Another holocaust? Perish the thought! How can we bear to think of another horror when the European holocaust massacred six million Jewish people, one third of all Jews living at the time. Of the six million, one million were children.
Difficult to Face
Only in the last several years have our Jewish people even ventured to talk about the holocaust. Hitler and his bloody henchmen succeeded in more than eliminating the mortal lives of six million Jews. He conjured a horror that is still keenly felt, even after more than 35 years. It is as indelible in the minds of survivors as the numbers tattooed on their arms.
Elie Weisel describes what happened when he was a lad of hardly fourteen (NIGHT, Avon, 1969). He has just arrived in the concentration camp with his sister and parents and almost immediately he had to say goodbye to his mother and sister. He stared longingly after themm as they felt, not realizing that he would never see them again. And then after a number of harrowing months in the camp, his father also died; Elie was orphaned at 14 years of age. Never,” Weisel has written, “will I forget the smoke.” The smoke and the ashes filtering down to earth from the chimneys of death were all the remained of the bodies of his family. And we dare to talk about another holocaust?
Attitude of the Western World
We ask a thousand times, yes infinitely more: Did not the free world know that Jewish people were suffering and dying because of the Nazi solution of the Jewish question?
Until the outbreak of World War II, the Western governments knew of the anti-Jewish policy and declared their horror at such and action. They judged it best, however, not to interfere too much with the internal affairs of a sovereign state. Western governments knew what was happening but any official action on the “Jewish question” was set aside and Jews were left to die.
Even if the world pleaded ignorance to what was happening to our people once the war broke out, by mid-1942, the horrifying rumors about the “final solution” had been verified. But by that time, the Allies had their own plans to push the war through to the final defeat of Germany.
Can Biblical morals ever declare that one is not his brother’s keeper? Do we stand aside and let the forces of evil wreak their worst before a work is ever said? Pastor Martin Niemoeller of Germany, upon reflecting on what was happening in German after the rise of Hitler, said,
First, the Nazis went after the Jews, but I wasn’t a Jew, so I didn’t react. Then they went after the Catholics, but I wasn’t a Catholic, so I didn’t object. Then they went after the worker, but I wasn’t a worker, so I didn’t stand up. Then they went after the Protestant clergy and by then it was too late for anybody to stand up.
Was there reason to hope?
While many Jewish people lost faith entirely and cried out to the heavens, “Where were You when six million of us died?” many Jewish people held to their ideals.
Perhaps the Jewish children tell the story best. One child in the Theresienstadt camp wrote a poem, “Birdsong,” included in the book, I Never Saw Another Butterfly (McGraw-Hill, 1964):
He doesn’t know the world at all
Who stays in his nest and doesn’t go out,
He doesn’t know what birds know best,
Now what I want to sing about,
That the world is full of loveliness.When dewdrops sparkle in the grass
And earth’s a flood with morning light
A blackbird sings upon a bush
To greet the dawning after night,
Then I know how fine it is to live.
How fine it is to live? The world is full of loveliness??? In a camp with no future to look forward to? Yet a child has captured the essence of what it is to hope.
“In the meantime, I must uphold my ideals, for perhaps the time will come when I shall be able to carry them out” echoed another young Jew, a teenager in a hide-away flat in Amsterdam. He name was Anne Frank. (Diary of Anne Frank, Doubleday, 1952.) She died in a concentration camp, this young girl, but her words transcended them immediate horror of death and proclaimed that there will be an answer the heavens for her people someday.
As difficult as it is to explain the horrors of the holocaust, and as painful as it is to listen to the stories of the survivors, we know that God did intervene in the senseless brutality. One outcome of the holocaust was the creation of the State of Israel. It was then that the United Nations, in witnessing the appalled reaction of the community of nations to the inhumanity perpetrated against the Jewish people, voted to provide the land of Israel which these very people could call their own.
And our people came, from the four quarters of the earth. Survivors and pioneers alike journeyed to the land of our forefathers.
After Israel’s declaration of independence in 1948, no longer would we be exiles form our spiritual homeland.
A Disquieting Future
How did the Israelis see their future in 1948 and what is their future as we see it today?
With all the pent-up energies of newly-freed people, 650,000 Israel welcomed their brethren from abroad. They tightened their belts and went with little so as to take in 684,000 fellow Jews during the years 1948 to 1951. It was a struggle to produce food, construct apartment buildings, build roads and do everything else necessary to sustain a nation in the modern world. But no one in Israel complained.
The struggle was also ominous. As soon as Israel declared her independence, surrounding Arab nations came down on her to driver her into the sea. Only God sustained Israel; many nations of the world expected her to fall. But by the summer of 1949, the Israelis had weathered the first attack.
Since that War of Independence, Israel has fought four more wars: in 1956 in Sinai; in 1967 on all fronts, north, east and southwest; in 1969-70 at the Suez Canal; and in 1973 primarily with Egypt and Syria when Israel was caught by surprise.
Apart form these wars, pressure has always been exerted on Israel to give up territory with little or no prospects for peace. While Israel and Egypt came to an understanding in 1979 in the Camp David Agreement, there has been no movement for change with the Palestine Liberation Organization and her supporting nations in the Middle East.
Under all of the pressure brought to bear on Israel, God has fought for His people as He did in the ancient world. Against the overwhelming odds in the war of 1948-49, and even through the heavy losses incurred in the first few hours of the Yom Kippur war of 1973, God protected her. Then again, when Israel was pressured on the diplomatic front, other incidents took place in the Middle East which took the focus off of Israel and gave her a chance to “breathe” and go on. There was the fight between Egypt and Libya, the Lebanese Civil War, and the Iraq-Iran War. One needs to see how the Lord can stir up nations to guard His people.
