As the dust settles on the Holocaust Forum in Jerusalem attended by kings, princes and presidents, I find myself musing on the many contradictions and puzzles it exposed.
There was the insensitivity of France’s Emmanuel Macron and others in choosing the occasion to meet Holocaust denier Mahmoud Abbas who is nevertheless committed to inflicting another judging by his oft-stated aim of driving the Jews into the sea.
The last person who tried that – Egypt’s Pharaoh 3,500 years ago – saw his own army drown as they chased the Israelites across the waters.
Closer to home, I continue to be deeply distressed by the indifference to Jewish suffering and hopes among most of Britain’s Christians, with the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz receiving compassionate and widespread coverage in the secular media, but a deafening silence from the church at large.
A new holocaust
Meanwhile a similar holocaust, on an even bigger scale, has been ravaging the earth of late in the form of liberal abortion laws which the much-maligned President Trump is trying to address despite being written offfor his ‘immoral’ record by America’s Christianity Today magazine. Mr Trump has become the first White House occupant to address the annual March for Life, which has been campaigning against abortion for the past 40 years.
With an estimated 46 million unborn children murdered in the United States since 1970, how odd that an ‘immoral’ president should be leading the fight against it. But, just as they did in Germany during the 1930s, culturally compromised Christians once more turn a blind eye to a great evil in order to be seen as comfortably swimming with the tide of political correctness.
Of course this is not to suggest that the Shoah was in any way less evil than the more recent slaughter of the innocents. It was in fact a vicious attack by the devil himself, as the Apostle John’s apocalyptic vision seems to have foretold:
“[The dragon’s] tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that it might devour her child the moment he was born.”(Rev 12.4)
When the world woke up to the shocking truth of the Holocaust 75 years ago, they were to discover that six million souls – a third of the global Jewish population – had been extinguished by the Satanic Nazi regime.
Being Jewish is still dangerous
So is making a stand on their behalf, as I found out when I was on the brink of publishing my first book on Israel. Coming under personal attack at work, I sought a lunchtime refuge in nearby Selby Abbey where, following prayer, I noticed the large pulpit Bible was open at the very passage quote above – about Satan ready to devour the new-born. I subsequently crashed my car on the way home – but miraculously survived unscathed.
The passage no doubt relates to the re-birth of Israel in their own land as well as to the birth of the Messiah, both of which Satan tried to prevent at the outset. Jesus, of course, suffered his personal Shoah on the cross, and I believe he was also among his people in the concentration camps.
Jesus in the Holocaust
I have discovered since last week that there were likely to have been as many as 229,000 Jewish disciples of Jesus by 1939, most of whom would have been martyred by the Nazis and would surely have comforted their people (Isa 40.1) with the message and presence of their Saviour.
My colleague Edith Sher, who works among the Jewish people of South Africa, writes of a Hebrew crossword puzzle which revealed an astonishing truth. Reporting from Cape Town, she wrote:
“As you know, Yad Vashem is the name of the Holocaust Museum in Israel, Hebrew is usually written without vowels and the letter vav, which means and, can be pronounced as the vowel sounds oo or aw depending on the position of a dot on the letter.
“With this in mind, an Israeli friend of mine was doing a Hebrew crossword puzzle. As is the way with crossword puzzles, the answer can sometimes consist of more than one word but written without spaces in between the blocks.
“The answer to a certain clue given in the puzzle was Yad vaShem. My friend gave a gasp. Without spaces between the words and without vowel pointings, she realised it could also be read as Yado Sham – which means His hand was there.
“Perhaps it’s a coincidence, but I don’t think so. It brought tears to my eyes.”
In days to come, Jesus will reveal himself to his brothers in the flesh, just as the patriarch Joseph did with those who had sold him into slavery when famine drove them to Egypt. I believe a famine of hearing the word of the Lord will drive them into his loving arms in these last days when they will seek the truth and find it because they do so with all their hearts.
Isaiah was told at the outset of his ministry that he would be a failure as a preacher – the people would be ever hearing, but never understanding (Isa 6.9f). But there would come a time when the word that has been sown will bud and flourish, and accomplish the purpose for which it was sent (Isa 55). The hungry and thirsty will be satisfied, and will go out in joy, and be led forth in peace (see also Zech 12.10, 14.4, Rom 11.26 & Rev 1.7).
True, there is also now a famine of hearing the word among the Gentiles; our dull ears need healing to better understand God’s purpose both for us and for Israel. Famine, pestilence, violence and death are stalking the earth. Everywhere we look are signs that Jesus’ return is imminent. Are we ready for him?
He is returning to Jerusalem – not London, New York, Paris or Tokyo – to reveal himself first to his brothers in the flesh. How are we treating them?
Charles Gardner is author of Israel the Chosen, available from Amazon; Peace in Jerusalem, available from olivepresspublisher.com; and A Nation Reborn, available from Christian Publications International