Though Jews and others cry and complain, “Where was God in the Holocaust?” I believe God foreknew and suffered in the Shoah with His people. With the weight of a cross-beam on his lacerated shoulders, Yeshua foreknew and suffered with the children of the daughters of Jerusalem. Since now we know, what should we do?
First of all, I believe God foreknew all—all as a consequence of giving Israel freedom to obey, or rebel. In Deuteronomy 28, He spelled our blessings for keeping covenant and curses for flagrant disobedience. 15, “But if you do not obey the LORD your God by following all His commands and statutes I am giving you today, all these curses will come and overtake you: You will be cursed in the city and cursed in the country….” Why do these curses come and overtake the children of Israel? Did Israel heed the warning? (See the prophets such as Hosea or Amos, or Psalms 78 and 106 for frank confessions and consequences.)
18 “Your descendants will be cursed… 25-26 You will be an object of horror to all the kingdoms of the earth. Your corpses will be food for all the birds of the sky…” Has this prophetic warning to the descendants of Israel been fulfilled? (Again, see the prophets or Psalm 74 and 137.) Can we agree God foreknew the horrors of the Shoah?
But God isn’t finished. The curse warnings go on and on…. 45 “All these curses will come, pursue, and overtake you until you are destroyed, since you did not obey the LORD your God….” Should the children of Israel be surprised when these things happen? Should they blame God?
63, “You will be deported from the land you are entering to possess…” 65-67 You will find no peace among those nations, and there will be no resting place for the sole of your foot. There the LORD will give you a trembling heart, failing eyes, and a spirit of despair. Your life will hang in doubt before you. You will be in dread night and day, never certain of survival. In the morning you shall say, ‘Would that it were evening!’ And at evening you shall say, ‘Would that it were morning!’ because of the dread of your heart which you dread, and for the sight of your eyes which you will see…”
The warning of deportation happens towards the end of the curse litany. The implication is that it only comes after Israel refuses to learn from all the consequences of disobedience they experienced while still in the land. Yet the consequences continue to roll out like the scroll on which they were written. Why was being deported from the land especially dreadful? Exile meant that Israel would lose the protection God promised them while they were living faithfully in the land.
How did exile expose Israel to the worst consequences of the curse of disobedience? Once Jews were in exile, they were at the mercy of the nations and the lies HaSatan spread among the nations about them. It was to restore the protection of the land that the early Zionist began to return, as God helped them to restore the land, as prophesied in Ezekiel 36.
In Deuteronomy 30:19-20, God makes it clear that He has given His people a choice: “This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.” It’s spelled it out so clearly, you’d think Israel would have chosen life. Yet somehow, people choose rebellion over obedience, and HaSatan is all too willing to make what is bitter seem sweet.
Yes, God does foreknow the consequences of rebellion—He even told us in advance. He told Adam and Eve—“if you eat of it, you will surely die.” Yet they just couldn’t resist…. He told Pharaoh and about the plagues that we coming… yet he kept hardening his heart.
He told Israel—if you disobey, “you will be a horror to all the nations of the earth.” And He knew they would rebel anyway… and he told them so in Deuteronomy, again and again….
Again and again, the prophets warned Israel as well as the nations of the consequences of rebellion. Isaiah 22:5 says:
For my Lord Adonai–Tzva’ot has a day
of panic, trampling and confusion
—in the Valley of Vision—
of tearing down a wall,
a catastrophe on the mountain.
The Hebrew word for “catastrophe” in this verse is shoah. What was the prophet seeing “in the Valley of Vision”? The tearing down of a wall around Jerusalem. For once the wall was torn down, there was no protection; everyone in they city was vulnerable.
What was the catastrophe on the mountain? The destruction of the Temple on Mount Zion. For once the Temple was destroyed, to where could the people turn with their cries for help? For the prophet, the Shoah was the destruction of Jerusalem—tearing down a wall, the catastrophe.
What the prophet saw in His dreadful vision, the Chronicler recorded: 2 Chronicles 36:17, “Therefore He brought up against them the king of the Chaldeans who slew their young men with the sword in the house of their sanctuary, and had no compassion on young man or virgin, old man or infirm; He gave them all into his hand.” So came the Shoah of 586 BCE.
Yet Yeshua foretold something even worse. Luke 19:43–44, “For the days will come upon you when your enemies will throw up a barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”
Like Isaiah and other prophets before Him, Yeshua saw the Shoah as an open vision. It was horrible. Hundreds of thousands, perhaps a million Jews died in the Roman invasion and devastation of Israel. Ten of thousands more were carried away in abject slavery, many mauled in the Roman Coliseum. Once the children of Israel were deported from the land, there was no protection. They would have no peace from the nations, who kept coming to steal from them, to destroy them. Once they was no Temple, to where should the children of Israel cry for help?
In Luke 23:27-28 when beyond foreknowing the terrible sufferings of His people. Now a great multitude of people was following Him, including women who were mourning and singing dirges for Him. But Yeshua, turning to them, said, “Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for Me, but for yourselves and your children.”
