Tragic. There can be no other word for the shooting of a Jewish synagogue in Pittsburgh. Eleven dead. Others injured. A nation in shock.
The shooting was anti-Semitic in nature. The shooter yelled racial slurs as he fired his weapon. His actions were rooted in a hatred for Jews.
My purpose in writing this blog is not to contribute another voice in the hate speech and anger debates that exist in our culture. Needless to say, they are virulent and ugly. They are causing a deep division that many of us have never seen before.
But I do want to offer this spiritual insight into the Pittsburgh shooting. It’s something to consider. To ponder. To pray about.
Paul said that humans are not warring against flesh and blood, but powers and principalities of the dark world (Ephesians 6:12). He is arguing that there is a kingdom of darkness that stimulates spiritual forces of evil in heavenly places. That there is an invisible, spiritual kingdom that is influencing this visible, temporal world.
If so, what kind of hatred is there in this dark world? And is it directed at any one group of people more than others?
In answering these questions, let me clearly say that I do believe in this dark kingdom. I do believe in a personal enemy, called the devil, who wants to kill, steal, and destroy all humans (John 10:10). He hates God. And he hates the crown of God’s creation---humans. Any way that he can harm them, especially kill them, he will. He is the author of death.
But I also believe there is a group of humans the devil especially hates: the Jews. Why? They are God’s chosen. From all the nations of the world, God chose them to begin his redemptive purposes for all humankind. To bring about salvation. To give people a way to escape the fear of death.
Why did God choose the Jews? That answer rests in the sovereign mind of a perfect God. But he did. Biblically, it’s undeniable. It began with Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3). It continued through the patriarchs. And it was completed with Jesus and the launch of his church to tell the good news of God’s forgiveness throughout the world.
And I think Satan knows about this redemptive plan from God. Therefore, he has tried to thwart it whenever possible. At every opportunity. He seeks to find a wiling vessel who is filled with hatred and use them against God’s chosen.
Think about it. Haman tried to exterminate the Jews in Persia. God intervened through Esther to stop it. Herod, in his paranoia, tried to stamp out all the young Jewish boys under the age of two. He had hoped to kill Jesus---the one called the king of the Jews. Hitler wanted to eradicate every Jew from the face of the earth. He thought them inferior. Hussein, when the leader of Iraq, wanted the Jews driven into the Mediterranean Sea. And there are countless other examples that could be used throughout human history.
The Jews have been the most persecuted people in the history of the world. Never has there been a people who have faced a constant desire for eradication and genocide like the Jews.
That’s why many Jews, from Russia, to western Europe, to Ethiopia, have emigrated to Israel in the last decades. They feel it’s the only place on the face of the earth where they can be protected from hatred and persecution.
From where does this hatred toward the Jews come? A vitriol that still exists all over the world, most recently evidenced in a synagogue in Pittsburgh?
I think it is primarily motivated by the forces of darkness. They look for anyone—from Haman to Hitler—who will kill God’s chosen. Satan is a prowling lion, roaming about, looking for anyone he can use for his destructive purposes (1 Peter 5:8). And he especially hates God’s chosen.
Christians must stand in solidarity with any ethnic group that is being targeted for genocide. But especially the Jews. Christians need to remind ourselves that if you hate the Jews, Jesus was a Jew. God fulfilled his plan of redemption through Jesus’s death on the cross and resurrection. And, again, Jesus was a Jew.
I hope that all people everywhere would begin to pray against the powers and principalities of the darkness. I ask for people everywhere to stand up and stop all hatred and anger. Hate groups and hate speech are anathema to God. His call is to love everyone---even our enemies!
I pray that Jesus’s love and abundant life would be known all over the world. That all senseless shootings would cease.
I pray that the enemy’s wiles be exposed. I pray against his desire to stimulate death. And motivate genocide. Especially I pray this for the people the evil one hates the most---the Jews. I pray a special covering of protection for them, wherever they may be, all over the world.
I am certain of this: God is life. And love. Mercy. Kindness. Grace. And Compassion.
And Jesus came from heaven to earth to reveal God’s true character. His followers must lead the way for this life in heaven to come to earth.
May God’s kingdom rule come soon.
“You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment..."