As festive Passover week ended on Sunday, we’re presently in the middle of a sacred memorial week described in Hebrew as “M’Shoah L’Tkuma” – from Holocaust to Resurrection. Wednesday eve and into Thursday marked Holocaust Memorial Day when Israel remembered the six million Jewish men, women and children who were brutally and systematically murdered by the wicked Nazi regime in WWII Europe, just because they were Jews.
This coming Tuesday eve and into Wednesday is IDF Fallen Soldier Memorial Day. Israel will stand in solemn memory of the brave men and women who sacrificially gave their lives in the defence of our nation throughout Israel’s wars, and those who were murdered in acts of terror. Then, on Wednesday night, Israel will promptly transition into festivities and joy once again celebrating 73 years of Independence, 73 years of God’s faithfulness to His people. Those minutes of transition that will occur as the sun sets on Wednesday eve are always bitter-sweet, leaving but never forgetting the sorrow and loss of memorials and embracing the festivities of Independence.
Interestingly, these three weeks can summarize Israel’s history over the past two thousand years: deliverance and salvation, exile and persecution, war and travail followed by flourishing and thriving.
Psalm 102 always lingers in my thoughts come this time of the year and when thinking about the atrocious reality of the Holocaust. The Psalm is a prayer of the afflicted offered up during great distress and suffering. When reading the difficult and descriptive words in verses 3-11 I can’t help but recall the shocking black and white pictures and silent films from the Nazi camps. Malnourished and sickly-looking shadows of head-shaven human prisoners, wearing stripped rags marked with a yellow cloth Star of David emphasizing the word “Juden” at it’s center, their arms hanging through the barbed-wire fences of ghettos and concentration camps. Piles of skeletal, lifeless corpses that long before had lost any resemblance of humanity. So much pain, so much suffering, so much loss.
Suddenly verse 12 presents such a sharp turn and contrast – “But You, O LORD, shall endure forever, And the remembrance of Your name to all generations”. Though we wither away like the grass, we are here for one moment and gone the next, the God of Israel is the same yesterday, today and forever more! His callings and giftings are irrevocable and He changes not. “Therefore”, the prophet Malachi declares, “you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob” and though the Lord makes a complete end of the nations where He scattered the people of Israel, He promised never to make a complete end of His people.
Then, as if the previous verses were the cry of the entire people of Zion, afflicted and distressed, the Psalmist writes “You will arise and have mercy on Zion; For the time to favor her, Yes, the set time, has come. For Your servants take pleasure in her stones and show favor to her dust. So the nations shall fear the name of the LORD, and all the kings of the earth Your glory. For the LORD shall build up Zion; He shall appear in His glory” (vs 13-16).
Through affliction and distress hope emerges. The time to favour and rebuild Zion has come and though she is broken, bruised and burned, the Lord Himself will arise to build Zion up. And so, from the tragedy and ashes of the Holocaust, and against all political, economic, societal and military odds, the nation of Israel was miraculously re-birthed. Despite eight official wars and countless acts of murderous terrorism that have taken tens of thousands of lives, we can declare today: “Am Yisrael Chai!”- the people of Israel live! The nation of Israel lives! It is firmly established and presently leads the world on numerable fronts.
In chapter 4 of Luke’s gospel, Yeshua was center stage in Nazareth’s synagogue as he opened the scroll of Isaiah and read from chapter 61, verse 1 and into the beginning of verse 2. Yeshua came to fulfill those words at that given time. The rest of the passage (and remember were no verse numbers in the bible prior to the 16th century) was yet to be fulfilled, and I believe is being fulfilled presently and before our very eyes.
“And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, To console those who mourn in Zion, To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; That they may be called trees of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.” And they shall rebuild the old ruins, They shall raise up the former desolations, And they shall repair the ruined cities, The desolations of many generations.” (verses 2–7).
As written in Psalm 102, this all points to the purpose of Zion’s rebuilding – for Messiah to appear and return to Zion in His glory, and every eye shall see Him as He returns to establish His earthly throne in Jerusalem.
In these coming days, please pray for those who mourn in Zion, that Yeshua Himself will comfort those who mourn the loss of loved ones, that He will give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness. And as we look towards Israel’s 73rd Independence Day, continue to intercede for Israel’s salvation, that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord in this land, that He may be glorified in Israel and that He may be glorified in the nations for all His mighty deeds!