By Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum
Throughout history, there have been numerous attempts to destroy the Jews, and all have failed. In this provocatively titled study, Dr. Fruchtenbaum addresses the outworking of the Abrahamic Covenant. Can the Jews be destroyed? You'll be amazed at what Scripture has to say.
For the purpose of this study, we are going to work on the assumption that the Jews can be destroyed, and the question is merely a matter of "how." In dealing with any question that concerns Jewish survival or Jewish destruction, we are at the same time concerned with a specific philosophy of history. Based upon one’s philosophy of history, a person may look to the future, and, by applying their principles of philosophy of history, predict the way the future will turn out.
I. THE ABRAHAMIC COVENANT
In dealing with the issue of Jewish destruction or Jewish survival, we are concerned with one specific philosophy of history that is expounded by the Word of God itself. In particular we find it in Genesis 12:1-3, where we read these words:
Now Jehovah said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto the land that I will show thee: and I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and be thou a blessing; and I will bless them that bless thee, and him that curseth thee will I curse: and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed.
In this covenant, God is essentially promising Abraham three things: first, that from him will come forth a people or a nation; second, to this nation God will give a land; and third, God will bless those who bless this nation and curse those who curse it.
Today we call the people or the nation that came forth from Abraham the Jewish nation or the Jewish people. A Jew is any descendant of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all such descendants are Jews. It is irrelevant what an individual Jew may believe or disbelieve; he will always remain a Jew.
Very early in human history, God laid down a specific, divine principle of His philosophy of history: "Those who bless the Jews will be blessed, and those who curse the Jews will be cursed." Understanding this principle will help explain much in history that cannot be explained any other way.
II. THE OUTWORKING OF THE ABRAHAMIC COVENANT ON THE INDIVIDUAL LEVEL
The Abrahamic Covenant begins to work its way out immediately in the same chapter of Genesis (vv. 10-15), when Abram instructs Sarai to tell the Egyptians she is his sister. If anyone can be said to be at fault here, it is certainly not the king of Egypt. Abraham comes into Egypt telling a half-truth; with the result that Sarah is taken from him and put into Pharaoh’s harem. In the outworking of the Abrahamic Covenant, God begins to operate on Abraham’s behalf and sent a plague on Pharaoh’s house (v 17).
We see a similar occurrence in Genesis 20. God had already promised that He would bless the Gentiles through the Jews and that the Jews would continue through Abraham’s son, Isaac. Now both of these incidents occurred before Isaac was born, and I see here a definite attempt to keep Isaac from being born by taking away his future mother. If Satan could keep Isaac from being born, then the Jews would die out with the death of Abraham. Unknowingly, Abimelech cursed Abraham in such a way as to destroy the Jews, and now God curses Abimelech.
When God operates on the cursing aspect of the Abrahamic Covenant, He works on the sub-principle: curse for curse in kind. The specific type of curse used against the Jews will now be used against the "curser." This is seen in verse 18 of this chapter:
For Jehovah had fast closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech, because of Sarah, Abraham’s wife.
It was now the house of Abimelech that faced possible extinction because of the inability of the women in his household to give birth. After Abraham prayed for Abimelech upon the latter’s restoring Sarah, the curse was lifted. This first attempt to destroy the Jews failed, and Isaac was born as recorded in the following chapter.
Just as the cursing aspect of the Abrahamic Covenant had begun to operate on the individual level, so did the blessing aspect.
This is seen in the life of Jacob in Genesis 30:25-30. At the outset, one thing should be made very clear: Laban was no worshipper of the true God. When his nephew Jacob came bringing the God Jehovah, Laban, being a very ecumenical individual, was happy to include Jehovah among his many other gods as well. Nevertheless, this pagan recognized something: he recognized that this God of Jacob, whoever He was, was blessing him because of his relationship with Jacob, the Jew. The blessings of the Abrahamic Covenant are based purely on the relationship with the Jews. Thus Laban, the pagan, was blessed because he had a proper relationship with Jacob, the Jew.
The Book of Genesis is, among other things, a record of the outworking of the Abrahamic Covenant on the individual level. God’s philosophy of history has begun to operate on the principle of blessing those who bless the Jews and cursing those who curse them in kind.
