You worship what you do not know; we know what we worship, for salvation is of the Jews. – John 4:22
There is a cancerous growth in the church today. It is a cancer that begins in the mind and spreads to the heart. This cancer is deceptive, divisive, and seeks to “depart from the faith” (1 Tim. 4:1). It travels under the banner of equality but is really a veiled attempt to “depart from the faith” and dislodge the church from her support of Israel and the Jew.
There is a rising false teaching in the church that has grown out of Palestinian propaganda. It has bought into the false notion that Palestinians are a nation displaced by Jews on May 14th, 1948 when Israel rose once again to nationhood. This is a false notion. Palestine is a region not a nation. History reveals no national government, economic order, military or other entities characteristic of a nation. When Israel was once again established as a nation the non-Jew was invited to join the citizenry of the new nation. They refused.
Israel, unlike the people of Palestine, have a long history of nationhood. Just read the Old Testament. What has been the perpetual attitude of Israel toward their neighbors and those who reside within her borders? God’s command is, “The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God” (Le.19:34). That’s a little bit different than the attitude of Israel’s Muslim neighbors toward her wouldn’t you say? (Yes, that’s rhetorical and facetious.)
Palestinians seeking nationhood do not want coexistence with Israel, they want extermination of Israel. Hitler is their hero. And given Israel is outnumbered by hostile neighbors about 200 to 1, the very existence of Israel really is in question. God through Zechariah said all nations would gather against Israel (Zech. 14:2). Jesus said all nations would hate Israel “for My name’s sake” (Mat. 24:9). We commonly look at the Olivet Discourse of Jesus and forget to realize Jesus is speaking to Jewish disciples about a period in history when Israel will be the center of God’s prophetic plan. The Olivet Discourse of Jesus is about the Tribulation of Israel.
Of the Latter Days Jesus said, “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake” (Mat. 24:9). We read that and our prime focus and interpretation is that disciples of Jesus will be persecuted because of their adherence to Jesus name. There is an element of truth in this. But the Tribulation is about Israel. The Olivet Discourse is about what will happen to Jewish disciples and the Jewish nation. And if the Tribulation pertains to Israel, isn’t it reasonable to think Israel will be persecuted by all nations. Could such persecution be in part because there is a convoluted and confused desire to defend the name of “Jesus”?
In the End Times there will be a unified one world religion made up of a conglomeration of melded together compromised belief systems. The name of Jesus will be thrown in with other names like Muhammed, Buddha, Mary, and a host of others. It will be the ultimate worldly kumbaya. This “Jesus” thrown in will be “another Jesus,” not the true Jesus (cf. 2 Cor. 11:3-4). If Israel retains her monotheism and even comes to realize Jesus as Messiah, it wouldn’t be difficult to imagine a scenario where the world would rally against her. Perhaps a one world religion would take offense at Israel for “usurping” the “name of Jesus”; for insisting on the exclusive worship of Jesus. Israel might be opposed for the “heresy” of saying Jesus is Lord of all not just one among a pantheon of false idolatrous religious polygamy. “The church” might become an agent of persecuting Israel. It’s happened before. Just a thought.
Historically Israel has been singled out for marginalization and then persecution. There is that kind of spirit in the church today. Jesus speaks of many being offended, betrayal and hatred in the latter days (Mat. 24:10). He speaks of proliferating false prophets (Mat. 24:11). Lawlessness will spread and love will grow cold (Mat. 24:12). We see traces of these things in those who would replace Israel with the church. There is a spirit of superficial seeming logic circulating that says, “Why do we, the church, so exclusively support Israel? Is that fair? What about the Christians in the Middle East? What about the Palestinians; shouldn’t we support their right to statehood?” And beneath the surface of those questions is a danger that a spirit of anti-Semitism brews.
There is a very cunning piece of propaganda being sold and purchased on the market today. There is a deceptive reference to and use of an oppression model. The plight of persecuted Christians in the Middle East is lopped into the “oppression” of Palestinians. We are told Palestinians are merely seeking freedom, equality, and statehood; good old American themes. Their situation is similar to that of our Christian brethren. We are even shown Christians who side with Palestinians. Our sense of fairness and impartiality is aroused. We are led to question why the evangelical Bible believing church has been so supportive of Israel and not equally supportive of the plight of Christians and Palestinians in the Middle East. And a wedge is put between the church and Israel.
Christians in the Middle East are being persecuted. There are Islamic sacrificial slaughter houses where kidnapped Christians are brought and given an ultimatum to recant their belief in Jesus. If they refuse they are hung upside down like a piece of meat in a slaughter house, beheaded, disemboweled and thrown to the side; a trophy to Allah. Christians are being mercilessly persecuted in the Middle East. But the solution to such persecution is not opposition to Israel. Please take no offense but I can hear the Jew say, “Welcome to my world; welcome to my history.” Israel of all people groups knows persecution. The nation of Israel was created to be a sanctuary to Jews who had just suffered an unprecedented persecution in Nazi concentration camps. There are those who would have us overlook the ovens or even deny they ever happened. That is demonic. Israel is the one sane bastion of freedom in the Middle East.
