"See, I set before you today life and prosperity, death and destruction." Deuteronomy 30:15
The entrance to the Knesset in Jerusalem
Jews have, with much justification, asked many times through history, “Why us?”; especially concerning the Holocaust.
The Jews have been blessed more than any other people but also cursed more than any. Why?
At the end of Deuteronomy, Moses/Moshe set out a covenant (see below) offering the children of Israel blessings or curses. Is this passage the explanation of Jewish suffering down the centuries? And if so what did they do so wrong?
Clearly, this is a very sensitive issue and needs to be handled very carefully. It would be wrong and anti-Semitic to jump in and say the Holocaust happened because the Jews killed Jesus but it would be equally wrong sweep three chapters at the end of Deuteronomy under the carpet. If God’s word says something it must not be ignored or rationalized away.
What did Moshe prophecy in this covenant in Deuteronomy? It would be worth reading the whole passage of blessings and curses. Here are some key verses concerning the curses.
However, if you do not obey the LORD your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come upon you and overtake you:
The LORD will send on you curses, confusion and rebuke in everything you put your hand to, until you are destroyed and come to sudden ruin because of the evil you have done in forsaking him.
The sky over your head will be bronze, the ground beneath you iron. The LORD will turn the rain of your country into dust and powder; it will come down from the skies until you are destroyed.
The LORD will cause you to be defeated before your enemies and you will become a thing of horror to all the kingdoms on earth. Your sons and daughters will be given to another nation, and you will wear out your eyes watching for them day after day, powerless to lift a hand.
The LORD will drive you and the king you set over you to a nation unknown to you or your fathers.
You will become a thing of horror and an object of scorn and ridicule to all the nations where the LORD will drive you.
He will be the head, but you will be the tail.
All these curses will come upon you. They will pursue you and overtake you until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the LORD your God and observe the commands and decrees he gave you. They will be a sign and a wonder to you and your descendants forever. Because you did not serve the LORD your God joyfully and gladly in the time of prosperity, therefore in hunger and thirst, in nakedness and dire poverty, you will serve the enemies the LORD sends against you . He will put an iron yoke on your neck until he has destroyed you.
The LORD will bring a nation against you from far away, from the ends of the earth, like an eagle swooping down, a nation whose language you will not understand, a fierce-looking nation without respect for the old or pity for the young.
You who were as numerous as the stars in the sky will be left but few in number, because you did not obey the LORD your God. Just as it pleased the LORD to make you prosper and increase in number, so it will please him to ruin and destroy you. You will be uprooted from the land you are entering to possess.
Then the LORD will scatter you among all nations , from one end of the earth to the other..
Among those nations you will find no repose, no resting place for the sole of your foot. There the LORD will give you an anxious mind, eyes weary with longing, and a despairing heart. You will live in constant suspense, filled with dread both night and day, never sure of your life. In the morning you will say, "If only it were evening!" and in the evening, "If only it were morning!"--because of the terror that will fill your hearts and the sights that your eyes will see.
All these curses sum up the tragic history of the Jews from 66CE up until things started to change with the early Zionists and after the end of World War II.
But to what sin do these covenant outcomes relate?
Could it be rejecting their Messiah – God’s promised fulfillment of all His promises through the Tanakh?
if you do not obey the LORD your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today
because you did not obey the LORD your God and observe the commands and decrees he gave you
Because you did not serve the LORD your God joyfully and gladly in the time of prosperity.
These verses do not explicitly state that failure to obey and serve the LORD meant rejecting the Messiah, but rejecting the Messiah could, justifiably be said to be a failure to obey and serve the LORD your God in trusting faith.
These words of Moses/Moshe form one of God's Covenants with Israel. Covenants come in various types.
The word `covenant' probably comes from the Hebrew and Assyro-Babylonian word meaning to join, to bind or to cut (in Hebrew - `berit' or 'brith').
In the ancient near-east the two covenant parties are bound together by an oath. This covenantal agreement would be marked by a symbolic act or sign. In the Bible, there are many covenants between individuals, but the main focus is on covenants made between God and people. There are three types of covenant...
A Royal Grant in which a King gives unconditionally to a loyal servant.
An agreement between a great King and one of his vassal rulers; such agreements tended to he conditional.
An agreement of parity; here, equals would pledge mutual respect/friendship.
Some of the covenants God made are Royal Grants, which being unconditional and sworn to by God himself (since there is nothing higher to swear by) can be regarded as eternal and unaffected by man's shortcomings. God's covenant with Abraham was one such and included the ownership of the Land (Eretz Israel) The sign of this covenant to each man of Israel is circumcision.
Other covenants are agreements between a great King and one of his vassal rulers. These may be regarded as being as eternal as God himself but the outcomes are conditional. That is the King telling his subjects, "If you will be faithful to the terms of this covenant, I will bestow these blessings on you - but if you break your part of this covenant, the following evils will come upon you."
