Inside View Nov/Dec 2015
I recently met up with a Jewish friend in Jerusalem. He had just returned from a trip to a major city in Europe. When he checked into his hotel, he was told he could wear his kippa (skull cap) in the building but was advised not to wear it on the street because identifying himself as Jewish could be dangerous. In enlightened, multicultural Europe, it’s not safe today to be visibly Jewish. Wearing a symbol of Judaism, such as a kippa, can lead to physical attack and injury. This growing anti-Semitic spirit is what Jewish people faced in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and what led to pogroms (persecutions) and eventually to the Holocaust.
In his work The Life of Reason: Reason in Common Sense, 20th-century Spanish-born philosopher George Santayana wrote, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” It is alarming to see anti-Semitism rising in Europe. After the savagery of the Holocaust, we’d like to think humanity has learned from its mistakes; but nothing could be further from the truth.
In 2015 anti-Semitic hatred escalated from verbal abuse and beatings to the outright murder of Jewish people in parts of Europe. Understandably, more and more Jewish people are leaving Europe for Israel, the one nation where they are free to live openly as Jews and defend themselves from their enemies.
Why is such virulent anti-Semitism reemerging in less than a century? Because the heart of man is “desperately wicked” (Jer. 17:9), and the greater battle is not with flesh and blood, but with powers and principalities and “the rulers of the darkness of this age…in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12).
It is God’s conflict with Satan that is driving the upsurge in anti-Semitism. Until the Messiah returns to defeat Satan and rescue the Jewish people from his evil designs, anti-Semitism will plague the earth.
In the days of Asaph the psalmist, Israel’s enemies said, “Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be remembered no more” (Ps. 83:4). The same spirit lives today, as men boldly declare, “We will wipe Israel off the map!” and “Death to Israel!”
When God chose to make a covenant with Abraham in Genesis 12, He designated Abraham and his descendants through Isaac and Jacob as the sole nation through which He will accomplish His redemptive plan. God’s choice of Israel made the Jewish people Satan’s unique target. Satan’s only chance to prevent God from crushing him is to keep God from completing His redemptive plan. It is Satan who influences the world to hate the Jewish people and seek their destruction.
History is repeating itself because Satan hasn’t given up on his objective to annihilate the Chosen People. But this does not let individuals off the hook for hating them. Anti-Semitism stands in opposition to God’s desire for the Gentile nations. In the covenant God made with Abraham, He promised to bless the Gentiles who bless Israel and curse those who curse Israel. Anti-Semitism is the vilest form of cursing the Jewish people.
This is the season when we give thanks and remember the birth of the Messiah, Jesus Christ, two millennia ago in the little Jewish town of Bethlehem. His birth is important because it reminds us that God will accomplish His plan to redeem His creation from the curse of sin and crush Satan, the great usurper. In His First Coming, Jesus paid the redemption price: His sinless blood, shed for our sin, which qualified Him to become God’s human representative to restore God’s Kingdom on Earth.
We look forward to His Second Coming, when He will put an end to Satan’s efforts to destroy the Jewish people and will judge the nations for the way they treated the “apple of His eye” (Zech. 2:8).
In the meantime, we are called to bless the Jewish people and stand against anti-Semitism.