How can a good God allow bad things to happen to His chosen people is a question that is often asked about the Holocaust. Listen to this lesson to begin to learn about evil in the world. Hear about a Church Father called Augustine who said the Jews were descendants of Cain and how this false teaching led to Replacement theology, which elevates Christians at the expense of Jews. Find out why God’s promise to bless those who bless Israel and to curse those who curse Israel is still valid today. Hear about the “Righteous among the nations” which refer to Gentiles who helped rescue Jews from the Holocaust. When asked about evil in the world, never minimize it but understand it is a result of Satan’s fall and God uses Satan’s trickery and turns it to good.
Dr. Dean mentioned several additional resources during this Bible class:
Website for the Power of Good (about Nicholas Winton)
Videos about Nicholas Winton
Videos about Hannah Pick
Videos about Anne Frank
The Hiding Place movie (broken into 15 sections) about the ten Boom family (starring Houston's own Jeanette Clift George as Corrie ten Boom)
God on Trial movie by Masterpiece Theater
The Holocaust Anti-Semitism and Us
May 24, 2016
“Father, it is a wonderful privilege we have to come face to face with You in terms of our coming before the throne of grace, because we have access through a High Priest who has opened up the way. Father, we are thankful for all the many blessings that we have in Christ. That because we are in Him we are positionally righteous. We are positionally sanctified. We are adopted into Your royal family. You have blessed us with an infinite number of blessings.
Father, we pray that we might continue to hunger to know what those blessings are and that we might learn to live our spiritual life according to Your Word and that we might have a hunger and thirst for the truth of Your Word and for righteousness.
Father, we pray that as we study tonight that You would help us to understand a little more about contemporary history and how we should think about it from divine viewpoint. We pray this in Christ’s Name. Amen.”
I am continuing tonight in what we started last week. We are looking at this topic of the “Holocaust, Anti-Semitism, and Us.” We started this last week because for anyone who does not know, we spent two weeks in Israel, eight days of which was an intensive study at the International School for Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem, which is Israel’s memorial for the Holocaust. I started off last time looking at this verse.
Jeremiah 29:11, “ ‘For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope.’ ”
That was a promise given by God to Jeremiah on the verge of one of the worst historical disasters. Jeremiah is writing on the verge of the fifth cycle of discipline. He is hammering the Southern Kingdom of Judah, destroying them. Several hundred thousand Jews were slaughtered by the Babylonians. Their children, their sons and their daughters, were hauled off into slavery in Babylon. The temple was destroyed. Jerusalem was sacked and burned. This was in 586 BC.
The Lord is giving this promise to the Jews. That no matter how horrible it may look. No matter how much you may question the goodness and righteousness of God. No matter how much you can say “how can God do this to us?” Certainly there were people in the apostasy of Judah at that time who were blaming God for what was going on. God indeed brought it about.
That was part of the promise in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28. That if Israel succumbed to idolatry and turned their back on God that God would take them through these sequential stages of divine judgment, ending with their removal from the land that God had promised them—that God had promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Throughout history God has dealt severely with the Jewish people. Yet the promise is that He still has a plan:
- a plan for their welfare
- a plan that is not for calamity
- a plan that is for a future and a hope
That might have been a difficult promise for someone who was in one of the seven death camps in Poland or in one of the other camps. A lot of people do not understand the distinction. There were seven death camps in Poland. Hitler did not want death camps in Germany. He wanted all of the extermination of the Jews to take place outside of Germany.
The camps like Dachau and other camps that were in Germany were work camps. These were labor camps. There were those who were killed there. They had crematoria. Toward the end of the war, as they lost territory, and in January of 1945 when the Russians took over many of the areas in Poland and they captured Auschwitz, it was at that time that Hitler began to turn the camps in Germany into death camps. That was not their original intent. A lot of people do not understand that distinction.
But how do you talk to someone, especially someone Jewish, or someone who may be a descendant of a survivor, or know survivors?
The question in their mind is: how can you believe in God?
An answer that was given by one of the survivors that we listened to was: how can you not believe in God?
Because God gave that person life every day. Every morning they woke up and thanked God for another day that they were alive and could go forward. That was the survivor’s response. You get different responses among the Jews who survived. You get different responses among the Jews in the Jewish community who witnessed this, but the question remains:
How can a good God allow this to happen to His chosen people?
We are going to answer that question, but in between I want to talk more about some of the things I said last week and some more things about the Holocaust. We ended last time with a short film. You can watch a much longer version of it. It is called the “Power of Good.” It is about the life of Nicholas Winton and I did not say much about him last week.
