Who is a Jew?

This week the Caspari Media Review included this excerpt from the Israeli Hebrew media:

“The ANU Museum of the Jewish People is the world’s only museum dedicated to celebrating and exploring the experiences, accomplishments, and spirit of the Jewish people from Biblical times to the present, and to strengthening Jewish identity and perpetuating Jewish heritage worldwide. This article described the atmosphere in the museum as being “a good old scent of pride: how good it is to be a Jew,” and raised the question: how do the Christian, Muslim, and Druze guides feel working there. The reporter interviewed several guides, one of whom was Rubi Azrak from Beit Hanina in East Jerusalem. “Judaism for me is something I like to delve into; it’s an experience,” she asserted, “As a Christian, you pray with the Bible every day. The more you understand the Jewish people, the more you understand yourself.” The reporter asked for her opinion on the fact that the museum had no reference to Yeshua, who was also a famous Jew. “I told them about it,” she replied, “I said: ‘You mentioned the false Messiah, Shabtai Zvi… he became a Muslim. At least Yeshua was born, lived, died and buried a Jew… He is the most influential Jew in the world. Millions follow him. He wasn’t mentioned… even in a negative way…” Their response was that there had been debates on the subject, but that it was a red line for many Jews. “I also asked them how you define a Jew,” she concluded, “so they told me: ‘Anyone who thinks of themselves as a Jew.’” (my emphasis) Caspari Media Review Feb 8 of Haaretz magazine article Feb 4 ”

The response of the museum to who is a Jew was the same as a progressive rabbi told Randi and me some months before we were married. But there seems to be a caveat: when I asked him about Jews who believe in Jesus (which I didn’t yet), and say that they are still Jews, his face changed and hardened: “You can not be a Jew and believe in Jesus Christ!!” So much for “anyone who wants to be a Jew can be”. Tell that to the Interior Ministry for Jewish believers who want to immigrate (make aliyah).

It is clear that the battle is spiritual, and that the mind has been darkened against the love and truth of the gospel, and against the name of the Messiah. Deep within the psyche of the Jewish people we want to wipe out the name and memory of Yeshua/Jesus. This is the same deeply rooted spirit within Islam to blot out the name of Israel from being a nation any longer, and they are obsessed with attempting to bring this to pass. (Ps 83)  Christians have been active accomplices in this “cause” to erase the Jews, as seen during the Crusades, the Inquisition, and climaxing till now in the Holocaust.

The Jews, as in the case of the ANU Museum, do not even want to mention the name of Yeshua/Jesus negatively, which I have also seen on some timelines of Jewish history:  from the death of Herod in 4BC, they skip over the years until they get to 70AD, with the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem.  The years of Yeshua and the Apostles are “canceled”.  How important that the Jews, and the Muslims, hear and see the truth of Jesus and the love of the truth that is God’s. The Body of Christ/Messiah has our work cut out for us!

Are Jews a race? Antisemites seem to think so, as Jews — and Israel — are uniquely targeted and scapegoated. DNA testing reveal that the Jewish/Israeli people have a gene pool that traces us as a particular people group. Despite all of the intermixing throughout the centuries, nonetheless there is a genealogy — even as Yeshua/Jesus had as the Seed of David of the Tribe of Judah, and of Jacob, Isaac, and Abraham — that is Jewish, distinct from other ethnic and national people groups; i.e., distinguished from the Gentiles. (Interestingly, there is also a “priestly gene” that traces back to the Tribe of Levi. God has a covenant to fulfill with both David and the Levites! See Jer 33:14-26) Anyone might convert to the Jewish religion or identify with the Jewish people, but that does not change their own genes.

YHVH God knows how to preserve the people whom He has created (both Isaac and Jacob required intervention for them to be conceived) and chosen to His peculiar people, a people that are distinguished by their shared history, culture, language, covenants with the Creator and Redeemer God — a people who are Israelis, to whom pertain the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the Law, the service of God, and the promises, of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Messiah came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen! (Is 43:1Rom 9:4-5)

Nonetheless, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob/Israel accepts as His people those who willingly join themselves to them, such as Ruth the Moabitess, Rahab the harlot, Uriah the Hittite. They did not merely join the people, but more importantly, they joined themselves to the God of Israel. This is “belonging” to His people, and being one of them with Him. During the Millennial Kingdom God says those who are not Israelis/Jews, but who are living among the redeemed of Israel in the Land of Israel, and who bear children, that they shall have an inheritance within the tribe among whom the stranger dwells. (Ezek 47:21-23) YHVH does not limit His people to a gene pool, nor citizenship to “Jews only”; yet He is faithful to that chosen “race” whose genes have produced an indestructible generation, to the glory of the LORD! His grace includes others in His family, which we see fully unveiled through the New Covenant.

This article originally appeared on Streams in the Negev, February 9, 2022, and reposted with permission.