III. THE OUTWORKING OF THE ABRAHAMIC COVENANT ON THE NATIONAL LEVEL
When we come to the Book of Exodus, we begin dealing with the national level of God’s philosophy of history; that is, we now deal with Israel as a nation. In the first chapter of the Book of Exodus, Egypt sets out to curse Israel. The curse is in two phases.
The first is found in Exodus 1:8-11. Egypt is the first nation that can be called truly anti-Semitic in the modern sense of the term. In the first phase of her curse against Israel, she puts the Jews into slavery.
Later a second phase is initiated in verses 15-16 and 22. Not only is Egypt the first anti-Semitic nation, she is the first nation to attempt genocide against the Jews. So now, in this second phase, she is out to destroy the newborn sons by means of drowning.
Now God waits four hundred years before delivering His people. Yet another sub-principle involved in the Abrahamic Covenant is: sometimes God will delay a long time before keeping His promise to the Jews, but sooner or later that promise will be kept.
Finally, after four hundred years, God begins to work, and again we see the sub-principle: curse for curse in kind. The curse against Israel was to kill the newborn sons. Now God sends ten plagues upon Egypt, the last resulting in the death of every first-born Egyptian son. As Israel leaves Egypt and the Egyptian army chases in hot pursuit, God destroys the Egyptian army by means of drowning.
Another example that portrays the outworking of the Abrahamic Covenant is the Book of Esther. In Esther 3:6, a man by the name of Haman sets out with his curse against the Jews:
But he thought scorn to lay hands on Mordecai alone; for they had made known to him the people of Mordecai: wherefore Haman sought to destroy all the Jews that were throughout the whole kingdom of Ahasuerus, even the people of Mordecai.
But, in the end, it is curse for curse in kind, as we read in Esther 7:10:
So they hanged Haman on the gallows that he had prepared for Mordecai. Then was the king’s wrath pacified.
IV. THE OUTWORKING OF THE ABRAHAMIC COVENANT IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
The New Testament demonstrates the continuity of the Abrahamic Covenant and the principle of God’s philosophy of history. An example of this is found in Luke 7:2-10, when Jesus healed the Roman centurion’s servant. At this point in history the Romans were not friends of the Jews, but there was something different about this particular Roman. The Jewish leaders themselves testified that: he loveth our nation, and himself built us our synagogue (v. 5). We see here that Jesus honors the faith of a Gentile Roman soldier—a centurion no less—because of his relationship with the Jewish people with whom he was living in the city of Capernaum.
V. THE OUTWORKING OF THE ABRAHAMIC COVENANT IN POST-BIBLICAL HISTORY
Many events in history that are labeled peculiar, unusual or impossible to understand, can best be understood if viewed as a result of the outworking of the Abrahamic Covenant. There have been numerous attempts to destroy the Jews, and all have failed. Essentially, the four methods that were used during the biblical period have been the same ones used ever since, and these methods will always fail in destroying the Jews.
Because of its great Armada, the Spanish Empire controlled vast parts of the world. In 1492 the Spanish Edict of Expulsion ordering all Jews to leave the country was issued. When she expelled her Jews, she expelled her scholars, doctors, and bankers. The Spanish economy thus began to crumble and collapse. Finally, the source of Spain’s strength, the Armada, sailed against England and was destroyed, not so much by the British navy as by a storm at sea. The Abrahamic Covenant had worked itself out. She, who expelled the Jews, was then expelled from her holdings in the Western Hemisphere until nothing remained.
There was a time when England was blessed by God because of her favorable attitude to the Jews. The Balfour Declaration of World War I showed England’s favorable attitude towards establishing a Jewish national home in Palestine, later captured from the Turks. But then she turned against the Jews; England began to limit Jewish immigration. This policy trapped many Jews, preventing their flight from the Nazis. As a result, the British Empire began to crumble.
When Hitler came to power, anti-Semitism became the official government policy. As the Germans in 1939 drew the world again into war, this policy began to spread to the occupied parts of Europe. As one nation after another fell, the Jews were taken and moved into the slum sections of major cities such as Warsaw. Concrete walls were built around these ghettos, and the Jews were slowly beaten and starved. Six million were finally exterminated.
But after six years Germany was no longer the conqueror, but the conquered. For a generation the Germans, who once built walls around the Jews, had a wall cutting their once proud capital of Berlin in half. To this day, Nazi war criminals are forced to live in hiding as they are sought out by Jews.