Nicholas Winton was British, but his grandparents were German Jews who immigrated to England from Germany before WWI. He was born in England in 1909. His parents were assimilated Jews. That meant that as far as they were concerned Judaism and their Jewish heritage had absolutely nothing to do with their identity. They had nothing in their home. They did not tell their children anything about their Jewish heritage.
In fact, Nicholas was baptized as a child into the Anglican Church, but it really did not mean anything to him. He was just a nominal Christian. But he did not want to have anything to do with the Jewish side. When relatives would come they thought the family was really strange because they had assimilated. They had nothing whatsoever to do with their Jewish roots.
This was before Hitler, before the Nazis. This was before Hitler came to power. This would have been in the period of the 1920s. We closed out talking about that last time. I also talked about the fact that during this time one of the major problems was the influence of mostly liberal Protestant Christianity and the anti-Semitism that came from there.
Before we get there I want to review the three questions that I wanted to address in the course of this short study:
- Why is it important for us, as human beings, to study the Holocaust?
It is part of history. As we shift from the contemporary events of our parents’ and grandparents’ generations we now have a new generation, a younger generation, coming on the scene. It has been 71 years since the end of WWII and people have forgotten. They have died off. The younger generations are not being taught anything about this in the schools for the most part. They do not know anything about it.
As far as this generation is concerned WWII is ancient history. Think about that. If you are 10 years old now, born in 2006, then WWII ended 61 years earlier. If an event had occurred 61 years before I was born that would have been the Spanish-American War or before that. When I was a kid the Spanish-American War was ancient history. I was from the south so the Civil War was much more real and contemporary up through our generation.
We thought of the things that happened in the 19th century, 61 years before we were born, as ancient history. You transfer that over to this generation. We need to learn about it because it is going to happen again. This is not the first time something like the Holocaust has happened, but not to that degree, and not as an orderly orchestrated intentional coldblooded purpose. We need to understand that. It is going to happen again. It will happen during the Tribulation.
We, as believers in the Scripture and in biblical prophecy, understand that in the Tribulation period that there will be a very sophisticated attempt by the Anti-Christ and the False Prophet energized by Satan to completely eradicate the Jewish people from the face of the earth.
- Why is it important for us, as Christians, to study and know about the Holocaust?
Part of the reason we will see tonight is because Christianity had a horrible role to play in the Holocaust. It laid the foundation. It is not directly responsible, but it laid a foundation in an erroneous teaching known as Replacement Theology, which set the framework. It was the seed bed out of which the horrible weeds of anti-Semitism could grow. It is not necessarily so, but it usually does not grow without it.
- Why is it important for me as your pastor, as a Christian leader, to take the time to go to Israel, to learn about the Holocaust and to teach about the Holocaust, and learn about the implications?
It is not just about the Holocaust. It is about anti-Semitism and the rise of anti-Semitism today. It is growing more and more under the guise of anti-Zionism or anti-Israel feelings. Because we are pro-Israel does not mean that we believe that everything that the Israeli government does is right, or that we believe everybody they elect must be some messianic figure.
There are many things that Israel as a government and as a nation does that are questionable. But we believe in their right to existence according to international law, that they be treated the same as every other nation, and that they should exist in the land that God had historically promised them.
I told you that the name Yad Vashem came from Isaiah 56:5. It is an idiom meaning, as it is translated in the NET Bible, “a permanent monument”.
Yad Vashem was founded in 1953. Documents related to the Holocaust started to be assembled as early as 1946, but it was founded to be a center for documentation, research, education, and commemoration of the Holocaust. It is not just a museum.
Yad Vashem is a memorial and a research center. They have an institute for studies. They bring in people from all over the world continuously throughout the year, educating them with some of the best and most educated speakers, teachers, and professors in all of Israel.
As I was closing last time I pointed out that one of the great problems was the influence of Christianity in this backdrop to understanding the problems of what gave rise to anti-Semitism in Europe, and what gave rise to the particular brand of anti-Semitism that we might call “Nazi anti-Semitism.” There were Christians. There were liberal Protestant Christians. There may have been some conservatives. If there were they were the kind of conservatives that held to a form of Replacement Theology, as Lutherans would.
We will get to a little better definition of Replacement Theology later, but Replacement Theology is the view that because Israel rejected Jesus as Messiah, God replaced them with the church as the people of God.
Replacement Theology believes that none of the promises that God made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, or to Jeremiah will be literally fulfilled for the Jewish people ever again. They are no longer God’s people. They no longer have a future. There will no longer be a restoration of the people to the land.