The covenants God made through Moses were of the "agreements between a great King and one of his vassal rulers" type and the end of Deuteronomy spells out the terms, and Israel agreed to the terms.
Abraham's covenant was a Royal Grant and granted ownership of Eretz Israel forever but Moses' covenant was conditional; meaning that the right to live in Eretz Israel is conditional.
The covenants of God are progressive and build one upon another, therefore a new covenant does not do away with a covenant God has made eternal. However, some covenants (those of Moses) include provision for later enhancements. The "Old Covenant" (The Tanakh - the Hebrew scriptures) includes the promise of a New Covenant ( Brit Hadashah ) For example, Jeremiah 31 v30/31 ( CJB)
"Here, the days are coming," says ADONAI, "when I will make a new covenant with the House of Isra'el and with the house of Y'hudah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers on the day I took them by their hand and brought them out of the land of Egypt; because they, for their part, violated my covenant, even though I , for my part, was a husband to them," says ADONAI. "I will put my Torah within them and write it on their hearts............."
What many think is the best teaching on the Covenants is an interview with Malcolm Hedding that is available in the trailer DVD for "Blessing, Curse, Coincidence" by the Hatikvah Trust.
See also Covenants.
Replacement Theologians have concluded that God cursed and rejected Israel when their leaders rejected Yeshua as Messiah and called for him to be crucified. Furthermore they point out that the Jewish leaders and their mob asked that his blood be on their heads and the heads of their children.
Let us examine the objections to such a simplistic conclusion; particularly through the words of Yeshua himself.
Yeshua himself prayed that they (who exactly?) be forgiven because they knew not what they did. This is not to say ignorance is innocence, of course. Both Peter and Stephen told the leaders of Judah that “You killed…..” Since Yeshua asked his Father for this sin to be forgiven it would be strange to assume that God refused to forgive the Jewish people when they turned to him in repentance. Indeed, the book of Acts starts with thousands of Jews turning and being saved and sealed by the Holy Spirit.
The, so called, "Parable of the Tenants" is taken, wrongly, by many to that prove God rejected Israel. But if you read it carefully, you will note that Yeshua told the parable against the leaders and they recognized this. Israel is not the tenants in this story, but the vineyard. The tenants in this story are the religious leaders and Yeshua said to them that their house would be taken away from them. They may have regarded the Jewish faith and Temple worship as theirs, but Yeshua is the heir and God’s, trusting, Israel belongs to him. (see also Olive Tree)
What actually happened was that Yeshua appointed others to be in charge of God’s Israel; the Apostles and leaders of the Messianic community. That is the meaning of the “ Keys of the Kingdom” and “What you bind on earth..,” (see JNTC) Stewardship of the Kingdom was not taken from the Jews and given to the Gentiles; but it was taken from Jewish leaders who did not believe and given to the Jews who did believe and, subsequently, also to the Gentiles who believed and were grafted in. The vineyard owner’s eventual retribution was for the continual non payment by the tenants; killing the heir was merely their final sin.
Do not forget that the betrayal of Jesus was an arrangement between the religious leaders and Judas, "...without the people's knowledge." (Luke 22 v6 CJB)
Yeshua/Jesus may have said, "Foolish people, so unwilling to put your trust in everything the prophets spoke..." (Luke 24 v25 CJB) but he said it in love and went on to explain everything from the scriptures.
Consider this proposition; The Jews are a people called as a nation of priests to bring the light and salvation of God to the nations. Part of that duty was the offering of sacrifices for the sins of the nations (especially at Sukkot) Somebody had to make the sacrifice of Yeshua as God’s final, perfect sacrifice; at whatever cost.
Yeshua said (Luke 21 v20-22) “for these are the days of vengeance”. This is the half verse (v2b) from Isaiah 61 that Yeshua stopped short at when he presented his manifesto in the synagogue in Nazareth.(Luke 4 v18) Apparently, that day in Nazareth, vengeance was not on the agenda, but was to come later. But by Luke 21 v22 he was speaking of “Judgment on the people” For this is the time of punishment in fulfilment of all that has been written. (NIV) and v24, “until the age of the Gentiles has run its course” He is speaking of judgment before the age of the Gentiles commenced; not after, that is 66-70 CE. (See JNTC pages 139-143)
It seems clear that vengeance was for the sin of unbelief, or unfaithfulness, or lack of trust, rather than for killing Yeshua. This vengeance appears to fulfil the curse in Deuteronomy.
As Yeshua spoke against Jerusalem, he said the cause if the coming disaster was, “because you did not recognize the time of God's coming to you." Clearly, in speaking to Jerusalem he was speaking of the people who lived there; not the stones. Jerusalem represents the religious heart of Israel.
