To hate the Jews is to hate the God of the Jews. This emerges clearly from the psalmist’s loud lament to Heaven, out of the depths of the misery of the Jewish people: “O God, do You not see it all?
“O God, do not keep silent;
Be not quiet, O God, be not still.
See how Your enemies are astir,
How Your foes rear their heads.
With cunning they conspire against Your people;
They plot against those You cherish.
“Come,” they say, “let us destroy them as a nation,
That the name of Israel be remembered no more.”
With one mind they plot together;
They form an alliance against You” (Psalm 83:1-5).
To hate the Jews is to hate the God of the Jews. This emerges clearly from the psalmist’s loud lament to Heaven, out of the depths of the misery of the Jewish people: “O God, do You not see it all? Of course, You do; but Oh God, do not remain silent. Rouse Yourself, and do not remain idle. This is not just about our enemies, God; they are Your enemies as well. They hate You. They devise an attack against Your people, because that is who we are—Israel, Your people. They want to strike Your protégés, and so it involves You. They want to pierce Your heart. How do they intend to do that? By destroying Your Jewish people, so that the name of Israel will be forgotten.”
The greatest enemies suddenly become friends when they unite against Israel, just as Herod and Pilate became friends on the day they condemned Jesus. Prior to that day, they had been enemies (see Luke 23:12). The psalmist lists the enemies of Israel as “Edom and the Ishmaelites, of Moab and the [descendants of Hagar], Gebal, Ammon and Amalek, Philistia, with the people of Tyre. Even Assyria has joined them” (Psalm 83:6b-9). There is nothing new under the sun. As soon as Israel reappears on the world stage in the Middle East, her enemies unite against her. Large enemies like Syria, Iraq, and Iran, smaller enemies like the Palestinians, those living in Jordan (Edom, Moab, and Ammon), and in the kingdoms of the Arabian Peninsula (the Ishmaelites) join together despite other dissensions, united in their hatred of Israel. Suddenly, the Arab League agrees on unanimous verdicts and measures. “For they have conspired together with one mind,” says the psalmist; but he clearly sees beyond the immediate when he continues, “They form an alliance against You.” The battle is between the God of Israel and other gods of this world. That is what the hatred for Israel is ultimately all about.
For Israel is a designated sign of God in the world. No other people on earth has been so persecuted and destroyed, and nearly annihilated, and still remains a recognizable people. No matter how often Israel has tried to assimilate and join the surrounding nations in the world, it has never succeeded. If Israel herself did not always want to be distinct, her enemies made sure that she was. For centuries when they lived in strange surroundings, often barely aware of their own Jewishness, those around them knew exactly who was a Jew and who was not. Hitler’s henchmen knew exactly how to trace them. In Russia and in its satellite countries, people filled with a fiery hate for the Jews knew where to find them.
Demonic powers fuel the hatred for the Jews, using people for their own ends (yet even though those who persecute the Jews still remain responsible for their deeds). It is the great enemy of God and humanity—the devil—who in the Bible is called a “murderer from the beginning,” the “father of all lies” (see John 8:44), who directs his hatred of God onto the people of God. “They form an alliance against You,” the psalmist says. Hatred of Israel is hatred of the God of Israel.
God and the false gods
Hatred of Israel has been a reality since the beginning. It was there when Israel originated as a people, when famine forced Jacob’s sons to migrate to Egypt, where they grew into a strong nation. Joseph’s contribution was forgotten and the Egyptian pharaohs enslaved them. The Pharaoh said to the Egyptians, “Come, we must deal shrewdly with them… So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor” (Exod. 1:10-11).
All around Israel, and often with Israel at stake, the battle played out between God, YHWH the Lord, and the false gods. When dealing with His people Israel, the Lord revealed Himself to the peoples of the world and to Israel itself. Repeatedly, He demonstrated who the true God really is. When the Israelites reached Moab, Balaam, who saw the children of Israel drawing closer and had heard about their great exploits and victories over enemies, was invited to come and curse Israel. He was powerless against the God of Israel. In spite of himself, he had to bless them, rather than curse them (see Num. 22:2–24:25). “How can I curse those whom God has not cursed? How can I denounce those whom the Lord has not denounced? …I see a people who live apart and do not consider themselves one of the nations” [or: “shall not be reckoned among the nations”—KJV]) (Num. 23:8-9).
The Persians, such as Haman, also had to learn what happens to haters of Jews, and to all who want to destroy the Jewish people. Israel continues to annually celebrate the feast of Purim and reads the Book of Esther to recall that the great destruction that Haman had planned was foiled.
It is interesting to note that the great anti-Semite, Haman, was a descendant of Amalek, who had opposed Israel in the desert (see Esther 3:1,10). He was in the direct line of Agag, the king whose life was spared by Saul, against the express order of the Lord, until Samuel himself stepped in (see 1 Sam. 15). Balaam also mentions Agag (see Num. 24:7); and the Septuagint, which is the Greek translation of the Old Testament, translates his name as Gog. Ezekiel says that Gog will again be an important figure in the end times, as an enemy of Israel (see Ezek. 38–39; Rev. 20:8). Then he, too, will be destroyed. Haman/Gog are types of anti-Semites and antichrists.
