JOSEPH THE EGYPTIAN
In a day when there is so much noise about Israel, the Jewish people, the last days, Islam, and the nations, it is fitting for me to use this space to add our voice. My position may be obvious or even a foregone conclusion to some, but perhaps not my motivation, so let me explain.
In order to set this up I have to go back a few years to a time when I was a fairly new believer in Jesus, and relatively ignorant of much of Church history after the writings of the New Covenant. I moved my small family of three to Rockville, Maryland in order to join Beth Messiah Congregation. The Messianic movement was almost as young as I was in the Lord and the world was in the fullness of what would be called later, The Jesus Movement. Hearts could be won to The Lord at the drop of a hat including hippies, businessmen and women, and yes, many Jewish souls as well, myself included! So into the battle I gladly ran with a kippah on my head and a Bible in my hands, eager to share with anyone or anything that breathed, especially my own Jewish family and friends.
My zeal found me in charge of the worship at Beth Messiah, a thriving congregation of 75 or so, hidden away in a small, formerly Presbyterian church building in the backwater of a WWII neighborhood in Rockville, Maryland. One sunny afternoon at our outreach table at American University while I was distributing gospel materials to any student who would read them, a Chabad rabbi came and sat down next to me and engaged me in conversation. Who was I, what was my Jewish background, was I born again, and why was I doing this here? After establishing myself as a Jew, the rabbi wanted to know my knowledge about church history, especially concerning our Jewish people. His grasp of church history quickly outstripped mine, and I found myself trying to defend anti-
Semitic statements from numerous “church fathers” whose names I had never heard before, much less could even pronounce! Needless to say, after 15 minutes of quotations from my new fathers in the faith, I was humiliated, embarrassed, and later ashamed on so many accounts I couldn’t even pray.
“How could this be possible”, I thought, “those who were the guardians and apostles of my faith were blatant anti-Semites!” To tell you the truth, my faith was rocked to the core, and a foundational battle for my life was waged over the next several weeks as I struggled alone to lay hold of what was true and what was false. Thank God that after some time I emerged from this boxing match with my faith in Yeshua in tact and my determination to spread the Good News of our Messiah even farther and louder than before.
Now we can fast forward 35 years to 2015 and see that so much has changed in the world. Anti-Semitism and the ignorance of racial bigotry is all but wiped out in the enlightenment of the western world. We can understand the ignorance and hatred coming from the Islamic world, but the brightness of the European Union and certainly the thankfulness of our own Judeo-Christian heritage will soon silence all this. The voice of a grateful and educated American church will certainly ring out from our assemblies and echo from our halls of justice to uphold and defend what is right and good, and pure and holy… right?
Sadly, and shamefully there remains far too many “Christian” voices who continue to beat the old drums and have even invented some new doctrines to add to the disgraceful collection. They now tell us that Israel is an occupier of stolen land; an apartheid nation of oppressors; the Jews now control world markets, media, and economies in order to overthrow the nations and wield some universal bully stick to take vengeance on the world. They oppress the poor Palestinian people and shamelessly hold them hostage in their own land. The doctrines of Replacement theology and Supersessionism, along with other ignorant teaching seems to have found new life in our modern evangelicalisms, all the while pondering how to make room for Islam and Gay lifestyles in our sanctuaries and pulpits. And on and on goes the rhetoric and falsehoods without any sense of shame or even decency. So where are these voices coming from? There are too many names to list here of those who are called leaders in the western church. Even when a synagogue or a kosher deli is attacked and Jews are targeted and killed, our own government declares these vile acts to be “random” and “workplace violence”.
We have just recognized the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, and decried the unthinkable and unspeakable horrors that were perpetrated there. And, at the same time, Jewish students are becoming more and more afraid to walk to class alone on the college campuses of America?! American kids afraid to walk to school in America?! Where are our great Christian leaders? What ever happened to the cry of Ruth, “Your people are my people!” Is this just good fodder for a rousing message on the occasional Stand with Israel night, or is it really intolerable to this once great Judeo-
Christian society who once had a moral compass and a conscience that still spoke?!
I will finally tell you why these events of our day are so blasphemous and morally indefensible in my thinking. My Bible tells me, no…even shouts to me that the gospel is for the Jew first and then it is for the Gentile (Roms.1:16,17). How can true followers of the Rabbi of Nazareth, yes, Jesus Christ, remain silent at so grave an hour as this? What about the warning of Mordecai to his cousin Esther (Hadassa) who was strategically positioned to save a nation with a word? “If you remain silent, God will raise up deliverance for our people from somewhere else. But who knows that you may have been brought to the Kingdom for such a time as this?”
Will the Church worldwide continue to dress Joseph as an Egyptian so that his own brothers cannot recognize him? Will we idly stand by and simply shrug our shoulders as another holocaust is brewing right under our indignant noses? If so, there is a very high price to be paid for all this. A King is coming, and one day a JEW will rule the world from Jerusalem. Every living soul will stand before this Jewish King and be judged. Will He be pleased with what you have done with the least of these His brethren? Will He?