The Jewish Question, Part 2
In pondering the Jewish question, I recall Fiddler on the Roof in which Tevye poses a revealing, though tongue-in-cheek question: “I know, I know,” he concedes. “We are Your chosen people. But, once in a while, can’t You choose someone else?” His is the story of life in a small Russian shtetl, still under the Romanov dynasty. At the time, anti-Jewish propaganda in Western Russia often led to one pogrom after another; in the end, violence claimed the lives of no less than 1,500 Jewish citizens.
Atheists, radical Muslims, and rightwing, Christian fundamentalists qualify among the world’s most hated; but Jews emerge as the most enduring, universally hatred group in history. How ironic that many hate God Himself, who by His very nature loves so much. A provocative Masterpiece movie, God on Trial (2008), addresses Tevye’s quandary – this time, without a hint of humor. While awaiting inevitable death at the Third Reich’s most notorious death camp, Auschwitz, a group of Jews form a rabbinical court and put God on trial. In a universe presumably ruled by a benevolent, omnipotent God, they question how the Holocaust could possibly happen unless God is responsible for their suffering and therefore guilty of violating His holy covenant.
God’s Continuing Plan for Israel
The statesman Daniel knew better. His hope-filled, namesake book showcases God’s faithfulness, past, present, and future. Through it, Daniel references a complete history of Israel from Daniel’s time to that of the Messiah. Moreover, he discloses Israel’s miraculous restoration as a nation within a period of seventy weeks of seven years each (a total of 490 years), starting with the commandment to restore Jerusalem.
Notably, God’s promise to Abraham came with no expiration date. That the last half of “the seventieth week” has yet to happen confirms God’s continuing plan for Israel. God faithfully made of Abraham a great nation through which all families worldwide would be blessed. For Christians, that blessing came as a babe in the manger. Others benefit through the significant number of Jews whose extraordinary contributions in literature, economics, physics, and medicine have won Nobel prizes.
Left-Leaning Friends Beget Left-Leaning Jews
Although viewed with suspicion by many Jews, today’s Christian Right befriends and defends Israel as few others have. Why, then, are so many Jews left-leaning? Author Norman Podhoretz attempts to answer this perplexing question. For one, he suggests, Karl Marx mesmerized Jews. Das Kapital became a new kind of Torah, representing secular Jewish Messiah-ism. The Marxist Labor Movement promised to overturn capitalism, procure higher wages, and improve work conditions for the vast majority of Jews in America who, among others, were poor and powerless.
Next, when French artillery officer Alfred Dreyfus, a Jew, was charged with treason for having yielded military secrets to the Germans, fellow Jews believed their only friends were on the Left. From its inception in 1894 until its resolution in 1906, the Dreyfus affair divided France. Allegedly based on forged evidence, the Captain’s conviction ranks among preeminent political dramas of modern French and European history.
Historically, America’s Left has befriended Israel. Jews embraced America’s 32nd President, popularly known as FDR, as a sort of Moses and her 33rd President Harry S. Truman as Father of the Jewish State. Although JFK was considered cool toward Israel, Jews liked 36th President Lyndon B. Johnson for completing Roosevelt’s New Deal. Our 39th President Jimmy Carter negotiated peace talks and a treaty between Israel and Egypt, but later became openly and virulently hostile to Israel. Recoiling from Carter, Jews looked, albeit reluctantly, to our 40th President Ronald Reagan. Despite Jews’ widespread fear of the Religious Right, the President sympathized with Begin in implementing many bold economic and foreign policies.
God’s Answer to “Convenient Hatred”
Israel means “to prevail with God” or “prince with God.” “Israel” designates the son of Isaac (Jacob) or his descendants, the twelve tribes of the Hebrews. It references the nation’s ten northern tribes, as opposed to Judah. Over time, the term “Jew” came to represent the entire Hebrew race worldwide.
To this day, many disdain all Jews as international world controllers who, in practice, are not notably religious. Theorists hold that Jews unite universally in a manned and moneyed, exclusive and clandestine cabal ruthlessly devoted to world dominion. The long debunked, decidedly anti-Semitic Protocols portray the Jew as “a Republican as against the monarchy, a Socialist as against the republic, and a Bolshevist as against Socialism.”
