The apostle Peter wrote, “Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you” (1 Peter 4:12).1 One of our greatest testings is to see how we relate to God’s chosen people, the Jews. When the children of Israel sinned in the wilderness and created a golden calf, God became angry with them; however, He also used it as an opportunity to test what was in the spirit of Moses. When God said He was going to destroy His people, it triggered an interesting response in Moses.
Then Moses returned to the LORD, and said, “Alas, this people has committed a great sin, and they have made a god of gold for themselves. But now, if You will, forgive their sin—and if not, please blot me out from Your book which You have written!” (Exodus 32:31-32)
Moses put his own life on the line and reminded God of the covenant He had made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Moses responded, “You cannot destroy this people! Your covenant is eternal. Your covenant is unbreakable because You are not a man that You should lie (Numbers 23:19). You made it as a unilateral covenant that You must fulfill!” Moses knew that God could not destroy the Israelites without violating His own covenant; He had promised to deliver them from Egypt and bring them into the land of promise (Genesis 13:15, 15:13-18).
As a result of the covenant, Paul tells us, “All Israel will be saved” (Romans 11:26). They may look like enemies of the gospel, but do not fool yourself. Do not be deceived by the appearance of what is happening at this moment. Both Paul and Moses understood that it does not matter how upset God gets or whether or not His people broke the covenant. They may even look like enemies of God, but from God’s standpoint of choice, they are His beloved. God loves the Jewish people. He loves Israel. And whoever touches them, touches the apple of His eye (Zechariah 2:8).
I believe that the same testing God put Moses through is taking place with the Church today. In his letter to the Romans, Paul warned the Gentile Church not to be arrogant or deceived (Romans 11:18, 25). Do not buy into the concept that Christianity has displaced Israel or the Jewish people. Some Christians think the Jews have committed an unpardonable sin and that there is no turning back. In fact, Origen, one of the early Church Fathers, wrote, “We may thus assert in utter confidence that the Jews will not return to their earlier situation.”2 What did he mean by that? He meant that the Jews were no longer God’s chosen people, the nation blessed of God, and the apple of His eye. Moses rejected this idea because he understood the covenant.
When the Church followed Hellenistic ways of thinking based on the doctrines of Plato, they lost their understanding of the Hebrew Scriptures and God’s covenants with His people. Why did Christians historically not put their lives on the line for the Jewish people? They no longer understood the covenant God had made with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their children—the Jews. God will never forsake His covenant promise with the Jewish people. Father, help us to pass this test like Moses and Paul did and to comfort all those who mourn in Zion (Isaiah 61:3).
1 All Scripture references are from the New American Standard Bible 1995 (NASB1995).
2 Léon Poliakov, The History of Anti-Semitism: From the Time of Christ to the Court Jews, vol. 1, trans. by Richard Howard (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003), 23.