By Arthur Glass
[1946 from the magazine Star of Hope]
“And Leah… bare a son, and she said, Now will I praise the LORD (Jehovah): Therefore she called his name Yehudah—(lit.) the LORD (Jehovah) be praised.” (Gen. 29:35).
Needless to say, there is much abysmal and inexcusable ignorance floating around this subject as to ‘what is a Jew?’ The sadly embarrassing thing, as well as the deep tragedy, is that the larger share of this ignorance is painfully prevalent with my people, the Jews themselves. Some say “The Jews are a race;” whereas others say “The Jews are a religion.” God’s word says both are wrong. The Jews are a people belonging to the Semitic race, whose religion should be, but most unfortunately now is not, that which was given by God through Moses, the Prophets and was finally confirmed in the New Testament according to Jeremiah 31:31-34.
To get the proper and correct understanding of the term Jew we must first go into the history of the Jews. The Jews are the only people in the world whose origin is divine, whose special mission is declared, and whose future is definite, assured and glorious. All other nations had their origin at the Tower of Babel as a result of sin (Gen. 11:1-9); but my people – the Jews – had a holy birth, a divine beginning (Gen. 12:13). For this reason they are indestructible, indigestible and unassimilatable. Pharaoh tried to drown the Jews and was drowned himself (Ex. 14:27, 28); Chaldeans tried to burn the Jews and were carbonized (Daniel 3:22). A few jealous Babylonian polititians tried to feed Daniel to hungry lions and were instead devoured by the same lions (Daniel 6:24). Haman tried to hang Mordecai the Jew and was himself hanged on the very gallows he had built for Mordecai (Esther 7:9,10). When Germany tried to destroy the Jews they found their own country destroyed and devastated and suffered the most disastrous defeat of any nation in the history of the world. The Jew has proven to be cork in the water, asbestos in the fire, marble in the lions’ teeth, and rubber at the end of a hangman’s noose. He has always lived to stand at the grave of his persecutors and has always been a witnessing signator to their death warrants. Truly, the Scripture is most true which says that “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper” (Isa. 54:17).
Now the term Jew is not the proper term for my people, as that represents only the tribe of Judah and Benjamin who stuck by the House of David when the other 10 tribes seceded and formed the Northern Kingdom (I Kings 12:20,21). “Hebrew” or “Israelite” is really the correct form; but since Judah and their confederates were the most prominent and most influential, all Israel now goes by the term Jews. Every Jew is a Hebrew or an Israelite, but not every Hebrew or Israelite is a Jew. But all three terms – Hebrew, Israelite, Jew – are spiritual terms with holy and remarkably deep significances.
The first historical name given to my people is Hebrews, because they are the descendants of Abraham the Hebrew. This name is first mentioned in Gen. 14:13 and applied to Abraham. He is there called HA-IVRI – the Hebrew. HA-IVRI means The–Crosser–Over, because our father Abraham crossed the river Euphrates at the call of God, and that river acted as a separation between him and the world of sin idolatry and spiritual ignorant. God called Abraham to leave his country, his kindred, and his father’s house to go into an unknown land through unmapped arid uncharted paths. Abraham forsook the Chaldean capital of Ur and said good bye to the world of godless civilization and glamour, riches and worldly possession and reputation. He left its commerce, ambitions and allurements, and went after God, crossing the river and burning his bridges behind him. When he went into an unknown land and faced an unknown future, he trusted God for everything, “And he believed in the LORD, and He counted it to him for righteousness” (Gen. 15:6). Thus Abraham became the friend of God (2 Chron. 20:7, Isa. 41:8). Abraham also built altars, “and called upon the name of the LORD” (Gen. 12:8) and let every one know that he was a real Hebrew, a Crosser–over. Now, my Jewish friend, are you a real Hebrew, a real Crosser–over? Have you left the world of sin behind you like Abraham whom you claim as your father? or are you shackled by the chains of worldly desires and ambitions? Do you make the God of Abraham known and loved as Abraham the Hebrew did? If you are not what Abraham was, then you have no right to call yourself a Jew. You are just a presumptuous pretender without any justifiable claim to this very exalted title of Jew.