An emerging, one-world system engineered and propelled by the ruling elite is evident. Certainly, Jews serve shadow government, but so do Gentile counterparts. Be clear: The entire Hebrew race is not culpable. Of purest Jewish blood, Paul explained: Not all who descended from Israel are truly Israel. Biblical Christians embrace Abraham as the father of all who believe – Jews first; then, Gentiles. Therefore, among those called and chosen of God stand New Covenant, Spirit-led Christians – i.e., “spiritual Israel."Set apart unto God, these (the collective faithful) "touch not the unclean thing.”
• Down, but not Out
In the presence of, and for the benefit of, Abraham and his progeny, God made a solemn, sacred blood covenant – with Himself. While Abraham literally slept, God alone traversed the blood-covered trail between slaughtered animal sacrifices, thereby swearing to Himself (sole, authoritative witness) to uphold His promises. No conditions whatsoever were imposed upon Abraham. Whatever Abraham did, or failed to do, God swore (1) to multiply Abraham’s seed as the stars of heaven and (2) to grant the land “from the river of Egypt as far as the great river, the river Euphrates.”
Simply put, God’s plan involves and even features Israel, distinguished in Scripture as “center of the Earth.” Israel was foreordained to “blossom as a rose” – to lend, not borrow; to reign, not be reigned over. Ezekiel described national Israel as “living securely” after returning from many nations. Yes, death intervened before God’s promises to Abram were fulfilled but, by faith, he saw them “afar off”; Abram firmly believed God would make good His promises, even those not fulfilled in Old Testament times.
• Shaken, but Spared
The Maccabean revolt, which crushed the Seleucids and Hellenism during the 400-year silent period between Old- and New- Testaments, marked the last establishment of a unified Jewish state prior to 1948. Prophetically, the generation in which Israel is reestablished as a nation – specifically, the “boomer” generation – will not pass away until all of Christ’s Eschatological Discourse is fulfilled.
Described as “a cup of staggering” and “a burdensome stone” to surrounding nations, Israel has been, and will be, shaken by what some authorities describe as three, all-out nuclear exchanges; but she will be spared total annihilation. Full appropriation of Israel’s rightful God-given territory, extending from the Nile to the Euphrates River, will be realized (likely in the Millennial Reign of Christ).
Good Fruit or Bad? Blessing or Cursing?
While every good tree bears good fruit, bad trees bear bad fruit. Whereas love, peace, forbearance, and goodness mark fruit of the spirit (representing the good tree), the bad tree produces hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envy, and murders. Accordingly, anti-Semitism exhibits seven things God explicitly hates – namely, haughty eyes, lying tongues, hands that shed innocent blood, hearts that devise wicked plans, feet that run rapidly to evil, liars and agitators among brothers. To curse Israel thusly is to be cursed of God.
On the other hand, to bless her is to be blessed of God through Israel. In the words of Gary Gilley: “A fair and balanced portrayal of the Middle East will reveal that one nation stands far above the others in its commitment to human rights and democracy as well as in its commitment to peace and mutual security. That nation is Israel.” Should she abandon Israel, thereby leaving 0.02% of the world’s population to stand alone against 20% of it hell-bent on “wiping her off the face of the earth,” America stands to forfeit God’s blessing; and her destiny as a “land of covenant” will be fatally compromised.
Promise comes with a price. Cradled in Orthodox Judaism, the apostle Paul suffered a persistent “thorn in the flesh,” momentary blindness, murderous fury of fellow Jews, threat of scourging, shipwreck, imprisonment, even seasons of discouragement and obscurity. Ultimately, Paul was executed.
Bottom line: Whom the Lord loves, He chastens. As it was with Paul, so it is with the faithful seed of Abraham. By blood covenant, God remains married to national Israel, despite her infidelities. C.H. Spurgeon reminds us that “the stormy wind sweeps away the pestilence, and the biting frost loosens the soil. Dark clouds distil bright drops, and black earth grows gay flowers.” To suffer with (and for) our Lord is to be glorified with Him.
In the end, “The LORD will comfort Zion; He will comfort all her waste places. And her wilderness He will make like Eden; her desert, like the garden of the LORD. Joy and gladness will be found in her; thanksgiving and sound of a melody.”
So be it.