Antisemitism, the Church, and Anti-Israel Sentiment
By: Tricia Miller, PhD. ICEJ USA Education Coordinator
Antisemitism—opposition and hostility toward Jews—has existed in the church for almost 2,000 years. This ancient hatred includes delegitimizing, demonizing, and dehumanizing Jews individually and as a group. We can surmise from the apostle Paul’s instruction concerning the correct Christian understanding of God’s heart for His people in Romans 9–11 that Christian animosity and contempt toward Jews was present in first-century Rome.
Unfortunately, Paul’s teaching on this subject has been largely ignored throughout church history, and the false doctrine of Replacement Theology—which originated in the early church—continues to feed Christian antisemitism and anti-Israel sentiment through the assertion that Christians and the church have replaced Jews and Israel in the purposes of God.
Historically, whenever Replacement Theology prevailed, it resulted in overt anti-Jewish expression, often followed by violent actions against Jews. Today when Christian antisemitism manifests, it not only results in contempt toward Jews but in anti-Israel sentiment as well.
Opposition toward the Jewish people and Jewish State is actually a blatant demonstration of opposition to God and His decision to choose a particular people for a unique purpose. Zechariah 2:8 says, “He who touches you [Israel] touches the apple of His eye.” In other words, those who oppose Israel are poking God in the eye.
In addition to opposing God, Christian antisemitism and anti-Israel sentiment demonstrate a lack of understanding and/or rejection of the eternal covenant God made with Abraham and his descendants.
In Genesis 12:1–3, God told Abraham to leave his country and go to a land He would show him—where he would be blessed and become a great nation. God called Abraham to a specific land, and land is an integral part of the promise and subsequent covenant.
After Abraham arrived in the land, God said: “Lift your eyes now and look from the place where you are—northward, southward, eastward, and westward; for all the land which you see I give to you and your descendants forever” (Genesis 13:14–15, emphasis added). All the land Abraham could see was given to him and his descendants as an eternal possession.
In Genesis 17:7–8, God declared: “And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you in their generations, for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and your descendants after you. Also, I give to you and your descendants after you the land in which you are a stranger, all the land of Canaan, as an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.”
All three of these texts emphasize the promise of a specific land. And when God established the covenant with Abraham and his descendants—including the promise of that land—He called it an everlasting covenant.
In these perilous times in which we live, where antisemitism and anti-Israel sentiment are on the rise—even in the church—may we as Christians be grounded in the truth of God’s Word and emboldened to stand with the people and land with whom God made an eternal covenant.
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