As Israel comes under growing condemnation from a hostile world amidst an alarming increase in anti-Semitism, Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day) acts as a stark reminder of where it could all lead.
Seventy years after the world woke up to the shocking news that six million Jews had been exterminated by the Nazis, the reality is that it could all happen again.
The Jewish state created soon afterwards should have been a safe haven, but a new threat to the six million Jews (and 1.6 million Arabs) now living in Israel comes from Islamic fanatics.
Having repeatedly threatened to wipe Israel off the map, a nuclear-armed Iran would pose an obvious danger not only to Israel but to Western civilization itself, and few are asking why an American President is presiding over a deal seen only as putting off the evil day.
Fortunately Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has made it his business to point this out, but the rest of the world seems to think it has nothing to do with them.
It’s also time for the Christian Church to cast off its reputation among Jews for causing much of their suffering and rise to the challenge put out by a German nun.
Sister Thekla, who has spoken of her shame at the suffering caused by her nation through the Holocaust, warns that today’s church is in danger of repeating history.
“The tragedy of anti-Semitism is not just something in the past,” she told a recent conference in York, England, on Israel and the Church. “It is flaring up again. And in the not-too-distant future we Christians will all be challenged about our relationship to Israel. Will Christians once more be silenced?
“Israel is once again hated by the nations, which is a picture of our Lord Jesus (Yeshua), 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.
“We can never heal the wounds; only Christ can do that,” said Sister Thekla, adding: “It is a painful memory, but I confess these crimes. 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?”
Also addressing the conference, organised by the Emmaus Group, was Sister Glory, a British member of the order with a Methodist background, who said Britain had blood on their hands concerning Israel.
In 1190 the entire Jewish community of York were herded into Clifford’s Tower, just across the river from the conference venue, and massacred.
A hundred years later Jews were expelled from Britain altogether 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 added. And now Britain was in danger of repeating history with the strong message of support Parliament has sent to the Palestinian Authority over its quest for state recognition.
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 had suffered the loss of her empire along with increasing decadence in the nation itself.
And Sister Glory ended by quoting former British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli: “The Lord deals with the nations as the nations deal with the Jews.”