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 Persecuted Church

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p.2 Jewish Persecution throughout history (beginning with Egypt )

The first case of anti-semitism is found in Exodus when Pharaoh ordered all the newborns of the Jews to be killed. It took Gods servant Moses to free them 400 years later.

Roman Persecutions then took place from the reign of Caesar and then Emperor Trajan. They first eliminated the Jews and then Christians.

Jews in early Christian history

During the Seleucid Empire , In 167 BCE Jewish sacrifice was forbidden, Sabbath’s and feasts were banned and circumcision was outlawed. Animals prohibited to be sacrificed on the now Greek altars. The Olympian Zeus was placed on the altar of the Temple. Possession of Jewish scriptures was made a capital offense. The Maccabees revolted and the Jewish holiday of Channukah is amemorial to their courage.

Antoninus Pius (138-161) one of the few fair rulers “revoked the cruel edicts.”

When Constantine established a legal Christianity from Rome, the once underground church became an official religion of the Roman Empire (approx. 312 AD.) Christians were no longer concerned about persecution. However, the Jews still were. The Church of Rome blamed the Jews of Christ’s death diminishing Roman responsibility (Matthew 27:25). Jews were depicted as killers of the Son of God and this stigmatism has stayed and been promoted through history.

Constantine issued many anti-Jewish laws. Jews were forbidden to accept converts, keep Saturday as the Sabbath, celebrate Passover, and circumcise their children; much pressure was used to make them forsake Judaism. The punishments included imprisonment, and even death.

Later in 325 AD he said, ‘ It is right to demand what our reason approves and that we should have nothing in common with the Jews .’ The association held between Christianity and Judaism was severed. Constantine ordered the persecution of Jews, including Jewish followers of Christ. Early in its history the church forgot the Scripture that came by the Hebrew prophets, that the 12 apostles were Jews commissioned to take the gospel to the world, to the Gentiles.

Origen of Alexandria wrote that the Jews “ have committed the most abominable of crimes” in conspiring against Christ, and for that reason “the Jewish nation was driven from its country, and another people was called by God to the blessed election”. …and 'the blood of Jesus falls not only on the Jews of that time, but on all generations of Jews up to the end of the world.'

The first vestiges of replacement theology had begun, they believed the Jewish people have no future in God’s plan, that the Church has taken then place of the Israel. In the early 4th century, Eusebius the church historian under Constantine’s rule wrote that the promises of the Hebrew Scriptures were for Christians and not the Jews, the curses were for the Jews. This has become the prevailing view for those who hold to a replacement theology. The Post-Nicene fathers who wrote after Nicaean council, is where we find the most animosity.

Chrysostom, whose Homilies were used in seminaries and schools: " The Jews sacrifice their children to Satan....they are worse than wild beasts. The synagogue is a brothel, a den of scoundrels, the temple of demons devoted to idolatrous cults, a criminal assembly of Jews, a place of meeting for the assassins of Christ." ... I hate the synagogue because it has the Law and the prophets. It is the duty of all Christians to hate the Jews." (Chrysostoms "Homilies against the Jews" Patrologia Graeca pp.843-942.)

This attitude of anti - semitism was growing in the church. Statements were made that were not at all biblical. By the middle ages the Jewish people were blamed as collectively responsible for killing Jesus. ‘The Jews are the most worthless of all men. They are perfidious murderers of Christ. The Jews are the odious assassins of Christ and for killing God there is no expiation possible, no indulgence or pardon. God always hated the Jews. It is incumbent upon all Christians to hate the Jews.” (John Chrysostom, Saint, Church Father, 4th-5th century)

God's plan to save the 108Jews is by the preaching of the gospel by the Gentiles. Instead of giving the gospel of Israel’s Messiah to the Jews as Paul instructed (Rom 11:11to provoke them to jealousy) there was a continued animosity. In the Papal State[s] (under the Roman church), Jews were required to live only in specified neighborhoods called ghettos which existed until 1870. Until the 1840s, they were required to regularly attend sermons urging their conversion to Christianity. Forced conversion from the Roman church has made Israel turn against their messiah instead of being attracted to him.

As Roman Catholicism became the main visible organized church in the world, the Jewish people began to suffer continual persecution. In 1215 Pope Innocent III condemned the Jews to eternal slavery by decreeing, ‘ The Jews against whom the blood of Jesus Christ calls out, although they ought not to be killed, lest the Christian people forget the Divine Law, yet as wanderers ought they remain upon the earth until their countenance be filled with shame .’

