What Makes the Jews So Special?
By Dave Hunt and T.A. McMahon
Tom: You’re listening to Search the Scriptures Daily, a program in which we encourage everyone who desires to know God’s truth to look to God’s Word for all that is essential for salvation and living one’s life in a way that is pleasing to Him. We’re going through Dave Hunt’s book When Will Jesus Come? Compelling Evidence for the Soon Return of Christ in this first segment of our program. And, Dave, last week we started chapter 14. You titled it “God’s Chosen People,” and we mentioned last week that, you know, some people aren’t happy with that. They don’t think that God has favorites. They will quote the scripture, “God is no respecter of persons.” So what about that?
Dave: Three times in the Bible Israel is called the “apple of his eye.” And in Zechariah 2:8 it says, “He that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye.” You said people don’t like that. We’ve got five distinguishing characteristics of Israel in there and one of them, believe it or not, that they would be hated and persecuted and killed—anti-Semitism.
Tom: Yeah, let me go over the five that you’ve enumerated: five distinguishing characteristics of Israel. In other words, this sets them apart from every other people group or nation in the world. You begin:
1. The promise that the Messiah would come to the world through Israel.
2. The promise of a particular land that was given to Israel as a possession forever.
3. The Mosaic Law and its accompanying covenants of promise which defined a special relationship between God and Israel. [And it’s that relationship that many Jews—because of that relationship and what’s taken place—they didn’t obey God and the consequences.]
4. The visible manifestation of God’s presence among them.
5. The promised reign of the Messiah on the throne of David in Jerusalem and over His chosen people and over the entire world.
Dave: Well, Tom, there are many scriptures in the Bible that tell this, but let me just read a couple of them. I think we may have read them last week or the week before, but anyway, God says in Leviticus 20:24, “You shall inherit their land.” He’s talking about the Canaanites, so He gave that land to Israel. And then it says, “I am the Lord your God, which have separated you from other people.” You go down to verse 26: “I have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine.” Okay, the Jews are a different people. There’s no question about it.
And, Tom, that in itself is an amazing miracle, because it’s 2,500 years since they were cast out of Babylon—the Babylonian dispersion. They have lived among all the nations of the world. God said He would scatter them everywhere, and yet they still remain an identifiable ethnic group of people. And you would think, you know, if I were a Jew…I have two sons and two daughters. Well, if we could change the sons’ last name, that would be good—change my own—but at least have my daughters marry Gentiles, so their names would change…I mean, why would you cling to this identity? Most of these people do not even believe in God. They certainly don’t believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Isn’t that amazing? And they don’t believe that God gave them the land. The Israelis don’t believe this! But anyway, they remain an identifiable ethnic group of people.
Now, Tom, that goes back to the very beginning where God told him, He told Abraham, “Your seed will inherit this land. They’re going to be slaves for 400 years.” So whereas the descendants of Ishmael, they intermarried with the Hittites and with the descendants of Esau and the Midianites and so forth…
Tom: The Egyptians.
Dave: They’re not a pure race going back to Ishmael, but the Jews were isolated for 400 years in the land of Goshen in Egypt. They didn’t intermarry; they became an identifiable ethnic group of people who were led in mass to the Promised Land. So we know who they are today.
Now, the Messiah was going to be a Jew. The Jews even don’t like that. Yes, they will acknowledge that Jesus was a great teacher and a great example, but Messiah? No, that’s why they crucified Him, because He claimed to be the Messiah. And in fact, He claimed to be God, as well, because Isaiah 9:6 said that the Messiah would be God. Amazing passage: “Unto us a child is born, a son is given; the government will be upon his shoulders,” so you know that’s the Messiah. “His name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father.” Now, you figure that out! Isaiah foretold it: this babe born in Bethlehem who is the Son of God is also the Father? And Jesus said, “I and my Father are one.” This brings us to the Trinity, and I think we’ve dealt with that a bit in the past. But this is the God of the Bible; He’s the God of Israel—203 times. So you don’t like that? You take it up with the God of the Bible who identifies Himself as the God of Israel.
So you can’t get away from it, because Jesus had to have an identity. He had to have a genealogy; He had to be a particular people. He had to be a real man in order to win man and in order to reveal God to man, and then, as representative of the human race, to pay the penalty for their sins.
Now, Tom, people don’t like that, and so they try to come up with some universal Christ. And as I recall, the National Catholic Reporter had a contest, remember? And they asked artists (I guess than a thousand of them that responded), “Give us a portrait of Jesus as you think He ought to be.”
Tom: Well, Dave, I took that article and referred to it in Showtime for the Sheep?, which is…the reason it’s in that book is we have an individual playing Jesus on the screen.
Dave: Which, Tom, if I can just interject: To pretend on the screen to be God manifest in the flesh, to pretend to be the One who said, “He that hath seen me hath seen the Father,” and of whom Paul wrote, “Great is the mystery, God manifest in the flesh….” Tom, how are you going to portray that? That’s an abomination. I’m sorry.
Tom: Yeah, but the world doesn’t care about that. What they care about is somebody who, as you point out, is universal—somebody that everybody can identify with. “Let’s not be too exclusive here, Dave.” Well, the National Catholic Reporter, in this contest they asked artists from all around the world, and they had a thousand entries from 19 different countries. And here’s the winner, Dave. It was titled Jesus of the People.
Dave: I wish we had a picture to show them.
Tom: Right. Well, maybe not. Featured: A dark-skinned effeminate character in dreadlocks complete with yin yang symbol and Indian feathers.
Dave: I couldn’t tell if it was a man or a woman.
Tom: Right. One critic wrote, “It’s nothing but a politically correct modern blasphemous statement reflecting the artist’s and the so-called judge’s spiritual depravity.”
But, Dave, there was another critic that thought he had a way to deal with this whole issue. He said, “My Jesus would be a narcoleptic, vegetarian astronaut-clown-mime who lives in a Sri Lankan tree with three lesbian popes and sings the Boogie-Woogie in Navajo and I’ll probably win.” In other words, it’s so absurd it’s just beyond belief.
Dave: Right, yeah. Well, okay, so Jesus had to be a man. He had to belong to some race if He’s going to redeem man. There are prophecies about the Messiah—no prophecies for Buddha, or Muhammad, or anybody else. And that’s one of the great evidences that the Bible is God’s Word and that Jesus is who He claimed to be. If He did not fulfill the prophecies, He’s not the Messiah.
And you remember in Matthew 16 when Jesus said, “Well, who do men say that I am?” And they said, “Well, some say you are this and that,” and so forth and so on. “Who do you say that I am?” Peter said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus didn’t say, “Guys, get out there and convince them of that.” He said something very strange: “Don’t tell anybody.” Why would He say “don’t tell anybody?” Because Jesus would be known as the Messiah, not because 51 percent of the Jews voted Him in; not because His disciples all took a Dale Carnegie salesmanship course, or whatever, you know, and were able to sell ice cubes to Eskimos in the dead of winter so they could sell Jesus to get everybody to say, “Oh yeah, He’s the Messiah!” He would only be the Messiah when He had fulfilled the prophecies. Okay? And remember the day when He rode into Jerusalem on that donkey and the crowd is hailing Him as the Messiah, and the rabbis are saying, “Stop them, rebuke them! They are calling you the Messiah! This is blasphemy!”
I love what Jesus said: “Listen, if they don’t say it, the stones will cry out, because today is the day!” The very day the Messiah would ride into Jerusalem and the beast upon which He would enter, the foal of an ass, the very day was foretold in Daniel 9 based upon the record that we have in Nehemiah 2.
So Israel would be the one through whom the Savior of the world would come. They would reject Him, crucify Him in fulfillment of the scriptures, but He would rise from the dead and He was going to return again to Israel. These rebellious, disobedient people—and this is not anti-Semitism to say that! All through the Old Testament, this is what the prophets, their own prophets, said. Read what Jeremiah had to say about these people. And in spite of that God gave them this land. He blessed them and He did not want to punish them, but He had to scatter them; and they are under His judgment now, but also under His protection. And He is going to return and rescue these people in the midst of Armageddon. Two-thirds will be killed, and then He’s going to rule over this earth. He’s not going to be voted in, He’s not going to have some big international vote; He will rule in Jerusalem on the throne of David that was established 3,000-some years ago.
Tom: Dave, I just want to go back to point 3 and talk about the Mosaic Law and its accompanying covenants of promise, but also they were given the oracles of God, the Scripture tells us.
Tom: That makes them unique. It wasn’t given to the Californians, you know, or to anybody else out there.
Dave: Tom, they heard it audibly spoken by God from Mt. Sinai, and they all promised to keep it.
Tom: Right, and of course that’s the other point: They were given the visible manifestation of God both in the Old Testament in the pillar of fire above and in the New Testament in Jesus Christ himself.
Dave: Yeah, so they are the chosen people. They’re God’s people; there’s no question about it, and it is through them that salvation has come to the world.
Tom: You know, the other thing that makes them unique, Dave, is—you quote Genesis 12:1-3. What does it say? “Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country unto a land that I will shew thee: And I will make of thee a great nation…And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him who curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.” That’s starting with a particular group and saying out from this group of people the rest of the world’s going to be blessed.
Dave: Yes, and all the families of the world could not be blessed through them except by the Messiah. Okay? That’s one of the promises of the Messiah.
Tom: And then, Dave, as far as God identifying Himself, you also point out that the God of the Bible identifies Himself at least nine times, maybe more, as the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Dave: Tom, you can’t pull in Allah and say he’s God. He hates Jews. You can’t say, “Well, it doesn’t matter. It’s some higher power, some universal force,” or, “This is Mother Nature,” or whatever. The Bible is very clear in its identification of who God is, and Jesus in John 17:3 said, “And this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God; and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent.” So if you do not know the true God, you’re lost. In other words, Tom, Romans 1 and 2 declares that, and everyone knows this is true, that the universe tells us God exists. You can’t escape it. Nobody can deny that.
I was just reading this morning a little research from Wernher von Braun—remember him? The father of the American space program, the first director of NASA, and so forth. He said it was science that drove him to a belief in God. He said you couldn’t look at this universe around there without realizing it was planned, it was designed. And for it to be designed, it takes a designer. You cannot escape that. Okay, Romans 1 and Romans 2 tell us that every person in their conscience has this law we’ve been talking about of God, written there by God himself, and we know that’s true—minus the command to keep the Sabbath. Nobody has that written in their conscience. That’s something for Seventh Day Adventists to consider very seriously, because that was only for Israel. But now everyone has written in their conscience the moral laws, but not the Sabbath. So we all know God exists; we all know we’ve broken His laws and we are all without excuse, and it’s up to each person. You either accept Christ as your Savior, and that means you believe that He paid the penalty for your sins, you accept His payment on your behalf, or you have opted to pay it yourself for all eternity. It’s that simple.
Tom: Dave, one of the things that you point out in this chapter, and it just really hit me this morning as I was going over it, you say, “God is not a name but a generic term that could apply to any god.” And when you think about what you have just described using the term “God” and so on, that’s how God has revealed Himself in general ways, but He is a personal God. And if you are a personal God, you are going to reveal yourself in a personal way, which He did to Moses.
Dave: Absolutely. Well, we in English use G-o-d with a capital G to indicate the true God. But dios in Spanish, or dieu in French, or bog in Russian, whatever, that is, as you just pointed out, that’s not the name of God. This could be with a little “g.” It could be a false god, and of course that’s one of the problems in Islam. Allah is the name of a god. Allah is a contraction of Al-Ila, and Ila is the generic term for God. But anyway, every Arabic Bible uses Allah and that’s wrong, as wrong as it could be. That’s the name of a god. God’s name, when He introduced Himself to Moses at the burning bush, and I guess we’ve probably mentioned this many times, Tom, but it’s in the Bible and we read it over and over and it bears being reminded of…
Tom: To eliminate the confusion that’s out there, let’s go to the Scriptures. What do the Scriptures say?
Dave: Absolutely, and Moses says, “What’s Your name? You’re telling me to go and deliver Your people from Egypt. Well, they’re going to ask me, ‘Well, who’s this God? What’s His name?’ Well, what’s Your name?” And God says, “Yahweh,” which means “I AM.” His name is I AM. He is the self-existent one, without beginning or end, and the existence of all other creatures or things depends upon Him. And, Tom, you can think about it, and I used to when I was a little boy—I used to think about it, and I still do today—God, You’ve got no beginning! Not You always were—You always “is,” You always are! Go back as far as you can go, and You’re still there. How did you get to be God? Who appointed You? And then you realize that’s ridiculous. Who could have appointed God to be God? Then he must have been God before God was God. You’ve got…
Tom: That’s kind of a dilemma in Mormonism right there.
Dave: Right. Joseph Smith was not a very good thinker. He said matter and intelligence have always existed. Really? Well, matter cannot always exist. He knew nothing about the second law of thermodynamics. It would have all entropied by now, which I think is pretty well established, okay, which indicates there was a beginning to the Universe, and the Bible starts that way in Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning God created….” So God was there all alone, self-existent in the beginning. He created the angels. Satan was one of the angels, the top angel as far as we know. The most beautiful, powerful creature, wisest that God ever made, and that’s staggering to consider.
Tom: He didn’t have to. He wasn’t lonely. The Trinity always existed. Father loved the Son, Holy Spirit, and so on.
Dave: That brings us to your latest video, Tom: Psychology and the Church: Critical Questions, Crucial Answers. Satan, as you just said, he grew up in the presence of God. That’s all he knew was the presence of God. He wasn’t abused as a child, he wasn’t deprived of his toys, he didn’t have low self-esteem, he wasn’t an outsider cast out. He was as inside as you could possibly get in the very presence of God. All the excuses that they give for misbehavior for children today…. Or Eve—she wasn’t abused as a child. She grew up in the perfect environment of the Garden. So psychology gives us excuses, really.
Dave: They give us explanations for misbehavior—sin, really, is what it is—that do not fit Satan in the presence of God, Lucifer, do not fit Eve. And I think that video is just tremendous.
But anyway, God is the I AM, and He’s the author of the Bible and He created this universe. He chose Israel to be His people, there’s no question about it. But all through the Old Testament it indicates salvation is for everybody, and Paul at the end of Romans 2 says, “Is He the God of the Jews only? No, He’s the God of the Gentiles also.” This was always God’s purpose—to redeem everyone, and Israel was an example of the relationship God wanted to have. Israel was an example of the failure of mankind and, in spite of that, God’s love and mercy, that He would still come to redeem them and to redeem mankind.
Tom: Right. That’s the world, Dave. “For God so loved the world…” and Scripture says “…who would have all men to be saved.” The Father sent the Son to be the Savior of the world.
Program Number: 1940