I am in college and my professor showed a film called "The Longest Hatred". It said that anti-Semitism started with the Christian Church and that the New Testament of the Bible fueled anti-Semitism in Europe. I don't believe those people were led by God in any way. They also mentioned Martin Luther who wanted the Jewish people killed.
While watching the film I noticed that there is a cycle of anti-Semitism that rises every so many years. Why is it that these people were killed more so than any other race or ethnic group? I know that they are God's chosen people yet there is hatred toward them. Please give me some insight on this topic.
VJ from Henderson
God's Chosen People (Part 1)
You have asked a hard question! What you wonder is what numbers of others have wondered with you down through the centuries. Many books have been written trying to solve this mystery. It is probably the motivation of those who produced this documentary.
After I got your question I decided it would be best to watch this film myself so I borrowed it from the library and I have viewed it also. It was produced in 1993 so it is slightly dated but the question continues to bubble up.
The producers of "The Longest Hatred" attempt to give an answer for continuing anti-Semitism based on natural history. They look to political and historical roots. Maybe much of their information is accurate so I will not try to refute specifics of what they have said. I will approach the question differently however. Regardless of the natural roots, I think the spiritual realm contains the real roots.
Let's start off with an understanding of who the Jews are. You are correct that they are God's chosen people. The Jews (called "Israel" in the Old Testament) are the offspring of Abraham through the line of Isaac. That is an important distinction. Muslims also look to Abraham as their father but through the line of Ishmael. They believe that Ishmael was the son of promise but that is not what the Bible says.
When Abraham suggested Ishmael (whom he had by Sarah's maid Hagar) as the one through whom the covenant would continue, God said; "No, Sarah your wife shall bear you a son, and you shall call his name Isaac; I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his descendants after him." (Genesis 17:19)
Listen to what God promised Abraham: "Get out of your country, from our family and from your father's house, to a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; and you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse him who curses you; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."(Genesis 12:1-3)
God's covenant promises to Abraham are still in effect today because God never takes back his word. For any who desire to obliterate or harm God's chosen people, I would think long and hard about it after reading, "I will curse him who curses you."
Next: Why did God choose the Jews?
Gentile Roots (Part 2)
People often wonder why God chose Abraham in particular and what is so special about the Jews that God would give them special treatment. Regardless of the answer a good perspective is found in Luke 12:48 which says; "For everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required." The Jews were given MUCH but they had a great responsibility.
God chose the Jews to be a blessing to all the peoples of the earth. The promised Messiah would come through the seed of Abraham and redeem mankind from its sin. In Isaiah 42:6 God speaks to his chosen people this way; "I will keep you and give you as a covenant to the people, as a light to the Gentiles."
Even though much of the Jewish nation at the time of Christ rejected Jesus as the Messiah, God DID NOT reject them - and neither should we. Any Christian who takes on anti-Jewish sentiment should read all of Romans 11, particularly Verses 28 and 29: "Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable."
You may wonder what this has to do with the subject of anti-Semitism. Through the centuries Jews were often despised by Gentiles for killing Jesus Christ and they used New Testament scriptures to justify themselves. You could say that the Jews killed Jesus because the Jewish leadership plotted his death and arranged with Rome to have him crucified. Or you could say that the Romans killed Jesus because Pilate pronounced the death sentence and had his Roman soldiers carry it out. Yes, the scriptures confirm this but what is the real truth?
Who really killed Jesus? What does he say about this himself? "…I lay down My life that I may take it again. No one takes it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again." (John 10:17-18) The truth is that Jesus freely gave his life to satisfy God's requirement for justice for all the sins of humanity. Sin killed Jesus. My sin killed him and so did the sin of every other human being, both Jew and Gentile.
Next: How did Christians become anti-Semitic?
Christians and anti-Semitism (Part 3)
I agree with you completely when you say in your question: "I don't believe those people were led by God in any way." That's right! Those who have persecuted Jews over the centuries certainly didn't have God's heart in the matter. Jesus himself WAS A JEW! According to the documentary, this fact is abhorrent to those who hate the Jewish people. But it is true.
It is accurate that Christians often persecuted God's people, mistakenly thinking they were doing it for the cause of Christ. How tragic for both sides! For the Jews because they experienced unspeakable suffering and for the Christians because they invited curses in their own life and missed their chance to honor and love the apple of God's eye. (See Deuteronomy 32:10)
Let's look at Martin Luther because he is such a prominent example in the 16th century. Martin Luther restored a great truth to the church - that salvation is by faith and not by works - yet he missed it entirely regarding the Jewish people. He wanted them annihilated and fueled persecution of Jews at that time. He was wrong but his influence down through the centuries following sparked justification to men such as Hitler who spewed out his hatred in the Holocaust during World War II.
So if people were not led by God to despise God's chosen people, who inspired it? Well, whose works are the works of hatred? Who comes to "steal, and to kill, and to destroy."? (John 10:10) Satan and the powers of darkness are behind every act of anti-Semitism (just like they are hatred in all forms) and if they can get Christians to participate they are all the happier. Unfortunately, they have had too many willing partners in kings, religious and political leaders and common men upon the earth.
You might say, but why does the devil target the Jews? I suspect part of the reason is because God loves them so much. God told Abraham that his seed would be more numerous than the grains of sand or the stars in the heaven. Satan supposes he can crush God's plans and purposes. I also suspect that it has something to do with the End Times and the way it will play out.
Though the Jewish nation largely rejected their Messiah the first time, Romans 11 alludes to a time when there will be another great in-gathering of Jews. Many believe they will be the great evangelists for the whole world during the Tribulation period.
Next: Blessings despite persecutions?
God's Favor Proven (Part 4)
The film you saw documents a continuing cycle of persecution of Jews yet I don't know if you noticed that another cycle was also present. I'm not sure that even the producers of the documentary caught it either. Yet it is a cycle which reveals God's continuing favor upon his Chosen People.
First, the fact that there still remain people called "Jews" is pretty remarkable. They have survived as a distinct group even though they ceased to have their own homeland in 70 AD and they've been dispersed all over the whole world ever since. Yet, they held together no matter which country they adopted. Think how miraculous that is.
AND, no matter what was done to them, they prospered wherever they went. There was always a niche they could fill in any country in order to make a living and they always filled it with excellence. They have a lion share of talents, especially intellectually and culturally.
Jews are often associated with shrewdness in business and money matters. Yes, it's true and it happened through necessity AND by God's blessing. When a country they lived in cut them off from owning land or operating in certain trades, they turned to managing business and/or money. And they succeeded. So much so that the host country usually ended up looking on with jealousy. I believe jealousy plays a large part in anti-Semitism.
The Jewish contribution to our cultural, educational and musical world is phenomenal. People sense that they are special and can't articulate why and they hate that. But God simply would not allow them to be annihilated. He is faithful to this day to the covenant he made with Abraham. Even that most terrible event, The Holocaust, produced a hidden blessing. The world was so outraged at what had happened that Israel became a nation again in 1948.
One of the best decisions any Christian can make is to love the Jewish people. Remember: "I will bless those who bless you." (Genesis 12:3) And don't forget this: "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: 'May they prosper who love you'". The Jews hold our spiritual heritage and we too, call Abraham our father. God has not abandoned them; any who misunderstand that may find their own blessings in peril.
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