“… the dislike for the Jews and the violence against them increased with time is difficult to determine. Any region which contained many of them witnessed waves of persecution which were often accompanied by attempts at compulsory conversion. In years of high emotional mass tension or fear, the Jews, as a peculiar people, might be singled out for attack .” (p.213, A History of The Expansion of Christianity, Kenneth S. Latourette)

Martin Luther had hopes he would win the Jews to his protest as he tried to reform the Roman church. But they rejected his attempts to convert them, after all there were now centuries of hatred, blame and killings. Luther then turned on them showing the same hatred of the church he had protested.

Martin Luther: What shall we Christians do with this rejected and condemned people, the Jews? Since they live among us, we dare not tolerate their conduct, now that we are aware of their lying and reviling and blaspheming. If we do, we become sharers in their lies, cursing and blasphemy. Thus we cannot extinguish the unquenchable fire of divine wrath, of which the prophets speak, nor can we convert the Jews. What shall we Christians do with this damned, rejected race of the Jews? First their synagogues should be set on fire. Secondly their homes should likewise be broken down and destroyed... (The Jews and Their Lies (excerpts) 1483-1546)

The Popes continued the persecution of Jews even after the reformation: Benedict XIV (1740). Pius VII (1800), Pius VIII (1829), Gregory XVI (1831), Pius IX (1846) , Leo XII (1878).

Over the centuries thousands of Jews were blamed for the death of Christ, as if they were there and personally responsible. It was written that Jesus’ mission was to come to earth to be crucified, so those who said this did not know their own Bible. He would have had to die for our sins no matter what, that was his mission, why he came to earth.

Some blamed the high priest in Jesus’ day, others blamed the whole nation, not distinguishing what the Scripture itself says of the Pharisees. Whose established religion of his day was teaching their own traditions, not Moses’ (Mk.7). It was not the regular people that came against Jesus but the majority of religious leaders.

Because of the increase tortures and killings of the Jewish people, the Jews no longer viewed Jesus as a Jew, but as someone who hated the Jewish people, they instead blamed Jesus for their misery.’ The Devil was at work from within manipulating Gentiles to make Christianity into another religion divorced from its original founding, instead of a continuation and fulfillment of the Jewish religion, with its feast days and prophets.

The first Crusade in 1096 saw zealous persecution of Jewish communities as the Crusaders journeyed to the ‘Holy Land’ to liberate it from the Muslims. They said, ‘We are going to fight Christ’s enemies in Palestine (i.e. the Muslims), but should we forget his enemies in our midst (i.e. the Jews)?’ When the Crusaders captured Jerusalem in 1099 they massacred the 12,000 Jews in the cities along the Rhine River with the invading Muslims.

The first murder charge against the Jewish community was in Norwich in 1144 when the Jews were accused of killing a Christian child at Passover time to drain his blood in order to make Passover matzos. This lie persists today, adopted mainly by Muslim’s.

In 1290 King Edward I expelled all Jews from England.

In 1478 the Spanish Inquisition was directed against heretics – these were Jews and non Catholic Christians. In 1492 Jews were given the choice of forced baptism or expulsion from Spain. 300,000 left with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Columbus, a converted Jew sailed to find a new land. In Spain (613 AD) all Jews who refused to be baptized were forced to leave the country. The remaining Jews were made slaves by Christians.

Anti-semitism reached its height in the Middle Ages, then came the pogroms in the late 19th century by Russia. These were violent attacks on Jewish communities. They burned houses, mass murder, and rape were committed. ‘The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,’ alleged a Jewish conspiracy to take over the world. Many believe it was anti-Semites from Russia that produced the pamphlet to ramp up hatred. This was adopted as fact by the Nazis and became part of their propaganda effort as they implemented the ‘Final Solution.’ 6 million European Jews were exterminated, by mass killings and being put in ovens through the Holocaust. Today the same lie is being promoted in the Muslim world to incite hatred for Israel and the Jewish people.

The Jewish people often became scapegoats for many natural catastrophes, anything that went wrong they were blamed.

The history of Jewish suffering shows a number of things. First: that God has his hand on them and has kept them from extinction (a book called the Indestructible Jews is a good read). Second: most of the persecution has come from people who claimed Christianity but were not practicing it, instead carrying out instructions from religious rulers over men, like Popes. One of the main accusations that had been brought against the Jewish people by these professors of Christianity is to say ‘The Jews killed Jesus’ and ignore what Scripture actually says.

Peter speaks in Acts 2:23-24 “ Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; “whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it .”

In other words the lawless men among both the Jews and the Romans took part in his death, but God had planned this before the world began. To blame all the Jews alive afterwards as responsible for the crucifixion is certainly prejudice, an example of anti-semitism a banal argument. Peter was Jewish, as were the apostles and all the followers at that time. Peter was saying that the people that conspired had lawless hands. In fact 1 Paul writes in 1Cor 2:8which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”

Another intentional false accusation developed in the church uses the verse, ‘His blood be upon us and upon our children’ (Matthew 27.25), to claim that the suffering of the Jewish people is the result of a self - inflicted curse. This no way endorses Christians to be justified in rejecting or persecuting the Jewish people because of their rejection of the Messiah. They instead remove Israel from its place in prophecy.

