I will now bow to the insights and knowledge of the late lamented Derek Prince to furnish an explanation as to why Christians have historically treated Jews so badly. In his teaching letter (No. 7) on The Root of Anti- Semitism, he says this:
“While I was preaching in our local church in Jerusalem, quite unexpectedly I heard myself say, “Anti-Semitism can be summed up in one word – MESSIAH!!” At that moment I understood that from its beginning Anti-Semitism had one source – Satan – who was motivated by the knowledge that the One who was to be his conqueror, the Messiah, would come through a people that would be specially prepared by God.”
He goes on to explain that the Jews, the people in question, were targets of Satan through their whole history, either through being enticed into idolatry (early history) or through complete destruction (later history). The reason for this hatred is that he knows that his days are numbered, a countdown culminating in the return of Jesus the Messiah. But this event won’t happen until two conditions are fulfilled.
Firstly, the Christian gospel is to be preached to all nations, “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.” Matthew 24:14
Secondly, the Jews must be in place and in a position to ask Jesus to return. In Matthew 23:38-39, Jesus had said to the Jews in Jerusalem, “See, your house is left to you desolate, for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.'”
The Jews must be in place, in this final drama at the end of all things, to ask Jesus to return. Who knows what the circumstances will be, but they are likely to be fairly extreme and desperate. Their hearts will be ready, the hardening spoken of in the last Chapter would have been broken down. As it says in Zechariah 12:10: “And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they have pierced; they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a first-born.“
And when they do that … anti-Semitism would be no more, because the root cause of it would have been taken away. I pray that those Christians who have been hardened to Israel and the Jewish people don’t have to wait until then to realise the truth of their errors.
“Shout and be glad, O Daughter of Zion. For I am coming, and I will live among you,” declares the LORD. “Many nations will be joined with the LORD in that day and will become my people. I will live among you and you will know that the LORD Almighty has sent me to you. The LORD will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land and will again choose Jerusalem.” (Zechariah 2:10-12)
At that time God’s scales of justice will take a sudden swing in favour of His people, the Jews. When that happens, all who have perpetrated anti-Semitism, who have acted against ‘the apple of His eye’, will be punished accordingly. By that time the Jews, who have been scattered to the four winds, would have returned to their land, Israel. In this future time God will live with his people, who will be taken from all nations.
So how is all this relevant? Let’s reconsider our “One New Man”.
“Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (that done in the body by the hands of men) – remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility“. (Ephesians 2:11-16)
One New Man, eh? We Jews may be able to forgive, but it’s awfully hard to forget. Certain events and people are fixed in the memory. John Chrysostom (a Church Father who preached hatred against the Jews), The Crusades, The Inquisition, Martin Luther (turned against the Jews later in life, after failing to convert them!), pogroms, expulsions, the Holocaust. Although there is no space here for detailed explanations, all of these were birthed within a Christian context. We need to negotiate a peace treaty to end all others, between two parties who have been at war for nearly 2,000 years. And it has hardly been an even conflict, with all the casualties on one side. Only the Holy Spirit could broker such a deal, but this deal requires certain conditions to be met by both parties.
The Jewish Christian must search deep within and set aside historical injustices, even if they have impacted on him personally, and not harbour any resentment or misplaced feelings of superiority. He must recognise that there are jewels among the dross, there have been good people, noble acts and worthy teachings that have had the mark of true Christianity. Many sacrifices have been made by faithful Christians to ensure that the true Word of God has been preached and that the faith has survived the centuries intact. Not all Christians have wanted to kill Jews. The Jewish believer must not be provoked or tempted into over-reaction, by overloading this new partnership, as a way of over-compensating for centuries of imbalance. The Jew has a lot to offer, but there is such a thing as too much of a good thing and he must always seek for balance.
The Gentile Christian must also search deep within, for any trace of anti-Semitism because this is no political or military peace, where resentments still fester and the peace is just a stop-gap until the next war. There has to be a true and open desire to welcome their Jewish brother and sister as partners in the Body of Christ. This has to be an everlasting and unconditional peace, undergirded by a pure heart.
It’s all very well you Gentiles drinking from the rich pool of Hebraic thought, culture and learning and neglecting the very people who made it all happen. This is key to the whole enterprise and next week we will see how we can get the whole thing to work.
(This is an abridged extract from Steve’s book How the Church Lost the Way)