by Bill Nugent
The story is told of an incident in the life of Napoleon Bonaparte during one of his military campaigns. Someone asked Napoleon if he knew of any evidence that proved that God exists. (Atheism and skepticism were major issues among French philosophers of the time.) Napoleon is reported to have pointed to a Jew and said“There is living proof that God exists. God has preserved the Jews for all these centuries.”
The above story about Napoleon may or may not be literally true but the fact that the Jews have been preserved as a distinct people and defied all the sociological and demographic laws of assimilation for more than 3,500 years is certainly worth pondering.
The Jewish nation traces its earliest beginnings to the call of Abraham around 1800 BC. The centuries that followed saw their captivity as slaves in Egypt and the miracle of the Exodus. God gave them the Law, including the Ten Commandments, at Sinai.
The Greek gods gave no laws. The Greeks relied on human wisdom and natural law. The Greek Olympian religion is for all practical purposes extinct. The Jewish religion and Christianity (Christianity is the prophetic fulfillment of Judaism) straddles every nation on earth.
No other nation has anything to compare with the wisdom of the Law of God recorded in the Old Testament. As just one example consider the weekend. The weekend which is the cessation from work on Saturday and Sunday, derives directly from the Sabbath commands of the Old Testament. Every nation on earth now observes weekends! Thank God for weekends!
When the Romans destroyed the Jewish Temple at Jerusalem in the year 70 AD they massacred around one million people and scattered the Jews throughout the nations. Their remarkable preservation as a distinct people has puzzled sociologists. The preservation of the Jews is no surprise however when you see things from the perspective of the New Testament. The New Testament in Romans 11:25-29 tells how the Jews will not see the truth of the Christian Gospel in large numbers until the latter days when there shall be a salvation of the entire nation of the Jews. Verse 28 states that the Jews are beloved by God for the sake of the fathers (i.e., Abraham, Isaac and Jacob). Verse 29 says that the Jews’ calling as the chosen people is irrevocable.
In the Old Testament, Jeremiah 31:35-37 tells of God’s promise to preserve the children of Israel. The prophecy even goes so far as to say that the sun, moon and stars would go off their courses before God would cause Israel to cease as a nation!
In the 1600s many of the Puritan writers such as John Owen taught that the New Testament prophecies regarding the second coming of Christ strongly infer that the Jews will be resettled in the land of Israel in the Middle East at the time of the second coming. This understanding of the prophetic scriptures and also the New Testament teaching that the Jews continue to be a specially chosen people led to a position of philo-Semitism (love of the Jews) on the part of many conservative evangelical Christians of the time.
Centuries later, in the 1800s, during the rise of the dispensationalist view of the prophetic scriptures, many theologians again wrote openly of their expectation that national Israel would be restored in the ancient biblical lands of the Middle East before the second coming of Christ.
In 1948 when the state of Israel was declared, many Christians regarded it as a miraculous fulfillment of prophecy. Furthermore the precise fulfillment of many other prophecies such as the desert blossoming as a rose has also confirmed this view. Israel through its elaborate irrigation projects has radically increased agricultural productivity and now exports food.
The fact that the list of Nobel Prize winners is heavily overweight with Jews is yet another confirmation that the Jewish people are indeed chosen by God in a special way. Israeli tech firms are the wonders of the world. Jews throughout history have been on the extremes of both persecution and blessing. From the unspeakable horrors of the holocaust to the fame of technical and educational achievement the Jews appear to be a people uniquely shaped by destiny.
Many of the Bible’s predictive prophecies concern the Jewish people and their preservation and national restoration. I have often said that the biblical faith is not a blind faith. It is a reasonable faith. God gives us reasons to believe. The Bible in Acts 1:3 tells us that Jesus convinced His apostles with “many infallible proofs.” One category of proof is predictive prophecy. The Bible is the only holy book of any faith that has over 2,000 predictive prophecies that are fulfilled or are being fulfilled. Most holy books of other faiths have no predictive prophecies at all!
Jesus came in fulfillment of over 300 prophecies including 62 major prophecies. No other figure in all of world history has anything to compare with that! Jesus is Jewish. In fact He is the Jewish Messiah. The horrible crucifixion He suffered and the glorious blessings of His resurrection are reflected in the tragedies and triumphs of the Jewish people as a whole.
“The Jews require a sign” (I Cor. 1:22.) This passage in the New Testament mentions the fact that Jews tend to be unconvinced by philosophical arguments for the existence of God but want instead to see a sign or miracle that proves that God exists. The Bible prophecies and fulfillments are a major source of signs. The Jews themselves are a sign. Those who require a sign are themselves signs of God’s faithfulness!