Why the Holocaust?
©April11, 2010 Asher Intrater
This Monday (April 12) marks Holocaust Remembrance Day in Israel. When sharing the gospel with our people, we often encounter the objection: "I can't believe in God because of the Holocaust."
Here is a brief survey of the biblical answers to this question:
Universal Sin – God created the world perfect. Evil in the world began and continues because of mankind's sin and refusal to obey (Genesis 3). It is not God who is to blame for suffering in the world but human beings. Yeshua gave the example that the people who were murdered by Pilate were not greater sinners than others, but that all people need to repent (Luke 13:1-5). People are not primarily "good" and progressively evolving into a better moral state. All people have sinned. The Holocaust is a great proof of the biblical view that mankind are sinners in need of repentance and grace.
Jewish Sin – Amazingly, the events of the Holocaust were predicted as far back as the Law of Moses. Leviticus 26:33, 38 and Deuteronomy 28:63-64 speak of the exile and horrible suffering of the Jewish people as a punishment of our sin.
Gentile Sin – While the exile and suffering of the Jews are seen as a punishment from God, much of what happened in the Holocaust and many other cases of anti-Semitism were NOT what God decreed. God dispersed us into the Gentile nations because of our sin; but how the Gentiles treated us was their sin. Zechariah 1:15 – I am exceedingly angry with the nations at ease; for I was a little angry, and they helped – but with evil intent. God is angrier with the Gentile nations for their anti-Semitism than He was with the Jewish people for their sins that caused the exile in the first place.
Replacement Theology – Romans 11 states that there is a continuing destiny for the Jews as the chosen people. This was denied both by the Catholic church in the Middle Ages and by Luther in the Reformation. The denial of the chosenness of the Jewish people in Christian theology allowed for anti-Semitism to be justified in Christian nations. Although most true Christians reject anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism today, the errors of replacement theology allowed for many Christians to remain silent during the Holocaust and some even to be active in Nazism.
Rejecting Messiah – The coming of Messiah was meant to be a blessing for Israel and the nations. Our rejection of Yeshua turned much of that blessing into a curse. Luke 19:44 – Your enemies will level you to the ground and destroy your children within you… because you did not know the time of your visitation. We in effect cursed ourselves (Matthew 27:25).
Rejecting Zionism by Rabbis – The first Aliyah (immigration wave) of modern Zionism began in 1881, almost 60 years before the Holocaust. I believe God was calling Jewish people to leave areas of danger in Europe to travel either to America or to Israel. Those who listened were saved. Tragically, the rabbinic leadership in Eastern Europe radically opposed Zionism as false messianism, and told the people not to follow them. As a result, multitudes of religious were left to be slaughtered.
Rejecting Zionism by Humanists – Theodore Herzl began his preaching for a Jewish State in 1897 after witnessing anti-Semitism in the case of Captain Alfred Dreyfus. Many liberal Jews in Western Europe could have been saved from the horrors of the Holocaust had they also moved to America or Israel. They stayed because of the illusion of affluence and the lies of liberal secular humanism, which denied the danger at hand. Today as well, "political correctness" stands in opposition to the basic defense of the Jewish state from the threat of a modern day Holocaust at the hands of Islamic Jihad.
Suffering of the Righteous – In all generations the righteous suffer. To the degree that a society has values of integrity, the righteous will be rewarded. To the degree that a society has lost its moral values, the righteous suffer. II Timothy 3:12 – All who desire to live godly in Messiah Yeshua will suffer persecution. The righteous have suffered from the time of Cain and Abel, to the prophets and patriarchs of Israel, to Christians in the Muslim world today. Communist China under Mao massacred many more people than the Nazis. The Turks murdered multitudes in the Armenian "Holocaust."
Suffering of the Chosen People – There is a mysterious parallel between the crucifixion of Yeshua as Messiah and the suffering of the Jews as the chosen people. Although our people rejected Yeshua because of sin, the revelation was also partially "hidden from your eyes" – Luke 19:42. The exile was not only a punishment; there was a divine purpose to allow "salvation to come to the Gentiles" – Romans 11:11. The exile and suffering of the Jewish people has redemptive aspects for the Gentiles. This is parallel to the suffering of missionaries and evangelists as they present the gospel (Colossians 1:24).
Satan against the Second Coming – After the sin of Adam and Eve, God promised to bring a "seed" who would destroy Satan (Genesis 3:15). That seed was Yeshua. He was to come through Abraham's descendants (Genesis 22:18). Therefore satanic forces (like Pharaoh, Haman, and Herod) have always tried to kill the Jewish people. These attacks against the Jewish people might have ended when Yeshua was born.
However Yeshua extended the promise to include the Second Coming as well as the First. Matthew 23:39 – You will see Me no more until you say, "Blessed is He who comes…" The Holocaust and Islamic Jihad are satanic attempts to prevent the Jewish people from fulfilling their end time destiny of bringing the Messiah back into the world (at which time the devil will be incarcerated [Revelation 20:2]).