play.
Consider the following in the light of history;
- Being scattered among all the nations, from one end of the earth to the other (verse 64),
- Finding no peace anywhere, no place to call your own, being overwhelmed with anxiety, hopelessness and despair (verse 65),
- Your life always being in danger, day and night filled with terror, living in constant fear of death (verse 66),
- Hearts pounding with fear at everything you see, every morning wishing for evening, every evening wishing for morning (verse 67).
It all sounds so horribly familiar when we consider the precarious history of the Jewish exile, from the early rejections in the 5th Century to the Holocaust of the 20th Century.
It is at this point that Mr. Roots and Mr. Shoots part company. For Mr. Shoots, the Jews now leave the story as far as God is concerned. They are no longer the true Israel and so no longer belong to God. Trouble is that they never did go away, did they? For Mr. Roots, the story continues.
If the latter verses of Chapter 28 of Deuteronomy refer to the Galut, then what of Chapter 30? As mentioned earlier, in this chapter God also speaks of a regathering, an end to the exile. Ever since the middle of the 19th Century, thanks to the enlightened efforts of evangelical Christians, particularly in Britain, Jewish people were beginning to be attracted to Jesus, their Messiah. About the same time Britain was experiencing the Great Evangelical Awakening. Also at the same time, Zionism was born and Jews were returning in numbers to their ancient land. Could this all be connected? Scripture seems to think so as a reading of the first few verses testify, ‘When all these blessings and curses I have set before you come upon you and you take them to heart wherever the Lord your God disperses you among the nations, and when you and your children return to the Lord your God and obey him with all your heart and with all your soul according to everything I command you today …’
Were these conditions being met, even if in a small way? God seemed to think so for, as the verses continue, ‘… then the Lord your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you’. Scripture was clearly indicating an end of this exile. It continues. ‘Even if you have been banished to the most distant land under the heavens, from there the Lord your God will gather you and bring you back. He will bring you to the land that belonged to your fathers, and you will take possession of it.’ Jews were returning from as far afield as China, Australia, Brazil, all of them 'most distant lands'.
Then came 1967 and the restoration of Jerusalem to Jewish hands. Was it a co-incidence that, at that time, there was an explosion of Jewish people becoming believers in Jesus the Messiah, particularly in the USA? The momentum has continued ever since and we are now in a situation of having more Jewish believers in Jesus worldwide that at any time in history since the early days of the Church. Jewish people were becoming blessed the world over - returning to the land for some, returning to Jesus for others. Some were even doubly blessed, with both.
Of course, it has not been an easy journey. There are forces out there for whom these double blessings are a curse. World opinion, Islam and Arab nations are all in opposition, but it is satan who is most grieved. He has very special reasons for wanting the destruction of the Jewish people and for certainly not wanting them in their land and embracing their Messiah. Anti-Semitism, wherever it may be found, was his invention and it had failed. Jews had survived, as God had always promised. And they were back in their land, according to God's covenant with Abraham.
When we look at the current unfolding crisis in the Middle East, we are mistaken if we see it just as another Bosnia or Northern Ireland or South Africa. It is not a local disagreement; it is a crisis of World proportions. It's not just a 'Jew and Arab' thing and 'why can't they learn to live together'? It's not an 'evil Zionist empire disregarding the rights of the Palestinians' thing. It's not even a 'heartless Arab terrorists killing innocent Israelis' thing.
It is a spiritual battle, not a physical battle. God is telling us that Israel (including the West Bank) is His land and the Jews are His legal tenants and it is satan saying otherwise and using all within his arsenal to fight with, whether false religion, materialism or nationalism. Above all, he uses confusion as his main tactic.
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