Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Prayers To Fit All Believers

In 1962, the Catholic Good Friday Prayer included these thoughts: "…for the faithless Jews: that almighty God may remove the veil from their hearts ... (and) for the blindness of that people, that they may be delivered from their darkness." After Vatican II in 1970, the prayer was changed to: "Let us pray for the Jewish people, the first to hear the word of God, that they may continue to grow in the love of his name and in faithfulness to his covenant ... (and) may arrive at the fullness of redemption." This year, it’s reported that Pope Benedict has revised the prayer again to ask God to "enlighten" the hearts of the Jews so "…they may acknowledge Jesus Christ as the savior” of all mankind.

The next chapter in this “saga” finds conservative rabbis expressing “dismay” over the Catholic prayer asking God to help Jews “…acknowledge Jesus Christ as the savior.” But that prayer could help all believers, by serving as an example of other needed prayers.

While Catholics ask God to help Jews recognize Jesus as the world’s Savior, Muslims, following Muhammad’s teachings, could be praying for Christians to acknowledge Jesus as nothing less — nor more — than the Promised Savior, instead of the second member of a trinity of gods. And if Christians stopped calling Jesus “God,” Jews could become more able to recognize him as the world’s Savior.

While all this praying for others is going on, Jews could be praying for Muslims to obey Muhammad, who told them to believe all the Prophets who preceded him — and he especially mentioned Moses. But Moses told the world that someday God would restore Israel and return the Hebrews to their homeland. So, why are supposedly devout Muslims trying to destroy the fulfillment of that prophecy?

In short, if all Jews, Christians and Muslims engaged themselves in such prayers, we would have a world of people praying for each other instead of a blood soaked earth!

Then again, perhaps each religious family could try praying for their own enlightenment! So, Jews could ask to be enlightened about the Messiah’s identity. Christians could ask to be enlightened about the real identity of the One and Only Lord God. And Muslims could ask to be enlightened about their own role as the third monotheistic religion that came to correct — not eradicate — their fellow believers.

By helping themselves enlarge their own religious understanding, believers would be helping all of their fellowmen enjoy “peace on earth, goodwill toward men,” which is one thing God has always told all “peoples of the earth” to pursue!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Story of Anti-Semitism

The Sixth Commandment issued by Abraham’s God forbids us to murder our fellow human beings (Ex. 20:13). Yet, most of the blood that has drenched the earth has been spilled by “believers” in the God Who gave us that Commandment! Throughout their mutual existence, “believers” have openly hated each other. But few of the “religious haters” realize that the stage on which their hatred bloomed was not the crucifixion of Jesus. The “players” in the “game of hatred” — and the prophesied result of their hatred — first appeared in Noah’s time.

Noah, a man whose very existence is questioned by self-satisfied skeptics, was the forefather of today’s most troublesome “peoples!” The most prominent branch of Noah’s family began with his son, Shem, whose name has lived on to become part of our everyday vocabulary. From his name came the word, “Semite.” ALL of Shem’s descendants are “Semites.” Nowadays, however, anyone who practices “anti-Semitism” is actually against only one branch of Shem’s descendants: the Jews.

The word “Jew” is an abbreviation of Judah, one of the twelve Hebrew tribes. The word Hebrew stems from Shem’s great-grandson, Eber. Eber’s most prominent sons were Peleg and Joktan. The Hebrews descended from Peleg’s eldest son, while Joktan fathered the Semites known as “Arabs.”

Therefore, ALL the descendants of Noah’s son, Shem, are Semites. Some Semites became the world’s first monotheists known as Hebrews.
Because Shem’s descendants are Semites, and all Arabs and Jews are Semites, the way we use the word, “anti-Semitism,” is a gross distortion of its true meaning. What millions of people have actually practiced is pure and simple “hatred of Jews.” And, these days, that hatred is mounting around the world, largely because much of the world perceives the nation of Israel as a source of danger to everyone, everywhere. If Israel didn’t exist, the Semitic Arabs would live quietly in the Middle East — at least, that’s the “popular” anti-Jewish theory!

Do you believe that theory? If so, you are not “anti-Semitic.” You are a plain and simple “Jew hater.” And, while you might prefer to call yourself by a title that doesn’t explicitly label you a “hater,” that’s what you are. And your hatefulness is spurring the world toward the nuclear war that will fulfill the prophecy delivered in Noah’s time:

When the Flood ended, God made a covenant with Noah. He promised, “...never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth” (Gen. 9:11). Therefore, if, again, God cleanses the earth of violence, He will not wash away men and the tons of blood men have spilled. Next time, both Testaments warn, “...the earth and the works that are in it shall be burnt up” (II Peter 3:10). “For, behold, the day cometh, it burneth as a furnace, and all the proud, and all that work wickedness, shall be stubble...” (Mal. 3:19/4:1).

The Prophet Malachi told us that we must turn our hearts to each other (Mal 3:24/4:6), to avoid the “gross darkness” (Isa. 60:2) foretold by Isaiah, the “darkness” we can now recognize as a “nuclear winter.” If hateful Semites won’t even turn their hearts to their fellow Semites, what hope do we have that the hateful Christians will do it? Of course, that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t even try! We could be magnificently surprised!!