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Anti-Semitism in the Church, by Kevin Williams

Theologians discuss “progressive revelation,” and find the pages of the Bible replete with an ongoing, ever expanding and consistent manifestation of the character of God. Such biblical understanding is often crucial in effective evangelism and apologetics, drawing the plan of the Almighty out like a treasure map for the explorer to find.

By searching through the treasures awaiting us in our own biblical heritage, in this case the Fall Feasts of Leviticus 23, untold riches can be found. Some may have been taught that Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, and Sukkot, are “Jewish” festivals and therefore “dead observance” for Christians.

If these feasts were strictly ethnic, such doctrines would be true and necessary to protect the flock from empty legalism. But in a strictly biblical context, the only context with which we should concern ourselves, and with the God-given heritage that is ours to claim, this across-the-board rejection of the feast days is both unfair and unscriptural. It denies believers of every denominational creed their own inheritance.

The LORD spoke again to Moses, saying, “Speak to the sons of Israel and say to them, ‘The LORD’S appointed times which you shall proclaim . . . [Lev 23:1, 2].”

God designates them the LORD’S appointed times. At no point does the Architect of our faith refer to them as the “Feast of Israel,” or the “Jewish High Holy days.” To do so takes them out of Scriptural context and improperly transfers them into an ethnic context. In our ignorance, this inappropriate ethnicity creates a sense of distance that makes us feel God’s declared times have no relevance to our modern Christian faith. This steals the treasures that God intended for Christians; it robs them of their inheritance, and hinders a more complete understanding of the Bible. It is likewise, anti-Semitic. To narrowly restrict them as “Jewish,” as separate from our biblical inheritance makes us guilty of building walls of enmity between Christians and Jews. For us it says, “God’s appointed times are dead.” To the Jewish community it says, “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob—the God of the Jews—is not good enough for Christians.”

The term, “the LORD’S appointed times,” carries relevance. It means He has something to say, something to teach. A study of the feasts of Leviticus 23 can reveal that God has much to unfold about Himself, and much to offer His children in any century.

The following is perhaps one of the most poignant examples of Christianity’s subtle, but real, anti-Semitism. Anytime we speak of the Holy Land and refer to it as “Palestine,” we practice anti-Semitism. Do we still call East Germany, East Germany? No. It is Germany. Do we not refer to it as the former Soviet Union? Is Texas still the independent Republic of Texas, or is it a state within the United States? Certainly the nomenclature of these countries has changed and gained world-wide acceptance, yet there is a persistence to refer to Israel as Palestine in Christian literature, on Sunday School maps, and from the pulpit. Ask yourself, “If I was Jewish, would this make you feel like a brother to the church, or an interloper?

The Body of Christ at large has adopted the phrase “spiritual Israel,” a term not found in the Bible, as her “tag.” Not that I disagree. I am one of the gentiles who by Paul’s definition, is Jewish: “But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.” [Rom 2:29]

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Category: Ministry

About the Author: Kevin M. Williams, Litt.D., H.L.D. has served in Messianic ministries since 1987 and has written numerous articles and been a featured speaker at regional and international conferences on Messianic Judaism.

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