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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

God, Jews, Palestinians, Arabs and Americans

I read the news of Israel's election results this morning with some dismay. It appears that Netanyahu's Likud Party has garnered the largest block of seats in the Knesset. Although Netanyahu still has to form a coalition government, most of the post election analysis is that he will do just that. In my opinion, the only folks who greeted this news with cheer were the folks on the Right within Israel and the United States - just about everyone else will be frowning this morning.

Benjamin Netanyahu has been one of the most polarizing individuals to have ever served as Prime Minister of Israel. He has single-handedly turned support for Israel into a partisan issue within the United States and alienated the Obama Administration. Moreover, his last-minute declaration that the Palestinians would never have a state as long as he serves as prime minister has effectively ended what little hope existed for peace in that troubled region.

Although Netanyahu's actions and statements have troubled me for some time, I cannot say with a straight face that I am shocked by him or the results of this election. The Israeli Prime Minister and his supporters are the heirs and chief promulgators of a very old idea: God loves the Jews more than He does anyone else on this planet!

Any serious student of the Old Testament of the Judeo-Christian Bible understands that the Jewish people have always thought of themselves as God's chosen people. As the descendants of Abraham (and heirs of the promises which God made to him), they believe that God favors them above all other people on this planet. Their historical misfortunes have always been attributed to God's disfavor with their behavior (their many individual and national sins and rebellions against Him). In the United States, many conservative or Fundamentalist Christians have swallowed these notions hook, line and sinker (an old fishing analogy).

There should, however, be one glaring problem with the acceptance and support of such notions by Christians: The founder of their religion (Jesus Christ) refuted such an understanding. Jesus Christ (himself a Jew) explained to the Jews of his day that God had chosen them to reveal the One True God to the rest of the world and to serve as an example to them of the proper way to live - NOT because they were somehow better than everybody else or that God loved them more (Luke 13:22-30 , John 8:25-59, et al.). The Gospel According to Matthew informs us that John the Baptist told the Jewish leaders prior to the commencement of Christ's ministry "think not to say within yourselves, 'We have Abraham to our father:' for I say unto you, that God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham." The Apostle Paul underscored the same message in his letter to the Christians of Rome and Galatia (Romans 2:28-29 and Galatians 3:28-29).

It is somewhat ironic that a people who have placed so much emphasis on their physical ancestry (the Jews) have ignored much of the contributions of modern genetic testing to our understanding of the human family tree. DNA testing has conclusively demonstrated that the overwhelming majority of the people living in the Middle East are closely related to each other, and many of them derive from the same male ancestor. Indeed, the testing of my own autosomal DNA has shown that I have a small percentage of Middle Eastern ancestry. Interestingly, most of the folks who do this testing describe these results as reflecting Palestinian, Bedouin, Bedouin South, Druze, Jewish or Mozabite heritage (in other words, they can't pinpoint which group you belong to from the autosomal testing). Oh my, do you mean to tell me that Palestinians and Bedouins are Abraham's children too?

The Apostle Peter is reported to have said that God is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34). Maybe it's time for the Prime Minister of Israel to get down off of his high horse and attempt to start fulfilling the true meaning of his people's calling? Do you think that God would disapprove if we all tried just a little bit harder to love each other and get along with our brothers and sisters?

1 comment:

  1. Thanks! What a great article. I have been pondering this subject for several days. Roy and Mark.