Replacement Theology says that the Jewish people are no longer biblically significant. It is out of that mentality that the roots of anti-Semitism grew.
William F. Albright was a tremendous archeologist. He was not completely conservative. He did not completely believe the Bible to be accurate, but he generally did. He believed that he could use the Bible to find the places that he wanted to discover and excavate in the land of Israel.
In 1947 in an article entitled “The War in Europe and the Future of Biblical Studies,” which I am still trying to find a copy of, Albright wrote:
“In view of the terrible viciousness of his attacks on Judaism and the Jews, which continues at least until 1943, Gerhard Kittel must bear the guilt of having contributed more, perhaps, than any other Christian theologian to the mass murder of Jews by Nazis.”
Gerhard Kittel is the author of a ten-volume work called The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, which every pastor has and any good trained Bible student has. It is translated into English, which took a lot of time because they had to edit out all the horrible anti-Semitism that was in the German. You do not find that in the English.
You always have to use Kittel somewhat judiciously because the articles are written by Protestant liberals. Just because Kittel says something does not make it true. It means it might be true, so you better investigate it to make sure it is true.
Albright said that because of “the terrible viciousness of his attacks on Judaism and the Jews, which continues at least until 1943, Gerhard Kittel must bear the guilt of having contributed more, perhaps, than any other Christian theologian to the mass murder of Jews by Nazis.”
Is that not a horrific indictment?
In 1933 Kittel gave a lecture called the “Judenfrage.” That is “The Jewish Question” in English. When it appeared in print what he was calling for was that all German Jews should be stripped of their citizenship. That they should be removed from the universities and should not be involved in the professions of medicine, law, teaching, or journalism.
Kittel called for a prohibition against marriage or sexual relations between Jews and non-Jews. This was in 1933. It preceded by two years the Nuremberg racial laws, which were introduced by the Nazi government. Kittel is a forerunner. He is a liberal Protestant German. We have to recognize that there were others like Emanuel Hirsch, another who was instrumental.
We looked at the question of why we need to study this. We recognize that as we look at the Bible that there is an important foundation for understanding the dangers of anti-Semitism.
In Genesis 12:2–3 God makes a promise to Abraham. Most of you are familiar with this. God said to Abram:
Genesis 12:2, “I will make you a great nation; I will bless you and make your name great…”
That means Abram, you will be famous. You will be known throughout all of the world.
“and you shall be a blessing.”
That sounds like a prediction in English. It is a command in the Hebrew. Abram is commanded to bless others.
Then God goes on to say:
Genesis 12:3, “I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse …”
The Hebrew word there for “curse” is to “judge harshly.” It is not the same word that we find the second time. In English He uses the same word twice, but you have two different words in Hebrew. It basically means “I will harshly judge him who treats you with a lack of respect.” If you treat Jews with a lack of respect, then God will judge you harshly. Then God promises that through Abraham:
“all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
I have run into folks that say this does not apply today. It does not apply to the Jews in the land because they are apostate. They have not trusted Jesus as Messiah. It does not apply to them. It will not apply again until the Jews are back in the land trusting in the Messiah.
Let’s examine that. There are no conditions based on this “I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you.” When we look historically, God brought the Assyrians against the northern kingdom of Israel and wiped them out in AD 722. But the Assyrians became anti-Semitic in the process of growing their empire. They went beyond simple conquest with the Northern Kingdom. They became anti-Semitic. They cursed the Jewish people and so God destroyed the Assyrians.
The same thing happened with the Babylonians. You will understand this if you read through the Old Testament minor prophet book, Habakkuk. Habakkuk says, God, these people are wicked. These people are horrible. They are idolaters. They are fornicating. They are breaking all the laws. What are You going to do about it?
God says I have the Chaldeans. They are around the corner. They are coming. Habakkuk said what? You cannot mean that! You cannot bring them in. They are horrible. They are even worse. And they were. They fell to anti-Semitism as well. As a result God brought judgment upon the Babylonian Empire. In 537 BC they were defeated by the Persians. Then the Persians under Cyrus restored the Jews back to the land.
God follows through with this even when Israel is apostate. God is protecting Israel and blessing those who bless Israel and cursing those who curse Israel. The same thing happened in New Testament times. The same thing happened with the destruction of the temple in AD 70. Those who turned against Jews and were anti-Semitic were judged by God in the long run.
This Scripture does not say: I will bless those who bless you when you are walking with Me, and curse those who curse you when you are obedient to Me. The Scripture does not say that. It means that under any conditions, no matter how spiritually obedient or spiritually apostate the Jewish people are, God is still protecting them to bring about His plan and His purpose.
