|CHRISTIANS AND JEWS COMING TOGETHER
by Bob Westbrook, September 21, 2002
Trumpet Sound Ministry - http://www.trumpetsounds.com
|Among all of the negative trends in world affairs that could cause one to become disconcerted and disillusioned, there is one delightfully positive trend: many Jews and Biblical Christians are now warmly coming together in common purpose. It is a ginger,
tentative process, to be sure, but an inevitable one, I believe.
As I write this, I am in the middle of a visit to Israel. Frequently, Israelis ask me why I have come here. When I tell them that I
am a Christian here to demonstrate support for and solidarity with Israel, the reaction is nearly always wonderful. I've seen expressions of deep gratitude and even rapturous affection. It is a phenomenon that is unprecedented, and magnificient.
People of both faiths should endeavor to move away from the needless animosities of the past and learn from each other. Though
the pain of the past offenses may still be felt, it should not prevent the current development of mutally beneficial relationships.
While some factions on either side show little interest in moving towards appreciation of the other, there are growing indications
that significant improvements are afoot in Jewish/Christian relations. Those hardheaded anachronisms on either side may still wish that the two groups have no interaction, but thankfully they are swiftly becoming a shrinking minority.
In the past, too many gallons of ink have been spitefully expended in the enumeration of our differences. But now a new, more
mature attitude is emerging, an attitude in which we can frankly, openly, and bravely acknowledge our differences, while at the
same time emphasizing the many things we share.
First of all, we share an appreciation for the Hebrew Scriptures, in which the G-D of Israel has lovingly unveiled His plan for
mankind, for both Jews and Gentiles. The Jewish rabbi and then Christian apostle Saul, who described his Jewish credentials as
a "Pharisee, a Hebrew of the Hebrews, educated under Gamaliel," said that the Jews should be respected first of all because they
had been "entrusted with the oracles of G-D."
From Isaiah, the glorious and majestic visions of the Kingdom; from Amos, the thundering calls for justice; from Moses, the
incredible, unprecedented law code and inspiring leadership; from Jeremiah, the weeping pleas for repentance -- Jews and
Christians alike share an awe for the holy Scriptures of G-D as penned by the Jewish authors. And not only penned, but also
the Bible has been meticulously preserved for centuries as a priceless treasure for all mankind by the Jews.
The common expectation of many Jews and Christians is G-D is developing His program for redemption and salvation while
we watch, according to the outline He revealed to His servants the Jewish prophets. An integral part of this plan, about which
both groups agree, is the modern regathering of Jews back to the land promised to their forefathers. The drama of the ongoing
repossession of that land, as predicated by the prophets, plays large on our TV screens each night.
What is termed the "Middle East conflict" by many is actually Israel reclaiming all of the land that was granted to Abraham, Isaac,
and Jacob, in spite of the efforts of those who deny the existence of that Divine land grant. The prophets declared that in prepara-
tion for the impending rule of Hashem from Mount Zion, "the house of Jacob will dispossess those who dispossessed them."
Christians and Jews who are acquainted with the Bible are in one accord on this.
Some Jews might wonder, "Aren't the Christians only supporting us out of impure motives, supposing that their eschatological agenda will be advanced in the process?" Perhaps that may be true of some, but in any event, G-D is going to do what He is going
to do. The Messiah, will come as promised, in whatever name He chooses, irregardless of any human effort, perspective, understanding, support, or opposition. G-D's plan, as He has defined it in His infinite wisdom, will certainly advance, but it will advance because He wants it to, and in the form He wants. If some Christians have selfish motivations, then we apologize for
them, but I would daresay that most of us who support Israel do so simply because it is the right and godly thing to do. Certainly,
Christians and Jews do share the thrilling expectation of the day when "they will call Jerusalem The Throne of the L-RD, and all
nations will gather in Jerusalem to honor the Name of the L-RD," and for that expectation, we needn't apologize.
