Monday, May 25, 2020

Praising the God of Abraham with Our Lives as well as with Our Lips

People make what they will out of the Genesis accounts of Creation and the Flood.  But there is another story in Genesis whose fulfillment is much more obvious, even though it is often overlooked.

It seems that in the centuries following Noah, people all but forgot the knowledge of God.  But then God spoke to a man from Aram (a region in present-day Syria and Iraq), named Abram, and commanded him, "“Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you.  And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.  I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:1-4).  And Abram believed God's promise and went. 

At that time, the Canaanites were still living in the land.  But God promised Abram, (and later changes his name to Abraham) “To your offspring I will give this land.”  And thus began a long, multi-millennial adventure of those who are known today as the Jewish people.

Along the way, the Jews have been slaves in Egypt; then, through their disobedience, they became a nation divided in two with the northern portion conquered and carried off by the Assyrians, and the southern tribes captured and exiled by the Babylonians.  The Assyrian and Babylonian Empires were conquered by the Persian Empire that subsequently fell to the Greek Empire of Alexander the Great and his successors.  The rule of the Greeks gave way to the Roman Empire. 

The fall of Rome opened the Middle East to conquest by Barbarians and, later, the Arab armies of Islam.  Expelled from their homeland by the Crusaders who initially came to re-conquer the Holy Land from the Muslims, Jews were persecuted in Europe by the Holy Roman Empire and the Inquisition, the pogroms of Eastern Europe and the Russian Empire.  These gave way to persecution under the Soviet Empire and near-extermination by the Nazis. 

All these nations and empires were larger and far more powerful than tiny Israel.  And all of them are gone with the wind, but Israel remains.  The continued existence of the Jewish people, against all odds, is a testimony to the existence and faithfulness of God. 

Which is why, next to being a believer in God through his Son Jesus Christ (which is ultimate and preeminent), there are two things I will always be:  (1) I will always be pro-life, by which I mean one who believes that human life is a sacred gift from God from the moment of conception to natural death.  And (2) I will always be a supporter of Israel and the Jewish people. 


I was tempted to let what I have written above stand on its own.  But, as a Christian living in the United States in 2020, there are some political ramifications of the convictions I have expressed that must be stated as well.

(1) The Democrat Party is the party of abortion.  To overlook this is to ignore an important and glaring reality.  A number of states with Democrat governors and Democrat-controlled legislatures have enacted measures legalizing elective abortion up to the moment of birth.  All the Democrat candidates for President in 2020, with the exception of Tulsi Gabbard (who favors some restrictions during the third trimester), endorsed this position.  Some Democrat politicians have called for a waiting period after birth, during which the mother could decide whether to keep the baby.  The Graeco-Roman practice of the infanticide of unwanted children, against which Christians stood out for their willingness to rescue abandoned infants, once again is with us.

(2) The Democrat Party has abandoned Israel.  Democrats have long been the party favored by Jewish voters.  Records going back to 1924 shows that Democratic presidential candidates always captured the largest share of the Jewish vote, sometimes by overwhelming margins.  And Democratic candidates for the House and Senate have usually drawn the most support from Jews as well.

But now the Democratic Party is no longer in full support of the Jewish state, pushed by the rising radical fringe that is more supportive of Palestinian terrorists who murder innocent Jewish civilians than it is of Jewish people who have created a democracy with legal protections for all in their ancient homeland.

Today President Trump and Republicans have become the true friends of Israel and the Jewish people.  By moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel to its eternal capital of Jerusalem and supporting Israel’s legitimate security needs against Palestinian terrorism, the President has embraced values that were once embraced by the Democratic Party.

As a former Democrat who once worked for a Democratic Congressman, I am appalled at what has happened to the party I once served.  Abortion, infanticide, abandonment of Israel and an increasingly disturbing pattern of anti-Semitism, abandonment of the Judaeo-Christian ideal of marriage, and a general hostility to historic Judaeo-Christian values and contempt for those who hold them have cost the Democrat Party my support.

As much as it pains me to say this, Democratic abandonment of these values should be answered by Jewish and Christian abandonment of the Democratic Party.

Sunday, January 12, 2020

A Biblical Perspective on the Hebrew Roots Movement

Some people, knowing of my love and support for Israel and the Jewish people and my desire to promote better relations between Christians and Jews, might assume that I would support the "Hebrew Roots Movement (HRM)." I do not. Here is why.

Looking at the spectrum of Christian views today regarding the Old Testament reminds me of the verse, "For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few." (Matt. 7:14). On the one hand you have Andy Stanley and some other megachurch pastors saying the Old Testament (including the Ten Commandments) is irrelevant for Christians.

On the other hand, you have the Hebrew Roots Movement saying that we need to keep the law, the Sabbath, and even kosher dietary laws. While I am not questioning the salvation of those who follow either approach, both miss the mark terribly in terms of discerning God's will. (Read this article for a critique of the HRM that doesn't pull any punches.)

For my part, I see Romans 11 as being crucial to a correct understanding. The Church is the wild branches that have been grafted into the olive tree. But the tree is Judaism that comes from God's covenant with Abraham, not the Mosaic Covenant that applied to the Jews at Mount Sinai and their descendants. As Gentiles who are grafted into the tree, it does not mean that Christians keep the Law given to the Jews (see Acts 15). But in coming to God by faith, we follow the example of Abraham (Romans 4, Galatians 3, Hebrews 11, James 2). And whenever we make disciples among the nations, we are fulfilling God's promise to Abraham that all the families of the earth would be blessed through him.