That is the backdrop for any studies related to the Holocaust.
What did we study?
I want to talk about the things that we studied. It was a lot. We had approximately fifteen different lectures. I cannot give you anything more than a bullet sketch of each one, but there are a couple that I thought were really significant and I will say a little bit more about them.
- The 1st lecture: “God, Jews, and History”
The lecturer that we had was a rabbi, Rabbi Michael Hattin. He is a teacher of the Tanach at the Pardes Institute of Jewish Studies in Jerusalem. He is also the director at the Beit Midrash for the Pardes Center for Jewish Educators. He has a long list of academic credits to his name and books that he has published.
Rabbi Hattin basically started in Genesis 1 to come to understand who the Jewish people were:
- The Jews are human beings.
- The Jews are created in the image and likeness of God.
- He went through the Old Testament up through about the first century.
- He quickly covered the impact of Islam.
- The impact of the French Revolution in 1789, which brought about the Haskalah or the Enlightenment among the Jews, especially in France.
- He briefly touched on the pogroms in Russia leading up to the First Zionist Conference in the 1890s.
Rabbi Hattin did that in 1 hour and 20 minutes. That is covering a lot of territory. He covered the last part from the destruction of the second temple to the present in about 15 minutes. That is hitting the high points.
- The 2nd lecture was an interesting one. It was taught by Dr. Stephanie McMahon-Kaye, who has been on staff there for over ten years. It was on the “Educational Philosophy for the International School of the Holocaust Studies.”
In a nutshell, their philosophy is to put a human face on the Holocaust so that you are not looking at just historical things that happened. It is not something that is two dimensional, but that you get to know the individuals.
This is exemplified by the guide that I have used since 2012. She is a South African who made aliyah to Israel in 1970. Her name is Hazi Flint. When Hazi takes you to the museum you first walk in and turn to your left. She shows you an A-frame that is broken up into different compartments. In each compartment there is a different video being shown:
- You have children ice skating.
- You have other children in a school classroom.
- You have families celebrating Shabbat dinner.
- You have others who are waving goodbye on a train.
Hazi starts to tell you the name of the two kids who are ice skating, who the parents are, and what happened to their families. How they died in the Holocaust. She walks through each scene. Within about ten minutes you know all those people. They are your neighbors. It is very personal from that point forward. Some of you have been through Yad Vashem with Hazi and know what I am talking about.
We were supposed to have a lady named Hannah Pick, who was a German Jew who is very orthodox. She is a survivor. She was to come and speak to us but for some reason there was a conflict. When she was a little girl her family had to leave Germany because they saw what was coming. They went to Holland thinking they would be safe there.
Since the family was orthodox they had to find a place to go. They moved. They had to find a grocery store and butcher. There was another family there that was speaking German. They had a little girl the same age. The next day was the first day of kindergarten. Hannah’s mother tells her that she has to go to kindergarten. She sees the little girl from the butcher store there.
The two girls became best friends from that day forward. That little girl that became her best friend was Anne Frank, known as the one who wrote The Diary of Anne Frank. I encourage you, if you have never seen that film, to watch it. Read the book. If you have children or grandchildren who are age appropriate share it. I think I saw the movie on television when I was probably twelve or thirteen. Today they would make it very graphic. It certainly was not graphic when they made it, but it gets the point across.
I will encourage you to hear this survivor. Her name is Hannah Pick. You can go on YouTube and search her name. You can find fifteen- to thirty-minute videos where she tells her story. I encourage you to do that. That would be a good activity to do with your children or grandchildren.
- The lady who spoke to us was Yehudit or Judith Kleinman.
When she was a child she lived in Italy. Her Italian name was Giuditta. She said she had to make three critical decisions in her life when she was very, very young:
The first major decision she had to make was to leave her mother, because she had to go with a neighbor because her mother was being arrested by the Germans. She had to go somewhere. The neighbor said she could come with her. She had to make that decision to leave her mother.
This lady that she went with could not take care of her, but took her to a Catholic orphanage. She stayed safe in that Catholic orphanage until the end of the war.
Then she had to make another critical decision. That was to leave the orphanage and make her way to Israel. There were a couple of Israelis who were going through the orphanages in Italy looking for Jewish children. They found her and told her about Israel—that this was the homeland of the Jews. Eventually she made aliyah and ended up there.
This puts a personal face on it.
At this point I want to show a video: “A View of Pre-War Jewish Life”. The music is Hatikvah, the Israeli National Anthem. Many of these people did not survive the Holocaust.
