Who is blind but my servant?...
Who is blind as my dedicated one…
Or blind as the servant of the Lord….
He sees many things, but he does not observe them.
~ Isaiah 42
GOD’S DIAGNOSIS OF HIS CHOSEN PEOPLE: Blindness has set in.
QUESTION: Is this the only time they have had this malady?
ANSWER: No. Many times in biblical history, the smart Jews were creating their own civilization. But they weren’t looking closely at their own deteriorating culture.
QUESTION: What about today’s European and American Jews, in particular?
ANSWER: The Jewish people are intelligent and are filling high posts of endeavor in politics, education, science and technology. But there is something wrong. They have lost their cultural/religious moorings. Many of their rabbinical leaders see and acknowledge it.
In the magazine, First Things, David Klinghoffer says this: “We American Jews know…in our soul, that we have gone astray….”
Leonard Fein in his book Where Are We? The Inner Life of America’s Jews: “We have neither the vocabulary nor the categories for serious conversation [about the religious life]….So we avoid the subject which is not hard to do since our friends and neighbors, for the most part, also prefer to avoid it.” Pp. 218-219
The vision problem stems from Israel’s renunciation of faith. Oh yes, they may refer to “their faith”; but what I am speaking of here is not something subjective: “my faith” and “your faith”. Not that….but this: faith in the biblical sense—faith in the living God Who speaks and judges and blesses. The source of that faith is the covenant—the covenant outlined in the Torah—that which the synagogue attendees profess to honor. That source is the Covenant.
The vision problem stems from Israel’s refusal to worship the Lord with heart and soul….indeed, from ignoring God altogether.
Some of the Jews to whom I have spoken will not acknowledge God. They blame their lack of faith on the Holocaust. They say: “How can I believe in a God who permits such a catastrophe?
QUESTION: What were the Jews doing before the Holocaust in Germany? They were ignoring God, ignoring their Jewish heritage, intermarrying with Gentiles, and many of them even ignoring and denying their very identify as Jews. But, the Nazis were skilled and determined to find every single person’s identity in order to exterminate, to the best of their ability, any trace of Jewish ancestry. What an irony!
Therefore, because of the Nazi crimes, the identity of every strain of Jewishness in the population was uncovered.
The Jewish identity which many German Jews wanted to cover was revealed. They cast it off in whole or in part in order to be integrated into liberal German society and later in order to escape the Nazi concentration camps. They rejected Judaism-- its tradition, peculiar laws and what they felt was its odd appearance.
QUESTION: What are the Jews doing today? We know that they have been restored to their land, with about half of them having made their return. And the eyes of the Israelis are gradually becoming open to their source of life. But what about the American and European Jews?
Today’s Jews in America and Western Europe, are generally affluent, self-sufficient and ignorant of the Law and the Prophets. They crave the respect and honor of their environment. They have gone much of the way towards complete assimilation.
Even by their own standards, the picture is not good. The synagogue used to occupy the central position in the Jewish community. Now, attendance is at a low point, and consistent participation is light.
That which is preached from the Reform Jewish pulpits is usually a rehash of the positions of the Democratic Party.
The Jewish population is in a steep decline in both America and Europe. Racial intermarriage is at an all-time high, and with it the loosening of family ties.
The Jewish birthrate is exceedingly small, indicating that the preservation of the Jewish community is not of much value to young couples.
But all of this is not the basic cause of the Jewish cultural and spiritual downward spiral. It is this: There is very little interest in the Word of the Lord. Indeed, that very phrase is so strange to the modern Jew that he would run from any discussion of it. And that is the basic cause of the Jewish vision problem. They do not see. They do not understand. And they flee from anyone who would want to discuss this subject.
* * * * * * * * * * *
Yet….with all their obstinance, God has not given up on His people. Listen! He follows up on His criticism, with this: “I have called you by name, you are mine….you are precious in my eyes.” (Isaiah 43:1, 4)
God has not turned into an anti-Semite! These are His Chosen. He is facilitating their return to the land. And He will renew their spirits.
Eventually, they will have their eyes opened! Eventually they will see that their destiny is bound up with the Messiah to whom they have turned a blind eye. But the day is coming when their eyes will be opened!
In the prophecy of Zechariah we find this amazing portrayal of the Chosen People. WHERE? In Jerusalem, of course.
“And I [the Lord God] will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him….” (12:10a)