Another Holocaust? A new twist on the old, twisted final solution? We have barely been able to accept the enormity of the destruction of much of European Jewry. One third of all Jews living before mid-century are gone—one million of them children.
Now we live in a world where far more destructive and deadly weapons are available to modern day Hitlers and Jew-haters like diabolical Saddam Hussein. How can we bear to think of another horror after the Holocaust has already tortured and put six million Jewish people to death?
Painful Memories Difficult to Face
In the last two decades our Jewish people have ventured to talk about the Holocaust. Hitler succeeded in leaving a legacy of horror that is as indelible in the minds of survivors as the numbers tattooed on their arms.
Elie Wiesel, a modern-day Jeremiah on the subject, tells of how he arrived at the concentration camp and almost immediately had to say good-bye to his mother and sister. He stood with his father and stared longingly after them. After a number of harrowing months in the camp, his father also died and Elie was orphaned at 14 years of age. "Never," Wiesel has written, "will I forget the smoke." The smoke and the ashes filtering down to earth from the chimneys of death were all that remained of the bodies of his family. And now we must speak about another Holocaust.
Attitude of the Western World Did not the free world know that Jewish people were suffering and dying because of the Nazi solution to the Jewish question?
Until the outbreak of World War II the Western governments knew of the anti-Jewish policy, but did nothing more than voice their diplomatic protests. Sadly and to their shame, they judged it best 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 had pleaded ignorance to what was happening to our people, by mid-1942 the horrifying rumors about the "final solution" had been verified. However, by then the Allies had their own plans to push the war through to the final defeat of Germany—the liberation of the Jewish camps had no military priority.
Do biblical morals ever declare that one is not his brother’s keeper? Can we stand aside and let the forces of evil wreak their worst before a word is ever said, before an action is taken? Pastor Martin Niemoeller of Germany, upon reflecting on what was happening in Germany 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?
Many Jewish people lost faith entirely and rejected God with the indictment, "Where were You when six million of us died?" Yet many other Jewish people held to some vestige of their faith.
Perhaps the Jewish children tell the story the best. One of the Theresiendstadt camp children wrote of God in the poem, Birdsong:
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,
Nor what I want to sing about,
That the world is full of loveliness.
When dewdrops sparkle in the grass
And earth’s aflood 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 means to hope.
As difficult as it is to explain the evil that these men did to Jews, and as painful as it is to listen to the stories of the survivors, we know that God did intervene in the senseless brutality. We did survive. The modern state of Israel came into existence—and suffering was the gestation and birth pangs. Most in the community of nations were appalled with the inhumanity perpetrated against the Jewish people, and therefore voted through the United Nations to recognize the land of Israel as the Jewish homeland.
And our people came as on a pilgrimage from the four corners of the earth. Survivors and pioneers alike journeyed to the land of their ancestors. Israel’s Declaration of Independence in 1948 marked the end of our exile.
A Disquieting Future
How did Israelis see their future in 1948 and what does it look like today?
With all the pent-up energies of newly-freed people 600,000 Israelis welcomed their mishpochah 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 drive 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.
By 1973, Israel had fought four more wars: in 1956 at Sinai; in 1967 on all fronts, north, east and southwest; in 1969-70 at the Suez Canal (The War of Attrition); and in 1973 primarily with Egypt and Syria (The October War or Yom Kippur War).
Apart from these wars, pressure has always been exerted on Israel to give up territory for no reason to those who rejected any peace treaty. While Israel and Egypt came to an understanding in 1979 in the Camp David agreement, there was no movement for change within the Palestine Liberation Organization and her supporting nations in the Middle East.
On the contrary there were the constant attacks on Israel’s northern border by the PLO from within Lebanon, and terrorist acts like the brutal shooting of the Israeli ambassador to the United Kingdom. By the summer of 1982 the Israelis had enough. In July, they launched their attack on the PLO in southern Lebanon and went on to Beirut to oust Yasir Arafat.
Instead of receiving gratitude for their help in expelling the PLO, the Israelis were in turn set upon by a coalition of Lebanese and Syrians who bitterly wanted them out of Lebanon! A once quiet neighbor had changed in character to become a hostile northern frontier state.
