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The Cross of Bethlehem

The Cross of Bethlehem II

Even Hitler's Name Wasn't Changed

Until I heard you, I didn't feel worthy of God for not having been born Jewish

 

 

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I was born to Jewish parents. Some of my more distant family died in the European Wars of the 20th century. Yet, I am a Christian. My conversion was a long process. When I was a student at an Israeli high-school on a kibbutz in the Jordan Valley, I learned that Jesus’ name in Hebrew had been changed so that it is now an acronym meaning “Be His Name and Memory Forgotten.” Hitler’s name had not been touched; hence—I thought—Jesus must have committed an extremely serious crime. Indeed he had. By putting the emphasis on faith and love, he seriously threatened the Pharisees—later to be called Rabbis—and their monopoly on the interpretation of the Old Testament.

The Pharisees used their interpretation, called the Talmud, to create a convenient life for their own group. For this, Jesus called them hypocrites. It took me a long time to walk the rest of the way to the Christian Church. One of the roadblocks was the Pharisaic propaganda that teaches that Judaism is both a religion and an ethnic group, implying thus that a Jew cannot convert. A more serious problem was the Christian teaching that we are all sinners. Jews believe they are born perfect; from childhood, they are told they are the Chosen People.

For a long time, I accepted all of the Christian Doctrine, except for that one point. “I didn’t kill,” I kept telling myself. One day, I tried a semantic exchange and told myself “I am not perfect.” The next step was immediate; I understood that I was a sinner because I was imperfect and thus unable to keep any set of religious laws. Afterwards, I embraced the Christian World: it is within my mind and, mainly, within my heart.

I am an active member of the Church and hold several formal positions in it. I taught the Bible in Hebrew at a Biblical Seminary and am regularly invited to speak at many churches. I have given sermons, devotionals, appeared on radio and television programs, and led professional groups and study groups in Lutheran, Presbyterian, Pentecostal, Neo-Pentecostal and Brethren Churches. I am mainstream Christian, well-known and widely accepted by the Catholic and Evangelical communities.

It was hard for me to ignore the Zionist influence. Many members of Pentecostal Churches wear the Star of David. This was a Hindu symbol for spiritual strength, which was stolen by the Pharisees in a moment of spiritual weakness. Until they heard me speak, many of them confused the State of Israel with the Kingdom of Israel. Classical Christian Theology teaches that the Kingdom of Israel is a spiritual one and that we, people of Faith in Jesus Christ and loving temperament, are it. The State of Israel is just one more of the tribulations described in the New Testament.

I began explaining, carefully and with love, this poisonous error which Zionism purposely introduces into Christianity. We can all make mistakes or be manipulated into mistakes. On two different occasions, I spotted listeners ripping off their Star of David. Once, I was told, in tears: “Until I heard you, I didn't feel worthy of God for not having been born Jewish.”

Ideas, symbols and terms change with time; especially those that have been with us for thousands of years. The actual Hebrew word for religion originally meant law, a clear sign that it dates back to a time before there were countries or secular law in the way we understand them nowadays. In those times, religion was itself the law of the people. Similarly, the modern word for “Gentile” in Hebrew, namely “Goy,” originally meant just “People.”

Hence, when considering a term used in the Bible, we must determine its meaning based on its context and the period in which it was being used. This specificity is particularly pertinent when considering symbols whose use spans ages, like “People of Israel” and “Kingdom of Israel.” These terms have evolved and changed. However, the Pharisees and their sympathizers froze their meaning at a certain moment, ignoring developments which were not to their liking.

In the beginning, “People of Israel” was a term referring to a genetic group which had a special covenant with God, namely the descendants of Jacob who was renamed Israel. Even then, not everything went smoothly. The old covenant was broken by idolatry and the worship of gold while Moses was still on the mountain. God’s answer was clear; the violators died in a plague. Not all the children of Israel belong to the People of Israel.

Even in those early days, only those who obeyed God, were considered to be part of the Covenant. Besides the general covenant with the people, a covenant with a single person was made. Moses was given an unusual personal covenant in the same way Abraham had before.

The sad truth is that general covenants never work; we are sinners by nature and to expect that everyone in a large group of people will be able to follow a set of religious laws is false by definition. In the larger picture, the inability to follow a complex set of religious laws had its purpose: it led us to Christianity, and the simplicity of the golden rule. In its original phrasing, it appears in Leviticus 19:18 thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

Later covenants, such as the ones with Phineas and David, were always personal, and the definition of the term People of Israel kept changing. Most of the Old Testament tells the story of the Covenant violations by the People of Israel.

Isaiah and Jeremiah—among others—announced in the clearest possible way that the situation was about to change. They spoke of a new Covenant, shaped as a personal pact open to anyone willing to honor it. It would be a Covenant for the Nations, in which every human, regardless of his or her genes would be welcome.

Isaiah 53 makes the clearest allusion to Jesus, and maybe that is the reason it is ignored in Israeli schools. Isaiah 58 describes the compassion God expects from us in our dealings with our fellow humans. However, Pharisees always create and live in societies which ignore such principles. Perhaps that is why they ignore scripture which includes them.

Later on, Amos and Hosea warned the Northern Kingdom—the earthly Kingdom of Israel—to return to God but were ignored. Shortly after, the Kingdom was destroyed by the Assyrians, and its people scattered to the winds. Just like that, ten tribes ceased to belong to the People of Israel. Even then, not all of Israel was Israel. Not all the ethnic People of Israel belong to the Spiritual People of Israel.

Modern Israel is managed by a Phariseo-Rabbinical group that does not provide a social safety net for its citizens. Homeless people die in Tel Aviv’s streets; there are hungry children in the State of Israel. People are discriminated against by the State according to their race and religion. These facts are testimony to the selective implementation of scripture by the religious and political leaders of that country. The State of Israel is not the prophesied Kingdom of Israel.

Isaiah’s and Jeremiah’s warnings were not heeded. Jesus came and gave a New Covenant; one in which we are measured by our Faith, and one in which our actions are the testimony of this Faith to all. The genetic People of Israel do not belong automatically to this New Covenant. Developing the idea that not all the children of Israel belong to its People, Peter told the Jews that unless they accept the new reality, they will cease to belong to the Spiritual Israel. The followers of Christ are the spiritual descendants of Abraham; in Galatians 3:28 we learn: There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. We are united by Faith in almighty God and not divided by it. There is no racism here; everyone can join.

Jesus tumbled the walls of insane racism. He brought a new covenant based upon spiritual, not genetic, principles. Faith and love are the basic prerequisites for being part of the People of Israel and belonging to the Kingdom of Israel. The real Kingdom is a spiritual one, without ghetto-like walls surrounding it.

Selective, manipulative interpretation of the Bible—ignoring large sections of the Old and all of the New Testament—is the hallmark of the Pharisees. Seeing their dishonesty, Jesus summarized them in one word: hypocrites.

Even Hitler’s name wasn’t changed.

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