This next video is a children’s choir in Munkács, which was in Czechoslovakia at the time. The children’s choir is singing Hatikvah in 1933. Every one of those children died in Auschwitz.
- The 3rd paper that we heard was very interesting. It was one of the most significant lectures, “Jews in the Medieval Christian World: Understanding the Rise of Anti-Semitism in Medieval Christianity.”
The lecturer was Rivkah (Rebekah) Duker-Fishman from the Hebrew University. Basically what she did was talk about how anti-Semitism came into Christianity. The anti-Semitism had some precursors but probably the most significant was Augustine (pronounced Augustin), who lived from AD 354 to 430.
Let’s put that into perspective. It is the 4th century. Augustine is born in AD 354. He is a young man in his mid-twenties when he becomes a Christian. That is about AD 375. That is fifty years after the Council of Nicea. It is about 55–60 years after Constantine has made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire.
In a work that Augustine wrote called the Reply to Faustus, the Manichean, Augustine compares the Jews to Cain as the prototype of murderers. This is allegorical interpretation. In his view the Old Testament is a prefigurement of the New Testament. He believed in the historical reality of the Old Testament, but its significance was in its allegorical meaning. Cain represents the Jew, the elder brother. Abel represents Christ, the younger brother. It is of course Cain, the Jew, who kills Christ, the younger brother.
That allegorical meaning becomes the prototype for Replacement Theology through Christian history. Cain’s sacrifice was not accepted, Abel’s was. That way Cain is the Jew who is rejected by God. Abel is the Christian who is favored by God. Cain is a murderer who will be punished and bear the marks and has eternal punishment. All of this is applied to the Jews.
Whereas, Abel would have eternal grace. He would be the heir to the Roman Empire, but you cannot kill the Jew. You cannot kill them because they have the mark of Cain. That is the early stage, but you have to do everything you can to force them to convert. You can prohibit them from practicing their Judaism.
It is that early stage of anti-Semitism that we looked at last time on conversion. It was not simply somebody understanding the gospel and trusting in Christ, but conversion meant that you could not practice Judaism as a Jew. That was wrong. You cannot practice your Judaism among us.
Of course, this type of thinking did not begin with Augustine. It has roots. People like Melito of Sardis, around AD 150, wrote that the Jews did all the brutal stuff. He blamed them for murdering Christ, the deicide charge. By the time of Augustine that became the norm.
Also you had an early heretic by the name of Marcion. Marcion rejected the Old Testament. He was the first person to put together a Christian canon of Scripture. He excluded Matthew, Mark, and John. He only had an edited version of Luke. He got rid of anything that related to the Jews and Judaism that might be favorable. He got rid of Acts. He had ten of Paul’s epistles. He left out the pastoral epistles. He also left out Hebrews, James, 1 and 2 Peter, and everything else in the New Testament. Marcion was extremely anti-Jewish and anti-Israel.
In the 4th century. That is the period of AD 300s, roughly contemporaneous with Augustine’s birth, the new empire passed legislation that reinforced this anti-Jewish doctrine that was coming to be the norm. There were four basic goals of the legislation:
Where the Jews had to live amongst themselves. They could not have marriage or sexual relations with anyone who was not a Jew.
This would discourage people from remaining Jewish.
- Forced Conversion
Everyone was being forced to convert to Christianity.
- Wear a mark
If they continued as Jews then they were to wear a mark. They were to wear some sort of badge that would identify them as a Jew. They were still protected under the emperors. They were not to be physically harmed or killed.
Under Theodosius I a synagogue was destroyed. He paid for the rebuilding of that, but Ambrose, the Bishop of Milan, who was the one under whom Augustine became a Christian, said that the emperor could not or should not do that. The emperor prevailed, but you already see the handwriting on the wall as you see the antagonism to the Jews.
By the 6th century the empire was still against any kind of forced conversions. Then by the 11th century you have the rise of the crusades. During that time the crusades were horrible. The armies became mobs. They would go into villages. If there were Jews there, since the armies were going to go kill the infidel in the holy land, then Jews were infidels also and were slaughtered as well. There were many forced conversions.
