May 3, 2019
John 11:49-52 (NIV) 49 Then one of them, named Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, spoke up, “You know nothing at all! 50 You do not realize that it is better for you that one man die for the people than that the whole nation perish.” 51 He did not say this on his own, but as high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the Jewish nation, 52 and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one.
On April 28, 2019 a terrorist attacked a synagogue in Poway, California. It was the last day of Passover. Several people were shot, and one was killed. Attempting to protect others from the gunfire, Lori Kaye was fatally wounded. Her husband Howard, a physician, tried to help her but it was hopeless. He fell as he held her finally tumbling to the floor as he fainted. The whole scene was beyond horrific. One can only weep at such events as they proliferate across the globe. Violence against Christians, Jews and Muslims and others. But there was one aspect of this event that should not go unnoticed.
In a news conference shortly after the shooting, the synagogue’s Rabbi, a gentleman named Yisroel Goldstein spoke with great passion and heartache. Among other things, he said something quite remarkable. It reminded me of the comment made by Caiaphas about the death of the Lord Jesus dying for the people. Like Caiaphas, Rabbi Goldstein did not realize the importance of his words. Regarding Mrs. Kaye, with great affection, the Rabbi said:
“I walked into the lobby. It was heartbreaking…I grabbed my prayer shawl…and Lori died for all of us!”
Filled with respect and gratitude for Mrs. Kaye’s bravery, the Rabbi rightly pointed to her courage and sacrifice.
When I heard his comments, I began to pray that his words would really sink into his heart. The truth is that Jesus “would die for the Jewish nation, 52 and not only for that nation but also for the scattered children of God, to bring them together and make them one.” With appropriate respect for Mrs. Kaye, the time has come for all of the literal children of Abraham, the ethnic Jews, to contemplate the one who died for all of them. The Son of God … the Lord Jesus Christ …died for all of them and all of humanity willing and eager to come to him for salvation.
I’ve always had a heart for the Jewish people. When I was seven years old, I wanted to be a Cub Scout. The only “den” available in my neighborhood was one populated by Jewish kids that met at a synagogue. It was great. My den mother was Mrs. Roth and she was terrific. I had all kinds of fun. I was the only “goy” (that’s slang for “goyim” which is plural in Hebrew for Gentiles). All of the other cubs wore their yarmulkes to our meetings. That signified “honoring God.” My mother said I couldn’t have one because I was not Jewish. Anyway … very disappointing. I really liked my Jewish friends and had others over the years.
So … watching a movie like “Schindler’s List” or other holocaust videos breaks my heart and yours too. We ask why God would let this people … this literal family of the patriarchs suffer so much. The answers are Biblical but very troubling. The prophets made it quite clear that generations of Jews would suffer for breaking covenant with God by turning to idolatry. If their suffering seems disproportionate to their sins, we must remember the uniqueness of their story. No other nation had direct revelations from God. Israel was unique and therefore God had unique expectations of them. Just a glance at the words of Jeremiah will show us the broken heart of God as He speaks to His people:
Jeremiah 3:19-20 (NIV) 19 “I myself said, “‘How gladly would I treat you like sons and give you a desirable land, the most beautiful inheritance of any nation.’ I thought you would call me ‘Father’ and not turn away from following me. 20 But like a woman unfaithful to her husband, so you have been unfaithful to me, O house of Israel,” declares the LORD.
Jeremiah goes on to say repeatedly that the Jews would suffer for their turning away from God:
Jeremiah 4:27-28 (NIV) 27 This is what the LORD says: “The whole land will be ruined, though I will not destroy it completely. 28 Therefore the earth will mourn, and the heavens above grow dark, because I have spoken and will not relent, I have decided and will not turn back.”
We could fill ten pages with these unhappy prophecies. Further, the Lord Jesus Christ said their suffering in the first century and until his return would be rooted in their rejection of him as the Messiah. We read:
Luke 19:43-44 (NIV) 43 The days will come upon you when your enemies will build an embankment against you and encircle you and hem you in on every side. 44 They will dash you to the ground, you and the children within your walls. They will not leave one stone on another, because you did not recognize the time of God’s coming to you.”
In A.D. 70, Jerusalem was brutalized by the Romans. This statement from our Lord was in reference to that event and, no doubt, about the long term future sufferings of the Jews. We might think … “Enough!” At this point in time, we pray their persecution will stop. But God will decide when to turn the hearts of the Jews towards Himself by revealing His Messiah Jesus to them.
I pray … pray with me … that Rabbi Goldstein will ponder the deep meaning of his own words as he described the hero who saved many lives. She “died for all of us.” And so did he … the Son of God …the Messiah of Israel.
Let us remember the words of Paul:
Romans 9:1-5 (NIV) 1 I speak the truth in Christ–I am not lying, my conscience confirms it in the Holy Spirit–2 I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.
3 For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, 4 the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises. 5 Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.
Amen indeed! Peace. Pastor Alberta