Paul wrote in his epistle to the Roman’s that God had not rejected His people Israel and that the Gentiles, they are not to be arrogant, and boast against the natural branches. Rom. 11:14-23 “ For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? … Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again .” V.25 warning, “lest you should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles be come in .’

This rejection of their own Messiah was to be only temporary as Paul further stated v.28-29 “ Concerning the gospel they are enemies for your sake, but concerning the election they are beloved for the sake of the fathers. For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable”

This was temporary, but pride can blind one to the Word of God. For if God does not keep His covenant promise to Israel, the Jews, what guarantee do the Gentiles, the church have?

Genesis 12:2-3 “ I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great; And you shall be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

God, the creator of all promised that the descendants of Abraham would possess a land (Gen.12:7; 13:14-15; 15:18-19). That through Abraham all of the peoples of the earth would be blessed (12:3), by giving the world the Messiah through Israel. These individual and national promises were confirmed as an eternal unconditional promise in the new covenant (Jer. 30:31). God entered into a blood covenant with Abraham, promising to do all that He said (Gen. 15:9-21). If you reject these promises than you really do not believe His Word.

Author Mark Twain ‘ All things are mortal but the Jew; all other forces pass, but he remains. What is the secret of his immortality ? (Mark Twain, The Complete Essays of Mark Twain, “Concerning The Jews” Harper’s Magazine, 1899, Doubleday, [1963], p. 249).

The only answer to their endurance and survival of persecution and hatred throughout history is that God is sovereign. God watches over his people by His Word, his covenant. God takes the protection over the nation he made from Abraham's seed personally. This why Israel cannot be cursed or removed in God’s eyes, in fact they are called “the apple of his eye.” (Gen. 32:10; Zech.2:8)

We see in the time of Esther Israel is captive yet God is there to protect them and turns the table on Haman who was plotting their extinction making the gallows for the Jews for himself. God is still active behind the scene and keeps His promises (Gen.12). With all the talk of elimination of Israel from her enemies one should consider the Scripture.

Jer. 31:35-37 Thus says the LORD, who gives the sun for a light by day, the ordinances of the moon and the stars for a light by night, who disturbs the sea, and its waves roar (The LORD of hosts is His name):“If those ordinances depart from before Me, says the LORD, then the seed of Israel shall also cease from being a nation before Me forever.” Thus says the LORD: “If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, says the LORD .”

God tells us one must first remove the sun and the moon for the nation of Israel to vanish. Since God holds all things together and is in control, these ordinances will not be removed.

All those who fight against Israel fight against God. God promised the land of Israel to His people under a covenant. Those who oppose Israel’s right are in rebellion against God and put themself under the curse provision of Gen.12. Those who believe the Bible should agree that the “promised land” to Abraham belongs to his descendants who lived there. Ps.122:6 the prerequisite for peace on earth is the salvation of the nation Israel. This certainly has the promise in the Abrahamic covenant ,it can only come when the Messiah returns and rules.

The regathering of his covenant people

Moses prophesied Israel's future rebellion and dispersion. (Lev.26:40-42 Jer.3:11-18 Zech.12:10-133 Mt.23:27-29). He also spoke of her future reestablishment in the land in accordance with the Abrahamic Covenant (Duet. 30-56). This is precisely the same statement made by Jeremiah (Jer. 31:31-33) known as the New Covenant. The covenant replaced by the new covenant is not the Abrahamic Covenant but the Mosaic Covenant, the law. God made a covenant with Abraham for the land. Israel has the assurance that God will give the land to Israel as a nation, Gen. 15:18 (as an unconditional covenant (Gen. 17:7-8; Ps. 89:30-37; Deut. 7:7-9.The Dimensions of the land are found in Num. 34:1-15)

Jer. 29:14 “ And I will be found of you, saith the LORD: and I will turn away your captivity, and I will gather you from all the nations, and from all the places whither I have driven you, saith the LORD; and I will bring you again into the place whence I caused you to be carried away captive.”

Deut. 30:3 “T hen the LORD your God will restore you from captivity, and have compassion on you, and will gather you again from all the peoples where the LORD your God has scattered you .” (v.5) “ And the LORD your God will bring you into the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it . (vs:7-8) And the LORD your God will inflict all these curses on your enemies and on those who hate you, who persecuted you. And you shall again obey the LORD, and observe all His commandments which I command you today .”

There is a day coming when Israel will have all the land God promised them. It will not matter what her enemies do.

