Wednesday, 21 January 2015

Does the Bible support racism?

       Sadly, racism – especially against Africans – has in the past been blamed on the Bible which, according to some 'Godly' people condemns black people to slavery. The scripture most commonly used to support this travesty is in Genesis 9:25 where Noah is quoted as saying: “Cursed be Canaan. Let him become the lowest slave to his brothers.”  However, this verse doesn’t mention skin colour. Instead, the curse was made against Ham’s son due to a shocking act which he perpetrated against Noah while the older man was inebriated.

       It helps, of course, to identify who Canaan’s descendants actually were. Not black, but with paler complexions, Canaanites settled by the Mediterranean in land later occupied by Israel and surrounding Arab nations. They eventually came under divine judgement because of their depraved practices and rites, including child sacrifice. Most were wiped out by the Israelites, and those Canaanites who survived were forced into labour by their conquerors, so fulfilling Noah’s curse.

       As for the black races, these did not descend from Canaan but from another of Ham’s sons,  Cush, whose own offspring included Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah and Sabteca (Gen 10:6,7) When mentioned in later portions of the Bible, the term Cush corresponds to Ethiopia, while Seba refers to people in Eastern Africa.

       The Bible offers no basis whatsoever for racism or apartheid in any form. On the contrary,  in Acts 10:34,35, the apostle Peter states that “God is not partial, but in every nation the man who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.”

       Incidentally, black people specifically mentioned in the Bible include Ebedmelech (Jeremiah ch 38), the Shulammite maid (Song of Solomon, aka Canticles) and the Ethopian official (Acts ch 8 vs 26-40), each of whom displayed remarkable faith, loyalty, integrity and courage.  

Friday, 16 January 2015

Anti-Semitism: How did it originate?

Huge increase in anti-Semitism in Britain - now highest in 30 years
45% of Britons agreed with at least one ant-Semitic statement put to them during a YouGov pol such as “Jews chase money more than other people” (endorsed by a whopping 25%), and “Jews’ loyalty to Israel makes them less loyal to Britain than other Britons” (20%)
Surge in anti-Semitic attacks in Europe
According to one American Evangelist, even “the institutional church has sinned through much of its history and has much to answer for at the Judgment, especially for the anti-Semitism practiced against the Jewish people.”
Why is there so much hatred towards the Jewish race? Some might point to modern Israel’s role in the Middle East, particularly in view of recent bloodshed in Palestine.
But anti-Semitism goes beyond politics and present day conflicts. Hatred of the Jewish race has been raising its ugly head for centuries. So let’s examine why many people feel justified in holding anti-Semitic views.
Jews killed Jesus?
Some so-called Christians blame the Jews for Jesus’ death. However, the New Testament reveals that Jesus was greatly esteemed by the ordinary people. Opposition to his teachings came almost entirely from religious leaders such as the Pharisees and Sadducees. Jesus was particularly hated by Israel’s High Priest Caiaphas, whose hypocrisy Jesus exposed and who no doubt suffered financial loss after Jesus threw the money-changers out of the temple.  
Alarmed by the crowds who listened to Jesus, Caiaphas also feared this man’s teachings would be viewed as insurrection by occupying Roman forces, provoking armed intervention and a subsequent loss of power for him and his cohorts.  The die was cast. Eventually, following a mockery of a trial at the Sanhedrin, Jesus was handed over to the Romans for execution.
How ironic that it was his genuine popularity with ordinary Jewish people that led to Jesus’ death. Significantly, most of his followers were Galileans - warm, humble people who were subject to prejudice from the highly educated, haughty Judeans of Jerusalem. So who were the hordes clamouring for Jesus death?
Matthew reveals that the crowd was incited by “the chief priests and older men.” (Matthew 27:20) What lie could they have told to whip up such hostility? Perhaps it was the lie earlier presented at Jesus’ trial and repeated during his execution - that Jesus threatened to destroy the temple. (Matthew 26:60,61; John 2:19-21))
Careful examination of the Gospel accounts clearly proves that the Jews as a race were not to blame for Jesus’ death. As usual, it was the politicians and religious leaders of the day who found his teachings ‘inconvenient’!
Jews caused the plague?
Another old chestnut involves the Bubonic plague which ravaged Europe in Medieval times. In her book ‘Invisible Enemies’, Jeanette Farrell writes: “The plague gave this hatred an excuse, and the hatred gave people’s fear of the plague a focus.” 
As a result of this hatred, entire Jewish communities in Spain, France and Germany were slaughtered, even though the real cause of the disease was rats ( or gerbils, as has recently been suggested!)
Germany’s WW! Defeat
During the Holocaust, Adolf Hitler blamed the Jews for Germany’s defeat in World War II, while Rudolf Hoess, Nazi Commander of Auschwitz concentration camp said: “Our military and ideological training took for granted that we had to protect Germany from the Jews.” (The Holocaust also gave Nazis an excuse to loot wealthy Jewish families)
Similar beliefs continue with ‘Jewish’ conspiracy theories throughout the US and, of course, the Middle East – although criticism of Israeli policies are not at issue here. Disagreeing with Israel’s policies does not make someone anti-Semitic.
So what does? Where did this hostility originate? There is an answer, one which may surprise you.
The ‘Seed’ – The real reason
The first prophecy ever uttered at Genesis 3:15 speaks of “enmity between (Satan) and the woman (God’s heavenly organisation) and between (Satan’s) offspring and (the woman’s) offspring.” Eventually, the woman’s offspring (Jesus) would put an end to Satan and all his followers.
In Luke 4:6, 7; John 14:30 and 1 John 5:19, Satan is identified as the ruler of the world. Bearing in mind that his greatest enemy is Almighty God, it’s hardly surprising that Satan hates anyone who loves God and supports His sovereignty.
Foremost amongst these is Abraham – a man so faithful he became known as “God’s friend.” Because of Abraham’s faith and unbreakable loyalty, God promised that the Messiah would come through his line via Sarah - and the Jewish race was conceived to become God’s fleshly nation and a “people for his name”.
A direct descendant of Abraham and Sarah, Jesus could trace his lineage through Judah, Jesse and King David, while all the prophecies of the Hebrew scriptures - including the year of his arrival in 29CE (Daniel 9:24-26) - have proved beyond doubt that Jesus was the Messiah and the foretold King who will ultimately “crush Satan in the head”…….

A Jew!