|About Us||Holy Land Sites||Holy Land Tours||Photos||Christian||Community||Travel Tips||Easter 2013|
Tags - christians
The Talmud tells of a rabbi explaining how God will judge the world. There will be an announcement: "Everyone who helped those who engage in the study of Torah, come and receive your reward." Immediately, all the nations send their heavenly representatives to claim a share. The first is Rome.
"What are your merits?" God asks.
"Why, Heavenly Master, You are surely aware of our glorious contribution to the culture and civilization of Your world. We constructed public markets, baths, and places of enjoyment and business. We amassed gold and silver as no other nation before or after us. And for whose sake did we do all this? Only for the purpose of permitting Your people Israel to study Torah free of care and worry."
God replies: "How dare you present such a claim? Did you not build these amenities for your own enjoyment? Whom did your so-called civilization serve but yourselves?"
And so it goes with Persia and all the other nations, as each withdraws empty-handed.
Then an idea is proposed that the nations join forces and return to the Almighty with one last plea. A spokesperson approaches God and argues: "If we do not deserve a share for active merits, You should consider that You never obligated us to observe the Torah, as you did with Israel. We, too, would have followed Your laws if it was demanded of us." God retorts: "Long before Israel was given the Torah, all nations had become subject to the Seven Laws of Noah. They were only seven, compared to the 613 Israel volunteered to observe. And what did you make of those seven?"
A back and forth ensues, after which the Almighty decides "you have appealed to My mercy. Here is one mitzva (commandment), Sukkot. Go and fulfill it." Still, according to the Talmud, the nations blow even that opportunity. But we are supposed to learn from the city of Nineveh (in the story of Jonah) that repentance is possible even for nations.
We are all called to repentance. It is not for us judge the call but to trust Him and do what He commands. Most of historical Christianity has interpreted apparent gentile inclusion in God's covenant to mean Jewish exclusion, giving rise to the deplorable teaching of Replacement Theology that has inflicted so much damage on the Jews. In many instances, it was the Church itself which inflicted the most heinous atrocities. However, we are living in a period where a change of heart is occurring before our eyes.
How wonderful to know we are living in miraculous times! The Jewish people have returned to Zion and have again become a sovereign nation. The nations are still trying to figure out how it came to be. Most would like to rationalize the return as a natural political event. There are a few who acknowledge that the God of Israel is still around and His promises still endure.
Since 1965, pockets within the Christian world have rejected Replacement Theology, asked for forgiveness for past anti-Semitism, and affirmed that God's covenant with Israel is eternal. What is truly astounding is that gentiles are coming as pilgrims to the Land and praising the God of Israel during Sukkot in fulfillment of Zechariah 14:16. Even during the height of the intifada, Christians made their way here and declared "We are with you!"
Yet for many in the Jewish community, 2,000 years of painful memories prevents any move to accept Christian gestures of goodwill. It is more comfortable to say that Christians¹ support has a hidden agenda, that all they really want is to convert Jews or bring about Armageddon.
Should we not accept their extended hand of friendship? Certainly! A dialogue between us can only pave the way for better relationships and better understanding. Does this mean we join hands completely as one faith community? Certainly not! But should we not begin down the road to reconciliation with God and each other?
It was a great honor celebrating the holiday with my Christian friends. Thank you for coming and celebrating with us.