How Can We Do Better? The Ungodly Blight of Antisemitism in Christian History
There is no doubt that the Jewish people have suffered immensely throughout history. Some of the suffering has been, sadly, at the hands of people, some of them professing Christians, who had an unscriptural view of Israel or were putting all the guilt for the death of the Messiah upon them. It is important to view Israel properly and seek to support and encourage her in a biblically correct way. If we don’t get this right, we stand to get much wrong, especially as future events concerning Israel unfold.
As Christianity rose to be the sanctioned state religion in Europe under Constantine it became easy to blame the death of Jesus upon the Jewish people without owning that Jesus came to die for ALL of humanity’s sins (1 John 2:1-2), and that all of us had a direct part in why He had to die (Romans 3:23-24). As blame, hatred, and misunderstanding snowballed, so did the persecution of Jewish people. Some contributing factors were theological ideas such as the concept that the Church now “replaced” Israel.
Martin Luther fostered the idea of replacement theology when it appeared that trying to convert Jews was not met with openness. His “advice” initially went from trying to be patient with them to ultimately urging the burning of their synagogues, putting them in settlements, confiscating their literature, threatening rabbis with death, and not allowing them free passage. You can understand how hostility could arise on both sides. Other factors were events like the Crusades, which sought to reclaim the Holy Land for Christians by force. Violence was added to theological or cultural viewpoints so that by the time Hitler came to power in the 1930s, a maelstrom of hatred against the Jews was again poised to happen. The Holocaust was a dark day for the Jews but a darker one for those administering it. At least six million Jews were murdered.
Antisemitism, aided with fuel from Satan’s hatred of Israel, spread and increased, and is still increasing to this day. We cannot stand by and allow this to happen without doing all that we can to aid our Jewish neighbors.
We as Gentile believers, are not divorced from Israel but are of “the commonwealth of Israel” (Ephesians 2:11-13). We are “wild branches” grafted into the branches of the olive tree that is Israel (Romans 11:17-18). The apostle Paul tells us not to be arrogant toward the original branches. He shows us that through their unbelief, Jesus redeemed ALL of us, and salvation came to us who were “afar off.”
God has made irrevocable promises to Israel that He will not renege on (Genesis 12:7; Genesis 15:17-18; Genesis 17:8; Jeremiah 31:2-4; Ezekiel 36:22-24). Israel’s current spiritual blindness will be overturned at the end of the age, and “all Israel will see “He whom they have pierced” and repent (Zechariah 12:10). It is now the place of the Church to stand with Israel and to pray for her complete salvation. The apostle Paul tells us that the Gentile church is to “provoke Israel to jealousy” (Romans 11:11). What in the world does that mean? Isn’t jealousy bad? Paul means that just by having a relationship with God that is not built upon obeying rules and regulations but freely receiving the grace of God, we can cause the hearts of Jewish people to be provoked to genuine faith. God freely pours out love, peace, salvation, joy, and every good thing upon us as trust in Him alone and not our works or our sacrifices. It is the goodness of God that leads us all to repentance and salvation (Romans 2:4)
It does no one, Jew or Gentile alike, to be mocked or held in derision, or rejected or blamed. This is not going to make anyone want salvation! Our hearts cannot hold malice toward our Jewish friends and neighbors. Many will be our future brothers and sisters in the Kingdom of God. Difficult times are ahead of them and it is up to us, even our God-given calling, to stand with them in their hour of trouble (Jeremiah 30:7). Our love for them must be patient and kind, not arrogant or rude, irritable, or resentful, it must never rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoice in sharing the truth. We must be able to bear all things, hope for all good things, endure all things. Our love, the agape love we receive from God, must not fail. This does not mean that we approve of all things that are said and done by the nation or people of Israel or the Jewish heritage. It means that we will be there to help as God shows us, even amidst misunderstanding, trouble, or rejection. It means that we know the Scriptures and stand with what God says: for His love for and faithfulness to Israel is linked with His Name (Genesis 22:16-17).
With notable exceptions, especially those who saved, protected, or hid Jews during World War Two, Jewish people have not always found a place of safety and reception amongst their Christian neighbors. Let us be a generation that is found interceding, upholding, and advocating for the Jewish people. The time of God’s mercy, the set time, is quickly coming to Israel (Psalm 102:13). So let us stand in our place and do as God directs to aid Israel and her people at the end of the age.
Rose-Marie Slosek is on the Board of Directors of Women of the Word. She also serves on the Lead Teams for FAI Emmaus Online School and Frontier Alliance International Homefront. Rose-Marie travels regularly to Israel. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org