Now Joseph claimed to be “of the land of the Hebrews” (Gen. 40:15), and the word Hebrew next appears in Ex. 1:15,16,19; and God calls Himself “The LORD God of the Hebrews” in Ex. 7:16; and that same term is used even in I Sam. 4:6; 9; 29:3. It is also used in Jer. 34:9, 14; and the last time the word Hebrew appears in the Old Testament is in Jonah 1:9. In the New Testament it is still used to denote Jews as can be seen from Acts 6:1, 2 Cor. 11:12, Phil. 3:5, while the language of the Jews is in the New Testament called “Hebrew” (Luke 28:38; John 5:2; 19:13,17,20; Acts 21:40; 22:2; 26:14; Rev. 9:11; 16:16).
The next term is Israel. This was given to our father Jacob by God in Gen. 32:28, and it means The-Prince-of-God. What a wonderful name! What a glorious significance! And this name came only after repentance, after Jacob had confessed to God and said, “I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies, and of all the truth which thou hast showed unto thy servant.” (Gen. 32:10). So again, my so-called Jewish friend, we ask you: “Are you a real Israelite? Have you repented before God and become a real child of Israel? Do you have ‘power with God and with men?’” (Gen. 32:27). If not, you are no more a Jew than is the heathen Hottentot. You are just a cheap imitation, with no part in Israel at all.
The descendants of Abraham through Jacob are called the children of Israel and Israel times without number throughout the Old and New Testaments, so we cannot refer to any special references, since their number “is legion.”
The last and glorious name is Jew from the Hebrew word Yehudi, which means the Praiser-of-Jehovah. This word is derived from the word Judah or the Hebrew Yehudah, which we have already explained and given its historical origin. This is supposed to mainly refer to the descendants of Judah. The word Jews is first mentioned in II Kings 16:6, whereas the words Jew and Jews are used freely in the Books of Esther, Ezra and Nehemiah. Jeremiah also uses that term, and we also find it in Daniel. But in the New Testament times the term Jews was used to designate any descendant of Abraham regardless of tribal origin. Now all Israel is known as Jews and very significantly so: God wants the Jew to be reminded that as a-crosser-over and Prince-of-God, he should be a real Yehudi – A-Praiser-of-God.
So finally we ask you who call yourselves Jews, are you Praisers-of-God? Do men praise God for you and because of you when they see you? Do the Gentiles who know you fall in love with God and turn to Him because of you as God meant it to be?” If not, then you are a liability to the cause of Judaism and a reproach to the name of the God in whom you claim to believe but whom you so woefully deny by not being a real Jew according to God’s standard; so how do you dare call yourself a Jew?
This brings us to ask, “What mission of the Jews?” Well we needn’t go to Edmond Flegg the French Jew to find that out; we go to the Holy Word of a Holy God. In Gen. 22:18 (and Jews read this daily) God says to Abraham, “in thee shall all the nations of the earth be blessed.” So you as a Jew are to be a blessing to every nation where you may happen to be. Is that you? Are you a blessing? If not, you are no Jew according to God.
In Exodus 19:5 and 6 God says to us: “Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then shall ye be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people, for all the earth is mine; and ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.” Do you obey God’s voice? Do you keep His covenant? Are you God’s priest? And what is really a priest? – not a man with an inverted collar, but a person who stands between God and man, one who represents God to men and presents men to God. Is this you? Are you God’s priest? Are you a holy person dedicated to the service of your God? If not, then don’t insult God or human intelligence by calling yourself what you are not – a Jew.
In Psalm 105 (and our people read this daily too) God says, “O give thanks unto the LORD; call upon His name make known His deeds among the people.” How do you show your gratitude to God? Do you call upon His name? Do you make known God’s deeds among the Gentile people? If not, then how on earth do you have the gall and the brazenness to call yourself a Jew?
In Isa. 43:10 God says to my people, “Ye are my witnesses.” Are you? Do you witness for God? If you don’t, then what makes you think you’re a Jew? God further says in verse 21 of the same chapter, “This people have I formed for myself, they shall show forth my praise.” Do you show forth God’s praise? And if not, why not? And if not, your claim to being a Jew is worse than criminal, because it is blasphemous mockery. Being a Jew, according to what we now see, has degenerated to nothing more than social functions and race pride and race worship.
