The incomplete word and Israel

I will restore their fortunes, the fortunes of Sodom and her daughters and the fortunes of Samaria and her daughters, and I will restore your own fortunes along with theirs, in order that you may bear your disgrace and be ashamed of all that you have done, becoming a consolation to them. Ezekiel 16:53-54

Hubby and I lazed in bed this morning, the lures of congregational worship failing. I suppose it was bound to happen.

But I felt bad for not attending worship, or even attending to my morning and evening prayers. (But I shall still pray for all those I promised. Fear not.)

I went and looked at the lectionary readings for the Sunday. I have to confess disappointment with the two Old Testament selections, especially given the Christian history of treating Jews (and their canon of scripture) as inferior, especially in the moral sense.

The first option was from the first chapter of Hosea, where the prophet marries a prostitute and they have children with name of alientation and rejection. The second option is Abraham’s bargaining with God not to destroy Sodom and Gommorah. And we know how that one turned out.

Or do we? Turning to a prophet we find Sodom’s fortunes restored, and in the second chapter of Hosea we find his children’s alientation reversed. Each is a tonic to the kind of dualistic (and moralistic) thinking that bleeds into Christian faith as regularly as the tides.

Or, cutting to the chase, Christians have a vested interest in burying supercessionism (the belief that in Christ, the promises made by God to the Jews are void) and this thought comes from Karl Barth if not others: if God could break promises with the Jews, then why wouldn’t God break promises with the Christians?

Those on the left-hand side of things tend to avoid these questions with a ten-foot pole, leaving those on the right-hand side a lot of easy play, and with it unearned authority on matters of Israel: the people and the political state.

To bring us to today, I think our (US) Israel policy has been a disaster. It seems to breed the kind of resentment in ordinary Muslims that makes extremists when previously there were few. Israeli policy towards the Palestinians today recalls some of the most repressive political regimes of the last century, and as Americans we’re tied into defending them.

Liberals are easily cowed by facile charges of anti-Semitism. If we can address those vestiges of anti-Semitism in our worship and faith, perhaps we would have the resources, strength, and credibility to not confuse real anti-Seminitism with an easy ploy to divert our (American and Christian) attention from what we cannot defend.

1 comment

  1. I think you hit it on the head Scott. There is a lot of confusion about what is and is not anti-semitism and pro-Zionists are playing it for all it’s worth. Even the ADL is promoting the view that Israel has the right to protect itself with a security fence while ignoring the transparent fact that the “wall” is a blatent land grab encroaching further into Palestinian land. Yes, we on the Christian left must vigorously oppose anti-semetism but also expose the racist degradation of the Palestianian people by the current Israeli government. Several groups including the ADL opposed the Presbyterian Church USA’s recent move to divest from companies doing business with Israel. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. Take care Scott. Perry

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