Chills. I remember getting chills as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke before a joint session of Congress on March 3rd, 2015. After thanking America for helping Israel in the past, he began:
My friends, I've come here today because, as prime minister of Israel, I feel a profound obligation to speak to you about an issue that could well threaten the survival of my country and the future of my people: Iran's quest for nuclear weapons. We're an ancient people. In our nearly 4,000 years of history, many have tried repeatedly to destroy the Jewish people.
He then recounted the story of Queen Esther at a time when the Hebrew people were in danger of annihilation. Then, like Queen Esther who pleaded the cause of her people, Netanyahu pleaded for Congress to rise to help the Jewish people.
I was seeing the same story repeat – first Haman and Persia, then Hitler from Germany, now Ayatollah Khamenei in Iran – all out to destroy the people of Israel. I wasn’t around during the Holocaust so it is easy for me to point fingers at an older generation and say, “How dare you let that happen.” But now, here I was about to hear the same story with a different name. The whole horrible process was like a broken record on repeat. It was chilling to say the least.
Today is Yom HaShoah or Holocaust Remembrance Day, which began the evening of May 4th and will end this evening. But the question is this “Why remember?” Why remember such a tragic event that showcases the depravity and cruelty of mankind? Isn’t it just going to depress everyone to look back?
When it comes to the Holocaust, there are several reasons we must remember.
First, we must remember a time when evil almost won. We must remember and be warned to make sure this never happens again. In a world where anti-Semitism is growing more and more each day, it is important that countries, as well as individuals, remember.
Students today are not being taught about the Holocaust. Because they are not learning this important part of history, I am afraid that the old adage will prove true – “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it”.
To Reflect on God’s Faithfulness
When we remember the Holocaust, we should also reflect on the miracle of the preservation of the Jewish people. The very fact that the Jewish people are alive is a testament to the faithfulness and power of God. The Holocaust is most certainly not the first time the Jewish people have faced persecution.
In 1 Samuel 7, God’s people warred against the Philistines. Remember Goliath? So Samuel and the people cry out to God for deliverance and God miraculously causes this extremely loud thunder to terrify the Philistines and stir them into a panic so that the Israelites can defeat them. After God saves the day, Samuel does something pretty interesting.
Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us” (1 Samuel 7:12).
Thus far the Lord has helped us. Every time anyone would pass by this spot, they would see this mini monument and wonder what it was. “Oh, that’s Samuel’s Ebenezer stone.” The locals would say as they recounted the story of Israel’s woes and God’s faithfulness to bring them through it.
When you think of the Holocaust, remember God’s faithfulness to preserve his people. Don’t just remember those who died in gas chambers. Remember those who lived. Those who came through this terrible time and lived to tell about it. Holocaust Remembrance Day is not just about remembering what happened in the past. It is also about celebrating every victory the Jewish people have experienced since then. And all because of God’s faithfulness.
Even if you are not Jewish, I encourage you to reflect back on your own personal journey. What sort of ordeals has God brought you through? Maybe like Samuel you need to set up a reminder so you will not forget the victories God has brought you. Remember that if He was faithful to help you through your past struggles, He will be with you now — no matter what.