Why Christians Can Never Be Anti-Semitic

Anti-Semitism is still alive and well out there. Many people hate Jews. Many people hate Israel, the land. This option is not open to the Christian, although maybe not for the reasons most would suppose.

Although I’ve known this ever since seminary days, it has struck me more and more forcefully (as I preach through Matthew for the second time) that Jesus is true Israel, and that Matthew portrays him as reliving Israel’s story, yet in a faithful way. Coming out of Egypt, fulfilling Hosea 11:1, that bane of interpreters, being baptized in the Jordan, being tempted in the wilderness; all these things prove that Jesus is the faithful remnant of one, the true Israel, the faithful and obedient Israel, who has come to redefine Israel as a faith thing instead of a genealogical thing. Certainly Paul interprets Jesus as doing this in Galatians 3, 6, and Romans 9-11. The true child of Abraham is the one who has the same faith as Abraham, a faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (John 5).

If Israel is thus redefined, then a true Jew is not one outwardly, but inwardly, by the Spirit, not the letter. All Christians are children of Abraham. The old song about Abraham having many children, and we are among them rings true, here.

So the reason why we cannot be Anti-Semitic is that we are Jews by faith. We are Jews in the redefined sense of Jesus and Paul. The story of Israel is our story. If we Gentiles (by birth) have been grafted in, then we cannot possibly look down on the natural branches that have been cut out, nor can we boast over them, as if we were somehow more lovable than them. As Paul would say, couldn’t the natural branches be grafted back in to their own olive tree most naturally, indeed more naturally than foreign branches being grafted in? Yes, there is only one way of belonging to the tree now, and that is to be in the one true olive tree of Jesus Christ. There are not two trees (sorry, Dispensationalists!). Should we not, therefore, have the utmost compassion for the natural branches and pray for their re-grafting? Paul loved his people, and wished (if it could have been done) that he could endure condemnation forever if it would spare his kinsmen according to the flesh. I think Paul’s compassion well worth emulating at this point, don’t you?

This means that reading the Old Testament is reading our story, not someone else’s story. These are our fathers and mothers in the faith. Their struggles are our struggles. Dispensationalism has not helped the Christian church, since it has focused people’s minds on physical Israel so much as an “alternate” people of God. They think they can fulfill prophecy by helping Jews return to Israel. This makes them blind, ultimately, to the fact that Christians are the true children of Abraham, not in a supersessionist way, but in an organic way. The promises of Abraham come to us. This is why the Old Testament will never become irrelevant to the Christian, contrary to how the Dispensationalist treats the Old Testament.

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6 Comments

  1. Rob McKenzie said,

    June 9, 2017 at 9:19 pm

    Excellent post!

  2. Roy Kerns said,

    June 12, 2017 at 3:20 pm

    Every time my family sang that song about Abraham’s many sons, we, who had only daughters, changed it to “Sarah had many daughters” ;^D But we made exactly the points you made above in talking about Israel and ‘Jewishness’.

    That means I totally concur with your necessarily follows, parallel, linked conclusion regarding the post 1949 nation-state that calls itself “Israel”. It can call itself whatever it wishes. But it cannot be identified as the Israel of prophecy, nor claim the rights or blessings of that Israel.

    As you noted, this reasoning sequence clearly results from the NT. But one may begin, as I have often done in discussions with Dispies, by looking to the OT descriptions of the ‘Israel of prophecy’. That Israel loves the LORD, seeks and submits to his rule. Meaning that it loves Jesus, recognizes him as Messiah and LORD. Whatever is going on in today’s nation of Israel, it ain’t that.

  3. Pete Rambo said,

    June 17, 2017 at 10:17 am

    God’s Law demands two witnesses. (Deu. 19:15; Matt. 18:16; 2 Cor. 13:1; Heb. 10:28)

    Contrary to your statement, there are two trees (Zech. 4:3 and 14. Note: v. 14 is literally ‘two sons of fresh oil standing by the lord of the whole earth’)

    Those two trees are referred to in Ez. 37:15ff. see esp. v. 16-17 and 22)

    The same two trees are addressed in the New Covenant. They are the House of Israel and the House of Judah (Jer. 31:31; Heb. 8:8)

    A common error in Jewish AND Christian theology is to conflate the terms Judah/House of Judah with Israel/House of Israel/Ephraim/House of Joseph. Simply, the two are not and cannot be the same group. (Hosea 1:6-7; Eze. 4:4-6; Jer. 3:6-11; Is. 11:12-13; etc…)

    **All Jews are Israelites, But not all Israelites are Jews.**

    God divided the kingdom in 1 Kings 12 (see esp. v. 24) in order to perform His purpose in the earth.

    His purpose for the House of Judah (the Jews) is to display His Covenant keeping character to the visible part of His people and for them to transmit the Torah safely through the ages against all odds, including intense Christian persecution.

    God’s purpose with the House of Israel (the Church) is display His mercy in judging them by scattering and yet making a way that they and all attached to them could, through the Messiah, be rejoined to the Covenant. Through this group God has revealed Himself and His Messiah to the ends of the earth. This is the mystery of the Kingdom and explains why in Matthew 15:24 Yeshua/Jesus said he came ‘only for the lost sheep of the House of Israel.’

