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Israel & Christians Today: Weekly Update (April 27)

Andrew Tucker - 27 April 2019

“They loved not their lives unto the death”
(Rev 12:11)

The tragic attacks in Colombo, Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday last week have sent shock waves through the world. IS has claimed responsibility for the attacks.

It is hard to believe that human beings can be so filled with hate, so deceived by evil, that they are prepared to sacrifice even their own children in order to kill innocent people they do not know.

As far as I am aware this is the most severe single set of attacks so far directed at Christians. But of course it is a continuation of the ruthless massacre of the innocents by IS in Syria and Iraq over the last decade (about which, by the way, the Church and political leaders in the West have been virtually silent, which says a lot).

One cannot help but wonder whether we are seeing increasing signs of the end times persecution of true believers spoken of in the Book of Revelation.

We can expect evil to increase, and the church to come under more persecution. There is a war in heaven – Michael and his angels fighting against Satan who accuses the saints day and night before God the Father (Rev 12:7-11). This war will increasingly be reflected here on earth. And when Satan is cast down to earth this will usher in the terrible reign of the Anti-Christ and the False Prophet.

Of course we do not know the times or the precise order of events, and I do not mean in any way to be alarmist. But we do need to be prepared, and have our eyes open. The Lord Himself has told us that in the last days, when the spirit of evil and lawlessness comes to its fullness, things will get worse for those who follow Jesus, before He comes in glory to overcome the Devil and reign with His Saints on earth.

The growing persecution of the church is intimately connected with the restoration of Israel, the rise of antiSemitism and the hatred of the nations towards the Jewish people. The church of true believers will inevitably be drawn closer to the Jewish people; their God is our God, where they die we will die (Ruth 1:16).

May God give us strength to keep His commandments and the faith of Jesus (Rev. 14:12).

“Never again” 

In that light, it is important to remember that next Wednesday 1 May 2019 will be Yom HaZikaron laShoah ve-laG’vurah (“Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day”), known in Israel and abroad as Yom HaShoah (יום השואה) and in English as Holocaust Remembrance Day, or Holocaust Day. (This is different from International Holocaust Remembrance Day, celebrated on 27th January each year, the anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp).

Yom HaShoah is observed as Israel’s day of commemoration for the approximately six million Jews and five million others who perished in the Holocaust as a result of the actions carried out by Nazi Germany and its accessories, and for the Jewish resistance in that period. In Israel, it is a national memorial day and public holiday.

Today, anti-Semitism is on the rise in Europe and many other parts of the world. Somehow, when things get tense and people worry about the future, they tend to look for a scapegoat to blame it all on. Inevitably, the Jews are that scapegoat.

Incompleteness
Prof. Gregory Lafitte, Co-founder of the Forum for Cultural Diplomacy (FCD), suggests that the Jews remind us of our own incompleteness, indeed the incompleteness of the whole creation. At a recent Passover event in the United Nations, he commented: “The Jewish culture teaches us that history has a meaning, that it is more than a mere succession of happenings. The Jewish culture’s role is not only to remind us of the blueprint of our modern civilizations, but to constantly recall this constitutive incompleteness which alone can build up a dam against totalitarianism.”

Freedom and liberty
The Western world owes much of its civilisation to the Jewish people. ECI Founding Director Tomas Sandell quoted from the Book of Exodus which records that “there arose a new king in Egypt who did not know Joseph”. “Today there are many people around the world, especially young people, who do not know their history or that of European Jewry during the Holocaust”, he said. “As Europe faces a rise of anti-Semitism and some even fear a future “Exodus out of Europe”, we have chosen to remember, appreciate and cherish our own Josephs, the Jewish people, who have helped make our nations what they are today”, he added.

In his introduction to the Passover Seder Rabbi Elie Abadie said: “Jewish culture did not leave behind any monuments but instead it gave us words and values which we still cherish today, such as freedom and liberty.”

Read more: The United Nations pauses to reflect on the miracle of Passover

These are a fascinating thoughts, and I believe they reveal a deep truth – namely that the Jews remind us that we cannot, ourselves, build the utopia the world so desires. If we are to cherish the values which our civilisation is built on, we must and can only look to God to establish His Kingdom of peace and righteousness. If we try to build the tower of Babel ourselves, we will not only fail miserably, we will incur the wrath of the Almighty.

That is a terrifying truth of which the Jews remind us.

No wonder the world, which refuses to acknowledge God, gets so angry with them.

Let’s lift up the Jewish people in prayer in the coming week, as they remember the tragedy of the Shoah. Let us never forget – it happened in the heart of Christian Europe.

We have a special responsibility never again to allow the Jews to be persecuted, hated and annihilated. As author Michael Brown reminds us, “our hands are stained with blood”.

Instead, in this time of confusion and increasing hatred, against both Jews and Christians, let us celebrate and embrace the Jewish people, as we look for the coming of their Messiah and King, our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.

 

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Andrew Tucker is International Editor of our bi-monthly newspaper Israel & Christians Today. The goal of Israel & Christians Today is to help Christians to take God’s Word seriously, and study current events in the world in the context of the Bible. Click here to subscribe.

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