For some time now, it has been in my heart to write a note of thanks to you. Yes, I am just a stranger, and I would not say a perfect one. But to you, and to your people, I owe a great debt.
You see, the promise which God made to your fathers is true:
"...in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed..."[Genesis 12:1-3].
Praise be to His Holy Name, that even I should be included among the blessed!
Your people are known as the People of the Book, because of the oracles of God which He committed to them. Throughout the turbulent history of mankind, "He that keepeth Israel" has neither slumbered nor slept. He has preserved His people that they might preserve His Word; and in their preservation, the faithfulness of His promises has been continually demonstrated. So that, today, the Wisdom of God still speaks to all who listen: "Whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favor of the Lord." [Proverbs 8:22-35].
I am one who has found Him. Or, should I say, He has found me?
From where shall I find words to express my gratitude? Perhaps a rabbi, named Paul, has best summed up my indebtedness to your people. He writes that it is Israel "to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the Law, and the services of God, and the promises; to whom belong the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed forever." [Romans 9:3-5]
Please! Wait! Do not let that name offend you.
I understand that to many of the chosen race, "Christ" is a caustic term. But would it surprise you that many so-called "Christians" grossly misuse and misrepresent this name? To some, it is just a profanity which fills out their repertoire of 'four letter' words. They may wear his name on appropriate occasions, but they have no part in him. The word is in their lips, but they do not honor him with their hearts.
I too have been offended, perhaps "grieved" is the better word. So much destruction and corruption has masqueraded in the name of Christ. His name has been waved like a flag by the perpetrators of inquisitions, and pogroms, and death camps, and anti-semitism in all its ugly forms. But he was not with them.
Let him speak for himself: "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." [John 13:35] Jesus taught his followers to love even their enemies. [Matthew 5:43-45]
Some, who should have known better, have called the Jewish people "Christ killers."
But I was speaking of my debt: Above all it is for this person, this seed of Abraham. Jesus was born a Jew. He came first to the Jews. The angel who announced his coming said, "...He shall save his people from their sins." [Matthew 1:21]
His people? The people of the Promise, who have waited long centuries for "HaMashiach," the Anointed One, the Messiah who would bring righteousness to his people and nation, and thereby bless the world. Some gentile Christians are quick to include themselves in his blessing, but slow to realize that the title "Christ" is merely a Greek translation of the Hebrew "Mashiach." If he can own that title, then he will not disown his people.
Once, Jesus asked his twelve disciples (all of whom were Jews): "Whom say ye that I am?"
Simon Peter answered, "Thou art the Christ (the Messiah), the Son of the Living God."
Jesus replied, "Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-Jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto you, but my Father which is in Heaven." [Matthew 16:15-17]
After Jesus' death and resurrection, Peter and the others preached to Jewish hearers a message based on the Hebrew Scriptures. Listen to an excerpt from one of his messages:
"Ye men of Israel... The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified His Servant Jesus; whom ye delivered up...and killed... And now brethren, I know that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers. But those things which God before had showed by the mouth of all His prophets, that Christ (Messiah) should suffer, he hath so fulfilled... Repent ye, therefore, and turn again that your sins may be blotted out... For Moses truly said unto the fathers, 'A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; Him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.'... Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise spoken of these days... Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, 'And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.' Unto you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities." [Acts 3:12-26]
This message went first to the Jews. The first to believe were Jews. They took the message of God's salvation through His Anointed One, Yeshuah HaMashiach, into the gentile world. How they must have struggled to present the message of Jewish prophets, from the Jewish Book, about the Jewish Messiah in terms comprehendible to my gentile people. For we were "aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world..." [Ephesians 2:12]
- Through Israel, Yeshua HaMaschiach, has come.
- - Through Israel, I have found him.
- To Israel, He will come again.
- - To Israel, I shall be eternally grateful.