Beginning at sunset on April 27th this year, Israel will hold memorial ceremonies throughout the country at schools, military bases, and places of business to recognize the heroes and martyrs of the Holocaust. Known as Yom HaShoah, this solemn national holiday has been recognized annually since the 1960s. Synagogues will hold services of worship that may include music, poetry, and Holocaust survivors or family members sharing their stories. Places of entertainment and almost every public business will be closed.
Each year the Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem (Yad Vashem) broadcasts live to the nation and lights six torches representing the six million Jews who died during WW2. About a million of those slain were children. At sundown on April 27th and again in the morning on April 28th, sirens will sound throughout the country for two minutes as everyone observes a moment of devotion. All activity will come to a complete stop: cars will pull over, people will stand in silence, and all work will pause.
As Christians, during these days of remembrance, ask yourself these questions: Does God love the Jewish people? Has God made a covenant with the children of Israel? Has He made promises to them, and has God committed Himself to save them? The answer to all these questions is overwhelmingly YES! Christians must recognize that God loves the Jewish people. He chose them, they are the apple of His eye, and He has eternal covenants with them that cannot be broken (Zechariah 2:8, 12; Jeremiah 31:35-37). The real issue is this: Does Christianity believe that God will still honor His Word and promises to the Jews? Not very much. You have to trust what God said. There are many things you believe to see happen that have not happened yet. How long does it take for God to finish what He started? “Can a land be born in one day?” (Isaiah 66:8). 1 That is part of faith. Do you have faith for Israel? Or do you say, “They have to be like us. They have to become Christian”? Well, they are not like us. They are already God’s people. The Scriptures tell us that we as Gentiles were in this world without God, without a connection. It took Christ to reconcile us to the Father and to graft us into the promises (Ephesians 2:11-16). The Jews, however, have had a covenant with God from the very beginning, going back to the days of Abraham.
God is watching how the nations have responded as He disciplines Israel. The nations have turned God’s correction of the Jewish people into something way beyond what He ever intended. But the day is coming when the nations will give an account. Have we loved the Jews and assisted them? Have we followed the admonition of the Scriptures, “O comfort My people. … Speak kindly to Jerusalem” (Isaiah 40:1-2)? Have we comforted them in the time of their testing, in the time of their discipline? Or have we gloated in it? Have we taken what God meant as discipline and turned it into a Holocaust or pogroms? Have we turned it into death and destruction when God was only trying to lovingly correct them?
God is so determined to bless the Jewish people that Ezekiel prophesied He will lift them out of their graves and set them in the land; God will put His Spirit in them and give them a new heart to serve Him (Ezekiel 37:13-14). As the Gentile Church we do not have such promises and prophecies, but Israel does. God will restore them and bring them back to the land. His covenant with Israel will remain intact for eternity. Open your heart to love the Jewish people and stand against anti-Semitism.
1 All Scripture references are from the New American Standard Bible 1995 (NASB1995).