Moses prophecy of dispersion in Deuteronomy 28:36-37 occurred in two phases. The first phase took place about 721 B.C, when the northern kingdom (Israel) was carried away into Assyria (2 Kings 17:6). The second phase began around 608 B.C. when Judah, the southern kingdom was carried captive into Babylon (2 Kings 24-11-16; 25:8-11). Jeremiah prophesied that the latter dispersion would last 70 years (Jer. 25:11). There was a partial return during the time of Ezra and Nehemiah, around 538 B.C.

Throughout the Old Testament the prophets reminded Israel “ I will bring your descendants from the east and gather you from the west ” (Isa.43:5). He also said... Jer.30:18, 31:8 "Behold I will bring them from the north country and gather them from the ends of the earth."

God is sovereign over his people, he said in Neh. 1:8 if you are unfaithful I will scatter you.' And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. Though scattered and persecuted, Jesus also predicted the Jewish people would not perish they will survive and be regathered, first in unbelief which we now see happening. There are over 4 million Jews in Israel today and 14 million worldwide. Israel will never be fully controlled by Jews, until a certain time. “ And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled (Luke 21:24). The period of Gentile rule comes to an end by the return of Jesus.

Jesus said "for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!' " (Mt. 23:39) Zechariah tells us the nation will call upon him Mt.23:37-39, as the Jewish leaders lead the nation in repentance and ask him to come back. Zech. 12:8-10 Zechariah speaks of the Lord's retribution upon the nations as, " It shall be in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem. "And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they have pierced; they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn ."
vs.40 they need to confess their iniquity and that of their fathers specific sin. Vs.42 Then God will fulfill the Abrahamic covenant concerning the land.

Christians that read the word and distinguish the covenants see that God has a plan for the Jews, that they have not been permanently cast off.

The people would not only be scattered, Jesus also predicted that the Jewish race would be persecuted. Israel will be persecuted (targets of Anti-semitism) Deut. 28:37 " And you shall become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword among all nations where the LORD will drive you. (Luke 23:28-30).

History records that the Jewish people have gone through terrible persecution unlike any other ethnicity, just as Scripture and Jesus predicted. From the first few centuries; the Middle Ages; the Holocaust in World War 1. The Jews have been a persecuted race, like no other people in history, yet they survive. Dispersed throughout the world they have maintained their national identity, no other nation has done this without a homeland.

Before his death in 1921, Dr. C. I. Scofield wrote, " 'If God has decreed the reconstitution of the nation of Israel upon the sacred soil of Palestine, no reluctance of the people will delay it one hour ." In May 1948, the independence of the State of Israel was proclaimed.

Israel is God's time clock, the key to prophecy in the last days. The preparation for the temple is taken seriously, utensils and furniture of the temple are being made in accordance to the Levitical law. 63 of the 103 instruments are ready and currently the Priests are being trained for temple Rev.11:1. The table is being set.

Christian antisemitism exists

The majority of books used to say that "God's time-clock is Israel." With various replacement theories, different end times views like the-church is-Israel, kingdom now dominionism the prophecies about Israel are now transferred to the church as spiritual Israel. Many Christians in the West that who were once supporters for Israel are not any longer.

Dr. Barnhouse had pointed out " The amillenarians take all the promises that belong to the Jews and apply them to the Church, leaving the curses, as Satan likes to do, for the Jews." (p.107 The Invisible War)

The rise of anti-Semitism is continually taking place on a worldwide scale bringing us closer to what will take place during the tribulation (Rev.7).

There are many theories that deprive Israel of her land and kingdom. But the Lord has always fulfilled His promises as written. He made a covenant with Israel and the Jews and he will complete it.

If you hate the Israel and the Jewish people you may as well hate Jesus who made the covenant with Israel to include saving the gentiles.

Jews are a living testament of resilience to their values, their religion. No nation, or people in history has survived this long (nearly 2,000 years) out of their land and remained as cohesive as Israel has. They have been persecuted by the Romans, the Spanish Inquisition, the Russian Empire of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Hitler, and Islam… yet they survive. To see anti-Semitism increase one must pause and ask. Why do people hate Jews like this?

The new covenant was made through Israel for all people (Gen.12) to have a relationship with God. As 34Jews are the natural branches, whereas the Gentiles are the unnatural and must be grafted into the covenant made with believing Israel (Rom.11).

This is something that say they are christian ,who hold an anti-semitic view need to think more seriously on.

No real Christian today who knows his Bible can have any part in anti-Semitism, nor can condone it on any basis whatsoever. Not only do we deplore it, but we are to speak out against it .” (The Antidote for Anti- Semitism by Dr. J. Vernon McGee)

Support of Israel as a country is not the same as support for the Jews as a people, not just in Israel but everywhere they live. There is a difference of general support and actual biblical support by prayer and giving the gospel to those who do not yet believe.



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