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Why Gentile Christians Must Care about Antisemitism

By May 4, 2019 June 5th, 2019 5 Comments
Chabad Community Center Poway, CA

Last week, a gunman entered the Chabad Synagogue of Poway, CA, near San Diego, and began shooting, killing one person and wounding three others. Were it not for the brave actions of several in the congregation and that the weapon jammed, it would have been far worse, as bad as the shooting at Tree of Life synagogue of Pittsburgh was, just six months ago. Now reports about the shooter in Poway indicate that he was raised in an Orthodox Presbyterian church and his manifesto complained of the old Antisemitic trope that the Jewish people are all Christ killers.

Also last week, the International Edition of the New York Times, the great paper of record, ran a horrific Antisemitic cartoon, worthy of the Nazi rag, Der Sturmer. The paper did not immediately apologize, but instead called running the cartoon a mere “error of judgment.” It took a storm of criticism for the Times to take a second stab at addressing the controversy and offer an actual apology for their Antisemitic cartoon. They blamed it on a single editor not the normalizing of hatred of Israel so common in the New York Times. It took one of their own columnists to identify that as the cause.

These events are both reflections of the radical increase in Antisemitism in the United States and around the world. Most people would be surprised to learn that for years now, the number one target of hate crimes in the United States are Jewish people. The Anti-Defamation League released a report last year showing that Antisemitic incidents increased in 2017 by 60% and just last week, they announced that Antisemitic incidents in 2018 remained at these historic levels.

What is most surprising to me, since I teach and serve in the evangelical Christian sub-culture, is that most Christians don’t recognize that this should have any effect on them. It’s certainly not that they endorse this hatred but many question whether it should matter to them in any special way. Why should Gentile Jesus followers care deeply and act boldly to protect the Jewish people in our midst?

One reason we need to care about Antisemitism is that all followers of Jesus have Jewish roots. In Romans 11, Paul uses an illustration of an Olive Tree, a picture of the New Covenant, that Gentile believers are grafted into. He writes that if the root of this tree “is holy, so are the branches” (Rom 11:16). The root refers to the Patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The point is that Gentile Christians are branches grafted into a tree with Jewish roots. We need to care about Antisemitism because we stand on Jewish promises made to Jewish patriarchs.

But that’s not the only reason. We also need to care about the hatred of the Jewish people because we have a Jewish redeemer, the Lord Jesus the Messiah. In Romans 9:4-5 Paul lists many of the blessings God has given the Jewish people and a special one is that “from them, by physical descent came the Messiah, who is God over all, praised forever.” The Messiah who died for our sins and was raised again and who forgave us, is Jewish. Despite the New York Times and a US Congresswoman recently declaring that Jesus was a Palestinian, nothing could be further from the truth. Our Lord Jesus, whom we love and serve, is Jewish. We not only stand on Jewish promises but we have a Jewish savior.

Yet another reason to care about Antisemitism is that we serve a Jewish king. It’s not just that Jesus is Jewish, the Bible identifies Him as “the Son of David.” Paul calls the Lord Jesus a “descendant of David” in both Romans1:3 and 2 Timothy 2:8. His point is that Jesus is the royal heir to the Davidic Covenant. The Messiah Jesus isn’t just our redeemer—He’s our King. If the Lord Jesus were not the true King of Israel, then He would not be the King of the World. Therefore, we must care for the physical family of our king.

A final motivation to stand with the Jewish community against Antisemitism is that one day we will stand before a Jewish judge, the Lord Jesus Himself. In 2 Corinthians 5:10 Paul reminds us that we will all stand before the Bema seat of Messiah, when He will judge our works. Not only that, the Lord Jesus Himself said that He would judge the Gentile nations at the end of the Tribulation (Matt 25:31-46). The basis of His judgment would be how the nations treated the Jewish people during that terrific time of Antisemitism. The Lord receives some into the Kingdom because their actions reflected their genuine faith. He says, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of Mine, you did for Me” (Matt 25:41). Although this verse is applied in many different contexts, its primary meaning is that “these brothers” refer to the Jewish people.

Too often Gentile Christians think Antisemitism is bad but it’s not really any of their business. But the Scriptures remind us that we need to resist Antisemitism because of our relationships. It is not just someone else’s problem—  our roots, our Redeemer, and our Ruler should cause it to be one of our core concerns.

5 Comments

  • Avatar Dorothy Adams says:

    I agree mostly. The NY Times I didn’t think was “anti Semitic” or that they printed anti Semitic things. I think we cannot overstate that the presidents actions, words, and silence have all had a grave effect on not just our own country but the world. I know many non Christians that don’t have to be told we should not kill. It’s so sad to me that in this day there are so many naming the name of Jesus that actually somehow justify hatred of anyone. It’s truly the end times, and we all (I include myself) need to make sure our love does not grown cold. Anyone who promotes hate cannot be a true Christ follower.

    • Dr. Michael Rydelnik Dr. Michael Rydelnik says:

      You may disagree, but the New York Times itself does not. The paper called the cartoon they published “anti-Semitic.” The first statement said, ” “A political cartoon in the international print edition of The New York Times on Thursday included anti-Semitic tropes, depicting the prime minister of Israel as a guide dog with a Star of David collar leading the president of the United States, shown wearing a skullcap. The image was offensive, and it was an error of judgment to publish it. It was provided by The New York Times News Service and Syndicate, which has since deleted it.” When this statement stirred controversy, they published the following, explicitly calling the cartoon anti-Semitic: “We are deeply sorry for the publication of an anti-Semitic political cartoon last Thursday that circulates outside the United States, and we are committed to making sure nothing like this happens again. Such imagery is always dangerous, and at a time when anti-Semitism is on the rise worldwide, it’s all the more unacceptable. We have investigated how this happened and learned that, because of a faulty process, a single editor working without adequate oversight downloaded the syndicated cartoon and made the decision to include it on the Opinion page. The matter remains under review, and we are evaluating our internal processes and training. We anticipate significant changes.”

  • Avatar Sherry says:

    I am ashamed of us as a nation and the antisemitism that is becoming so prevalent. May the hearts and souls of America wake up and turn their hearts in repentance to God and our Savior Jesus Christ.

  • Avatar Martha Hidalgo says:

    Thank you Michael – I am sharing this on my FB page something I never do but find it so disturbing to me that so many Christians are either ignorant or just dismissive of the facts.

    I heard this today on your broadcast and am glad this is available on FB. Blessings to you for your teaching.

  • Avatar Vida Wilson647 says:

    Everyone who calls him/herself a Christian should read this.

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