We have shown from the Word of God and from rational reason, sound logic and common sense that a Jew is not one so by race as by grace; not he who has a Jewish nose is a Jew, but he who has a Jewish heart—a heart for God (Deut. 5:29; Ezek.. 36:26, 27); and not one who has a name such as Goldberg or Cohen, but one whose name is written and recorded in God’s Book of Life in heaven (Daniel 12:1).
Now we come to the second part of our theme: Why I am a Jew?
1. I AM A JEW because by God’s sovereign grace and divine choice I was born one, and I am glad of it, because I am kin to the greatest persons that ever walked this poor earth. Among my relatives I count such as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Samuel, David and the Prophets, the Apostles, the first Martyrs, all of the writers of the Holy Bible, and, best of all, the Messiah and Redeemer of Israel and Savior of the world Himself, Who “…took not on him the nature of angels, but He took on Him the seed of Abraham.” (Heb. 2:16).
2. I AM A JEW because I believe with all my heart in the God of my fathers, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Creator, Ruler and Sustainer of heaven and earth.
3. I AM A JEW because I believe the WORD of GOD and base my belief not on what a French Jew has to say in a secular book, but on what Thus Saith the LORD God of Israel, and I “Seek . . . out of the Book of the LORD, and read” (Isa. 34:16). I fully subscribe to the article in the 13 Articles of the Jewish Confessional of Faith: “I believe with a perfect faith that all the words of the Prophets are true.”
4. I AM A JEW because I have accepted the Messiah of Israel of Whom Moses in the Torah (the Law) and the Prophets did write, the One Who came to be God’s final and Supreme sacrifice for sin and substitute for us all (Isa. 53:5, 6, 8), the One Who came to be Israel’s Redeemer and Saviour of the world (Isa. 59:29; 49:6).
5. I AM A JEW because I do not trust in my race, religion nor righteousness to save me from my sin and take me to heaven, but in the grace of God through our Messiah Yeshua Ha-Moshiach (Jesus Christ) Who died on Golgotha as God’s appointed Lamb for the sin of Israel as well as for the sin of the whole world, as it is written: “for the transgression of my people was he stricken,” and, “The LORD hath laid on Him the iniquity of us all” (Isa. 53:8, 6).
6. I AM A JEW because I believe in the bodily resurrection of the Messiah as well as of all the dead according to the hope of my forefathers and according to the Word of God as is revealed in His Book: “For thou wilt not leave my soul in Sheol; neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One (the Messiah) to see corruption…. And many of them who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt” (Psalm 16 :10; Daniel 12:2 ).
7. I AM A JEW because I try by God’s grace and help to live according to His commandments and to make His will, His way and His word known to others – “to the Jew first and also to the Greek” (Romans 1:16).
8. Furthermore I AM A JEW because I not only believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and of Moses and the Prophets, but also because I believe in the soon and Second Coming of our Messiah to redeem Israel and give them back their (entire) land promised by God to our fathers, as it is written by the Prophets: “And the Redeemer shall come to Zion. and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the LORD . . . Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In His days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely; and this is His name whereby He shall be called: YEHOVAHTZIDKENU — THE LORD (JEHOVAH) OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS” (Isa. 59:20; Jeremiah 23:5, 6).
9. Then I AM A JEW because I believe that in this life only is it given to man to prepare for eternity; and if one leaves this life unprepared it will be forever too late to do anything for himself nor will anyone ever be able to do anything for the one who left this world unprepared, as it is written: “Prepare to meet thy God, O Israel….” “It is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Amos 4:14; Heb. 9:27).
10. And lastly I AM A JEW because I believe that there is a judgment to come when God is going to judge all, and all will have to give account of themselves before Him, as it is written in Psalm 96:13: “Before the LORD, for HE cometh, for HE cometh to judge the earth. He shall judge the world with righteousness (and the Messiah is called Jehovah our righteousness), and the people with His Truth (and the Messiah said of Himself, ‘I am the way, the Truth, and the life’).” And the Word of God also says: “Because He (God) hath appointed a day, in which He will judge the world in righteousness by that Man (the Messiah) Whom He hath ordained; where He hath given assurance unto all men, in that He hath raised Him from the dead” (Acts 17:31).