“Stop confronting us with Jesus!”

In discussions with Jewish leaders and Rabbis it is often  suggested that Christians should stop “targeting” Jews with the gospel because they have the Law of Moses and have no need to repent, and should rather turn their attention to the pagans, prostitutes and drug addicts.

The Lord’s verdict however is somewhat different: Go now, write it on a tablet for them, inscribe it on a scroll, that for the days to come it may be an everlasting witness. These are rebellious people, deceitful children, children unwilling to listen to the LORD’S instruction. They say to the seers, “See no more visions!” and to the prophets, “Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions. Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel!” (Isaiah 30:8-11)

The same prophet wrote, “who has believed our message and to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?” (Isaiah 53).

Nearly two thousand years ago the Sanhedrin, the Jewish legal and religious authority, tried to stop the disciples of Jesus from spreading the gospel among the Jews. The apostles were called before the Sanhedrin and questioned as to why they had disobeyed their instructions forbidding them to teach in the name of Jesus, to which they replied that they had to obey God rather than man (see Acts 5:27 42). On that occasion they were flogged and released with another warning to stop preaching and teaching in the name of Jesus. As the gospel continued to spread among the Jews and Gentiles the believers were not only flogged, but also imprisoned and killed at the instruction of the chief priests.

The relationship between the church and the synagogue has been marred by hostility, rivalry and persecution ever since. When Christianity became the dominant religion the tables were turned and it was Jews who were persecuted by those who called themselves Christians. However, a Christian is never justified in responding with violence, hatred, pride, nor insults towards those who reject Jesus Christ. Such behaviour indicates that they are not true Christians since they betray the very essence of the faith they profess to believe.

This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not a child of God; nor is anyone who does not love his brother. This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. Do not be like Cain, who belonged to the evil one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his own actions were evil and his brother’s were righteous. Do not be surprised, my brothers, if the world hates you. We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him (1 John 3:10-15).

The testimony of the church of Jesus Christ has often been brought into disrepute by false “brothers” who have killed and persecuted those with whom they differ, including other Christians. In fact more Christians have been persecuted and murdered for their faith in Jesus Christ since the first century to the present day than followers of any other religion. Sadly, this shameful history of the church is exploited to silence the testimony of Jesus Christ.

In recent times there have been attempts to establish dialogue between church and synagogue. However, although we may work towards tolerance and understanding, there can never be agreement because the church is established upon the foundation that Jesus is the Messiah while modern Judaism is predicated upon a denial that Jesus is the Messiah.

Orthodox Jewish scholar, Pinchas Lapide, insisted that there are three “errors” which he regarded as the basis of Christian animosity towards the Jews and which need to be repudiated by Christians in order to facilitate dialogue with Jews. These three “errors” are:

1. That Jesus did not introduce himself to his people as Messiah,
2. The people of Israel did not reject Jesus
3. Jesus did not reject his people. 

It seems rather uncanny that John Hagee’s book, “In defense of Israel” – which we critiqued in our last quarter 2007 publication – sets out to prove exactly that: In Hagee’s own words he set out to “…scripturally prove that the Jewish people as a whole did not reject Jesus as the Messiah,…that Jesus did not come to earth to be the Messiah…” and therefore, “…since Jesus refused by word and deed to claim to be the Messiah, how can the Jews be blamed for rejecting what was never offered?”

The exile from the land following the desolation of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 AD is precisely because they failed to recognize the Messiah. The apostle Peter stated that those who are guilty of this are completely cut off from God’s people and can only be reconciled to God if they repent of their unbelief (see Luke 19:44 and Acts 3:23). Jesus has atoned for the sins of the entire world, but the one sin for which everyone will be held accountable is the rejection of the atoning blood of Christ (see Jn. 16:9; 2 Th. 2:10 and Ro. 11:23).

It is a betrayal of Christ to overlook the seriousness of that sin in the interests of improving Jewish-Christian relations. Paul asked, “Am I now trying to win the approval of men, or of God? Or am I trying to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a servant of Christ” (Galatians 1:10). The LORD said twice through the prophet Jeremiah, “They dress the wound of my people as though it were not serious” (Jeremiah 6:14 and 8:11).

Let us never stop confronting them with the Holy One of Israel!

1. http://www.jcrelations.net/en/?item=738  Jewish voices about Jesus by Gerhard Bodendorfer