By Francis Schaeffer Jr.
We live in an age in which anti-Semitism is a powerful force. In many lands it has resulted in the death of countless Jews. Even in our own land it shows itself in various guises from time to time. Even among those who call themselves fundamentalist Christians we find an occasional individual who spends a large portion of his time assailing the Jews.
Considering anti-Semitism, the first thing that fixes itself in my thinking is the fact that Christ was a Jew. When we open the New Testament to Matthew 1:1, we find the very first claim made concerning Christ is that he sprang from Abraham and was a descendant of David. The Bible does not say that Jesus just happened to be a Jew, but the Word emphasizes over and over again that he was a Jew.
When He was eight days old, He was taken to the Temple and circumcized as was every Jewish male. Therefore, we must remember that Jesus bore in His body the physical mark of the Jewish people. When He was twelve, He was dedicated at the Temple, again emphasizing that His Jewish race and Jewish faith were not incidental to Him, but that from His early training they were His vital human background. During His public ministry, as an adult man, the Bible teaches that while repudiating purely human Jewish traditions, His life carefully conformed to Old Testament standards. In fact, He lived in such a way that even the Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah were fulfilled fully in Him. He was the Jew of all Jews.
In His public ministry we find Him dealing almost exclusively with the Jews. Hardly ever did He touch a Gentile life. The twelve disciples were all Jews. The earliest church consisted completely of Jews. It was Peter, the Jew, who spoke to the proselyte, Cornelius. It was the believing Jews, scattered abroad by the persecution following the death of Stephen, who took the Good News to Antioch of Syria where the first Gentile Christian Church was formed. The missionary who opened up the heathen Roman Empire to the preaching of the Gospel was the Jew, Paul.
And if we ask ourselves why it was that the Jews received such an important place in the early Christian Church, we must realize that it was not an afterthought in the plan of God, but that for two thousand years God had been working in history to bring forth this very fact. God called Abraham from Ur of the Chaldees as the first Jew when the earth had completely apostasized from the living God. He promised him that the land should be his, that he should have numerous seed, but above all things, that all the world should be blessed through him. God called forth Abraham for this specific purpose, that through him the Messiah should come. The Jews for two thousand years, in the providence of God, were the cradle of the coming Redeemer.
As we examine the history of that two thousand years, we find God constantly reaffirming the promise of the coming Messiah to the Jews, so that not only was the promise made to Abraham but to Isaac and Jacob, and then it was narrowed down to the tribe of Judah, and then to the royal family—the family of David. As the years passed by it was also promised that He should be born in Bethlehem, that He should be a suffering Messiah, but also that He should rule in Palestine on behalf of His people, the Jews.
In these two thousand years in which the way was prepared for the coming of the Messiah, all the earth was in darkness but for the light that shone in Israel. While our ancestors worshipped we know not what, but certainly not the living God, the Jews were called God’s chosen people. They were separated from all other peoples of the earth. They were loved of God, a kingdom of priests. And even in their times of sin, God kept His hand upon them in order that a remnant should be His from which the Anointed One should come. Nay, Jesus was not a Jew by accident, nor as an incidental thing in the plan of God; if Jesus had not been born a Jew, according to both the Old Testament and the New, He could not have been our Saviour.
As for the present time in which we live, Romans 11:17 - 24 teaches that we Gentile believers should not boast against the Jews, the natural branches, for if God spared not the natural branches, we are told to take heed lest He spare not us. How clearly it is emphasized that if we who were wild branches by nature, were grafted contrary to nature into the good olive tree, much more shall the natural branches be grafted into their own olive tree. And what does Ephesians 2:14 stress to us but that at Jesus’ death the middle wall of partition was broken down between Jew and Gentile—not that the Jew should be cast aside, but that we should have place with the Jew by faith. Abraham is now our father, and as we have put our faith in Christ, we are now spiritual Jews.
For the future the Word of God is explicit still. In Romans 11:25 it is made clear that the blindness which now in part is happened to Israel is not forever but until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in. And then what is to come to pass? The 26th verse tells us that all Israel shall then be saved, when the Deliverer shall turn away all ungodliness from Jacob. The 29th verse is a verse that we love and use for ourselves, “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” We may take it to ourselves because God never breaks any promise, but let us notice that the primary application in this place is to the Jew. God has promised great things for Israel as a nation, and this Word here tells us that He will bring them to pass. If He does not bring them to pass, then the gifts and calling of God are not without repentance. Clearly again, in Zechariah 12:10 it is stated that the day will come when the Jews“shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son.” In the day when Israel shall be saved they shall look upon Jesus and know that in His first coming He was their true Messiah. Again, it is not only the Old Testament which promises that the land of Palestine will once more belong to the Jews, but in the New Testament, in Luke 21:24, we are told that Jerusalem shall be trodden down by the Gentiles only until the time of the Gentiles shall be fulfilled. Therefore, the Word tells us that the day will come when all Israel shall be saved, and the Jews will look upon Jesus as their true Messiah, and also that the Promised Land will be theirs once more. It is not only for the past, not only for the present, but also for the future, that we who are now Christ’s should love the Jew.
We cannot expect the Gentile, who merely uses the term “Christian” to designate the difference between Gentile and Jew, to love the Jew, but we who are Christians indeed, in that we have been saved through faith in Christ, should love His ancient people. Above all things in this regard we should keep constantly in our minds that our Lord Himself was a Jew—born a Jew, lived a Jew, died a Jew. Also, the great majority of those heroes of the faith I personally long to see when I go to be with that Lord are Jews. I want to see Abraham; and he is a Jew. And I want to see Isaac; he is a Jew. I want to see Jacob; and he is a Jew. I want to see Joseph; and he is a Jew. I want to see Moses; and he is a Jew. I want to see Joshua; and he is a Jew. I want to see Gideon and the other judges; and they are Jews. I want to see the prophets—Isaiah, Elijah, Elisha, and all the rest; and they are Jews. I want to see Daniel and Ezra and Nehemiah; they are Jews. I want to see John; and he is a Jew. I want to see James; and he is a Jew. I want to see Peter; and he is a Jew. I want to see Paul; and he is a Jew. These are only some of those I long to meet who bear the name of Jew. How could I hate the Jew?
And if this is not enough for those of us who are Bible-believing Christians, let us note the command of God in Romans 11:31. It tells us clearly what our attitude in this age should be to natural Israel. We should have mercy unto them. And, my friends, mercy and anti-Semitism in any form do not live in the same household. We cannot seek to win them individually to the Lord Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour if we despise them as a people in our hearts. Not long ago an influential Jew in New York City, the Labor Editor of one of the New York papers, quoted to me a little poem which he said was widely repeated among the Jews of that city. As I have considered this rhyme, I have found it more than an interesting jingle. It speaks wisdom concerning the man who bears the name of Christian and yet is anti-Semitic in his thinking.
“How odd of God to choose the Jew, But not so odd as those who choose The Jewish God but hate the Jew.”