Attack on Jews
Arafat and other terrorists, like Abu Nidal and Abul Abbas, stepped up their attacks against Jews and the Jewish State as a means for creating a platform for their cause. The PLO fought hard to assert its claim to represent the Palestinian people and their claim to the Land.
In October 1985 a splinter group under Abul Abbas commandeered the luxury liner Achille Lauro. Leon Klinghoffer, a wheelchair-bound New York Jew was murdered as a political expression of Palestinian outrage and impatience.
Two days after Christmas, in December 1985, coordinated attacks at the airports in Rome and Vienna left nineteen people dead. Terrorist leader Abu Nidal proudly claimed responsibility for directing the action against Jewish travelers and the Israeli State.
In 1986 Nabih Berri, Shiite Amal leader, offered to broker a trade. In all sincerity he negotiated to offer one Israeli pilot taken hostage in Lebanon in 1982 for 400 Palestinian terrorists and infiltrators held in Israeli prisons.
Innocent Israeli citizens, sunbathers on beaches and tourists in their cars were made subject to sporadic terrorist attacks. Israelis were enragedd by the atrocities coming from without. Meanwhile, Palestinians on the West Bank and Gaza were expressing frustration at living in a culture that was increasingly not their own. The region of Judea and Samaria, the Israeli designation for the West Bank, was being opened up to new settlements. Palestinian Arabs, sensing that they were losing their identity, reacted.
In December 1987 the Palestinian people living in Gaza and the West Bank began an action that has been dubbed the intifada ("uprising"). Seemingly spontaneous outbursts of rock-throwing, and civil disobedience have given way to organized acts of violence. They have developed as an expression of a Palestinian nationalism movement within the territories.
In the hope of breaking a political deadlock the U.S. has encouraged talks. At a special session of the UN General Assembly meeting in Geneva in December 1988, Yassir Arafat grudgingly offered to recognize the existence of the State of Israel and to renounce terrorism. He offered to do so in exchange for promises that a U.S. sponsored dialogue on the Palestinian question could begin. However, on a human level, the atrocities of the past, and those that continue today end up only in burying the hope for future discussions on "the situation."
Under all 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 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 Iran-Iraq War. One needs to see how the Lord can stir up nations to guard his people.
Specific Prophecies One might think that with Israel once more on her ancient soil, and having an amazingly efficient military that far exceeds her size, her future is secure. Yet the events of recent weeks and months throughout the Persian Gulf region can give one cause for concern. Certainly, the nations of the world would not permit another Holocaust…would they?
We have to listen to what God has said in his Word and also to what Jewish traditional writings have to say. The Scripture 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." (Zechariah 12:2-3)
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).
The prophet goes on to describe the details of the coming destruction:
"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)
Should this prophecy be fulfilled today, considering the current Jewish population of Israel of nearly 3,800,000, it would mean that over 2.5 million Jews will die! The 1.25 million who are left would 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 ovens of Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen still warm in the minds of Holocaust survivors, how can we even begin to imagine another carnage?
While the United States has aided Israel in its defense until now, what will the future hold? We would hope that the United States will not abandon Israel.
Yet when we consider end-time prophecy, we know that not one nation will come to her aid. The world will not take to heart the lessons of Nazi Germany. Evil such as the world has never known will triumph for a season.
Shlomo Goren, a former senior intelligence officer who is the Coordinator of Government Operations in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza district once said 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.’"
With all human options exhausted, the only direction those who remain of Israel will be able to look is up…to God. And when they do call upon the Lord, it will not be in a faint whisper—their voices will wail with urgency from the inferno of what seems certain 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 his chosen people, and against God himself. With the destruction of the ungodly, the road to peace will be opened.
The Identity of the Deliverer
Who will deliver Israel? God, of course. But there is also an element of mystery in the prophecy:
"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 a first-born." (Zechariah 12:10)
Who has the power to pour out the spirit of grace and supplication? No one but God! But who then is the one who was pierced? Why does his appearance bring such intense mourning?
The pierced one is Yeshua (Jesus); he became the offering for sin on a tree in Jerusalem so long ago. He explained to his Jewish followers that he was going away but would return again at a time when he would be received. Isn’t it amazing that he will come back at a time when Israel is in her greatest and last persecution, and at a time when the people of Israel will call upon God for help in their gravest hour!
Could the events of today lead to what the prophets have declared? Could it happen in our lifetime?