Inside View Jul/Aug 2022
Have you heard that Jesus was the first Palestinian? Perhaps you’ve heard Jesus was the great-grandfather of the Palestinian people or, more shocking, the first “Palestinian martyr.” These claims originate with the Arab community and try to delegitimize the State of Israel.
This is a new form of antisemitism, rooted in hatred of the Jewish people. It denies Jesus’ Jewish lineage, rewrites history, and removes the Promised Land’s Jewish heritage.
Antisemitism dates to the covenant God made with Abraham more than 4,000 years ago, in which God promised to bless the world through Abraham’s Seed (Gen. 22:18). This was God’s declaration that the Messiah, the Savior of the world, would come through Abraham’s descendants of promise (Gal. 3:8, 16). Being the nation that would birth the Savior made the Jewish people the enemy of Satan, the father of antisemitism.
Satan wants to destroy what God is using to redeem the world because God’s success means Satan’s demise. Satan’s final and greatest effort to eliminate the Jewish people is the focus of this issue of Israel My Glory.
Of course, turning Jesus into a Palestinian doesn’t attack Israel and the Jewish people alone. It also attacks the Christian faith. The New Testament is clear that Jesus was born to Jewish parents in the land of Israel. He observed Jewish Law, visited synagogues, quoted the Hebrew Scriptures, and went up to the Temple in Jerusalem for the holy days each year.
He fulfilled hundreds of Jewish prophecies, was born in the Jewish town of Bethlehem, and lived in the Jewish town of Nazareth. Today these towns are Arab; but in Jesus’ day, they were Jewish.
On the other hand, God’s Word contains not a single reference to Palestine. It speaks of Israel, Judea, and Samaria. Not until AD 135, 100 years after Jesus’ ascension, did the Romans rename the land Palestine after the Philistines, Israel’s archenemies. It was their way of stripping the Jewish homeland of its Jewish identity following the Jewish Bar Kokhba rebellion. It is historically impossible for Jesus to be something that didn’t exist in His day.
To claim Jesus was a Palestinian also insults the Christian belief that modern Israel is a miracle and that God is fulfilling His promises to restore the Jewish people as a nation in their own land.
But one offense tops them all. The lie changes the purpose for which Jesus came. If Jesus had not been Jewish, He could not have fulfilled God’s covenant promise that the Seed of Abraham would bless the world. Jesus’ death would not benefit any of us because He would have had the wrong bloodline. God said only a Son of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob could die for the sins of the world.
Making Jesus a Palestinian puts a new spin on Replacement Theology. Centuries earlier, Christians originated Replacement Theology to claim God replaced Israel with the church. Now the new antisemitism replaces both Jews and Christians with a pseudo theology that claims a Palestinian Arab came to stand against Jewish aggression and show Arabs how to resist. Hence, His death made Him the first “Palestinian martyr.”
This stance, of course, perverts not only biblical truth, but also history. Though its audience may be small, it is too dangerous to ignore. As evangelical support for Israel declines, particularly among the younger generations, these lies may take hold. They appeal to people committed to social justice and who don’t know their Bibles well.
We know, as in the days of Asaph (Ps. 83), Israel’s enemies took “crafty counsel” together to “cut them [Israel] off from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be remembered no more” (vv. 3–4). But God preserved Israel in Asaph’s day, and He will continue to do so today and in the days to come (Rev. 12). God has promised that Israel will never cease to exist (Jer. 31:35–37). That is truth, and we can believe it.