Phases of Destruction
Pharaoh, Agag, Haman, Gog…the line of anti-Semites is long and enduring. The greatest so far has been Hitler, who systematically increased the pressure and, like Pharaoh, adopted “policies.”
- Phase 1 (1933): Nazis administered and plundered Jewish stores, boycotted Jewish businesses, and regularly maltreated Jews.
- Phase 2 (1935): The Nuremberg laws against the Jews were passed.
- Phase 3 (1939): There were mass arrests of twenty thousand Jews, with the first use of systematic physical violence and the first mass deportations to the concentration camps. Before 1939, a Jew could still buy his way out of Germany with loose change; after 1939, it cost him all his wealth, and even then, he could barely escape.
- Phase 4 (1940): All German and Austrian Jews were deported to the ghettos in Poland.
- Phase 5: The “Endlosung” (Final Solution). First came the murderous units, the “Einsatzgruppen” (special units following the “Wehrmacht,”carrying out mass executions). After 1941 (coinciding with the invasion of Russia), the concentration camps and work camps became slaughterhouses, abattoirs. Millions of Jews were murdered. Technical advances (such as the Zyklon-B gas) increased the tempo of destruction to its maximum.
The end result was at least six million Jews (the exact number can never be determined) were murdered, including one and a half million children. A person was murdered…six million times, frequently in a most inhumane and cruel way. Words fail us.
The Aryan super race rose up against the people of God, whom the Nazis considered “Untermenschen” (people at the lowest level of human evolution, less than rats). They were used as rats, or guinea pigs, in atrocious human medical experiments. They were considered evolutionary misfits who should be destroyed in the interests of human progress toward becoming “Übermensch” (superman). Hitler was not the source of the idea of a superior race; that idea had already existed for decades and had been developed at the German universities. It was argued that evolutionary progress came about through combat, in which stronger animals destroyed weaker, less well-adapted species. This model justified the destruction of any “Untermensch,” who were obstacles to the development of a superhuman race. Besides the Jews, the mentally deficient, the disabled, homosexuals, gypsies, and other groups of “Untermensch” were also destroyed.
In whatever way hatred is ideologically clothed, it is ultimately hatred of God. It is hatred of the Creator of Heaven and earth. It is hatred of the people He has chosen in order to reveal His will in the world through them. It is hatred of the great Son of the Jewish people, Jesus Christ.
Hatred of the Jewish people has also been preached by a false form of Christianity as a legitimate hatred of the “God-murderers,” the “God-killers.” But Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, laid down His life of His own free will (see John 10:18), and on the cross He had prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34a).
A form of Christian theology, or perhaps one should rather say anti-Christian theology, has for centuries held the Jewish people collectively responsible for the death of Jesus. The church has been less merciful than God. It cannot be repeated often enough that the crusades, inquisitions, pogroms, and Holocaust took place in the Christian world and represent Christian anti-Semitism.
Pope Benedict XVI made a promising start when he immediately connected with the Chief Rabbi of Rome, and with every visit he continues to openly declare the special role and position that the Jewish people have in the eyes of God.
However, replacement theology, the teaching that the Church has replaced Israel as God’s chosen people, has been preached for centuries and has seeped deep into the veins of Roman Catholic, Protestant, and Eastern Orthodox theology. According to this theology, when the majority of the Jews did not accept Jesus, the Church came to be seen as the new people of God. In this view, the Church receives the promises of Scripture, while curses and judgments are set upon the Jewish people and Israel. This teaching is alive and well.
But hatred of Israel is hatred of the God of Israel. Christian hatred of Israel, though robed in theological terms, is still hatred of God. Nowadays, many point to the seeming change in the thought climate in the Christian world toward Israel. But just how far that change will go remains to be seen. It is possible that the best years of theological new thinking are already behind us.
God is, however, faithful to His covenants with Israel. And now, Israel is on the way to rest for her body, soul, and spirit. The reborn Jewish State is an undeniable fact. In Israel, Jews can be themselves. Spiritually, many of them are rediscovering their Jewish roots. The number of synagogues in Israel is growing, as is the degree of Jewish awareness. There, in the Promised Land, God’s Spirit will be poured out on them, as foretold by the prophets Joel, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Zechariah. Then Jewish souls will be totally at rest and rejoice in the salvation that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, will pour out upon them and in them, by His grace. Then Israel will live safely in the midst of the earth and will be a blessing to the nations.
For God did not choose Israel solely for Israel’s own sake, but because He wanted, through Israel, to bless the whole world. And He will not forsake what His hand has begun. He will come to give Israel rest.
Adapted from ‘Why Israel’, chapter eight: The Root of Anti-Semitism