Why have the Jewish people been persecuted more persistently than any other ethnic group throughout history? Why, in spite of overwhelming evidence of the Holocaust, do some deny that it happened? Why, after the high cost of life and resources necessary to squelch the anti-Semitism of World War II and the world’s determination never to allow this evil to plague mankind again, is anti-Semitism rising anew? Why is anti-Semitism able to captivate humans to the point that horrible atrocities can be performed without a pang of conscience?
The Basis of the Answer
These questions are prompted by realities that defy human reason to comprehend and explain, because the basis of those realities and the answer to the questions prompted by them lie not in the natural or human realm, but in the supernatural or spiritual realm. The ultimate cause of the realities and questions related to anti-Semitism is the great spiritual war that has been raging throughout most of time. That war is the key to understanding the purpose of history and the ultimate reason for the persistent hatred of Jews.
The personal, sovereign God, who revealed Himself in the Bible, created a kingdom (including the heavens and the earth) over which He could rule (Gen. 1:1). He created angels to serve Him in the heavenly realm of His kingdom (Ps. 103:19–22; 148:2–5) and man to serve Him in the earthly realm, giving man dominion over that earthly realm (Gen. 1:26–28; Ps. 8:4–8). He thereby established a theocracy (a form of government in which God is the sovereign ruler of the earth), but His rule was administered through Adam—a human representative.
Through pride, Lucifer, the greatest angel, started a war with the goal of overthrowing God as the sovereign Lord of the universe and replacing God with himself (Isa. 14:12–14; Ezek. 38:11–17; 1 Tim. 3:6). God then changed Lucifer’s name to Satan (enemy or adversary).
Satan persuaded other angels and men to join his war against God (Gen. 2:15–17; 3:1–11; Rev. 12:7). As a result of joining Satan, man died spiritually, brought harm to his environment, and became subject to disease, deformity, and physical death (Gen. 3:16–24; 5; Rom. 5:12). In addition, now that God’s human representative had defected, the earthly theocracy was lost. By joining Satan’s war, Adam handed over the rule of the world system to Satan, who has been dominating it ever since (Lk. 4:5–7; Jn. 16:11, 2 Cor. 4:4; Jn. 5:19).
In light of Satan’s war against Him, God’s goal for history is to glorify Himself by demonstrating that He alone is the sovereign God of the universe. To accomplish that goal, God must do three things before the history of this earth ends. First, He must crush Satan and eliminate him and his evil rule from the earth. Second, He must restore His theocracy to the earth. Once again He must have an Adam, a human representative, administering His rule over the earth. Third, when God restores His theocracy, He must reverse the tragic results of man’s joining Satan’s war.
Immediately after the first Adam joined Satan’s war, God informed His enemy that the woman’s seed would crush him (Gen. 3:15). God thereby revealed that the key to His crushing Satan would be the coming and work of a man-child Redeemer born of a woman during the course of world history.
Because this seed of a woman was the key to his defeat, Satan’s war strategy became twofold: First, he must try to prevent this promised man-child from being born; second, if that attempt failed, he must try to destroy this Redeemer before He could accomplish His God assigned work. In regard to the second part of Satan’s strategy, it should be noted that God also promised that Satan would bruise the heel of the woman’s seed (Gen. 3:15), thereby revealing that the man-child Redeemer would die while doing His God-assigned work and that Satan would be instrumental in causing His death.
Why would the Redeemer die? To accomplish His goal for history, sometime during its course God must rid man and the earth of the cause of their tragic predicament, which is man’s sin against God. God required the shedding of blood to atone for sin (Lev. 17:11); therefore, the woman’s seed would die to atone for man’s sin so that God could accomplish His purpose for history.
God revealed that the Messiah would die to atone for man’s sin (Isa. 53), crush Satan’s rule (Ps. 2:1–9; Isa. 11:1–4; Zech. 14:3–4, 12–15), restore God’s theocracy to the earth and rule it as His last Adam (Isa. 9:6–7; Dan. 7:13–14; Zech. 14:9), and reverse the tragic results of man’s joining Satan’s war (Isa. 11:6–9; 35:1–7). In other words, the Messiah is the promised man-child Redeemer, the key to God’s accomplishing His purpose for history.
Satan’s Purpose for Anti-Semitism
God promised to bless all nations of the earth through the seed of Abraham and Isaac (Gen. 22:18; 26:4). Thus, the woman’s seed, the promised Messiah, would be born through Abraham and Isaac’s physical line of descent, and the key to God’s defeating Satan and bringing great blessing to the world would come through the nation of Israel.
Satan therefore targeted Israel for destruction so that the Messiah could not come. For example, years after Abraham and Isaac’s descendants migrated to Egypt (Gen. 45–46), Satan prompted a new Pharaoh to decree that male babies born to Hebrew women be killed (Ex. 1:15–22). If all the males of a nation are destroyed, that nation will soon disappear because it will have no means of propagating itself This was the beginning of anti-Semitism, and it was Satan’s means of trying to destroy Israel so that the Messiah could not be born.
