“And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write: The first and the last, who was dead, and has come to life, says this: ‘I know your tribulation and your poverty (but you are rich), and the blasphemy by those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.” (Revelation 2:8)
… Poverty as a consequence of slander and accusations …. The source of their persecution: the Romans. Fomenting the Roman persecution was the inciting accusations of ethnic Israelites about whom Jesus here says are not worthy of that ancient and honorable name. “I know the slander [blasphemy] by those who say they are Jews and are not.” My friends that is a profoundly important statement. When we watch the flow of redemptive history, the storyline of the Bible unfold and we move from the epic of promise into the epic of fulfillment, God’s people are no longer defined genealogically, they are defined Christologically … Christocentrically. You say “what do you mean?” True Jews are those who follow Jesus as their Messiah. They are characterized by a birth not of the flesh, but of the Spirit. They are marked out by a circumcision not of the flesh but of the heart. So who then are these people? These people who claim to be Jews by virtue of their bloodline, but according to Jesus himself, they are not. Jesus defines them for us: “They are a synagogue of Satan.” It is like what Jesus says to the unbelieving Pharisees in John chapter 8, who claimed the paternity of Abraham. He says: “You are of your father the devil.” You see beloved, this is why we need to think clearly at this point. This is what is so utterly wrong today when people refer to the Judeo-Christian God. [They say] “Christians and Jews really in the end worship the same God.” NO! …To reject Jesus Christ is to reject the full and final revelation of the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The truth is there is no such thing as an orthodox Jew, beloved, unless he is a Christian because if the Jews really believed in the Old Testament they would believe in Jesus Christ. If a person does not believe in Jesus Christ then, according to John chapter 5, then he does not believe in Moses either. “Moses spoke of me,” Jesus said. And so Paul says in Romans chapter 2 “A man is not a Jew if he is only one outwardly nor is circumcision merely outward and physical”, no “a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly and circumcision is circumcision of the heart by the Spirit not the written code.”
Now friends, people often ask me, “Do you believe that the church replaces Israel. The answer is “no of course not!!!” The church does not replace Israel. The fact is, Jewish people who reject Jesus Christ are apostate from Israel. Following Jesus Christ is the ultimate expression of true Judaism. Everything in the Old Testament pointed to Him. Israel and the church, then, are not in radical discontinuity, rather, the later is the consummated expression of the former. Beloved, a failure to appreciate that has profoundly determined strange things in our [own] country. By virtue of the influence of American evangelicalism we say silly things like “Always side with Israel, no matter what Israel does always side with Israel. God will take care of America if we always side with Israel. They are God’s people.” [But] Jesus says they are a synagogue of Satan. And is there a reason then why American evangelicals are notoriously ineffective in their evangelism of Arabs?
[Jesus is] The full, final, ultimate expression of Judaism. You are Abraham’s seed. C’mon … Tear those pages out of your study Bibles.
Related Resources:Do Jews Have a Divine Right in the Promised Land? by John Piper
(HT: Todd Pruitt)