Like it or not: ‘Salvation is of the Jews’

21 December 2023

Since 7th October we have witnessed an explosion of antisemitism across the globe that is reminiscent of the 1930s in Nazi Germany. Calls for “intifada against Jews”, and liberation of Palestine “from the river to the sea”, are nothing short of calls for the killing and destruction of the Jewish people. In the media, people are falling over themselves to criticise and condemn Israel (ie. the Jewish people) for war crimes and crimes against humanity.

To be sure, the horrible death and destruction in Gaza is hard to bear. Criticism of the Israeli handling of this conflict is perfectly understandable. Emotionally, who doesn’t want the war to end right now?

But what can explain such virulent hatred of the Jews?

Antisemitism is a violent opposition to the existence of the Jewish nation. It is hatred of Jews’ claim to being “elected”, and thus hatred of the God who elected them.

Deep down in our hearts, it seems we Gentiles have always resented the idea that the Jews are special.

Even many Christians today believe that the Jews are no longer elected, that they no longer have any special place in God’s economy.

That is strange, to say the least, when you consider how the nation of Israel is at the heart of the gospel in the New Testament – from beginning to end.

The Bible testifies that Jesus was born a Jew, lived as a Jew, died a Jew, rose and ascended a Jew, and will return a Jew.

Some examples:

The angel Gabriel announces to Mary that Jesus shall receive “the throne of His father David, and He shall reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end.”

Maria proclaims that God “hath helped His servant, Israel, in remembrance of His mercy, as He spoke to our fathers …” (Luke 1:54-55).

Luke records that Zacharias, the father of John, filled with the Holy Spirit, prophesied saying that Jesus came to save the people of Israel from their enemies, so that “being delivered [we] might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him, all the days of our life.” (Luke 1:74-75).

On Jesus’ presentation in the Temple eight days after His birth, Simeon – a righteous and devout man “who was waiting for the consolation for Israel” – blessed God: “for mine eyes have seen thy salvation, which though hast prepared before the face of all people; a light to lighten the gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel” (Luke 2:25-35).

Much later, in the letter to the Romans, Paul confirms that “the gifts and calling of God are without repentance” (Romans 11:29).

Jesus Himself said “salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22).

Does God love Israel more than other nations – Jews more than Gentiles? Israelis more than Palestinians?

No, of course not. “God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears Him and does what is right.” (Acts 10:34-35).

And yet the election and calling of Israel is unique.

It is through the nation of Israel that God blesses the nations. In Israel the saviour was born, and through the restoration of Israel He redeems the whole creation.

As we celebrate Christmas, it is essential that we Gentile believers remember we are grafted into God’s covenants with Israel. Our saviour Jesus Christ broke down the wall of hostility between Jew and Gentile, but also came as a Jew under the law to confirm (not destroy) the promises and covenants to His people Israel (Romans 15).

Like it or not, our identity and calling are bound up with those of Israel.

Does that mean we must support everything the modern state of Israel does or says? Does it mean we favour Israel over the Palestinians? Of course not. The State of Israel is a man-made entity, flawed and imperfect. The Palestinians are also deeply loved by God, and have legitimate rights to live in the land, and aspirations for independence.

But the fact is – whether we like it or not – God is bringing the Jewish people home and restoring them in the land for a purpose. We Christians must thank God for the Jewish people, pray for them, and stand with them in solidarity in the face of those who seek to destroy them.

As we celebrate Christmas, let us above all pray for the return of our Lord and Saviour, who will judge the nations, take the throne of His father David, and reign in the midst of His people Jacob.

Then peace and prosperity will come to all – including the Palestinians! – and the prophecy of Isaiah 19 will be fulfilled:

”In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria. The Assyrians will go to Egypt and the Egyptians to Assyria. The Egyptians and Assyrians will worship together. In that day Israel will be the third, along with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing on the earth. The Lord Almighty will bless them, saying, “Blessed be Egypt My people, Assyria My handiwork, and Israel My inheritance.”“ (Isaiah 19:23-25)

Come Lord Jesus, come quickly and save your people, so that “being delivered [the Jewish people] might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him, all the days of [their] life”.

The Editorial Team – Israel & Christians Today

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