Since October 7, the world has seen a resurgence of antisemitism, open and raw. In America, this has come especially from institutions of higher education though also from secondary schools and at city council meetings in Oakland. In New York, highschoolers brandished signs that read “keep the world clean” with an image of a Star of David in a trash can.
If anything, the past few weeks should put an end to our decades-old illusion that history won’t repeat itself. Looking back on the horrors of the Holocaust and the historic sickness of antisemitism, we asked questions like, “How could anyone, let alone an entire culture, be overtaken by Jew-hatred?” Many assumed that kind of evil could never happen again. We now know that assumption to be wrong.
According to University of Massachusetts professor of criminology Arlie Perliger, “The U.S. is currently experiencing one of the most significant waves of antisemitism that it has ever seen.” This wave predates the October 7 massacre that initiated the war between Israel and Hamas. In 2022, “[i]ncidents of harassment rose 29 percent compared to 2021; acts of vandalism surged 51 percent; and physical assaults jumped 26 percent” to an average of 10 reported incidents a day. The week after Hamas terrorists attacked Israeli civilians, antisemitic incidents tripled compared to the same week in 2022.
Even among historically high immigration numbers in those countries, the immediate plight of Palestinians in the Middle East can hardly explain attacks in Europe, Russia, Africa, and America. This contemporary crisis is the latest chapter of a hatred that goes back centuries, even millennia. Today, what’s often called the world’s “oldest hatred” is found at both ends of the political spectrum. We certainly should not overlook the power of envy. Setting aside the irrational claims about Jewish wealth over the centuries, a simple glance at Nobel Prize winners displays the cultivating power of Jewish culture.
While envy might explain some of the insanity, there’s more to it. No other groups have faced so many attempts at eradication by so many: Persians, Romans, Crusaders, Nazis, and Islamists. How did the Jewish people survive when history is filled with tribes, nations, and peoples that endured for a time, only to disappear, some with barely a trace of evidence that they’d ever existed? The Jews were already an ancient people by the time of ancient Rome. Yet they remain, though what was considered at the time to be an eternal empire is now a relic.
A Christian worldview offers additional resources by which to understand historical developments. Beyond sociological and anthropological realities are unseen ones. Whatever one’s views of the end times, the Jewish people embody the promises of God to redeem His world and destroy the works of the devil. They are a painful reminder to Satan that his spoiling efforts to mar God’s good creation will inevitably fail in the end, and that he will be defeated. The prince of darkness can never win his fight with heaven, but in defiant desperation, he incites people to commit evil and inflict pain, especially on those through whom God works His redemption.
The Jews are also a tangible reminder that humanity’s story is not ultimately a tragedy. They are a link to the apostles and the prophets, to King David and the deliverance from bondage in Egypt. Even when rejecting the Messiah that fulfills God’s promise to them, they’re a reminder to the world that God wins.
Especially as we approach Advent, the continued existence of the Jews is a powerful witness of God’s faithfulness to His world and to His promises. These promises, given in Eden to our first parents and reaffirmed in Revelation to the saints, declare that He is making all things new, and that nothing, even the insatiable hatred of hell itself, can stop His restoration of all things.
This Breakpoint was co-authored by Dr. Timothy Padgett. For more resources to live like a Christian in this cultural moment, go to breakpoint.org.
Have a Follow-up Question?
ListenAll Audio Breakpoint: Podcast Breakpoint This Week: John Stonestreet The Point: 60 Seconds Find BP on the Radio
© Copyright 2020, All Rights Reserved.