Sunday, February 12, 2017

Christians are to Stand Up Against Anti-Semitism

In my last blog, I discussed the cruelty of bigotry, stereotyping and hate. I ended my last blog with the Anti-Semitism, which has always been just under the surface of society, but has again surfaced rearing its ugly head against the Jewish people. I also gave you some examples of extreme Anti-Semitism that has already occurred throughout world history simply because of the unrealistic fear, jealousy and hate of a group of people who appear to be different. But, why is there such bigotry, stereotyping and hate for the Jewish people? Well, all these hateful and evil things started long ago, shortly after God chose Abraham and his ethnicity to be the people group that would represent to the world that God is the One and Only God. Why, though, did God choose the Hebrew people to represent Him to the world when their were many other people groups from which to choose? Let's see if the Bible will shed any light on this question.

(You may wish to read this blog in sections. Please don’t feel that you have to read the entire blog at one sitting. To make it easier for you to read and digest, I have divided the blog into sections so that you can read them at your convenience. I also encourage you to check out the Scriptures and to meditate on those Scriptures so that you fully understand what God is telling us. I hope you enjoy this blog and that you learn a great deal at the same time.)

God’s Chosen People

Thousands of years after the flood and as the world began to be repopulated, people again were enticed by Satan to believe in many different false gods. By the time Abraham was born, all the different people or ethnic groups on the face of the earth were worshiping false gods and not one person recognized the One true God. But a Hebrew man named Abraham began to think about all these different false gods, the world in which he lived and how only One God would be able to bring everything into complete harmony and beauty within the world. One day Abraham suddenly realized that there could indeed only be One True God, so he promised to worship Him only. He also wanted a relationship with God.

 God gladly accepted Abraham’s belief and devotion to Him. Shortly thereafter God tested Abraham, who was called Abram at that time, by telling him to go and “Leave your country, your relatives, and your father’s house, and go to the land that I will show you. I will cause you to become the father of a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and I will make you a blessing to others. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you.  All the families of the earth will be blessed through you.”  -- (Genesis 12: 1-3. NLT).

When God spoke to Abraham he was living in Haran and was fairly wealthy. But, Abraham believed in and obeyed God. “So Abraham departed as the Lord had instructed him, and Lot went with him. … He took his wife, Sarai, his nephew Lot, and all his wealth – his livestock and all the people who had joined his household at Haran…” -- (Genesis 12: 4, 5. NLT). They all left to travel to the land of Canaan. Later, it would be through Abraham’s descendants, starting with his son Isaac and then with Isaac’s son Jacob, who both also believed in and worshiped the One and Only God, that God would do great and mighty things for the Hebrews including the rescue of the Hebrew people, i.e., Abraham’s descendants, from Egypt and its harsh Pharaoh. In fact, shortly after God rescued the millions of Hebrew’s and gave them their freedom from the Egyptian Pharaoh, they came into the wilderness of Sinai with Moses, who was God’s chosen leader of these people. They finally camped at the base of Mount Sinai. Then Moses went up on the mountain of Sinai to speak to God.

And Moses went up to God, and the Lord called him out of the mountain. Say this to the house of Jacob and tell the Israelites: ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now, therefore, if you will obey My voice in truth and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own peculiar possession and treasure from among and above all peoples: for all the earth is Mine.
And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests, a holy nation [consecrated, set apart to the worship of God].’ …”  – (Exodus 19: 3-6. Amplified).

Notice that God, because of His love for Abraham and his descendants, wanted this ethnic group of people to be His “own peculiar possession and treasure from among and above all peoples” of the earth. So, God chose this ethnic group of people to represent Him and to teach the world about the One and Only God. But in order for the Hebrew people to represent Him to the world, God needed to teach the Jewish people all about Him. God also wanted to make the Jewish people to be righteous before Him so that they could someday spend eternity with Him when their time on this earth was over. But, in order to make them righteous and worthy, they needed to follow God’s truth, live righteously, and only worship God. They had to give up worshiping all the false gods they had been introduced to in Egypt. However, in order to do so, they would have to be taught about the power of God as well as how to worship God and how to become a holy righteous nation.