“So,” you might ask, “with Israel once more on her ancient soil and enjoying freedom she has not known for 2,500 years, how in the world can we talk about another holocaust? How would nations and leaders ever permit such a situation ever to occur again?”
We have to listen to what God has said in His Word and also to what Jewish traditional writings have to say. One Scripture passage declares with jolting clarity:
“Behold, I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that causes reeling to all the peoples around; and when the siege is against Jerusalem, it will also be against Judah. And it will come about in that day that I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all the peoples; all who lift it will be severely injured. And all the nations of the earth will be gathered against it.”
Note the plural, “nations.” And not just some of the nations, but “all” the nations of the earth will be gathered against it (Jerusalem). In no way can we say that this Scripture was already fulfilled. In the past, Jerusalem has been attacked by one nation at a time: Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome.
The message of future horror is repeated by the prophet later on: “the city (Jerusalem) will be captured” (Zechariah 14:2). Jerusalem will fall into the hands of invading troops!
Besides the killing and death among the nations in this period yet to come, what will be the carnage in the land of Israel itself?
God tells us through His servant Zechariah:
“And it will come about in all the land, declares the Lord, that two parts in it will be cut off and perish; but the third will be left in it. And I will bring the third part through the fire, refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested.” (Zechariah 13:8, 9a)
If we consider the current population of Israel of three million and should this prophecy be fulfilled today, it would mean that two million will die! The one million who are left will be dragged through the worst pressuring in the history of the Jewish people.
WHAT HORROR? WHAT DESTRUCTION? How can we even talk about it? It should make every human being weep. With the picture of the European holocaust in mind, how can we even begin to imagine another carnage?
Who are the nations who will come to the aid of Israel in days yet to come? Why won’t the nations lift a finger to help Israel?
Tragically, many peoples and nations will not take to heart the lessons of the last holocaust, and again the horror will happen.
Shlomo Goren, now one of the chief rabbis of Israel, said several years ago in the hearing of this writer, “We are now entering the long, dark tunnel that will lead to the kingdom someday. We already hear the footsteps of Messiah as we begin our dark experiences!”
How will Israel be spared total annihilation? The Prophet further declares:
“They will call on my name, and I will answer them; I will say, ‘They are my people,’ and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God'” (Zechariah 13:9b)
With no one else to turn to in this whole world, the only place the remnant of Israel can look is upward to God. It will not be a polite call; it will be a wild shriek by a remnant in the inferno of destruction.
God will answer quickly. He will go forth and fight against the nations which have come against Jerusalem (Zechariah 12:9). He will flatten the troops who have dared to lift their hands against Israel, and thereby against God Himself. It will be God’s method to rid the earth of ungodly peoples before there can be peace in His kingdom.
The Identity of the Deliverer
Who is he who will deliverer Israel? God, of course. But there is also an element of mystery which the prophet pictures:
“And I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for him, as one who mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over him, like the bitter weeping over the first-born.” (Zechariah 12:10)
Who is the one who can pour out the spirit of grace and supplication? No one but God! But who is the one who was pierced? And why does his appearance bring on intense mourning?
This one is Yeshua (Jesus); he who was pierced when he became the offering for sin so long ago. He said he was going to go away and return again at a time when he will be received. Isn’t it amazing that he will return at a time when Israel is in her greatest and last persecution, and at a time when Yeshua’s kinsmen call upon God for help in their gravest hour! The time is not far when these events will occur.
Jewish writings interpret this passage from the prophet Zechariah to mean that Messiah son of Joseph will suffer and die, while Messiah son of David will subsequently institute the kingdom of peace. But this concept was developed in the period of the Jewish Amoriam scholars (200-500 C.E.). The two Messiah idea was thought to be the answer to the proclamation by Jewish and Gentile followers of Yeshua that one Messiah both suffers, dies, and is resurrected to rule in his kingdom.
But the two-Messiah concept is a late development (at least 200-300 years after Yeshua). Furthermore, it is difficult to fit this position into the rest of the Jewish Scriptures as well as square it with the events of what happened at the end of the Second Temple period in Israel. Therefore, this writer views the concept of two Messiahs to be untenable.
Messiah’s Intervention Today
While the Messiah will return and deliver his people Israel, he does work today as well.
In the day of his return, he will bring international peace. But he stands ready now to bring personal peace, rest, and hope for anyone who will call upon him.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you; not as the world gives, do I give to you.(John 14:27)
Come to me, all those who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Matthew 11:28)
I am come that they might have life, and might have it abundantly. (John 10:10).
We cannot talk about a world of peace until every heart is peaceful, reconciled to and by the Prince of Peace. Sometimes, we try to put the cart before the horse and expect the animal to go somewhere. In the same way, people talk about changing the world so that hearts can be changed. No, the heart has to be changed first and only the Messiah Yeshua can do it.
In his death for us, he gives us a new life as well as a new heart. Then we can be prepared for what is to come on this earth. The prophet Isaiah had declared so long ago: “Turn to me, and be saved, all the ends of the earth; For I am God, and there is no other.” (Isaiah 45:22) These words are fulfilled in Yeshua. Through him, change is possible.
“I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will move from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. and I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.”(Ezekiel 36:26, 27)