A Christian Pastor’s Yom Kippur Plea for Forgiveness from the Jewish People

ON THIS YOM KIPPUR, I AM WRITING TO ASK YOU, THE JEWISH PEOPLE, FOR YOUR FORGIVENESS FOR EVERY ANTISEMITIC THOUGHT, WORD, AND ACTION COMMITTED AGAINST YOU BY CHRISTIANS.  I am writing this, because I am hoping that other Christians will read this and join me in my petition.  I am also writing this because I do not have the means to go to every Jew in the world and to personally make this request.  But I am writing this, not only as a Christian, but also as a pastor who dearly loves HaShem (G-d) and His Torah.  Although my obedience is not where it should be, I am still striving towards the goal of walking in obedience to HaShem (G-d).

Last night, my wife and I began our fast and read the passages in the Torah that dealt with Yom Kippur.  But early this morning, HaShem (G-d) woke me up and moved on me to write this letter to you.  I was not asked to write this by any Christian leader or organization, nor am I doing this for any other reason than to seek your forgiveness.  I am fully aware of the many vile atrocities that has been done to you by Christians, all in the name of Jesus Christ, such as the pograms, the inquisition, and the Holocaust, which was the most vile of all the atrocities.  But I am also aware that these are but the tip of the iceburg of the many sins that Christians have committed against you since the first century, C.E.

By giving your forgiveness, you are not saying what was done to you was okay, nor are you letting people go who should be punished.  Instead, you are setting yourselves free from the chains of bitterness, hate, anger, revenge, depression, sadness, or any other chain that was put upon you as a result of this sins.  I am writing this so that you may e set free.

I am, therefore, publicly acknowledging that we Christians have sinned against you.  Our hands are not just “tainted” with your blood, but our hands, minds, bodies, and our very history are soaked in your blood.  I cannot justify any of it, nor am I going to try to do so.  We have sinned by coveting your role and position with God, we have sinned by bearing false witness against you by calling you “Christ-killers” and by accusing you of “blood-libel,” the false and horrendous accusation that any Jew would kidnap and kill a Christian child in order to make Passover food was, indeed, a horrible and grievous lie.  And we have sinned by not loving our neighbor, and committing murder more times than history has been able to record.

But our greatest sin against the Jewish people is that we have done all these things in the name of Jesus.  For example, when Jewish men, women, and children were rounded up in a town and village, and locked inside the synagogue there, and then Christians would set the building on fire, while standing outside, singing, “Onward Christian Soldiers!”  The horror of our crimes against you is multiplied 100 fold, because in doing these hellish acts in His name, we distorted, twisted, perverted, impugned, and profaned His name among you.  We have so misrepresented Him and His teachings by our many sins against you, that we have caused you to view Him and His name as something vile and evil.  Nor has our actions been representative of the teachings of the B’rit Chadasha (“Renewed Covenant”; popularly called the “New Testament”).  If anything, we have committed vile desecration and violence against it as well.

We did not show you the true Yeshua of the B’rit Chadasha or of history.  The Yeshua who was circumcised on the eighth day, and redeemed as the first born in keeping with the writings of Moses.  The Yeshua who grew up as an Orthodox Jew, by Yosef, a Tzaddik (trans. “just”) in relation to the Torah, and even Ya’acov (“Jacob”; trans. “James”) is described not only as a Tazddik, but also was a Nazarite from birth, much like Samuel and Samson.  Yeshua had 4 brothers and at least 2 sisters.

Not only did he grow up in an Orthodox Jewish family, but he and his family regularly attended Shul (synagogue) where he was a regular reader of the Torah.  He and his family kept the Shabbat, the mo’edim (feasts), kept kosher, etc.  Not only did he keep every yodh and decorative stroke of the Torah, but he dearly loved his people, the Jews, and the land of Israel.  He would go out of his way to embrace and bless the Jewish children who loved being around him, as well as he loved and ministered to any Jew who was sick, diseased, downtrodden, helpless, or was considered a social outcast.

Even his early talmidim (disciples) were Orthodox Jews who dearly loved HaShem (G-d) and were all zealous in their observance of the Torah.  Yeshua did not encourage anyone to dismiss or to abrogate the keeping of the Torah; in fact, his talmidim learned their zeal and passion for the Torah from him.   This is the Yeshua you should have rightly been introduced to, but was not.  I am saddened by people who have lifted things out of context, or were horribly misunderstood, and then presented him as opposing the Torah when he was not.  He, in fact, was dearly loved by the Jewish masses in Israel; however, there were a few influential Jewish leaders who felt threatened by his popularity and opposed him.  But should all Jews be blamed for their sin against him, particularly since 98% of Jews, during the 2nd Temple period of the 1st century, C.E., actually lived outside the land of Israel and had NEVER seen him, heard him teach, or watched him heal or do any other miracles?