Furthermore, God was doing something deeper while the Romans killed and deported. As the Romans trampled on the flames they actually spread the fire of the Gospel. God's new Pentecost revival had prepared the believers to be sent out to the Gentiles (The Nations (Goyim -Hebrew))
If the exile of 70CE was the commencement of judgment or vengeance on the people and the age of the Gentiles, what does this mean? Both Yeshua and Paul use a similar expression. As we saw above, it does not mean God gave the Kingdom to the Gentiles.
Read Romans 11 (Not many Christians do, it appears) It commences with "I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means!" And works towards v25
“ I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “This age, that has cost the Jews so dearly, is part of the plan and purpose of God for the salvation of Jews and Gentiles. This is too deep for me to explain, but if this “hardening in part” is part of God’s purpose, it is not for us to deny the facts nor to despise the Jews for it, but to pray, fast, work, weep for the day when the hardness is ended and “All Israel” is saved!
As Yeshua spoke against Jerusalem, He used the word "until" implying an end condition for the age lasting up until his return.
“ O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you……………..For I tell you, you will not see me again until you say, `Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.'
Here, Yeshua was quoting Psalm 118:26; a strongly Messianic psalm.
The Jews of Jerusalem, the Jewish heart, will be the ones to call the Messiah home!
(The wildolive understanding)
The most significant events played out unseen by the majority. In the first century CE there were Jews who were eagerly awaiting the coming of the Messiah (for example, Anna/Hannah and Simeon/Shimon and Elizabeth and Zachariah) However, there were also many who were not, including a corrupt religious leadership who were following their own form of Jewish faith. In between were the ordinary people. During his ministry, Yeshua warned that he was bringing division and a sword between those who accepted him and those who did not. Yeshua explained that the government of God’s community of faith (God’s olive tree) would be transferred to the Apostles. (The “Keys to the Kingdom” and the authority to “bind and loose”; meaning to permit or not – to make halachaic judgments based on scripture (See JNTC))
The 70CE exile/dispersion was not the first, but the third exile brought about by unfaithfulness. What was new about this exile was that it instituted “the age of the Gentiles”
The Jews were split into the rapidly growing Messianic community and those who rejected the possibility that God was instituting the new covenant promised in Jeremiah 31, with Yeshua as the Messiah.
"This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time," declares the LORD.
"I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, `Know the LORD,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest," declares the LORD. "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more."
The non Messianic Jews hardened their hearts as Yeshua had predicted, and God further hardened their hearts (like the Pharaoh in the exodus story) with the help of Gentile Christians.
In time, Gentiles were won to the Way as the Messianic Jews fulfilled their role of being a light to the nations, the Jewish “Way” became jointly Jew and Gentile and followers became known as Christians and the Church. Then, unfortunately, the number of Gentiles increased, the Emperor expelled Jews from Rome and the church became more Gentile in nature and more arrogant. With the “conversion” of Constantine, the church became “establishment” and man took over control from Yeshua. Jews came to be despised and to be faced with the only option for trusting their Messiah to be disowning their Jewish heritage to become Gentile style “Christians.” Thus the church lost its Jewish roots and Jews appeared to drop out of Church History.
What were the Jews to do? Please remember that the Book of Hebrews was written primarily, to warn the Hebrew/Jewish believers of what they would lose if they went back to the non Messianic/unbelieving synagogue, where they would be forced to deny Yeshua. The non-believing Jews, having hardened their hearts, included in their prayers and writings parts that called Yeshua “Yeshu”, an acronym for “may his name be cursed and blotted out.”
Post Temple Judaism sought to adapt to its loss without Yeshua and largely lapsed into seeking their own way to God through legalism instead of trusting. The Jew who had to admit to faith in Yeshua was cast out of the synagogue but was not welcome in the (Gentile) Church while still identified as a Jew. God always had his remnant of faithful Jews down through history but they were difficult to see and Satan continually tried to snuff them out.
The Church/Christendom was guilty of misrepresenting Yeshua to the Jew as Jesus the Gentile enemy of the Jews, through persecutions, blood libels, inquisitions, pogroms and finally the Holocaust / Shoah. It is thus easier to understand that God did not do the Holocaust, man did it under the inspiration of Satan, but God was forced to watch it happen due to the hardness of men’s hearts. God had warned of the consequences of faithlessness through Moshe and cannot be untrue to his word. (Where was God?)
So the Jews have not been cursed for killing Jesus but suffered the negative outcome of a covenant for failing to trust in God and his promised Messiah. However, the responsibility for so many Jews not recognizing and believing in their Messiah appears to lay in large part at the doors of the Gentile Church.
How many Jews have been shut out from The Kingdom in hardness of heart while the Church failed to play its proper role in God’s purposes? The Church was never given a mandate by God to administer punishment for the killing of Jesus, it was for our benefit and the chain of responsibility for Jesus’ death ends up with each of us. He died for my sin and yours!
Remember that Paul says in Romans 11, especially around verse 11, that in God's purposes Israel's stumbling is the means of bringing deliverance to us Gentiles. This demands great humility on our part as we pray for the protection and salvation of the Jews.
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