The Vatican last week challenged the biblical precept that the Jews are the chosen people of God.
Then the Vatican, through the person of Monsignor Cyril Salim Bustros, a Greek Melkite archbishop from Boston and president of the church’s “commission for the message,” claimed the Bible “cannot be used to justify the return of the Jews to Israel.”
With no offense intended to my Catholic brothers and sisters, these statements are shocking lies that leave me wondering what version of the Bible Bustros is reading.
Here’s the full context of the statement:
- “The Holy Scriptures cannot be used to justify the return of the Jews to Israel and the displacement of the Palestinians to justify the occupation by Israel of Palestinian lands.”
- “We Christians cannot speak of the ‘promised land’ as an exclusive right to the privileged Jewish people. … There is no longer a chosen people.”
Making the statements more appalling is the fact that Bustros is, like me, a Lebanese-American. He should know better. Everyone should.
Let’s examine the biblical case for the Jews return to their homeland, which is not only predicted in the Bible, it is commanded. It is mandated. Without the fulfilled prophecies, the Christian faith itself is neutered.
- “For the LORD will have mercy on Jacob, and will yet choose Israel, and set them in their own land: and the strangers shall be joined with them, and they shall cleave to the house of Jacob. And the people shall take them, and bring them to their place: and the house of Israel shall possess them in the land of the LORD for servants and handmaids: and they shall take them captives, whose captives they were; and they shall rule over their oppressors.” (Isaiah 14:1-2)
- “That I may perform the oath which I have sworn unto your fathers, to give them a land flowing with milk and honey, as it is this day. Then answered I, and said, So be it, O LORD.” (Jeremiah 11:5)
- “For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. And I will bring them out from the people, and gather them from the countries, and will bring them to their own land, and feed them upon the mountains of Israel by the rivers, and in all the inhabited places of the country.” (Ezekiel 34:11-13)
- “For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim: Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; and shall fear the LORD and his goodness in the latter days.” (Hosea 3:4-5)
- “And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them. And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the LORD thy God.” (Amos 9:14-15)
- “But upon mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions.” (Obadiah 1:17)
- “Behold, at that time I will undo all that afflict thee: and I will save her that halteth, and gather her that was driven out; and I will get them praise and fame in every land where they have been put to shame. At that time will I bring you again, even in the time that I gather you: for I will make you a name and a praise among all people of the earth, when I turn back your captivity before your eyes, saith the LORD.” (Zephaniah 3:19-20)
- “Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Behold, I will save my people from the east country, and from the west country; And I will bring them, and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in truth and in righteousness.” (Zechariah 8:7-8)
I could go on and on. In fact, in Jeremiah 23:7, we are promised that this regathering of the Jews in Israel will one day be viewed as a bigger miracle than the Exodus: “Therefore, behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that they shall no more say, The LORD liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; But, The LORD liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them; and they shall dwell in their own land.”
Even more importantly for Christians, however, is the fact that our own salvation comes through the promises to the Jews. That’s why it is so astonishing to me that we find this kind of illegitimizing of the prophets coming from the church. See Romans 11. As Paul wrote, by faith in Jesus, or Yeshua, a Jew, we are “grafted in” to the promises.
Also of interest is Isaiah 11, which prophesies yet another ingathering of the Jews in the promised land – one that will accompany the return of the Messiah, whom Christians know as Jesus, or Yeshua, His Hebrew name.
It leaves me wondering just what other parts of the Bible Bustros and his friends in the Vatican ignore. After all, Christians accept Jesus, or Yeshua, as the Savior of the world and the Son of God because He fulfilled the prophecies.
What we see today in the state of Israel is another necessary fulfillment – a spectacular one, indeed – necessary to return of the Messiah, or the Christ. What we see in Yeshua is the personal fulfillment of all the prophets foretold regarding salvation.
Why would anyone calling himself a Christian seek to delegitimize those prophecies?
Why would anyone calling himself a Christian seek to deny the words of the prophets – the same prophets who foretold the coming of our Savior and His return?
What is the basis of the Christian faith without the words of the prophets?
This pronouncement in the name of the Vatican is nothing short of heresy.
God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. He doesn’t renege on His promises. His covenant with the children of Abraham is eternal, and the basis of the Christian faith is an understanding that we, the gentiles, are “grafted in” to that promise through the blood of Yeshua.
By the way, the Bible is also clear about this: When Yeshua returns, it will be to Israel (Zechariah 14:4).
And when He returns, all of Israel will be saved (Romans 11:26).
Again, I have to wonder what Bible they’re reading over there at the Vatican. Are they reading it selectively? Or, God forbid, maybe they’re not reading it at all.