The Jews, Israel and the Christians – what are the connections and why do they matter?
Pick up a Bible, Old and New Testament, read it through (it is only about 1200 pages, the length of 4 good novels) and then consider what the Bible is claiming. Write a shortlist of just some of the extraordinary perception-shifting claims the Bible makes. Your list might read something like this:
- God Created the Universe, the Earth, its plant and animal species; His final act of creation being the Creation of humankind, male and female, made in His image.
- Humans have a problem – they are not interested in doing what God wants, as that requires that they limit their ambitions and appetites in certain ways for the benefit of others (and who wants to do that, right?),
- The result is we fill the Earth with acts of evil and violence, and messages of falsehood and deception.
- God tried wiping us out but could not, or would not, do a complete job of it – it turned out His love for us got in the way – and so promised not to do it, at least until the seasons were no more.
- God created a chosen nation, bringing it into existence against the wishes of the most powerful nation in existence at that time (Egypt) and giving it His Law to live by. After a good start and later on a good recovery, it more often than not failed to live by those laws. At times it was disobedient to them, or it stuck to the letter of the law, but missed the intent of the law.
- So, God sent His own Son to His nation. While some received and understood that He was God in human form, the majority rejected him. The leaders of the nation, viewing Him as a imposter and a threat to their position, unjustly had Him crucified.
- But God, knowing this outcome from the beginning of time, went through with this plan because only by His death, in the context of the Jewish (i.e. God-given) pattern of sacrificial worship, could people then correctly understand God’s own sacrificial gift of Himself and grasp the love that God has within Himself for His Creation, and particularly the Humans who He made in His image.
- Raising Jesus from the dead, God commands that the Good News of all He is and has done be told to every human on earth in all generations, so that they too might know of God’s love for them, collectively and individually, and mould their lives to the character of God, a character of perfect goodness motivated by complete love.
- History has demonstrated that while the Christians have demonstrated all the same human flaws as the Jews, somehow in every generation the Good News of Jesus – man and God – has shone through. Through the covenants God has made (with Adam, Noah, Abraham -and Isaac and Jacob- Israel, Levi, David and finally everyone who believes in Jesus), God has demonstrated through His actions in history, that he is a trustworthy God who keeps His word.
- The record of history is that every single one of the points of this list has been, and continues to be, ferociously contested by human beings.
The story could be summarised like this:
- God makes man
- Man ignores God
- Man invents other gods
- God could kill off man, but doesn’t
- God saves a band of slaves and makes them His chosen nation Israel and gives them His law and a small piece of His land to live on
- Israel (the northern kingdom) chooses other gods and they get deported and lost
- Judah almost does the same
- God deports Judah
- God bring Judah back (the Jews)
- Judah tries to keep the law, but not too well
- God visits Judah as a man
- Man kills God
- God raised anyway
- God offers Man eternal life
- Man argues with God.
But with the recent history of the Jews, we have another piece of the story to add.
In the Bible, God promised over 2,500 years ago that He would one day scatter the Jews into all the nations, and that Jerusalem would be trodden over by the gentiles, but that in the last days He would restore them to their land, make them prosper, before the great and terrible Day of the Lord when He will return to kill His enemies and rule as king over all the earth.
In the last few generations, God has fulfilled His promise. Many Jews are in their God-given land and more are returning every day, despite the best efforts of powerful nations round about.
God has done what He promised to do. That is the same as the consistent testimony of the Bible: God has always done what He said He would do – however long it may take.
So the modern nation of Israel, located in the land of Israel, peopled by the people of Israel and speaking the language of the people of Israel (Hebrew) – all prophesied in the Bible – stands as a witness to the modern world that the testimony of the Bible is true. On this, Christians and Jews, at least, should all be agreed, and rejoice.
If the Bible is right about this, then is there any good reason why it is not right about everything else? I know of no such reason.
This is the elephant in the room. The nations rage against this truth. They argue that Israel is illegitimate, only the criteria they use would make every one of their own nations’ existance far more disqualified is Israel. The nations rage against Judaeo-Christian ethics, and by so doing are passing laws families find it increasingly impossible to live by. And guess what happens next: the divide between governors and governed will grow so great all the nations will break apart (yes – the Bible prophesies that, also). The West – the Christian nations among which the majority of Jews lived in their Dispersion – will be the first nations to fall apart – but it will not be long until that process will impact all nations (yes – that is in the Bible, also).
God’s word is being fulfilled, often by those who oppose it the most. For example, Turkey recently turned the historic church of Hagia Sophia into a mosque, again, rejoicing in their ‘victory’ over the Christians, and therefore Christ. The problem is that the Islamists’ warfare against the Christian believers (i.e. cruel brutality perpetrated on a peaceful people who are no threat to them) is exactly what the Bible says the ‘Beast’ will do the ‘saints’. Mr Erdogan has merely underlined the accuracy of Biblical prophecy. He and his party might care to reflect on what the Bible says God will eventually do to the Beast – He will cast them alive into Hell, described as a lake of fire burning with sulfur. If you have ever seen sulfur burn, you will know that at that temperature, it turns from being yellow to being utterly black.
A recent billboard recently announced: ‘Islamophobia is racism.’ On that logic, the Bible is racist, and should be banned. People have been trying to ban the Bible down the many centuries of its existence. They failed. They will go on failing. Why is that? Jesus said, ‘My words will never pass away.’ His words are always there to be heard by anyone who is willing to hear.
The world is dividing in many ways, but in the final analysis only one split is definitive: the split between those who hear and obey the words of the True and Living God, and those who do not.
This is the great battle of our age, not won with bombs and missiles, but won with goodness, truth, love, faith and sacrifice. God bless you all,
President – Jesus Christ for Muslims