During the 400s BC, Satan prompted Haman, a high ranking official in the Medo-Persian empire, to persuade the king to pass a decree commanding that all Jews be killed in one day (Est. 3:8–15), thereby attempting to annihilate the entire nation of Israel in one days time so that the Messiah could not come.
From 175 to 164 BC, Antiochus Epiphanes, a Greek/Syrian ruler, warred against the Jews, tried to stamp out their worship of God, and massacred large numbers of people who resisted his policies.
In all of these examples, and many others not cited, Satan used anti-Semitism as his tool to try to annihilate Israel so that the Messiah could not be born. But Satan failed in this first part of his war strategy because God sovereignly countered all of his attempts to totally destroy Israel in pre-Christian times. As a result, the Messiah, Jesus Christ, was born of a Jewish woman around 5 or 4 BC, while Herod the Great ruled Israel on behalf of Rome.
Satan prompted many Jews to reject the Messiah and His message from God (Mt. 13:3–4, 18–19), but God sovereignly used that rejection as His means of having the Messiah die on a cross as “the Lamb of God, who taketh away the sin of the world” (Jn. 1:29; cp. Acts 2:22–24). Thus, Satan was instrumental in causing the Messiah’s death, just as God had foretold (Gen. 3:15).
In pre-Christian times, Satan used anti-Semitism to prevent the Messiah from coming, but he failed. Yet Satan continues to brutalize Israel with anti-Semitism because Israel still has a crucial role to play in God’s plan for history. When the Jewish nation accepts their rejected, crucified Messiah, God will crush Satan, eliminate him and his evil rule from the earth, and restore His theocracy (Zech. 12:10–13:1; 14; Dt. 3:13; 4:17; Acts 3:12–21). Because Israel must repent before God crushes His enemy, Satan has concluded that if he can annihilate Israel before it repents, God will never crush him. Thus, he has instigated heinous anti-Semitic activities through the Roman Empire, various forms of organized Christendom (the Inquisition, etc.), national governments, and numerous terrorist groups. He raised up Nazism as his tool to annihilate some six million Jews in the Holocaust (scholarly research has demonstrated the involvement of Hitler and his SS troops with occult rituals related to Satanism).
But Satan’s greatest onslaught of anti-Semitism is yet to come. Before the Messiah returns to crush him, Satan and his Antichrist will desolate Israel for three and onehalf years (Dan. 9:27; Rev. 12:13–15). They will be instrumental in drawing the armies of all nations against Israel (Zech. 12–14; Rev. 16:13–16), and the nation will be devastated so extensively that two-thirds of the Jewish people will perish (Zech. 13:8).
Thus, persistent hatred of Jews goes beyond the human realm to the supernatural or spiritual realm. In their war against God, Satan and his fallen angels are behind every expression of anti-Semitism.
God Overrules Anti-Semitism
God placed Israel into a unique, permanent relationship with Himself that no other nation has enjoyed (Dt. 7:6; 10:15; 14:2; 26:18–19; 2 Sam. 7:23–24). God did this, not because the Israelites were greater than other people (Dt. 7:7), but because He had a unique purpose for them. God is sovereign, and in spite of Satan’s persecution of Israel through anti-Semitism, His unique purpose for the nation is crucial to His purpose for history, which is to glorify Himself by demonstrating that He alone is the sovereign God of the universe. God’s purpose for Israel is related to this purpose for history in several ways.
First, God determined to demonstrate His sovereignty to the world through His historic dealings with Israel. Early in its history, God revealed that if Israel obeyed His Word, He would bless them more than any other nation (Dt. 28:1–14), but if Israel rebelled against His Word, He would curse them more than any other nation (Dt. 28:15–68). The cursing would include scattering the Jews among the nations and persecution so severe that they would despair of life itself (vv. 64–67). Thus, the cursing would presuppose the existence of anti-Semitism.
God indicated that through these historic dealings, He purposed to use Israel to impress the world with the fact that He sovereignly blesses those who obey His Word but curses those who rebel against it (vv. 10, 37). Thus, satanically inspired anti-Semitism will continue to exist until the Jewish people return to the Lord and His Messiah.
Second, God determined to bring the Messiah, the key to His purpose for history, into the world through Israel. Before the Messiah was born, however, Israel had a persistent tendency to disobey God, so He sovereignly allowed Assyria and Babylon to purge Israel of its rebellion (Isa. 10: 1–12; Jer. 25: 1–11) in order to preserve a faithful remnant within the nation through whom the Messiah could be born.
Third, God intends for Israel to be the spiritual leader of the world after He crushes Satan and restores His theocracy to the earth during the Millennial Kingdom. The Gentiles will then look to the Jews to lead them to Jerusalem and worship the true God (Zech. 8:22–23). Israel will have to be spiritually right with God to fulfill that role. To that end, God will overrule the future anti-Semitism of Satan and the Anti-Christ and will use the hatred of the nations to sovereignly draw them against Israel. His divine purpose will be to break their stubborn rebellion and bring them to repentance and belief in Jesus Christ as their Messiah and Savior (Zech. 12–14).