My wife and I just came back from a “Believers Tour” of Israel. Over a 7 day in-country period, we saw all the sites expected from a Christian tour.
Israel’s Greatest Impact
When asked what held the greatest impact during the week, our response was both surprising and easy to answer. It was not any of the religious sites one would expect. They were certainly interesting, and shed light on familiar verses as they came off the pages of the Bible. However, many of the specific locations were speculative on the events in the life and ministry of Jesus. Further, they were heavily commercialized and ornate, rather than kept traditional to the time of Christ.
What we found Most Impactful – the Holocaust Museum.
According to Wikipedia, 49 countries and 30 US states have established one or more Jewish Holocaust memorials and museums. Though I have been to one or more in the US and saw nothing new in Israel, there is nothing to compare to the experience of walking through their museum with a predominately Jewish audience. The design of the building lent itself perfectly to the intended impression.
Israel Holocaust Museum
The building is shaped as a large and very long triangle with only the top apex visible above the ground and no windows what-so-ever. The interior is made of unpainted concrete and exhibit rooms are located on both sides of a wide central corridor. One is forced to weave back and forth from one side of the central tunnel to the other, into each exhibit room by low-lying exhibits and fences that block visitors from a quick escape directly down the main corridor. The exhibit halls are chronological in nature, starting from the end of WWI, the rise of Hitler, WWII, the persecution and collection of Jews, the death camps, and finally the rescue of those who survived. Multi-media, including audio/video recordings of survivors, pictures, and large-scale models of structures such as the gas chambers, filled the exhibits, along with numerous artifacts of collected shoes, clothing, and other personal items, including gold and silver extracted from the Jews. Going in the low season (January), we clearly had to navigate large crowds, but they were manageable and we saw what we chose to see.
A Young Jewish Girl
As I was leaving the final exhibit, looking forward to exiting the building, on my left I walked past an orthodox Jewish girl in her mid-20s standing frozen and looking above my head. The expression on her face was probably the most impactful and complex I can remember ever seeing. It was a mixture of indescribable horror and inconsolable sadness with just a hint of anger and firm conviction. Already in a depressive stupor, I turned to see what she was staring at. It was one of the largest screens in the museum, allowing for a full-size video of the “survivors” being rescued from one of the death camps. Emaciated bodies and sunken faces, yet many smiling as they shuffled by the camera.
When we got back to the bus to leave, no one talked about the museum. In fact, my wife and I never spoke about it until last night, safe and sound back home in our little cocoon.
If one ever needed proof of the capacity of mankind to reject all reason, all love, all grace, all dignity, all faith, and all humanity, the Holocaust stands as one among many examples. If we think our society has risen above its capacity to sin at this level, we are kidding ourselves. The Holocaust was not the work of Hitler, he just provided a flash point for the masses. It was not the fault of the Gestapo who chose to follow him. It was not the fault of Germans who betrayed their Jewish neighbors. It was the sum of it all. The inherent sin nature of man, playing out in a group psychosis, justifying something that was totally unjustifiable, just to get along, just to stay out of the controversy, until it was too late.
A Question for Today
Which direction are we headed as a nation and as a world….
1 Corinthians 13:4-8 – Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.
2 Timothy 3:1-5 – But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.
COVID and the Holocaust
During the pandemic of 2019-2021 as food shortages began to surface, unemployment became more pronounced, and people were locked in their homes, fearing their neighbors and friends as sources of infection. As we hid our faces behind masks and stood in 6-foot separated lines, waiting for entrance into local Walmarts, did you happen to look into the eyes of others?
Consider the impact of a catastrophe greater than COVID ON the resulting behaviors of mankind.
Matthew 24:21 – For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be.