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A Dark Moment in History We Must Bring to Light

My message of last month in Israel365 on the subject of the “Lost Jews of the Inquisition” hit a nerve with many who read it and contacted me.

This is an excerpt from a message sent by an international friend:

“Laurie, I visited the ‘Jerusalem of Spain’ a few years back—a town called Toledo. The city was once predominately Jewish with dozens of temples and buildings and a bustling of Jewish life. Today those temples have been turned into churches. I asked a nun that was the spokesperson for one such ‘ex temple’ to tell me what happened to the Jews? She told me that they left or converted (failing to mention the massacres of those that refused to convert.) I asked, “how can you truly force people to convert if it’s by force and not their true belief?’ She smiled and told me that at first these Jews were pretending but generations later they no longer know who they are. She seemed so proud and happy about that. The entire time I walked around the town looking at people who may very well have been my family members—people completely oblivious of their true identity and of the trauma that their Jewish family must have endured at the very hands of the system they now believe to be their own. We need to gather all the souls back and let them know who they are. We need to right the wrongs of history.”

Just a few days earlier, while watching the global news coverage of the Pope’s outdoor “Youth Day” Mass celebration on August 6th in Lisbon, Portugal, I personally couldn’t help but wonder at seeing the massive crowd of an estimated 1.5 million in front of him: “How many of these people are unknowingly part of a rich Jewish family lineage they’ve been robbed of?” As is the ages-old history of God’s Chosen People, so much Jewish tragedy has been covered by the sands of time and the veil of secrecy in the name of “religion.” European history tells us that tens of thousands of Jews were forcibly expelled from Portugal in December of 1496 when Portugal’s King John III decreed that all Jews must leave the country. The King wished to completely and forever eradicate Judaism from Portugal by issuing two conflicting decrees. The initial edict of expulsion of 1496 later became an edict of forced conversion. In 1497, Portuguese Jews were prevented from leaving the country and were forcibly baptized and converted to Christianity. However, the major target of the Portuguese Inquisition were those who had converted from Judaism to Catholicism, the Conversos (also known as New Christians or Marranos), who were suspected of secretly practicing Judaism. Many of these were originally Spanish Jews, who had left Spain for Portugal when Spain forced Jews to convert to Christianity or leave. The number of victims is estimated at around 40,000.

Yet, here in the 21st century, very little interest is expressed in Christianity about this dark period of Church history. For Christians to understand this history, we must step back in time to understand why the Catholic Church and the King and Queen of Spain and eventually Portugal, would target Jews for annihilation.

For me, being a Bible-believer and historian, I must ask the question, “Why is there very little documented by the Church on why the Inquisition was initiated and the biblical grounds upon which it was substantiated?”

One of the prophets whom I have spent many years studying is Obadiah. Obadiah wrote about an end-time prophecy that would see its fulfillment in the last days, when God would pour out His wrath on the descendants of Edom because they stood by, while their brother Jacob/Israel, was held in captivity and did nothing. When I read about the Inquisition, the Holocaust and the pogroms, my thoughts immediately turn to the Christian church, for it was during this period of time that the prophet wrote about.

I am currently writing a book about this obscure prophet and the identity of Edom in the last days to better understand who these people are whom God will judge because Edom stood by and refused to come to the aid of their brethren.

In his book, The Origins of The Inquisition in Fifteenth Century Spain by a leading scholar on this subject, the late Benzion Netanyahu, the father of the current Israeli Prime Minister, wrote:

“The reason there has been very little written about this period of history by scholars, (and I will add theologians), was that they believed they had all the necessary facts to determine the primary cause of the Inquisition. That cause, they were sure, was the presence of a heresy, steadily spreading and highly contagious, which threatened the future of Christianity in Spain. The Inquisition was created to crush that heresy and, if possible, to destroy it root and branch.”

It is this part of history which I find very troubling and disturbing, especially since I was raised in the Catholic faith. The heretical term used then and now is “Judaizing”. The Catholic Church used this derogatory term against Conversos, Marranos and New Christians. The Church believed that these newly converted Christians were secretly practicing their Judaism behind closed doors and that they needed to be eliminated.

In my own personal journey as President of Proclaiming Justice to The Nations, I too, have been accused of Judaizing Christians as well. What they accuse me of is actually teaching about our biblical responsibility to stand with our Jewish brethren and Israel against the rise of global antisemitism in order to prevent a future inquisition, or Holocaust by the Church.

This is the “jealousy of Ephraim”, mentioned by Isaiah in Isaiah 11: 13; “The jealousy of Ephraim shall stop and the oppressors of Judah shall be cut off; Ephraim will not be jealous of Judah and Judah will not harass Ephraim.” Throughout Christian history, Christianity has felt threatened by the Torah. It is this “jealousy of Ephraim” which has perpetrated this hatred for two thousand years.

As we embark on this journey of biblical truth and one of the Church’s darkest hours in history, it is time for the Church to confront this age-old hatred once and for all, lest we be judged as the descendants of Edom will be.

Blessings as we stand together in praying for the peace of Jerusalem!

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