    What this post’s author promotes is Replacement theology. I.e, the Church replaced Israel. Likewise, Judah has for 2000 years claimed to be the door keeper replacing the younger brother, Ephraim (aka, the House of Israel). (see Hosea and the Prodigal Son parable) Both houses have sought to replace the other, not understanding that Ezekiel 37:22 speaks of the two coming together. Each has half of the picture. One has the Living Word, the other the Written Word.

    Yet, the New Covenant says that the TORAH will be written on our hearts (Jer. 31:33; Heb. 8:10; 10:16; Eze. 36:26-28) explaining why the Apostles wanted the new non-Jewish converts to learn Moses, in the Synagogue on the Sabbath. (Acts 15:21)

    Why did James address the 12 tribes scattered abroad? Why did Peter write to those who ‘reside AS aliens, scattered…?’ Why does Paul extensively quote Hosea?

    Was it to create a new religion or was it to begin the restoration of the kingdom to the Son of David, the Lion of Judah, King of the House of Jacob?

    Ezekiel 37:24-28 will tell you exactly where this is all going. Spiritualizing these prophesies to eject/reject Judah is a gross violation of hermeneutics. Your post tells half of the story. Nation Israel and the Jewish people are in the Land today in fulfillment of prophecy. God is not finished with them, nor with us. Ezekiel 37 is your road map.

    Blessings and Shalom.

  4. Ron said,

    June 17, 2017 at 6:11 pm

    Pete,

    Would you please recommend to me historic Christian confessions or writings of theologians in the historic Christian church that I might read to better understand these things?

    Thanks.

  5. Pete Rambo said,

    June 18, 2017 at 4:43 am

    Ron,

    Is the matter true because theologians and the historic church testify to it, or is it true because Scripture and the Spirit bear witness?

    After the Book of Acts, there was a great rift between Jews and non-Jews in the synagogue. The early history is complicated (and, I believe you know much of it), but the short of it is that Christianity and Judaism largely defined themselves against each other. So, leaders (theologians and rabbis) on either side would have been loath to consider a Scriptural solution that points them back together. Therefore, you will not find this covered by either historic Christianity or Rabbinic Judaism.

    But, there is a great short primer that explains more in greater detail. Titled Who is Israel? Redeemed Israel, a Primer : https://www.amazon.com/Who-Israel-Redeemed-Primer-ebook/dp/B00H9M08O0/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1497774720&sr=8-1&keywords=who+is+Israel%3F+a+primer

    This is a topic covered by nearly every prophet, and is an intricate story line woven in from Genesis to Revelation.

    More examples:

    Why did Jacob (Israel) give the scepter to Judah and the double portion of fruitfulness to Joseph, effectively splitting the kingdom? (Gen. 48 and 49:8-11, 22-26)

    How was that pictured in what he did in Genesis 32:7 and 33:1-3 to safely convey the family past Esau and into the Land? (Notice it happened at the time of Jacob’s troubles, 32:24-32)

    From what tribes are Joshua and Caleb, the only two to enter the Land? (Num. 13:6, 8)

    Who do Moses (Levi) and Elijah (ger, prophet to Northern Kingdom) represent? (Mal. 4:4-6; Matt. 17:3)

    Why does Jesus say ‘Spirit and Truth’ to a descendant of the Northern Kingdom? (Ps. 119:142; Jn 4:24)

    Why at Shavuot/Pentecost did the High Priest wave two leavened loaves? (Lev. 23:17)

    Why in the Book of Revelation do we see all twelve tribes represented? (Rev. 7:5-8)

    And, twelve gates named for the tribes (Rev. 21:12)

    Why is it that those who the dragon is particularly wroth with have two characteristics listed (they keep the Commandments of God AND have the testimony of Jesus / Yeshua)? (Rev. 12:17; 14:12; 15:3; 20:4; 22:14 (KJV))

    Ron, there is much, much more, but this is enough to prove the case and start an amazing journey of discovery and new vistas into the detailed workings of our God.

    God’s stated purpose is to restore the fallen tent of David (Amos 9:9-15; Acts 1:6-8). That tent had/has two parts, but, Rehoboam drove a God ordained wedge resulting in the House of Israel being separated from David. (I Kings 12:16-19)

    May God bless you as you ponder through these many questions and the answers that are all connected.

  6. Ron said,

    June 18, 2017 at 4:26 pm

    “Is the matter true because theologians and the historic church testify to it, or is it true because Scripture and the Spirit bear witness?”

    The latter is usually accompanied by the former, like with the doctrine of the Trinity, which is something some ladies in your movement couldn’t affirm a couple years ago. I don’t recall whether you came to their rescue or not. At any rate, what you’re promoting then has no confessional status in the church. Secondly, there’s a gulf between what you’re promulgating and replacement theology, like covenant theology, which is a bit more nuanced than maybe you’d like to admit.

    I’ll leave you to Lane and others.


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