A friend of mine, who is a popular Jewish motivational speaker, addressed this issue of Jewish suspicious of questionable motives
of Christians in a remarkable frank email. He said to me, "Unfortunately, a great many Jews live in the past and are constantly
suspect of wonderful Christians like you who are so pro-Judaism. They feel there are ulterior, Christological reasons for their
support of Israel. I always say that I want Christian support of Israel. I think that when the 2 religions work together, you get
the most amazing results! In some of my speeches I have said, 'Jews should welcome and appreciate Christian support until Jesus
comes; and when He comes, we will recognize Him.' As a Jew, I cannot think of a better deal! Of course we would recognize Him
if He came back. I never judge people's motives; only their behavior. How do they treat me is all I want to know. Not why.
However, so many foolish Jews are more concerned with motives, and not the beauty and decency of most Christians." Though
my friend's bold perspective extends beyond that with which most Jews will be comfortable, he makes an excellent point.
It is important to stress that Jews and Christians do share a common expectation of the future. The magnificent visions of the
prophets describe a restored and resplendent Israel, the premier nation of the world, with their King ruling from G-D's Holy Hill.
"In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a signal for the peoples, the nations will inquire of Him, and His dwelling place shall
be glorious." Though we have in the past focused on our differences regarding this vision, it need not be so. Let us focus on and
embrace the common aspects of our celebration of this vision of hope and salvation!
Indeed, the two faiths have much in common. Though many Christian churches have woefully neglected and departed from the
Jewish roots of their faith, Christianity is historically and spiritually a Jewish religion. The founders of the early church were all
Jews. Jesus Himself was Jewish, with a healthy lineage that includes such notable Jewish ancestors as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, Boaz, Jesse, David, Solomon, Hezekiah, Josiah, and Zerubbabel. We Christians owe a great debt of gratitude to the Jewish
Though the history of the Christian church has too frequently been unfortunately characterized by hateful anti-Semitism, Evangelical Christianity has belatedly acknowledged the foul and egregious nature of these attitudes. Today, increasingly large
numbers of Christians are gaining an appreciation of the Jewish roots of their faith, and expressing a love for Israel. Genuine
Christians are beginning to understand that the essence of their faith is entirely Jewish in nature. Historically this understanding
has been mutilated to the effect that today much of "gentile" Christianity would be unrecognizable to the Jewish founders of the
faith. But today devout Christians everywhere are realizing the need to appreciate both the Jewish roots of the faith, and the
Jews who have been so maligned by "Christians" of the past.
Many Jews today are understandably hesitant to embrace the movement towards mutual appreciation. Because of the horrid
atrocities that have been committed over the centuries under the name of Christ, there are significant barriers to be overcome. For
the Jewish People to be able to come closer to a dialogue with Christians, they first need to understand that Jesus did not
command His followers to commit the awful injustices that have been perpetrated in His Name. The pogroms, persecutions, and
murders that were justified with a warped version of "Christian" theology were a horrible, unthinkable perversion of the teachings
Anyone familiar with the words of Jesus knows that the esscence of His moral teachings was the "new commandment" of love,
to "overcome evil with good." Anyone in the past, or the present who has claimed to be a Christian but whose actions were not
characterized by this was not really following His teachings. This is not an attempt to excuse the inexcusable acts of the so-called Christians against the Jews; on the contrary, it is a charge to all those who today call themselves Christians yet retain elements of
that warped theology to repudiate the former attitudes of anti-Semitism [anti-Jews, anti-Zionism, anti-Israel].
Likewise, there are lessons that contemporary Jews can learn from Christians. Many Jews today no longer believe that the G-D
of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is a personal, living G-D, actively engaged in the affairs of the world. To some, the G-D of the
Bible is no more than an impersonal "force" moving through history. Because of that, we have the odd situation that some Christians today have more confidence that the G-D of Israel will fulfill all of His promises to the Jews than some Jews! Perhaps
that is one reason that the two groups are being brought together today, so that Christians will appreciate all that the Jews have
done for them, and the Jews will appreciate the vibrant, personal worship and faith of the Christians.
On the more pragmatic side, we are beginning to realize that it may not be very long before Jews and Christians will only have
each other in the world as friends. And these improvements may prove to be a necessity in the future, if the trends to isolate,
castigate, and demonize both groups continue. We may desperately need each other in the future; therefore, now is the time to
break down the barriers that we have erected. It will require courage, it will require sensitivity, and it will require patience,
tolerance, and forbearance when sensitivity is lacking, but the rewards will be worth the effort.