It is possible to “worship what you do not know” (John 4:22a). Jesus spoke those words to someone who was at odds with Jews. He spoke those words in reference to someone with a faulty belief system that excluded Jews. And He spoke those words to exhort a person to get back in sync with God. Don’t be an ignorant worshiper. You can’t know and worship God without the Jew.
There are people who “worship” ignorantly; who do not know what or who they are worshipping. Did you know Jesus is Jewish? He included Himself as a Jew when He said, “we know what we worship” (John 4:22b). Jesus the Messiah/Christ comes from Abraham’s Seed (Gen. 3:15; Mat. 1:1; Luke 3:34; Gal. 3:29). Jesus the Messiah/Christ is a descendant of King David (2 Sam. 7:16; Mat. 1:1; 21:19; Rom. 1:3; 2 Tim. 2:8). Messiah was from the lineage of Jews. Jesus fulfilled over 300 prophecies of the Old Testament identifying Him as the fulfillment of Messiah promised by God. Think of that next time you are tempted with a spirit of anti-Jewishness.
Jesus said, “for salvation is of the Jews.” This teaches us that Jews are integral to salvation history (John 4:22c). The Holy Scriptures which are Gods revelation of His divine plan of redemption were entrusted to the Jews and came through those of Jewish heritage (Rom. 3:1-2). The scriptures are inspired by the Holy Spirit (2 Tim. 3:16-17). From Genesis to Acts 10 God’s word is predominantly Jewish history. True worship “must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:24). Our spirit must seek and follow His Spirit. And His truth is His word (John 17:17). To worship without first referencing God’s word and seeking understanding of God’s word by the Holy Spirit results in ignorant worship (cf. 1 Cor. 2:9-14). And God’s word begins at Genesis and ends at Revelation. The Old Testament is the New Testament concealed. The New Testament is the Old Testament revealed. You can’t have one without the other. The New Testament is rooted in the Old and the Old is fulfilled in the New.
There is an unfortunate movement in the church today that attempts to replace the role of Israel with the church. It’s called Replacement Theology or Supercessionism. It is the doctrine that teaches that the church supersedes or replaces Israel. This is based on the view that Israel failed her elect mission and God had to introduce the church to take over where Israel failed. Has Israel failed? Yes, for the most part Israel has lived in rebellion toward God. But there has always been a faithful remnant. And we need to understand that the church to a great extent has failed too! The church completes her God given mission through an empowered remnant. God works through a remnant of true believers. Jesus said, “Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it” (Mat. 7:13-14).
We need only look at Revelation 2 and 3 to see that by the end of the first century the church was already in dire straits to a large degree. Thankfully the churches addressed by Jesus in Revelation are not only representative of actual local historical churches, but also represent characteristics of the church in seven epochs of church history. But still, only two of those seven churches are commended without reservation by Jesus. The others have serious sinful issues. The Last Days church makes Jesus sick to His stomach to the point of vomiting! (Rev. 3:16).
There was apostate Israel and there was the faithful remnant of Israel (cf. Jer. 3; 4:1-4; 31:7; Rom. 11:1-5). There is an apostate church and there is a faithful remnant church (cf. 1 Tim. 4:1ff.; Rev. 2:8-11; 3:7-13). The church and its role in God’s prophetic plan are separate and distinct from the role of Israel in God’s prophetic plan. We live now in the church age when God’s primary instrument is the church. It is composed of Jew and Gentile who have received Jesus as their Savior, Messiah, Christ and Lord (Eph. 2). God is not finished with Israel. “I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not!” (Rom. 11:1a). The reinstituting of Israel in our day is an incredible fulfillment of God’s prophetic plan. It is a sign of the times we are living in. With Israel established as a nation once again we have clear evidence for this being the latter days.
Some contend that Israel is a purely secular entity and should not be seen as part of God’s prophetic plan. Ezekiel 37 illustrates God’s resurrection of Israel as dry bones being brought back to life. Notice the dry bones are brought to life gradually. Ezekiel prophecies God’s word over them. Then the bones come together sinew by sinew, then flesh, and finally God breathes into the bones and brings them to life. I believe the first stage of the dry bones being brought together is a secular stage. There will be subsequent stages that will culminate in “I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me who they have pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn” (Zech. 12:10). I believe that will be at Jesus Second Coming. I believe it will be at this time that “all Israel will be saved” (Rom. 11:26).
If we cut Israel out of scripture we no longer have verification of Jesus as Messiah. If we cut Israel out of scripture we lose the fulfillment of God’s prophetic word; an incredible piece of evidence verifying the authority and inspiration of scripture itself. If we remove Israel and God’s covenant with them then His gifts and calling become revocable (Rom. 11:29) and God is no longer faithful or reliable. But, “the gifts and calling of God are irrevocable” (Rom. 11:29). Salvation, as Jesus said, is of the Jews. We shouldn’t be so quick to remove the Jew from God’s revelation of His salvation plan. The consequence would be fatal to the gospel.