Its background is as old as Abraham’s first sons, when Ishmael persecuted Isaac (Gen 21:8-11; Gal 4:29). And it is as recent as the very hour you’re reading this article. Anti-Semitism is perhaps the world’s oldest and most intense form of hatred. Why? The answer won’t be found in the natural realm but in the spiritual, and the two particular phases of anti-Semitism only make sense when we turn to the Bible.
When Adam sinned, he handed world rule over to Satan (Luk 4:5,6; Joh 16:11). Then the Lord told Satan that the seed of the woman would crush him (Gen 3:15). Therefore, Satan would always seek to keep this promised seed from coming into the world. Tipped off by various Scriptures throughout history, Satan would surmise that the seed of the woman would come through Abraham (Gen 12), Judah (49:10) and David (2Sa 7). The Jews would therefore become his target. Destroy them and the seed of the woman could not arrive to destroy him. And so, we have the attempted holocausts of Pharaoh, Haman, Antiochus Epiphanes, Herod and others. But make no mistake, the culprit behind the curtain was Satan. Yet, phase one of anti-Semitism failed to accomplish his main purpose. Despite the tragic killing of many Jews, Jesus Christ, the promised seed of the woman, was born in Bethlehem. And He finished the work God sent Him to do. He died, rose again and ascended to God’s right hand, thus sealing Satan’s doom.
But Satan knows Scripture. God’s Word says the world has not seen the last of the Messiah, Jesus Christ. Not only was His birth prophesied but also His return. And Israel still has a critical role in God’s plan for this world. According to Zechariah, at least two events will occur prior to the setting up of Christ’s kingdom on earth. One event will be Christ’s defeat of those nations gathered to destroy Israel (Zec 12:8-9). Another will be the repentance of the nation of Israel when they look upon the Messiah whom they pierced (v10). Once they repent and embrace Him, God will crush Satan, cast him into the abyss (Rev 20:1-3), and Christ will reign upon the earth. But if there are no Jews to defend and no Jews to repent, Satan can hold on to his kingdom. Knowing this was all prophesied, Satan began the second phase of anti-Semitism. And so, we have (among other things) the Inquisition, the Crusades, Hitler’s holocaust and the Muslim extremists’ position of wiping Israel off the map. The devil doesn’t mind who is willing to be used so long as his agenda is carried out.
Satan’s activity behind the curtain doesn’t make him alone responsible for anti-Semitism, but it is helpful to remember why history is what it is and where it is all going. Darker days for Israel are still ahead. Satan will be the instigator of severe anti-Semitism during the coming tribulation period (Rev 12). There it is said that he knows his time is short (v12) before Christ returns, and he will make a final and desperate attempt to destroy the Jews. But the Bible’s last pages show that Israel is here to stay, while it will be Satan, the culprit behind the curtain, who will be wiped from the face of the earth. And with him gone, so too will be the world’s oldest hatred, for “all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts” (Zec 14:16 KJV).