The Ten Commandments and Laws Given to Protect the Israelite People

Shortly thereafter while camping at the base of Mount Sinai, Moses went back up on the mountain where the Lord gave Moses the Ten Commandments that would set the standards for Israelites’ worship of God and for their living a good, kind, and caring life that would be different from how the rest of the world lived. For, the rest of the people in the world were living strictly for themselves. Indeed, most people thought only of themselves and what they could get from other people. Sadly, many people were also cruel and evil. But, that was not what God wanted for the world. He wanted people to care about each other, love each other, and do for each other, while being thoughtful and kind. Moreover, God wanted the Hebrew people to worship Him only and to be able to represent to the rest of the world what living for God was to look like.

While there at Mount Sinai, God gave the Israelite or Hebrew people the Ten Commandments by which to live. The Ten commandments were personal, social, and emotional commandments that would protect the Hebrew people from those things that often tripped up the average person. In fact, God gave these commandments as laws that were to guide the people in all areas of their lives. All the Israelites had to do was adhere to these commandments in order to live a life that was good, true, and approved of by God. So, when Moses went back up on Mount Sinai to receive God's instructions, God said to Moses:

 “I am the Lord your God, Who has brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

You shall have no other gods before or besides Me.

You shall not make yourself any graven image [to worship it] or any likeness of anything that is the heavens above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; You shall not bow down yourself to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, …

You shall not use or repeat the name of the Lord your God in vain [that is, lightly or frivolously, in false affirmations or profanely] for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain.

Earnestly remember the Sabbath day and keep it holy. … Six days you shall labor and do all your work, But the seventh day is the Sabbath to the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work …

Regard (treat with honor, due obedience, and courtesy) your father and mother that your days may be long in the land the Lord your God gives to you.

You shall not commit murder.

You shall not commit adultery.

You shall not steal.

You shall not witness falsely against your neighbor.

You shall not covet your neighbor’s house, your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s. – (Exodus 20: 1-17. Amplified).

Laws and Regulations by Which to Live

Besides the Ten Commandments, God would also give the Israelites dietary and cleanliness laws that would keep them healthy and free from all the bacteria and diseases that could kill the other people groups who ate most anything and who failed to wash and keep their bodies clean.

Then God even gave the Israelites ordinances or rules to live by that would lessen the chance of quarreling or fighting among the people. God even gave them rules on how to fairly treat their servants and the foreign people who lived among them. These laws, ordinances, and rules gave the Hebrew people guidance and structure that at the same time set them apart from other people groups.

Sadly, when other groups of people saw how dedicated the Israelites were to following the commandments, laws, and rules that God had provided for a wholesome and happy life, instead of accepting the Jews, they ridiculed them or they became jealous of the Jew’s dedication to things that they did not understand. Many people also feared the Jews for their differences and for the rigid structure under which the Hebrews lived. Don’t we also have a tendency today to ridicule people when we don’t understand them or when we become jealous or think that they don’t deserve something that we too should have. We often just call it “sour grapes” when someone ridicules someone else for having something that they don’t have or when a person tries to demean another person’s accomplishments. But, it can become more than just “sour grapes” if we are not careful. It can morph into extreme jealousy, hatred and evil.

Christians are supposed to look at the bigger picture and not be jealous, fearful, or bigoted, toward other people. Nor, are we to project our insecurities and fears upon another group of people through our bigotry, stereotyping and hate. Instead, we are to look at other people through the eyes of Jesus and then love them as much as we can. We are to look for ways to help others even when we don’t fully understand them. Why? Because God created them and loves them just as He loves each of us.

God gave the Jewish people special gifts and wisdom.

Besides setting the Hebrew or Jewish people aside as His special Kingdom of priests and His peculiar possession and treasure from among all the other peoples, God bestowed upon the Jewish people the ability to do many things that the ordinary person could not do. Moreover, God gave many of the Jewish people the ability to learn quickly and to think at higher levels of inquiry than that of the ordinary person. How do we know this? Well, God’s Word tells us that God endowed certain gifts on particular Jewish tribes, and throughout the years we have witnessed the inventive and the higher thinking skills of certain Jews. Such men as Albert Einstein, J. Robert Oppenheimer, Jonas Salk, Carl Sagan, Max Born, and Edward Teller are just a few of the Jewish scientists that have greatly contributed to the world through their intellect and higher thinking skills. There have also been many philosophers such as Sigmund Freud and Nostradamus who have influenced the world. Other Jewish people such as politicians and leaders around the world have been extremely influential in the world. Then there are the modern Jewish leaders like Netanyahu, Peres, and Sharron who have been influential not only in the world, but especially in their own country of Israel. America, too, has especially been blessed with many Jewish intellectual, scientific, economic, and political leaders throughout our history but especially within the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.

