A Light to the Nations
The nation of Israel is spoken of by the prophet as a light to the nations (Isaiah 42:6). Christian missionaries maintain that this mandate of Israel is fulfilled through the intense, worldwide missionary activity of the Church. The fact that the Jewish people do not actively seek to spread the teachings of Judaism is presented as evidence that the Jewish people are not fulfilling their calling.
Judaism contends that the Christian deification of Jesus is idolatrous. Many Christians are highly offended by this accusation. These Christians put forth various abstract arguments to justify their devotion to Jesus. We will not address those arguments in this brief article. Instead we will point to the fact that many Christians actually use a physical representation of Jesus, be it a cross, a statue, or a portrait of a Jesus as a component in their devotional activities. If this is not idolatry, than what is?
Some of the more sophisticated Christians respond to this accusation by distancing themselves from such behavior. These Christians loudly protest: “In my Church we would never put a cross up in the front, I would never face a picture of Jesus when I pray”. My challenge to these Christians is: Don’t you recognize that many Christians do venerate these physical representations? Do you consider these Christians your brothers and sisters in faith? Or do you distance yourself from them as you distance yourself from those who do not accept Jesus as their savior?
The fact that Christendom tolerates these physical representations of Jesus, while they do not tolerate non-acceptance of Jesus – even if it comes along with a full devotion to the Creator of all – should tell you that Christianity is about Jesus – it is not about God.
Christianity’s veneration of Jesus and their lack of appreciation for Israel fulfilling her role as a light to the nations are actually two sides of the same coin. These two concepts are intimately related to each other.
The core calling of Israel as a nation before God is to declare to one and all that there is but One Creator of all and that all existence owes everything to Him and to Him alone (Deuteronomy 4:35, Isaiah 43:10, 44:8, Jeremiah 10:16, Micah 4:5). Israel was formed as a nation by God for this very purpose (Isaiah 43:21, 44:21).
As long as the nations insist of deifying one of God’s creations, there is no way they can appreciate Israel’s calling as a witness nation before God. After all, Israel’s testimony repudiates that which they hold most dear.
It is only when idolatry will be utterly eradicated from the earth (Isaiah 2:18) that the nations will be able to appreciate Israel’s mission. Then, and only then will the nations walk to Israel’s light (Isaiah 60:3). May it happen speedily in our days.
If you found this article helpful please consider making a donation to Judaism Resources by clicking on the link below.
Judaism Resources is a recognized 501(c) 3 public charity and your donation is tax exempt.
Yisroel C. Blumenthal