Tuesday, December 30, 2003

The Jews and the Gospel

Preterism has encouraged anti-Semites. I do not say that it is a necessary outcome. I do not say that it demands it. I certainly do not say that anyone holding a preterist position will be anti-Semitic. I am only saying that historically there is a connection. If I were a Christian and anti-Semitic, I would find the theological justification in preterism. After all, if the Jewish Age is over, what sense is there for there still to be Jews?

What is the significance of Spain and the year 1492? Most of us would answer, "That is the year that Columbus sailed from Spain and discovered the New World." That answer is correct. It was also the year that Ferdinand and Isabella expelled the Jews from Spain. The acquisition of abandoned Jewish property may have helped finance the Columbus' voyage. 

The year 1492 was a terrible time for the Jews in Spain. But England expelled the Jews in 1290, Portugal in 1497, France in 1306, Germany in 1348, Austria in 1421, Hungary in 1355. Germany's later holocaust speaks for itself.

During such times, many Jews were forced to convert to Christianity or be killed. They lost life and property in the name of Jesus Christ.

Martin Luther wrote a treatise called "The Jews and Their Lies." There is much material in there about the destruction of Jerusalem as wrath poured out upon the race of Jews. It also contains these words in chapter 15:

What shall we Christians do with this rejected and condemned people, the Jews? Since they live among us, we dare not tolerate their conduct, now that we are aware of their lying and reviling and blaspheming. If we do, we become sharers in their lies, cursing and blasphemy. Thus we cannot extinguish the unquenchable fire of divine wrath, of which the prophets speak, nor can we convert the Jews. With prayer and the fear of God we must practice a sharp mercy to see whether we might save at least a few from the glowing flames. We dare not avenge ourselves. Vengeance a thousand times worse than we could wish them already has them by the throat. I shall give you my sincere advice:

First, to set fire to their synagogues or schools and to bury and cover with dirt whatever will not burn, so that no man will ever again see a stone or cinder of them. This is to be done in honor of our Lord and of Christendom, so that God might see that we are Christians, and do not condone or knowingly tolerate such public lying, cursing, and blaspheming of his Son and of his Christians. For whatever we tolerated in the past unknowingly and I myself was unaware of it will be pardoned by God. But if we, now that we are informed, were to protect and shield such a house for the Jews, existing right before our very nose, in which they lie about, blaspheme, curse, vilify, and defame Christ and us (as was heard above), it would be the same as if we were doing all this and even worse ourselves, as we very well know.

In Deuteronomy 13:12 Moses writes that any city that is given to idolatry shall be totally destroyed by fire, and nothing of it shall be preserved. If he were alive today, he would be the first to set fire to the synagogues and houses of the Jews. For in Deuteronomy 4:2 and 12:32 he commanded very explicitly that nothing is to be added to or subtracted from his law. And Samuel says in I Samuel 15:23 that disobedience to God is idolatry. Now the Jews' doctrine at present is nothing but the additions of the rabbis and the idolatry of disobedience, so that Moses has become entirely unknown among them (as we said before), just as the Bible became unknown under the papacy in our day. So also, for Moses' sake, their schools cannot be tolerated; they defame him just as much as they do us. It is not necessary that they have their own free churches for such idolatry.

Second, I advise that their houses also be razed and destroyed. For they pursue in them the same aims as in their synagogues. Instead they might be lodged under a roof or in a barn, like the gypsies. This will bring home to them the fact that they are not masters in our country, as they boast, but that they are living in exile and in captivity, as they incessantly wail and lament about us before God.

Third, I advise that all their prayer books and Talmudic writings, in which such idolatry, lies, cursing, and blasphemy are taught, be taken from them.

Fourth, I advise that their rabbis be forbidden to teach henceforth on pain of loss of life and limb. For they have justly forfeited the right to such an office by holding the poor Jews captive with the saying of Moses (Deuteronomy 17:10) in which he commands them to obey their teachers on penalty of death, although Moses clearly adds: "what they teach you in accord with the law of the Lord." Those villains ignore that. They wantonly employ the poor people's obedience contrary to the law of the Lord and infuse them with this poison, cursing, and blasphemy. In the same way the pope also held us captive with the declaration in Matthew 16:18, "You are Peter," etc., inducing us to believe all the lies and deceptions that issued from his devilish mind. He did not teach in accord with the word of God, and therefore he forfeited the right to teach.

