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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Two Sides of Philo-Semitism!

      The world has survived the demise of the Mayan Calendar and the holiday season, yet I am still unclear on which was actually more dangerous to humanity. As we enter a new year as well as a second term for President Obama, I believe that the United States is about be faced with some decisions that could affect us and the rest of our world community for years to come.
     The global financial crisis continues to take us down what appears to be an economic drain with no end in sight but the total collapse of western civilization. But lest I am ONLY accused of being somewhat negative, allow me to also continue with the dispensing of my usual leitmotif about the blessing and cursing of Israel and the Jewish people and its consequences (Genesis 12:3).
     In France, where I was for the last three weeks, there is a period of time between Christmas and the new year known as la trêve des confiseurs or "the sweets shops truce"when it is considered highly uncouth to approach any serious or difficult subject of any kind in the public arena. So, by virtue of this yearly truce started in 1875, the subject of antisemitism was not on anybody's list. The reality of course, is that antisemitism never takes a break.
     I believe that 2013 will see a continued increase in antisemitic acts both verbally AND physically all around the world. I also believe that now more than ever is the perfect time to STAND WITH ISRAEL when most of the world will stand and speak against her. The liberal bias against my people will not stop, rather, it will increase. Islamists will renew their common goal to eradicate Israel and for the most part, the rest of the planet will switch their TV sets to the newest reality show because let's face it, "real" news about the middle- east (if even available) is too depressing!
     Fortunately for Israel, there are still some decent people, albeit in decreasing numbers, who care enough to take a stand and speak up in her defense. These people display the opposite of antisemitism, known as "philo-semitism". The word philo is Greek for "having an affinity or preference for". To be philo-semitic thus refers to a person or organization that will display love and care for Israel and /or the Jewish people. So, it's all good right? Philo-semitic people are the friends of the Jews after all, so what could be wrong?
     Technically, the word describes a very positive attitude towards Israel and the Jewish people, but is it possible that there are two sides to philo-semitism? This requires us to take a closer look at philo-semitic people's motives.

The good side of philo-semitism
     While in Paris, I recently lectured about the French village of Le Chambon sur Lignon in central France where about 5,000 villagers (most of them descendants of French Huguenots) saved about 5,000 jewish kids from the Nazi death machine. I even had the privilege of meeting Armand Laferrère, the grandson of a Parisian Huguenot who sent many of these kids down to Le Chambon.
     When asked why they did what they did, the villagers of Le Chambon all gave a similar answer, something like "it was the most natural thing to do". They also understood from the Bible that the Jews were the chosen people of God and that as such they had to be treated with the utmost respect and much love, WITH NO STRINGS ATTACHED! To the villagers, they were human beings first and Jews second.
     When expressed properly, philo-semitism should be an unconditional love of the Jewish people as human beings AND because they have a special place in God's eyes (Zechariah 2:8). Additionally, if displayed ethically, philo-semitism should never cause one to turn a blind eye on any injustice caused by Israel or the Jewish people. That is pretty much black and white when you think about it! Yet there is another side to philo-semitism that I find hypocritical at best and potentially lethal at worse.

 The bad side of philo-semitism
     It is one thing to have a special place in our hearts for Israel and the Jewish people, it is another thing to be interested in Israel simply from an eschatological perspective (eschatology is the study of the end times). Unfortunately, many Christians' understanding of Israel and the Jewish people, even though it is a biblical one, is also an eschatological one, and that can possibly create a very unhealthy agenda.
     Too many Christians visit Israel or the "Holy Land" with biblical lenses that are slightly out of focus. Their farsightedness forces them only look at Israel and the Jewish people from a biblical/historical perspective and in the process, they can miss the fact that modern Israel (as different as it might be from their expectations) is a real country, with real people facing some real issues daily.      
     These believers need corrective lenses to help them see Israel today and support the Jewish people for who they are!
     Additionally, way too many Christians only see Israel eschatologically. In other words, modern Israel is a fulfillment of prophecy and one of the key components in the Second Coming of Yeshua after two thirds of Israel is destroyed during the bloody carnage known as the Great Tribulation (Zechariah 12:10, 13:9, Romans 11:26, Jeremiah 31:31-34).
     While all this is true biblically and gives us and Israel a glorious future to look forward to, Israel absolutely cannot be used as the catalyst for the Second Coming of Yeshua.  

     Instead, all those who have put their trust in Yeshua for their present life and their awesome future should look at Israel and the Jewish people with compassion and a genuine desire to see them all join us into eternity with the God of Abraham. Isaac and Jacob. Our philo-semitism should never be motivated by Israel's role in God's program for the last days–as true and biblically validating as it is–but by our burden to see the lost sheep of the tribe of Israel find their Messiah before time runs out.
     Yes, we should support Israel!
     Yes, we should fight antisemitism!
     Yes, we should anticipate a great future for those who trust Yeshua as their Savior!
     and Yes we should boldly share His message of salvation with the Jewish people, but we must also remember that:

     PHILO-SEMITISM IS THE OPPOSITE OF ANTISEMITISM ONLY WHEN IT IS UNCONDITIONAL, ANYTHING LESS IS DOING A DISSERVICE TO MY PEOPLE!

3 comments:

  1. Excellent Point! Genesis 12:3a is unconditional as God's people are the "apple of His eye" (Deut 32:10).
    Pastor Paul Schmidtbleicher

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  2. A very good point about the "bad side of philo-semitism".

    Perhaps that attitude is a symptom of the way the gospel has become narrowed down to a matter of personal salvation instead of being the gospel of the Kingdom.

    People are see world events, and especially events related to Israel, as being signs related to what is ahead for themselves instead of recognising a bigger picture that involves others who need to be brought into God's Kingdom.

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  3. I disagree with your assumption that the people of the French village of Le Chambon sur Lignon acted in such a way because they were philo-semetic. Let me suggest that they were acting in a Christian manner and would have acted in the same way no matter what religion the children were. Only Jews and anti-semites see the human race as being divided into Jewish and non-Jewish. People with Christian values see all human beings as being God's children. Having a viewpoint such as yours is extreme. I am against extremism whatever form it takes.

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