I was thinking on writing about something else tonight, but my last customers at work got me to change my mind unknowingly. It was a family talking about a trip. I asked where they were going and they said “To Israel.” I wanted to know why and was told that they lived there. I noticed some disdain when I said that I wanted to go there to to walk where Christ walked so I decided to touch base with the Old Testament then.
Thus, I had a good conversation as I think they were quite pleased that a Gentile knew some of the locations in the Old Testament. I heard them speaking in a language I didn’t know so I wanted to be sure. I was thinking it was Hebrew and sure enough, it was. I said I wanted to learn that language someday to which they taught me a few basic words. I’m hoping I left a good impression that not all Christians are anti-Semites.
Unfortunately, we’ve got that rep before and in some cases, it is justified. There are some things that were said by some of the church fathers and by people like Martin Luther that there is just no defense for. If you call yourself a Christian, you have no place in your worldview for anti-Semitism. Instead, we should have Philo-Semitism.
Why? I don’t believe in showing love to the Jews for eschatological reasons. I believe in it because first off, they are still human beings created in the image of God. They’re people that Jesus died for just like Gentiles are. Christ came to be the savior of the world and that is a world that includes both the Jew and the Greek. His offer is there for all.
Second, I value the Old Testament. Unfortunately, while I do believe strongly in the New Testament, it rests on the Old Testament and many of us are quite ignorant of the Old Testament. We can tend to look at it as an inferior testament. May it never be! Much of our theology and doctrine comes out of the Old Testament! We cannot understand the New Testament as we should also without a thorough knowledge of the Old.
It was the Jews who spent years preserving that Old Testament. It was the Jews that recorded the words of Moses and the prophets and copied them down throughout the centuries. Because Jews held a fierce devotion to these texts, I am able to read the Old Testament today. In fact, Paul says in Romans 3 that this is an advantage. The Jews are the ones through whom the oracles of God came.
Last though, their line was the line that brought me a savior. Let’s always keep this in mind. Christ was and is a Jew. The Messiah of the world was born of Jewish parents in a Jewish world from a Jewish bloodline. He lived in a Jewish culture among Jewish people where he observed Jewish laws. Christ’s whole world was thoroughly Jewish and so was Christ. He fulfilled the law after all!
If we are prone to anti-Semitism, let it be reminded of us that Christ was born a Jew. Now I will say I do not grant the Jews special privileges in soteriology. Being Jewish will not get them bonus points at the pearly gates. They need the Jewish Messiah just as much as anyone else does. Jew and Gentile alike are guilty before God and in need of a savior, Jesus, the Jew from Nazareth.
So my customers left today and I was quite pleased. I had a reminder of the roots of the Old Testament and where my savior came from. We Christians should face up to the fact that many in our history have not been kind to the Jews. It is a sin and we should acknowledge that and show our love for the Jews, for they will know that we are Christians by our love.
Thus, I must simply say that I thank God for the Jews and again for those reasons. They brought me my Old Testament and they were the ones through whom my savior came.