The fourth example involves the four Arab states of Syria, Iraq, Jordan, and Egypt, all of whom combined their forces in 1967 with the avowed purpose of destroying Israel. The Arabs cursed the Jewish State with war and were defeated during the Six-Day War.
All this provides us with a unique picture of the sub-principle: curse for curse in kind. The philosophy of history involved in the Abrahamic Covenant provides the principles for understanding how the Gentile nations are related to the Jews.
VI. THE OUTWORKING OF THE ABRAHAMIC COVENANT IN PROPHECY
After World War II, the main persecutor of the Jews was the former Soviet Union. She troubled the Jews inside her territory and was allied with the Arab States in their stated aim to destroy the State of Israel. Rather quickly, the Communist Empire collapsed. As for Russia, the Scriptures in Ezekiel 38:1-39:16 have already declared how Russia will come to its end. So even in prophecy, what we see working its way out is the principle of the Abrahamic Covenant.
A second example is the Campaign of Armageddon resulting in the second coming of Messiah (Zech. 12:2-3; 14:1-4).The event which brings about Israel’s national regeneration, the return of Yeshua the Messiah, and the dispensing of Israel’s enemies once and for all, is when all nations come against Jerusalem to battle. So even in prophecy, what we see working its way out is the principle of the Abrahamic Covenant.
Conclusion: philosophies of history based on non-biblical presuppositions fail to provide any answer to Jewish survival. This is clear from the very writings of those who tried to explain history by a certain system only to have it crack down in the face of the Jews. Not only have Gentile historians looking at the Jews come to a dead end in trying to explain them, but the Jews themselves have not been able to explain their existence in any consistent way. The Messianic believer, however, has the answer to the secret of Jewish survival. The answer lies in this cry of the last of the Old Testament prophets, Malachi 3:6:
For I, Jehovah, change not; therefore ye, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed.
The Jewish believer, then, can give the proper explanation of the role the Messianic people play in history: Their destruction is impossible.
The believer is the best defender of the Jews against all forms of anti-Semitism, teaching God’s attitude towards it and warning of God’s judgment if it persists. The Messianic believer can provide the one method that will work in destroying the Jews. If you want to destroy the Jews, then you must first destroy the sun, moon, and stars (Jer. 31:35-37).
VII. APPLICATION TO THE LOCAL CHURCH
Both Jewish believers and Gentile believers have recognized the need for world-wide evangelism in fulfilling the Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20). However, Jewish believers have recognized an aspect of the biblical method of evangelism that the major part of Gentile Christianity has either ignored, denied, or simply rebelled against. This particular method or procedure for evangelism is clearly spelled out in Romans 1:16:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
There is only one verb that controls the two remaining clauses: the verb is. It is in the Greek present tense, emphasizing continuous action. The gospel is continuously God’s power to save, and it is continuously to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. If we tried to interpret this verse, as some have, to make it simply mean that the gospel came to the Jews first but this is no longer true, the verse would also have to mean that the gospel was once God’s power to salvation, but no longer is. The gospel is the power of God, and the proper procedure is for it to go to the Jew first, regardless of the method of evangelism (Acts 13:5, 14; 14:1; 16:12-13; 17:1-2; 10, 16-17; 18:1, 4, 19; 19:1, 8; 28:16-17; Rom. 1:16; 11:13-14).
The peculiarity about Jewish missions is that regardless of one’s calling to Gentile missions, he is still to go to the Jew first. Even though Paul’s unique calling and ministry was to the Gentiles, the great apostle recognized the principle of Romans 1:16, and everywhere Paul went, he always went to the Jew first.
The blessing aspect of the Abrahamic Covenant is available to the local church that will carry out the principle of Romans 1:16 both in active and passive evangelism. The gospel, whenever it goes out and by whatever means it goes out, should do so to the Jew first.
VIII. APPLICATION TO INDIVIDUALS
Psalm 122:6 says: Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: They shall prosper that love thee.A special blessing is guaranteed to those who will pray for the peace of Jerusalem. One thing the Scriptures make clear is that the peace of Jerusalem is tied in with the second coming of Messiah, and the prerequisite to the second coming is Israel’s salvation. Those individuals who pray regularly for the salvation of the Jews are guaranteed certain blessings not available by any other means.
Jan 3, 2008
By Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum