The Rise of Jew-Hatred

Once again, the nations are in an uproar and Israel is at center stage – Jew-hatred is on the rise, and we cannot stand idly. 

Angry protests erupt worldwide, often characterized by hate-laced rhetoric and violence. It seems that not only the State of Israel but every Jewish person around the world is being weighed in the balance and positioned in the crosshairs. The fever-pitch of focused rage is shocking yet somehow familiar. 

The words of Psalm 83 reflect the grim realities of our day. Israel once again prays for deliverance as the enemies of God make an uproar. They conspire together and devise crafty plans against God’s people – to wipe them out as a nation. That the name of Israel would be remembered no more. 

Why do the nations rage against Israel? 

This is not a new phenomenon. It’s not merely criticism against the actions of a modern nation-state or political entity. History is rife with iterations of the same story of hatred against the Jews. This is an ancient battle in a modern context. And it is far from over. 

For as long as the Jewish people have existed, antisemitism, often labeled the world’s “oldest hatred”, has marked their history. It comes in many forms: from vile accusations to cruel jokes, boycotts to cemetery desecration, Holocaust denial to genocidal threats, physical violence to murder.  

I’m sure we can agree that all racism is evil. Yet there is something uniquely diabolical and pernicious about Jew-hatred. Antisemitism has a long and grievous history with deep spiritual roots. 

What is Antisemitism? 

Antisemitism is hostility, prejudice, or discrimination against Jews simply because they are Jewish. Like a stubborn weed, this ancient hatred has persisted through centuries. It is evidenced in various ways across many cultures and eras but is always rooted in deep-seated prejudice and unfounded hate.

But why the rage? Why have Jewish people been targeted with such intense hatred throughout history? 

Simply stated, antisemitism is the most critical arena of spiritual warfare there is, because it’s connected to God’s eternal plan of salvation – a plan established before the foundations of the earth, which God chose to work through a specific family and a people.

God’s Covenant People

Through Israel, God brought forth the Messiah and continues to fulfill His covenant for all humanity, which He promised to Abraham and his seed, saying  “…in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” (Gen 12:3

This covenant of blessing is connected to another promise, spoken in the Garden of Eden when sin and death first plagued the human race. God vowed to send a “seed of the woman” to crush the head of the enemy and destroy the power of sin. This Seed of hope for all mankind would eventually come through the lineage of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob – who became the Jewish people. 

God’s covenant with Abraham included the promise of descendants and blessing for all nations. It also spoke of future suffering, harsh treatment, and miraculous deliverance.  

As the servant of the Lord, Israel would be a light to the nations, God’s chosen vessel through whom His righteousness, justice, and mercy would be revealed.  Israel would carry Hope to a hurting world.

The Spiritual Root of Jew-Hatred

A divine plan of this magnitude would not be enacted without deep resistance. At its core, antisemitism is essentially an attack against God’s covenant faithfulness.

Below the surface, in the unseen realm, antisemitism is inspired by Satan. From the beginning, Satan’s prideful ambition was to ascend above God – to wipe out Israel’s God, and Israel’s witness of God. Satan’s lust for self-glorification led to his fall and the vitriol behind antisemitism. 

Satan is not only “anti-God” but is anti-God’s people. Hatred of the Jewish people is spiritual, inspired by Satan himself.  From Eden to Gethsemane, and even beyond, there has been a diabolical plot to destroy the Jewish people as the seed line through whom God’s promised blessing would come. 

The Deep Tension

In Revelation 12:4, we read that “the dragon stood before the woman who was ready to give birth, to devour her Child as soon as it was born.” In this picture, we see Israel as a woman in labor to bring forth the ultimate child of promise, Jesus, the Messiah, whose perfect sacrifice held the power to deliver the world from sin and death. 

Israel has a divine purpose as the Servant of the Lord and a Light to the Nations. That is why Satan has strategically targeted Israel for annihilation, assimilation, and suffering over every generation. He does so in an effort to stop God’s plan of redemption and make God out to be a liar and a loser. 

This deep tension of blessing and battle has marked the Jewish people throughout their history and reveals the ongoing spiritual reality of God’s irrevocable promises.  

Jew-Hatred Biblical History

Israel languished in slavery in Egypt, her babies massacred by Pharaoh’s demonic plan. Yet God promised deliverance through Moses. Balak sought to curse Israel before their conquest of the Promised Land. Yet through Balaam, God promised a ruler from Jacob who would exercise dominion over His enemies.

Many godless nations raged against Israel, subjecting them to persecution, perpetual hatred, siege, and hunger. They mocked and opposed, ravaged her women, slaughtered her babies, burned her cities, and carried her children into captivity. Even among the nations, wicked men like Haman sought to annihilate the Jews and extinguish their light forever. 

Before the birth of Jesus, at the height of Messianic expectation, Herod contrived a genocidal plan to kill all the male children in Bethlehem. 

From Pharaoh to Nebuchadnezzar, Haman to Herod, the Bible recounts targeted plots to destroy the plan of redemption that God chose to work through the people of Israel. 

God is Faithful

Yet the prophet Isaiah declared that the servant of the Lord will faithfully bring forth justice to the nations, a bruised reed he will not break, a faintly burning wick he will not quench (Is 42:3). In the face of every onslaught against the seed line of covenant, God promised to restore, rebuild, replant, to vindicate His holy name through Israel. So that the nations would know that He is the Lord.  

From a promise in Eden of one who would crush the head of the enemy, to a Garden with an empty tomb – even the most wicked scheme could not prevail against the redemptive plan of God.

But you may think, wait a minute – Jesus, the promised Seed of the woman, and the ultimate Servant of the Lord came. He died and He rose again. He conquered sin and death. Israel DID bring forth the Messiah. 

So why didn’t the demonic hatred of the Jewish people end once Jesus came? 

Why Does Antisemitism Continue to Exist?

The nations continue to rage against God and His divine purposes. The Jewish people have been oppressed and martyred, reviled, and exiled over centuries. The ancient demonic plot to extinguish Israel’s light persists, intending to uproot them and destroy them as a nation and a people. 

Sadly, the subsequent chapter of antisemitism took an even more sinister turn, as it took root in and through the history of the Church. 

The first display at Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem, shows how the Holocaust was caused, in part, due to the hateful teachings of Christian leaders like Martin Luther.

Right away, they want us to know that anti-Judaism in “Christian Europe” played a role in the Holocaust. Now we can be quick to say, “But those weren’t real Christians,” yet we have to see that, from a Jewish point of view, it was important enough to display at the entrance of Yad Vashem.

As those who want to know God’s heart and reflect His love, we would be wise to take an honest look at Church history and ask, “How did we get so far away from the origins of our Jewish Messiah?”

The Divide Between Judaism and Christianity

Early Christianity yoked to the power of Constantine’s Roman Empire brought severe Jewish persecution and division between gentile and Jewish believers. For years to come, Christianization by force would be a dominant Church characteristic, leading to state-sanctioned antisemitism.  

Backed by the power of empires, early church councils further separated Judaism and Christianity, barring association with or marriage between Jews and Christians. They restricted synagogues and the celebration of Jewish holidays or traditions, and even segregated Jews into ghettos.

Replacement Theology (or Supersessionism) claims that God is done with national and ethnic Israel and has transferred Israel’s promises to the Church. This implies that Israel is left with the curses of the broken Mosaic covenant, while the Church is heir to the blessings once promised to the Jews.

Evangelicals tend to have a positive view of Martin Luther, as a key leader in the Reformation. Yet they may not realize that Luther, who at first hoped to evangelize the Jews, later turned against them.

Frustrated by the challenge of reaching Jews with the gospel, Luther wrote the booklet, “On the Jews and their Lies.” This content deeply influenced Nazi ideology. 

The Most Evil Expression of Jew-Hatred 

Jews were persecuted, dehumanized, and labeled a societal evil to be dealt with. In 20th-century Germany, Lutheran theologian Gerhard Kittel declared the need for a “radical solution to the Jewish problem” and endorsed the Nazis’ agenda. 

Generations of antisemitism had created a toxic climate that culminated in the horrors of the Holocaust. Under the Nazis, long-held Jewish stereotypes became a racist ideology that led to the inferno of death camps and the systematic murder of 6 million Jewish men, women, and children across Europe. 

This genocide, built on the warped theories of racial supremacy and with the complicity of much of the Church, remains the most sinister example of unchecked antisemitism in history. While some Church leaders like Dietrich Bonhoeffer actively opposed the Nazis, much of the Church shamefully cooperated or remained silent.

The Christian Debt to the Jewish People

History testifies that ignorance, apathy, flawed theology, and unbridled prejudice planted seeds of Jew-hatred that bore bitter fruit over the years.

Dr. Michael Brown says, “The Church still owes the Jews the actual proof of Christianity’s truth. Is it surprising that the Jewish people are such an insensitive and barren field for the Gospel? The Church itself has drenched it in blood and then heaped stones upon it… Deep, repentant love is the only cure.”

In these moments, let us not ignore the words of Paul in Romans 11. God has not rejected His people. His promises have not been rescinded or annulled. The Creator still has plans for Israel. He is not done with His redemptive purposes, nor with Israel’s role in His story of salvation. 

Although the nations continue to rage, Israel, the servant of the Lord, and the Jewish people are still deeply rooted in the eternal plans of God. They remain a light to the nations and a perpetual witness of God’s covenant faithfulness.

Uprooting an Ancient Hatred: What You Need to Know about Antisemitism – Free Video + PDF Guide Mini-series

What do you need to know about antisemitism? Find out in this unique 4-part mini-series that our education department developed especially for you.

  • What is antisemitism? Why the rise in Jew-hatred today?
  • History of antisemitism: Is this a part of Christianity?
  • Antisemitism today
  • How the Church can fight antisemitism

Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

Casey Tait
Casey Tait has served for over 15 years in leadership training, mentoring, women’s ministry, humanitarian aid service, as well as teaching internationally. She is a published author, global adventurer and avid foodie. She currently serves on the Ministry Advancement Team at FIRM.
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