Israel & the Middle East

Racism in most of us

As I wrote in my July 1 prayer/newsletter, prophecies and current events are coming together in view on the not-so-distant horizon — something like the little cloud that Elijah the Prophet saw as the Lord promised long-awaited rain. I fear, though, that the pride of America — and of Israel — will cause them to be caught off-guard when real trouble comes. It will be a sudden and unexpected reality check. I wrote that, for me, it is both exciting and frightening:  in the Spirit, exciting; in the flesh, frightening.  Thank God for His love and grace through our faith and hope in who Jesus Christ/Yeshua the Messiah is, and for what He has accomplished by His death on the cross and resurrection!

That same day, July 1, an 18 yr-old Ethiopian boy was killed by an off-duty policeman in the Haifa area during a street fight. The exact circumstances of the situation, and of the shooting are not completely clear, but the incident set off very violent street demonstrations in the area, which also spread to other cities around the country, including Beer Sheva. We have Ethiopian families in Yeshua’s Inheritance Cong, the most prominent among them being the Hagos family. We asked the father, Habte, to share at our service that Friday, the 5th, in order to inform the congregation about how the Ethiopian community feels, and also how, as believers, those among them and the rest of us should respond. Habte brought out that God is keeping His Word to bring that Jews back from Ethiopia to this land. (Is 11:11; Acts 8:26-40) In the Scriptures, Ethiopia is called Cush, who was one of the sons of Ham. 

Biblically, Cush included what is today Sudan. Interestingly, Habte pointed out that the Jews from Cush are coming only from Ethiopia.  There are no Jews in Sudan. Those Ethiopian Jews who came in the first waves of rescue are glad to not be in Ethiopia, knowing what their lives were like there, and the discrimination that they also suffered as Jews. But their children, born here in Israel, only know that they live in Israel, and feel that they are discriminated against simply because they are Ethiopians, meaning black.  And they are not going to take it quietly like their parents and grandparents have. There is racism in Israel, just like there is everywhere else. People are people, and that includes Jews and Christians from whatever countries. 

Four years ago a similar violent protest occurred over a similar incident, and it pretty much shocked the country, since the Ethiopians were known for their quiet demeanor, even though they suffer from much domestic violence and poverty. At that time I gave a message in our congregation that racism is a sin, but not all discrimination is racism; otherwise, then YHVH God Himself would be guilty, which He is not. What I said then could have been written again last month
(Tonight, btw, there will be an evening of open discussion and prayer at a congregation in Haifa about these issues.)

Under the law, there is no racism in Israel, but there is discrimination, even within and among the Jewish people.  But since Jews and Christians have the Law, and the Gospel, of the Creator of the heavens and the Earth, we are held to a higher standard than those who do not, especially concerning the Gospel. And since even born-again children of God can harbor inwardly, or exhibit outwardly, varying degrees of discrimination, even racism, the devil and unbelievers are quick — and find it easy — to point the finger and claim the worst. Most of us would be hypocritical if we claim that “there is not a racist bone in my body”.  We might like to think that there isn’t, and we may try to cover our lapses with a fig leaf, but the Word of God pierces and discerns the inmost recesses of darkness that is in us, despite the light that we are in the world. 

The hope of those suffering racism, or antisemitism, is the same as those who perpetrate it: each of us needs a Zech 12:10-14 experience (as I refer to it), as Israel collectively and individually will eventually have, in order to know the depths of our iniquity, and the greatness of our Savior, who nonetheless died that sacrificial bloody death on the cross to redeem sinful mankind, so that we could be forgiven and cleansed and healed and made whole and right with our Father in Heaven. Without such a Yom Kippur experience of an affliction of soul — which can not be artificially manufactured, nor timed for an annual holy day — then our faith and our sensitivity to sin will be shallow, and our appreciation for how much we have been forgiven will be slight.

Don’t we want the Lord to come and make this world right?  Don’t we want the Father’s will to be done on Earth as it is in Heaven?!  Then let us keep the last prayer of the Bible before us always as we continue the good fight, finish the race, and keep the faith which overcomes the world:  even so, come, Lord Jesus!

This article originally appeared on Streams in the Negev, August 7, 2019, and reposted with permission.

Howard Bass

Howard Bass is the congregation pastor/leader of Nachalat Yeshua (Yeshua's Inheritance) in Beer Sheva, Israel.

https://kehilanews.allisrael.com/person/howardbass/