Why have these particular Jewish men and others throughout history been so important and influential in the world of science, economics, philosophy, world leadership, etc.? Could it be that they have been blessed by God and have been given particular gifts from God? Again, we can go to the Bible to find the answer to those questions.

 Long ago in the wilderness while at the base of Mount Sinai, the Lord God needed men who could construct the Tabernacle or the House of the Lord to His specific specifications and for God’s glory. So, the Lord God gave or bestowed upon certain men and their descendants the ability to do many specific specialized things. This was especially true for the craftsmen who needed the ability and intellect to create exceptional beauty for the Tabernacle.

So, “The Lord said to Moses, See I have called by name Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur of the tribe of Judah. And I have filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom and ability, in understanding and intelligence, and in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship, to devise skillful works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in bronze, and in the cutting of stones for setting, and in the carving of wood, to work in all kinds of craftsmanship.

And behold, I have appointed with him Aholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan; and to all who are wise-hearted I have given wisdom and ability to make all that I have commanded of you.”  -- (Exodus 31: 1-6. Amplified).

Notice that God bestowed upon these two men the needed wisdom, understanding, intelligence and knowledge as well the craftsmanship needed to accomplish the goals set. But it wasn’t just these two men to whom God gave the needed knowledge and wisdom to create things for the Tabernacle. For we are told: “Bezalel and Aholiab and every wise-hearted man in whom the Lord has put wisdom and understanding to know how to do all the work for the service of the sanctuary shall work according to all that the Lord has commanded. And Moses called Bezalel and Aholiab and every able and wise-hearted man in whose mind the Lord had put wisdom and ability, everyone whose heart stirred him to come to do the work.” – (Exodus 36: 1, 2. Amplified). From these verses, we can see that there were other men too that were given the wisdom, the intellect, and the knowledge to accomplish and make the needed things for the sanctuary.

After the tabernacle was finished, did God suddenly quit bestowing upon the Jewish people special abilities and wisdom? Certainly not! God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. This means that God did not suddenly stop giving Jewish men special knowledge, or that He only awarded the men of old with wisdom, understanding, and knowledge. For, God has continued to bestow wisdom and knowledge on many Jewish people throughout history and even through today. Indeed, it is their special gifted abilities that have often set the Jewish people apart from other people. It is also these gifted abilities that have thus contributed to the special significance of many Jewish people, which in the eyes of many has created jealousy, fear, and anger; culminating in the bigotry and hatred of the Jewish people. But we cannot allow the negative and hurtful emotions of jealousy, fear, anger, stereotyping, and “sour grapes” to cause us to treat another human with less respect than we would want to be treated. We are not to be bigoted. We are not to be Anti-Semitic. We are not to be a racist! We are to love all people as God loves us!

Stopping the Bigotry and Hatred of Jews by Searching out the Truth

So, how do we stop this evil that the devil has perpetrated upon the Jewish people through his lies and his tapping into our own fears, jealousy, and human failings. How do the followers of Christ put out the fires of bigotry and hatred? Well, first we represent Christ in all we do. Then, we must kindly and politely enlighten people to the truth about the Jewish people and to the truth of how Christians are to treat all races and ethnic groups. We can do this by actively and relationally mentoring others, especially our Christian brothers and sisters in the truth.

The truth is that we are to love others as we would love ourselves. Moreover, we are not to buy into some of the historic attitudes developed in the early churches about the Jews killing Jesus and thus not being worthy of our love. Christianity was developed by Jesus Christ, who was first and foremost a Jew. In fact, Jesus forgave even those Romans and Jews who placed Him upon the cross. He even asked His Father to forgive them. Jesus said, “Father forgive these people, because they don’t know what they are doing.” – (Luke 24: 34. NLT). If Jesus can forgive us our sins, certainly, He can forgive the sins of those individuals who for their own reasons put Him, Christ, on the cross. Certainly, we have no right to say who can be forgiven and who can't.

