On October 7, 2023, my mother-in-law called.

“Have you seen the news?” she asked urgently. “Terrorists have attacked Israel. Where are the kids? Are they at home with you? Can you keep them home from school this week?”

She knows antisemitism all too well. Her husband is a Jew who traces his lineage back to the tribe of Levi. His ancestors immigrated to America from Poland and Russia in the early 1900s. They maintained their heritage and ancient faith through centuries of opposition, faithfully attending synagogue, reading from the Torah, and celebrating holidays such as Passover. They broke bread and drank wine in remembrance of when God rescued their people out of slavery in Egypt.

Today, my father-in-law is a Christian. As we break the matzoh, we remember Jesus, whose body was broken for us. As we drink the wine, we remember his blood poured out for the salvation of many. This meal, while it reminds us of our Savior who freed us from slavery to sin, is also a promise of what is to come. For the generations who have suffered, this meal is a reminder of God’s redemption. It gives us hope.

Though he rarely talks about it, my father-in-law has told us stories about his childhood growing up in Miami. His family went to synagogue every Saturday, and he and his Jewish friends attended Hebrew school five days a week. His father owned a grocery store in the 1950s and ’60s, working sunup to sundown every day except the Sabbath. He supported his family in a community where Jewish, Black, and Hispanic people were often unwelcome.

“I remember going to the beach and seeing signs on the bathroom doors that read, ‘No dogs or Jews allowed,’” my father-in-law told me. “I remember seeing swastikas spray-painted on some sites around town. At my father’s grocery store, he would sometimes receive antisemitic remarks from his customers. His grocery store was broken into over 30 times.”

Finally, his father was robbed at gunpoint and his uncle shot and killed—the motive unknown.

I used to find it surreal that such hatred has thrived in the US so recently. As a woman of English and Danish descent born in the 1980s, antisemitism seemed almost alien to me. I imagined racists as uneducated yokels, few and far between, who occasionally made themselves a nuisance on social media.

I never dreamed that Ivy League professors and Western world leaders would soon justify terrorism and rape—from Columbia University professor Joseph Massad, who described the Hamas attack as “awesome” and a “stunning victory,” to Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib, who was slammed by Democrat and Republican lawmakers alike for making antisemitic comments online.

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“This attack on Israel will embolden them here,” said my worried mother-in-law over the phone. “The girls could become a target because of their last name.”

Though I found it hard to comprehend my mother-in-law’s warning, in the weeks and months following, I saw why she feared for them. Multiple Jewish synagogues, schools, and even private homes became targets of violence and vandalism. Protesters chanted, “From the river to the sea,” a phrase used by Hamas to promote the genocide of Jews and the eradication of Israel. Jewish people, including the elderly, were attacked in California and New York. University students have experienced antisemitism, harrassment, and assault. Vitriol online exploded.

As my heart breaks for the kidnapped and bereaved, and for the Palestinian children and civilians caught in the crossfire of this terrible war, I cannot ignore the burgeoning threat to my own family. It’s hard enough being a parent and worrying about internet safety, child predators, and playground bullies. Worrying about racism was something I’d never had to anticipate.

My daughters are all in elementary school. They’ve never been to synagogue, but we’ve taught them about Passover and Hanukkah. They love it when I prepare Jewish dinners and are fascinated by their grandfather’s Hebrew Bible. When their school hosted an international parade, they proudly waved the flag of Israel. The thought of someone harming them simply because of their heritage seems ludicrous.

But I’ve learned to never underestimate the insanity of evil. “The hearts of people, moreover, are full of evil,” writes the author of Ecclesiastes, “and there is madness in their hearts while they live, and afterward they join the dead” (9:3).

Thousands of years ago, God chose the Jews to be his people. Although it was a profound blessing and honor, they became an object of malice for other nations and ethnic groups and for the spiritual forces of evil.

“I will put enmity between you and the woman,” God warned the Serpent in Genesis 3:15, “and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” That promised offspring, that one who would vanquish Satan, is Jesus Christ, born a Jew.

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For centuries since Eden, Satan has tried to thwart God’s promise through bloody wars, persecution, and genocide. He vainly hoped to annihilate Eve’s offspring, to prevent the coming of the one who would crush him. When Moses was an infant in Egypt, Pharoah ordered the murder of every Jewish baby boy. Nevertheless, the line of Christ endured.

After Jewish slaves painted their doorposts with the blood of a lamb, God passed over Egypt, judging their enslavers yet sparing his people. Later God instructed them to celebrate Passover—the day God passed over them, preserving the lineage of their coming Messiah.

When Jesus was an infant in Jerusalem, Herod again ordered all the Jewish baby boys in Bethlehem to be slaughtered in a vain attempt to kill the King of the Jews. Thanks to Joseph, Jesus survived. Our Messiah endured. Eve’s promised offspring had dodged the striking Serpent, at least for a few decades.

Thirty years later, Jesus was nailed to a cross, and Satan likely thought he had finally won. He probably imagined, in his twisted and prideful mind, that he’d defeated God. The Branch of Jesse, the promised Savior, was tortured, murdered, and buried in a tomb. But Jesus rose from the dead three days later, dealing a devastating blow to the Devil.

It was through the nation of Israel that salvation came into the world. It was Jewish hands that wrote down the bulk of the Word of God. It was to a Jewish girl that the Son of God was born. Today, the offer of salvation extends beyond Israel to the whole world.

Many will point to the political and cultural roots of this current war, and those roots do run deep. But the deepest root is a hatred birthed when God cursed the Serpent.

The dark underbelly of antisemitism, historic bloodbaths like the Holocaust, and vitriolic hatred of Jewish people border on nonsensical unless you understand them as demonic at the core. However grim the conflict may become in our world, this is first and foremost a spiritual war. Our enemies are native to the heavenly realms, and their cause is far older than the Gaza Strip (Eph. 6:12).

This world may not always welcome my children or others who are different. But the gospel reminds us to hope in what is unseen and eternal, not in what is seen and temporary (2 Cor. 4:18).

As my family gathers around the table to celebrate Passover, I think of all the Israeli families who are missing their loved ones. Never again will they drink the wine or break the bread together. Never again will they sit as a whole family around a table. Never again will they hold hands in prayer together.

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But there is a promise of another Passover, the final Passover, where Christ will again break bread and drink wine with his disciples. One day, Jesus will return to pass over the whole earth. Every eye will see him, even of those who pierced him. His enemies will be judged, and his people will be freed from slavery to sin and the tyranny of death. All those with the blood of the Lamb on the doorposts of their hearts will be spared.

To us, Passover, which we now celebrate in the form of the Lord’s Supper, is more than a commemoration. When Jesus celebrated Passover with his disciples, he said, “Do this in remembrance of me” (Luke 22:19). And yes, we do remember Jesus’ body and his blood. But we also remember a promise. This is an anticipation. This is a waiting and a longing. This is a sign of the covenant that one day God will pass over the whole world, free us from oppression, and bring us into the Promised Land.

No longer will we wander in a spiritual wasteland. No longer will the enemies of God frighten, threaten, or harm us. No longer will evil seem to have the upper hand. Eve’s promised offspring, the King of the Jews and the Light of the World, will fill our universe with the splendor of his glory as we join him for the marriage supper of the Lamb.

Jennifer Greenberg is the author of Defiant Joy: Find the Hope to Light Your Way, Even in Darkness and Not Forsaken: A Story of Life After Abuse: How Faith Brought One Woman From Victim to Survivor. Speaking Out is Christianity Today’s guest opinion column.

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