Seventy-seven years after _kristallnacht _– the night of officially sanctioned vandalism of Jewish businesses in Germany – the unprovoked persecution of God’s ancient people continues.
Anti-Semitic attacks are occurring all over Europe, but even in Israel, the supposed safe haven which rose from the ashes of the Holocaust that followed November 9, 1938 (also known as Reichsprogromnacht), individual Jews and their families innocently going about their daily lives are being mercilessly stabbed and shot at close range by terrorists justifying their cruelty on the basis of fighting a ‘holy war’.
I was reminded of historic events in Europe last month as I shared time in prayer and conversation with a German nun, Sister Thekla, who has previously spoken of her shame at the suffering caused by her nation through the Holocaust and warns that today’s church is in danger of repeating history.
“In the not-too-distant future we Christians will all be challenged about our relationship to Israel,” she told a conference last year. “Will we once more be silenced? Israel is once again hated by the nations, which is a picture of our Lord Jesus, who was despised and rejected of men. We are called to pray for Israel. They need love, born out of repentance, the only kind that will open their hearts. We have often not presented the true image of Jesus to them.
“It grieves me what my nation has done, especially to the Jewish people. We had touched the apple of God’s eye and saw God’s judgment poured out on our nation as a result,” she said, referring to the repeated bombing of Darmstadt which prompted Basilea Schlink, a local resident, to found the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary, dedicated to reconciliation with the Jewish people. One 1944 attack on Darmstadt killed 10 per cent of its inhabitants and made 60 per cent of its population homeless.
Mother Schlink and a group of fellow Christians wept as they came under deep conviction of the terrible sin committed by Germany and subsequently went to Israel to volunteer their services as nurses while seeking forgiveness for the persecution of their people dating back to the time of the Crusades.
“It is a painful memory, but I confess these crimes,” Sister Thekla told the York conference. “If the German community had stood up as one man, the Nazis would not have been at such liberty to pursue their schemes. Where was the Christian church?”
I also renewed acquaintance in London last month with Sister Glory, a British member of the order with a Methodist background, who has said that Britain had blood on their hands concerning Israel. A massacre of Jews took place in York in 1190 and Jews were expelled from Britain a century later before being welcomed back at the time of Oliver Cromwell through the influence of the Pilgrim Fathers, a radical Christian group who were themselves hounded out of the country before emerging as the founding fathers of the United States.
I have previously mentioned how evangelical (Bible-based) Christians like the Pilgrim Fathers and their spiritual successors have been consistent friends of Israel, playing a pivotal role in the return of God’s chosen people to the Holy Land.
But following Britain’s Balfour Declaration of 1917 promising support for a Jewish national home, the government reneged on its pledge during the time of the British Mandate by dividing the land and acting treacherously to appease the Arabs while forcing the Jews to disarm. And many trying to escape the Holocaust were turned back.
“We betrayed the greatest trust ever given to a nation,” Sister Glory said.
In experiencing the fulfillment of Genesis 12.3 (that those who bless the seed of Abraham will themselves be blessed while those who curse her will come under judgment), Britain has suffered the loss of her empire along with increasing decadence in the nation itself.
As former British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli said: “The Lord deals with the nations as the nations deal with the Jews.”
In an address on this subject given in Berlin in 2006, the order’s Sister Joela said that, from his birth to his death, Jesus was inseparably linked with his people, the Jews. “We have been happy to take his mercies and blessings for ourselves, and have left the judgments and curses for his people,” she said.
The New Covenant in Jesus’ blood was originally made with Jews, not with Gentiles (Jeremiah 31.31), she pointed out, adding that many had been blinded to important issues by selective interpretation of the Bible. There was little acknowledgement or recognition, for example, of chapters 9 to 11 of Paul’s letter to the Romans, which deals with God’s wonderful long-term plan for the Jewish people.
And now, not just one nation, but a number of Israel’s neighbours, have unequivocally declared their intent to pursue a ‘final solution’. “And this time no-one can claim not to have known anything about it.”
Sister Joela is convinced that, even after all these years, God is still waiting for the repentance of many Christians in Germany.
In a speech to the German parliament on January 27 2006, holocaust survivor Professor Ernst Cramer summed up the horrors he witnessed with the statement: “The thing that shocked me most at the time was the almost total silence of the Christian churches.”
Various initiatives have in recent years uncovered further details concerning the active involvement of many sections of the established Protestant Church in Germany (Landeskirche) with a ‘De-Judaization Institute’ in Eisenach. They published a People’s New Testament, hymn book and catechism from which every trace of the Jewish roots of Christianity had been eliminated.
Echoing the question of the Wise Men following the star to Bethlehem, Sister Joela asked: “Where is the King of the Jews?” And, very prophetically in light of current events, she answered: “With his people! With his people in the thick of war, terrorism and disaster; in the midst of sin and injustice; at the focal point of world interest; at the centre of the hatred; in the midst of slander and contempt – that is where we will find him.
“The worldwide hatred towards God will be increasingly vented on those who have a living relationship with the God of the Bible and want to remain faithful to him. Therefore, in the final stages of world history, Jews and Christians will come under fire together. So let us give Jesus, our Lord and King, the answer born of our love for him, and join together in making the commitment: ‘Your people will be my people.’ (Ruth 1:16)”
The quotes from Sister Joela have been taken from the booklet Where is the King of the Jews? published in Darmstadt, Germany, by the Evangelical Sisterhood of Mary. See www.kanaan.org