Obviously, an entire race of people did not kill Jesus. It was only a few scared political individuals who were afraid of losing their own power status who wanted Jesus dead. But even they could not do it alone. They had to call upon the ruling Roman leaders of that day to crucify Christ. So, just because a few individuals from two different ethnic groups were the ones who actually crucified Jesus, does not mean that we are to use broad brush strokes and color all the Jewish or all Roman people with distain and hate. Moreover, if God did not hate them, why should we. Instead, God used the Jewish people and their refusal to acknowledge Christ as the Messiah as the catalyst for giving the Good News to the Gentiles. Had it not been for the rejection of Christ by the Jewish hierarchy, Gentiles would not have come to know Christ. The Apostle Paul explains this beautifully in Chapter 11 of the book of Romans. Paul said, “Did God’s people stumble and fall beyond recovery? Of course not! His purpose was to make His salvation available to the Gentiles, and then the Jews would be jealous and want it for themselves. Now if the Gentiles were enriched because the Jews turned down God’s offer of salvation, think how much greater a blessing the world will share when the Jews finally accept it.– (Romans 11: 11, 12. NLT).

Unfortunately, people, including some Christians, usually want someone to blame for whatever crime or situation that they feel needs to be righted. So, starting with the beginning of the early Catholic Church in 300 and 400 A.D., Jews were to be punished for having put Christ on the Cross. This idea of punishment and criticism against the Jews still goes on today in many protestant denominations. But we should remember Christ’s words, when He spoke to the Scribes and Pharisees who had brought and adulterous woman to Him to be stoned to death as the law required at that time. Jesus said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.– (John 8:7. Amplified).  Ashamed of themselves, the Scribes and Pharisees put down their stones and walked away. We, too, should be ashamed of our actions of bigotry, hate, and stereotyping. We should ask ourselves what Christ would want us to do and then act with love in our hearts toward others.

Sadly bigotry, stereotyping, and hate continues in all aspects of our society and such evil is often based upon our human desire for justice or retribution for what has happened in the long ago past. In fact, today Americans are going through a similar situation here in the United States of feeling that the injustice that occurred in the past should to be righted by those in the present even if the people today were not the ones to have perpetrated the crimes and wrongs of long ago. The injustice that I am talking about is based on the injustice of the slavery, which is now in our country’s past. But because of the terrible slave history in our nation, white people are now deemed by many black people to still be responsible for the injustice of slavery which occurred years ago. Somehow, the stereotyping, bigotry and hatred of white people today has become acceptable. Indeed, in many cases, white people are deemed responsible for these slavery injustices simply because they are white. In fact, because America's southern economy was once based on slavery, hurt, and degradation back in the 1700 and 1800’s, many black Americans today are still painting all white Americans with the same broad brush strokes that were used to paint all the racist people back in 1865 during the civil war. Several of these black Americans even want to be reimbursed by this generation for something that was done many generations ago by other people. Humans love to place blame on other humans.

Obviously, no amount of money can make right what was done back then to a great number of the black people. Furthermore, no amount of money or hate can make right what was done to Christ so long ago. All we can do is go forward and try to live our lives with love and not hate. We are to be kind and show the world that we truly have the heart of Christ within us and that we have been reborn into a new person who loves the Lord and loves others. If you do not have love in your heart for others, you may not be a born-again Christian. Why do I say that?

Well, the Apostle John wrote: “Beloved let us love one another, for love is (springs) from God; and he who loves [his fellowmen] is begotten (born) of God a is coming [progressively] to know and understand God [to perceive and recognize and to get a better and clearer knowledge of Him].

He who does not love has not become acquainted with god [does not and never did know Him], for God is love.

In this the love of God was made manifest (displayed) where we are concerned; in that God sent His Son, the only begotten or unique [Son], into the world so that we might live through Him.

In this is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation (the atoning sacrifice) for our sins.
Beloved, if God loved us so [very much], we also ought to love one another.”  -- (I John 4: 7-11. Amplified).

Christians are to love others and are to lovingly mentor one another. We are to mentor the truth of the Bible and the love of God. Can you actively and relationally mentor other people about the love of God? Can you tell the world why God loved us so much and how He sent His Only Begotten Son to die for our sins? For, it is only through the resurrection of Christ and our belief in who He is and What He truly did that we will be able to spend eternity with God and Christ someday. Can you explain to others why Christ would not want Christians to engage in bigotry, stereotyping, jealousy, fear, and hate?