Yeshua has been condemned to die the most horrible, painful, shameful death on a Roman cross. Blood from a scourge of iron balls and sheep bones coagulated on his back. He was flogged to a point where he stumbled and fell under the weight of the crossbeam on his back, and a bystander named Shimon of Cyrene was dragged out of the crowd to help him carry it. Yet even as He trudged on to his public humiliation and crucifixion, and the women wept for Him,He foreknew that for the daughters of Jerusalem something dreadful was coming. They would see thousands of their sons hung up on crosses all around the besieged city. They would see their daughters and infants starving to death, or becoming meals within the city. They would see the whole city, and then the Temple itself, burned down; and in order to retrieve the gold that had decorated it, every stone would be overturned and thrown down. Anything valuable left would be taken as booty to Rome.
Even in the midst of His agony, Yeshua fully identified with the coming agony of His people. The Shoah of Jerusalem set up the catastrophes of century after century.
In the Revelation to John, he foretells the horrors of the Great Tribulation and the Wrath to come. In those days, many will heed the warning and be saved. Yet many will harden their hearts. Yet God also foreknew that the Lamb “would be slain from the foundation of the world” (Rev. 13:8).
Marc Chagall, a great Jewish artist of the 20th century, painted “The White Crucifixion” immediately in November of 1938, in response to Kristallnacht, the “Night of Broken Glass,” an anti-Jewish pogrom of official decree by Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels. All over Germany and Austria Jewish homes, businesses and synagogues were destroyed,and thousands of Jews were carted off to concentration camps. What do you see in this painting? Take a moment to look….
On the left, Nazis are rushing upon a Jewish town and overturning it. On the upper right, a synagogue goes up in flames. On the lower right is a wandering Jew or possibly Elijah and on the lower left, a Jewish man escapes protecting a Torah scroll while another Jew wears a sign that says “Ich bin Jude (I am a Jew”). And in the middle is Yeshua on the tree. What is Yeshua wearing as a loincloth? Why? Clearly Chagall saw a co-identification of Yeshua in his suffering with his people in their suffering. Yeshua-believers say that Isaiah 53 refers to the Messiah (Yeshua), while traditional Jews often say it refers to Israel. Grammatically, the reference is clearly to an individual (Isaiah 53:6, “the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.”) Nevertheless,why not both? Yeshua identified with Israel in His suffering. Israel’s sufferings–even the Shoah–have redemptive meaning and fulfillment in identification with the Messiah. Above the cross, Jewish saints are mourning and interceding…. for Yeshua or for their people?
Chagall created “The Yellow Crucifixion” in 1943. This time, the “Final Solution” was under way. What do you see? What is Yeshua wearing on his head and on his arm? Why?
How many of you believe God suffered with His people in the Shoah? Many Orthodox Jews, as they were herded into camps and poisonous showers, chanted “Ani Ma-Min”: “I believe, I believe with a perfect faith I believe In the coming of the Messiah. Though He linger, yet I do believe, even though He linger I believe.” How many of you believe the Messiah heard their prayer of faith? Who better than Yeshua, who had already suffered and died for them?
Rick Wienecke’s “Fountain of Tears,” which our tour saw in Arad, Israel, powerfully shows the co-identification of Yeshua with the Shoah. Since Yeshua foreknew and suffered with His people, what should we, as His followers do today?
Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Messiah and it is no longer I who live, but Messiah lives in me.” Could one way to be crucified with Messiah be to identify with the suffering children of Israel?
One possibility is stand together with Jewish people in our own cities. Come to a Yom HaShoah observance at the Jewish Community Center in Allentown tomorrow at 7pm. Frieda Garcia will tell the story of her father, Col. Jose Arturo Castellanos, who helped save tens of thousands of Jews from Nazi persecution by providing them with papers of Salvadoran nationality. If you live closer to another city, check out the Yom HaShoah observance that is closer to you.
One of our favorite Messianic musicians, Ted Pearce, has shared with us how his life was changed When he visited a church in Tubingen, Germany, which had been a hotbed of Nazism. But the pastor and church were convinced they must break the veil of silence over Germany. In 2007, children of Nazis and Holocaust survivors joined hands in a prayer walk across Germany, following the path of a death march to Dachau, proclaiming Isa. 62:1, “For Zion’s sake, I will not be silent!” Tubingen subsequently elected their first ever Jewish mayor, Boris Palmer, and later re-elected him!
Then this church organized marches for life all over East Germany to the site of concentration camps. Then there were marches of remembrance in Poland, in the Ukraine, in the Baltic States. Now there are marches of remembrance in cities all over the world. Messianic Jews and Christians bear witness and pray together, breaking the silent indifference of our own time.
A month ago, Rabbi Mark Shulman of Beth El Gibor contacted me about doing a march in Bethlehem. I said, “go for it!” but there wasn’t enough time for Mark to get the city permits, etc. Is this something we should do next year? Is there anyone hear would be willing to help Rabbi Mark get it organized?
What else can we do to identify with Israel together with our Yeshua the Messiah of Israel?
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