In AD 1144 in Norwich, England, you had the rise of what became known as the “blood libel”, which surfaces off and on all the way through the rest of history. It shows up now in Islam in a varied form. The form that usually shows up in Christianity is the claim that the Jews used the blood of a Christian child to make Passover matzo (matzah). The Jews were:
- In England and removed in AD 1290
- In AD 1235 Germany kicks out the Jews for blood libel
Chaucer, who writes in England in the 1300s, is very anti-Semitic, but he has never seen a Jew, because there are no Jews in England during that time. Many different things were developed during that medieval period. The Nazis used all of those things:
- The yellow badges
- The blood libel
- The ghetto
- The isolation of the Jews
- The murder of the Jews
- The 4th lecture: “The Literary Reponses to the Holocaust”
That just looked at the literature that came out from the survivors and from those who were in the camps:
Again, I encourage you to read that book.
I do not know how many of you have read that book or seen the film, but I encourage you to do so. It is the story of the Ten Boom family in Holland. The family hid and rescued Jews. The father’s name was Casper. The two daughters’ names were Betsy and Corrie.
In the film The Hiding Place Corrie is played by Jeannette Clift George. In fact, there is a great theater group here [in Houston] headed by Jeannette Clift George. It is a Christian theater group. I encourage you to check them out.
The Hiding Place tells the Ten Boom story. They were betrayed by friends. The father died shortly after his arrest. Betsy died near the end of the war in Ravensbrück. Corrie lived until 1983 and had a tremendous testimony.
This is a film Jim Myers told me about when I was there in January. This movie came out in 2008. It is a Masterpiece Theater production. It tells the story of a death train that comes into Auschwitz. Something on the train is broken. They cannot murder them that night. They put them into a barracks. The prisoners begin to have a debate as to whether or not God is fair. Is this God’s fault? You hear all the arguments pro and con. It is really well crafted. It has a surprise ending, but you have to think about it. I will not tell you what the ending is. That is a good film to watch.
Definition: Replacement Theology or Supersessionism
This is the view that the New Testament church replaces or supersedes the nation Israel as the people of God. The church is the new or true Israel. That national Israel will not experience a restoration. Israel has no significance today. That is Replacement Theology.
Just about anybody who is not a dispensationalist holds to some form of Replacement Theology. Even though the Pope came out about ten years ago and said that the Catholic Church does not believe in Replacement Theology, if you believe that Israel no longer has a future as God’s people, then you believe in Replacement Theology.
About 10–12 years ago there was a man here who heads up a ministry in Jerusalem that is a very pro-Israel, pro-Zionist organization, a Christian ministry that has done a lot of good. They have a really strange view of biblical prophecy. I cannot nail them though and neither can anybody else.
I and an acquaintance went to hear this man. The acquaintance said to me afterwards that that was the most anti-replacement theology replacement theology message I have ever heard. Theology can make some strange bedfellows.
For the 5th lecture we had a musicologist come and give us a lecture on music in the ghettos: Warsaw Ghetto: Music in the Streets.
Here is the way to think about this. You are going through these incredible adverse circumstances. You know you may not survive, but you are not going to let the beast and the animals win. You will not give up your civilization. You will have music. You will find instruments. You will put together choruses, choirs, and orchestras.
There were many things that the Jews did on the streets.
They also had theatrical productions and huge orchestras in the various ghettos.
Here are some of the pictures.
Because of this mentality. The questions that I bring to us as Christians:
Is that how we would respond utilizing the doctrine that we have in our souls?
Would we say that they are not going to win?
Let’s start writing books. Let’s paint. Let’s put on plays. Let’s find instruments and put together orchestras and play the classics.
What are we going to do?
How are we going to respond?
It was fascinating to hear. One of the points that she made was that one reason it was so popular to go to the theater, though they had almost no money, they still had to pay a little bit to get a ticket. They would scrape together whatever they had to go, because it was the only place that they could go where they had their own seat or space.
In the ghetto the Jews were sleeping 30–40 in a room. In the camps 1,000 in the barracks. But when they went to the theater they had their own seat. In the barracks in the death camps they had three to a bunk. It was just horrendous. There was always noise. There were always people around. But when you went to the orchestra there was a moment of silence when the conductor raised his baton. That was the only time they had silence. Think about that.
- The 6th lecture: “Modern Anti-Semitism, Nazism, and the Shoah.”
This is a quote from Goebbels:
“Every Jew is our enemy in this historic struggle, regardless of whether he vegetates in a Polish ghetto or carries on his parasitic existence in Berlin or Hamburg or blows the trumpets or war in New York or Washington …”
Goebbels is the propaganda minister for the Third Reich, for the Nazis. He said:
“All Jews by virtue of their birth and their race are part of an international conspiracy against National Socialist Germany. They want its defeat and annihilation, and do all in their power to bring it about.”
It is not hard to imagine that sentence, and instead of it reading “all Jews by virtue of their birth” it reads “all Christians,” because Christians hold to a standard that is getting radically divorced from our culture. We are beginning to be blamed for many things.
