Franklin Graham: Don’t Hate God’s Chosen People

Franklin Graham, President and CEO, Samaritan’s Purse and Billy Graham Evangelistic Association

While I was preaching the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ in Kraków, Poland, this spring, I visited the infamous Auschwitz concentration camp, where 1.3 million people, mostly Jews, were held captive, tortured, raped and murdered almost 80 years ago. Multitudes were gassed to death with cyanide, and their bodies then put into ovens and incinerated. In total, the brutal Nazi regime slaughtered more than 6 million Jews across Europe during the Second World War.

Auschwitz made me wonder if mankind has learned a lesson. Could such virulent antisemitism ever erupt again? 

It didn’t take too long to find out.

I had planned to visit some missionary friends in the Middle East following the Festival in Kraków, but those plans were interrupted when airspace in the region was closed in the aftermath of Iran’s April 14 attack on Israel. Iran, a terrorist state, launched more than 300 missiles and drones against Israel. Thanks to defensive assistance from the United States, U.K., and regional forces, most were shot down. Otherwise, many Jewish citizens might have perished — perhaps even more than the 1,200 who died last October when Israel was attacked by Hamas, Iran’s agents on Israel’s border. 

After returning home, I was stunned to see the surge of raucous anti-Israel demonstrations across this nation. From coast to coast, loud protesters filled streets and took over college campuses, not only claiming to support Palestinians but also raging against Israel. The protesters seemed oblivious to the brutality of Hamas, which butchered men, women and children; decapitated babies; and ripped women’s wombs open in the Oct. 7 raid on Israel.

Incredibly, college campuses such as Columbia, NYU, Harvard, MIT and Yale — supposedly where America’s best and brightest are educated — were filled with hateful rants and deadly threats from pro-Hamas supporters. It was hard to fathom, given the fact that radical Islam rules the entire Gaza strip, where women are oppressed and demeaned. Do you suppose the young women who demonstrated so fervently for Hamas would actually want to live under their rule? 

A poll of Generation Z voters — which encompasses today’s college students — found that nearly half  believe Israel’s campaign against Hamas is unjust. One-third of Gen Z thinks Israel does not have the right to exist as a country. 

 “The Gospel is for every age, and for every person of every nationality — Jew or Gentile — who comes to saving faith in the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Nowhere was the insanity more evident than at Columbia University in New York City, where hundreds of students camped out on the campus, shutting down the college while occupying a campus building. They shouted obscene and despicable rants, such as: “We are Hamas … Hamas makes us proud, kill another [Jewish] soldier now … Burn Tel-Aviv to the ground.”

Clearly, antisemitism — the hatred of Jewish people — has infected much of American culture, and remains as poisonous and prevalent as ever on the global stage. I have no idea if there will ever again be anything on the scale of Auschwitz. I certainly hope not, but we must be ever vigilant. The Bible gives a straightforward answer for those who have so fervently despised the Jews through the centuries. 

Why does the world hate the Jewish people? I believe it is because God chose them out of all the nations on Earth as His special people in order to bring us a Savior. He didn’t choose the Scots or the Irish or any other people group. As a result, the devil and all his demons do everything they can to destroy the nation of Israel, to destroy the Jewish people.

“The Lord did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any other people, for you were the least of all peoples; but because the Lord loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers” (Deuteronomy 7:7-8).

Starting with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the Old Testament is the continuing story of God’s dealing with His chosen, covenant people. From Genesis to Malachi, the Bible tells us of Almighty God’s blessing, discipline, chastisement, and unbreakable promises for the often stubborn, sometimes repentant Jewish people. It is the story of their obedience and disobedience, of their kings and prophets, their prosperity and their disgrace. 

After thousands of years of Jewish history and 400 years of silence following the Prophet Malachi — the last book of the Old Testament — the New Testament is the story of the Gospel, the Good News of the sacrificial death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Jewish God-Man born to young Jewish parents in the Jewish town of Bethlehem, raised in the Jewish town of Nazareth, and crucified in the Jewish capital of Jerusalem. 

The Gospel is for every age, and for every person of every nationality — Jew or Gentile — who comes to saving faith in the Person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Ethnicity makes no difference. Faith in the sacrificial, substitutionary, atoning work of the cross and Jesus’ glorious resurrection from the tomb is the only thing that matters. Those who receive the Son of God into their hearts through faith are now the true Israel. “But you are a chosen people … Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God” (1 Peter 2:9-10, NIV).

Sadly, most of the Jewish leaders of Jesus’ day turned away from the Messiah. They, like every other unregenerate person, rejected the saving work of the Risen Savior, and refused to love “the Way, the Truth and the Life” in whom the world may be saved (John 14:6).

This is why we preach the Gospel to as many as we can and as often as we can, that spiritual blindness and deadness to God might be overcome through the preaching of the living Word of God and the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit. We want to see thousands upon thousands enter into the eternal Kingdom of God by His mercy and saving grace. Many have done so already this year through our 10-city Southern Border Tour, and through our global Festivals, and the outreaches my son Will holds around the world. I’m scheduled to preach the Gospel this month in the United Kingdom (Birmingham and Glasgow) and in Naples, Italy, in September. Please be in prayer. 

Let’s remember, however, that God still has a special place in His heart for His covenant people, and that He promises to bless those who bless Israel and curse those who curse Israel (Genesis 12:3). We know that He has promised to preserve a remnant of believing Jewish people, and that in the End Times many of His people will be gloriously saved, people representing all 12 Jewish tribes. In the meantime, let’s always be careful to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” (Psalm 122:6).  

Now more than ever. ©2024 BGEA


Unless otherwise specified, Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version. The Scripture quotation marked NIV is taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version. Decision magazine, June 2024; ©2024 Billy Graham Evangelistic Association; used by permission, all rights reserved.

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