2003: Most of us as born-again believers in Jesus (Yeshua)
do not have a problem with racism. That is a gross sin
that we left behind along with lying and stealing. However
there are subtler dimensions of racial prejudice and ethnic
pride that have more of a negative influence on us than
we are aware.
I took part in a weeklong hike in the desert around Mt.Sinai. The trip was sponsored by Musalaha Reconciliation ministries, and involved a group
of Israeli Messianic Jews and Palestinian Arab Christians.
At one point, after traveling on camels and climbing down
some cliffs, we arrived at the biblical site of Hazeroth.
was asked to give a brief teaching on location. As I opened
my Bible, the first verse of Numbers 12 jumped out at me,
in which Aaron and Miriam complain about Moses because
his wife was a "Cushite." I
looked at our dark skinned Bedouin guide, and realized
that Moses' wife was Black!
came down in a cloud of fire and fury to rebuke Miriam
and Aaron. There are many ways to look at this passage,
but I saw it then from a new angle. God was saying, among
other things, "How is it in the midst of this great
prophetic event, when I am speaking to Moses face to face,
raining Manna from heaven, doing signs and wonders; that
you are focusing on the color of the skin of Moses' wife?"
1. Ethnic pride can cause us to miss major
had a similar encounter with the woman at the well of Samaria. There He began to speak with her
about receiving eternal life, and her response was, "How
can you who are a Jew speak with me a Samaritan?" (John
4:9). Her cultural background was blocking her from being
able to hear what He had to say about salvation.
Messianic Jews and Palestinian Arab Christians face similar
obstacles to the gospel in our peoples. Both Arabs and
Jews have a cultural wall, built up by thousands of years,
against the gospel. When we try to share with our people,
they call us Gentiles, even Nazis. When the Palestinians
try to share with their people, they are called, "Suheina" -
Zionists, about as dirty a word as you can get in their
2. Cultural walls can form a strong obstacle to the
Yeshua overcame her first objections to salvation. Then
she immediately switched to a rare form of religious debate
as to whether temple rituals should be performed in Jerusalem or in Samaria (John ). She almost started quoting Bible
verses to Him. She may have had the right verses, but her
understanding of the meaning of the verses was carnal.
She couldn't see the true spiritual meaning, because her
worldview was being colored by her racial prejudice.
theology is affected by our worldview, which in turn is
affected by deep-seated ethnic and racial prejudices that
may have been shaped by historical events that we are not
even aware of.
3. Racial Prejudice causes wrong interpretation of
everyone has prejudice in one way or another, the teachings
of Yeshua challenge us to repent of our own wrongs before
pointing out the wrongs of others. We are called to take
the beam out of our own eye, before the speck in the other's
eye (Matthew 7:3-5).
problem is that it feels just the opposite to us. "They're
the ones with the beam, while mine is really just a speck." The
other side's prejudices are so big and bothersome, compared
to our own delicate and discreet imperfections. I don't
want to confess my very minor racial discriminations because
it might appear to be condoning the enormous racial sins
of the other group. But that's not Yeshua's way.
Palestinian brothers are sometimes shocked at our inability
to feel the suffering of their people and the burden they
have to share the gospel to the several hundred million
people in the Muslim world. We Israeli believers are often
shocked at their inability to see the enormous fulfillment
of prophecy in God's bringing back our people from the
four corners of the earth, and of the importance of Jewish
people coming to salvation as a pre-requisite for the second
coming of Yeshua.
side has to deal with their own sins and ethnic failures.
The problem for us as Jews is that our sins are written
in the Bible, for goodness sake. The Hebrew prophets were
replete with descriptions of our people as stiff-necked,
stubborn, rebellious, hard-hearted, idolatrous, adulterous,
the New Covenant period, we are described as the very "enemies
of the gospel" (Romans ); not only have we rejected our
own Messiah, but we have done everything we could to keep
others from coming to Him (Luke ). In addition, we have long interpreted the biblical concept
of being the "chosen people" in a racist way,
which misses the point of the biblical covenants. Finally,
instead of being a "light to the nations," we
became offended at the thought of the gospel being spread
to the Gentiles (Acts -22).
we go to present the good news of salvation to a lost and
dying world, we need to have the humility to know that
all peoples have sinned and that we have forgiveness by
the grace of God. Ethnic pride must be removed from each
one of us if we are to see the fullness of the kingdom of God.
is God who created us in different racial groups. In each
group we have a certain destiny. In our fallen nature,
our races reflect something ugly. As born-again believers,
we are to redeem the beautiful treasures that God has hidden
in each ethnic group.
international kingdom is pictured as a rainbow; each people
group is a strip of color in that rainbow. We are to maintain
our distinctives, yet live in
harmony, respecting and appreciating the gifts and calling
in every nation, tribe and tongue.