Thursday, July 7, 2011

Romans 11 - Christians and Jews

Historically, we Christians are so messed us about the Jews. Not surprisingly we have to go back to Paul the Pharisee Evangelist to the Gentiles to give us the skinny on the Chosen.

Messed up. Yes. For centuries it has been Christ-killer this, greedy Jew that. Church-enforced usury laws drove medieval Christendom to make the Jews the loan sharks of Europe. Pogroms - the periodic violent persecution of Jews by their Gentile neighbors, of which the Holocaust was the last (until the next one) and greatest - often occurred after religious holidays, the local citizenry being whipped into a frenzy by the preachers. It is incredible but true to think that many Jews preferred rule under Islam! The sword of Allah was apparently more benevolent than the tender mercy of the followers of Yeshua, Miriam's son. Years ago I read how a young New York Jewish man was taught to spit on the gates of the neighborhood church as he passed by. Such hatred saddens me but based on centuries of "Christian" persecution - sometimes violent, always exclusionary - is understandable.

There are really only two stains on the human rights legacy of President Franklin Roosevelt, as reported by historian Doris Kearns Goodwin in her book "No Ordinary Time": 1. Allowing the Japanese internment camps. 2. Not taking in Jews trying to flee Europe. It is sad by true DKG says that until about 1940 Hitler was willing to allow Jews to leave lands under his control. Only after the Civilized West said "no thanks" did he undertake the Final Solution in earnest.

Modern-day ecumenical Christianity has recognized and rebuked the sin of anti-semitism but has allowed the pendulum to swing so far the other way that any suggestion that Jews have rejected their Messiah and would do well to embrace him is treated as "intolerant". The saving gospel is negated.

Here is what Paul said:

1) God has "by no means" rejected His people

2) "At the present time there is a remnant chosen for grace" v. 5 - their numbers have apparently fluctuated over the years but history shows a steady testimony of Jewish people trusting Messiah. The Jews for Jesus movement was founded in September, 1973, by Moishe Rosen, having grown out of the charismatic youth movement of the late 1960's. 

3) They did not stumble "beyond recovery" - v. 11. God gave salvation to Gentiles at least in part to make Jews envious! God has plans for the fulfillment of his plan for salvation of his beloved Israel.

4) Gentiles who boast about being holier than thou, o Jew, should remember that they have been grafted into the family tree of God; other branches were broken off to make this happen; and "if God did not spare the natural branches, He will not spare you, either." Live in holy fear of the God of Israel, not in arrogance towards His people, "otherwise you also will be cut off." - v. 22. It is no big feat for God the Master Gardener to regraft natural branches. The "hard part" was grafting in the unnatural gentiles; grafting in Israel is like growing green beans in July.

5) All Israel will be saved. After the hardening of Israel and the full number of Gentiles is gathered in, "all Israel will be saved." I am thinking that doesn't mean all Jews, but as Paul says elsewhere in Romans, all those who are both outwardly and inwardly Jews, circumcized of heart and flesh.

6) The Jews may be enemies of the gospel, but they are loved by God "on account of the patriarchs" and God's promise to them. They have become disobedient, so that by grace they can receive mercy "as a result of God's mercy to you." I read that to say, the Jews will respond to the gospel preached by gentiles.

Well, all I can say is that in the history of the Kingdom of God, stranger things have happened.

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