There is a sense in which Satan has a special hatred for Israel and the Jewish people, just as he has a special hatred for the church and the Christian people. From the beginning, Satan has hated God, God’s authority, and God’s plans for the human race (Genesis 3:1-15; John 8:44) He has always had a special hatred for God’s faithful servants (Job 1:9-11; 2 Corinthians 12:7), including the faithful of Israel and the church, which is made up of both Jewish and Gentile Christians. Above all, Satan hates Jesus Christ (Luke 22:3-4; Revelation 12:3-4), as Christ embodies God’s plan for all the ages.
The reality of satanic hatred for Jews and Israel inclines some people to believe that any criticism of Israel places one on the side of Satan. People with this perspective naturally tend to side with Israel in its conflicts. This perspective, however, fails to recognize that not all criticism is motivated by an evil hatred. There is a kind of criticism that is motivated by truth, love, and a longing for justice and mercy. If we don’t recognize the difference motive makes, we might conclude that something as important as the Protestant Reformation should have never taken place.
Scripture shows Satan’s hatred is motivated by his desire to disrupt God’s redemptive plan, from the fall of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, through the events leading to the flood, the trials of the patriarchs, Moses, the prophets, and Jesus Christ himself.
In 1 John 3, the children of the devil are contrasted with the children of God. The children of the devil are described as being in the spiritual line of Cain. This is consistent with the two “seeds” of Genesis 3—the seed of the woman and the seed of the devil.
And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel (v.15 nkjv).
This division between the children of God and the children of the devil includes both Jews and Gentiles. John 1:12 declares that those who received Jesus Christ and believed in His name are the children of God. The apostle Paul wrote: “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Christ” (Romans 8:9 niv). He went on to link the Spirit of Christ (the Holy Spirit) with the children of God: “Those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God” (8:14). Speaking to a Jewish audience, Jesus himself referred to the division between the children of the kingdom and the children of the devil. He said the “father” of His Jewish enemies was not Abraham but Satan (John 8:42-44).
Here we find ourselves faced with an important distinction we can’t afford to miss. Jesus himself took issue with His own Jewish countrymen, and even with His own disciples when their hearts were aligned with the purposes of Satan rather than the redemptive plan of God (Matthew 16:23).
This Christ-based readiness to take issue with anything that is not according to the justice and mercy of God helps us understand why the Gospels, the Acts of the Apostles, and the Epistles describe in great detail the intense and unrelenting hostility of a segment of Jews to Jesus Christ and His followers (John 8:39-47; Acts 7:54–8:3; 12:1-3; 21:27-31; 25:2-3). The book of Revelation even refers to these as the “synagogue of Satan” (Revelation 2:9; 3:9).1
This hostility towards the Christian gospel didn’t end with the apostolic era. Before the end of the first century, Christian Jews were excluded from synagogue worship.
About ad 90, a member of the Sanhedrin named Samuel the Less reworded one of the blessings recited daily in the synagogue so as to make it include a curse (against Christians) . . .
For apostates let there be no hope, and the kingdom of arrogance do Thou speedily uproot in our days; and let Nazarenes and heretics (minim) perish as in a moment; let them be blotted out of the book of life and not be enrolled with the righteous. Blessed art Thou, O Lord, who humblest the arrogant.
This revised edition of the prayer was authorized by the Sanhedrin and adopted in synagogues, so that Jewish Christians, by keeping silence at this point might give themselves away and be excommunicated(F. F. Bruce, New Testament History, pp. 385-86).2
From such biblical and historical examples, we see that like any other group or institution, the people of Israel may need loving, patient confrontation rather than support and affirmation. As the apostle Paul knew from personal experience, many of his Jewish countrymen had hearts open to God and the truth, but were blinded to the identity of Jesus Christ (Romans 11:5-6).
Scripture makes it clear that the eschatological punishment of both Israel and the Gentile nations is based in God’s judgment, not Satan’s hatred (Isaiah 3:1–4:1; 13:9-10; Jeremiah 30:1-7; Ezekiel 13:1-7; Joel 2:1-11; 3:14-17; Amos 5:18-20; Zephaniah 1:7-13). Perhaps the most striking Old Testament prophecy is Zechariah 14, where God brings the nations of the earth against Jerusalem and unbelieving Israel before turning in judgment against those same unbelieving nations (vv.2-3).
Just as Christians do the church no favors when they ignore its abuses and corruption, they do no favors for Israel when they ignore or fail to lovingly call attention to the injustices and unbelief of the one nation on earth that, more than any other, bears the name and redemptive history of God.
- This hostility of a segment of Israel to the gospel conforms with the prophetic portrayal of Israel’s endtime suffering as the result of God’s judgment, not Satan’s hatred. In Matthew 24, Jesus declares:
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. Therefore when you see the “abomination of desolation,” spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (whoever reads, let him understand), then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let him who is on the housetop not go down to take anything out of his house. And let him who is in the field not go back to get his clothes. But woe to those who are pregnant and to those who are nursing babies in those days! And pray that your flight may not be in winter or on the Sabbath. For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be. And unless those days were shortened, no flesh would be saved; but for the elect’s sake those days will be shortened (24:14-22 nkjv).
This judgment is based on the corruption and hypocrisy Jesus described in the previous chapter:
Serpents, brood of vipers! How can you escape the condemnation of hell? Therefore, indeed, I send you prophets, wise men, and scribes: some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues and persecute from city to city, that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. . . . O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! See! Your house is left to you desolate; for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” (23:33-39 nkjv). Back To Article
- Soon the Talmud (a compilation and expansion of the man-made legal rules that Jesus called the “tradition of men” [Mark 7:5-8] that became the supreme document of the Judaism that survived the wars with Rome) officially declared Jesus a blasphemer, sorcerer, and bastard son of a prostitute. (See Peter Schaefer, Jesus in the Talmud, Princeton University Press.)Hostility towards Jesus Christ still exists among a large segment of Jews today. In fact, the modern state of Israel officially suppresses propagation of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Back To Article