How do the Jewish people handle the anti-Semitism, knowing what people think of them?
-CB from Summerfield, Florida
Why is the Jewish religion less than 1% of the world population?
-AD from the United States
Part 1: Who is a Jew?
Part 2: Jews and the world
Who is a Jew? (Part 1)
I hear such questions and find it extremely interesting that a people so small would be so interesting to the rest of the world for century after century after century. Jews may go along in peace for a time in one place or another but eventually, all eyes are back on them again. For the most part it is not positive interest either.
First let’s clarify some things. In my research for this question I found that the Jewish population worldwide is closer to 2% rather than 1%. That is still pretty small but I think it is amazingly large considering the repeated attempts to completely exterminate them. The question is: why do they exist at all?
I have an answer for that but first let me define, what is a Jew? One view says that a Jew encompasses all spiritual and physical descendents of Abraham. Paul confirms this in Romans 4:16: “For this reason it is by faith, that it might be in accordance with grace, in order that the promise (of salvation by grace, not works) may be certain to all the descendants, not only to those who are of the Law, (Jews) but also to those who are of the faith of Abraham, (believers in Christ) who is the father of us all.”
The Jews themselves have a different definition. To be a Jew according to Orthodox Judaism you must be born of a Jewish mother or convert to Judaism through a formal process. Reformed Judaism allows that a Jew is a Jew if born from either a Jewish mother or father.
That leads to another clarification. Judaism is not simply a religion. Being a Jew is an ethnic identity. Many Jews do not practice the Jewish religion or have converted to another belief system but they are still Jews. Once a Jew, always a Jew.
Jews and the world (Part 2)
Whether their enemies like it or not, Jews will exist until the End of the Age and no one will be able to completely triumph over them. This is so because God has decreed it so. In Jeremiah, God says that only if the fixed order of the universe ever fails will Israel ever cease to exit. (Israel is the spiritual name of the Jewish nation or people).
“Thus says the Lord, ‘If the heavens above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out below, then I will also cast off all the offspring of Israel.’” (Jeremiah 31:37) The Jewish people have not always remained faithful to God (how true for all of us) but he has always remained faithful to them.
How have they survived and how do they feel about all this hatred and anti-Semitism? I can’t completely answer that and I imagine there would be many answers. I can mention that Jews are an extremely resilient and creative people and they are definitely survivors.
Right now the Jewish population is not spread evenly over the whole world. There are larger concentrations of Jews in places where they are accepted and where they can prosper most easily. The United States and Israel have large populations. That should tell us something about handling the constant persecution. Live where you can live in the greatest freedom with hope for your future.
I’ve mentioned this scripture often before but it bears repeating. God said to Abraham: “’And I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’” (Genesis 12:3)
Therefore, how should we treat the Jews no matter what the rest of the world says or does? Gladly take every opportunity to serve and love them for they are the Lord’s beloved. I for one would rather his blessing than his curse anytime, wouldn’t you?