PEA RIDGE As we've toured Israel, we've learned that many Israelis distrust Christians.
Yet we've discovered that most Jews do not embrace or "observe" Judaism, but consider themselves to be secular, atheistic or agnostic. However, Israelis welcome Christian tourists because they know that Bible-believing Christians are the only true friends the State of Israel has.
Pastor John Hagee said, "Traveling in Israel in 1967, I was literally moved to tears as I began to walk the streets of Jerusalem and I remembered the historical nightmare that the Jewish people were forced to live because of organized Christianity's brutality." They rightly remember that in 325 AD, Emperor Constantine, posing as a Christian, said, "Jewish people can not live among us." He outlawed circumcision, worshiping on Saturday and he changed the Judeo-Christian feast days to pagan holidays.
Though many Jewish Christians and Jews continued to keep the commandments.
Remember that under Rabbi Paul's ministry, large numbers of Gentiles accepted Jesus as Messiah, and the Jerusalem Church proclaimed that non-Jewish Christians did not have to be circumcised or eat kosher food. Constantine executed many Jews and Christians who continued to follow the Jewish customs of the early Messianic Church.
In 1069 AD, the Pope wrongly interpretation John 8:44 where Jesus called some Jewish leaders "sons of the devil," and encouraged his Crusaders, under the banner of "Kill a Jew, save your soul," to kill Jews.
The Crusaders slaughtered one-third of Jews in France and Germany. In 1215, the fourth Lateran Council of the Catholic Church required Jews to wear a yellow badge, and in 1492 the Spanish Inquisition forced Jews to choose between baptism and expulsion,baptism and torture or even baptism and death. Under the Christian Czars, Russians persecuted Jews in eastern Europe.
Protestant Christians under Luther treated Jews as badly as the Catholics had.
Later, Hitler, who was anti-Christian but considered Christian by the Jews, used the anti-Semitic teachings of Luther and popes to create the Holocaust. Even today, many Christian denominations and the National Coun cil of Churches teach Replacement Theology, which claims that God replaced Israel with the Church after they rejected Jesus. Thus, many Christians are strongly anti-Semitic.
Israel and the Jewish people were on the devil's hitlist long before Jesus came into the world! From John Eldredge's book, "EPIC," we learn that, after Satan's fall from heaven, Isaiah 14:12-14 and Ezekiel 28:16-17, what God loves, Satan hates;
"But, Evil was lurking in the Garden of Eden. Banished but not destroyed, Satan waited in the shadows for an opportunity to take his revenge:Unable to overthrow the Mighty One, he turned his sights on those who bore God's image." God created mankind in His image, but the Jews were His Chosen People, so Satan hates them most. After all, it was through the Jews that we received God's Word, the Savior came through the Jews, Israel is God's chosen land and Israel's history is the strongest proof that Scripture is truly God's Word.
Oliver Melnick in "They Have Conspired Against You" said, "Even though Satan can't succeed, if he had any chance of succeeding, it would be by destroying the Jewish people so that when the time comes, they would not be there to call uponYashua and say: 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord.' Satan hates the Jewish people because God loves them, and he hates them even more so because they will be corporately instrumental in his final demise."
From Scripture, we see many examples of Satan inspiring men to hate the Jews, with the story of Ester being a prime example.
Holocaust historian Ian Kershaw said, "The road to Auschwitz was built by hate but paved with indifference." Jews know that most so-called Christians were indifferent or even involved in the persecution of Jews.
However, they recognize that many Bible-believing Christians or righteous gentiles risked their lives to rescue Jews during the Holocost. In fact Israel's Heroes' Remembrance Authority recognizes over 22,765 non-Jews who helped save Jews from the Nazies. Among the righteous gentiles are Oskar Schindler, the businessman who saved over a thousand Jews by employing them in his factory, and Corrie ten Boom, who went to Auschwitz for hiding Jews. The books and movies "Schindler's List" and "The Hiding Place" tell their stories. The Nazies murdered over six million Jews during the Holocost. However, they also killed an equal number of non-Jews, many of them Bible-believing Christians and righteous Catholics who opposed the Nazies.
Though Jews resent the fact that Biblical Christians proclaim Jesus as the Jewish Messiah, they recognize that the only friends Israel has are Bible-believing Christians. Most Jews, like most Christians, don't even realize that "Yashua" Jesus was an observant Jew, and most of His followers were Jewish. Moreover, for the first two centuries Messianic Christians observed Jewish tradition. Yashua and the apostles preached from the Hebrew Scripture that He fulfilled the Hebrewfeast and prophecies.
In "Charisma' magazine, David Aikman said, "Many Christians have begun to experience a love for the Jews that has nothing to do with the end times, but which is almost certainly the work of the Holy Spirit.
It is thus important to all Christians : to be respectful of Jewish feelings in light of the uglier side of Christian history."
Deborah Galiley of Jewish Voice Ministries said, "Growing numbers of Christians ... are rediscovering Christianity's Jewish connection. They are saying to themselves : If it was right for Jesus and the apostles, it must be right for me : They are embracing teachings and practices that were clearly a part of the first century church's system of praise, worship and service. And, they are discovering rewarding and fulfilling experiences as they immerse themselves in this clearly Biblical, New Testament heritage."
Messianic Rabbi Jonathan Bernis, of JewishVoice.org, said, "When more Christians understand and honor the Jewish roots of their faith, ordained and instituted by God, it will open the door to greater dialogue with the Jewish people.
And that in turn, will lead to more Jews experiencing a life-changing encounter with the risen Lord."
One of the goals of Christian tour groups is to let the Jews know that we love them, and we know that God says, "Anybody who touches Jerusalem touches the apple of His eye," Joel 3:2, and "I will bless thosewho bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed," Genesis 12:3.
Editor's note: Writer Allen Merritt can be reached in care of this newspaper or at Writing-4U, allen.
firstname.lastname@example.org, or 13185 Walnut Valley Rd., Rogers, AR 72756.
Opinion, Pages 4 on 09/16/2009