A HORRIBLE TRAGEDY AND AN AMAZING OPPORTUNITY
Until recent years, many Jews in America believed that the worst of anti-Semitism was over there, in Europe, leftovers of the Holocaust history.
American Jews are welcome in universities, country clubs and corporate boards that once excluded their grandparents. They married non-Jews, moved into mixed neighborhoods and by 2000, and the first Jew, Joe Lieberman, ran for vice president on a major party ticket.
So the massacre on Saturday of 11 people in a Pittsburgh synagogue, by a man who told the police that he “wanted all Jews to die,” was for many a shocking wake-up call. So is killing Jews simply because they’re Jews.
Each and every Christian should be clear on this point: Anti-Semitism in any and all forms is a despicable evil.
On Saturday morning, a terrorist entered Tree of Life synagogue in a middle class neighborhood of Pittsburgh and opened fire during Shabbat services. Robert Bowers killed eleven people, and injured a number of others, including four law enforcement officers.
This shooting has left American Jews asking a question they should never have to ask: Are they safe? In America even, are they safe?
It’s not an overreaction. What’s believed to be the deadliest attack on worshiping Jews in American history is only the most recent, and most extreme, example of the increasing anti-semitism in the United States. Yes, “increasing.”
Jews are only 2 percent of the American population but according to the FBI, they “account for more than half of the Americans targeted by hate crimes committed due to religious bias.”
According to the Anti-Defamation League, 1,986 anti-Semitic incidents were reported in 2017, compared with 1,267 in 2016. That’s a 57% increase in a single year. Jewish heritage, as one person put it, comes with a “paranoia confirmed by history.”
As Christians called by God to this cultural moment, it’s not enough to merely avoid being anti-Semitic. We ought to oppose this vile ideology wherever and whenever we come across it.
In a short piece on anti-Semitism, Francis Schaeffer wrote “…we should keep constantly in our minds that our Lord Himself was a Jew—born a Jew, lived a Jew, died a Jew.” And we should remember, as I read in a blog by Russell Moore, “Jesus remains a Jew. As fully God and fully man, He was not resurrected from His Jewishness. So, “to hate Jews is to hate Jesus.”
In light of that reality and acknowledging fully the Church’s checkered past when it comes to the Jewish people, we must not allow the tiniest whiff of anti-Semitism into our heads, our homes, or our hearts. We hear too much of it today, sometimes in the name of preserving Christian America. There’s nothing, and I mean nothing, Christian about anti-Semitism in any form. As the little poem quoted by Francis Schaeffer back in 1943 reads,
“How odd of God to choose the Jew,
But not so odd as those who choose
The Jewish God and hate the Jew.”
Jer and I had the privilege of attending a Prayer service at the Chabad Synagogue in Boise on Monday evening. It was a tremendous turnout of people from the Treasure Valley. The small Jewish community felt a big, warm hug of love from the many who attended the evening. The Rabbi and congregation were deeply touched and overwhelmed by the response. I know that God was smiling on the evening. As I drove home, I was reminded of a verse from Romans 15. Take a look at it…
“For Macedonia and Achaia were pleased to make a contribution for the poor among the Lord’s people in Jerusalem. They were pleased to do it and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have shared in the Jews’ spiritual blessings, they owe it to the Jews to share with them their material blessings.”
What have we received from the Jews spiritually that has been a blessing? How about the Prophets, Patriarchs, The Word of God or our Messiah, for starters? In light of this, I would like to invite any of you who would like to be included, to give an offering this Sunday that will be taken by one of our Board Members who will be in Pittsburgh next week, and he will hand deliver it to the Synagogue with love from Christians in Idaho, who, “mourn with those who mourn.” Be sure to mark it clearly and drop it in the offering box. Why would we do this? Because the custom of the Jews is to overcome evil by doing good. And charity is a way that they use to do good.
Let me close with some important information…
A. THIS SUNDAY IS TIME CHANGE SUNDAY. MOVE YOU CLOCK BACK 1 HOUR.
B. THIS SUNDAY IS THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF PRAYER FOR THE PERSECUTED CHURCH. LET’S REMEMBER OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS WHO ARE SUFFERING FOR THEIR FAITH.
I can’t wait to see you this Sunday!
Loving You and Loving Him,
Asia Bibi, whom many of us have been praying about and had been sentenced to hang, has been released by the Supreme Court of her country, and is being flown out of the country
May God be mightily praised for this news.