Crusades, pogroms, the Inquisition, blood libels, the Holocaust, the expulsion from Spain, exiles, anti-Semitic conspiracies, and other horrible deeds done to our people, apparently in “the name of Yeshua”…how do we explain this?
The simple answer is that there is no connection between Yeshua and these horrible deeds. Rather, we are dealing here with bad people who used God’s name in vain and who never really knew Yeshua, or his teachings.
This year alone the media exposed dozens of embarrassing cases in which rabbis were proven guilty of rape, embezzlement, stealing, cheating, abuse and incitement. We all read in the newspaper about a senior member of the Breslov Hasidim, Rabbi Berland, who molested women and children. Or about rabbis in Bnei Brak that fed feces to little children, about Rabbi Elior Chen, who burnt children’s body parts, about the head of a famous Yeshiva, Rabbi Ze’ev Koplovich, who sexually harassed his students, and countless other cases, including rabbis who came out publicly calling for Eitan and I to be murdered for our faith.
However, neither you or I would conclude that our father Abraham taught them, encouraged them, or sent them to do this. Right?
The same principle applies when it comes to Yeshua.
Not only did Yeshua never encourage any of the horrible acts committed against our people, seemingly in his name, but these anti-Semitic acts stand in stark contrast to what Yeshua and his disciples taught in the New Testament.
Illiteracy and ignorance
We need to remember that until recently there was no internet or even publishers, and the common people, even if they could read and write, did not have access to the Holy Scriptures. The average Christian could not read the New Testament on his own. Like in the Rabbinic Law, he had to follow his religious leaders blindly. Unfortunately, in some streams of Christianity, mainly in eastern Europe, the religious leaders were bad people who promoted hideous acts against our people. They took advantage of God’s name and used it in vain, fostering the hate that was in their heart. Their teaching was not based on the New Testament but rather, just like today’s rabbinical Judaism, it was based on human tradition.
There’s no doubt a lot of Jewish blood was shed in the name of Yeshua by violent and evil Christians who used the name of Yeshua as an excuse. But it wasn’t the New Testament that brought all these shameful acts on the Jewish people.
Truth be told, Yeshua himself made predictions about bad people like this in the presence of his Jewish disciples,
“They will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake.” (Matthew 24:9)
What does the New Testament teach?
Yeshua taught about love, mercy and compassion towards everybody. For example: regarding those who persecute the disciples for their faith, Yeshua taught:
“But I say to you, do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also… and I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.” (Mathew 5:39, 44-45)
Yeshua’s disciples continued to teach the same things. Paul wrote to the Roman believers:
“Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves… Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:17-19, 21)
To the Galatians, he wrote:
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another.” (Galatians 5:22-26)
To the Corinthian he writes:
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends…” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a)
The apostle John wrote:
“Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in him there is no cause for stumbling. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.” (1 John 2:9-11)
“Whoever does not love abides in death. Everyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him. By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” (1 John 3:14-16)
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God because God is love.” (1 John 4:7-8)
Yeshua’s teaching and that of his disciples was not limited to theory or mere words, but they lived by it.
As Jews, Yeshua and his disciples gave their lives for our people. They were crucified and stoned, burnt alive, they were beheaded and so on.
We need to recognize one important fact: the Bible itself identifies one reason for the pain and killing of the people of Israel by the hands of Gentiles: our own disobedience.
Whenever, as a people, we did not walk in the ways of the Lord and did not obey the Prophets, God used other nations to punish his people. That means if the people of Israel truly had followed God they would have neither suffered nor been persecuted by the Gentiles, not now and not then.
In the Bible, in Deuteronomy 28, God lays out before his people the blessings and the curses and that the decision of the people of Israel not to obey the Lord brought upon them the punishment God had promised. Throughout the whole Bible God promises the people of Israel blessing and protection if they walk in his ways, but curses and punishment if they don’t.
And the Lord said to Moses,
“Behold, you are about to lie down with your fathers. Then this people will rise and whore after the foreign gods among them in the land that they are entering, and they will forsake me and break my covenant that I have made with them. Then my anger will be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them and hide my face from them, and they will be devoured. And many evils and troubles will come upon them, so that they will say in that day, ‘Have not these evils come upon us because our God is not among us?’ And I will surely hide my face in that day because of all the evil that they have done…” (Deuteronomy 31:16-18)
Since the people of Israel broke the law, God allowed the nations around Israel to punish them, to the extent that the people wondered: where did God go?
God purposely hid his face from Israel because they did not follow him. Amos the prophet said:
“You only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities.” (Amos 3:2)
“The Lord saw it and spurned them, because of the provocation of his sons and his daughters. And he said, ‘I will hide my face from them; I will see what their end will be, for they are a perverse generation, children in whom is no faithfulness. They have made me jealous with what is no god; they have provoked me to anger with their idols. So I will make them jealous with those who are no people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation. For a fire is kindled by my anger, and it burns to the depths of Sheol…” (Deuteronomy 32:19-22)
As the chosen people, we are accountable before God and therefore, he educates us.
The question that should run through every Jews’ head now is, “If Jesus really was the Messiah we rejected, what are the consequences of us rejecting him? Blessings or curses?” Should it surprise us that since we rejected the Messiah, God is turning his face from us?
When Yeshua was crucified some of the people shouted: “His blood be on us and on our children.” They might have shouted this in the heat of the moment without really understanding what they were saying. However, only the rejection of the Messiah could bring on our people thousands of years of pain and agony of this extent. That is how it was during the time of the Mosaic covenant, whenever we sinned against God as a people, He turned his face from us and allowed bad people to punish us.
Unless we repent and return to the Messiah Yeshua we will continue to be vulnerable for the cruelty of the nations around us. This would be a tragedy for our people if we keep walking in blindness, following the rabbinic tradition that rejects Yeshua the Messiah, and if we continue to blame him for the horrible things that were done to our people.
Yeshua, being a Jew and part of our people, also went through persecution, torture and death. He is a Messiah we can identify with, as a person and as a nation.
To sum it up:
Two thousand years ago when Jesus entered Jerusalem for the last time in his earthly life and before he was crucified he cried and proclaimed:
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it! How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen that gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing! See, your house is left to you desolate. For I tell you, you will not see me again, until you say ‘Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'” (Matthew 23:37-39)
The enormous suffering of our people was mostly caused by our sin, being a people that rebelled against their God. In other words, everyone who took part in the Crusades, the Inquisition and the Holocaust will be held accountable before God. But God would have not allowed any of this to happen in the first place if the people of Israel had not rejected the Messiah.
We know that this is an unpleasant thought and hard to take in but this the spiritual reality that is being expressed in our people. If our relationship with God as a people had been right on a national level we would have been protected from evil not persecuted for 2000 years …
We want to leave you with one more thought. While there were Christians that gave Yeshua a bad name there are also millions of Christians who actually do love Israel, “the righteous among the nations”. They love our people, support Israel financially and pray for all of us. Without their generosity we might not even have our own state today.