Fifth, I advise that safe-conduct on the highways be abolished completely for the Jews. For they have no business in the countryside, since they are not lords, officials, tradesmen, or the like. Let them stay at home. I have heard it said that a rich Jew is now traveling across the country with twelve horses his ambition is to become a Kokhba devouring princes, lords, lands, and people with his usury, so that the great lords view it with jealous eyes. If you great lords and princes will not forbid such usurers the highway legally, some day a troop may gather against them, having learned from this booklet the true nature of the Jews and how one should deal with them and not protect their activities. For you, too, must not and cannot protect them unless you wish to become participants in an their abominations in the sight of God. Consider carefully what good could come from this, and prevent it.

Sixth, I advise that usury be prohibited to them, and that all cash and treasure of silver and gold be taken from them and put aside for safekeeping. The reason for such a measure is that, as said above, they have no other means of earning a livelihood than usury, and by it they have stolen and robbed from us an they possess. Such money should now be used in no other way than the following: Whenever a Jew is sincerely converted, he should be handed one hundred, two hundred, or three hundred florins, as personal circumstances may suggest. With this he could set himself up in some occupation for the support of his poor wife and children, and the maintenance of the old or feeble. For such evil gains are cursed if they are not put to use with God's blessing in a good and worthy cause 

How different these words of Martin Luther are from the words of Paul in Romans 9-11. Connect the dots between Luther and Hitler. My question is, whose tone and whose attitude should we adopt? Luther's? Paul's? Paul was willing to suffer eternal separation from God for His people and countrymen, Martin Luther wanted to abolish them from the earth. Even though Luther declared that Moses "would be the first to set fire to the synagogues and houses of the Jews," Moses actually interceded for the Lord to show mercy:

The Lord said to Moses, "I have seen this people, and behold, they are an obstinate people. Now then let Me alone, that My anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them; and I will make of you a great nation." 

Then Moses entreated the Lord his God, and said, "O Lord, why does Your anger burn against Your people whom You have brought out from the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians speak, saying, 'With evil intent He brought them out to kill them in the mountains and to destroy them from the face of the earth'? Turn from Your burning anger and change Your mind about doing harm to Your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants to whom You swore by Yourself, and said to them, 'I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heavens, and all this land of which I have spoken I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.'" 

So the Lord changed His mind about the harm which He said He would do to His people. (Exodus 32:9-14)

Martin Luther was a great man. His call to the Church to return to essential doctrines was a crucial and valuable moment in Christian history. But because he could not see that the Scriptures still look forward to a day of national salvation for the Jews, he sowed the seeds for the German holocaust where 6,000,000 Jews suffered and died.

David Heddle in an installment of his study, Lesson 7: Bringing in the Kingdom: Postmillennialism from a partial-preterist perspective, writes:

Concerning why this had to happen (apart from the fact that it is the fulfillment of prophecy), there are different views, some not so politically correct (which doesn’t make them wrong):

the annihilation of the Jewish nationality therefore removed the most formidable antagonist of the gospel and brought rest and relief to suffering Christians.

And yet the Church, itself, has become its own "formidable antagonist of the gospel" to the Jews through its persecutions of them. With the annihilation of the "Jewish nationality" taken care of by God, we have followed up with words and deeds to annihilate the Jews: never asking why God still preserved them; never asking why there were prophecies of there dispersion and return.

I have many believing Jewish friends. One of the things that they had to push through in their coming to faith in Messiah was being called "Christ Killers" as children. Paul commanded us Gentiles not to be arrogant concerning our position in the Olive Tree. We have been far more than arrogant. We have not sought, as Paul did, to make the gospel for the Jews first. We have not sought ways to make them jealous.

Wednesday: Final Random Thoughts.

<>< Test everything. Cling to what is good. ><>

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