“That they can do nothing inside the Reich is hardly a sign of their loyalty, but rather of the appropriate measures we took against them. The most important part of Nazi ideology was their racist views. They were guilty by their race. For their sake alone we must win the war.”
Notice this: “For their sake alone …” Notice how they turn things around.
“For their sake alone we must win the war. If we lose it, these harmless-looking Jewish chaps would suddenly become raging wolves. They would attack our women and children to carry out revenge. There are enough examples in history.”
Did that happen?
At the end of the war, when all these survivors came out of the camps, did they initiate revenge against the German people?
How many Germans were killed by a survivor?
How many German women were raped by a survivor?
Not one. There was no act of revenge against the German people.
Goebbels went on to say:
“That is what they did in Bessarabia and the Baltic states when Bolshevism marched in, even though neither the people nor their governments had done anything to them. There is no turning back in our battle against the Jews—even if we wanted to, which we do not. The Jews must be removed from the German community, for they endanger our national unity.”
- The 7th lecture: “The Cultural and Spiritual Resistance in the Ghettos.”
We as Texans often think of resistance in terms of violence. But they understood that if they did anything violent then there would be dozens, if not hundreds, that would be killed. They had to resist in other ways.
Roman Kent, who is a survivor from Lodz in Poland, said:
“Resistance does not have to be with a gun and a bullet. Sometimes the easiest resistance is with a gun and a bullet.”
Think about that. The Jews know that to do anything to harm a German would bring retaliation.
- The 8th lecture: “The Decision to Kill the Jews: The Final Solution and Its Implementation”
Most of us have not thought about this, but who do you blame?
How can you have the really hard evidence as to who did it?
There is no written Führerbefehl, no Führer order, nothing in writing from Adolf Hitler. He gave only oral orders.
How do you prove that it is their fault?
This lecture went through all of the evidence that is available. You look at a whole line of circumstantial evidence. You understand that every one of the Nazi leaders had to be in control of every detail. Nothing like this could happen without their complete approval.
- The 9th lecture: “The Holocaust in Art”
There were various artists who were highlighted. One of them by the name of Samuel Bach. He is still alive. He lives in Massachusetts. There is a museum with most of his works there. Right now there is an exhibit of his artwork at the Houston Holocaust Museum. If you have never been there I encourage you to go over there and go through the museum.
- The 10th lecture: This one was really fascinating. It was on “7th Century Christians and the Middle East Today”
The woman who gave the lecture was Dr. Petra Heldt. I am going to be talking to her. She is a Christian. She gave an incredible lecture based on a text from a work called The Apocalypse of Pseudo-Methodius. This was written at the end of the 7th century.
What is happening at the end of the 7th century?
The rise of Islam. They call them Ishmaelites in his work. The author talks about how they are coming out of the desert of Yathrib, which is in the Medina/Mecca area, and all the things they were doing. It is just like today. Just change a few names and this could be a headline and an article in the news today about ISIS.
What these people were doing was decimating and torturing and destroying the Christian population. Nobody from the Byzantine Empire was going to do anything to help them. The same kind of thing is happening today to the Christians who are in that same area with ISIS. No Christians anywhere are doing anything or care. Nobody in the West is reporting it. It is a genocide that is taking place because of their religion.
The other thing that was interesting is that the author writes about how the Christians deserve this as divine discipline. I cannot find the quote right now, but the author basically says that one of the reasons is because of the high level of adultery, fornication, homosexuality, and men dressing like women. God is bringing this judgment of Islam against us. How that resonates today.
- The 11th lecture: The speaker was Yoram Ettinger, who spoke here in the past. He spoke on “The Problems Facing Israel Today.”
- The 12th and 13th lectures were on the “Holocaust Genocide” and the “Rise of Contemporary Anti-Semitism” by Dr. Kokkonen.
That lecture was excellent. If you are interested in a lecture that she gave here at this church last February you can e-mail about getting a DVD.
- The 14th lecture was on “Holocaust Denial.”
- The 15th and last lecture was on “The Righteous Among the Nations.”
These are those who were not Jews who risked their life and gave their life in some cases to save and rescue Jews during the Holocaust. One of the most famous incidences is that of Oscar Schindler and Schindler’s List. I have up here a copy of Schindler’s whole list of all the people.
We went to Schindler’s grave. There are a lot of rocks around there. There is a scene at the end of the film where all the survivors, at the time of his funeral, came and went by his grave. Then we heard the story of this one lady who was a survivor and her whole family were on the list. They were rescued because of Oscar Schindler.