Standing Up for the Jewish People and Mentoring God’s Truth to the World

Today, we have to stand firm for not only the defense of Israel, but for the individual Jewish person wherever he/she is. We have to let the Jewish people know that we love them and that Christ loves them too. Just as importantly, we must mentor or teach others who may have a negative attitude toward the Jewish people the truth about the importance of the expressions of love within our language and within our actions as true Christians or followers of Christ. We can do this subtly through our own truthful statements and through the love that we express for the Jewish people, and we can do it when we gently correct misconceptions that have been passed down through the generations. We can then mentor the truth through biblical scriptures that tell of God’s love for the Jewish people even after Christ was crucified and many Jewish people rejected Him. This means that we have to correct the many negative stereotypical attitudes that others have and that are still are passed down from one generation to the next which are based upon false information and misconceptions and miscommunication.

As Christians, our responsibility does not stop with Bible studies and going to church. Our responsibility to the world is to show the world how Christ would want us to live and act on a daily basis in a Christian manner that represents Christ to the world. Remember, Christ has asked us to love others as we love ourselves. (See Luke 10: 27). Therefore, whether we are mentoring just one individual or we are daily mentoring our family and friends, we have a responsibility to tell the truth and to live the truth of the Bible. Part of that truth is that God never turned His back on the Jewish people and neither should we.

The Apostle Paul explained God’s love for the Jewish people to the Roman Christians, saying: “Lest you be self-opinionated (wise in your own conceits), I do not want you to miss this hidden truth and mystery, brethren; a hardening (insensibility) has [temporarily] befallen a part of Israel [to last] until the full number of the ingathering of the Gentiles has come in, And so all Israel will be saved. As it is written, The deliverer will come from Zion, He will banish ungodliness from Jacob, and this will be My covenant (My agreement) with them when I shall take away their sins, From the point of view of the Gospel (good news), they [the Jews, at present] are enemies [of God]. Which is for your advantage and benefit. But from the point of view of God’s choice of election, of divine selection), they are still the beloved (dear to Him) for the sake of their forefathers. For God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable. …”  -- (Romans 11: 25-29. Amplified)
Later, the Apostle John tells us in the book of Revelation that there will be 144,000 Jewish men who will be devout believers during the Tribulation. They will share the Gospel message with as many people as will be willing to hear about the grace and mercy of God. So, you can see that God has never rejected the Jewish people nor will he start now. God loves the Jewish people just as He loves Christians and those that will turn to His Son, Jesus Christ. In fact, here in the United States and around the world, many Jewish people have or are in the process of accepting Christ as their Savior. Were it not for God’s love of these people and the refusal of some Jews during the early part of the first century A.D. to accept Christ as the Messiah, Gentiles would not have been given the glorious opportunity to know Christ as their Savior. So, we are not only indebted to the Jewish people, but we have a responsibility to share the Good News with everyone, including the Jews. We also have the responsibility of mentoring people on loving the Jewish people and not falling into Satan’s trap of bigotry, stereotyping and hate.

You can do it! You can mentor others on the Good News and on the truth of the Bible which is the Word of God. You can mentor others on love and kindness. Yes, you can do it! You can become an Active Relational Christian Mentor who stands for the truth of God’s Word and shares that truth with others.

Accepting Christ as your Savior

But if you are still waiting to ask Christ to come into your life and change you into a new being who is filled with love and caring, you can take that step to become a re-born person. In fact, don’t wait any longer. Stop what you are doing and pray to God asking Him for His forgiveness of your sins. Tell God that you are truly willing to give your life to the One who went to the cross so that you could live forever. Tell God that you believe on His Only Son, who is alive and in Heaven with Him and is now preparing a home for those who believe that He was resurrected from the grave. Tell God that you believe that Christ conquered eternal death and is alive in Heaven with Him, His Father. If you do that from your heart, then you will be saved. But, don’t stop there, then go and tell someone that you asked Christ into your heart. Tell them that Christ is Lord of your life! Congratulations you are now a child of God’s no matter whether you are a Gentile or Jew. God loves you and when you believe on His Son, you are saved! 

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