Christ is King – Anti-semitic?

There is yet another big controversy all over the internets. Are we surprised? When I heard about this one it took me a little time to put together what I hope to be a balanced and Christian perspective on the matter. It’s the “Christ is King ” controversy. As I’m sure you’ve heard Candice Owens and Ben Shapiro had a bit of a falling out recently. It’s been said that it was over a thread on X between the two regarding some biblical quotes that candice posted which ended in her saying “Christ is King ”. Whether this was at the center of them separating professionally or not, the controversy that’s taken the interwebs by storm is whether it’s an anti-semetic statement. Rather than getting embroiled in their dispute or commenting specifically on those two individuals, I’d like to talk a little about the antisemitic question and then explore what a proper Christian response might be to the war going on in Israel.

First, I think it needs to be clearly stated that the phrase “Christ is King” is not and cannot be anti semitic. Before getting into why that’s the case, I think we need to explore what it means to be anti semitic. We need to define our terms if we’re going to have a good conversation on the matter. According to the Oxford dictionary online the term anti semitic means to be “hostile to or prejudice against Jewish people.” However, that is not the only definition that exists. It’s been said by some prominent Jews that Jonothan Sacks provides a pretty solid understanding of the term. If you want to read the full article, just do a search on “The Mutating Virus: Understanding Anti-Semitism”. Let’s first see what he has to say about what anti semitism is not. 

He tells us that just not liking Jews is not it, we all have a person or two we don’t like. He further states that criticizing Israel is not it. Just like we can criticize our own government without being anti-American. However, once you think Israel has no right to exist that’s when the line is crossed. He further explains, and I quote “Antisemitism means denying the right of Jews to exist collectively as Jews with the same rights as everyone else.It takes different forms in different ages. In the Middle Ages, Jews were hated because of their religion. In the nineteenth and early twentieth century they were hated because of their race. Today they are hated because of their nation state, the state of Israel. It takes different forms but it remains the same thing: the view that Jews have no right to exist as free and equal human beings.”

While I do understand this idea of mutation based on different ages, I don’t really see this as a mutation of anti-semitism at all. Rather, it’s an attack of the various aspects of being a Jew. Unlike most other races, the Jews are a race of people who were given a religious order by God along with a land right. This is a fact of history and recorded in the shared portion of our biblical text. I’ll touch on the religious aspect more later as I think it’s important to understand how the Jewish order has changed a bit over time as well.

Ok, we’ve defined our terms as best we can. One more word of warning as we get further into this. There has to be a difference between “Thus saith the Lord.”, those things we know as fact from God’s Word and those things which are opinion. While I do my best to ground my opinions in the Word, they are still opinions and I’ll be sure to indicate when I’m providing a scriptural fact. 

One last thought before getting to that phrase. I want it to be clear that from my perspective Israel has the right, unless that right is removed by God, not only to have a sovereign state, it has the right to defend that state just as we have the right to defend America. We must be clear that no rights extend beyond the right of God to do as He wishes with His creation and that absolutely includes Israel and America. From the perspective of race, no true Christian can hate a race. The Bible is absolutely and undeniably clear that God created all men equal, male and female he created them. From the view of religion, the true Christian must have a deep desire to see all Jews come to Christ their savior. We must take the position that the Apostle Paul took, “For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.” (Ro. 9:3)

There was a great deal that needed to be said before getting to our point and it was important to give the subject clarity. Alright, let’s jump into it with this foundation of understanding.

First, we must not forget that not only was Jesus born a Jew, he lived the perfect jewish life – keeping the law in every way. Beyond that, saying that Christ (if we want to use His title) is King is a truth claim and a statement of fact. It’s a claim that Jesus made of himself and the Bible as a whole makes. Jesus himself makes this claim in Matthew 21:3 when he says “the Lord needs them” which is validated by the words of the prophet, Zechariah “See, your King comes to you”. You can see His claim to Kingship and as being God throughout the new and old testaments. So, the statement itself is simply a truth claim, one that is based on the actual Word of God. It’s important to say that Jesus (The Christ) is not only our king, but he is the king of the Jews and we must not forget that.

Now, that does not mean that this phrase cannot be used with anti semitic intent. Of course it can. Please understand, I am not saying that’s what Owens did. That’s not my call to make and I’ve not spent enough time reviewing the entire context to make such a claim. My only point is that any phrase can be used with wrong intent. That does not make the phrase wrong, it makes the person’s intent wrong. We don’t ever discount the truth due to the foul intent of an individual. Bad people have used God’s word nefariously for centuries. God’s Word remains pure and beautiful and absolute truth. 

So, how should the Christian view what’s happening in Israel? I’ve heard it said that we should back Israel because they are God’s chosen people. The argument has been made that as Americans we should stand with Israel as a long standing ally. Again, this is an issue of defining our terms. What does it mean for a Christian to stand with Israel? I think there are a handful of points that can help us in our thinking here.

  1. Standing with Israel does not mean we support what the current government supports. In fact, we stand against many of the views of the current government. It does mean we support their right to a sovereign government.
  2. We don’t stand with Israel based on the premise that they are God’s chosen people. God has absolutely created an everlasting covenant with them and in the end a remnant who He has saved for himself will be the recipients of that covenant. However, in this period of time there is no guarantee that they will keep that land. So, if God should remove them from that land, that is His prerogative. That said, as Christians we do pray and hope and desire for their enemies to be vanquished and for them to remain in the land for as long as God allows.
  3. We do not stand with the Jewish religion in its current form. Those jews who deny the deity of Jesus are lost and need to turn from their sin to the cross. We do stand on the Word of God as Paul states, “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Ro. 1:16-18)
  4. As individual Jews, we do not stand in agreement with those who do not believe in Jesus. We fall to our knees and plead with them to come to know their Savior. Our hearts mourn those who will not repent and follow Christ, for he truly is king. 

In closing, we leave all things up to the providence of God. For it is God alone who “makes the nations great, then makes them perish; He enlarges the nations, then leads them away.” (Job 12:23) It is our part and our heart, through the power of the Holy Spirit, to love all peoples with the love of Christ. It is for us ”if possible, so far as it depends on [us], [to be] at peace with all men” (Ro. 12:18) We mourn all those who will die not knowing the saving grace of God. We also rejoice when God acts against evil and His vengeance falls upon the wicked. And, we stand knowing that we follow a perfectly just God who will ensure perfect justice is accomplished in all things.

On a more personal note, can I mourn the lost lives of Palestinians while at the same time condemning Hamas for utilizing civilians in the atrocious way they have? Absolutely. I don’t need to stand with those who call out “from the river to the sea”, an absolutely incomprehensible and deplorable thing to say, in order to mourn the loss of lives. I stand with Israel in the same way I stand with my own nation, with a desire to see their enemies vanquished and peace returned to her people and to see God do a mighty work within her so that every Jew may come back to the Father through the work of the Son, Jesus Christ.

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