There is a man in Houston at the Houston Pecan Company, outside of Bellaire, which was started by a man who was not on that list, but he was rescued by Schindler. His name was Leon Cooper. His daughter runs that business now. He passed away a little over a year ago. We found him by luck 4–5 years ago.
Every time we go to Israel we buy the cans of nuts with the state of Texas metal can so people know that it came from Texas. Then I give them a printed copy of the story in the Houston Chronicle about Leon Cooper. That means a lot to folks over there because they are not just good Texas pecans, but they come from the business of a Holocaust survivor.
The next question that we have to address, because we really have not gotten into Scripture. Some people may wonder:
Why we are getting in the Word?
Because we are talking about how to think on the basis of what we know from the Word. We have to understand some contemporary events and really come to grips with what the problem is before we can start talking about the solution. That is what I wanted to do tonight in reviewing what we did.
The next question is the problem of evil. I am going to set this up a bit and we will come back next time and talk about it. We run into this problem, this issue, many times in life when we are talking to people and they have had a child die, or they have had a spouse die some horrible, horrible death, or they have had some other turn of fortune in their life. They are blaming God. They say:
How can a good God let this happen?
There are many people that say that if God is really good then how can He allow evil?
If God is really all-powerful then why does He not do something about it?
This problem of evil has been a historic problem for philosophers down through the ages. It is struggled with in many different religions, but only Christianity has an answer. Yet it seems that it is the Christians, it is you and I, that are asked the question:
How can you really believe in God when these horrible things happen?
What we ought to do is we ought to turn the question and say:
How do you explain the existence and the problem of evil?
What is your solution?
Help them think through the implications of what they believe in terms of the problem of evil. We will get into that some more next time but the Bible wrestles with this problem because the Bible is a book of reality. It deals with the fact that we are human beings who live in a fallen world. We have extremely unjust things happen to us.
In Psalm 40:12 the psalmist says, “For evils beyond number have surrounded me. My iniquities have overtaken me.”
Part of the problem with evil is that it can come from our own bad decisions.
“My iniquities have overtaken me, so that I am not able to see. They are more numerous than the hairs of my head, and my heart has failed me.”
Jeremiah is called the weeping prophet because as God revealed to him what would happen to Jerusalem, his hometown, the destruction of the temple, he wept. In Jeremiah 15:18 he says:
“Why has my pain been perpetual and my wound incurable, refusing to be healed? Will You indeed be to me like a deceptive stream with water that is unreliable?”
He is saying, God, can I really count on you when everything else disappears and falls apart? That is the reality of the problem of evil.
Romans 8:22 Paul says, “For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers with pains of childbirth together until now.”
When people are faced with the problem of evil in their life, do not say it is not real. Do not minimize it. It is real. The Bible recognizes that it is a very strong reality. It is because of Satan’s fall. We can use that as a way to help people understand the character of God and the plans and purposes of God.
If you are talking with somebody Jewish they will inevitably get around to the question of how can a good God allow six million of His chosen people to go to the gas chambers, to be so brutally tortured and murdered?
Why did God allow this to happen?
You have to walk them through the basics. Do not address the circumstances themselves, because there are a lot of hot button issues there. You have had Christian pastors who have made statements that might have some truth in them. That God used the Holocaust to turn the eyes of an assimilated Jewish population in Europe back to Israel and to move them that way.
I think it is more like Satan used anti-Semitism to attempt to destroy the Jews, as he has wanted to do down through the ages, but God turned it against him. He flipped it on Satan and used it to turn the eyes of the Jewish people back toward Israel. God turned what was evil to good.
God did this with Joseph. When Joseph’s brothers betrayed him and he was sold into slavery and taken to Egypt. Some twenty years later when they came to him and realized who he was, they thought he would execute revenge on them. Joseph said, “You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good.”
We have to think this whole issue through because it is one of the most fundamental issues that we can address as Christians.
How can we claim that God is a good, loving, omnipotent, and just God when there is so much disease, destruction, poverty, famine, murder, and violence in the world?
That is where we will begin next time.
“Father, thank You for who You are and the fact that You have given us sure and certain answers in Your Word, especially in the Book of Job, explaining that we cannot fully grasp and understand all of the factors. We need to learn to trust You because as Abraham said, ‘Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is right.’
Father, we pray that we might come to understand how to think about something like the Holocaust and the horrors that are going on today with ISIS and what may come down the road. That we may use this in our souls to minister to people who are really struggling with the purpose and meaning of life. We pray this in Christ’s Name. Amen.”