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God is faithful to His people

23 December 2022

This week the Jewish people celebrate Hanukkah – the ‘festival of lights’. They commemorate the recovery of Jerusalem and subsequent rededication of the Second Temple after the beginning of the Jewish Maccabean revolt against the Greek Seleucid Empire in the 2nd century BCE.

This year, Hanukkah coincides with Christmas – the day the Church celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. This coincidence challenges us to understand the relationship between the Church and Israel.

Very early, in the first centuries after Christ, the Church developed the idea that it replaced the Jewish people as God’s people. It is incredibly important to recall that – as a result of this theology – the Church through the centuries has been responsible for the most horrific and systemic persecution of the Jewish people. Just as the Greeks sought to eliminate the Jewish people, so too we Gentile Christians have rejected and despised and even sought to eliminate the Jewish people.

As a result, today, large parts of the Christian world have become very ‘Greek’ in their mindset. In essence, the Greeks worshiped physical beauty. As one writer put it, the Hellenistic perspective sees what is beautiful as holy, whereas the Hebrew mindset sees what is holy as beautiful. The Church has become more interested in being accepted by the world than striving for God’s holiness.

We must remember and deeply internalise that Jesus Christ was and remains a Jew. He came as a Servant of the Jewish people, in order that the Gentiles will worship the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Romans 15). As the Apostle Paul explains in Romans 9-11, by God’s grace, we Gentiles are enabled to participate in God’s eternal and unbreakable covenant relationship with the Jewish people.

The Church did not replace Israel. “God’s gifts and His call are irrevocable” (Romans 11:29). He is still faithful to His people. He who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor slee (Psalm 121).

We look forward to the day that the Messiah will come to redeem His people and establish God’s Kingdom of peace. Then all the nations of the world will worship the one true God.

May that day come soon!

Maranatha.

The Editorial Team – Israel & Christians Today


The Maccabees, the Greeks, and the Origins of the Conflict Between Hellenism and Hebraism
Philologist writes at Mosaic Magazine: “What the Maccabees called their enemies reveals much about how both cultures saw themselves and what the conflict between them meant for the world.
> Read more..

Democracy in Israel
Prof. Alan Dershowitz writes at Gatestone: “There is much for Israel to be proud of, even as it faces challenges both from without and within. No nation is subjected to more unfounded and disproportionate condemnation — from the United Nations, from international tribunals, from NGOs, from campus radicals, from many in the media — than the nation-state of the Jewish people.
Read more..

A sign of hope during Hanukkah
Frank van Oordt writes: “Last year, Rabbi Mendel Cohen’s Jewish community in Mariupol (Ukraine) celebrated Hanukkah in their synagogue. Each day, a light was added as a sign that God is with His people. The feast was celebrated, and war was not thought of.”
Read more..

Why is Jesus a Jew? Rev. Willem J.J. Glashouwer
Rev. Willem J.J. Glashouwer explains that, as Jesus stated, salvation was through the Jews, it is still from the Jews, and it will be through the Jews. The Jewish people are God’s means of bringing blessing to the whole world.

 

SCRIPTURE FOR THE WEEK:

Romans 15:7-13

Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God. For I tell you that Christ has become a servant of the Jews on behalf of God’s truth, so that the promises made to the patriarchs might be confirmed and, moreover, that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy. As it is written:

“Therefore I will praise you among the Gentiles;
I will sing the praises of your name.

10 Again, it says,
“Rejoice, you Gentiles, with his people.”

11 And again,
“Praise the Lord, all you Gentiles;
    let all the peoples extol Him.”

12 And again, Isaiah says,
“The Root of Jesse will spring up,
    one who will arise to rule over the nations;
    in him the Gentiles will hope.”

13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.