THE SMYRNA SYNDROME
Rev.2:9 "I know thy works, and tribulation, and poverty, (but thou art rich) and [I know] the blasphemy of them which say they are Jews, and are not, but [are] the synagogue of Satan." The Lord Jesus Christ authored seven letters to seven churches in Asia as the Apostle John's days were winding down (Rev.2:1-29; Rev.3:1-22). There were rebukes and censures to all but two of those churches, the church at Smyrna (Rev.2:8-11) and the church at Philadelphia (Rev.3:7-13) which had been tormented in similar fashion (Rev.3:9). Both of those churches had obviously been tested by those who claimed to be Jews, but who were by the estimation of God Himself not Jews at all---they were pretenders to the title. As an adjunct to our featured text (and sometimes because of it), much has been written about the genealogical makeup of modern Jewry and how that apparently a substantial percentage of them are the direct descendants of the kingdom of the Khazars who commanded the regions north of the Black and Caspian Seas between the Seventh and Eleventh Centuries. According to many authorities, that kingdom converted to Judaism virtually in toto around 740 A.D. and these Jewish proselytes' (see Mat.23:15 for a relevant commentary) descendants who are neither Abrahamic in pedigree nor Palestinian in origin are likely the vast bulk of professing Jewry today. This has powerful theological, sociological and political implications. An Ashkenazi Jew named Arthur Koestler created quite a stir in the mid-1970's by publishing "The Thirteenth Tribe," which treated extensively of this "lightning rod" topic. Sadly, Mr. Koestler and his wife were found dead in their London home in 1983. The history of the Khazars or the genealogical makeup of modern Jewry, though, is secondary to a more obvious observation: Jesus Christ was writing the letters to Smyrna and Philadelphia during the First Century, hundreds of years before the Khazars. It was to then existing Christians that warnings of Jews "falsely so called" were written. What remains is to leave the historians to argue over the Khazar/Jew connection and let God's Word distinguish between the true Jew and the false Jew. "Nevertheless, what saith the Scripture?" It has been the vain conceit of the Jews for millennia that blood-relationship to Abraham and/or fleshly circumcision is what makes one a Jew in the eyes of God and, therefore, the object of His eternal favor. This feckless fantasy is supported by legions of their sycophantic supporters amongst professing Christianity and it flatly contradicts the plain teaching of Scripture. Scripture makes clear that of Abraham's first two sons, only Isaac was the child of promise and heir of the Abrahamic covenant; Ishmael was not (Gen.21:10-12; Rom.9:6-9; Gal.4:21-31). Both of those boys were the blood descendants of Abraham, but Ishmael had only that to his credit. Isaac, on the other hand, was "born after the Spirit," and therefore a child of promise like regenerate saints today (Gal.4:28-29). The twins, Jacob and Esau, were both the sons of Isaac but only Jacob was the elect object of God's love (Rom.9:10-13). It is with good reason, therefore, that John the Baptist trivialized pedigree from Abraham (Mat.3:7-9). It was/is only the children of the promise that are counted as the seed of Abraham, not the children of the flesh (Rom.9:7-8). The true seed of Abraham (the sons of God) are born of God, not of the will of the flesh, will of man, nor of blood ancestry (Joh.1:12-13). Regardless of nation or race, all who belong to Jesus Christ are "...Abraham's seed, and heirs according to the promise" (Gal.3:28-29). As far as righteousness before God is concerned, circumcision of the flesh avails nothing (Gal.5:6; Gal.6:15), not now, nor ever in the past. Before God gave Abraham the outward token of circumcision, Abraham was already accounted righteous by virtue of a superior token: faith (Rom.4:9-11), which is from an inward operation on the heart worked by God's grace. That is the true circumcision and the identifying mark of the true Jew: "For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter; whose praise is not of men, but of God" (Rom.2:28-29). The true Jew in God's eyes to whom His eternal blessings apply has ever been, fully been, and only been His elect (like Jacob, not Esau), born of the Spirit (like Isaac, not Ishmael), circumcised in the heart, and who by grace belongs to Jesus Christ regardless of nation, race or any other artificial criterion. The presuppositions of Judaism, Zionism and much of professing Christianity are simply wrong. "Though the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved" (Rom.9:27). One need not be a Khazar Jew to be such as "which say they are Jews, and are not, but do lie" (Rev.2:9; Rev.3:9). "Let God be true, but every man a liar" (Rom.3:4).