No, absolutely not!  In fact, for Christianity to blame all Jews since the 1st century up to the present for what a few corrupt leaders did is heinous and simply abominable.  Yeshua compared Israel to a precious garden, or vineyard, that He taught his talmidim (disciples) that they were to tenderly care for the people and the land.  And although it started that way, it did not stay that way.

At first, when Goyim (Gentiles; non-Jews) were allowed to join the movement, they viewed themselves as being a part of a Jewish movement within Second Temple Judaism, but then other Goyim (Gentiles) entered who sought to take the movement away from Judaism and to form their own religion.  Rav Sha’ul Paulus (Paul) saw this coming, and he warned various congregation about it for three years, he writes, with tears.  It broke his heart, but even he couldn’t do anything to stop it.  And indeed, as he predicted, “the wolves” came in and led to Christians breaking away from the original Jewish movement to form their own religion.  A religion that turned on its mother, Israel, as well as the same movement that originally brought them the “good news” of Mashiach and the Ga’ulah (the redemption).

Do I believe that Yeshua is Moshiakh ben Yosef and Moshiakh ben Aaron?  Yes.  Do I believe that HaShem (G-d) used his horrible death to reverse the damage caused by Adam and Chavah (Eve) in the Garden, as well as fulfilled the promise that HaShem (G-d) made to Avraham Avinu (our father) when He walked between the pieces in Avraham‘s vision?  Yes.  Do I believe that HaShem (G-d) raised him bodily from death, and then sat him on the right hand of Power, and will one day restore him to Jerusalem, when he will fulfill all the prophecies regarding Moshiakh ben David?  Yes.

But do I believe any of these beliefs have given any Christian the right to ill-treat, persecute, or do any violence at all to any Jew?  No, absolutely NOT!  I am gratefully aware that there were some Christians who were “righteous Gentiles” who risked, or sacrificed, their lives in order to save the lives of Jewish men, women, and children.  But the unfortunate truth is that they were few in comparison to those who did not do the same.

I am not writing all this to “stir up trouble” between Christians and Jews, but actually for the opposite reason: there needs to be forgiveness and shalom (peace) between us.  We cannot get to this point if we only suppress or try to hide the evil and pain of the past.  We need to get it out on the table, confess and acknowledge the heinous evils (sins) that were done, and then to ask for forgiveness.

But in addition to asking for your forgiveness for the sins Christians in general have committed against you, I must ask for your forgiveness for my own sins as well.  My wife and I were in Jerusalem two years ago for a period of three months.  It was the first time that I have ever been outside of the United States.  But even though we were treated well by most people there, including making some Jewish friends, there were times when I could’ve reached out in love to a Jewish man, woman, or child, and I did not.  There were times when I could’ve spoken a word of encouragement or told a Jew how much HaShem (G-d) loved them, how He has not changed, nor has He changed any of His Torah, but I did not.  There were also times when I could have reached out a kind hand, or sat down and learned from various Jews, including the Chasidim, but did not take the advantage to do so.  If I had, I would’ve hoped that they would’ve learned of my own love for HaShem, and my love, and sometimes struggle, with the Torah.  But I didn’t do any of these things because I allowed fear and intimidation to capture my mind and my heart.  And as a result, I lost these opportunities.  So today, on Yom Kippur, I pray and ask HaShem (G-d) for His forgiveness for my fear and disobedience, and I ask the forgiveness of you, the Jewish people, as well.

Finally, I am writing this petition and prayer because I sincerely believe it is what HaShem (G-d) wants me to do.  I do not know if any Christian has publicly confessed and asked forgiveness to you, the Jewish people, for the vast sins that Christians have committed against you, but I felt as a Christian and as a pastor, that this was something that He wanted me to do.  If no one has, then this is long past due.  I am aware that there are many Christians since the Holocaust who have sought to bless Israel, the Jewish people, and that there is this growing awareness among many Jews that there are Christians who are not Israel’s enemies, but allies and friends.  And this is awesome, but I also want there to be forgiveness and shalom between us as well.

So with a sincere and contrite heart, I offer you my petition for your forgiveness and shalom.  I wish only HaShem’s best for every one of you.  And perhaps, if there’s finally forgiveness and shalom (peace) between us, Christians and Jews, we will finally fulfill the calling that Hashem (G-d) has for each of us, and He will return the Messiah to the earth again, and we will finally experience the wondrous peace and prosperity of the Messianic era.

Shalom v’chesed,

Chris L Verschage
Pastor
Cocopah Assembly of God
Somerton, AZ., USA

 

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