“But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.” Micah 5:2 (KJV)
It seems every few weeks, an activist makes the assertion that Jesus was a Palestinian. While I (and history) disagree, I understand the blatant political motivation behind their statements. What disturbs me more are the Christian leaders who espouse this falsehood that’s insidiously creeping into our churches today.
Recently, I heard a pastor lead into a message by asking everyone to imagine they’d traveled back in time to meet the shepherds living in Bethlehem, Palestine at the time of Christ’s birth. No one in the audience even blinked. Now, I certainly don’t ascribe any underlying intent in this particular man’s opening other than to set the stage for an otherwise encouraging message. Yet undeniably, there are movements within the church that have embraced not only the idea that Israel is rejected by the Lord, but also that Yeshua was the first Palestinian refugee.
Did a nation-state called Palestine exist in the year of Yeshua’s birth? History records that the name “Syria Palaestina” was not officially used to describe the province of Judea or any other geographical area until the Roman Emperor Hadrian adopted it around 135 CE, likely with the intent of humiliating the defeated Jewish rebels around the time of the Bar Kokhba revolt. That’s a full century after Yeshua’s death and resurrection. Even supposing that the term “Palaestina’ was used earlier, there’s no denying that originally the term ‘Palestinian’ referred to Jews.
You may be asking, who cares? Other than a desire for historical accuracy, what does it matter if the Bethlehem nativity scene played out in Judea or Palestine? Beyond negating the irrevocable land covenant the Lord made with the Jewish people, there are profound spiritual ramifications for supporting the view that Yeshua was Palestinian. When we discount that Yeshua was born as a Jew from the line of Judah, we are denying the possibility that He is the prophesied Messiah. And when we try to remove Adonai’s chosen people from the story of His plan of redemption, we are rejecting Adonai Himself.
Christian believers, let’s always humbly acknowledge that as Gentiles, we’re the ones who have been grafted into the Lord’s covenant promises made to the Jewish people. Yeshua was Jewish. His first believers were Jewish. The authors of the New Testament were predominantly Jewish. Without Judaism, there is no Christianity—a proposition that no doubt is next on the agenda of those who claim Jesus was Palestinian.
(Photo image courtesy of mskathrynne from Pixabay)